New Data Shows Ample Room for Improvement in Manager-Employee Relationships

New research from Waggl, a technology platform that enables organizations to quickly and easily crowdsource feedback from their employees, shows that over one-third of respondents in a new survey don’t trust their immediate supervisors.

In a pulse survey conducted with hundreds of U.S. businesses and HR representatives from November 2016 through January 2017, 37% of participants said that they do not trust their immediate supervisors to make decisions with their best interest in mind.

By way of contrast, 76% of the participants responded that they trust their coworkers to follow through on their responsibilities and to keep the team’s best interest in mind; 84% percent said that they trust and believe in the mission of their organization; and 81% report that their company trusts them to do their job well when working autonomously.

Here is a high-level summary of some of the other key findings:

  • Supervisor trust levels were highest in the nonprofit industry (80%), and among the youngest participants, ages 26 through 40 (74%). They were lowest in the advertising/marketing industry (40%) and among participants 41 through 55 years of age (55%).
  • Coworker trust levels are highest on the West Coast (92%), and in the technology industry (90%).  They are lowest in the South (58%) and in the nonprofit industry (60%).
  • Organizational trust levels are highest in the South (100%) and among the oldest participants, ages 56 through 70 (88%).  Respondents from the nonprofit and advertising/marketing industries responded unanimously that they trust the mission of their organizations.
  • Autonomy levels are highest in the nonprofit industry (90%) and among participants age 26 through 40 (87%).  They are lowest in the advertising/marketing industry (60%) and on the East Coast (74%).
  • Trust levels are relatively equal in terms of gender, although men reported slightly higher levels of coworker trust (82%) than women (73%).

In this pulse, Waggl also posed the question, “What could my organization do to inspire higher levels of trust?” and distilled crowdsourced responses into a ranked list. The top 3 answers were:

  1. “Become more transparent.  Conduct direct and candid conversations rather than message indirectly through others.”
  2. “Upskill ‘people’ managers with the skills and knowledge to empower their people and lead by example, taking more of a coaching role than an old-fashioned ‘boss.’”
  3. “Remove unnecessary hierarchy, communicate more clearly, be more honest about things we get wrong and what we are doing about them.”

“In our current era of continual business disruption and change, cultivating a high level of trust is more important than ever, in order for an organization to achieve agility and growth,” said Michael Papay, Cofounder and CEO of Waggl.   “As these pulse responses indicate, the best path to developing trust between individuals is to make a commitment to open, transparent communication, which in turn leads to more authentic relationships between employees, their immediate supervisors, and the larger organization.  Creating an open, transparent forum for 2-way dialogue builds connection, collaboration, and alignment across the organization.”

The infographic below highlights more key findings from this survey. View the interactive infographic here, for more information on this survey, visit the Waggl website.