Poor Management Dramatically Reduces Engagement

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Poor management dramatically reduces engagement but the nouveau “no management” philosophy, known as holacracy, destroys engagement.

Zappos may have discovered that employees need managers after all, according to writers, J. Brandon Rigoni and Bailey Nelson at the Gallup Business Journal, (February, 2016). The online shoe and clothing retailer’s holacracy management system doesn’t appear to be working. According to a recent New York Times article, (January, 2016), Zappos continues to “hemorrhage employees” as a result of the companywide implementation of holacracy.

Their no-manager approach is made up of self-organized teams and individuals with autonomy and authority to make decisions at a local level. It removes power from a management hierarchy and distributes it across clear roles and is executed autonomously, without a micromanaging boss.”

Management matters

The Zappos experiment failed, causing workers to quit in droves; 14 percent of their employees left within weeks of the introduction of the no management system, making it clear that managers play a vital role in an organization.

It is noteworthy that Google tried a similar experiment but reinstated management within six weeks due to people and internal operations issues. Furthermore, their internal research shows that their employees performed better and had lower turnover with good managers in place.

What Gallup learned about employees and how their managers were meeting their needs was that:

  • They are more likely to be engaged in their work when their basic needs are met.
  • They want to know what it is expected of them at work.
  • They want to have the materials and equipment needed to do their job right.
  • They want opportunities to do what they do best every day.

They also found that managers are key to unlocking employee engagement and improving performance.

  • Productivity improved 12.5 percent when managers focused on employee strengths.
  • Engagement dropped by 26 percent when managers focused on weaknesses and dropped to 2 percent when managers ignored their employees.

Gallup concluded that when it comes to engaging employees and meeting their needs, great managers can be the key to unlocking higher performance.

Management impacts engagement

Since management has such a direct impact on employee engagement, performance and productivity, what are the characteristics most valued in a manager? Research indicates that a successful manager shares the following characteristics:

  • Has a clear vision of what is expected of a manager and the employee.
  • Is disciplined and expects others to strive for being disciplined.
  • Is tough but kind and fair.
  • Is honest and trustworthy.
  • Expects excellence from everyone including his or herself.
  • Leads by example.
  • Encourages everyone to never settle for less than one’s best.
  • Appreciates and acknowledges accomplishments.
  • Doesn’t put up with excuses.

What is your management system? How does it stack up to the approaches tried by Zappos and Google? And do you and your team share the characteristics of successful managers?

Take inventory, eliminate what isn’t working and adopt new strategies that lead to managers who engage employees while improving productivity and performance.

Download “Poor Management Dramatically Reduces Engagement” in PDF Format.


© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2016

Pat Heydlauff, a “flow of focus” expert, speaker and consultant designs workplace environments that fuel the flow of focus, maximizes productivity and yields future sustainability. She is author of the forthcoming book, Focus • Connect • Regenerate 7 Ways to Lead and Fuel Sustainability and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It, The Way We Go, Your Roadmap to a Better Future and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge. Contact her at 561-408-2708 or www.engagetolead.com.

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About the Author:

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She creates environments that engage and focus your workforce. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Unleash the Power of Focus and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge, and can be reached at 561-408-2708 or www.engagetolead.com.
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