Close site search

Simply start typing to search Changeboard and then press enter

Mind the perception gap

Posted on by from Penna

What is causing this lack of aspiration to rise to the managerial ranks? Penny de Valk reveals findings from Penna's latest research.

We know that there is a dearth of managers, with a CMI report finding that one million are needed by 2020[1]. This knowledge makes Penna’s research a worrying read; more than half of employees who haven’t managed before (54%), say they’ve never wanted to be a manager and nearly a quarter said they wouldn’t put their all into the role (23%).

What is causing this lack of aspiration to rise to the managerial ranks?

One area that the research uncovers is the perception gap between how well managers think they are doing versus how well employees say they are doing. If there is a mismatch between the two, which the research highlights there is, then it’s understandable why employees may not want to manage – as they don’t have existing role models they want to emulate.

Perception vs reality

One of the most startling aspects of our research is the gap between what managers think they are doing versus what employees are experiencing. For example, 82% of managers agree with the statement that they are definitely, or sometimes, “good at supporting their direct reports with opportunities for promotion” – but well over a third of employees (39%) disagree.

Furthermore, 91% of managers agree that they support employees with learning and development opportunities, definitely or sometimes, but nearly a third (29%) of employees say that they don’t.

This significant gap in perception versus reality means that managers think they are doing a good job on the whole, but employees beg to differ. Much of this reflects the changing expectations employees have around being developed and their expectation of career progression. They have higher expectations of both these days and managers need to stop measuring 'what's good enough' by their own yardstick. 

Mr Nice Guy

Overall, employees said they have a good relationship with their managers (77%). In fact they agreed that they like (64%) and respect (66%) their managers. While being liked and respected is important, it should not come at the cost of clarity of direction and vision sharing – which their direct reports said is lacking.

If UK businesses want to maintain their competitive advantage, they must ensure that their managers are doing more than just playing Mr Nice Guy. They must be making a tangible and positive impact on both the growth of the business and development of their direct reports. It’s rare to find this as an innate talent, so needs to be actively developed.

Investing in management skills

Is it surprising that managers are out of touch with the impact they are having when only around a quarter of managers (23%) have ever received development to make them more effective?

It’s no wonder that the perception gap between employees and manager is so great and helps explain why more than half (51%) of employees went as far to say that they could or might be able to do a better job than their manager.

Brand “manager”

It’s easy to see why employees may not aspire to become managers. After all, they are seeing their managers struggle to keep up – particularly with all the changes they are likely to have faced in these turbulent times often unsupported, with little development.

Businesses really need to tackle this head on and start investing in their managers so they can be more impactful for both their people and their organisations. Developing management skills that talent are the greatest asset a business possesses, so organisations need to start treating managers as the most critical contributor to developing, engaging and spotting that talent.

By investing in managerial capability, businesses can make themselves more competitive, more agile, more profitable and definitely more attractive to the talent out there in the market looking for managers they can learn from, who can give direction and clarity of purpose and who can have great conversations about careers and progression.  

Penny De Valk

By Penny De Valk

MD of talent practice at Penna, working with an experienced team to deliver professionally accredited coaching, leadership development and talent management solutions, to help organisations be competitive in a recovering economy.

Get content similar to this article

You can cancel email alerts at any time

Content by email

Thanks! You have been subscribed to receive emails about the following subjects.

Get more with Changeboard

Changeboard is a global HR jobs site, career advice resource and events platform to help HR and recruitment professionals find the perfect job to progress their careers. We're here to help you change the way you work.

Register now

Changeboard Magazine

Changeboard is read by more than 22,000 senior leaders in print and 85,000 online.

  • Get Changeboard Magazine

  • Get Changeboard Magazine
    on mobile

  • Get Changeboard Magazine
    in print

Subscribe to Changeboard today for:

  • Engaging and relevant decision-support content
  • Exclusive interviews with CEOs & HR leaders
  • In-depth profiles, case studies & insights from progressive senior HR & resourcing practitioners
  • Stimulating career advice, delivered in bitesized chunks to help busy professionals advance their careers efficiently.
Get the Changeboard magazine
Get Changeboard Magazine

Job search saved

Your search has been successfully saved.

Register or log in to manage job alerts.