article » Managers Have an Even Bigger Effect on Productivity than we Realized

Managers Have an Even Bigger Effect on Productivity than we Realized

January 29, 2013
1 min read

When workers perform well at their jobs, a lot of it may have to do with the guidance and mentorships of their managers.

To see how much an individual's success is affected by their direct managers, Evolv, a data provider that uses analytics to study employee retention, compared the productivity of managers with the people they direct daily.

For the study, Evolv examined how quickly approximately 1,000 employees and 100 of their managers at call centers handled calls, which is how the research measured productivity.

The company found that the way your superior manages you has a huge "variation when it comes to your performance as a worker," said Michael Housman, managing director of analytics at Evolv.

Basically, how productive you are is a direct result of the training, development and encouragement you receive from your manager — and how productive your manager is as a worker.

"In essence, we’re trying to figure out what explains every employee’s performance on every single day of their employment. When we break down the factors that explain that performance, we find that a lot of it is attributable to the supervisor and some of that is attribute to the employee themselves."

For example, how long a worker's been with a specific company and how comfortable they are with their supervisor also has an affect on their work.

"But the interesting thing is that when we break it down by worker and boss, we find that they explain approximately equal amounts of the variation in day-to-day performance," Housman said. "Nothing else in our models comes even remotely close."

"The magnitude of this was surprising to me."

In other words, "the supervisors were on par with the agent themselves in terms of variations of performance." So if a manager is performing well, so is the employee and vice-versa, and the same is true for productivity.

Currently, Evolv is in the process of analyzing the results as part of an ongoing collaboration with The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Other parts of employee retention the study will focus on include:

  1. The characteristics of a bad supervisor.
  2. The effect of pairing people with different personalities together.

Evolv typically focuses on the hourly market, and its clients are generally international companies with thousands of hourly employees.

For the full-length version of the article, please click here.