Managers think they’re better at their jobs than they actually are, survey says

Dive Brief:

  • Managers may not be as effective at relating to their direct reports as they might think, especially regarding worker well-being: Almost 4 in 10 employees believe managers do a “poor to very poor” job addressing mental health, while nearly 6 in 10 managers think they do a “good to very good” job, according to a November survey by background check platform
  • Trust is an issue as well. The same percentage of management (59%) said they will increase investment in mental health programs, but only 40% of employees believe they will actually do so in 2024, per the Dec. 13 report.
  • There’s also a discrepancy in how managers perceive their connection with their direct reports, research suggested: More than 70% of managers said they have great relationships and open communication with workers, yet only 58% of employees would agree. Additionally, more than half of managers said they truly care about their employees’ professional development as opposed to just getting the work done; only slightly more than one-third of employees believe that to be the case.

Dive Insight:

In 2024, several workplace trends are expected to continue, including remote work, return-to-office policies, mental health support and career development, Checkr noted in the report. All have one key element in common – the importance of collaboration between managers and employees, the platform said.

“To encourage a supportive work environment, managers can foster transparent communication channels, encourage skill-building opportunities, and prioritize the holistic well-being of their teams,” researchers suggested. “Conversely, employees can actively engage in continuous learning, adaptability and open communication with their managers.”

Employees and managers are aligned on some issues, Checkr found: Namely, burnout from having to deal with a rapidly changing workplace following the pandemic.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of both management and employees agreed that workers are overworked and far too stressed. More than three-quarters of both groups (management, 78%; employees 82%) agreed that better work-life balance and boundaries are hugely important going into 2024.

Additional studies continue to show that employees want to connect with managers as humans. Workers say the best bosses they’ve ever had are professional, trustworthy and caring, according to a 2023 report from employee insights company Perceptyx.

On the other hand, the worst bosses were described as disrespectful, incompetent, unsupportive and unfair. Both groups bolstered Checkr’s findings: 32% of managers and 40% of employees value responsiveness from their coworkers.

Other studies confirm managers have a big influence on employee well-being and mental health. But the skills that enable managers to be effective leaders and positive influences on their direct reports may not come naturally, especially to new managers.

To remedy this, researchers repeatedly emphasize the importance of training and giving managers the tools to coach. Training programs should be tailored to the role, aligned with the department’s business goals and foster accountability, according to a 2023 report on L&D. The report also suggested that manager training programs should be customized to allow for flexibility and provide opportunities for new managers to implement skills on the job.