The Birth of a Study — Relationship Between Employees and Their Manager

The Birth of a Study — Relationship Between Employees and Their Manager

For those who follow me on LinkedIn, you might have seen this survey that I posted two weeks ago. The survey is called “Relationship Between Employees and Their Manager“. It will be active until May 4th 2018, so if there we’re not there yet, you can still fill it out.

A lot of people asked me how I came up with the idea of creating this survey, and what was its purpose. This is my answer to them.

It all started with my first steps in the labour market

I’ve been on the labour market for 18 years now, and of course, like a lot of you, I have witnessed multiple approaches and attitudes when it comes to management. Not just from my bosses, but other people’s bosses as well.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the kind of bosses I’ve seen in action, in no particular order:

  • bosses who allow bullying and refuse to let the victim move to another team
  • bosses who don’t mind their best people leaving since that’s how the market works
  • bosses who boast about how much money they make to employees with a low wage
  • bosses who break labour laws
  • bosses who fire people every time something goes wrong
  • bosses who harass random employees until they suffer burnout and leave
  • bosses who insult employees in front of their colleagues
  • bosses who let clients abuse their employees
  • bosses who let their employees take important decisions
  • bosses who leverage people’s potential
  • bosses who pressure new employees to snitch
  • bosses who decide with whom it is OK to talk to at work
  • bosses who promise the world and never intend to deliver
  • bosses who put shackles on motivated and ambitious employees
  • bosses who read their employees’ chat logs on a daily basis
  • bosses who scream at people
  • bosses who trust people
  • bosses who try to destroy people’s reputations after they resign
  • bosses who would eat babies if eating babies was profitable

There are a lot of kind of bosses and managers. What’s sad is that in my previous list, the bosses with a positive attitude are far outweighed by the other negative kind, and the nice ones weren’t even doing anything truly special but being decent human beings.

Hold my coffee, I got this

There was a time in my career — not too long ago — when I could feel that I was getting dangerously close to my tolerance threshold to abusive or retrograde boss-employee relationships. Strangely (or not), it coincided with my decision to focus on bringing humanity back to the core of the labour market and of the work place. If no one (in my immediate environment, at the very least) was willing to fix this mess, I would be the one to do so.

So, I was on my way to be the change I wanted to see in the world, and all I needed to start was a company that wanted to put their logo on that. I started writing on different mediums about the kind of progressive and human-centric environment I wanted to work in, until I found a company that had similar views on the matter. Where do I sign?

Since then, my replies to job offers on LinkedIn pretty much evolved from “Thanks, I’m not sure I want to be a Scrum Master anymore” to “Thanks for your consideration, but I’m busy changing the world”. Whatever I’m trying in my workplace, I expose to the outside world, and whatever I’m learning from the outside world, I try in my workplace. I am set to create such an example of people-centric leadership and management, that the labour market couldn’t just ignore it anymore. It’s still a work in progress. But this is my life now, and I’ve never been happier.

Brainstorm and inception

I was put in contact with Edda Pizzati, who founded a company called Humains, (comma included, that’s their brand) and that focuses on recruiting atypical candidates for job opportunities. There was an obvious and instantaneous professional connection between us, to the point where we just decided we should start a project together, and we came up with the idea of this survey. All that in one hour in a coffee shop in the Old Port of Montreal.

The discussion went from talking about why people leave their job, to what we could do to make people happier. And we thought that getting an idea of how bad (or good) things are as of now might be a good start.

Now I have never done a study like that before, especially not something with statistics. A good way to figure out if you can do something is to do it, so we threw a few ideas on paper. After a few passes, we had a clearer view of what we could achieve.

  • We wanted to understand how people perceive their work environment and their manager;
  • We wanted to understand what people expect from their manager;
  • We wanted to understand what makes them keep their job;
  • We wanted to find out if there were any correlation between all the demographics and variables we could use in the survey;
  • And we also wanted to show to the surveyees, through the wide range of available answers, that management isn’t all command and control, and human-centric approaches do exist in management;

Designing the survey

It was clear from the start that we would share the data of the survey publicly. I don’t actually feel we’re doing this for ourselves, I’m hoping other people can find value in these results. With this in mind, we wanted a tool that was free to use. Google Forms felt like a very accessible and easy enough tool to use.

I drafted a series of questions that grew every now and then. I based my question on my own management experience. Situations where I was challenged, or where I was drastically avoiding traditional reflexes. In the survey description, I wrote that we don’t pretend there are good or bad answers to make sure people wouldn’t self-censor. In reality, of course, there are tons of management styles, and we all have our preferences.

I wanted to offer the broadest choice of answers, from very conservative to very progressive. Many times, I went to the extremes, not only because I wanted to go beyond what I’m used to and what I know, but also in hope that people would actually challenge their perception of their work environment. One of the first question I asked was what perception people have of their manager, and I asked it again at the end of the survey, to see if answering the survey itself had changed their initial perception. I’m excited to see the resulting statistics of this experiment.

Concerning the upcoming survey results

The survey results will be shared in an upcoming article on LinkedIn, on my collaborative blog Primos Populi, as well as on Humains,‘s blog. Depending on how much interesting information we gather, it could come in multiple separate articles. We will try to present the results in a nice and appealing way, maybe an infographic of some sort. If any of you have a tool for this that’s free to use, please let us know in the comments!

Also, know that the resulting .CSV file will be available for download to everyone.

The Birth of a Study — Relationship Between Employees and Their Manager
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The Birth of a Study — Relationship Between Employees and Their Manager
The story of the birth of a study to understand the relationship between employees and their managers in the workplace.
Primos Populi
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