Bad managers make employees feel less valued, SHRM research says

Dive Brief:

  • Eight in 10 of U.S. workers with highly effective managers feel valued at their organization, compared to 35% of workers lacking such managers, according to findings released June 13 from the Society for Human Resource Management.
  • Exemplary leadership has a ripple effect; 87% of highly effective people managers say supervisors who report to them are among the best managers in their organization, according to SHRM’s “Effective People Managers: The Linchpin of Organizational Success.”
  • Effective management practices also strengthen employee morale and retention. Workers who reported having a highly effective manager were more than twice as likely to feel a deep sense of commitment to their employer than those without a strong supervisor, SHRM’s research found. 

Dive Insight:

Contrary to the beliefs of many C-suiters, who’ve said they view retaining talent as primarily an HR responsibility, managers may be critical to retention, according to separate survey results from talent management platform Beamery.

Great companies understand that middle managers, not just HR, are key to employee growth, progression and productivity, Beamery’s CEO said when the results were released late last year.

But research also shows that to succeed, managers need support from their organizations, whether that involves training on coaching and communication skills, more upskilling opportunities for both them and their teams, or other resources.

For example, upskilling could address skills gaps that 80% of managers who responded to the Beamery survey said they have on their teams. Coaching and communication training may help the more than a quarter of managers who admitted they didn’t have a full understanding of what strengths and skills their team members have.

Brushing up on coaching, communication and leadership skills may also help ease the discrepancy between how managers perceive their connection to their direct reports and how their employees really feel, as identified in a November 2023 survey by background check platform Checkr.com. More than 70% of managers said they have a great relationship and open communication with workers, yet only 58% of employees said that was true.

To achieve results, manager training programs should be tailored specifically to the manager’s role and customized to allow for flexibility and continuous improvement, a 2023 report from Info-Tech Research recommended. Effective programs also align with the department’s business goals, foster accountability, allow for feedback and are incorporated into the organization’s culture, the report said.

“People managers are the heartbeat of any successful organization. Their leadership and ability to nurture talent are critical to our employees’ well-being and the overall health of our companies,” Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM president and CEO, said in a statement. “It’s crucial that we equip our people managers with the tools, training, and support they need to excel. When we invest in our managers, we invest in a brighter future for our entire organization.”

Employers may also want to consider investing in ways to address other challenges people managers told SHRM they faced, including: heavy workloads (33%); balancing multiple responsibilities (22%); insufficient resources/budget constraints (20%); balancing competing priorities (20%); and employee turnover and retention (20%).