The Steep Cost of Poor Management

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Written by Tatiana Beale, Achievers

How do you feel about your job? Do you love it, hate it, or feel like you’re drifting in neutral? If you’re “checked out,” you’re not alone. According to the latest Gallup workplace research, 50% of today’s employees are disengaged. Another 20% are actively disengaged (in other words, openly miserable). That means 70% of today’s workforce is operating under a cloud! The business implications are staggering.

Key Issue: Bad Management

What are the core factors driving workforce disengagement? Gallup says that managers from hell are the primary reason. Poor managers are not only an obstacle to employee engagement — they actually drive employee disengagement. The net effect on business is huge — an estimated cost to U.S. organizations of $450-$550 billion a year. Yes, you read that right. The bottom-line message is clear. Managerial incompetence is not just annoying. It is potentially catastrophic.

What’s The Problem?

The stage is set for disengagement when employees don’t understand their organization’s mission, or see how their efforts contribute to that mission. Poor managers typically don’t emphasize big-picture context, or help employees understand the meaning of their work. They tend not to offer positive feedback when it’s deserved. And they fail to provide constructive criticism or coaching to help employees improve and develop professionally.

Weak managers don’t see value in helping their employees succeed. Why? Often they lack the insight, tools and competence to motivate others, and align their activities with business objectives.

The Upside of Manager Influence

However, there’s another side to this managerial coin. As Gallup’s research reveals, great managers have a highly beneficial impact on business results. Specifically, when leaders focus on building employee engagement and leveraging team strengths, their organizations outperform others across key indicators — earnings per share, profitability, productivity and customer satisfaction.

Every Organization Is Unique

Of course, the right employee engagement strategy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. As Gallup notes, employees come in a spectrum of generational and other shapes and sizes. Jobs are equally diverse. From blue collar factory workers to call center representatives, every situation demand an engagement approach that fits.

Research reflects a variety of issues. For instance, women tend to be slightly more engaged than men. And on average, Millennials are more likely to leave a job within 12 months than their counterparts from other generations. Also, interestingly, employees with a college degree aren’t as likely to report a positive, engaging workplace experience as those with less education. This suggests that more managerial involvement may be appropriate to keep highly-educated employees engaged.

Another point worth noting — engagement is even more important than workplace perks in boosting employee performance. In other words, benefits are no substitute for a personal connection with work. Engagement initiatives must take these realities into account.

Turning Disengagement Around

So, what can your company do to improve employee engagement? The Gallup findings are undeniable. Success starts with business managers. It’s important to select the right managerial talent, right from the start. And once managers are on board, coach them, support them, and hold them accountable. Help them understand why employee engagement is essential to business success. Work with them to connect with employees on an individual level. After all, your workers are human beings, not robots. Both effective managers and effective engagement strategies recognize and respect this fact.

For more ideas about the role of today’s manager in driving employee engagement and business success, read the Achievers 2013 Guide to Recognition.

What do you think about the findings summarized above? Do you believe managers from hell are destroying employee engagement? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.

Tatiana Beale (427x640)(Author Profile: Tatiana Beale is a Senior Marketing Communications Specialist at Achievers. She is passionate about changing workplaces for the better and inspiring Employee Success™ through insightful content. Tatiana believes that employee happiness is the key to a wildly successful company, and means it when she says “I love my job.”)

Republished with permission from Achievers Employee Success Blog.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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  1. Great post, Tatiana! The findings at first are pretty severe – but in retrospect, not all that surprising. I think we’ve all had a manager who tended not to engage us and in some cases pushed us toward the opposite end of the spectrum… I think one of the keys is encouraging open and often communication between managers and employees, including feedback on performance for both manager and employee. Candid communication and support among teams, as well as early and often goal reviews and transparency with senior leadership can work wonders!

  2. I agree with Catie – great post!
    Employees shall not be miserable at work! That 70% of employees are miserable is terrible, and something should definetly be done. The majority of managers doesn’t use time and energy on explayning the employees what a great effort and difference they do. Of course, the manager shall not prise these employees who are lazy at job, but the ones who really work a lot and give everything they have – they deserve praise!

    The bad managers should learn from the good ones! Maybe they need education on how they shall act among their employees, or how to lead a company… I don’t think enough managers have these great competences it demands to create a great mood at work. The greatest job you have as a manager, is to secure a great work environment. Everyone should love to go to work! Okay, maybe not love, but at least like it and be happy at work!

    We have to insist on this! If the managers isn’t good enough, he maybe need an education or maybe he’s just the right person for the job…

  3. Hello Tatiana,

    Thanks for an interesting article.

    Creating an engaged workforce is not hard to do, see steps below.

    Step 1. Have the CEO do her job well all of the time.
    Step 2. Have all the CEO’s direct reports (executives) do their jobs well all of the time.
    Step 3. Have all the managers do their jobs well all of the time.
    Step 4. Have all the supervisors do their jobs well all of the time.
    Step 5. All employees will do their jobs well all of the time if all the others are doing their jobs well all of the time.

    Oh wait, it is too hard to get the CEO, executives, managers and supervisors to do their jobs well all of the time so we’ll just expect/demand/cajole/bribe/reward the employees to do their jobs well all of the time. Oops, that will not create engaged employees; never mind.

    Key Issue: Bad Management

    I agree since only 80% of employers are well-suited to their jobs including supervisor, managers, executives, and CEOs.

    What’s The Problem?

    We keep hiring the wrong people to be managers and above.

    The Upside of Manager Influence

    Yes, the 20% who fit their jobs can create an engaged workforce but if the executives are ill-suited to their jobs success may be fleeting.

    Every Organization Is Unique

    This is a shibboleth (def. a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, esp. a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important.) that needs to go away. All organizations have one thing in common that makes them not unique-all employees are people.

    Turning Disengagement Around

    There are many factors to consider when hiring talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire for talent nor manage talent effectively.

    1. How do you define talent?
    2. How do you measure talent?
    3. How do you know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do you know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do you match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Employers need to assess for:

    – Cultural Match (Cultural Fit)
    – Skills Match (Competence)
    – Job Match (Talent)

    Some employers assess for all three.

    Potential is identified during the Job Match evaluation.

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