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CliftonStrengths
The Challenges of Being a Manager
CliftonStrengths

The Challenges of Being a Manager

Webcast Details

  • What day-to-day challenges do managers face, and how can they become opportunities for growth?
  • How does managers' engagement at work affect their teams' engagement?
  • How important is it for managers to have developmental conversations and plans?

Mike McDonald, Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 2 of a series on managers, Mike shared Gallup data on some of the challenges managers face. These include pandemic-related issues of managing remote or hybrid workers and returning to the workplace; managing competing priorities, stress and wellbeing in their own lives; understanding what contributes to and enhances their own (and their team's) engagement at work; and their need for development conversations and plans to help them improve and advance.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 22. This is Part 2 of a 4-part series on managers. Access Part 1 of this series on managers.

Managers ... struggle with ... unclear expectations; excessive or misaligned workload and distractions; job stress and frustrations. They don't get to spend much time thinking about their strengths developmentally.

Mike McDonald, 18:57

Change and transition are incredible growth opportunities if we use and lead through them accordingly.

Mike McDonald, 12:22

An engaged manager increases the likelihood of a team to be engaged by 59%.

Mike McDonald, 20:51

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world -- or today at least here in Omaha, Nebraska -- this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on May 6, 2021.

Jim Collison 0:22

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's just a link right above me there. Log in and let us know where you're listening from. If you're listening after the fact -- and many of you do -- or even if you're listening after the fact on the podcast channels, send us an email: coaching@gallup.com. Don't forget to subscribe on any or all of your favorite podcast apps, or right there on YouTube. A great way to get that done. And actually, I think, Mike, I have to change that terminology to "Follow" now because Apple podcast just changed "Subscribe" to "Follow." So do whatever it takes so that you can get us on a regular basis. Dr. Mike McDonald is our host today. He works as a Senior Workplace Consultant with Gallup on the Riverfront. Mike, we're looking forward to being back together, I think, at some point in time. Great to see you today, though. Welcome back to Called to Coach!

Mike McDonald 1:17

Yeah, I love it, Jim. Every time you let me lead with a lot of bandwidth inside these conversations. And so it's, it's, in couple, it's two parts, one of those being a little bit of therapy just to get this off my chest. And then second, I think, you know, this is -- not, I shouldn't say, even qualify it. It's -- we know, right, that as the world continues to move forward and navigate change, transition, even a little bit of the disruption, right, that 2020 threw at us, managers, now, more than ever, are quite necessary. And they're not exactly thriving. And so I love just what this group represents as part of the antidote, part of the solution to helping managers be at their best and knowing that that can pull the workforce and the workplace forward in all the ways that are meaningful and necessary.

Jim Collison 2:03

In this series, we're focusing on managers, kind of in preparation for the new manage, the new manager report that is coming here at the end of May. If you're listening to this after May, let's say May 27, I think is the day, 2021 (I probably have that day wrong), you can, if it's -- so say it's June 2021 or later, it's available for you. You can log in, and it's an additional purchase and an upgrade to get that done. But as we're kind of preparing everyone for that and this resource that's coming, Mike, we spent some time looking back, and we're going to review that just for a smidge. But take us back through a little bit. Remind us of the resources that are available, a little bit of what we talked about last time and then let's move forward.

Mike McDonald 2:47

Yeah, a couple of the points of reference that I think will be really useful to this group as you all continue to just hone in on your expertise and your capacity to coach, right, this population that we're really focused on right now. Specifically, It's the Manager, a great work; it's going to be evergreen. The reference points to it are really comprehensive, and they pull back so many different layers about the workplace itself, but always taking it into the center as the name would imply. Where does the manager operate best, both from a needs standpoint, a wants standpoint? And then how do they extend themselves on through teams and create powerful, productive cultures that organize and sustain great organizations.

Mike McDonald 3:31

There's a, you know, with all of our books, there's a strengths code inside of it. So you know that we're always holding ourselves accountable, every single thing that we produce really, Jim, honestly, is always aligned with the statement that "Everybody needs a coach." But the It's the Manager, it's 52 chapters, it's really digestible. But it's, it's just a series of highlight reels. And when I think about our own credibility and our own expertise, the fact that we have some of these really key touchstone data points behind us that instantly display our credibility. But they also set an the edge of expectation, I think, out in front of the people we're coaching too, Jim. When you tell me that only 15% of planet Earth is categorically engaged, that data point in itself, as you coach me as a manager, causes me to lean in and to become more active and involved and accountable, quite frankly. I can't allow that data point to be true for my own team, whether I really know if it is or not.

Mike McDonald 4:22

But certainly those are the types of interplay that we have. And the book has a great toggle back and forth between the qualitative and the quantitative in a way that translates to a very practical, pragmatic, how to lead a successful thriving organization through your managers. So anyway, but again, 52 weeks of content divided up into you know, 2- to 3-page chapters that can be consumed readily and effectively. So I -- go ahead.

Jim Collison 4:48

Mike, a very popular, very popular book, but it didn't make it into the hands of every manager. So a great opportunity, I think, for coaches to give those away as gifts into managers, have them take the assessment and it may be a great opportunity to do some coaching or coaching in the organization. So just a little bit -- we had a, we have a new book that just came out, that just launched 2 days ago that may break the records that It's the Manager broke. So very, very popular; why don't you talk about that.

