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  • Writer's pictureJaclyn T. Badeau

Pulse Point – Want a Toxic Culture? Employ Bad Managers.

Have you ever left a job because your manager didn’t provide the support you needed? Have you felt frustrated that your manager just “didn’t get it?” Have you ever had the feeling that you are coaching your manager vs. the other way around? Whatever your case may be, managers have a tremendous impact on employees and organizations. In fact, according to Gallup,

“Managers account for an astounding 70% of the variance in team engagement, and their efforts substantially impact the bottom line of entire organizations.” 1

McKinsey & Company found that,

“Relationships with management are a critical factor in employee’s life satisfaction, and as a matter of fact, it accounts for 86% of satisfaction in interpersonal relationships at work.” 2

The Society for Human Resources Management noted that,

“According to a recent MIT Sloan Management Review, toxic corporate culture is the top predictor of attrition during Great Resignation. Toxic culture was characterized by employee reviews as workers feeling disrespected, unethical behavior, abusive managers, and a cutthroat environment.” 3

It’s clear that the Manager role is a critical one. Now, let’s explore what organizations, managers, and employees can do to improve this overall experience.

  1. What can Organizations Do?

    1. Provide Training. Connect your strategic plan and business drivers to the competency expectations you have of your managers. Then evaluate what training programs you can provide (internal and external) to help managers build and enhance those skills.

    2. Conduct Coaching and Feedback Conversations. We expect managers to have these conversations with their employees, so they need them too! Provide them specific, timely, and direct feedback so they know how they’re performing. Engage in conversations about their motivations, strengths, and career goals and aspirations and guide them on their definitions of success and well-being.

    3. Keep them Involved and Informed. One of the most common leadership characteristics that’s sought after is being included in decisions. While you may not be able to include each manager in every decision, seek them out when you can. Often, managers have a better pulse on the organization than the top executives, they are experts in their field, and they manage experts across the company. When you can’t involve them, then make sure you keep them informed and send clear communications their way. The clearer the manager is on the decisions and respective rationales, the better the impact it has on the rest of the employees as they disseminate and discuss the information.

  2. What can Managers Do?

    1. There are many crucial leadership skills that managers need. Since it can become overwhelming very fast, I’m including the top three skills you should focus on now:

      1. Empathy.

        1. Such a powerful skill – listening, recognizing, and articulating someone else’s thoughts/feelings/beliefs. This is how another person feels heard and understood.

      2. Interpersonal Relationships.

        1. Every person is a human being and getting to know someone at more than a transactional level shows that you care. This isn’t about becoming best friends with every single person nor knowing everyone’s personal medical history; it’s simply about taking a moment to ask open-ended questions to discover who another human is.

      3. Development.

        1. This is development for self and others. Humans are meant to evolve, grow, and change. Having a continuous learning mindset is critical for a manager, as an organization, its industry/market, its employees, etc., are constantly changing.

        2. It’s also crucial that the managers invest in and develop their employees. Give them feedback, provide recognition, understand their motivations, connect the work they are doing to the organizational goals, teach them new skills, provide them opportunities to gain experience, grow, and learn, etc.

  3. What can Employees Do?

    1. Many of you may be wondering, what does an employee have to do with this? Isn’t this the manager’s job to figure out?

    2. I say it’s a 2-way street. If the employee does not have the tools (e.g., equipment, technology, training, etc.) to do their job, does not know the expectations of their role, or isn’t receiving any feedback on their performance as examples, then they need to ask their manager for these. Communication is a 2-way street and you’ve got to own your own career, so ask questions, seek feedback, and take the initiative.

I challenge you to consider what small step you can take to drive an improved career experience. This work is about Employee Engagement and Leadership, and it takes time.

If you are interested in learning more about Organizational Employee Engagement, I encourage you to download my “Culture Pulse: Employee Engagement Questionnaire” here to assess where you and your organization are in your employee engagement culture journey.

I look forward to providing monthly pulse points to help you stay up to date with how the workplace culture scene is evolving.

Jaclyn Badeau is the Founder and President of Badeau Consulting. She specializes in employee engagement initiatives that help companies inspire confidence back into their team for innovation and growth. Jaclyn’s background in cultivating high performing teams, delivering coaching and mentoring, serving as a global business risk advisor, and facilitating internal and external leadership training to a global workforce gives her the unique perspective of what employees need and what works. She is also a multi award recipient and passionate about sharing her expertise and knowledge in volunteer advisory and leadership positions roles for many associations and not-for-profits.

About Pulse Point

Pulse Point is a monthly blog to stay up to date with how the workplace culture scene is evolving.


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