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3 Ways Leadership Behaviors Are Reflected In Employee Feedback

by Jason McPherson Culture Amp

 

We all intuitively know that there is a link between leadership and culture. Leadership has a significant impact on the morale and feelings of employees and we know that leadership drives retention. It is the cornerstone of engagement – everything else depends on it.

When I’m talking about the connection between leadership and culture, there are three things that I find particularly interesting:

  1. If people’s perception of their leaders starts to decline you can expect a quick ~10% drop in overall engagement levels.
  2. This decline can take a long time to turn around.
  3. There are early indicators that can show you when leadership perceptions are starting to decline or are on the rise. These can help you address an issue before it becomes a much larger problem.

 

Nothing makes engagement fall faster than when people lose confidence in leadership

It’s rare to see any single factor have a more substantial and rapid impact on engagement than leadership perception. If there’s a perception that leadership is not connected to your people you can generally expect a quick double digit drop in engagement.

It may take just days for people’s perception of leadership to fall, but it can take three to six months for these perceptions to recover (even if immediate action is taken). This is similar across every industry – leaders need to re-establish trust and that requires people need to see their leaders in a range of situations.

Whilst this is the general pattern, there are some interesting situations when engagement can go up rapidly which may be counterintuitive at first. One of the most profound things I’ve seen is engagement rising when a company encounters some bad or challenging events. When we dig into the data we often find that the leader hasn’t been very communicative when things were going well, but they start using more honest communication and explaining what’s happening when times are bad. Engagement scores go up because people are really impressed that their leaders are communicating and telling them what’s happening.

 

Indicators can help detect changes in leadership perceptions

There are leading indicators that can show a decline or increase in how leaders are perceived. These can be found in the answers that people give in employee feedback surveys. In a typical engagement survey, there are perhaps four to six questions that directly ask about the senior strategic leaders of the organization. There are then another 25 to 30 questions in diagnostic feedback surveys that focus in on the broader leaders of the organization.

One of the most telling engagement survey questions on leadership perceptions is “Do your leaders demonstrate that people are important to the organization?” If the answer to this is negative (and increasing) it’s a strong predictor that churn rates will start to increase and engagement scores may drop.

It’s when you see a quick drop in a leadership measure like this that the overall engagement score is likely to fall rapidly and substantially by 10% or more. Whilst it can be hard to predict leadership disasters that will trigger this kind of response, you can often see clues in text analytics. Looking at the extent that people are qualitatively forgiving can often provide clues as to whether a breaking point is on the horizon.

For scores to increase, people need to see their leaders as strong and feel connected to the organization. The question that can indicate the tide is turning is “The leaders at [Company] have communicated a vision that motivates me.” This looks at the ability of leadership to communicate a vision that resonates with people.

We often see a positive connection when a new leader comes in and they are able to quickly and effectively communicate their vision. Once people feel connected to the vision and aligned with the organization’s direction confidence rises. They believe they’re on a winning team. That’s one of the fastest ways for engagement scores to go up.

Leadership has a significant impact on overall engagement in any organization. If perceptions are negative it can be sudden and drastic, and it can take time to turnaround. By focusing on leading indicators you can identify potential problems and turn around how your people perceive leadership. The key is in your employee feedback data.

 

 

The top five things associated with good leadership

We know that good leadership is associated with higher levels of Engagement, less churn and higher Glassdoor ratings, but what are the specific things that good leadership is associated with inside organizations?

To understand this we looked at data from over 200,000 people who rated leadership as well as their feelings about a range of other workplace factors. From this we could determine some of the key things that were linked to good leadership versus poor leadership.

Good leadership was associated with favorable perceptions on a diverse range of things ranging from people being motivated and likely to recommend the organization through to more subtle things such as perceptions around fairness in reward and recognition. Good leadership was also associated with people feeling there was open honest communication and that they could make a positive difference in their organizations.

June 13, 2018

3 Ways Leadership Behaviors Are Reflected In Employee Feedback

We all intuitively know that there is a link between leadership and culture. Leadership has a significant impact on the morale and feelings of employees and we know that leadership drives retention. It is the cornerstone of engagement - everything else depends on it. When I’m talking about the connection between leadership and culture, there are three things that I find particularly interesting:
June 13, 2018

Developing and Sustaining Employee Engagement

The term employee engagement relates to the level of an employee's commitment and connection to an organization. Employee engagement has emerged as a critical driver of business success in today's competitive marketplace. High levels of engagement promote retention of talent, foster customer loyalty and improve organizational performance and stakeholder value.
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Coach to Your Team’s Strengths to Improve Employee Engagement

Each day, pollsters at the Gallup Company monitor the upticks and downticks of America's pulse. They track large scale indicators like the country's unemployment rate, the citizenry's economic confidence, and the president's approval rating. But among these tracked statistics at Gallup lies a less publicized marker: what percentage of U.S. workers say they are engaged at their jobs?
January 15, 2018

Employee Engagement Surveys: Why Do Workers Distrust Them?

This is the time of year when many companies are asking workers to fill out surveys that measure how content they are with their jobs, compensation, benefits and managers. HR departments often find it difficult to get employees to complete these employee engagement surveys. Sometimes, when workers do fill them out and HR discovers a department has a morale problem, it can be just as difficult to get those workers to speak up and explain why they're unhappy. And there's a reason for that, employee engagement experts say.