Employee engagement has an incredible impact on your organization – it can look like great customer service, high performing employee retention, a trust-filled environment, efficiencies and innovations at every turn, or it can be the complete opposite of those things. According to a Gallup study, managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement! Likely, if you’ve been following my blog series on employee engagement, you’ve thought about your employees, what they can do, and maybe what they should do. But now, I want you to take a look at yourself, managers and supervisors. And even more so, those of you at the highest level in the organization. We need to look at who we choose to be our managers. This is the tipping point in employee engagement.
In one of our live class presentations, I found a list detailing what an ideal boss/manager/leader is. An ideal boss is pleasant, approachable, understanding, caring, serves as an adviser and supporter, is flexible and open-minded, respects, values and appreciates employees, and has good management skills. If you’re like me, this resonates with you! Who wouldn’t want this? We all deserve to be valued, supported, and even cared for. In my experience, employees thrive in this type of environment! Now, it has to be balanced with boundaries and some structure. So I’ll pair this with more from Gallup. According to Gallup, a manager with better employee engagement beneath them is able to individualize, focus on each person’s needs and strengths, boldly review his or her team members on a regular (daily) basis, rally people around a cause, align team members with the organization’s mission, and execute efficient processes.
But here’s the kicker. Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, shares a scary fact, “Authentic management talent is rare. Gallup’s research shows that just one in 10 have the natural, God-given talent to manage a team of people. They know how to motivate every individual on their team, boldly review performance, build relationships, overcome adversity and make decisions based on productivity — not politics. A manager with little talent for the job will deal with workplace problems through manipulation and unhelpful office politics. Gallup’s research has also found that another two in 10 people have some characteristics of functioning managerial talent and can perform at a high level if their company coaches and supports them.”
What I get from that is, we have 30% of our leadership who has or can have what it takes to be a great manager. I’m not – and Gallup isn’t – saying that the remaining 70% aren’t great people or great employees. But just because they were an expert in their field, does that mean we should make them a manager? As Ron Holifield says (loosely), and this is just one example, “Why do we make our top Engineers our Public Works Directors and expect them to be great people managers? They should stay Chief Line Drawers. That is what they’re great at.” So what are we to do? Who are we to recruit, assess, and develop? First, we need to understand what a good manager is.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders report, there are 5 characteristics of a great manager, “Great managers possess a rare combination of five talents. They motivate their employees, assert themselves to overcome obstacles, create a culture of accountability, build trusting relationships, and make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company.”
We’ll continue to delve into this report in the coming weeks and see what makes a great manager. In the meantime, check yourself. Do an informal self-assessment or even ask your subordinates! How do you measure up to the characteristics mentioned above? Do you have the balance of providing both care and boundaries? Are you skilled at managing both people and processes? And remember, employee engagement hinges on you! No pressure…