• When You Say Nothing at All ...

      By Urmila Mandapaka, IT Consultant
      2 Sept 2015 

      how much is enoughCommunication is such an important aspect of our lives, it’s the one thing that allows us to relate to one another. Yet increasingly I find it the most overlooked. An important part of making a new employee feel comfortable in their new organization is reassuring them that how they feel is important and that they are able to communicate openly and honestly with their direct managers, their peers and their organization as a whole. Despite this initial impression, however, the opposite is happening today, where most employees don’t feel comfortable sharing how they feel at all with their managers or their HR, and this has a negative repercussion not only on their performance, but also on the ability of employers to retain good employees.

      This is a real issue, one I’ve specifically identified for us recruiters as well. Candidates that we place may not be comfortable telling us that they are having some issues in their new workplace, or as an interview process is going along, they don’t feel comfortable telling us exactly what they think about a particular role. For example, a role that they might have recently started doesn’t live up to the expectations that were set during the interview. They begin feeling frustrated, and before you know it, they have resigned without a second thought (and sometimes without even a job on hand). Similarly, on the flip side, employers don’t tell us specifically what they like/don’t like about a candidate and recruiters are left guessing most of the time. This is both time consuming and time wasting, which ultimately doesn’t help the employer or candidate, because we aren’t getting the information we need to be able to act accordingly.

      There are a number of reasons why this could be happening: 

      • Most people are afraid of speaking up because they think the conversations they have won’t be kept confidential and this will have negative repercussions on their career. For example, if they do want to share with their manager that they aren’t getting along well with someone in their team, then they may not do it if they feel their manager might go and share this with that person.  
      • Saying something for fear of looking weak or incompetent in front of their managers. For example, if your boss hands you a piece of work and asks you to get it done, you would want to try to work it out for yourself rather than ask any questions, for fear of being perceived as not knowing how to do your job. Then there’s the more common scenario, where you‘re being plied with more and more work, which is becoming increasingly difficult to manage but you don’t tell your manager for fear of being seen as inefficient.  
      • Simply, most people just don’t like confrontation, and saying something that might sound “unsavoury”. So instead of speaking to their Managers, they go in search of “better opportunities” , and the next thing the Manager knows, an employee has just put in his resignation letter. 

      So how can this be rectified?

      There are a couple ideas I have: 

      • Managers and HR need to spend more time asking employees what their thoughts are rather than just assuming that they will come speak when they want to. People need to truly feel that they can share, and constant reassurance will make them feel more at ease. When asked the question, people can only say “nothing is wrong” so many times!  
      • Recruiters need to constantly be engaging candidates, and encouraging them to communicate what they’re thinking, what’s important to them. 
      • Prospective employers need to communicate the full extent of responsibilities during interviews. Personal experience has taught me it’s better that a candidate walk away from a process before joining rather than after the company has invested a lot of time and effort to bring the new person on board. 

      The bottom line is this, if you are having issues in your workplace, with your job, your manager or there’s something going wrong in your personal life, you need to talk about it to your Manager. In all of the examples I outlined above, if people had taken the decision to speak up, chances are something could have been done to address their concerns, resulting in a better outcome for everyone. This may not be true in every scenario but if you’re planning on resigning anyway, then it wouldn’t hurt you to communicate honestly, and if nothing else, you’ve made the life of the next person in your role a lot easier. Better out than in they always say!