State of the service

Immediate supervisor leadership in the APS

How would you rate this?

I found this information:

View results

Loading ... Loading ...

Search the internet and you will find versions of the often repeated quote that “people join companies but leave managers”. Managers have a profound impact on employee experiences. They direct the day-to-day activities of employees. They are role models and establish the pattern of acceptable behaviours in the workplace.

  • “Satisfaction with immediate supervisor shows a high degree of stability

We know from the APS employee census that positive perceptions of immediate supervisors are linked with employee engagement, work performance and innovation in the workplace. They are ultimately linked to productivity. Common sense would lead a person to conclude that individuals are more likely to contribute to agency goals if managers communicate clearly and offer good support and direction. Employee census results confirm this.

Satisfaction with immediate supervisor performance is measured against each of the 10 competencies assessed in the APS employee census. Results are stable year on year. It is good to see that APS employees rate their supervisors positively on their ability to achieve results, their personal drive and their integrity. Employees are less supportive of supervisors’ ability to develop and motivate people, or to encourage innovation.

Figure 1.

Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisor competencies (Integrated Leadership System)

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data and full question set for Figure 1.

Percentage positive

Fig 1.  Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisor competencies (Integrated Leadership System)
Figure 1. is a bar chart showing employee views of their immediate supervisor improved across all immediate supervisor capabilities from 2012 to 2013, and were largely maintained in 2014 and 2015. The lowest scored capabilities in 2015 were motivates people and develops people, and the highest were achieves results and exemplifies personal drive and integrity. Scores across all capabilities ranged from 69% to 75%.

Noticeable differences occur in satisfaction with immediate supervisors when compared across classification level. The Senior Executive Service (SES) show higher levels of satisfaction than either Executive level (EL) or APS level employees.

Senior employees will often have more senior supervisors who are more experienced and who have had the opportunity to refine their skills over time. Results from the employee census show that the SES have more positive views of most aspects of the workplace than other employees.

Figure 2. Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisor competencies by classification level (Integrated Leadership System)

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data and full question set for Figure 2.

Percentage positive

Fig 2. Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisor competencies by classification level
Figure 2. is a bar chart showing employee satisfaction with their immediate supervisor capabilities increase with classification level for APS 1–6, EL to SES employees.

Employee census results show that the function of an agency is linked to perceptions of managers. Employees in policy agencies are generally more positive about their immediate supervisors. Surprisingly though, employees in policy agencies report less encouragement from managers to be innovative than more specialist agencies. Agency size has an impact as well. Employees in larger operational agencies are the least positive across the 10 immediate supervisor competencies assessed in the employee census.

Learn more about the APS employee census and APS immediate supervisor competencies by clicking the ‘Learn More’ menu tab at the top of this page.

Figure 3. Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisor competencies by agency function (Integrated Leadership System)

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data and full question set for Figure 3.

Percentage positive

Fig 3. Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisor competencies by agency function
Figure 3. is a bar chart showing employees in Specialist or Policy agencies have higher levels of satisfaction across all five leadership capabilities for immediate supervisors; employees in Larger Operational agencies tend to have lower levels. Satisfaction levels in agency clusters range from: 69% to 72% in Larger Operational, 71% to 76% in Smaller Operational, 71% to 78% in Regulatory, 73% to 80% in Policy and 72% to 79% in Specialist. Employee satisfaction tended to be lowest for the strategic thinking leadership capability in all five agency clusters, and highest for the achieves results leadership capability.

The idea that people leave bad managers is backed up by employee census results. Employees planning on leaving their agency either immediately or in the short term are those who are least satisfied with their immediate supervisors. Conversely, employees with longer term career aspirations within their agency are the most satisfied.

Figure 4. Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisor competencies related to intention to leave (Integrated Leadership System)

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data and full question set for Figure 4.

Percentage positive

Fig 4. Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisor competencies related to intention to leave
Figure 4. is a bar chart showing employee satisfaction with their immediate supervisors based on their reported career intentions. Employee satisfaction tends to be higher for employees that want to stay working for their agency for at least the next three years and is lowest for employees who want to leave their agency as soon as possible. Satisfaction levels range from: 40% to 48% for those that want to leave ASAP, 61% to 68% for those that want to leave within 1 year, 57% to 63% for those that want to leave within 1 year but can’t, 73% to 80% for those that want to stay for 1–2 years and 76% to 80% for those that want to stay for at least 3 years.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below—we welcome your views.

Want to contribute or let us know your thoughts? Check out our Terms and Conditions.

Read the State of the Service Report 2014–15 on the APSC website.


4 Comments

  1. Gillian Little

    This new way of reporting on the State of the Service is appealing, convenient, topical and informative. The language also seems to be more accessible than other SoS reports I have read. Well done State of the Service Team.

  2. Debbie Stein

    I agree. Have always found the State of Service reporting interesting and this new approach is more accessible. Well done.

  3. Bob

    It would be useful to discover whether there is any correlation between employee satisfaction with their supervisor and high(er) performance.

    • Australian Public Service Commission (Author)

      Thanks for your comment Bob, we find this interesting too. We have done some investigation into this with our Employee Engagement Model—you can read more about this in our post on employee engagement. We know from looking at APS employee census results that positive perceptions of immediate supervisors are linked with work performance along with employee engagement and innovation.