People management is all about one thing - people. It’s about ensuring the people in your charge have everything they need to do their job and do it well. It requires you to motivate them, empower them, develop them, and advocate for them.
However, in reality, this is complicated by the fact that those in people management positions must also complete their own work, hit ambitious targets set by senior leadership, balance competing demands, manage internal politics, mediate conflict, implement new initiatives, and so on and so forth. While it’s a challenging job, when done well, it can be rewarding for leaders, engaging for employees, and beneficial for the organizations they work for. In fact, the latest research confirms that.
In this article, we’ve put together a list of statistics from recent research studies that reveal what those in people management are currently struggling with, what employees expect of their leaders, and what those leading people should be doing moving forward.
The Current State of People Management
A great deal has changed for those in people management over the last several years, and many have worked tirelessly to be the best leader they can be for their employees and organizations during this time. However, while there’s a lot to be proud of, recent research has indicated specific areas in which those in people management can most benefit from their organization's support.
- Employees say a great manager is someone who is honest, has a positive attitude, is trustworthy, supportive, and has strong decision-making skills. (Zety)
- Currently, the top five things people say their leader lack is a clear vision, a sense of humor, strong interpersonal skills, supportiveness, and a positive attitude. (Zety)
- 61% of leaders report having more responsibilities at work since before the pandemic. This is a concern as it increases the odds of anxiety by 21% among leaders, which in turn, increases the odds of burnout by 520% and hurts the odds of engagement by 51%. (O.C. Tanner)
- The top three most common leadership styles in 2022 were democratic, affiliative, and charismatic. (Niagara Institute)
- Three things that North American employees say they need to thrive in the workplace are work that fulfills them, to feel valued, and to have a manager who advocates for them - all of which are things those in people management directly influence. (Mercer)
- Only 27% of people managers report that they are very effective at leading hybrid/virtual teams. (DDI)
- 49% of hybrid managers say they struggle to trust their employees to do their best work, and 54% say they have less visibility into the work their employees do. (Microsoft)
- 79% of people leaders think they have a good sense of what their employees want, but only 48% of those employees agree. (O.C. Tanner)
- Only 15% of those in people management positions feel prepared to prevent employee burnout. (DDI)
- Only 35% of HR leaders and 49% of employees say that leaders in their organizations have the capabilities they need to succeed in the future. (Gartner)
The Future of People Management
Given the volatility and uncertainty of the world in which we live and lead, it doesn’t seem particularly useful to theorize about the distant future of people management. So, instead, we looked at what recent research has found and what employees are saying to identify a number of actionable things that people leaders can (and should!) do in the near future, starting today.
- Be Authentic: Employees with an authentic manager are more likely to meet at least weekly and to discuss their well-being/mental health in their 1:1s. Meanwhile, 65% of employees whose manager isn’t authentic say they’re likely to face challenges getting the learning and development they need, especially when it’s not a priority for their manager. (Microsoft)
- Leverage Strengths: 77% of respondents believe great managers should focus on making the most of the team members’ strengths. (Zety)
- Invest In Your Own Development: The top five skills leaders feel they need to develop in the next three years include developing talent, strategic thinking, leading change, decision-making, and influencing others. Yet, only 12% rate themselves as effective in all five, and only 29% of companies currently provide training for these skills. (DDI)
- Help Employees Prioritize: 81% of employees say it’s important for their managers to help them prioritize their workload, but only 31% have ever been given clear guidance during one-on-ones on how to do so. (Microsoft)
- Be Vulnerable: Leaders who regularly display vulnerability with their employees are 5.3x more likely to have employees who trust them. Also, if they genuinely acknowledge their failures or shortcomings, they’re 7.5x more likely to maintain trust over those that did not. (DDI)
- Consider the Whole Person: 82% of employees now say it’s important that their organizations see them as a whole person rather than simply as an employee. (Gartner)
- Provide Feedback: People managers who regularly provided constructive feedback to remote employees had 2.5x higher engagement rates. (DDI)
- Ask For Feedback: 65% of leaders admit receiving more recognition from the people who report to them would improve their experience at work. (O.C. Tanner)
- Take a Hands-On Approach: Over 50% of respondents expect their manager to be hands-on. (Zety)
- Hone Your Emotional Intelligence Skills: Employees whose direct managers have high emotional intelligence are 4x less likely to quit than those whose managers have low emotional intelligence. (Gallup)
- Lead by Example: When leaders role model the behavior changes they’re asking employees to make (by spending time on the factory floor or in the call center, where work is done), change is 5.3x more likely to be successful. (McKinsey)