Why Do So Many Managers Ignore The Obvious and Neglect Feedback?

Have you ever used a new product with perfectly obvious instructions, e.g., “Do not use hair dryer in shower?” Or perhaps seen a sign like the one at right?

The Huffington Post ran a series of these oh-so-obvious instructions recently, which made me think of the obvious leadership and management approaches we all know in the workplace – and yet still fail to implement.

Psyblog listed the “10 Psychological Keys to Job Satisfaction,” three of which were achievement, feedback, and organizational support. I read this and thought, “How obvious!” But I know many employees rarely if ever experience a sense of achievement in their work because no one ever gives them feedback on their work.

Workers need feedback AND down time

Without feedback, employees cannot correlate their work to achievement of anything necessary or worthwhile. Without the this feedback on achievement, employees cannot feel any sense of support from the organization for what they do daily.

Think what a detriment to employee engagement such managers cause by ignoring the obvious. Research out of Erasmus University Rotterdam makes this quite clear:

When employers satisfy basic human needs for social support, feedback and employee opportunities for growth, work gets done more quickly and with better results. The process is cyclical, because working better is more rewarding for the worker, which in turn increases the employee’s engagement and effectiveness, [Arnold B.] Bakker, [psychologist at Erasmus] says.

“Interestingly, engagement — or high-quality performance — is greatest when the demands of the job are highest, Bakker adds. … However, workers should not be held to impossible standards.

“‘Down time,’ says Bakker, ‘is not only a mark of sympathetic management. It helps renew workers, keeping them happy, productive and engaged,’ which in turn results in a virtuous cycle of work engagement, job satisfaction and higher productivity.”

Too few bosses look to boost motivation

Creating room for “down time” is another one of those “obvious” points. No person can work at peak performance constantly. With the after-effects of the recession continuing to linger in low job creation rates, fewer employees continue to do the work of multiple positions.

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Leadership must acknowledge the stress and tension created in such an environment by praising and recognizing employees for their expanded roles and contributions. Research out of the UK found the bottom-line value in addressing employee tension with efforts to improve employee engagement:

Less than one in five bosses take specific measures to boost the motivation of staff who are feeling stressed out. … Improving employee engagement in order to deal with worker tension could turn out to be cost-effective in the long run, as 42,000 people were absent from their jobs in the three months leading up to December 2010 due to stress.”

What “obvious” management and leadership initiatives are being overlooked in your organization? What are you doing to take action on the “obvious?”

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.


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