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Firm Management

Managers Think They Are Doing Great But Employees Disagree, Survey Finds

A new Gallup poll finds a disconnect across the board between manager self-perception and employee sentiment.

By Suzanne Lucas, Inc. (TNS)

Everyone says people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

And yet, managers don’t get the feedback they need to improve, according to a new survey from Gallup. As a result, many think they’re doing a better job than they actually are. Here’s what you need to know—and what you can do about it.

Managers and employees don’t see eye to eye

Gallup found a disconnect across the board between manager self-perception and employee sentiment:

Manager responsiveness

  • “72 percent of managers say they respond to messages and calls within 24 hours.”
  • “51 percent of employees say their managers respond within 24 hours.”


  • “69 percent of managers say they provide quality feedback.”
  • “50 percent of employees say they receive quality feedback.”


  • “53 percent of managers say they are approachable.”
  • “45 percent of employees say their managers are approachable.”


  • “32 percent of managers say they manage in a way that motivates outstanding performance.”
  • “22 percent of employees feel their managers manage in a way that promotes outstanding performance.”


  • “59 percent of managers say they give recognition for good work.”
  • “35 percent of employees believe their managers give recognition for good work.”

Some of these things are objective—either managers respond within 24 hours or they don’t. But most of them are subjective: What is “quality feedback“? How do you motivate “outstanding” performance? Are all employees capable of outstanding performance?

Train your managers

In short, no. Anyone who has ever worked with humans knows that even with proper management, some employees won’t succeed, let alone give outstanding performances. But we also know that many managers don’t know how to motivate their teams.

You can work with this, though. Managers deserve proper training. Consider implementing some of the following ideas:

Communication training You may both speak English, but the manager and employee’s languages still differ. “Great job!” may be enough for the manager to think they are giving “meaningful feedback,” while the employee wants to hear details on what they did well and what they can improve on–or vice versa.

Communication is all about learning to understand one another. This doesn’t have to be painful—one of the successful ways I teach communication skills is through improv comedy. You’d be amazed at what you can learn while laughing.

Provide structure for feedback Do your managers hold regular 1:1 meetings with their employees? Or do they just give information when they feel like it? Sometimes providing structure for managers to regularly coach their employees can increase the amount of information flowing back and forth.

Require senior leaders to provide feedback to managers Why should your line managers give feedback to their employees if they aren’t receiving any feedback from their own bosses? The senior leadership team needs to set an example with regular and clear feedback to the management team.

Set clear expectations One of the ways that feedback falls apart is when the boss has one idea about what should happen and the employee has a completely different idea. When managers know how to set clear expectations, feedback automatically becomes more meaningful.

Train all your managers on how to manage Most companies promote people who are doing a great job to management positions. However, doing a task well is very different from managing other task doers. Make sure you make management training a priority.

The overall results of this survey indicate that managers need help so they can help employees. If you want successful employees, they need good managers. Ensure you support your managers—and yourself—so they can manage effectively.


Suzanne Lucas is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.


(c) 2024 Mansueto Ventures LLC; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.