Everybody knows it’s important to have a good boss – but have you ever wondered exactly how valuable a good leader is to a team?
That was what a new report by University of Stanford and University of Utah set out to do, by isolating the impact a boss has on their team in a tech-based services company.
The managers in this company were rotated frequently so that employees had a new boss every couple of months.
The report found replacing a poor boss (one in the bottom 10%), with a good one (from the top 10%), would be as effective in boosting performance as adding an extra employee to a nine person team.
“Bosses may get lucky and have subordinates who can do their job well—or, in other settings, they can get really unlucky and have one person who poisons the whole bunch,” the researchers said.
“There was tremendous variety in the productivity of workers doing the same task compared to other workers who looked similar at the start,” the authors said.
Interestingly however, the report also identified a clear pattern of fluctuation depending on who was managing certain individuals, suggesting a clear impact of the manager on their performance.
“That’s because the effect of a boss is multiplicative,” the authors say. “If you have a better boss on a team, you get more out of each individual worker.”
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However, it remains yet to be seen whether the presence of a good boss has any direct impact on boosting retention rates in the firm, as identified by another piece of research, that was published in the Harvard Business Review.
“You could move up in the organisation, but that path may not always be available. Managers also might not want you to go up internally because then they’re losing a valued employee. So it means you’re attractive to employers in the outside job market,” the authors explained.