Culture Matters Series: The Manager and Employee Relationship

Workplace culture, an overused and ill-defined term, often elicits emotional and opinionated responses from business and HR leaders alike. Regardless, an organization’s “health” is its multiplier of intelligence, and business leaders across the globe agree.

For the purpose of this article, we share our WorkDove definition of culture, but with a caveat. We believe there are two factors that make up the “what” of company culture: intentional and unintentional. 


What Is Culture?

Culture is: the behaviors and actions that are lived out on a daily basis.  

Intentional culture is the connection your team has to your mission, vision, and values coupled with how leadership responds to those 3 factors. It is no surprise that leadership sets the tone for the mission, vision, and core values through what they reward, how they hire, and their own personal actions. Each employee also brings their own unique connection to these 3 factors. (Note: if your organization does not have any or all of these 3 factors defined yet, that is a great place to start! Check out our Behaviors page for resources). 

As wonderful as it would be to control all aspects of culture, of course this is not the case. Now entering from stage left, unintentional culture: how your team responds to internal and external ‘moments of truth’. Moments of truth are those core, collective memories that team members can look back at and define as pivotal moments in the company’s journey. The pandemic. Relocations. Mergers and acquisitions. New leaders. These are all moments of truth and how a company does or does not respond, specifically the leaders, gives an indication of the unintentional culture that every team member helps to create. 


The Manager and Employee Relationship

In Part 1 of this Culture Matters blog series, we are focusing on one concept of intentional culture: the manager and employee relationship. 

According to Salesforce, “employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.” Similarly, Gallup states that roughly 70% of a team’s engagement is influenced by managers. The effect this relationship has on the overall company culture is unmatched. 

Managers, this is for you. Here are our 3 takeaways of practical applications you can enact today.

  1. Planned and Protected Time  📅

Schedule and document conversations with your direct reports. This may feel like a “duh” but in our experience, the majority of managers are reactive, not proactive when it comes to meetings with their team. Recurring calendar invites show you value your time with them, you are invested in their development, and you are protecting that time by blocking it off. Our platform contains a Microsoft and Google calendar integration to accomplish exactly this. Our recommendation is a 20-minute check-in meeting once a month where the conversation is high-level and employee-driven. Bring a listening ear, a coaching hat, and a loose agenda to ensure that short time is well spent. (Tip: Check out our Check-In app here!)

        2. Set Clear Expectations  🔎

Clearly defined performance objectives and core values allow both manager and employee to speak the same language and reach alignment. These two things must be discussed regularly to ensure employees never doubt where they stand with their performance or with you. We have empirical evidence to show that performance and behaviors are two separate factors that are mutually exclusive. You CAN have a high performer and low cultural fit in the same person, and vice versa. Our Performance-Values Matrix allows you to measure both items separately, and our Performance Review app allows for documenting the conversations had around both pieces. 

Clear expectations also set you up to be the best manager you can be. You will have the tools you need to provide good coaching when crucial conversations around performance or behaviors need to happen. And trust us, they will happen.          

        3. Praise and Recognition 🎉

Praising good behaviors is a way to operationalize those company core values. When you put words and praise around a particular behavior in the moment it creates a well-crafted image of what behaviors are both expected and respected. Core values tend to be seen as very subjective, and managers often struggle with how to provide accurate evaluation of how their employees are displaying these behaviors. Recognizing them in the moment presents the employee and their colleagues who are watching with a marker in which to reference themselves against. 

How can you recognize hybrid or fully remote employees for behaviors you do not physically see? Our recommendation is during those once-a-month check-ins, have one of the agenda items slated for asking your employee what recent accomplishment they are most proud of. It turns out when you ask people what they should be recognized for, they will tell you!

The manager and employee relationship is as crucial to culture as culture is to the healthiness of any organization. 

Want to learn more on how you can intentionally affect your workplace culture starting today? Request a demo below!

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