By Tania Luna and Roi Ben-Yehuda
“70% of the variance in team engagement is solely determined by the team’s manager…
only 20% of employees strongly believe they are managed in a motivating way.”
Consider the typical career path of a manager…
They start as a successful individual contributor. They hit their targets, they get great feedback, they’re confident. In fact, they’re so good at what they do that do, they get promoted to be a manager (so they can help others do great work too).
Sounds right… until you realize something is amiss. This new manager’s scope of responsibility is greater than ever, but now, there is no definition of success for their role, they get little or no feedback, and there is no guidance for how to actually manage well.
In our work with over 600 rapid growth companies, we see this trajectory again and again, all across the world. Imagine if we chucked pilots into their roles the way most people get thrown into the seat of management. Would you be willing to board that plane?
The impact of this “let them figure it out” strategy for manager development is actually measurable. According to Gallup, an astonishingly 70% of the variance in team engagement is solely determined by the team’s manager. (Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, called this finding the most “profound, distinct and clarifying” in the eighty-year history of the organization.) That’s great news for companies with effective managers, but only 20% of employees strongly believe they are managed in a motivating way. And it’s estimated that poor management and the ensuing loss of productivity costs the U.S. economy between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion annually. Globally, those costs approximate $7 trillion.
Managers need training
There’s a reason we don’t let surgeons learn by doing. Given how much impact bad management has on organizations, learning from mistakes (like people quitting) is extraordinarily costly. There is a simple alternative: treat leadership as a skill set. Don’t hope for the best or assume it will eventually work out (the research is now very clear that it is not working).
Let’s not wait for next year’s depressing engagement statistics. There is no question that management matters and that managers need our help. The good news is they’re even asking for it! The even better news? Helping managers develop is simpler than it sounds. Our research at LifeLabs shows there is a small set of trainable skills that distinguish great managers from mediocre ones.
Now, let’s just invest in our managers so we create news stories in the not-so-distant future, showing global manager effectiveness and employee engagement at an all time high.