With the majority of U.S. employees working “at will,” they can be fired at any time, for any reason, unless it’s illegal. This seemingly puts all the power of decision-making into leaders’ hands. Right?
Unfortunately, some employees may already be making the decision to leave — or worse, are halfway out the door.
Many leaders don’t know the full extent of unhappiness throughout their teams as your team is coming to you with smiles on their faces, they’re doing their jobs well, and you only hear “all-is-well” feedback. Yet, all of this can be traced back to their fears of being fired or worsening their working situation before they have a back-up plan set in place if they are fully honest with you.
You need to figure out where your employees stand. Here’s the questions to ask yourself to find out if your employees feel safe opening up to you:
1. Do you approach criticisms and failures as learning opportunities?
Failure is guaranteed. It’s undesirable, but everyone will fail throughout their career. How leaders approach failure is what determines a healthy or unhealthy relationship with employees.
Leaders who are quick to blame, punish, and ridicule medical sales reps push their teams away. For example, when reps miss a deadline or lose a sale, do you take away accounts and give it to a ‘more successful’ rep?
One clear sign that you’re instilling fear by blaming or punishing is when employees take criticism without engaging in conversation. Employees who feel safe in the conversation will either discuss their mistakes openly or defend their work.
Focus on how failures lead to growth in your next tough conversation. And discuss the opportunities to pursue. This makes employees feel safe to fail and encourages psychological safety. When medical sales reps know they can make mistakes without being reprimanded, they’ll feel more comfortable opening up to you on other uncomfortable matters.
2. Are you actually listening to what your team says?
Over half of medical sales reps (54 percent) in our Best Places to Work in Medical Sales report said team building and collaboration are the most important qualities in an employer. Sales reps can’t have effective collaboration, however, if leaders aren’t actively listening.
Not fully listening to what reps are saying stems from our desire as humans in an instant-gratification world to provide a response or solution. Not everything deems a response — especially not an immediate one. When reps open up about something they’re dissatisfied with, they simply want to be acknowledged and understood.
Focus on genuine connections with your team. Practice actively listening and responding in ways that make them feel heard. Ask if they want help finding a solution or if they need time to process. Then, schedule a follow-up to discuss further. Allowing them time to advocate for themselves offers the time, space, and understanding they need to grow in their career and gain confidence as a professional.
3. Are you leading by example?
Everything in your career world isn’t always sunshine and roses. Letting employees see areas of work where you’re dissatisfied in a healthy way encourages them to express their true feelings.
Goals and future planning are a great place to start. Show places where you’re still evolving in your career. What are your long-term goals? What has slowed you from reaching them? Where can you improve? This shows your commitment to your team’s goals, not just how their success impacts you.