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Research Reveals the Impact of Great (and Not so Great) Managers

Research Reveals the Impact of Great (and Not so Great) Managers

The influence of great management on business outcomes and employee health and well-being cannot be overstated. Successful managers do their part to build a culture that employees love, and one where they want to stay. They help transform employees into brand ambassadors who will recommend the organization's products and services to their friends and colleagues, and refer talent for open positions. 

But given how dramatically our workplaces and our relationship with work have changed in recent years, what are the traits that define exceptional management today? What behaviors are most commonly exhibited by bad managers? And perhaps most importantly, what impact does great (and not so great) management have on business performance and the employee experience? 

These were the questions my colleagues and I wanted to answer. The resulting report, The Management Behaviors That Make (or Break) a Great Employee Experience, investigates this topic in greater detail and shares our findings.

Good Managers vs. Bad Managers

Perceptyx explored managerial behaviors from two perspectives: employees and managers. We gathered insights from more than 1,500 individual contributors across diverse industries, inquiring about their opinions on specific managerial behaviors, their assessment of their own managers, as well as their workplace perceptions, engagement levels, and personal well-being. Concurrently, we interviewed 1,500 People leaders, seeking their perspective on crucial managerial behaviors, how they would rate themselves on these behaviors, and the resources they need to develop and improve.

Both managers and employees agreed on key management behaviors: information transfer, giving recognition, and providing positive feedback.


Of the employees surveyed, 75% have worked with their current manager for over a year, and 64% consider them to be their best manager ever. However, 24% consider their current boss to be the worst they've ever had. Notably, 2 out of 3 would willingly take their manager's job, with nearly half believing they could perform better, signaling potential confidence issues with current management.

Good Managers and Bad Managers

Both managers and employees agreed on key management behaviors: information transfer, giving recognition, and providing positive feedback. Self-rated top managers mirrored employees' perception of excellent management, but those struggling with these behaviors exhibited less self-awareness, often overrating their performance.

Talking Past Each Other: Manager-Employee Communication Challenges

One significant divergence in perception was around responsiveness, rated highly by employees but less so by managers. Employees with highly responsive managers reported them as the best, while unresponsive managers were often cited as the worst. Perhaps unsurprisingly, managers were less self-aware about their responsiveness levels than employees.

While most managers reported ample formal management training, additional coaching was desired by many, particularly for improving communication. Although a human coach was the preferred choice, a large number were open to AI-powered development solutions — such as Cultivate Intelligent Coaching — highlighting an easily scalable, and more cost-effective approach for many organizations.

Manager-Employee Communication Challenges

Our data revealed significant discrepancies between managers' and employees' perceptions in the area of communication dynamics. Notably, while half of the managers claim to often initiate conversations with their direct reports, only 21% of employees agree. Furthermore, more than a third of employees desire more frequent communication with their managers, suggesting a shortfall in meeting their expectations. Even formal communication events, like one-on-one meetings, show this mismatch, with less than half of employees agreeing that their manager initiates these sessions.

Understanding this perceptual disparity is essential, as good communication is the cornerstone of effective management. Around two-thirds of employees found one-on-one meetings beneficial, with those reporting high benefits from these interactions being 43x more likely to rate their manager as the best they've ever had. However, even the most skilled managers can misjudge the quality and effectiveness of their communication, highlighting the importance of recognizing and bridging these perceptual gaps to enhance the employee experience.

Great Managers Drive Great Business Outcomes

Employees working under their best bosses report positive work environments, better health outcomes, and decreased negative coping behaviors. They're also 2.5x more likely to be fully engaged, put in discretionary effort, advocate for the brand, and stay for the long term. In contrast, employees under substandard managers suffer from reduced productivity due to workplace stress and are more likely to report personal life disturbances, including poor behavior with family and friends and sleep disruptions.

Great management also influences positive perceptions of daily work experiences. Around 80% of employees under the best bosses report favorable interdepartmental cooperation, compared to only 25% under the worst bosses. They're more likely to align with the organization's future vision, feel supported in career development, and report a sense of belonging. Furthermore, they report manageable workplace stress, reasonable workloads, and better work-life balance. 

Perceptyx Can Help You Cultivate World-Class Managers

Our full report, The Management Behaviors That Make (or Break) a Great Employee Experience, analyzes the state of management in 2023 and offers practical strategies to promote positive managerial behaviors, enhance employee engagement, and maintain a healthy, productive workplace. We also invite you to view our recent webinar for a deeper dive into the subject. Click here to download the report or watch the on-demand webinar.

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