The productivity schism between managers and their staff

The productivity schism between managers and their staff

Productivity plays a central role in determining the success and growth of organisations. However, a significant discrepancy often arises when it comes to defining and measuring productivity. Managers and their bosses, occupying different positions within the organisational hierarchy, tend to have divergent perspectives on what productivity truly means. 

Drawing insights from the Slack State of Work Report, let’s discuss the concept of the productivity schism, examining the contrasting approaches adopted by managers and bosses, and discussing how integrating these perspectives can mutually benefit the organisation.

Understanding the productivity schism

To comprehend this schism, it is crucial to recognise that it represents the divergence between how managers and bosses perceive and prioritise productivity-related factors. Managers overseeing day-to-day operations and team performance emphasise collaboration, effective communication and fostering a positive work environment. Their focus extends beyond mere output and encompasses team dynamics, employee engagement, and ensuring the overall well-being of their workforce.

On the other hand, bosses, including executives and higher-level managers, often adopt a macro-level view that places greater emphasis on financial metrics, profitability and achieving organisational objectives. Their primary concern is ensuring the organisation’s financial health, meeting targets, and driving long-term success. While they acknowledge the importance of teamwork, their primary focus revolves around tangible outcomes that directly impact the bottom line.

Contrasting Approaches to Productivity

Most managers work closely with team members and the task they perform. These managers have a good understanding of which approaches work and which don’t as they are familiar with how each member contributes to the overall productivity. This gives them an idea of what to implement to stay efficient and productive.

As stated, some of the bosses these managers report to often look at the bigger picture. They tend to focus more on the quarterly or semi-annual results generated by their department or the whole organisation. And some bosses would make decisions without going into the small details of what goes through in the daily operations of every team.

Bridging the Gap for Organisational Benefit

It’s important for managers and their bosses to be aligned on what needs to be done and how to do it. After all, everyone is working towards the benefit of the whole organisation.

This can be done by implementing the following steps:

Regular Communication

Both managers and bosses need to engage in regular dialogues on what the team needs, the path to get there, and the desired results. Managers should discuss any roadblocks their team face and bosses have to be hands-on and ready to provide the support the team needs to get through these challenges.

Be More Involved

In many offices, the usual scenario is managers provide updates or reports to their bosses on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. Based on the numbers, bosses would give instructions on what needs to be done to maintain productivity or to improve it. Though this could be effective for many, bosses are encouraged to dive more into the details of strategies that work for the team and any issues that have to be addressed to ensure the whole department and organisation stays productive. This could be done by keeping an open line for managers and employees, scheduling open discussions, or even lunch out dates with the team to make it refreshing.


Bosses can schedule activities such as regular meetings and team building so they can get feedback from both the managers and employees. Doing this will keep them in the loop of what’s really happening at work, giving them a better understanding of the best practices that could be implemented. 

The takeaway on  productivity schism

The productivity schism between managers and their bosses highlights the need for organisations to integrate these divergent perspectives for the organisation’s benefit. By harnessing the strengths of both approaches and fostering open communication, organisations can create a harmonious work environment that balances individual growth with organisational success.

About Sam P

EnterpriseZone Staff Writer

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