why great managers are so rare

By in Leadership
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Executives are struggling to unlock the mystery of why performance varies from one workgroup to the next. Performance metrics fluctuate widely and unnecessarily in most companies, in no small part from the lack of consistency in how people are managed.

One of the most important decisions leaders make is simply whom they hire as managers, according to research by the Gallup Organization. Yet Gallup finds companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time.

This is an alarming problem for employee engagement and the development of high-performing cultures. Without the raw natural talent to individualize, focus on each employee’s needs and strengths, boldly review their team members, rally people around a cause, and execute efficient processes, the day-to-day experience will burn out both the manager and their team.

The only defense against this problem is a good offense. When companies can increase their number of talented managers and double the rate of engaged employees, they achieve, on average, 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.

To make this happen, leaders should demand every team have a great manager since managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores. Teams are composed of individuals with diverging needs related to morale, motivation, and clarity – all of which lead to varying degrees of performance. Nothing less than great managers can maximize them.

Gallup has discovered links between employee engagement at the business unit level and vital performance indicators. When a company raises employee engagement levels consistently across every business unit, everything gets better.

Gallup’s research reveals that about one in ten people possess the talent to manage. Though many people are endowed with some of the necessary traits, few have the unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve excellence in a way that significantly improves a company’s performance. These 10%, when put in management roles, naturally engage team members and customers, retain top performers, and sustain a culture of high productivity.

Most companies promote workers into managerial positions for the wrong reasons. Experience and skills are important, but people’s talents – the naturally recurring patterns in the ways they think, feel, and behave – predict where they’ll perform at their best. Talents are innate and are the building blocks of great performance. Knowledge, experience, and skills develop our talents, but unless we possess the right innate talents for our job, no amount of training or experience will matter.

Gallup finds that great managers have the following talents:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance
  • They create a culture of clear accountability
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency
  • They make decisions based on productivity, not politics

For too long, companies have wasted time, energy, and resources hiring the wrong managers and then attempting to train them to be who they’re not. The good news is that sufficient management talent exists in every company. More than likely, it’s an employee with high managerial potential waiting to be discovered.

By michelle m. smith, CPIM, CRP
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Comments (1)

Great article, very refreshing views. As a manager myself its good to come across something like this every once and a while.


July 16, 2014   |   Reply
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