Research shows employees’ relationship with senior leaders varies across different sizes of organisation. But is it the same for how they feel about managers?

Research from Best Companies, the company behind The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For lists, suggests that the picture is actually very different for managers. It appears that size has no bearing on how people feel about their more immediate bosses.

Looking into the data from the 2009 accreditation lists, the differences around this issue in different size organisations are very small.

Employee surveys from the lists’ small companies (between 50 – 249 employees), mid-sized organisations (250 – 4,999 employees) and big employers (over 5000 employees) all include information about managers, as this critical role is one of the eight factors that has a significant influence on workplace engagement. Yet all the responses reveal very little variation in feeling towards managers.

For example, 76% of employees from all the big size organisations that entered the competition report that their manager shares important knowledge and information with them. Their counterparts in mid-size and small organisations number 73% and 78% respectively.

However, despite this unity of feeling towards managers, there is a small drop in scores around managers in mid-sized companies. What prompts this slightly lower ranking for managers in this size of organisations?

In reality, there could be a number of reasons for why employees are slightly more disconnected from their managers in these organisations; is it due to the fact that these organisations generally have smaller team and increased contact with managers, but large organisation have more budget and training for middle managers such as performance management training, process and change management?

Not surprisingly, managers have a critical role to play in engaging staff. For many employees they are often one of the most important representatives of the business as a whole, and the relationship they have with their boss will influence their feelings towards the entire organisation and its work.

It is perhaps unsurprising that how people feel about their manager has a strong relationship to how they feel about their team. From the data we found that 85% of those with confidence in the leadership skills of their manager also agreed that working in this team gave them a buzz. Whereas 76% of those who did not have confidence in their manager’s leadership also reported that there was a disruptive individual in their team.

How managers treat every member of the team, which includes handling conflict effectively when it arises, is critical to forming a good relationship.

Knowing how your employees interact with your managers and senior leadership is a key part of understanding the levels of workplace engagement in your business. When Best Companies was founded 10 years ago we sought to find the key elements of sustainable business performance, and we found that to be workplace engagement.

At Best Companies we produce both The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For and Best Places to Work For in the Public Sector lists. Registration for the 2010 lists is open now, but there is also the chance to use the same rigorous survey methodology to gain valuable insight into your organisation without entering the rankings.



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