Are your employees mind readers?…. by @KarenYoungHR #IndieRetail

When meeting with Managers and business owners, I am quite often faced with feedback regarding their employees that a manager can’t stand it when they don’t do certain things in certain ways, or they can’t bear it when for example an email goes out without a signature on it…
Sometimes really small and petty things that can appear to drive managers insane!
However, my question to you is….. Does your employee know?

You need to make it clear what you want to employees – they aren’t mind readers!

Do they know that you want them to let you know if they are popping out for lunch, that they’ve placed that order you asked, that they’ve stocked the copier with paper, that the spreadsheet they keep changing shouldn’t be changed because you need it your way for a reason, that ‘can’t you see I’m up to my eyes in it, so if you could stay for 15 minutes to help me this evening, that would be great’???

All the examples can seem quite petty, but my point is this…. If you do not tell your employees what you want, when you want it or why you want it, then you can’t expect them to be mind readers can you?

We all have different priorities in life and work is a different priority for everyone

One of my biggest challenges when I was first a manager was that my perception was that my 2 members of staff didn’t care a jot, didn’t see the bigger picture, didn’t see my priorities or my urgencies and to be honest they probably had the desire to run in the other direction, especially at 5pm because they wanted to beat the traffic, go out etc.

The thing is, we all have different priorities in life and work is a different priority for everyone. For you the manager, the business owner, the profit hoper – this is your life, your passion, your future pension. For your employees, it’s a paycheck at the end of the month so they can live, get by, go shopping, get drunk and so on (without meaning to generalise!) and generally live paycheck to paycheck.

If you want your employees to work the way you do, then give up now!!!

My other point is this… if you want your employees to work the way you do, then give up now, because they won’t, unless you are intending on handing them the company at some point in the future. If you really think about it, it’s the same with kids, wives, husbands – they hardly do things in the way you want them to do they? And employees are no different. Just because you want something done in a certain way, doesn’t mean they automatically see that too.

If there is work they do or ways they do things that annoy you, then tell you must tell them. Communication is so lost in the workplace now, we write emails as we speak so therefore the tonality and language is easily mis-interpreted and you end up with even more of a mis-understanding and possible resentment. Employees end up feeling picked on.

Have a look at some ‘quick-quip’ emails you have sent to employees, the ones that can come across curt, abrupt, blunt and possibly even rude, because you have written them on the fly without thinking about the tonality?

This is why you must find time to sit down with your employees and forge that relationship with them. Not the blind one where you assume that they assume they know what you want and when you want it and in what way! They will never work to your way of thinking so please give up thinking that they will.

You need clear guidelines, clear boundaries, clear instruction and clear communication about what you want.

In the long run this will save a lot of complaining on your part to your friends, partners, co-managers etc.

If you take one message from this, then let it be this – Don’t moan to your friends and family about your employee(s), tell the people you should be telling – your employees !

They are not mind-readers. They never have been and they never will be.

This blog was written by Karen Young, founder of HR Innovate. Karen is a straight talking no-nonsense HR and organisational design expert who prior to starting her own business worked for major UK retailers includin Dixons Stores Group.


About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
This entry was posted in Blog-a-day for Indie Retail, Independent Retailer Month 2011 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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