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People Managers Are the Key to Organizational Success…But They Could Use Some Help, New SHRM Research Finds

Alexandria, VA SHRM, the trust authority on all things work, released a new research report titled “Effective People Managers: The Linchpin of Organizational Success.” The report investigates the challenges faced by people managers today and their subsequent impact on employee well-being and retention. Notably, less than two-thirds of workers rate their managers as highly effective. Recognizing the critical role of people managers, SHRM Research surveyed U.S. workers, people managers, HR professionals, and HR executives to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of people management and identify potential areas for improvement.

Key findings include:

  • 92% of HR executives said people managers are critical for their organization’s overall success.
  • 82% of HR executives said people managers are critical for accomplishing strategic business objectives.
  • 64% of U.S. workers rated their manager as highly effective.
    • 28% said their manager is just average.
    • 8% said their manager is ineffective.
  • 55% of people managers reported often feeling caught in the middle between executive leaders’ strategic vision and the practical realities their team faces.

This research underscores the influence of effective managerial practices on employee morale and commitment. The study found 35% of U.S. workers with non-highly effective managers feel valued at their organization, compared to 80% of U.S. workers with highly effective managers. Workers who reported having a highly effective manager were also more than twice as likely to feel a deep sense of commitment to their employer than those without a strong supervisor.

More importantly, the study highlights the ripple effect of exemplary leadership. Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) highly effective people managers stated that supervisors who report to them are among the best managers in their organization. Only about 7 in 10 (69%) of their less-effective peers say the same.

"People managers are the heartbeat of any successful organization. Their leadership and ability to nurture talent are critical to our employees' well-being and the overall health of our companies,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, President and CEO, SHRM. “Our research highlights effective management as a game-changer, driving job satisfaction and fulfillment, and deepening employee commitment. It's crucial that we equip our people managers with the tools, training, and support they need to excel. When we invest in our managers, we invest in a brighter future for our entire organization."

People managers, however, face challenges in achieving high performance. They identified the following as the key challenges impacting their effectiveness:

  • Heavy workload (33%)
  • Balancing multiple responsibilities (22%)
  • Insufficient resources/budget constraints (20%)
  • Balancing competing priorities (20%)
  • Employee turnover and retention (20%)

Separate from this study, SHRM’s Employee Mental Health in 2024 report also found 40% of people managers reported a decline in their mental health after entering a managerial or leadership role.

In the current research, HR executives identified several key skills they believe managers need to further develop. These skills include coaching and mentoring, effective communication, performance feedback, conflict resolution, and strategic thinking.

The report concluded workplace practices such as clear role expectations and structured goal setting and performance metrics are critical for enhancing managerial effectiveness.

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People managers: A total of 1,406 surveys were completed from July 25, 2023 to August 10,2023. The survey was fielded electronically using a third-party panel service to U.S.-based people managers who supervise at least one direct report.

U.S. workers: A total of 1,456 surveys were completed form August 11, 2023 to August 30, 2023. The survey was fielded electronically using a third-party panel service to U.S.-based workers who have a direct supervisor at work.

HR executives: A total of 336 surveys were completed from September 19, 2023 to September 18, 2023. The survey was fielded electronically using the SHRM Voice of Work Research Panel to U.S.-based executives who hold a title of Vice President or higher and engage in HR activities.

HR professionals: A total of 1,092 surveys were completed on September 19, 2023. The survey was fielded electronically using the SHRM Voice of Work Research Panel to U.S.-based HR professionals engaged in HR activities at least 50% of the time. HR executives were not eligible to complete this survey.

About SHRM

SHRM is a member-driven catalyst for creating better workplaces where people and businesses thrive together. As the trusted authority on all things work, SHRM is the foremost expert, researcher, advocate, and thought leader on issues and innovations impacting today’s evolving workplaces.  With nearly 340,000 members in 180 countries, SHRM touches the lives of more than 362 million workers and their families globally. Discover more at



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