Betterworks just released the findings of an industry-wide survey we conducted with 1000+ people managers currently working in enterprises with over 500 employees. The report, which includes a forward by Josh Bersin, reveals that most people managers find their organizations’ talent management wanting in almost every area…and it’s hurting their businesses.

Your organization’s people managers play an outsized role in improving overall workforce performance through the day to day actions that motivate, engage and develop their teams. The managers that Betterworks surveyed overwhelmingly expressed that when it comes to the talent management processes they currently use within their own organizations, nearly every aspect has significant room for improvement. 

“Becoming a manager is one of the most transformational parts of your career, and for most of us, the transition from ‘doing the job’ to ‘leading and helping others to do the job’ is a big change,” said Bersin, who in addition to being an advisor to the Betterworks board of directors also penned the forward of the report and advised the research. “One of the key parts of this journey is a company’s performance and talent management process, and as this research shows people managers don’t always feel fully supported. In fact, their performance and talent management practices often get in the way rather than help them.”

Some Key Insights from the Research Include:

Managers Lack a Sense of Purpose

Independent research from DDI found that companies with clear objectives outperform the market by 42%. However, most managers in the Betterworks survey reported experiencing a significant lack of purpose in their organization and serious challenges around organizational alignment.

  • Just one-third of managers were “confident that all employees had a clear understanding of the company’s mission and vision”
  • Just 39% felt their senior leaders lived the stated values

Managers Feel an Alarming Lack of Alignment

  • 62% admitted their organization did not communicate goals and priorities clearly enough so everyone knew what they were accountable for
  • And a similar percentage did not have a clear understanding of top company priorities for the next 12 months.

Managers Find Little Value in Current Performance Management Processes

Performance programs are supposed to help managers coach their employees, communicate key objectives, and set and manage goals. However, the Betterworks survey found that many managers view their current performance processes as outdated and more of a hindrance than a help. 

  • Only 43% of managers are held accountable for developing their people
  • 63% fail to have regular development conversations with their teams
  • 59% of managers and employees “do not perceive their performance management process as valuable.”

Development Opportunities for Managers are Scarce

In order to be effective, managers must be taught to think more like coaches and equipped with the training and tools required to provide effective feedback to their teams. However, the research found that management coaching is not expected or encouraged in most organizations.

  • 33% of managers rate their organization’s training and development as average or below
  • 58% of companies still primarily reward people “based on job level or tenure”

Perceptions Held by Middle and Front-Line Managers are Much More Negative than Those of Senior Leaders

  • Just 34% of managers say “all of the employees have a clear understanding of the company’s vision and mission,” as opposed to 49% of senior leaders
  • Only 37% of managers say they are held accountable for developing their people, as opposed to 51% of senior leaders
  • While 39% of senior leaders responded that “in my company, employees do not feel overworked,” only 22% of managers agreed

Despite these challenges, the survey also revealed some encouraging results. Managers need help from training and technology to become better talent coaches, paired with a performance process that is flexible enough to deal with the changing nature of the modern workplace. A continuous approach to performance management has proven to be effective in meeting these requirements. Independent findings from Gallup report that when performance management programs become more continuous, 90% of companies see a direct lift in employee engagement. Among the managers surveyed by Betterworks, 38% expressed their company’s performance management process included at least some ‘continuous’ elements of goal setting, alignment, or continuous feedback and development. This is an indicator that these proven practices are becoming more mainstream.

“Your people managers make or break your organization’s performance. When it comes to aligning the strategic priorities of your business and the employees who execute them your managers are where the rubber meets the road,” said Betterworks CEO Doug Dennerline. “It’s critical that HR gives managers support when it comes to training and equipping them with the tools they need to be effective at such essential processes as setting and aligning the team and individual goals, giving and receiving feedback, and recognizing and developing everyone on their team.”

Get your free copy of the full report to learn how you can put the performance management processes, training and technology in place to help your managers become better managers. 

Learn More About OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), Aligning Your Workforce, Continuous Performance Management