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The Chairman's Blog
Workplace Disruption: From Annual Reviews to Coaching
The Chairman's Blog

Workplace Disruption: From Annual Reviews to Coaching

Chart: data points are described in article

The very practice of management no longer works.

The old ways -- annual reviews, forced rankings, outdated competencies -- no longer achieve the intended results. The best American organizations are discovering the old ways aren't right for the future.

The American workforce has more than 100 million full-time employees. One-third of those employees are what Gallup calls engaged at work. They love their jobs, enjoy their teams and customers, contribute, have great ideas, believe in the mission, feel their job uses their strengths -- and they make their organization and America better every day.

At the other end, 16% of employees are actively disengaged -- they are miserable in the workplace and seem to exist only to destroy what the most engaged employees are building.

The remaining 51% of employees are not engaged -- they're just there.

These figures indicate an American leadership philosophy that simply doesn't work anymore. One also wonders if the country's current dismal, declining productivity numbers point to a need for major workplace disruption.

If American companies were simply to double the number of engaged workers from one-third to two-thirds, spirited employees could reverse our seriously declining economic situation.

America needs to transform the practice of management, similar to the way Six Sigma and lean management disrupted processes in the 1980s.

Gallup owns the largest database in the world on the subject of management. Today, we are releasing a report on the state of the American workplace -- your board, executive committee and top managers need to read every word of it and change your practice of management.

Here's my short answer as to how to transform your workplace culture and double the number of engaged employees:

  1. Call an executive committee meeting and commit to transforming your workplace from old command-and-control to one of high development and ongoing coaching conversations. Gallup can hold your hand through this. We will teach you everything we have learned as fast as we can. Nobody knows more about or has more real global experience with this specific change-management assignment than we do.

  2. Don't put your toe in -- dive in. You can afford a lot of mistakes and even failures because the system you currently use doesn't work anymore. Most old-style institutions of performance management also waste enormous amounts of time and money with executives spending thousands of hours filling out forms. The point is, the change saves money. The change is free.

  3. Switch from a culture of "employee satisfaction" -- which only measures things such as how much workers like their perks and benefits -- to one of high development. A "coaching culture."

  4. Change from a culture of "paycheck" to a culture of "purpose."

  5. If you have 25,000 employees, then you likely have about 2,500 managers and leaders at various levels. Transform them all. Gallup has all the new tools for the right conversations -- exactly how to coach, build strengths-based workplaces, conduct pulse polls -- everything is ready to go, tested and validated.

  6. Require all 25,000 employees to take the world-renowned CliftonStrengths assessment, so your organization recognizes each individual by their God-given strengths. Institute a leadership culture of developing strengths versus one of fixing weaknesses.

Like Six Sigma and lean management before it, this transformation will lead to historic bursts in growth and productivity, as well as save your company tens of millions of wasted dollars.


Jim Clifton is Chairman of Gallup.

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