HomeBusinessThe Death Of the Boss Culture.

The Death Of the Boss Culture.

I have spoken many times this year about engagement stats, how vast majority of employees around the around were found to be not engaged, it is not just Gallup that found out but the results were same for PWC or McKinsey surveys as well. I also told in a recent podcast which I uploaded to YouTube ( Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CXzi2UxF2k&t=2836s) as well in addition to podcast platforms that last 5 to 6 years engagement has been slowly going up and reached 22% in 2019 and then fell to 20% in 2020 due to covid 19. However the problem remains that we still have 80% people not engaged worldwide. And if you are wondering whether creating a culture of employee engagement is possible or not then you must remember that I have always said yes, it is absolutely possible and the data proved what I have saying for past 1 year.

In the latest Gallup report that came out overall engagement of organizations which are clients of Gallup have been 47% and out of those, clients which follows best practices and proved to be profitable, resilient during hard times and inspiring clocked an employee engagement of 71%. It is possible, many organizations are doing it and you can do it too, provided you are willing to change your ways.

Alright so I have given you enough insights on engagement issues, now let me turn your attention to why the engagement stats are so appalling, who are primarily responsible for this mess. Is it our customers or affluence in society or technology addictions or distractions or leaders and managers or business model or any other socio economic issues. The finger is clearly pointing towards managers. 70% variance in team engagement is due to managers. Before I go into why managers question of yours, let me give you guys some stats from Gallup to help you understand engagement is such a big deal in this century. Those companies who won GEWA award ( Gallup exceptional workplace award ) which had 71% engaged staff reported the below data,

41% lower absenteeism

24% lower turnover (high-turnover organizations)

59% lower turnover (low-turnover organizations)

28% less shrinkage

70% fewer employee safety incidents

58% fewer patient safety incidents

40% fewer quality incidents (defects)

10% higher customer metrics

17% higher productivity

20% higher sales

21% higher profitability

Hope the data made it clear to you the importance of employee engagement at workplace. Now let us focus our attention back to manager’s contribution to engagement. During Covid 19, feedback has emerged to be a very very critical factor in driving engagement and even in that, meaningful feedback scored higher in importance and turned out to be a key differentiator.

So here in above chart it shows that when employees were asked whether they have received a meaningful feedback in past 7 days from their managers and they were asked to rate on a 5 scaler where 5 means most likely to have received meaningful feedback and 1 means least likely, those employees who rated 5 out of 5 in this question- their data was corelated with earlier engagement index and then it was concluded that 71% of those employees were engaged at work during covid 19 period. And those employees who rated 1 to 4 for this question, only 26% of them were found to be engaged. Please note that over here I am talking about meaningful feedback, not feedback for the sake of feedback, feedback which is meaningful to the employee, feedback that is easily understood, feedback which I term as SMART.

Let me quickly summarize what is SMART feedback. SMART means S stands for specific, M stands for measurable, A stands for actionable, R stands for relevant so there is no more room for generic feedback that managers are used to providing- feedback needs to be relevant and customized for the person and finally T stands for timebound.

The next interesting stats that Gallup produced was comparative results in terms of feedback given to remote workers vs feedback given at office. Now as you all are aware that covid19 forced a lot of organizations to switch to work from home and a large number of employees were working remotely. The gallup study showed that people who were working remotely for about half a day per week , 31% of those people got weekly feedback and as the number of remote working days increased per week the feedback kept on decreasing. People who worked for 4 or more days per week remotely, only 21% of them got weekly feedback. So there is definitely a trend seen in feedbacks getting reduced when physical distance in increasing between managers and employees. To add to this, 2 out of 10 employees says that their manager provides meaningful feedback to them and 3 out of 10 says managers help them set their work priorities. Here also the problem is not only remote working, the problem is managers inability to adapt to the changing situation.

The next stats is even more interesting, 3 questions were asked,

Does your manager ignores you ?

Does your manager focus on your weakness?