Mike McDonald 5:14

Yep, we'll do so. One of the things we know in the, in the workplace right now is that this construct of wellbeing is not at its all-time high. Really interesting data point from the past discussion, Jim, that we had last week. But we measured, you know, "Does my organization care about my overall wellbeing?" and we saw the highest measurement of "strongly agree" throughout 2020 occur in May. We saw the lowest measurement of 2020 occur in December. OK, so Jim, what we're seeing there is this trend where we had this spike and this rally around everybody being very mindful about, Hey, people are working under what could be stress-inducing environments. They're working from home; there's a lot of sense-making. And so I think there was a lot of intentionality that was poured, poured towards that point in time. And so there was an increase, and it was great.

Mike McDonald 6:03

But now I think where our call to action is, is we've seen that drop back by 13% for the amount who can categorically say that they strongly agree with that. I get a little bit concerned, Jim, because I think on the surface, maybe that tells us that our presenting notion of stability -- we may look like we're a little more composed, or we're a little more put together than we actually are. And I think a great coaching callout with the organizations you all are working with, or managers you're working with, is Don't -- let's not take our foot off the gas just yet. That while we may, you know, think we know how to, you know, use our printer at home now, that doesn't necessarily mean we've had all of our deepest workplace needs met. So wellbeing has slipped back.

Mike McDonald 6:45

Our Wellbeing at Work book is coming out. And to your point, Jim, it's, it's, it also speaks at that, that leader-manager level and translates to just great practical application. I'm going to upsell it; I had a chance to read through it already. And, you know, looking at it through that lens of, Jim, you being a manager, me being a manager, it flows through to content where there's things I can go do. And consistent with the world of coaching, it's always putting us in a position of influence, of control, right, that we can actually create impact and effect, thanks to the insight that the book provides. And so big, big fan of that. And I think it's going to contribute heavily to, you know, when we think about engagement and wellbeing, I always laugh about the two, the two constructs, Jim, because they can be so nebulous and ambiguous. And I love it -- selfishly and on behalf of coaches who are coaching managers -- it just, it tells us how to put right angles to wellbeing. It's a experience, a tangible encounter, that actually generates performance through the best of who that person is and the conditions around them.

Mike McDonald 7:53

So anyway, Wellbeing at Work, it's, it's, it's here, like it's, it's just right, ready for all of us to go extend itself to. Again, it has the code. But what I love about both these books, and I'll stop and transition on, Jim, is -- and I think this is what's so great about the conversations we get to have is we get to shatter myths and stereotypes. And there are so many myths and stereotypes I think about wellbeing, particularly, that I think we really needs to be readjusted for us to lead to it effectively. So --

Jim Collison 8:21

We've been thinking through, and the kind of the construct of, of this series will be, you know, organizations being strengths-based. And we've talked a lot about that as for how to be a strengths-based organization -- 5 steps to do that. Engagement-focused, we spent some time on the Q12 for Coaches series with you -- 14 hours of spending some time together really looking at these -- more than just taking the assessment. But what do these questions mean? And how powerful are they in, in that, in that context?

Jim Collison 8:47

And then this isn't official, but I've been saying wellbeing-oriented, like getting around this idea of -- and Mark is gonna appreciate that I just said that. Because he always tells me, I have these little, I have these little sayings I say all the time, and it's "getting around" is one of those that I say. So Mark, there you go. That's -- but this idea of thinking through, Where are we and where's the organization? And the wellbeing book now ties, comes back and ties strengths -- and Mike, you spent a ton of time writing statements about tying strengths to the wellbeing pieces.

Jim Collison 9:23

And I think in the topic today, I want you to kind of bring that in a little bit because, you know, we're going to talk about struggle, the struggle, right? The challenges that managers, that managers have, and where and why it's not working. So with that, with all that in mind, with that framework in mind, let's push forward a little bit with some content that you have today.

Mike McDonald 9:43

Yeah, great. So we have our references, you know, well understood and in hand for consideration. Quick, quick context, quick check around just the world of the manager, right, is, is these are increasingly dynamic and emotional features. Wellbeing is, you know, we, you know, emotion underneath strengths, emotion underneath engagement emotion underneath wellbeing -- being comfortable with that fact that actually, emotion is what we're leading through and with. We don't want to remove it; we want the best and most powerful positive effect it can create. That's where leadership shows up. That's where our coaching shows up.

Mike McDonald 10:20

And so, you know, Jim, if, you know, just a quick spin around, you know, we're talking about matrixed teams, decisions, return-to-work decisions, who gets to stay on site, or who has to stay on site; who gets to work from home? Who gets options of hybrid? How does that all blend and mix together? How do we not just survive and eke out an existence for our organization, but still live up to the standards of excellence that predict a future growth? You know, we have clients and customers, students, patients who all are relying on every one of our organizations. They're not looking at us to just survive and get the job done; their very existence relies on every organization being as excellent as they ever were, regardless of the circumstances.

Mike McDonald 11:01

And so, you know, the, the world of the manager, they're just thrust right in the center of this, right? It's just a, you know, again, I'll use the word, it's a swirl of dynamics, and they're trying to find an anchor point so that they can be an anchor point for the teams that they're leading and make sense out of all of this, so that we still see success on the other side. So -- and that was before COVID, but anyway, go ahead, Jim.

