Managers and employees aren’t on the same page about their relationships, study says

Dive Brief:

  • Managers and employees don’t always see their relationship the same way, according to Ultimate Software, provider of human capital management solutions. The firm released results of a survey it conducted with the Center for Generational Kinetics showing complicated differences between the views of managers and their employees. The findings are based on the responses of 2,000 U.S. workers.
  • According to Ultimate Software , manager relationships are key to job satisfaction and retention among employees, who, in today’s modern world, think transparency, approachability and honesty are the most important characteristics of effective managers.
  • The survey also found that 93% of respondents said that trust in their direct boss is vital to job satisfaction. More than half said they can’t perform their best if they aren’t satisfied at work, and another half said they would turn down a 10% wage increase to remain with a great manager.

Dive Insight:

Studies often show a disconnect between managers and employees, and yet the relationship between the two is vital to job satisfaction and retention — two high priorities for HR.

Employers that want to improve employees’ performance can start by developing better managers. A Human Capital Institute study shows that managers are often sent out into the workplace ill-equipped to oversee others, and that few have the know-how or tools needed to lead successfully. What’s more, less than half of HR managers in the study said that employers are investing enough in management development. As the human capital specialist, HR can lead the change in setting managers and workers on converging paths and seeing that managers get the training they need.

A first step for HR is tackling communication breakdowns and a lack of transparency. HR can promote open, honest and more frequent information-sharing between managers and their direct reports to develop trust. Employees express their preference for regular feedback on their performance in study after study. They’re also interested in receiving updates on their organization’s financial performance and tend to be open to communication from organizational leaders when they first trust their own managers.

Technology makes more frequent and open communication possible by connecting managers and employees in ways they might find the most convenient and engaging, either by text, email, webcam or teleconferencing. But employers shouldn’t rule out face-to-face meetings either. And as part of the move toward more frequent and open communication, HR can maintain its own open-door policy to encourage employees to discuss workplace issues, make suggestions and report misconduct.


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