If you work in the United States, less than one in every three of your colleagues are engaged at work.
One of the biggest reasons for this high level of disengagement is the way managers are leading their teams.
The difference between a good team and a great team is determined, in large part, by who the manager is.
Despite this, companies struggling with employee engagement still aren’t placing enough value and emphasis on their managers. They tend to promote or hire managers based on technical expertise, but don’t give them the tools and support they need to lead people effectively.
Organizations need to prioritize managers if they’re hoping to build stronger, more productive and motivated teams. They need to give them the tools, resources, and time they need to develop their people management skills, as well as their technical knowledge and ability.
Here are three statistics that show why prioritizing managers is such a huge deal.
1. Only 30% of employees in the United States are engaged
Even if your employees feel happy or satisfied in their work, only 15% of them are actually engaged — meaning they use “discretionary effort” and take the ownership and initiative to do their best work.
Being engaged means having a commitment to your company and your team, and having a sense of pride in the craftsmanship behind what you do and accomplish for your organization.
“According to Towers Perrin research, companies with engaged workers have 6% higher net profit margins, and according to Kenexa research engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years,” writes Kevin Kruse in Forbes.
What is the difference between engaged, motivated teams and cultures — and those that aren’t?
“Employees everywhere don’t necessarily hate the company or organization they work for as much as they do their boss,” writes Jim Clifton in this Gallup article. “Employees — especially the stars — join a company and then quit their manager. It may not be the manager’s fault so much as these managers have not been prepared to coach the new workforce.”
Statistically speaking, great managers can mean the difference between high-performing, engaged, happy teams — and those that just “get by.”
Enjoy articles like this one?
Subscribe to Hazel Blog and get hand-crafted, deeply researched essays and interviews delivered every few weeks.Subscribe to Hazel Blog →
2. 70% of the difference between teams is determined by who the manager is
In other words, only 30% of team performance and dynamic is determined by the team members themselves. The remaining 70% comes from the manager.
The biggest difference between good teams and great ones is the manager.
If you’re looking to improve your culture — to make it one of engaged, happy, motivated employees — then the biggest impact you can make is to change the way your managers manage.
“Truly great cultures are different because they are loaded with star team leaders,” writes Clifton in this Gallup article. “You might ask, ‘Gallup, over your 40 years of studying lousy-to-great cultures, have you found a silver bullet?’ Our Chief Workplace Scientist Jim Harter would answer, ‘Yes, the silver bullet is your managers (team leaders).’ They, by themselves, determine if you have a lousy, good or great culture. They are the silver bullet.”
If we know that the workforce is massively disengaged, and we know that managers are the “silver bullet,” then why haven’t we fixed it yet?
The silver bullet is your managers. They, by themselves, determine if you have a lousy, good or great culture. Gallup
Because being a great manager is very difficult, and most managers don’t have the resources and training they need. This is because, in many cases, the organization hasn’t made manager development a priority.
3. Just 21% of employees feel they’re managed in a motivating way
We know that the majority of employees worldwide are disengaged (and why it’s important to change that). We know that the biggest impact we can make to improve those numbers is to improve our managers.
And now we know that the majority of employees don’t feel like their manager motivates them.
Perhaps, when we talk about changing our workplace culture, or increasing engagement, or improving the employee experience, what we should really be talking about is making our managers better.
Gallup suggests that, if you’re looking to teach managers how to motivate their team members, you should start by coaching them on how to communicate better.
“One big step that companies are taking is to place far greater importance on more frequent, ongoing performance conversations between the manager and the employee,” write Ben Wigert and Annamarie Mann.
In addition to teaching managers to be better communicators and have more regular performance conversations, we also have to give them the resources they need to give better feedback, set good goals, and foster strong professional relationships with their direct reports and others within the organization.
Google, Gallup, and more have done decades of research into what it means to be a truly great manager — and yet still, most companies provide little to no training for new managers.
Think about your own favorite — or least favorite — managers and how they affected the way you work, think, and live. Managers can have a massive impact on the quality of our work, and the quality of our lives.
“Companies must demand that every team in their workforce have a great manager,” write Randall Beck and Jim Harter in this article.
We couldn’t agree more. Managers are one of the most important indicators of employee engagement. If employees are leaving your company or feeling disengaged, look to your managers first of all.