Most managers will return to the office more effective than ever, according to new research. A study of about 3,500 managers shows that managers’ work habits have little to do with the culture of a company or any other internal factors.
But one problem is that many managers have unrealistic expectations of how great their return to work performance will be.
The study, from researchers at Northwestern University and Illinois State University, found that, contrary to the belief that working a normal week in an “uncontroversial position” would reflect a return to former levels of productivity, managers were actually not satisfied with their work performance when they returned to work.
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Perhaps not surprisingly, the researchers discovered that bosses’ expectations of how great their return to work performance would be were not affected by company culture or company management.
Not surprisingly, people who return to the office after not having worked an hour or longer in an office for some time tend to be the least effective.
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The study also revealed that the high quality of employees’ return to work performance is not driven by what individuals did for their last job.
“We found that simple skills — such as how quickly one can conduct tasks — does not predict high performance,” said University of Chicago Assistant Professor Robin Domenida. “When this data is compared to the typical results for top performers in other industries, there is an unmistakable bias toward people with highly productive skills.”
Another surprising revelation from the study was that poor performance is not consistently associated with a manager’s failure to see return to work performance as critical. In fact, some managers said that they didn’t realize the importance of their return to work performance and this negatively affected them.
The research, published in the Journal of Management, also revealed that managers were not worried about changing their office culture when returning to the office.
“They felt that traditional company values such as high participation and work-life balance, actually gave them a positive return from their tenure,” Domenida said.
Employers would be wise to communicate to their managers how important it is for them to return to work well, particularly to prepare them to meet the challenges and problems they will face while at work.