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Why you should tell staff how you really feel about them

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If you don’t get along with a colleague or employee, it’s better to tell them how you really feel. Why? Because it might actually help them perform better.

New research has found that allowing unbalanced or differing views of an employee-supervisor relationship  can negatively affect work engagement and motivation. 

Surveying 280 employees and their bosses – from cashiers to senior managers in a host of industries – researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) found workers are more motivated and engaged at their jobs once they know what their boss thinks of them.

“Seeing eye-to-eye about the employee-supervisor relationship is equally, if not more important than the actual quality of the relationship,” said Fadel Matta, lead investigator on the study and a management researcher in MSU’s Broad College of Business, in a press release.

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According to the study, motivation levels dropped when an employee believed he or she had a good relationship with the boss, but the boss saw it differently.

This finding also held when the opposite was true, and the boss believed the relationship was good but the subordinate did not. The two were surveyed separately, meaning the boss did not necessarily know how the employee felt about him or her, and vice versa.

Interestingly, employee motivation was higher (and the employee was more capable to go above and beyond their basic job duties) when the worker and supervisor saw eye-to-eye about the relationship, even if it wasn’t a good relationship. 

The study stressed the importance of both managers and employees misrepresenting how they feel about their relationship.

“Some people would say it’s better to fake it, but our results indicate that the opposite is true. At the end of the day, it’s better for everyone to know where they stand and how they feel about each other,” Matta said.

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