Jim Collison 11:24

I was gonna say, I don't think it's, like, I think we think these are challenges for the next 3 months. And these may be challenges for the next 3 years. And so, you know, as you're listening to this, maybe you're listening to it 2 years from now. Hopefully, we're, everything's OK 2 years from now. But, but, but thinking through, I think we need to get ready. This, this hybrid discussion, this returning to work, this working from home -- these are all discussions, I think, that are going to be around a while. So I think this is timely conversation for now. But if we think this is gonna go away, you know, come September, I think we've got, you know, we've got some work on our hands. So what kind of advice do we have as we think about these challenges, Mike? Think those through with us.

Mike McDonald 12:09

Yeah, you bet. Well, I love your point, Jim. It's not a fad. I don't think we're going through a phase, so to speak. So I think we need to buckle up on that. But again, we can do a lot of great things to make sense out of it. It's an opportunity for us. You all know this as coaches: Change and transition are incredible growth opportunities if we use and lead through them accordingly. And so I do get excited about what the world could look like.

Mike McDonald 12:32

Jim, our play, right, we always think through this 3-point framework of the empirical, the emotional and the experiential. We'll walk that out in our conversation today. Staying true to that, we'll start out with 5 -- I cheated a little bit this time, Jim; I know I usually, I like to go with 4, but there's a couple of them that kind of blend together. So I thought I could kind of squeeze another one in.

Mike McDonald 12:51

Here's the 5 key numbers of what I would love to have you all represent -- write down as reference points to walk our conversation on through. But the first is 42 -- 42%, actually, is what we would talk about. The second is 43%. We'd love to have you write that down. The third number, and this blends in with the second to a degree, so if you bracket these, the third is 37%, that I'd love to have you write down. Fourth number is 8%. And the fifth number is 83%.

Mike McDonald 13:26

Now I'll walk these numbers back out, now that you have them written down. And we're gonna walk through the narrative that really wraps around each of these. The 42% -- 42% of managers in the United States workforce say that they are challenged by not just multiple priorities, but competing priorities. So Jim, when we go back to that reference point of the swirl of dynamics, these things are all important. And it means that I as a manager have to live in an existence where by zero-sum time, zero-sum energy, if I say "Yes" to one thing, that means the other side of it is I'm saying "No" to something else that seems and feels like it's equally as important. So how do I operate inside that tension? Who's sorting through that prioritization for me and with me?

Mike McDonald 14:11

The second and third feature is really reference to, Jim, to our notion of just even wellbeing. And so much of the theme of wellbeing is the suppression of stress and the increase of strength and security. Again, the language of it and the velocity of that is wildly strengths-based, but the 43% figure refers to the number of managers who strongly agree that the demands of their job interfere with their family life. OK. The 37% figure represents the number of managers who strongly agree that they felt stress during a lot of their most recent workday.

Mike McDonald 14:47

Now, this isn't a "pity party" for managers, and we're not, you know, feeling sorry for managers, but you'll hear, and I'll share, some of the qualitative statements around these, these two percentages, Jim, but the mind of the manager, the heart of the manager -- not that they want, again, sympathy for people, but they feel bad. Because when they look at the tension, they would actually, you know, in the qualitative description around this, they feel bad that they feel like they're coming up short on behalf of their teams, and then that they're coming up short on behalf of their own families, their personal lives.

Mike McDonald 15:24

And so there's there is a, you know, a really humble, others-orientation that comes out of those two data points. And again, we'll talk about some of the statements that came out of those two percentages. The fourth number, 8%, which is so desolate, I mean, just the categorical scorched-earth data point, only 8% of managers strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve. You know, I, so whatever we're doing mathematically is completely wrong, you know, so -- and I think there's a lot of assumptions as a theme through this, Jim, where I think we assume that if, that there's something magic that happens when somebody is designated as a manager -- that they don't need as much attention; they don't need as many of these features. And because they occupy that title or that seat, that they can manufacture it magically and then supply it to their own team, which clearly is just absolutely not true.

Mike McDonald 16:26

And then the fifth data point: 83% of managers do not see clear opportunities for advancement. So there's just a, you know, again, maybe an assumption that if, oh, if you're a manager, you can figure it out. Or if you're a manager, maybe you don't need that as much as the teams you lead. But I would contend, Jim, if there's a theme for each of these 5 data points, as we take them on into our conversation, I don't mean to sound cliche, but it's I don't know how managers can create something that they're not consuming themselves.

Mike McDonald 16:57

I don't know how managers can create something for their teams that they're not consuming themselves. And so that's that translation that goes through the emotional on into the experiential, you know, for their credibility and their influence, when we think about prioritization, stress, motivating conversations, if they, again, if they're not experiencing it directly, how do they model that and -- how do they know what success looks like, Jim? So that's, that's kind of the a couple of the I think the pillars that just drive through the center of each one of these data points and inform the conversation that we're going to have here right now.

Jim Collison 17:33

Mike, tell us again, these numbers represent a population of what again? Where does this come out of?

Mike McDonald 17:40

Yeah, the source or the reference, or the --

Jim Collison 17:43

Yeah, what do they represent? Becca asks this question. She says, like, like, last time, are these percentages from the engaged population who strongly agreed? How do we, how do you -- ?

