One of the world’s leading research firms conducted a massive study about the future of work, including tens of millions of in-depth interviews of employees and managers across 160 countries. And what did they learn: “Of all the codes Gallup has been asked to crack dating back 80 years to our founder, George Gallup, the single most profound, distinct and clarifying finding – ever – is probably this one: 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager.”

It’s a fact that I’ve believed for a long time and experienced as both an employee and as a supervisor – the manager makes all the difference. “Clever benefit packages, new scoring systems, free lunches and on-site volleyball courts are great. But they don’t change growth outcomes. Only improving your ratio of great to lousy managers does,” write Jim Clifton and Jim Harter in their book on Gallup’s research. “Usually, there isn’t a single lever to create change. In this case, there is: It’s the manager.”

Gallup also learned that the great global dream – higher than having a family, children, home and peace – is to have a good job that provides a living-wage paycheck. For it to be seen as a great job, you need the paycheck that a good job provides plus you must be engaged in meaningful and fulfilling work and feel you are “experiencing real individual growth and development in the workplace.” Thus, the primary job of the manager becomes increasing human potential as a method of organizational success.

Hopefully, you’ve been lucky enough to be among the 15% who feel engaged at work at some point in your career. Like those charts that show the spread of COVID-19, the manager’s influence permeates their team and changes the dynamics of the work. But it always comes down to the people – and putting the care of those people first. Taking care of them takes care of the outcomes that follow.

[More on Gallup’s 6 recommended changes tomorrow]

Source: It’s the Manager by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, Gallup Press, 2019

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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