Employees don’t like working for creative managers

It’s a commonly held workplace belief that employees who succeed in their current roles should be rewarded with the chance to manage other employees. But big data reveals that what might be prized qualities for an employee are not necessarily traits that drive managerial success.

Managers are the single most important influence on how long an employee stays at her job by a factor of six, which means that effective managers are essential to a healthy and engaged company culture. Attrition and engagement are material concerns for most businesses—employees who are unengaged cost the economy $350 billion yearly, according to a Gallup poll and “corporate directors identified talent management as their single greatest strategic challenge,” according to Harvard Business Review study.

New data from Evolv reveals which leadership characteristics actually drive performance in an organization. The conclusions go against conventional, intuition-based business school wisdom from academics like Peter Drucker, Michael Porter and Dale Carnegie, perhaps because these luminaries didn’t have to deal with the challenges of today’s globalized and technical workforce.

Are potentially good managers being overlooked because they don’t exhibit traditionally accepted “good” employee traits? Evolv’s research, conducted in 13 countries, 18 industries and across 500 million data points, debunk two common management myths:

Myth: “Managers who are creative are effective.”

Truth: Employees don’t like working for creative managers. The higher managers test on the innovation and creativity scale, the more likely employees in customer-facing, front line roles are to leave. Idris Mootee recently argued in New York Times that management’s function isn’t about creating, but rather “ensuring that repetitive tasks were completed, improving economic efficiency, maximizing labor and machine productivity. Not a lot of creativity is needed; in fact, it might even be inefficient.”

Myth: “The more educated my workforce is as a whole, the better employees will do—even in hourly positions.”

Truth: Education and experience do matter for leaders, but not for employees.
For managers, having a technical degree, bachelor’s degree, or graduate degree allows managers to retain their employees at a higher rate. But for non-managerial roles, education does not serve as a predictor of performance at all. This finding comes at a time when college costs skyrocket; and the value of college has come into question for every American child.

Managers matter even more as our workforce becomes more elastic and organization, more flat. Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2013 report finds that the single greatest challenge to effective management is managers’ ability to coach employees well. Picking the right people is, at the very least, a good place to start.

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