It depends on the Manager...

One of the top phrases on Glassdoor and another signal that not enough has changed in the workplace

glassdoor commentsWhen I am preparing for a manager’s workshop, I like to research the companies of the HR leaders that are attending. My main source is Glassdoor, a website that provides a platform for employee experience. I print off the employee reviews, interview experiences and overall ratings of the organization. Inevitably, as I read the employee reviews I see the same message over and over, “It depends on the manager.”

We can all relate to this statement. Who hasn’t had the manager who makes life miserable? For the sake of this blog post, we will call this typically bad manager, Richard Head. You can call him Dick. Here are his traits:bad-manager

  • Self Centered
  • Bully
  • Always right
  • Poor communicator
  • Micromanages
  • Creates a culture of fear and distrust


Many of us, the lucky ones anyway, can relate to amazing managers as well. We’ll call this manager Chris Talclear. He’s the manager we hold in high dude-manager-showing-thumbs-up-easy-to-edit-and-transform-line-art-colors-and-background-placed-in-different-layers_34127176regard for what he has taught us and how he advanced our career options. Chris has qualities that we hope we emulate – qualities like:

  • Great attitude
  • Extends trust first
  • Develops people
  • Flexible and agile
  • Makes decisions when it’s time
  • Accountable for himself and his team.

There has been an epic disconnect between organizations and managers since the birth of the organized workplace.  But at this stage of our organizational evolution, why do we still tolerate it? I’m not saying we don’t need different styles of managers, but you would think by now the majority of organizations would have found a way to align their mid level and front line managers to the core values of the organization. You’d think that as the leaders and professionals of our organizations we would have been able to put an end to (or at least put a damper on) the Richard Heads of the world.

What’s an organization to do?

Here are five steps that should help alleviate the Glassdoor mantra – “It depends on the manager….”

  1. Communicate, live and breathe the mission and vision of your organization. Align daily operations with the company’s mission. This will encourage understanding and passion for a worthwhile mission among all employees.     
  2. Set aside time to be a transparent and responsive. Organizations that learn and adapt rapidly open flows of information and interaction; encouraging experimentation and learning through rapid cycles, encouraging and accelerating innovation.
  3. If you want to develop people, you need to involve leaders. Leaders are a part of the teaching, coaching and mentoring of your pipeline on an ongoing basis.
  4. Organizations must lay a foundation of building blocks that develop employees to be their best in order to deliver the best outcomes for all stakeholders. Train and educate your people in best practices. When the culture is driven by “getting-better” in a non-competitive way, you breed collaborative, mobile and dynamic leaders and teams.
  5. In the words of Jack Welch, “When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.” That’s a fine phrase, but what are you doing to teach managers how to bring out the best in their team?  This is a very social function whose mastery should come before anyone is put in front of a group of people.

The SMART Workplace has developed the 3-Fold Path to building and maintaining high performance managers and teams. Next week’s blog will dive deeply into the concept of the 3-Fold Path, focusing on Path 2, leading a supportive team culture. In the mean time, feel free to take  our Team Quick Check Assessment below and start thinking about how YOU can bring about change in your manager’s world.

~ Kathy Kacher, Workforce Solutions Expert and co-founder of The SMART Workplace

If it feels like your team is bailing out a leaky boat, the SMART Workplace can help shed some light on how to navigate the waters of virtual work to become an effective SMART Team.   Answer these 6 questions to determine if your team cruiser is taking on water or is sailing smoothly.  And if your team is feeling a bit swamped, we'll get you pointed back to solid ground.


My team talks freely and openly among our members and as a whole team, using digital collaboration to work better together.


As a team we all clearly understand what we need to accomplish, together and individually


All team members understand our respective strengths and how we complement each other.


Team members extend themselves beyond their individual responsibilities to help others when need.


I count my work team members among my closest professional friends.

6. All team members are engaged with our work.

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