Manager speaking during meeting

The impact of managers on employee engagement

August 15, 2018
3 minute read
Last updated March 6, 2019

The impact of managers on employee engagement

By Marissa Mias August 15, 2018

It’s your job as a manager to make sure your employees are engaged. But what happens if you, the manager, is the sole reason your employees are disengaged?

Can someone actually reach their top performance if their manager is constantly weighing them down? I know someone who recently left their job solely because of their manager. This person has been a top performer at every company they’ve been at. However, at this most recent company, they had someone questioning their every move, constantly checking in on them, and not letting them run with something they were hired to do. This person couldn’t do their job because their manager wouldn’t let them. So they left the company.

Our recent People Management Study showed that 77 percent of people with bad bosses hope to leave their company soon, whereas only 18 percent of people with great managers plan to leave soon.

How likely are you to leave in the next 12 months?

A bad manager can be toxic to your workforce.

A manager’s focus can be detrimental to the performance of their team. According to The Predictive Index People Management Study*, while bad managers are focused largely on themselves, they actually lack self-awareness. Bad managers don’t realize the impact they have on their employees when they do things like communicate unclearly, play favorites, or badmouth others.

*5,103 respondents answered questions about their managers. They rated their managers on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a terrible manager and 10 being an awesome manager. Respondents were also given a list of 105 traits and selected those that describe their managers.

Here are the 10 most common traits among 633 managers who were rated 1-4 in the study (bad managers):

It’s time for managers to become self-aware.

Take a step back and gain a better understanding of who you are as a manager. Ask your team how they’re feeling. Take a behavioral assessment to understand what makes you tick. Welcome feedback from your employees. If you don’t know what they’re thinking, how will you know if you’re doing something right or wrong?

The importance of self-awareness for managers

It’s important to continuously try to better yourself, which will then help you gain greater insight into our employees and keep them engaged. When you make the effort, you’ll see a significant change in your team’s performance.

Using people data to manage more effectively

The use of people data is a key concept of talent optimization, and top companies ask every employee to take behavioral assessments so everyone can build an understanding of the similarities and differences that exist across the organization. When managers have access to this data, they can tailor their management style to develop employees more effectively.

To learn more about using people data to manage better, download our free guide to managing teams.

Motivate and manage your team to perform.

The practical guide to managing teams.

Download guide


  1. I’m curious if the data relates only to direct reports compared to indirect? Although I’m classified as a manager due to breadth and scope of project, I have no direct reports.

    As a result, I’m curious how the data changes (if it does) based on this structure.

  2. Great points. I had a quick huddle after reading this and asked for feedback from my team on these topics. I’m doing good for the most part and also identified areas that could use some improvement as I work towards being that “Good Manager”.


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