Has Your Manager Checked Out?

This article is from Forbes and talks about the lack of engagement in managers.  It applies to retail too, my comments are in red.  There are those who can manage inventory, and those who can manage PEOPLE.  Needless to say, the latter are more successful.

New Study Shows 51% Of Managers Have ‘Checked Out,’ Care Little About Their Jobs

If large number of managers are disengaged and giving less than 100 percent to their jobs, how can they expect their employees to be highly engaged and productive?

It’s a fair question, and one of numerous troubling issues posed by the new Gallup study, State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders.  For the study, Gallup surveyed over 2,500 managers.  Here’s a high-level overview of their findings.

“Day in and day out, managers are tasked with engaging employees, but 51% of managers have essentially ‘checked out,’ meaning they care little, if at all, about their job and company,” the Gallup report states. “And that attitude has dire consequences. A manager’s engagement — or lack thereof — affects his or her employees’ engagement, creating what Gallup calls the ‘cascade effect.’

  And in retail especially, the employees’ lack of engagement impacts their customer service, which of course directly impacts sales.

Essentially, employees’ engagement is directly influenced by their managers’ engagement — whose engagement is directly influenced by their managers’ engagement.”

In short, as would be expected, a bad managerial attitude has a multiplier effect: It cascades down, harming those below.

On the positive side, April has been an excellent month for meaningful studies probing the management mindset.  On the negative side, the results aren’t encouraging.

Last week new research from Root examined overall levels of support given to managers and found them significantly lacking.  And Gallup has provided this extensive survey; let’s review key conclusions from the Gallup research.

– Only 35% of U.S. managers were found to be engaged, with 51% not engaged and 14% actively disengaged.

 The “actively disengaged” group are all looking for another job and should be identified and moved out as quickly as possible.

– Gallup estimates that the “not engaged” group costs the U.S. over $77 billion annually through their negative impact on those they manage.  When the impact of the “actively disengaged” group is factored in, Gallup estimates the cost of managerial disengagement exceeds $319 billion.  Even if these figures are imprecise, they give a general sense of the problem’s magnitude.

– One in two employees have left their jobs “to get away from their manager” at some point in their career.  (As the old saying goes, People leave managers, not companies.)

This is the truest statement of all.   I’ve always said that it’s not the name on the side of the building, it’s the people that you work for in it.  You can have a bad manager at a great company and the employees will say the company sucks, or a great manager at a bad company that does their best to make the job tolerable.

– A majority of managers are “miscast” in the role.  According to Gallup estimates – based on a Gallup model of the optimal skill set for management – only 18% of current managers have the right talent mix, while 82% do not.

  What I have seen a lot of in retail is people promoted to managers because they were great clerks.  Just because you are great at merchandising or being productive doesn’t mean you’ll be good at managing people.  People are not products. 

Net-net, not a nice picture.  Against this rather downbeat backdrop, what can be done to reverse such problematic trends?  (Unfortunately, as the Root study mentioned earlier shows, not a lot of support appears to be readily forthcoming.)  The Gallup research offers several suggestions for companies to help improve the situation.

– Clearly and consistently communicate where the organization has been and where it’s going – No downside, this always makes good business sense: The more managers at all levels see “the big picture,” the more effectively they can lead.

– Make learning and development a priorityMultiple studies show high-potential talent highly values career development opportunities. 

Emphasize managers’ strengths – The more managers are placed in roles well-suited to their innate abilities, the more successful they’ll likely be.

All of these recommendations are positive steps, but the road remains a long one. In the end, management malaise is a serious, contagious ailment.  If management is not going to be highly motivated, then who is?