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U.S. Workplace: No Progress in 12 Years

U.S. Workplace: No Progress in 12 Years

Most CEOs I know honestly don't care about employees or take an interest in human resources. Sure, they know who their stars are and love them -- but it ends there. Since CEOs don't care, they put little to no pressure on their HR departments to get their cultures right, which allows HR to unwittingly implement all kinds of development and succession strategies that don't work.

Gallup reported in a world-famous study that only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged at work. Worse, over the past 12 years, these low numbers have barely budged, meaning that the vast majority of employees are failing to grow and contribute at work.

Why is that? Gallup estimates that the manager accounts for 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units. When managers have real management talent, teams and individuals develop and win customers. When managers are lousy, human development freezes and teams fail.

Now, here's a truly frightening number Gallup has uncovered: Organizations fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the manager job a whopping 82% of the time. Virtually all companies try to fix bad managers with training. Nothing fixes a bad manager.

There's a reason for this -- authentic management talent is rare. Gallup's research shows that just one in 10 have the natural, God-given talent to manage a team of people. They know how to motivate every individual on their team; boldly review performance; build relationships; overcome adversity; and make decisions based on productivity, not politics. A manager with little talent for the job will deal with workplace problems through manipulation and unhelpful office politics.

Gallup's research also found that another two in 10 people have some characteristics of functioning managerial talent and can perform at a high level if their company coaches and supports them.

The fact is, real management talent exists in your company right now. Companies that use predictive analytics and intense development techniques for their managers will have the biggest advantage in the all-out global war for the best customers.


Jim Clifton is Chairman of Gallup.

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