Managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement

Outstanding managers engage, inspire and encourage their teams to achieve high performance, and create environments that are engines of productivity and profitability. Unfortunately, not all teams are led by great managers.

Managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units, according to Gallup's report, the "State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders."

Gallup measured the engagement levels of 27 million employees and more than 2.5 million work units at hundreds of companies over the past two decades.

Variation in employee engagement causes severely low engagement levels on a global scale. According to Gallup, only 30 percent of U.S. workers are engaged at work, meaning an alarming 70 percent of Americans are not committed to delivering their best performance. Of this 70 percent, 52 percent are not engaged and 18 percent are actively disengaged.

According to Gallup, the disengaged are more emotionally disconnected from their organizations. They could be less productive and are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, be absent and drive away customers, according to the report.

On a global scale, just 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged. Over the last 12 years, these rates have barely improved, meaning the vast majority of employees around the world are not contributing members at work, according to the report.

Employee engagement is a global issue, and nothing less than a great manager can remedy it. That is why every team needs to ensure the managers they select are the right fit for the job. However, the combination of the right talent, knowledge, experience and skills to manage others is a rare find — only one in 10 people possess high talent to manage, the survey found. When this 10 percent is assigned to manager roles, they naturally engage team members and customers, retain top performers and sustain a culture of high productivity, according to the report.

Gallup also found that another two in 10 people possess some characteristics of managerial talent, and could become high-functioning managers if their company invests in coaching and development plans for them.

Unfortunately, unfit candidates are chosen to fill managerial positions 82 percent of the time. According to the report, conventional selection processes — those that do not apply research or evidence-based selection methods — are a significant contributor to inefficient management practices. When Gallup asked current U.S. managers why they believed they were hired for their current role, many pointed to their success in previous, non-managerial roles or their tenure in their company or field — reasons that do not taking into account whether the candidate possesses the right characteristics and talents to thrive in a leadership role.

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