How employers can make sure they're hiring the right managers

Gallup: Four ways to make sure the right people are taking on managerial roles

Employees who work for a female manager are more likely to be engaged in their work than their peers who report to men—yet just one in three U.S. workers has a woman for a boss, according to a new Gallup report.

For "State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders," researchers studied 2.5 million manager-led teams across 195 countries to measure the engagement of 27 million employees.

Which managers engage their workers

The researchers found that 41% of female managers are engaged compared with just 35% of male managers. Moreover, female managers were more engaged across every age group, according to the study. "If female managers, on average, are more engaged than male managers, it stands to reason that they are likely to contribute more to their organization's current and future success," Kimberly Fitch and Sangeeta Agrawal write for Gallup.

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In fact, mangers' engagement levels often translate to their reports. On average, 33% of people who work for female managers say they are engaged, versus only 27% of people who work for a male manager. Women working for women have the highest engagement level, 35%, while men working for men had the lowest, 25%.

Employees who have female managers are more likely to say someone at work encourages their development, checks in on their progress, provides regular feedback, and recognizes their good work. This may be because gender bias still exists in the workforce, Fitch and Agrawal write. "Female managers might be somewhat more adept and purposeful in using their natural talents to engage their teams because they need to exceed expectations to advance in their organization," they say.

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How to hire the right managers

To ensure the appropriate people fill managerial roles, companies should keep four findings in mind, according to Gallup's Amy Adkins.

    1. Promote based on talent, the best performance predictor. "Smart businesses place talent at the core of their human capital strategy, weaving it into every aspect of how they align, attract, recruit, asses, hire, onboard, and develop managers," Adkins says.

    2. Make sure they fit the role. Do not just promote individuals to managers because they succeeded in their previous role or have been with the company for a long time. "A great frontline employee is not necessarily going to be a great manager, and a great manager is not necessarily going to be a great leader," she writes. Instead, create career paths that develop different skills.

    3. Do not tie salaries to position titles. "Top performers deserve the highest pay, whether they are in manager or front line roles," Adkins says. There is nothing wrong with allowing employees to earn more than their managers—and it may discourage individuals not suited for manager positions from applying.

    4. Keep developing managers. Companies should provide tools and support to help managers continue to grow their strengths. "Development is not dependent on tenure, and managers at all stages of their career should have opportunities to learn and grow," Adkins writes (Adkins, Gallup Business Journal, 5/12; Fitch/Agrawl, Gallup Business Journal, 5/7).

The takeaway: Experts warn against promoting individuals to managers based on success in previous roles. Rather, they suggest promoting based on talent and developing that talent throughout their careers.

Becoming a better leader

Most staff aren't naturally great leaders, but studies show that leadership and management can be taught. Use our Leadership Competency Diagnostic to help your managers further develop their strengths and focus on opportunities for improvement.

And it's never too early to start grooming a great manager. See our Succession Management Implementation Guide to ensure you deliberately chose your future leaders—don’t let circumstances choose them for you.

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