Great Managers-Here’s What the Gallup Report Found

I came across this 2015 Gallup report, “The State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders,” and wanted to share these interesting findings. Gallup has studied this issue globally for over forty years and concluded that great managers have innate abilities.  

Gallup is an international firm that provides advice and analytics to help leaders and organizations improve their outcomes. This report looks at what makes a great manager, and how to develop managers.

Great Managers

Gallup defines “manager” as someone who is responsible for leading a team toward common objectives.

Great managers are the heroes of an organization and they have a tough job. They keep the wheels turning and everything on track, and for the most part, they satisfy those they are accountable to and for.

Gallup found that many companies put people in manager roles because either they were successful in previous roles, or because they had been with the company for a long time. Gallup found that if the wrong people were in the role, it impacted an organization’s engagement, financial performance, and long-term sustainability.

The report noted that the requirements and talents for different roles are not interchangeable, for example, a great employee may not make a good manager, or a great manager may not be a great senior executive or a great leader. 

Gallup findings

  • Only 10% of managers have a natural ability to manage people. This 10% know how to motivate people, review performance, build relationships, overcome obstacles, and make sound decisions.
  • Another 20% can become successful with the right development and coaching. 
  • Currently 82% of managers are miscast.

Employee Engagement and Why it is Important

Engaged employees are those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. 

Engaged employees are the backbone of a successful organization. Engagement is an important indicator of performance, profitability, and customer and staff satisfaction.  It is estimated that actively disengaged workers cost the U.S. between $450 billion and $550 billion per year through absenteeism, quality, turnover, and customer ratings.

The report found:

  • A positive link between highly engaged managers and engaged employees. 
  • Employees are influenced by their manager’s level of engagement.
  • Managers who are engaged in their work will have a 59% greater chance of having engaged staff. 
  • Among the 142 countries included in Gallup’s 2012 global study, only 13% of employees were engaged in their jobs, 63% were not engaged, and 24% were actively disengaged.

What Great Managers Do Differently

Engaged: They are highly engaged.

Purpose: They give staff information about what the organization stands for, their role in the organization, and how they support the organization’s overarching purpose and goals.

Recognition: They make their staff feel recognized and cared for. 

Strengths: They focus on employee strengths.

Gallup found that when managers focus on employees’ strengths, 61% of workers are engaged and only 1% are actively disengaged. When employees use their strengths, they are 7.8% more productive, more engaged, perform better, and are less likely to leave their company.  Turnover rates are 14.9% lower than from employees who do not receive feedback.

Teams that focus on strengths have 12.5% greater productivity and 8.9% greater profitability.

Great managers don’t ignore weaknesses. When they focus on strengths, they build trust so that they can help staff develop and improve in other areas as well.  

Innate talent: Gallup defines “innate talent” as the natural capacity for excellence. When individuals have the right talent for their role, they think and act differently than their peers. They are energized by their work, and don’t think of it as “work”.

Those who don’t have this innate talent can learn skills, develop knowledge, and gain experience to become better managers. 

Meet regularly with staff:  Managers who hold regular meetings with staff are three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them. The report revealed that employees who feel their manager is interested in them are more likely to be engaged.

Performance Management: When performance management is done well, employees become more productive and creative contributors, which results in increased profits.  Gallup found that employees whose managers excel at performance management activities are more engaged than employees whose managers struggle with performance management.

Dimensions of Manager Talent

Gallup identified the following five dimensions of manager talent to be the best predictors of performance across different industries and manager roles. These dimensions include:

  • Motivation: they challenge themselves and staff to continually improve and deliver excellent products and results.
  • Assertiveness: they overcome challenges, adversities, and resistance.
  • Accountability: they assume responsibility for their teams’ successes and create the structure and processes to help their teams deliver on expectations.
  • Relationships: they build a positive, engaging work environment where their teams create strong relationships with one another and with clients.
  • Decision-making: they are problem solvers and planners, they manage risks, and balance competing interests.


Despite the low numbers of great managers, there is room to help develop the talents of managers who are willing to motivate, be assertive and accountable, make decisions, and develop relationships with staff.

Picking the right management person (manager, director, vice president, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)) for the job is important. The organizational culture is set at the top and trickles down. While it is important to see the big picture, develop strategy, purpose, and products, it is also important to have an engaged workforce to implement the strategy.

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Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Published by Diane Allen

Hi there, my name is Diane and welcome to my blog site! Leadership mindset is the mindset that embraces, vision, courage and action.

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