Recent research conducted by the Harvard Business Review reveals that 46% of managers don’t adequately hold employees accountable for their behavior. These findings come as no shock to us as we regularly help client organizations to improve the performance of struggling employees and to improve the practices of managers tasked with supervising such employees. This work has given us a first-hand view of how uncomfortable managers can be as they attempt to point out problematic behavior or initiate difficult conversations.
We have observed that that many managers don’t want to correct their employees as they would rather get along with co-workers than be at odds with them. But, in reality, negative feedback helps employees grow professionally while helping the organization avoid the kind of problems that can get in the way of its mission.
An unwillingness to address shortcomings in employee behavior can impair the organization in a variety of ways. Most obviously, when managers don’t engage employees regarding their performance issues, mistakes can multiply. But conflict avoidance can affect the bottom line even more directly when managers go further than simply overlooking poor performance and instead reward it – a practice that occurs with surprising frequency according to recent data. A 2013-14 Towers Watson study found that almost a quarter of managers award bonuses to employees regardless of performance.