A new survey released today by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations revealed a truism that applies across industries: executives have a far rosier view of their own job performance than their employees do.
Plank interviewed 838 executives and managers at various unnamed companies on issues like work engagement, trust, and job satisfaction in the interest of better preparing for “a dynamic but uncertain future.”
Here’s the basic chart:
…and here are our five takeaways:
1. Leaders fail to see things from the ground level
“Leaders” surveyed tried to be self-critical, giving themselves a collective A- for job performance.
Their employees, however, felt differently: “Followers” (which is an odd classification, really) gave their bosses a C+ on the overall performance front and found them lacking in a few areas: leading teams, sharing their “visions” for the larger organizations they run, and building relationships with their own employees.
2. Agency employees are more satisfied than in-house employees
This is an interesting finding given that internal comms chiefs often seem to have more power as the go-to spokespeople for their respective employers, but Plank theorizes that organizations in which EVERYONE does PR will be more united in terms of both mission and sentiment. Some agency employees also have a greater variety of job duties attending to multiple clients.
In other words, internal corporate comms officers may too often feel like the proverbial cog in the (CMO) machine.
3. Culture is a sticking point
As much as agency messaging focuses on culture, PR organizations do not seem to be meeting expectations on that front.
Plank participants gave the industry a B- on the culture front because, again, they feel a distance between leaders, managers, and other team members.
This could be evidence of an operational disconnect between those at the top and bottom of an organization. It could also be a symptom of too many individuals in middle-management positions with little feeling of responsibility when it comes to encouraging and/or inspiring those they manage.
Again we come back to turnover rates and a perceived lack of accountability for managers.
4. Lower-level employees feel little trust or loyalty
Employees trust the organizations they work for to function correctly. They do not, however, trust the leaders of these organizations to give them due credit.
They have reason to believe that execs will rarely show–not tell–teams that they value the work done by those below them…you know, the ones actually pitching journalists, writing press releases, requesting corrections, and doing dozens of other, less-visible things that actually make this industry run.
5. The gender gap persists
Most strikingly, men and women hold very different views of the industry in nearly every way.
Women are less confident in shared decision-making responsibilities, company cultures, and diversity of both people and opinions.
In short, female employees have less of a sense that they are valued within their firms and do not feel as confident in the atmospheres created by their bosses.
This isn’t just about pay; female leaders were also seen to be more engaged than their male counterparts.
On the other hand, PR professionals are far less likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs than those who work in the vast majority of competing industries.
Trust us and be glad you don’t work in advertising.