How to Ask Whether an Employee Is Happy at Work
Just like not being sick isn’t the same as being healthy, not complaining about their job doesn’t mean an employee is happy at work. Christopher Littlefield describes how to find out if an employee is happy at work in an article for HBR. Highlights follow.
Context and Presence
Check in and be present. Writes Littlefield, “Let your employee know this is not a performance conversation or a meeting to talk about projects, but instead a check-in to understand how they are doing and how you can best support them.” He adds, “Whether you are meeting in person or via phone or video put away any distractions. Turn off notifications, put away your computer and phone, and close out your email and any chat functions. Intentionally or unintentionally, nothing closes down sharing faster than someone looking away or responding to something else when they are sharing.”
Ask, then Listen
Listen like never before because it matters. Littlefield advises, “When training leaders to have stay conversations, they will often express the concern “What if my team member brings up a problem I can’t address, or asks for a raise or promotion I can’t give them?” My response is always, “Isn’t it better to understand what is going on than to ignore it?” And, in most cases, the act of authentically listening to a person’s concerns often addresses them or, at a minimum, helps you identify a path forward together. In my experience, nervous leaders will enter conversations expecting the worst, when things are actually going well.”
Hearing about problems can tempt anyone to offer an off-the-cuff solution that may make things worse. But, Littlefield offers, “If the person starts sharing frustrations or what comes across as complaints about their work, working remotely, lack of childcare, etc., remember that behind every complaint is a commitment. Avoid the temptation to try and propose solutions, instead, listen for their commitment, reframe it, and ask about what you could do to address it together.”
Every meeting of this type has actionable intelligence. Littlefield concludes, “In the last ten minutes of your conversation, shift your discussion to the next steps. If there are multiple things you did not have time to discuss, schedule a meeting to continue the discussion. If there are follow-up actions you will each take, put them in writing so your team member knows you really heard them out.” Additionally, “While this may feel like “extra work” that you may not have time for, in reality, you don’t have time not to have a stay conversation. Remember, it is the simplest actions that often have the biggest impact.”
If you are interested in learning more about getting the best IT talent in the Dallas metroplex, BCT specializes in recruiting IT talent in Dallas, Ft. Worth, and North Texas. So if you are looking for a rewarding career, contact us today.