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

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