Mike McDonald 17:52

Yeah, this is, this is our, so we did a workplace study of managers, people who lead teams -- people leaders in any capacity. So, and this was a nationally representative sample of people who lead teams. So yeah, so, and each of those percentages is the percent who strongly agree, with the exception of the last one -- 83% of managers do not see clear pathways for advancement. And Jim, I think the, you know, just to pick on that last number, I'll kind of, you know, this will be a spoiler, but we need to move past pay and promotion being the singular representation of what advancement looks like. So and again, I love this audience because they know it better than anybody. There's the bandwidth for true growth and contribution is unlimited. But we need to redefine what, what advancement actually is.

Mike McDonald 18:44

So, so let's start off. And just more, more broadly, I'll just do a recap. Here's, here's the, here's the touchpoints that we're working through. Where managers as headlines, right, in the marquee, where they struggle with being a manager: unclear expectations; excessive or misaligned workload and distractions; job stress and frustrations. They don't get to spend much time thinking about their strengths developmentally. And the way they have structured conversations around performance reviews, specifically, are unbelievably desolate.

Mike McDonald 19:21

So let's start off with our first data point. We have, again, 42% of managers who strongly agree that they have multiple and competing priorities. Think about question No. 1: I know what's expected of me at work. Think about how that eats away at question No. 3: At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best. And here's, here's a conversation, Jim, that I think is important to have around this data point. For every organization with good intentions that comes in and says, Hey, let's start measuring engagement. We need to ask these 12 questions. We need to understand our workplace and really get inside our performance culture. It's great, right? Like that's perfect.

Mike McDonald 19:59

Here's what we need to be looking at in a more broad perspective, especially as we think about these data points about clarity of expectations. Jim, if you and I work for an organization that decides to start measuring engagement, but you and I have no idea how to, how to lead and coach through engagement, what happens to our own engagement as a result? So think about this, right. Now, all of a sudden, we kind of knew how things worked around here. But now our organization has chosen to ask these 12 questions. They're held accountable at the local team level. And Jim, you and I don't necessarily have anything formally equipping us to be able to lead conversations at the team level, at the individual level. So now think, my clarity of expectations has moved backwards. The materials and equipment I need to do my job right moves backwards, the opportunity for me to be at my best every day moves backwards, right?

Mike McDonald 20:49

So now, and we all know this, right, that an engaged manager increases the likelihood of a team to be engaged by 59%. Well, we've just taken our managers out at the knees by asking well-intended questions and trying to put something in motion that our managers aren't in sync with. So we have to be, we have to be in tandem with those two features. I just want to set out an edge of mindfulness and expectation as we, you know, put that out in front of managers who are already struggling. And then we throw these well-intended questions -- and which, we know those questions change behavior and considerations, even by the fact that we ask them in the first place. We haven't got the scores yet, but the fact that my organization is asking about Best Friend at Work, well, that means something's going on. Somewhere, that must matter.

Mike McDonald 21:32

And now, for me having answered that question, I'm thinking differently, I'm starting to notice things differently. Maybe not necessarily better, either. Right? Maybe I have a little bit of a more -- that sunlight reveals truth, I guess, in the asking of that question. But Jim, I'll, I'll, I'll stop there. Any reactions as you think through your own lens or perspective as a manager? And what's up for grabs if we misplay this?

Jim Collison 21:54

Well, I mean, it really sets the, this sets the tone, as we think about that first question of Do I know what's expected of me? And, from from a manager perspective, if they don't know, if they're not in the right spot, if they don't have the right tools. It's the first 3 questions of the Q12. And I don't know -- if we're getting those wrong, like you said earlier, if we're getting those wrong for the managers, that has a cascading effect, downstream, right, begins to, it begins to affect those who they are leading. So yeah, that's, that, I think that's the crisis. That's the fundamental crisis.

Jim Collison 22:32

And I don't -- and I mentioned this in our last episode, but -- I don't think the leaders of managers or the managers of managers are doing a good enough job of knowing this. They, we kind of, sometimes we tend to think that engagement lives at the, you know, leaves at the at the first team level, you know. And oh, those, those frontline managers, they're the ones who have to worry about it. Well, no, I'm sorry. Actually, the more important aspect is, do the leaders of managers, or the managers of managers, know, do they know the engagement of their managers and how they're doing? Because we, if we, so we fix everything for, for, for the staff, but the managers are untying it, or blowing it up every time? Yeah. Right. So anyway, so that's, that would be my, kind of be my two cents.

Mike McDonald 23:18

Well, yeah, you, you provoke another thought that I think we need to be really mindful of as we think about the alignment, right, of leaders, managers of managers, managers, you know, that whole, we call it that cascade effect, right, that takes its way, all the way throughout every nook and cranny of the organization really could impact. It's an advantage, but it can be a disadvantage, right, that, that shock wave, you know, starts from somewhere. And to your point, Jim, what's happening with our leader-to-manager interactions and exchanges? It can be powerful promoters of engagement to where it reaches every associate, or inhibits the growth -- stunts it right there.

Mike McDonald 23:56

And one of the things that I think, as you all really consider, you know, so much of your coaching impact is that most, again, if the talent is there, most people leaders are by talent and design thinking about somebody else, right? That, and so much of this actually comes at their expense. So when we look at those data points around wellbeing where we have managers who, you know, remind us. You know, 34% of managers strongly agree that the demands of their job interfere with their family life; 37% say that they felt stressed during a lot of their most recent workday. They're always, they're, again, by formal expectation -- hopefully, by talent -- they are thinking about their team. But inevitably, that comes at their own expense, and they're not balancing that out. And I think our coaching really needs to redistribute the load and not have to come at so much compromise and concession.

