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The Perks of Being a Manager

The Perks of Being a Manager

Webcast Details

  • What perspective should managers have on effective workplace communication with their teams?
  • How does a manager's pay and incentives connect with the overall mission of their organization?
  • How do organizations fall short on employee onboarding, and how can managers help remedy this?

Mike McDonald, Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 3 of a series on managers, Mike discussed the benefits or perks of being a manager, and the challenges organizations face in leveraging those perks. When managers are engaged, the teams they lead are 59% more likely to be engaged. In areas such as workplace communication, pay and incentives, and employee onboarding, the perks managers have -- and how they feel about those perks -- can make a crucial difference to their teams and organizations.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 26. This is Part 3 of a 4-part series on managers. Access Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 4 of this series on managers.

If managers are not having regular communication with those that they manage ... if they don't know how to bring and deliver that, this perk of being involved in the decision-making process is quickly wasted.

Jim Collison, 21:49

Pay is just a ... vehicle that, if it's used effectively, it connects philosophy, mission, values.

Mike McDonald, 32:40

52% of people who leave their organization say that their organization or manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving.

Mike McDonald, 43:02

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on May 13, 2021.

Jim Collison 0:20
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, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. The link is just right above me there. Click on that; it'll take you to YouTube. Sign in with your Google account. Join us in chat; let us know where you're listening from -- that's always nice. If you're listening after the fact, and many of you do -- thousands of you listen to this as a podcast or on YouTube -- love to, and you have questions, you can send us an email: Don't forget, while you're out there, subscribe on your favorite podcast app or there on YouTube. Some of the terminology's changed now. It might be "Follow" now: it's been "Subscribe" forever. Apple has just changed that to "Follow." Whatever you have to do to get it on a regular basis, do that. And, and we'd appreciate you joining the community in that way. Dr. Mike McDonald is our host today. He works as a Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup here on the Riverfront. I kind of consider him one of my best friends at work. Mike, always great to have you on Called to Coach. Welcome back!

Mike McDonald 1:21
Yeah, I love it, Jim. You know, I volunteer to do this. But I will say in all sincere appreciation to you, and I'm right here with the rest of the audience. Like I, myself -- and I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people who get the chance to even be on your show -- it just makes all of us so much better and so much smarter. And I don't think we can ever stop doing that. So thank you for collectively pulling all this together, honestly.

Jim Collison 1:47
You're welcome. Well, it's, during the pandemic, it has increased my engagement because I get to talk with some of the best leaders and our, and our own folks around the world every single week. And it just has given me some insight into the world of the manager, into the world of the workplace, when we think about wellbeing, we think about strengths and engagement. It's kind of kept me, it's just kind of kept me in the center of, the center of the universe, so to speak, right, the hotspot. And it's been pretty great.

Jim Collison 2:14
Speaking of hotspots, we are in Part 3 of a 4-part series, kind of as we, as we look at the, and we're kind of focusing in this world of a manager in regards to engagement. It's a follow-up to a 14-part series you and I did back I think 2018, where we talked about all 12 questions in the Q12 plus the way to do it through our book, our book, First, Break All the Rules. So this is a follow-up to that. Mike, bring, bring everybody kind of up to speed. Last week, we talked kind of about the challenges. We're talking a little bit about the perks. I didn't realize there were perks for managers. So this is going to be -- I thought it was all challenges, just to be 100% honest. So, but bring, bring folks up to speed a little bit. Where are we coming at? What data are we using? Some of those kinds of things.

Mike McDonald 3:00
Yeah, well, it's great. It's a redemptive conversation, which I think is very consistent with this audience and consistent with the philosophy of strengths, right. But we do want to make sure -- we started off with first conversation really giving us kind of the, what's the world look like? And how are, you know, what's the place of the manager, you know, now, as things continue to evolve and respond to disruption. Fast forward, then, on the other side to the biggest challenges for managers. And Jim, as kind of an entry point into this conversation, you were starting to talk about wellbeing. That conversation is, again, very loud. I think, just to be honest, in my, this is my opinion, not necessarily research-grounded, but my opinion, I think the world and the workplace used to consider wellbeing as kind of a "nice to have." If you, if you have the resources, if you have the margin for it, if you have the right leadership, then sure, add it on. But I don't think we, until last year, you know, unfortunately, didn't really realize how vital a component it is. Now, I guess "Never waste a crisis" is the tagline or the theme of the year.

