Executives focus—with good reasons—on the lack of employee engagement that is pervasive in organizations. A 2013 Gallup poll found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. But the real question to ask yourself as a manager is, “Am I a truly engaged manager?”

You may think you’re a good boss, but a recent survey reports 9 out of 10 managers are providing insufficient oversight—a problem that consultant Bruce Tulgan calls the “under-management epidemic.”

Ten years ago, research from Rainmaker Thinking, Inc. confirmed an epidemic of workplace under-management. The firm’s ongoing study reveals that under-managing remains rampant. A full 90% of all leaders and managers do not provide direct reports with sufficient guidance, support and coaching.

5 Management Tasks

So what qualifies as under-managing? It occurs when leaders with supervisory authority fail to regularly and consistently provide employees with five vital management basics:

  1. Clear statements of broad performance requirements and specific expectations
  2. Support and guidance regarding resources necessary to meet requirements and expectations
  3. Accurate monitoring, measurement and documentation of individuals’ actual performance
  4. Regular candid feedback about actual performance
  5. Rewards and penalties distributed in proportion to actual performance

Managers Are In Denial

What makes the problem worse is that most managers are unaware of their deficient administration:

  • Fifty percent think they’re doing an “excellent” or “very good” job of managing direct reports.
  • Twenty percent believe they’re doing a “reasonably good” job.
  • Only 10% provide the necessary management basics at least once a week.
  • Only 20% provide all of the basics at least once every two weeks.
  • Only 30% provide all management basics at least once a month.
  • Nearly 50% fail to provide all of the management basics to every direct report even once a year.

This is a problem. When employees aren’t getting enough good support but managers think they’re doing just fine, something’s wrong. Hopefully, this report will serve as a wake up call.

What about you in your workplace? Are you under-managing? I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.