Managing For Success

Submitted by Brad Lantz, Inner Circle Twin Cities


Are you managing for success? Do you have great managers that are motivating their teams to greater and greater achievements?

In their book 12:The Elements of Great Managing, the Gallup Organization took a broad view of how companies were managing their people and determined that most organizations were shooting in the dark.

Gallup assembled a select group of its social scientists to examine one million employee interviews in its database. They also examined hundreds of questions that had been asked over the previous decades and looked at every variable on business-unit performance that organizations had supplied with their employee rosters. The purpose was to find out which were the most powerful motivations for workers’ productivity on the job.

The twelve elements of work life that emerged are copyrighted so you will have to refer to their book to discover them. However, because of their extensive database and cross tabulations, it is worthwhile to read.

Behind each of these 12 motivations is a fundamental “truth” about human nature on the job. “The correlations between each element and better performance not only draws a roadmap to superior managing; they also reveal fascinating insights into how the human mind reacts–molded by thousands of years of foraging, hunting, and cooperating within a close-knit tribe. In the artificial world of cubicles, project timelines, corporate ambiguity, and constantly changing workgroup membership, people were neither created to fit corporate strategies nor have evolved to do so. Rather than contest these facts, most successful managers harness the dive, virtuosity, and spirit that come with employing humans, even as they understand the inevitable chinks in their armor.”

What does it all mean? Company performance starts with the most basic act: showing up for work. Engaged employees average 27 percent less absenteeism than those who are actively disengaged.

In a 1,000-person company, absenteeism from disengagement costs the business about 500 lost days per year. This costs the company $60,000 in just salaries paid where no work was performed.

Companies with disengaged employees suffer 31 percent more employee turnover and 62 percent more on-the-job accidents than those with a critical mass of engaged associates.

In retail, disengaged employees results in an ”inventory shrinkage” increase of 51 percent.

On the other side, engaged employees yield a 12 percent higher customer rating; 18 percent higher productivity, and 12 percent higher profitability.

Our people are our greatest asset!

It’s a nice sentiment to work into a company or investor speech. It is comforting. It makes the executive seem more in touch, more humane. But according to Gallup, the statement has become a joke!

Casually ask your employees “Who’s ripping off the company?” at an evening reception and you will get puzzled stares. Ask the question “Who in this company is a lousy manager?” and you will find many stories. Just as people admit to being bad at math more than they will admit to illiteracy, business tolerates interpersonal managerial incompetence where it would never allow financial malfeasance. And yet barring a few headline-making examples of high-level fraud, companies lose far more revenue to employee disengagement than they lose to theft.

In 2005, Gallup estimated the proportion of engaged workers in the USA to be around 28 percent.

Four elements of the Gallup twelve motivational elements are:

1. Work expectations.  If your people know what is expected of them and have a chance to give feedback, they will try to do what is right. I have found that it is similar to divorce situations, where one partner says they never saw it coming.  Managers feel they are communicating, but the employee does not have a clue. In addition, the employees of most of the companies that I have worked with state that they just try to do their job, yet there is not job description, so who knows if they are?

2. Opportunity to do my best. 80 percent of employees dislike 50 percent of their job, how productive do you think they are working on that 50 percent that they dislike? Determining what people really like to do – their strengths, and sculpting their job(s) around that, yields incredible results in productivity. Generally, you will find that the 50 percent of their job that they don’t like, someone else will! Look at each position in regard to the individual.

3. I am being praised. Realize that “Recognition and Rewards” are proven to:

  • Reduce turnover
  • Increase productivity and profitability
  • Create positive work environments
  • Elevate customer service, sales, and satisfaction
  • Attract better recruiting pools
  • Improve retention of top performers

4. My purpose and my job are important and tied to the company mission. Most employees do not understand how their job ties into the mission or the purpose or core values of the company. Helping each individual to understand their role starts with the CEO. The CEO is to be the cheerleader of the mission and vision of the company. Productivity has been greatly improved by just helping workers understand why the widget they add to the assembly line is important to the overall item being made.

Managing is not an innate ability that most people have. Time after time great sales people have proven to be poor managers. Again, assessments like Kolbe and Geier and Strength Finders can tell you many things before you make that promotion. You cannot afford to have someone at 50 percent productivity or to hire/promote them into the wrong job in today’s economy.