Are 'managers from hell' destroying your business?

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“Managers from hell” don’t just make going to work a nightmare, but could be putting a sizable dent in the profits of your company.

The latest research from Gallup has found that bad managers are creating disengagement among employees and costing more than $450 billion in the United States alone.

“If your company reflects the average in the US, just imagine what poor management and disengagement are costing your bottom line,” says Gallup CEO Jim Clifton in the latest State of the American Workplace report.

“The single biggest decision you make in your job — bigger than all of the rest — is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits — nothing.”

According to the report 20% of employees in the US are actively disengaged at work.

“These employees, who have bosses from hell that make them miserable, roam the halls spreading discontent,” said Clifton.

These poorly managed employees have nearly 50% more accidents than those that are engaged, have more quality defects in their work and incur more healthcare costs.

“So having too few engaged employees means our workplaces are less safe, employees have more quality defects, and disengagement — which results from terrible managers — is driving up the country’s healthcare costs,” said Clifton.

The report suggests organisations need to alter the way they treat promotions and managerial appointments.

“Instead of using management jobs as promotional prizes for all career paths, companies should treat these roles as unique with distinct functional demands that require a specific talent set. They should select managers with the right talents for supporting, positioning, empowering, and engaging their staff.

“The reality is that many people who are the best performers in their current roles do not have the talents necessary to effectively manage people.”

The most effective workplaces consistently make employee engagement part of their formal review process, and most use these improvements as a criterion for promotions, says the report.

“Organisations should coach managers to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees, hold managers accountable, track their progress, and ensure they continuously focus on emotionally engaging their employees.”

The report lists three ways great managers engage their teams:

  1. Display genuine care and concern.

“By building strong, trusting relationships with their staff, they can engender an open and positive work atmosphere in which employees feel supported and engaged.”

  1. Care as much about performance as individuals

“They set the stage for performance by determining those metrics that matter most and finding ways to individually motivate employees to work and strive harder.”

  1. Value and invest in talent

“With an eye for what individuals around them do well, they perfectly position people in areas or tasks that will use their greatest strengths, resulting in an increased ability for individuals to say that they have an opportunity to do what they do best.”

Clifton urges companies to take heed of the impact managers can have on their employees, their bottom line, and the economy as a whole.

“When leaders in the United States of America – or any country for that matter – wake up one morning and say collectively, ‘Let’s get rid of managers from hell, double the number of great managers and engaged employees, and have those managers lead based on what actually matters,’  everything will change. The country’s employees will be twice as effective, they’ll create far more customers, companies will grow, spiralling healthcare costs will decrease, and desperately needed GDP will boom like never before.”

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