The Middle Manager’s Impact on Business Growth

The March 23-24weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal provided a research based updated view of the influence of middle managers on the growth rates of businesses over the last two or three decades.

A Gallup deep dive study including nearly 2 million employees and more than 300,000 business units confirmed that a company?s productivity depends to a large extent on the quality of its managers.?A more profound finding, defined by Gallup as , ?the single most profound distinct and clarifying finding ?in its 80-year history was that managers didn?t just influence the results their teams achieved, they explained a full 70% of the variance. No other single factor, from compensation to the perception of senior leaders even came close.

Another interesting finding was that in previous decades, when Gallup asked people their priorities, they ranked family, having children, owning a home and living in peace above having a good job. Starting in 2002, around the time millions of people started comparing their lives on social media, the order shifted. Today Gallup found, having a rewarding job ranks first. Put simply, having a great job means having a great life.

What doe all of this mean to business owners and senior leaders??The Gallup research usually centers around ?engagement?, the belief among employees that they are doing meaningful work in a climate that supports personal growth. Gallup and others have shown that highly engaged teams have significantly lower turnover, higher productivity and positive impacts on most performance-based metrics.?The engagement statistics haven?t changed much in nearly two decades resting at about 33% engagement in the US. However, Gallup has found that in successful businesses the engagement levels can run north of 68% with the resulting positive performance result

Business owners and senior executives must make their own decisions about whether to believe or address these research findings.?There is no doubt that there is much that can be done to positively impact the performance of middle managers and therefore the performance of their teams and the bottom line of the business.

There is often a big gap between what business owners and senior executives believe is happening, out there in their organizations, and what is actually happening?The single biggest?gaps may be a lack of clarity about what is expected and goal alignment from the top to the bottom of the organization. Much of the engagement research points out this glaring clarity gap. The good news, filling the gap is not rocket science, nor does it require some expensive software or AI. The requirement is that leaders find a way to help their middle managers connect all the moving parts from the purpose of the business, the mission, core values, strategy, corporate goals, functional goals, individual goals and assure that there is full understanding and alignment allowing middle managers and their teams to have a reason to be engaged and proud of how they are making a difference for their organization.

Its time for business owners and senior leaders to take the action necessary to establish clarity and alignment throughout their organizations, generating high levels of engagement, retaining and motivating their middle managers, improving productivity, achieving their goals and celebrating their success.

Sometimes its worth looking a little harder at the fundamentals before jumping on the next highly touted fix of the moment.

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