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Unsupported and ineffective managers are damaging productivity

Unsupported and Ineffective Managers Hold Back Company Productivity and Retention

Just one in four people say their manager is effective, and only 29% of managers say their company supports them to be a better people leader, according to the new Foundations of Manager Effectiveness Report from Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI). AWI is the research and insights arm of Achievers, the global leader in employee voice and recognition solutions.

Failing to provide support to managers comes at a steep cost. According to the Report, employees with effective managers are four times more likely to be engaged, five times more likely to be committed, and three times more likely to say they are productive at work compared to those with ineffective managers.

“Team management has never been easy, but in recent years, managers have confronted almost unending challenges, making their jobs more demanding than ever,” says AWI chief workforce scientist Natalie Baumgartner. “From navigating the pandemic era remote work transition, to the current climate of hybrid work and lean teams, managers are the frontline of adapting to the new world of work. Our research shows that managers feel unsupported, causing employees in every industry and function to be negatively impacted.”

Measuring manager effectiveness: introducing the manager net promoter score
A common challenge is finding a consistent way to measure manager effectiveness. Achievers Workforce Institute approaches this problem with an adaption of the commonly used net promoter score (NPS), which usually measures customer satisfaction. Rated out of 10, customers are asked how likely they are to recommend the company or product. Those scoring nine or 10 are considered promoters, while anyone scoring six or below is a detractor (with seven or eight considered “passive” scores).

The manager net promoter score (mNPS) is similar, asking employees whether they would recommend their manager to others. The answer is stark — only about a quarter (28%) say they would.

“At a time when productivity and retention are top of mind, inaction has a heavy price. Employees who would not recommend their manager are significantly less likely to report they are productive at work or that they see a long-term career at their company,” said Dr. Baumgartner. “Manager effectiveness is the ultimate ripple in the pond. If an organization can increase mNPS by 10 percentage points, they will see an outsized improvement in engagement, productivity, and job commitment.”

Four factors drive manager effectiveness
Achievers Workforce Institute compared more than 15 possible factors for manager effectiveness and found four that stood out as doubling the likelihood of a high mNPS.

Contact: They support their team’s success through regular, effective 1:1 meetings

Recognition: They give at least monthly meaningful that makes employees feel valued

Coaching: They provide guidance that helps employees be more effective in their roles

Professional development: They support their employees’ personal and professional development goals

Companies fail on manager support 

There is a noticeable gap between what HR leaders believe they are providing to managers and what those managers report they are receiving.

More than half of HR leaders say they provide quarterly manager training, and just one percent say their organization does not provide training at all. Comparatively, one-third of managers say they receive quarterly training, and one in five (19%) say they have never received manager training at their company.

The number-one training gap identified by managers is professional development, which indicates that people leaders recognize the role HR and company leaders play in creating clear career paths for their employees.

No greener grass beyond glass ceiling
While progress has been made on gender equity and equality in the workplace, women still lag in crucial areas. AWI research from the Report shows men are 26% more likely than women to say they manage people in their role. Women of all levels are less likely to report having a professional development plan, and they are 54% more likely to say their manager never recognizes them. Overall, this paints a picture of women feeling undervalued and overlooked at work.

Once promoted, women feel less supported as people leaders and are more likely to be recent managers (promoted within the last year) and lead small teams of just one or two people. They are also less likely to be managers of managers, indicating that companies still struggle with a “leaky pipeline” — even women who do get promoted to manager are less likely to progress beyond that level.

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