The 5 things your employee wants to say to you that you do not want to hear

Leadership is one of the most difficult things to get “right” but, is one of the most rewarding when done well.

Many of you reading this lead teams, some big, some small.

All of you want to know the health of your organization, team, department, group, or cohort but, few of you want to actually hear the feedback. I do not mean this in a rude way at all. In fact, that is a normal reaction.


Most of the time you have…

…poured yourself out to shape the culture.

…pushed changes that were not received well.

…put tons of sweat equity in.

When you hear honest feedback it is like someone rubbing salt on a wound.

Often, it is easier to shift blame or discount what certain employees are saying than to sit through and read (listen to) the feedback being hurled your way.

It is difficult to sift through, find common denominators, and fix the problems that the majority of your people are experiencing.

If you choose to listen, make sure you are ready to make changes based on what you hear or your best people who were willing to give you the feedback will walk.

Here is a list of the five things most employees want their employers to know. (In no particular order)

1. We lack healthy communication systems

The number one reason for divorce is communication, by a long shot.

Relationship problems of every kind stem from a lack of healthy communication.

Healthy communication is difficult because it takes work.

In most cases you must take time to understand the listener. You have to be able to relate important information in a way that the listener will hear it.

One of the best questions to ask in this arena is,

What is their personality type and how do they best receive information?

Then as a leader of the organization you have to create systems for disseminating information in a healthy manner to all the different personalities on your staff.

2. We have a fragile/fractured identity

Most people identify themselves with the work they do. Right, wrong, or indifferent we have a tendency to find value in what we spend our effort on.

Unless of course we can not identify with the higher purpose.

When this is the case it is because leadership has not been effective in helping employees find their why.

Simon Sinek, author of Start with why: How great leaders inspire others to action says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

People need to identify with a compelling why that is beyond them and it is the leaders job to help them make that connection.

3. We have people in the wrong seats

Have you ever worked for a company where you were more qualified, more experienced or better equipped to lead the team than the individual that was hired as your boss?

No, me neither. 😜

All jokes aside, we all have.

There is nothing worse than knowing the person leading you is not capable of the task at hand. It takes the wind right out of the sails.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t says, “Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.”

As a leader it is your job to evaluate those you place in middle management positions to see if they are the right fit for your team and better yet your organization. The majority of the time it will take you longer but you need to sit with staff that works under them and ask the hard questions and listen for key statements that will show you the right next step. Then take the step to remove them.

4. Lack of transparency (top/down)

Every employee wants you to know that they value information.

They want you to know that transparency is of the upmost importance.

Even if the news is unsatisfactory, people want to know where the organization stands, where the team stands, and where their performance stands. They do not want to have to guess or fill in the blanks.

Water cooler talk is a great indicator that there is not enough transparency. When people have to guess what is going on is when rumors and assumptions start to flow freely.

Patrick Lencioni, author of Getting Naked: A business fable about shedding the three fears that sabotage client loyalty says, “tell the kind truth.”

Employees want the truth, always.

5. No scorecard (kpi’s : key performance indicators)

People want to know what a win is and they want to know whether they are winning or losing.

There is nothing worse than not knowing where you stand at the beginning of a fiscal year, term, quarter, day, or even hour.

Employees want to be on a winning team.

Letting them track moment by moment creates motivation, inspiration, and a drive to push toward the teams goal.

If the kpi is illusive, hard to understand, buried in an email, not updated, or never talked about the employee will lose interest and will most likely find other things to do with their time.

What gets celebrated, gets repeated.

Keeping the kpi (win) in front of the team at all times creates a bond, loyalty, drive, and anticipation of results.

These five areas are do or die for you as a leader. Your employees care if they are saying these things to you. They want a healthy culture and they want you to value their feedback.

The best way to show that you care is to make the necessary changes immediately.

Loyalty will sky rocket 🚀.

After all, that is the team you want to lead.


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