Debunking the Myths of Bad Data

October 29, 2015
How do you know how your employees really feel? Many managers look to turnover trends, productivity and anecdotal feedback to determine how happy their workers are. Unfortunately, there are some flaws in relying solely on those sources of information: Turnover trends:

Sadly, people have an extremely high tolerance for misery. I see it all the time professionally and in friends and family members – people who are so smart, complaining about their jobs and how they only stay because it’s easier than the uncertainty of something new. True, it mustn’t be so bad that they’re willing to pack up their mug and puppy Post-its, but if they aren’t engaged they aren’t doing their best work for their team, their manager or their company.


This one seems promising. How can productivity be misleading? Well, just because your numbers are good, doesn’t mean they’re as high as they can go. If your team isn’t engaged, they may be meeting the requirements of the job, but never bothering to surpass them. Productivity is relative to the individual and the environment created for that individual. If you aren’t maximizing what you can do for them, why would they?

Anecdotal feedback:

I hope this one is obvious. When was the last time you regularly pointed out the flaws in your own manager? While some people can develop and maintain that level of candor, chances are you’re telling your spouse, friends, dog or bartender far more than you’re saying directly to your manager. Most of us are self-aware enough to protect ourselves and our careers even if it means we’re lying to your face.

So what now? Using tools like engagement surveys, third-party focus groups and interviews are the best way to assess the real environment you’re creating as a manager and the environment that’s being created by your company. Truth and honesty come only when employees can see it’s important to leadership and that they are protected even when they voice unpopular opinions. Research has shown why it matters countless times: So be brave, and commit to taking a good, hard look at what’s really going on. It’s the only way to be a truly successful manager and it will lead you to reach new heights together with your team.
Sara Forner Howland

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