Mike McDonald 24:54

Again, I'm not trying to put every manager up on a pillar, but I do think that, again, by -- there's a lot of defaults and a lot of deadlines that really cause us to get work done and think very specifically about our teams. And most leaders, a lot of managers, don't really hit the Pause button, think about themselves and make sure that they're as intact as they can be, knowing that there's a battery, in many cases, that their team runs off.

Mike McDonald 25:14

Jim, I promised I would share a little bit of the qualitative, you know, expression of some of these data points, but this is one that really, I think, captures the essence of this, those two wellbeing items. But when we asked managers, you know, typically, what would they say in response to this? This is one quote that I thought really stuck out: "It is emotionally taxing when someone on my team is not performing well. And it can be difficult for me not to see it as a personal failure that I couldn't help them succeed." I mean, that's, you know, when we talk about managers being the heart and the soul of, you know, an organization's culture. Again, I'm not trying to overemphasize it, but I think that really gets past even the empirical aspect of into that emotional feature to see the tension that's created if -- if this isn't done well, but the potential for the win and the impact if we do.

Mike McDonald 25:59

So, you know, Jim, another, another feature of this, and I know we talked about, that I wanted to add in is the notion of the performance reviews. And I know you've had, you, our best of best experts on. You've had Ben Wigert on multiple times, who can go toe-to-toe literally as maybe the world's leading authority on performance development. And it's just remarkable -- to me, you know, some of these things just take the wind out of your sails. But I would have never guessed, that data point 8% -- only 8% of managers can strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve. You know, I mean, and you think about how much investment is devoted to developing managers, to the study and examination of pay, how does pay and the coaching around it actually, again, keyword, inspire performance? Remarkable that only 8%.

Mike McDonald 26:57

So again, think about the, you know, if, we, as we strip this all down and think about the short list of opportunities we have, we have to come at this data point. And it really, quite frankly, I think as coaches, if we were to get some, I guess, our collective effort around it, what we really need to help organizations and managers with is that pay and philosophy have to be completely immersed with each other; that we are never talking about one without the other.

Mike McDonald 27:28

And so if we start to separate them out, pay can feel very transactional, very zero-sum, not particularly, you know, powerful or important. But if all of our conversations around our pay help, Jim, you or I or anyone understand that our pay does promote our purpose; it promotes our mission; it aligns with value, you know, proposition, it changes how we feel about that very conversation. So a lot for us to think about.

Mike McDonald 27:56

But I think as we, you know, consider this through a notion of pressure points, I would almost contend, I think we're wasting time thinking about a lot of pay structure and architecture, if we can't just figure out how in the world do we have a more meaningful, effective discussion with our managers about the pay that they would receive. And I think in large part what we're talking about, again, central to coaching, are those pay reviews or are pay structures felt to be local and actionable within the effort of that manager? Right. So a very philosophical aspect of what pay could represent.

Mike McDonald 28:30

Here's qualitatively what, what managers would say, just as we get inside the mechanics of this. A quote out of this is managers would say, "We waste so much time doing ratings and calibration sessions and performance reviews. The -- those processes and touchpoints don't help people become more engaged as an outcome or improve their performance at all." In fact, quite frankly -- and this is where the data shows up really loud -- it's quite, it's upsetting and frustrating, because now we're just reviewing flaws and limitations, having a conversation about it, but nothing of solutions, nothing of strengths.

Jim Collison 29:11

Mike, we, we did spend some time with Ben -- you mentioned Ben Wigert -- earlier, last year. We did a one, kind of a single series on getting performance reviews done right. We published a paper on it. We did a webcast on it. That's back in the Called to Coach if folks want to go back. Adam Hickman joined us for that. And we are talking about a July series right now with Ben and Adam, bringing them back to do 2 or 3 parts on that from, from what we've learned. And so just keep a heads up. If you want to stay close to the Called to Coach channel, we know -- Lisa had mentioned in the chat room -- you know, performance reviews are still really broken. And now I think COVID broke them even farther. I mean, they were cracked before; they're shattered now. So I think we have some great opportunities. Mike, the stat -- there's 8% of the managers who agree that performance reviews, that they inspire them -- only, only 8%. What, how does that translate to their individual contributors, to those folks that are on the team? What's the percentage there?

Mike McDonald 30:13

Yeah, it's horrible there, too. And I know you've, you've seen this and know this. It's, it's only 13% of the teams they lead can strongly agree. So I think there's this really interesting parallel. First off, they're both horrible. So let's just get that off the table. The second part, though, is manager is even worse than the teams they lead. But I think it goes back to that tension that I was trying to create, Jim, where I don't know how managers -- they can't, well, I don't, I won't qualify it; they can't do this unless they're experiencing it themselves. So if it's broken for them, I can't imagine how it's going to be right for the teams they lead.

Mike McDonald 30:48

And so we've got a lot of room to grow here. And I think we need to redefine performance reviews. And again, this is where I think we move past the stereotype that it's not just talking about pay. It's not just talking about promotion. And so, again, what I love about this group is this group knows more about human development, and how does that show up horizontally for impact and significance, more than the vertical, right, that I have to go through, this hierarchical, you know, move myself up to a spot and a role that I'm really not very good at. But that's the only pathway I see for genuine development or as an opportunity to increase my, my pay based on my performance.

