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Middle managers are critical to EX - here’s why

Saloni Goyal

21 December 2023

In this article:

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Ever heard the classic line, "Employees don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses"? 

Yeah, it's pretty worn out, but guess what? It’s also the truth.

We recently zoomed into the employee data for a financial services company, specifically focusing on 300 people managers.

The goal was to,

  1. Understand the state of the people manager's experience in the organization.
  2. Assess the impact of managers on employee experience and culture.
  3. Assess how managers influence a company's brand value as an employer.
  4. See how managers shape dynamics in engaged versus disengaged teams.
  5. Create action plans to improve the manager experience.

We dove deep into engagement, NPS scores, team sizes, tenure, and even compared experiences across different levels of seniority, departments, and gender.

And here are 4 mind-blowing findings that came out of the analysis. 

(Even the customer agreed that the insights were GOLD. Their words, not mine 😀)

Take a look. 👇

1. Your employer brand hinges on manager relationships

Yes, you heard it right. 

When we analyzed the data we found that employees vibing well with their managers are:

  1. 48% more likely to be brand advocates
  2. 35% less likely to leave the organization

Takeaway? Managers aren't just the glue holding engagement together - they're also potential culture-shapers. They can make it or break it. 

And every time your culture breaks, your employer brand takes a hit

2. Manager dynamics shape employee satisfaction

The bond between an employee and their manager plays a big role in how happy they feel in their career. 

We discovered that when managers aren't fully involved with their team members, it leads to:

  1. 31% less variety in tasks
  2. 32% fewer career opportunities

Conversely, tight bonds with the boss resulted in a whopping 46% boost in career satisfaction. 

It's not rocket science, it's relationship magic at work.

3. Team size matters 

The success of managers in leading teams is closely tied to team size. 

In our discovery, managers with 3 to 5 team members enjoy the strongest connections - daily interactions are closer, recognition is better, and mentorship thrives in these teams.

The takeaway is that the number of people under a manager directly affects their game. Too many, and they're stretched thin. Too few, and productivity takes a hit. Balance is key! The nature of business & work plays a crucial role in Manager:Employee span. You must find the sweet spot that works for your organization. 

4. Customized support is crucial for managers to thrive

Individuals vary greatly. Blanket processes often overlook crucial nuances. 

Our analysis of 300 managers revealed that:

  1. New managers (tenure < 1 year) struggle with team engagement initially.
  2. Engagement among managers decreases with the increase in their level of seniority.
  3. And only 5% of female managers are highly engaged compared to 26% of males.

Bottomline, one size does not fit all. Managers need some personalized TLC based on their individual journeys and situations. And it’s about time they got access to this support.

Engage your managers effectively with these 5 proven steps

Your middle management holds the POWER to shape your organization's employee experience. How you feel at work often boils down to their daily interactions with their teams. 

Yet, 75% of employees identify their manager as the most stressful aspect of their job.

But hey, you can turn that around! It starts with getting your managers engaged and empowering them to be effective. Leading brands have tried these 5 action items to engage their managers effectively, and they absolutely swear by them now:

  1. Co-create career growth plans with managers and set measurable goals for growth.
  2. Pair new managers with an experienced high-performing buddy for a smoother transition.
  3. Establish a shadow structure for managers with large teams.
  4. Enable managers for strategic goals by automating transactional tasks.
  5. Cut the red tape, and empower managers to make swift decisions.

And If manager struggles are keeping you up at night, dive into your engagement data. There's gold in there to craft a custom solution that'll turn things around. It's time to get personal and make those managers shine!

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