Mike McDonald 4:03
But if there's a takeaway that we wouldn't want to give back, I think it's the fact that we have a genuine appreciation for what those features mean. And I think there's a commitment to them. The sense that that makes then for our conversation is that managers struggle with wellbeing more than the teams they lead, Jim. And so when we think about managers, again, we go back to that key measurement. If they create the conditions for 70% of the circumstances that promote engagement, it's really hard for them to create those things when they're not experiencing them, say, those features themselves very positively, profoundly and directly. I always say, like, my little, my little word play there: It's hard to create it if you're not consuming it, so to speak.

Jim Collison 4:42
Yeah. You mentioned that last week a little bit in the, in the challenges aspect of it. We have two really great resources that have become available 2 years ago: It's the Manager, I think, late 2019. And then -- and we've really been spending a lot of time on It's the Manager; this kind of, I think for this topic, it's kind of the, it's the textbook. If you're not working from that 52 chapters of advice for managers to help them get through this -- and organizations, to be honest, there's a whole section on setting up a strengths-based culture. Mike, we, I've said the 3 terms of a culture being strengths-based, engagement-focused, and then I'm saying wellbeing oriented, in the sense of like, you know, of truly understanding it. And we have a new wellbeing book that just launched last week that I think, again, will be that -- Dr. Jim Harter says as a follow up to or a companion guide to It's the Manager, from an organizational standpoint. So, and Mike, anything else that, as we talked about resources that we're bringing in, what else should folks know about as they think about this conversation today?

Mike McDonald 5:46
No, I think it's those 2 features specifically. If you were so intrigued by the conversation broadly about wellbeing, there is an article on, Jim, that's, you know, kind of signature to this discussion. It's "The Wellbeing-Engagement Paradox of 2020." And it talks about, you know, for the first time ever, we've seen this separation of predictability of relationship between engagement and wellbeing, which used to be highly correlated. And for the first time in history -- we'll see if this continues to play itself out -- but for the first time in history, in our measurement anyway, we've seen those two actually with engagement increasing and staying steady; wellbeing declining. And so they're having a divergent, now, relationship.

Mike McDonald 6:28
So that's got a lot of people, you know, reconsidering. Maybe -- I think the message there, and I've talked about this earlier, but I think just as we accelerate this, let's not take our foot off the gas. I wonder, I think maybe presenting-wise, we all have started to present or portray ourselves being a little more composed and put together than we actually are. And all these, you know, every organization is thinking about return-to-work strategies. You know, we're at a crossroads of school year concluding, summer coming up, shots, immuniza- -- oh, I just, a variety and dynamics and, you know, conditions that are still continuing to swirl around.

Mike McDonald 7:06
So anyway, my point, to you, to mathematically, Jim, to your point, and I'll move off the wellbeing conversation, is March, we asked a question, "My organization cares about my overall wellbeing"; 40% -- 48% of the United States, a nationally representative sample, 48% could strongly agree at that point in March. Then we see a slight uptick in May; we asked the exact same question, moves up 4%. That's our spike: 52% strongly agree. So you see, there's a little rally all of a sudden in wellbeing --

Jim Collison 7:35
This is 2020, March, May 2020.

Mike McDonald 7:37
Yep. 2020, 100%. And then the big attention-getter, though, and this is where I kind of, I guess, validate my hypothesis, so to speak. But it declined: We asked that same question as recently as December of 2020. And it declined back to 39% strongly, strongly agree. So I think, I think I have -- I just want to put out a caution flag. I'd love to be wrong; I hope I am or if it's a different reason. But I just wonder if we're, if we're organizationally or leadership-wise taking our foot off the gas a little prematurely. So --

Jim Collison 8:06
Yeah, I agree. And it's easy to; things begin to change a little bit -- the environments begin to change, there begins to be hope. And then all of a sudden, we take a, we step back, take a deep breath, but forget that we still have a lot of work to do. And I think this is the job of the manager, right? This is the job of the leadership teams. I've been particularly hard during this series on the manager of managers, as we talk about this, because it's really their role to keep these, this going inside organizations. And, and so I think it's really, really important, Mike, that we get to this.

