Managers Matter – How Data Changes the Dialogue: Microsoft Shares New Research and Best Practices on Managers

Chantrelle Nielsen

Within global Fortune 100 organizations, executives heavily rely on the rich analytics to inform business decisions about the products they create, the markets they serve, and how operations are run. But what about measuring managers, one of an organization’s most vital assets? A Gallup study found that at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores is driven by manager behaviors. While executives can quantify discrete business outcomes like revenue generated, the manager actions that drives these results is often unclear, unmeasured and unseen. Microsoft has identified the tacit connection between workplace behaviors and perception of managers within the organization.

In this presentation attendees will learn specific behavior changes that can make managers more effective based on insights from within Microsoft as well as best practices based on research conducted by Microsoft for Fortune 100 companies.

Key Takeaways from the session:

  • A Manager’s Network is Correlated with Employee Perception of Manager Effectiveness – At Microsoft, manager network size and composition is related to how employees view manager effectiveness – the larger a manager’s network within job functions, the more his or her direct reports have confidence in manager leadership.
  • Manager Availability Leads to Employee Confidence in Managers – Microsoft employees had more confidence in their managers if managers were more accessible – managers with less double-booked and less non-recurring meetings received higher confidence scores from employees.
  • Manager Behaviors Greatly Impact Work-Life Balance – Microsoft employees who reported more flexibility to balance work and personal life had managers who spent less time working after hours, sent fewer emails afterhours and had less non-recurring meetings.
  • Effective Managers Have More One-On-One Meetings with Direct Reports – Microsoft employees who said their manager recognized them for their contributions had managers who spent more time in one-on-one meetings with employees. One interpretation is that employees felt more recognized by managers who exhibited coaching-like behaviors through one-on-one meetings with directs.
  • Managers Lead by Example – Based on research for a Fortune 100 client, managers in the top quartile of utilization — a.k.a. those who work the longest hours — end up with employees who work up to 19% more hours relative to their colleagues who report to less highly utilized managers. It’s also true that employees of managers in the lowest 25% of utilization have lower than average engagement scores (2-4% lower). This suggests that people are more engaged if they work for a manager who is working at least as much as they are.
  • Great Managers Ensure Even Allocation of Work – Based on research for a Fortune 100 client, highly utilized individual contributors that work 120% longer hours than their peers are 33% more likely to be disengaged and twice as likely to view leadership unfavorably than employees working similar hours as their teammates.
  • Top Managers Maintain Large & Diverse Internal Networks – Based on research for a Fortune 100 client, we found that employees who report to a manager with a relatively large internal network — in the top quartile of all managers — have engagement scores 3-5% higher.  Additionally, these employees had networks 60-85% larger than those of their colleagues reporting to managers with smaller networks. We also found that managers with small networks can have a significantly negative impact on their team