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Employees don't rate feedback and support from line mangers

Employees have little faith in their line managers, with less than half believing the feedback from their boss is helping them do their job better, according to a report by comms consultancy Threshold, revealed exclusively to HR magazine.

Less than half (45%) of employees with a line manager feel that they are receiving helpful feedback from their line manager on a regular enough basis and even less (44%) feel that this feedback is helping them to do their job better.

The research, carried out amongst 1,000 employees with a line manager in Great Britain, also demonstrates  where companies are implementing training for line managers in how to deliver honest feedback and support, their teams are much more likely to be motivated.

A small group, representing 11% of the total sample, and categorised by Threshold as ‘a high discretionary effort group’, strongly agreed with the statement ‘I feel motivated to put exceptional effort into my job and do more than what’s asked of me’.

On further examination of this group, there was a clear link between their motivation and the communication they enjoyed with their line manager, with 81% of them saying that their line manager was good at giving straight, honest feedback.

“The message is clear and HR Managers and company directors need to pay attention,” said James Brooke, a director at Threshold, “Unless organisations are investing in the training of their managers to have honest performance conversations, they are in danger of leaving staff feeling isolated, lacking in direction and demotivated. Constructive feedback generates clear messages and allows employees to address weaknesses and build on strengths.”

Part of the study looked at the extent to which employees felt line managers clearly described the performance standards that they currently expected.

Just over half (52%) said that this was the case, but only 42% felt that the performance standards that they were being evaluated against had been communicated to them.

“Senior managers in corporations across the UK should not assume that line managers are actively managing performance,” added Brooke.

“This is an issue that needs addressing because if performance is managed well, it is quite clear that employees are more likely to commit additional discretionary effort to their work – that has a direct and positive impact on the bottom line.”

Providing feedback and setting clear standards and expectations are crucial elements of performance management. The study found that 41% of people were given detailed and specific performance feedback by their line managers but only 34% felt that in their company line managers were well trained to give honest feedback.

When asked if they received support and helpful training at work in how to give honest feedback to others, less than a third (32%) of the sample group said that they did, however in the high discretionary effort group 71% of respondents were being supported.

Brooke said: “The message has got to come from the top of the organisation. Employees need to feel that they are can address any issues and they will be supported and listened to and our research indicates that this is not happening enough.

"Half of respondents felt that their line manager was, or would be good, at helping them to solve a problem if there were any obstacles to their performance and just 37% said that they were encouraged to talk about their strengths.

"In our work with companies such as Aviva and Sage we have seen how a programme of performance monitoring can grow talent and improve individual performance standards.”

Threshold,  worked in partnership with YouGov to compile the research. Total sample size was 965 working adults with a line manager from a nationally representative sample of GB Adults (aged 18+).

Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th - 16th March 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).