Leadership Development

What 1,000s of high tech employees have to say about their managers

They say “people leave managers, not companies,” and there’s plenty of data to validate this.

Managers have consistently been shown to have the highest impact (both positive and negative) on employee retention, engagement, performance, and even customer satisfaction.

But what precisely do modern managers struggle with? What are they good at? And how can you help the managers at your company get better?

Over the last year, we’ve asked 1,000s of employees at fast-growing tech companies to rate their managers using Google’s Upward Feedback Survey methodology.

(You can read more about this framework in our Clear & Complete Guide to Leadership Development.)

Here are top three things we discovered that might surprise you.

25% of employees say that their manager DOES NOT regularly share relevant information from senior leadership

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of transparency and communication in our industry, and yet one in four employees don’t feel like their manager is keeping them in the loop.

When managers withhold vital information or miscommunicate, it leads to an erosion of trust and engagement on their team.

“Can you tell us more about what is going on with leadership and the business? We could be better informed about higher up decisions so that we can better plan and predict.” Anonymous employee at a 150-employee company

What’s more is that this results in organizational misalignments with teams and individuals pulling in different directions, canceling out company momentum. It looks something like this:

Finally, poor top-down communication compounds throughout the hierarchy.

For instance, if the executive team outlines a vision with 75% clarity, and then the Directors pass it down with the same level of clarity, and then the Managers do the same, you end up having individual contributors who only understand your vision with about 42% clarity (75% * 75% * 75% = 42%).

That’s rough.

It’s like a game of broken telephone. But with real consequences to your organization.

Only 68% of employees have had a meaningful discussion with their manager about career development in the past six months

Across the eight core management skills, this is by far the most significant gap for managers at fast-growing tech companies.

Companies assume — perhaps correctly — that many employees go into tech because they see the potential for accelerated learning and growth. Things are moving fast. There’s lots of work to be done, and organizations favor boldness, initiative, and innovation.

And yet, the average tenure in tech is only 1.8-2.2 years. It’s hard to imagine that this is enough time to achieve all the growth employees crave.

The reality is that many employees become disillusioned when they don’t see clear career paths and opportunities within an organization. And so they leave to pursue growth elsewhere.

Here are just a couple of excerpts from the upward feedback Hazel has collected:

“[My manager] has also never asked about my career aspirations and what I hope to achieve in growth. There are more projects I want to take part in, contribute more to the company, and overall, learn more outside my role. It's starting to make me feel like I'm not developing and that this is the most I will be able to get out of my position.” Anonymous Sales employee at a 250-employee company
“I am not completely confident if my manager has any vision for my contribution, my potential or career development at [redacted].” Anonymous Engineering employee at a 300-employee company

To fix this, you need to put systems in place to make career development opportunities available to everyone at your company. And you need to empower your managers to have productive conversations about this subject with their direct reports.

92% of employees say their manager cares about them as people

“He is so personable and clearly cares about each and every one of us. He knows a lot about the job and is always there for the tough questions. He really wants to do a good job and ensure that we have a good experience at [redacted].” Anonymous employee at a 250-employee company

We thought we’d end on a high note.

The data shows definitively that the vast majority of managers in tech genuinely care about the people they lead.

Manager Success Benchmarks

Interested to see how your company stacks up and how you can set your managers up for success?

Learn more about Hazel →

Managers tend to get a bad rep, but working with our customers, we see time and time again that the vast majority of leaders want to do right by their teams. They want their team members to be engaged; to be excited about coming into work; to be present, productive, and happy.

The adage says that “people leave managers, not companies,” but no manager wants to be the cause of somebody calling it quits.

Managers want to grow and do better as leaders.

But they need help. They need resources, tools, and guidance to be successful. They need you to help them become the best they can be.