When Management is Broken

I was recently talking with a friend of mine about engagement in the workplace.  She shared with me that in all her years of working she was more disengaged than she has ever been. She is not alone.  According to the Gallup State of the American Workplace Report 2017, only 33% of U.S. workers are engaged.

She has been in the workforce for over 35 years, so a comment like that carries a lot of weight.  It is not like she has just begun her work career and is unhappy.  She has many years of experience and being disengaged has never been an issue for her.  What caused her disengagement?

Her strengths are not even remotely considered when she is given assignments.  Some of the assignments are entirely out of her wheelhouse, but when she speaks up, she is accused of not being a team player.  When the assignment is not completed to her bosses’ satisfaction, then she is told what a bad employee she is and how bad her work is.  How can anyone expect to be engaged in their workplace if you can’t talk openly with your manager ?

The cause of her engagement is manager disengagement. I know that managers are the easy scapegoat sometimes for everything that seems to be wrong for an employee in their departments.  But a manager’s role in the workplace has the most significant impact on the individual employee and organizational performance. Great managers regularly engage their teams.  A team that is engaged with their manager will succeed in outstanding performance. This manager creates an environment where employees want to take responsibility for their engagement and make sure the rest of the team is engaged.

Unfortunately not every team is led by a great manager, and her manager chooses not to engage but to criticize (and she is not the only one criticized). In their State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Managers have the most significant influence on employees they manage. They play a vital role in shaping the culture in which the employee must thrive.  If the manager is not engaged with the employee how can they shape a thriving culture?

The Gallup State of the American Workplace collected data from more than 195,600 U.S. employees via the Gallup Panel and Gallup Daily tracking in 2015 and 2016, and more than 31 million respondents through Gallup’s Q12 Client Database.  Sixty percent of employees that took part in the Gallup study said the ability to do what they do best in a role is “very important” to them. This ability to do what they do best in their role being very important crossed gender and generational lines as the greatest importance on this aspect of a job.

With all this information at their fingertips, why do managers still choose to ignore what is going on?  What would it mean to my friend if the management team that she works under would choose to know and honor her strengths?  What if she were put into a job where she could do her best in roles that enable her to integrate her strengths?  What if her manager matched her with the right role and the right culture instead of being mismatched for her role and struggling to succeed?

When I asked her that question, her response was she wouldn’t feel that her days were wasted, along with her sense of purpose.  She would enjoy going to work again and not constantly be looking at the clock to just go home now.

Are you a manager or a leader in your workplace?  Are you engaged with your employees enough to know if any of them feel this way?  What are your best practices to engage your people?  Please share with us in the comments below.



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