Jim Collison 31:29

Do you have a couple bits of advice as we think about the, you know, the manager experience in this? And what are some quick things that we could do to kind of help?

Mike McDonald 31:37

Yeah, a couple of touchpoints that, you know, really, I think, qualitatively wrap around this -- you know, when we think about, I like to think about, you know, you mentioned, a really smart perspective earlier, Jim, about leaders, you know. And if we can get upstream on how leaders are leading the organization primarily through how they interact differently and more effectively through their managers who report to them. There's some light touches that I think can change behavior and change the experience for the manager that are, that are really worth our attention. One is leaders, they need to lead with a lot more curiosity in a couple of specific areas.

Mike McDonald 32:11

One is, you know, when we think about the engagement process, a couple things that really managers need to be set up with most effectively -- and I think for all of us as coaches, 3 specific pressure points that we can really help coach managers more effectively about is, What are they doing with their engagement results through their team that's driving performance? And that requires 3 specific features. And I'm going to tell you, Jim, most managers I work with, just does not make their day without the right coaching, without the right equipping.

Mike McDonald 32:41

When you, you know, if you and I receive the results of our team's engagement feedback, and nobody's set us up, either through a great coaching conversation or some training about how to do 3 things: facilitate and provide feedback; create a fantastic, well-structured action plan; and third, and most importantly, help our teams collect evidence of making progress from the point of feedback to the next time that we're going to gauge our progress formally through another administration of the Q12. If they can't do that effectively, it's a bust. None of this works. And yet most managers really struggle specifically with that third feature of making progress.

Mike McDonald 33:21

Now, the point of this is, though, leaders can really involve themselves in a very, I would call it a light touch, but a very meaningful coaching point of conversation; just let their curiosity lead the way. And I, I encourage a lot of leaders that, that you all are coaching and working with, and when I say, Let their curiosity lead their way, all of their touchpoints with every manager who reports to them, there should be some reference or some curiosity about, Hey, Jim, tell me what's going on with your, with your team's action plan right now. How far along are you? What are, what's the return on the investment? Tell me, Jim, tell me one, tell me the one best thing that your team is doing better now as a result of the action plan and the progress you all are making, that you've seen advance from those goals, advance from those scores.

Mike McDonald 34:06

And two things happen there. One, it doesn't, it doesn't, Jim, you're not, I'm not threatening you; it's not a coercion, right? But it does keep you kind of iteratively, progressively mindful of, Hey, you know what? I should be on top of this. I need to help my team feel the impact of what we're agreeing to do here. So that, that's meaningful. But the other thing that I encourage you to do, Jim, is for leaders to be looking for opportunities where they can involve themselves.

Mike McDonald 34:31

So Jim, if you, if you and your team are working on something, and I have a role to play from a senior leader position, I should involve myself, and in a way, Jim, that you can tell your team about that: "Hey, I talked to Mike. He's our Senior VP of such-and-such or he's our C-level such-and-such. And he's pretty excited about the work we're doing. In fact, what it's causing him to do is this." And now we get that great translation, which managers need to be so premium at, where they're translating up and down with really effective agility and, quite frankly, enhances their credibility, even to the degree that it engages the manager more, right, it releases that tension point for them.

Jim Collison 35:09

Do we call that kind of a player-coach in that, in that scenario? Would you, would you use that term as getting involved and maybe even throwing some of your talents at things that need to be done with the team? Would you call that a player-coach?

Mike McDonald 35:26

Yeah, I would, I think, because in, in one area where I get really excited -- I think this is what changes the way an organization talks to itself or how an organization talks to itself. And you know, you've heard me say this before, but if, if we will play along with me, and if I make my contention that a culture is made up of the content of the conversations that are had inside of it, we're changing that conversation powerfully, because the content now is so much stronger, it's so much more aligned, and transmits so much more conveniently, effectively and accordingly.

Mike McDonald 36:01

And so, you know, you think about there's a, there's a trap door with some of our action plans where they can feel very dis, you know, in the localized perspective, it might not, it could be easy for a team to feel like, Are we really moving the needle that much? Like we're kind of doing something better for our team. But I don't know if it feels that profound. Well, I'll tell you, and this is, this is another organizational habit that I get excited about, Jim. And I think leaders have a chance to do this, managers have a chance to do this, is we should probably as an organization habit, every quarter, or every 3 months, just put out a simple call. And just imagine if an organization just said, Hey, you know what it's been about 3 months. We've been working on our action plans, trying to advance goals around engagement. We'd love to have every team leader, anybody who formally leads a team just, just communicate up to our HR group, whoever's organizing this information, just tell us the one thing that your team is doing that you think has advanced the most from your action plan.

Mike McDonald 36:58

And imagine getting your arms, all those teams all doing at least one thing better than they had before. And get your arms all around that. I think, Jim, it gets really exciting because it's, it's our own living, breathing best-practice playbook. So we're going to hear so much success (so now we're talking about recognition), so much development, which we know can go off, you know, can really get set aside when times get disruptive, a critical mass of just success across the entire organization. So now for leaders, we have all these reference points of success. We all collectively hear this multitude of stories now makes us feel like what we're doing locally is a pretty big deal, because we see that every team is doing it.

