Employee Satisfaction: The Manager’s Role

By Kelli Massaro

Individuals have several basic intrinsic needs that must be met in the workplace to feel satisfied. As a manager, if you can meet these needs for your staff, you can positively influence retention. In many cases, nurturing good relationships with your employees can override negative effects of extrinsic organizational factors. Different things motivate different people, and you may need to use multiple strategies to achieve individual employee satisfaction and improve performance. In general, staff seek a mutually supportive relationship with their supervisor, a sense of belonging and security, a feeling of contribution, control over or input into decisions regarding their work, and appreciation.

Good Relationships with Supervisors: Employees desire good, fair supervision. This is the second biggest factor in employee retention after job fit. Supervisors and managers who use a constructive “coaching” style when delivering feedback will nurture growth and learning among their employees. Conversely, supervisors that “police” for infractions and shortfalls will create fear and inhibit employees’ growth potential. Feedback should be timely and include both praise for things done well and suggestions for improvement.

Belonging to a Team is more than working together with a group of people. It’s created when an individual feels a personal investment in the organization’s shared vision and works to better one’s self and the department. In a collaborative culture, team members participate in call center decision-making. Trust your employees enough to delegate projects and explore their ideas. Promote the feeling of “our” call center. Stay open-minded to new ways of looking at things and take advantage of networking with other call centers to explore alternative solutions. This will push your program, as well as your employees, to new heights.

Contribution: Employees enjoy the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to their workplace. Pooling the unique talents, gifts, and interests of team members creates an opportunity for each employee to excel and have unique ownership for a project or the work itself. You should seek opportunities to specifically engage and recognize your employees in this regard.

Security is an individual perception regarding “safety,” whether it’s financial, physical, emotional, or a combination thereof. When security feels threatened due to lack of managerial support, lack of communication, or a number of other factors, employees begin to experience anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction. Communicating regularly, and more often during times of change, promotes trust and provides a sense that there is more within each team member’s control.

Control: Employees don’t like change when they feel it is “done to them.” Poor change management skills in an organization’s or a department’s leaders is a frequent job dissatisfier among call center staff. Change is much more palatable for employees if they have some input regarding decisions that impact those on the front line. Implementing change with staff suggestions in mind will achieve better staff support and more positive results.

Recognition and Appreciation: Recognizing a job well done and showing appreciation to employees on a regular basis goes a long way toward keeping employees satisfied. These can be done in small ways, such as a verbal “thank-you” or written note.

Although a powerful motivator, no incentive program can replace good leadership and management practices. The key to retention is attending to the basics: hire right, provide a fun and engaging “team” workplace, provide opportunities for employees to stay challenged and make a contribution, involve staff in decisions, communicate effectively, and coach with timely feedback. No amount of praise or rewards will keep and attract staff if the basic intrinsic needs of employees are not met.

Kelli Massaro, RN, works as a triage nurse for The Children’s Hospital of Denver. She is also the communications director with LVM Systems; she may be reached at kelli@lvmsystems.com.

[From the February/March 2008 issue of AnswerStat magazine]