Selecting great managers

“Managers who create engaged employees"

Joe Sherren joe@gatewayleadership.com
Published on July 25, 2014

Based on my experience and statistics from the Gallup organization, over 70 per cent of all dysfunctional employee behaviour is caused by their manager, or the management culture.

Whether you are looking for engaged employees, or staff that will provide a memorable customer experience will depend on the quality of managers you promote and train.

Gallup has studied performance at hundreds of organizations and measured the engagement of 27 million employees over the past two decades. Gallup has also found that one of the most important decisions leaders make is who they promote into the leadership team. However, statistics suggest that they usually get it wrong.

In fact, Gallup studies show that organizations only get it right around 20 per cent of the time.

It was reported in a 2012 study that only 30 per cent of employees in the U.S. are engaged. In Canada it is worse. According to the Management Journal’s annual survey, only 25 per cent are engaged, and 15 per cent are actively disengaged.

Statistics further show that unhappy workers cost the North American economy over $350 billion annually in lost productivity.

Business owners and leaders can improve profitability, productivity, quality, and lower turnover by just raising employee engagement levels. However, this can only be done by promoting managers who are constructive thinkers, who sincerely want others succeed and will focus on goals and activities that foster a culture of engagement. But it is not easy to find great managers because the talent required is rare.

Great managers have the following talents:

- They know what motivates each employee and take the time to engage them;

- They are assertive and drive outcomes toward a compelling vision and mission;

- They have the ability to overcome adversity and maintain an optimistic outlook;

- They make employees responsible and create a culture of accountability;

- They cultivate a relationship of trust and transparency;

- They make critical decisions based on objective criteria, not based on politics;

- They focus on constructively coaching staff rather than controlling and appriasing them.

Gallup’s research reveals that about one in 10 people possess these necessary traits.

But, just finding them is not enough. They need to be set up for success, which involves the following: 1) Each potential candidate must be assessed to determine their deep rooted thinking and behavioural styles, and 2) They must receive appropriate skills training in the area of coaching and mentoring.

When the right individuals with the right training are put in manager roles it is estimated that they can contribute as much as a 48 per cent higher profit than average managers.

In their studies, Gallup found that only about one in five of those currently in supervisory positions demonstrate a high level of skill or talent for managing others. This means organizations get it wrong 80 per cent of the time. The consequence is disengaged employees resulting in reduced customer satisfaction.

The current management selection process in most organizations needs to be improved. I find very little science or research is applied to finding the right managerial candidate. When managers were asked why they were promoted to management, most said because of success in a previous non-managerial role or just their longevity in their organization.

Companies sometime promote workers into management to appease a disgruntled employee, or because they do not want to put in the effort of completing a comprehensive behavioural interview, validated assessment or perhaps perform a termination.

The good news is that great management talent exists in every company. Take the time to choose the right person for the next management role using predictive analytics by creating success profiles to guide your identification of talent.

My question for leaders this week: “What process do you have in place to ensure you are hiring and promoting the “right” people into management who will engage employees and promote the culture you espouse?”

Joseph Sherren, CSP, CSPGlobal, HoF, Canada’s Leadership Effectiveness Expert, is CEO of Gateway Leadership in Charlottetown a boutique company which supplies speakers and trainers that best matches an organization’s development needs.