WTW: Less than half of US workers have confidence in senior leadership
- Only 45% of U.S. employees said their senior leaders create trust and confidence, according to a global study by Willis Towers Watson (WTW). The level of confidence has declined over the last two years, the study found. In the Willis Towers Watson Global Workforce Study, employees gave senior managers low marks also in developing leaders for the future (41%) and showing sincere concern for employees' well-being (47%). TWT surveyed 31,000 full-time workers between April and May.
- Employees ranked their direct managers higher than senior leadership, but not without referencing a need for improvements. 81% of respondents said their managers treat them respectfully, 75% said managers give them assignments suited to their strengths and skills, and 60% said their managers are clear about explaining assignments and goals. But just 56% said managers make fair decisions, and only half think managers have sufficient time for handling the people-oriented aspects of their jobs.
- Employers are aware of the critical role leadership development plays in the workplace. A previous WTW survey, found that employers are trying to improve their leadership development initiatives and 60% of those surveyed said they develop leaders who are able to deal with changing business needs. More than half (53%) use technology to develop leaders and 31% said they intend to add such technology. Additionally, 55% think they make good use of leadership competency models.
These global surveys can help employers weigh their performance in three important areas: leadership development, establishing trust and confidence for employee buy-in, and showing authentic interest in employees' well-being.
Leadership development technology is costly; U.S. employers spend about $160 billion annually. Therefore, employers should select leadership development technology that's aligned with their goals, or risk justifying employees' unfavorable responses about senior leaders' performance in this area.
The higher ratings direct managers received over senior leaders isn't surprising. Direct managers have the most contact with, and influence over, employees, both positive and negative. Senior leaders have less direct contact with employees, if any at all, in some cases. But more contact with employees could enhance engagement and it is important that employees have faith in the leadership of their organizations.
A disconnect sometimes occurs between employees' perceptions of management and managers' intent. For, example, employees might not like a manager's decision, but the decision might be right based on the manager's knowledge of a situation. Those realities should be balanced by awareness of employee perceptions of managers.