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Communications of the ACM

ACM Careers

How Managers Discourage Employees From Sharing Their Best Ideas

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Supervisors can unwittingly hurt employee morale and lose a source of good ideas.

Credit: Getty Images

Researchers found that employees came to regret offering a suggestion to their boss when the manager told them to "make it happen," leading to more work and making them less likely to voice their ideas in the future.

"If the supervisor said, 'Good luck, you're on your own with this,' that led to the most overload and the most regret," says Daniel Newton, a professor at the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business, who led a team that surveyed more than 1,000 staff members and managers in the United States and China.

However, when managers also offered their own help, guidance, and additional resources after delegating the work, employees were more likely to feel better about speaking up and would be more likely to keep communicating ideas.

The team discusses strategies for managers that encourage, and steps that deter, employee voices in their published research.

From University of Iowa
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