I hear that many people would rather quit their jobs than work for an inadequate manager. Research from numerous sources such as the Gallup Organization continues to highlight the importance of employees’ relationships with their immediate supervisors. Under-management is the common denominator in most cases of poor workplace performance:

The key factor affecting employee engagement was and remains the relationship employees have with their immediate supervisors. That’s why we had been asking a different question of business leaders: “Are your MANAGERS ‘engaged’ or not?” ~ The Under-Management Epidemic Report 2014: …Ten Years Later

The costs and lost opportunities caused by insufficient management are incalculably high and have remained consistent over the last 10 years. Direct reports are more likely to feel resource-constrained, uninformed and frustrated by team/interdepartmental relationships.

It seems to me that organizations can ill afford poor management in the post-recession era. Lean and flexible workplaces require finely tuned HR management, as there are simply fewer employees and managers. Yet, employees still rely on their immediate supervisors more than any other individuals for meeting basic needs and expectations.

Here’s what managers report as reasons for failing to provide consistent management basics (in decreasing order):

  1. Lack of time (largely due to nonmanagerial responsibilities and increased spans of control)
  2. Lack of sufficient training in the best practices, tools and techniques of effective supervision, management and leadership
  3. Lack of sufficient resources and support—a function of increased productivity requirements and tight budgets
  4. Constantly changing priorities
  5. Logistical constraints (i.e., remote locations, different schedules, language or cultural barriers)

In my opinion, some managers have gone overboard when providing greater autonomy and empowerment. Perhaps they fear accusations of micromanagement. As the Rainmaker report notes:

We also find another less straightforward set of causes of under-management that are more psychological or philosophical in nature. This is a combination of what we refer to as:

  • “False empowerment thinking” (the belief that managers should refrain from asserting authority by being strictly directive or punitive)

  • Plus “false nice-guy syndrome” (the belief that being strong is tantamount to being unfriendly or will lead to negative interactions or conflict)

  • Plus fear of other various potential negative repercussions (such as complaints, bad-mouthing, foot-dragging, sabotage, lawsuits, etc.)

Some managers say they could be stronger and better engaged, but they choose to avoid doing so, citing one of the aforementioned reasons.

What about you in your workplace? Could you provide more engaged management? I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.