Issues arising from communication between managers and employees are not uncommon, and they can have a widespread impact on employee engagement, team motivation, and staff attrition. Collaboration and exchanging information are essential for workplaces to thrive, but once that breaks down, it can be hard to retrieve. 

Whether the behavior is intentional or accidental, a power play, or simply a clash of personalities, it’s proven that a poor relationship between managers and employees is bad for business. This disruption has an overwhelmingly negative impact on workplace culture; it drains the life out of teams within an organization. A study by global analytics firm Gallup found that managers can affect up to 70% of employees’ engagement. This impact spreads across all factors and key business indicators, such as productivity, turnover, absenteeism, and professional satisfaction. 

Having the right people in those leadership roles is vital, and companies should consider this when creating teams and offering promotions. But how can an organization increase good communication between managers and their reports? This article will provide some actionable tips and show how managers can use internal comms technology to be more effective in their communications. 

Valued employees want to stick around 

Being an exceptional manager is multifaceted, but excellent communication is an essential quality to possess. Strong leaders create environments that allow their teams to excel. Increased trust and a lack of micromanagement mean individuals can take responsibility for their own development and grow their professional skills, ultimately improving performance and achieving maximum productivity. 

14 steps to great internal communications

Download this handy eBook and discover practical tools and tips to maximize engagement and impact business performance through internal comms.

Also, remember that all team members are different, despite working in similar roles. Not everyone fits inside the same box or responds positively to the same stimuli. The bottom line – treat employees as human adults, or they are likely to leave. And high staff attrition, with a loss of unique skills and adapted business knowledge, not to mention the additional cost of recruiting, is awful for organizational progress and continuity. 

The post-pandemic ‘Great Resignation’ has meant that finding and keeping top talent is an ongoing uphill struggle against competitors. Studies show that around 44% of US employees are currently classed as ‘job seekers’, meaning they are unhappy with their current position and seeking a new one. A massive 4.3 million people quit their jobs in January, according to a recent report issued by the US Department of Labor, and 48 million people changed roles in 2021, the highest number ever recorded in America. So, the fight for talent is in full swing, and businesses must do everything they can to ensure they are an attractive proposition for employees, or better yet – don’t lose them in the first place. 

Screen with text reading 'Do what is great'

Inspiration not perspiration 

Tension between managers and their teams is damaging. It’s clear that managers and leaders play an essential role culturally and operationally, so it is imperative to choose the right people for those roles and train them correctly. But it goes deeper than that. For employees, managers that struggle to communicate and don’t take the time to listen end up killing team motivation. To those team members, this demonstrates inconsistencies within the company values and a stark lack of workplace culture. If their day-to-day experience conflicts with the business’ outward-facing mission statement, it is likely that those employees will become disillusioned and demotivated. Actions always speak louder than words, and if someone doesn’t believe in the company values due to the behavior of senior leaders, they are likely to be disengaged. They could be heading for burnout or resignation. 

Many managers may be oblivious to their poor communication skills. Others could be aware of their shortcomings and want to improve but worry that they lack the tools to achieve this. A 2019 study by Garter found that less than half of the business leaders surveyed felt they were well-equipped to lead their organization into the future. Communication is key to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their level, is on the same page to drive the required organizational growth. A great leader inspires their team toward a common goal or company vision without taking the glory or passing on the blame. 

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing,”

said renowned business consultant Peter Drucker.

There are many so-called “red flags” for poor and ineffective management, and often these can be unique to the individuals within the team. Some employees prefer an additional helping hand, while others may see it as micromanagement. Employees may respond positively to a high-pressure deadline, whereas some would perform better under a longer-term plan. It’s all about responding to the individualistic nature and personalities of those within your team to get the best out of them. 

However, some overarching behaviors would demonstrate poor managerial qualities for most, including;

  • A lack of overall feedback and generally focusing on negatives or poor performance
  • Failing to recognize achievements or good work
  • Non-existent collaboration or communication, and not taking suggestions onboard
  • Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths 
  • Passing on blame or not sharing the glory
  • Encouraging pressurized tactics and ignoring the risk of burnout 
  • Being unapproachable in general, whether for professional or personal conversations
  • An illogical fear of change

It doesn’t take much to damage trust within the workforce, sabotage engagement, and consequentially end up with a stagnant team. In the current tight job market, unhappy employees are likely to leave for another role; there’s certainly plenty of demand at the moment. But is it entirely down to the manager to change these behaviors, or are there things team members can do to help the relationship flourish? 

