Study Shows Employees Crave Meaningful Feedback from Managers

Leadership IQ, a Washington, DC-based research and training company, directs one of the largest leadership studies ever conducted. Their work has appeared in Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, CBS News, ABC’s 20/20, Fox Business News and many more. The results in this eye-opening article were compiled after the Leadership IQ team surveyed 3,611 workers from 291 business and healthcare organizations.

New Study: Managers Are Ignoring Their Employees

Note to managers: Employees want a lot more attention and feedback from you, even if it’s sometimes negative. According to a new study by Leadership IQ, 66% of employees say that they have too little interaction with their boss. And this number is up from 53% in May, 2008, the last time this study was conducted.

But employees don’t just want warm-and-fuzzy interactions. While 67% of employees say they get too little positive feedback, 51% also say they get too little constructive criticism from their boss. What’s worse, employees who said they didn’t get enough feedback were 43% less likely to recommend their company to others as a great organization to work for.

This study discovered that not only is the quantity of feedback lacking, but that the quality of the feedback is also suspect. 53% of employees say that when their boss does praise excellent performance, the feedback does not provide enough useful information to help them repeat it. And 65% of employees say that when their boss criticizes poor performance, they don’t provide enough useful information to help employees correct the issue.

Mark Murphy, Chairman of Leadership IQ, says “Managers are neglecting one of the most fundamental aspects of their job; providing feedback. Especially in these stressful times, employees are desperate for feedback and interaction with their boss. And when they don’t get it, their job performance suffers. But perhaps worse than the lack of interaction, is the finding that when managers actually do give feedback, more than half of employees say that the feedback is useless. The whole point of feedback is to improve poor performance or reinforce great performance. And this study shows that’s just not happening.”

“We know that this has worsened, in part, because of the recession,” says Murphy. “When times get tough, managers become avoidant. Focusing on spreadsheets seems a lot easier than talking to employees. Not only might you get hit with questions you can’t answer, but when your own stress levels are through the roof, the last thing many managers want is to meet the emotional needs of their employees. But this is precisely the time that employees really need lots of feedback, and they need it to be very high quality.”

What can managers do to fix this? “First, focus on giving a lot more feedback,” recommends Murphy. “Managers should double their efforts to interact with, and provide feedback to, their employees. And second, managers really need to ensure that when they give feedback, it’s actually useful. If the feedback doesn’t help employees improve poor performance or repeat great performance, then it’s not worth the breath it took to utter it.”

About the Study

Leadership IQ surveyed 3,611 workers from 291 business and healthcare organizations, predominantly in the United States and Canada. Employees were asked 21 questions about their relationship with their direct boss, their personal effectiveness, workforce issues and overall management effectiveness. The surveys were delivered to Leadership IQ subscribers, with 93% of respondents submitting their responses electronically, 5% via paper and 2% over the phone. Leadership IQ statisticians reviewed the data for accuracy and consistency and analyzed the valid submissions.

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Paul Cherry

For over two decades, sales expert and author PAUL CHERRY has helped B2B sales professionals close more deals in all major industries. As a recognized thought leader in customer engagement strategies, Paul Cherry has been featured in more than 250 publications, including Investor’s Business Daily, Selling Power, Inc., Sales & Marketing Management, The Kiplinger Letter, and Salesforce.

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