Bruce Tulgan is the new Tom Peters.
Howard Jenkins, Chairman and CEO (fmr.), Publix Super Markets, Inc.
Apr 30, 2014

The Stubborn and Persistent Under-management Epidemic
...Ten Years Later


Ten years ago (June 28, 2004), we released a landmark study, “the Under-management Epidemic.” Now, ten years later, we are releasing the findings from our ongoing research on that stubbornly persistent epidemic. We define under-management as a condition in which a leader with supervisory authority fails to provide, regularly and consistently, any employee directly subject to that authority with the ‘management basics’:

  • Clear statements of broad performance requirements and specific expectations.
  • Support and guidance regarding resources necessary to meet requirements and expectations.
  • Accurate monitoring and measuring and documentation of the individual’s actual performance.
  • Regular candid feedback about the individual’s actual performance.
  • Rewards and detriments allocated and distributed in proportion to actual performance.

The remarkably consistent data continues to show that nine out of ten leaders/managers/supervisors at all levels across all industries fail to regularly and consistently practice the basics of management with respect to their direct-reports. We find that under-management is the overwhelming common denominator in most cases of sub-optimal workplace performance of all types and at all levels. The costs and lost opportunities caused by under-management are incalculably high and remain consistent over the ten year period. In today’s post-great-recession workplace, the continuous downsizing, restructuring and reengineering — especially since 2009 — have created new pressures and limitations on supervisory relationships. However, the primary causes of under-management have remained largely consistent over time. On the bright side, we have seen time and again, example after example, when leaders, managers, and supervisors begin concentrating on back-to-basics management they have tremendous positive results in a relatively short period of time.

To download the white paper, click here.


Nine out of ten managers are under-managing and most of them don’t know it! Five out of ten managers think they are doing an “excellent” or “very good” job managing their direct reports; two more out of ten believe they are doing a “reasonably good” job. When in fact, we find:

  • Only one in ten leaders/managers/supervisors provides all of the management basics to all of their direct-reports at least once a week.
  • Only two in ten provide all of the management basics at least once every two weeks.
  • Only three in ten provide all of the management basics at least once per month.
  • Nearly half fail to provide all of the management basics to every direct report even once a year.

Click here to read why: the top causes of under-management.


When we released our landmark study, “the Under-management Epidemic” (June 2004), one of the most common questions asked of leaders in the workplace was, “Are your employees “engaged” or not?” Of course, we knew very well that the key factor affecting employee engagement was and remains the relationship employees have with their immediate supervisors. That’s why we had been asking a different question of business leaders: “Are your MANAGERS ‘engaged’ or not?” We’ve been asking that question ever since and our intensified study of under-management over the last ten years has also allowed us to deepen our understanding. Now we have just released the results of that ten year study in a new report, The Under-management Epidemic Report 2014 …Ten Years Later. I hope you’ve had a chance to see it. We’ve devoted this newsletter to giving you some of the highlights.

Stay strong and stay tuned!



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