How do you feel about your supervisor? If you’re a supervisor, how do you feel about your people?
Some of you may answer, “I don’t care how anybody feels. I’m here to do a job, and I do it.” And those of you who are also supervisors might say, “My people get paid to do the job. That’s it. This isn’t a popularity contest.”
You may know by now that that’s old thinking.
Research has long shown that more than 85 percent of employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit their supervisors. A supervisor’s ability to effectively manage the relationship with his or her staff is a major factor in the employee’s job satisfaction.
Going deeper, a Gallup poll determined that work groups are on average 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups. The survey report concluded that “people leave managers not companies…in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue.”
Here are some other interesting statistics: Half of workers would fire their own supervisors if they could, and nearly 30 percent would have their supervisor seen by a workplace psychologist.
How many of you are thinking right now that you’d like to fire your supervisor?
The supervisor-employee relationship is like most other relationships we have: each person in the relationship, regardless of position, rank, salary, and responsibilities wants to be respected and heard. They want support and understanding at a most basic level.
All too often, though, it’s easy to forget about the human component in organizational behavior, focusing narrowly on the tasks to be performed rather than on best use of the resources at hand, i.e., employees.
I was reminded recently that these ideas apply to all kinds of organizations. A colleague of mine, the training director in a state prison system, conducted a survey asking both line officers and supervisors to name the primary functions of a correctional supervisor.
The top three answers given by line officers were: 1) teach me how to do my job correctly, 2) provide leadership, and 3) ensure officer safety.
On the other hand, the supervisors said: 1) maintain custody and control of the inmates, 2) enforce policy and procedure, and 3) maintain public safety.
See that difference in answers? The line officers were looking for guidance and direction; the supervisors were providing control.
Exit interviews at that agency showed that 42% of employees who quit within the first two years say they leave because of their supervisors. And, interestingly, supervisors always responded to this news with: “But I don’t do anything to make them quit!”
My colleague’s conclusion was that while supervisors don’t do anything TO them, they don’t do much FOR them either.
Once a feeling of respect and belonging is established, an employee’s loyalty and commitment increase. Likewise, if the sense is that the supervisor doesn’t really care, it becomes much easier for the employee to leave.
I don’t have to go too far to convince you that these dynamics exist everywhere. All you have to do is think about your own company, agency, or organization.