Does your manager focuses on your strength ?

People who felt managers ignores them, basically means they do not get much time, attention or feedbacks, only 2% of them were found to be engaged. People who felt that their managers majorly focuses on their weakness, 45% of those employees were found to be engaged and those people whose managers focuses on their strengths, 61% were found to be engaged. Now it is very clear on who is the winner, those managers who focuses on the strength more than weakness of an employee however there was one more interesting revelation in this survey. It proves what I said back in January this year on my Let Us Lead youtube channel during “First Time Managers- A complete Guide” training series, even those managers who gave feedback and focussed on weakness were still able to engage a lot of employees, 45 % were found to be engaged vs those who chose not to give feedback at all.  We can understand a difference of 45% to 61% but how can we explain a gap of 43% when only 2% employees were found engaged with no feedbacks. I said multiple times that managers must give feedbacks even if it is negative feedbacks, you will still be able to connect and engage people, this data just proved it again.

So this brings me to the final segment, what the future managers need to focus and do better than the old school managers. What did the workforce valued 20 years back and what does the workforce values now. Gallup brings us 6 pointers which each and every manager or an aspiring manager of today must keep in mind and must practice to focus and prioritise each day. What is people management ? It is the managing the people, so if people’s priorities change then why will the manager’s priority wont ?  It is so logical. Managers these days are failing inspite of their degrees and certificates and MBAs because the workforce and generation has changed but management styles have not so these 2 pieces of same block are not fitting.

Lets look at these 6 areas where priorities have changed.

  1. With more affluence coming into the society the priorities of generations are changing. It is no more about my paycheck, employees are thinking more about their purpose.
  2. With Internet & Social Media boom, where just at a click you can eat what you want at home or buy what you want, pay a subscription and watch your favourite movies and series for entertainment. In this age does an employee depend on fun activities of HR to get a drop of satisfaction. Satisfaction of an employee has been outsourced now. People who joining companies now are thinking about their development and growth.
  3. The concept of My Boss is now a passe, concept of Coach is in. People like a manager to be more of a coach than a Boss. The Boss culture seems to be dying.
  4. Similarly people are not finding annual reviews enough or justifying, they are more into “my ongoing conversations” with their peers & managers. This is where Feedback comes in & yes more so meaningful feeback.
  5. Above data proved that people are getting engaged more when their managers are focussing more on their strengths rather than weakness.
  6. Finally, there is a mindset shift that has happened across the globe due to socio economic conditions and lived experience. Employees are thinking about “ My life” more than their “My Job”. Some people prefer work life balance and some prefers work life blending. People are not willing to live their life like their parents, they saw them getting stressed out whole life trying to earn money, some saw their parents lose job due to the great recession or periodic layoffs. Today’s generation are unwilling to waste their lives running behind money and wealth unless it gives them time to enjoy life at the same time.

So in a nutshell the need of the hour is for the Boss to become a Coach. That’s what this generation respects, expects and even like. They want their managers to become a coach, a coach who will be interested in their development, a coach who will be good at setting up expectation very clearly, a coach who will provide all the necessary tools and materials to the employee to become successful, a coach with whom they can form a very deep meaningful relationship. 3 aspects of coaching which helps to drive engagement and thus performance since engagement drives performance are as follows,

  1. Establish Expectations – This involves setting up clear expectation at the start of relationship, we can term it as Role & Relationship orientation.
  2. Continually Coach- Continually coaching someone means that you should have regular quick connects, check in & do developmental coaching.
  3. Create accountability – Need to have progress reviews done with employee and document each step, make sure employee understands his responsibility & agrees to work on it.

Managers & leaders need to let go of their 20th century style and attitude. Times have changed, generations have changed, we need to also change, only constant entity on this planet is change. Kill the Boss inside you, awaken the coach inside you.


Biswadeep Banerjee
Working as a Sr. Manager Networks & Communication for a leading European IT Organization. Thinker, researcher and a Rebel at heart.
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