Mike McDonald 37:39

And, and so it causes us to have deeper tread and deeper traction in the fact that now, we, this, this really, this is really a thing. Like this isn't our team that kind of feels like we're, you know, we've got a project; it means that we are part of the cultural shift about how our organization thinks, feels and behaves around the work and the why that we do. So, anyway, I'll stop there. But I think these are a couple of key habits that shift seismically and translate so well.

Jim Collison 38:09

I think sometimes we have managers reeling because it becomes a thrashing, as opposed to a strategy to move forward. OK, here's, this is a measurement of where we're at. I think some managers take it personally and then can never, can never cross the divide to their team. Because it's like, "Well, my team said this about me." Well, it's really about us. So let's, we're here; let's, let's, let's find some ways to move on. And those action plans are a part of that. And then, however, you incorporate those into the company culture, and I think this is the key is creating sustainability within the corporate culture to be able to keep those top of mind is what I hear you're saying on that.

Jim Collison 38:49

And, and so, and then maybe simplifying it to one -- what's the, what's the one thing you're going to do? Because we all have our jobs to do, right? If we come up with a 15-step program, like there's, that can't be maintained. And sometimes that happens, right? You go through this process, and it's like, OK, here's the 15 things. Well how about the one thing? And then when we get that one thing, we'll move on to No. 2. So anyways, Mike, I think in the in the remaining maybe 10 minutes we have here, what else would you say about, as we think about the challenges of a manager?

Mike McDonald 39:19

Yeah, you know what, the last thing that I really wanted to -- I guess I'll just be transparent, Jim, leading with selfishness or preference or bias on behalf of managers. If we can, if we can cause them to win, so many good things happen. But the other thing that I would love to have this group think about is just continuing to realign and get that manager to just pause and and developmentally think about themselves. And one of the things where, you know, Jim, when we put those empirical, those 5 empirical data points upstream in our conversation, I would love it if all of us as coaches -- and this is where It's the Manager is so useful, the wellbeing book is so useful -- is we can use those data nuggets as a point of reference so that managers can own their own engagement.

Mike McDonald 40:02

So Jim, I think, to your reference point of leaders, Jim, if I know, hey, it's 8% of, only 8% of managers can strongly agree that their performance conversations actually inspire them to do better work. Well, whether that's completely true for me or not -- it's probably more true than it isn't -- and nonetheless, what it gives me is at least a little bit of a catalyst moment of awareness where, like, I can own that conversation. You and I can go to our manager and we can initiate, you know, conversations around, Hey, you know what, I'm a little fuzzy here. And I know it's important for my team if I'm on point with this. And so I want to, for lots of reasons, really have a clarity about this and talk about, you know, my pay structure, my performance structure. Not that I'm trying to, you know, fight for a pay increase, but just to understand it, you know, so I have a local span of influence, of control. How does it map to our philosophy, our mission and purpose? And I want to be able to be authentic and effective with my own team, and I need to be able to, you know, speak from my own reference point for that to be effective through, through that particular lens.

Mike McDonald 41:06

When we think about only 83% of managers, or 83% of managers actually do not see a clear path for advancement, as a manager, I can own that, right? I can have active, proactive developmental conversations with my manager and say, Hey, again, I'm kind of fuzzy -- Where does growth and development occur for me? And I'll be honest, on the receiving end of that, most leaders love that. It's not an imposition; it's not an inconvenience. They get it. And in, you know, we have a balance in our approach now, because we can be compelled by what the data tells us.

Mike McDonald 41:42

Let's not allow these things to happen for us. We don't have to wait for the conversation to come to us. And I think that's part of our own leadership growth and maturity, and for all of us as coaches, right, so much of that is going to be explained through our strengths as well, right? Our strengths are gonna explain how pay shows up for us and opportunities for impact shows up for us. It also allows, our strengths allow us to own our approach to those conversations, right? And how do we open up the entry point for a leader or our manager to be able to work with us, to set us up for success?

Jim Collison 42:13

Mike, I'm hoping that Matt will make me a Senior Webcast Architect someday, as we think about advancement. I don't even think, you know, it's --

Mike McDonald 42:22

How many more titles do you need, Jim? Like, honestly. Like Jim's business card scrolls out onto the floor, so I'm just not sure --

Jim Collison 42:29

You know, opportunities for advancement. I mean, can I, can I be a Senior Webcast Architect? Not that there was ever just a Webcast Architect in there at all. But no, Mike, I think that idea of, of what does that advancement mean, I think, is a question to work through just as much as the advancement itself. So where am I trying to go, as we think about managers, where am I trying to go? In some organizations, their next step may be a C level that is not obtainable for years or ever because it's, right.

Jim Collison 43:02

I mean, and so I think, again, this is where the leaders or managers of managers need to have these conversations of, What does that, what does that advancement mean for you? Where do increased responsibilities, increased opportunities for learning, increased influence in the organization, increased influence outside of the organization, in my case, right, in a lot of ways. And so knowing, I think that conversation is more important in some cases than the outcome and may get included in the developmental conversation, right, as we think about those 5 Coaching Conversations. I'm not sure that developmental conversation is happening at the leadership level. We're thinking it's done, right.

Mike McDonald 43:46

I contend it's the hardest one. I, you know, I don't know, we, I don't think we have research specific to it. But I think if we think pragmatically through the lens of the manager, all of the other conversations, Jim, have these really easy project performance-driven deadlines. The developmental conversation doesn't. And yet, you know, we know that the No. 1 reason that people are leaving jobs is the lack of developmental opportunity. We say that it's the manager, which is true, but I think behaviorally inside what the manager is not supplying them with is that developmental conversation and all of the progress around it.

