Workplace Survey Reveals Employees Have Only Modest Faith in their Bosses to Lead

Mike Hunter

Only slightly more than one-half of businesspeople surveyed believe their company’s leaders have the right mindsets to successfully guide them forward in tackling today’s demands of the digital economy. This was the conclusion of the study conducted in the fall of 2019, by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Cognizant U.S. Foundation which further concluded that “A generation of leaders in large companies are out of sync, out of tune, and out of touch with their workforces, markets and competitive landscapes.” Details of the study show that just 12% of respondents strongly agree that their leaders have the right mindsets to lead them forward. Additionally, only 40% agree that their companies are building robust leadership pipelines to tackle the demands of the digital economy.

It was the MIT study that inspired the recent national survey titled, Trends and Perspectives in the Workplace Today, which captured more than 650 opinions from executives, managers, and employees across the country about their perceptions of their place of employment. Led by Dr. Deb Bright, president of Bright Enterprises, the survey was carried out with the support of the National Management Association, Better Business Bureau, LPGA, WATT (Women at the Top), Vistage, and several organizations from the utility and financial industries.

“We sought to uncover patterns, ideas, perceptions, and behaviors exhibited by managers and non-managers who are either fostering or inhibiting effective workplace relationships,” said Dr. Bright, who has been serving clients as an executive coach and consultant for more than 30 years. “As businesses struggle with keeping their organizations on track during the COVID-19 crisis, what is going to matter most is helping employees and teams find their way through the maze of the ‘new normal.’”

A majority of survey respondents (55 percent) felt that today’s managers are ineffective at communicating an organization’s big picture to their employees. As for promoting team spirit and a sense of pride, only 43 percent of managers are doing a credible job.

“Having a degree of passion and excitement are essential to a leader’s role when trying to gain the commitment from others they want to take on challenges and pursue the unknown,” Dr. Bright said. “Leaders are expected to be enthusiastic, energetic and positive about the future.”

Notably, the survey found today’s managers are more stressed out than before (76 percent), more fatigued (71 percent), and unable to mentally disengage from work when away from the office (70 percent). Of those who said stress is a major reason plaguing today’s managers, the high percentage said it was because their roles, priorities and tasks have greatly expanded.

When asked to compare work environments to five years ago, survey respondents said:

  • 47 percent of managers now find it no longer necessary to conduct weekly one-on-one and face-to-face meetings with their direct reports;
  • 37 percent of managers offer support and career advice;
  • 38 percent of employees are more hesitant to seek advice from their superiors;
  • 64 percent of employees admitted they focus more on themselves and their own advancement;
  • 66 percent agreed their political beliefs more greatly impact workplace relationships; and
  • 50 percent agreed that when a woman speaks in a meeting, she is shown more respect.

“Given the rapidly changing and demanding workplace, and the impacts from COVID-19, the trend is for leaders at all levels of the organization to re-examine their core role and to be more astute and better prepared for how they attend to the development of their teams and individual team members,” Dr. Bright said in summation. “To add value, leaders need to focus on their most important  asset – their people – with an unrelenting commitment to leading and mentoring them as never before.”

Dr. Deb Bright, also a best-selling author, is scheduled to publish a new book this fall titled “The Pro-Achievement Principle.” Her earlier books are: “Creative Relaxation: Turning Your Stress into Positive Energy,” “On the Edge and In Control: A Proven 8-Step Program for Taking Charge of Your Life,” and “The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change.” 

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