"Come In And Shut The Door": Communication Breach In The Workplace Revealed

New Interact Survey Shows Business Leaders Are Uncomfortable Communicating With Employees

Feb 10, 2016, 13:13 ET from Interact

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In the workplace, "Come in and shut the door" usually precedes a tough conversation and is a phrase known to strike terror in the hearts of employees. But the manager on the other side of the desk is likely feeling just as apprehensive about delivering the news, according to a new survey conducted online among 1,120 employed U.S. workers, 616 of whom manage employees in the workplace, by Harris Poll on behalf of communications consultancy Interact. A stunning majority (69%) of managers say there is something about their role as a leader that makes them uncomfortable communicating with their employees.

In fact, the fear of hurting people's feelings and facing drama and retribution is reaching crisis proportions in the workplace, with over a third (37%) of America's business leaders reporting they are uncomfortable having to give direct feedback/criticism about their employee's performance that they might respond badly to.

The results showed that leaders who manage employees in the workplace are uncomfortable on a number of communication fronts, including:

  • Demonstrating vulnerability (e.g., sharing mistakes they've learned from) (20%)
  • Recognizing employee achievements (e.g., giving praise for a job well done) (20%)
  • Delivering the "company line" in a genuine way  (20%)
  • Giving clear directions (19%)
  • Crediting others with having good ideas (16%)
  • Speaking face to face rather than by email (16%)

"The stakes are too high for managers and leaders to avoid having difficult conversations with their employees. In the absence of direct feedback, negative or positive, we become less powerful and ineffective. Team communication breaks down. Leaders become irrelevant.  But for leaders who get it right, feedback can create collaboration, a culture of connection and sustainable change," said Lou Solomon, CEO and founder of Interact. "In their everyday interactions, leaders are clearly not making the connections with their workers that can give them a competitive advantage."

Leaders who aim to become more comfortable communicating with their employees, whether sharing good or not so good news, are those who do the following:

1. Be Direct, Be Kind
Being direct does not require being unkind.  Making someone feel wrong, or feeling superior in some way, is off track. However, offering feedback is an opportunity for growth and can be an incentive for an employee to be more of who they are.  At the same time, a direct conversation falls apart when beating around the bush.  It should include specific examples of behavior to illustrate the issues.

2. Listen
Listening provides a space in which people can feel respected. Ideally a direct feedback conversation is meant to spark learning on both sides—managers and employees must understand the situation together in order to make positive change.

3. Don't Make it Personal
Imagined slights and malice are toxic. It is easy to take things personally in a direct feedback conversation. Acknowledging the emotions being felt will offer the recipient a relief valve for any stress they might experience.

4. Show Up, Be Present
Show up, be fully present—and don't rush off after having a tough conversation with an employee. Be brave enough to allow moments of silence to come into the conversation. Follow up afterward so that afterthoughts don't create imagined distance and hurt feelings.

5. Inspire Greatness
Communicate the brilliance of the recipient and the aspiration for who they can become. Respectful, direct feedback restores the individual and the team to sanity.  It costs absolutely nothing except an emotional investment of honesty, taking the risk of a bad reaction…and being uncomfortable.

To learn more, visit www.interactauthentically.com or @InteractStudio on Twitter; follow Lou Solomon on Twitter @LMSolomon.

Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Interact from January 7-11, 2016 among 2,058 adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,120 are employed and 616 manage any employees in the workplace. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology please contact Erin Vadala, Warner Communications at erin@warnerpr.com.

About Interact
Interact is a communications consultancy that helps Fortune 500 CEOs, business leaders, managers, entrepreneurs and their teams to develop authenticity, make connections, earn trust and build influence. With Lou Solomon at the helm, Interact specializes in drawing out clients' authentic style, which is the source of strength and influence in every form of communication - from conversations and presentations and facilitation to coaching and keynote addresses. Interact offers customized-designed curriculums for teams and organizations, such as Wells Fargo, Duke Energy, Lend Lease, Carolinas Health Care System, Bank of America, Pernod Ricard, Farmer's Insurance, the LPGA, and others; monthly open-enrollment courses; private sessions for individuals; virtual reinforcement; and is available to conduct off-site meetings and retreats. www.interactauthentically.com


Erin Vadala, Warner Communications

978-468-3076 or erin@warnerpr.com

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SOURCE Interact