Strategies to Improve Manager and Employee Relationships|Strategies to Improve Manager and Employee Relationships

5 Strategies to Improve Manager and Employee Relations

There are two priorities if you are a human resources leader. First, ensure that compensation, benefits and compliance is handled properly. Without those elements, nothing else matters. Second, guide and teach leaders how to create an outstanding employee experience. Employees who are happy, challenged and invested lead to success at the bottom line. Since managers are on the front line with employees, they have the most impact on a person’s career.

One of the first patterns you see when working in human resources and dealing with manager and employee relationships is that over half of the issues stem from employees not being satisfied with their working relationship with their boss. Complaints range from dislike of micro-managers to working for someone who is so distant that a relationship never forms. In a recent 2013 survey on the manager’s direct impact on employment brand conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Glassdoor, two out of three (66%) employees say their direct manager has an impact on their career. Of those, one in five says the boss negatively impacts their career. This perception directly impacts the view of the employment brand as these employees share their experiences with the world.

I’ve found that as I’ve worked with executives over the last 20 years, one thing stands out: If there is not a match in style between the leader and the employee, ultimately that working relationship will suffer. Over time, the employee will become dissatisfied and leave the company; the leader will not be satisfied with the employee and performance will suffer; or both people stay in the relationship and the department never reaches its full productivity potential.

So, what can HR professionals do in order to help stop the perceptions that bosses are hurting employee careers and promote a more positive interaction? What can you do to improve manager relationships with employees?

According to Amanda Lachapelle, HR director at Glassdoor, there are five key steps leaders can take to proactively approach the issue:

1. Encourage direct managers to have regular 1:1 meetings with each team member. These meetings should be two-way conversations – they should help managers get insight on what each individual is looking for in their career, and in turn provide the employee with a clearer picture of how their career path fits into the business trajectory.

2. Set clear expectations on company perks and benefits. This is something that must happen as soon as a person interviews with a company and must also be demonstrated from senior leaders on down. Should changes need to happen to a company’s perks, they should be communicated out with details including the reason behind the change.

3. Have a ‘no surprises’ approach to your company’s work environment. Remind managers that anyone who interviews should have a clear picture of what the work environment is like before they accept the job. If you have someone who thrives in a highly collaborative work environment, but your company takes a different approach, it should be made clear what the work environment is like early on. However, change is inevitable. If direct managers are looking to mix things up in an effort to promote a better work environment, it’s always best to communicate early about the change to ensure better employee relations.

4. Learn more about what motivates employees. A good manager will not be afraid to ask for constructive feedback. Be hungry to learn what some of the best reasons are to work at your company from the eyes of the employees and stay in sync with any downsides employees may be feeling. Direct managers are on the front lines; they should be asking questions often and be reading up on their employees’ company reviews on sites like Glassdoor to get a better handle on what’s working and what’s not. Plus, when candidates research jobs and companies on sites like Glassdoor before accepting a job offer, Glassdoor research shows that turnover can be reduced by as much as 22 percent.

5. Stay on top of how your employment brand is impacting your recruiting regularly. While it’s not always easy to catch impacts of a direct manager when they happen, HR professionals and others responsible for managing your company’s brand can use Glassdoor’s Employer Center, accessible via a free employer account, to track employee satisfaction month over month, see how your brand is influencing target job candidates,  find out what jobs are most sought after, and see demographics on who is looking at your company profile.

If there is a mismatch of your leadership style and your employee’s style and you do not recognize it, your relationship may never see success. One or both of you will be disappointed in the other person. This disappointment will cause friction over time if not addressed and eventually, something has to give. That's why one of the key methods of improving employee relations involves nipping it in the bud as soon as possible.

Having stronger, more trusting manager and employee relationships is the key to having a strong employment brand.  The key as a leader is to continuously focus on your interactions with employees.  By providing a positive, teaching and nurturing work environment, employees will feel that their career is positively impacted and they will remain at your company.