Mike McDonald 44:17

And so we've got some dots connected there. But it's just, you know, there's deadlines around when our project is due, right. So we, those conversations align themselves nicely. That, that third coaching conversation out of our 5, it needs us to really overextend ourselves as human defaults and habits to cause that to happen.

Jim Collison 44:37

We have spent a bunch of time outlining those 5 conversations available through Called to Coach. So last year, I think Paul Walters did that with me, and we spent a bunch of time thinking through each one of those. So if you want to go back and review that just, just look for the 5 Coaching Conversations. You can search for that on gallup.com. Mike, I think I've realized in my role, my learning and growing, it comes through what I actually do. So I get to sit with you. I get to sit with Jaclynn or Maika or Robert or Paul or Phil and Dean. And because, because I have to listen, right, I can't start these things and check out. I do that for some of the foreign language ones, but for these, really, really important. But it does feed that for me. Like I think about in the 8 years I've been doing this, all the growth that I've made in this area just by listening.

Mike McDonald 45:30

Yeah, Jim, I'll, I'll endorse that on the other side. And just, I think it's important for the audience to hear. I know, for me, this will be my personal testimony. And I hear a lot of from, from all the names you mentioned. We love doing that, because it makes us infinitely better. I mean, for us to have to sit there and think through, What does this mean for this particular audience? If we want to add value at all, we have to think at a higher level. So I always appreciate, you know, just the stretch and the growth opportunity it provides. And all of you, the comments in the chat are on fire, as we get our arms around this really important conversation.

Jim Collison 46:03

Last question for you: John had asked, All this data, Mike, where does it come from? Where can folks find it if they want to interact with it?

Mike McDonald 46:10

Yeah, if you go to, if you go to gallup.com, there is a, we did put out a report and in more than a few articles, if you just if you just in the search terms, type in "manager perks," "manager challenges," you'll see a series of articles, and even one article predominantly that references the manager experience. So you'll get a lot of great insight. You know, Jim, you and I have really just kind of, we just kind of hit the tip of the iceberg for what's inside that report. And it's gonna be a big part of the content that we continue to speak to as we unpack this series.

Jim Collison 46:41

And, and a reminder, I think, between now and the Summit, so June of 2021, I think we have a brand new State of the American Workplace report that's coming out. And I think they're talking about, I've heard that that, the cadence on those is just gonna pick up. And so instead of it being every 3 years -- I think I heard Jim Harter say this -- they're gonna be, they're gonna be a little bit of a faster pace. So you'll want to watch, you'll kind of want to watch for those, as well. Mike, any any final thoughts before I wrap it?

Mike McDonald 47:08

You know, just one bumper-sticker tagline. I just think, to me, the wrap around all of this is, you know, if managers can't consume it, I don't think they can create it. I'm not sure if I said that earlier. But I think we, that experiential transfer of their own capacity -- we have to create that through our coaching and the alignment of what's happening organizationally, with and through them. And I think that's what the data continues to show over and over again. I think they're a, they can be an accelerator or they can be a barrier, based on how, how genuine and authentic the experience they're having themselves around each of those features.

Jim Collison 47:42

That's -- there's a bumper sticker for you there, right?

Mike McDonald 47:45

It's what I do. It is what I do.

Jim Collison 47:47

Super great. Well, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources Mike mentioned, searching at gallup.com. That search actually works pretty well now. So head out to gallup.com. If you want to go to the strengths side of things, just put in /cliftonstrengths [gallup.com/cliftonstrengths], and you'll navigate right there. Log in and you can see your strengths and strengths dashboard available for you as well. If you're interested in coaching, master coaching, want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, or you're an organization that wants to engage with us maybe around Q12, got some questions on it, you can always send us an email: coaching@gallup.com. Stay up to date with all the webcasts that we do. I mentioned a few of them. And if you don't want to miss them, follow us at gallup.eventbrite -- B-R-I-T-E on that -- gallup.eventbrite.com. We mentioned the Summit a couple times. You can register right now. If you register before May 15, which only for the live folks is this going to be available; if you're listening after the fact, you missed it, but we have a physical box. The wellbeing book is going to be in it, a super cool Gallup swag kind of drinking container that measures the amount of water that you drink throughout the day. If you're one of those gadget kind of people like I am, you're gonna love it. But you got to register by May 15. So get out there and get that done today: gallupatwork.com will get you there. And then you can find us anywhere on social by searching "CliftonStrengths." We want to thank you for joining us today. If you found it helpful, please share it. We just love that you do that and give an opportunity inside the organizations you work with, inside your organization, whatever. We appreciate that when you do it. We'll see you tomorrow, for those on the live. Dean Jones is back for Part 3 as we look through learning about working with sales performance. So appreciate Dean coming on and doing that as well. Mike, we'll see you back here next time we do this -- yeah, as we still consider these. I think we're talking about perks next week and so --

Mike McDonald 49:31

Yeah, we'll flip the script here. Yep, that's exactly right.

Jim Collison 49:33

We'll talk about perks. So we'll get, we'll get all that in there. Thanks for joining us today. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Mike McDonald's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Input, Ideation, Learner, Achiever and Focus.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:


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