14 steps to great internal communications

Download this handy eBook and discover practical tools and tips to maximize engagement and impact business performance through internal comms.

Managing upwards 

Managing people well is not as easy as it may seem, and it takes experience, empathy, and time – something that some senior leaders do not always have. Often employees are promoted into management roles, but excelling at one part of the business does not necessarily mean there is a seamless transfer of skills into being a good manager.

Besides, it’s worth remembering that relationships are a two-way street; creating a healthy rapport with those above can only be positive. It makes work a much less stressful environment, helps with career advancement, and creates better communication. As a valued member of the organization, it is also the employee’s responsibility to make the team functional, as much as it is for the manager.

Mug with lipstick

Learning to anticipate and manage business leaders’ expectations means that everyone is on the same page regarding deadlines and responsibilities. Increasing the levels of communication ensures that as the relationship grows, each team member will understand how to get the point across without conflict or how to be honest about a situation without playing the blame game. But none of it can happen without building trust and appearing as a trustworthy source of help for a manager. Step by step, become a dependable ally. It may take some diligence and patience on the part of the employee, but it can be achieved – and it means not having to leave an otherwise good job for the sake of a poor relationship with your manager. 

A culture of communication between managers and employees

Of course, the importance of communication is the bottom line with all of this, whether as a manager or team member. Ensuring there is a steady stream of contact and understanding within the team means happier employees who perform better. 

Hiring during this tumultuous post-pandemic period is a challenge in itself, and keeping existing employees happy is much easier and cheaper than seeking replacements and doesn’t disrupt workplace culture. And that’s just one benefit. Organizations with many satisfied employees outperform their competitors statistically by around 21%, with additional growth and less turnover.

For many of these employees, it’s not about the perks. They aren’t necessarily interested in office slides, doggy day care, or even the latest computer equipment. It’s about how they are treated by business leaders, managers, and fellow colleagues. Fairness within the workforce, despite rank, tenure, or age. Trust and respect, feeling like they are being listened to and that their suggestions are being taken on board. After all, deep down, isn’t that what we all want?

How the intranet can help improve internal communication

Any thriving internal communication strategy will unite colleagues and improve the relationship between managers and reports. And utilizing tools from a feature-rich intranet can perform a critical function to support that multichannel communication, enabling managers to relate to people authentically and develop an informed and engaged workforce that is happier and more productive. So, what actionable tips can managers implement via intranet software to ensure this relationship stays healthy?

14 steps to great internal communications

Download this handy eBook and discover practical tools and tips to maximize engagement and impact business performance through internal comms.


A commonality of any prosperous two-way relationship is the ability to listen to each other; managers with their employees should be no different. Employee surveys allow feedback to be shared around the business, so that leaders have visibility on any issues. This transparency allows for actionable insights on related issues within the workforce, so any recurrent tension between managers and their teams can be identified and dealt with.

Pulse Surveys capture an immediate representation of employee feelings through methods such as custom surveys, quick-fire polls, or an Employee Net Promotion Score (eNPS). Sending out these targeted surveys is an easy way to get a real-time estimation of general workplace sentiment, including how people feel about their managers and other leaders. It provides quick identification of any problems within the relevant department and teams, or can be held anonymously if preferred – some employees tend to be more honest on anonymous surveys.


Creating a culture of peer-to-peer recognition helps leaders and managers cultivate the behavior they want to see from their employees, acknowledging professional achievements and celebrating success through positive feedback.  

Men and women collaborating

Encourage employees to recognize when someone goes above the requirements of their day-to-day role by promoting this behavior from the top down. Having a recognition feature within intranet software allows a public way of appreciating those employees who embody the culture and values within a business, improving communication and positively explaining expectations.

Measure collaboration

Happy employees collaborate with each other. Putting key measurements on engagement and popular posts can help gauge the general feeling within the workforce. Is everyone interacting well on the intranet, is a particular post popular, and what is the topic? Using analytics alongside your internal communications helps you gain invaluable insights and pinpoint any areas where there may be some issues.  

Which pages have the most views and comments? Are there any top contributors, or is there anyone that never gets involved with the intranet, and are they on your team? Analytics gives you a birds-eye view which can help managers identify which employees are potentially checked out and which are excited to be part of the team. It also gives back-end information about how leadership posts perform with the general workforce.

Using the features of intranet software, alongside a strong management team, ensures that a culture of communication is created within an organization. Employees and leaders can work towards business goals, align around workplace expectations and ultimately promote better teamwork for everyone.

14 steps to great internal communications

Download this handy eBook and discover practical tools and tips to maximize engagement and impact business performance through internal comms.