Jim Collison 8:40
Today, we're kind of focusing on the perks. So we were pretty negative last week, and I think rightly so. Like there's, there are big challenges -- and not negative and hard on the managers, but just really understanding how hard that job really is, and how really important that job is. Managers, good or bad managers, make or break organizations in, in their engagement and in their productivity. We know engagement is tied to productivity, tied to the bottom line, right? I mean, so at the end of the day, it does become dollars and cents. But there, there are some perks in this, Mike. I mean, as we think about the manager's role in it, let's, let's get, let's start working on that a little bit.

Mike McDonald 9:20
Yeah, absolutely. Let's, let's, let's take a look at where things work in favor of the manager. So starting off, you know, as we walk through, Jim, you know, I love the, the outline: the empirical, the emotional and the experiential. I hope that helps us all organize our thoughts, and, and I'll really make sure we bucket the reference points there so that we can organize the output of the conversation and put it into motion literally the second we hang up.

Mike McDonald 9:45
So starting off with the empirical, I always like leading off with, again, kind of this, this traditional 4-data-point outline. The 4 key numbers, Jim, that we're going to work out today are 34%, 23%, 26% and then 41%. And those all, whenever we, when I reference those, those all are percentages that represent "strongly agree." OK? So we like to really polarize towards the extreme that 5-point scale; that "5" matters a lot when we see the numbers shift and move. Those are, those are going to be representative of numbers that really show us where our managers, distinct from the teams they're leading, thrive. Where are they having a natural percentage-wise decided advantage?

Mike McDonald 10:33
Now, the one thing I want to set us up with preceding this, and this is why, you know, our world just continues to just orchestrate around. If it was a listen-for a game, you know, the number of times we've talked about "manager," I'm sure is, you know, it's, it's, it's a lot, but I don't know if we can say it's too much, to be honest. And the one number I think kind of level-sets this, and why we continue to emphasize it so much, is when managers are categorically engaged, Jim, the teams they lead are 59% more likely to be engaged themselves. So we're talking about modeling, osmosis, all of those formal and informal interactions, things that just continually, you know, in that poll strip kind of mythology, put out -- methodology -- put out a culture of engagement, everything, every action, every word, you know, all of those things are always on display. And they're intentionally or indirectly creating engagement.

Mike McDonald 11:27
And so this is why we put so much emphasis not just on the deficit, but now what are the opportunities? And if we help, and this is perfect for the audience, perfect from the strengths philosophy, let's take advantage of these areas where they have an edge. And let's get our arms around them and pull them towards, again, directly or indirectly promoting the best for their teams.

Mike McDonald 11:46
So let's walk out these numbers. The, the 34% strongly agree, and there's a little bit of a theme over here, but we see this with senior leaders; we see it with managers -- they really have an advantage in those roles. And where we see manager showing up stronger than the teams they lead of being upstream in the decision-making process. So when they get a forecast, they get to be part of decisions and having some opinion that weighs in and being able to inform the direction and the reception of those decisions. Really, really powerful spot where managers have a separate and distinct experience.

Mike McDonald 12:22
The 34% is the percentage of managers who strongly agree that they have the authority that they need to do their jobs effectively. So when we think about, I think the thing that's important for us as coaches, right, as we think about when we coach well, we create authentic ownership of someone's role, right? We're putting solutions, and constantly creating that space where they can own those solutions; they can inform decisions, but be somewhat entrepreneurial, and rightfully as with evidence, they support autonomous in their own, in their own job in a way that doesn't get too restrictive. But managers really have a separate and distinct experience around the bandwidth there, having the authority they need to do their job effectively.

Mike McDonald 13:05
The second number, then, this notion of 23%, is the percentage of managers who strongly agree. And I think the language matters here, because I think if we look at the percentage, 23%, I don't know if that stands and says, "Wow," because it certainly doesn't see, it's not majority, but it's about 25%, obviously, of the population. But I think we can appreciate it more when we think about what the item is represented by here. That's the item we, the question we ask here is, "I can take risks at work that would lead to important new products, services or solutions." OK, so risks.

Mike McDonald 13:40
So when you think about that, right, when you think about where are we most strong, most secure, most risk-tolerant? Not reckless, but risk-tolerant in a way that we can continuously be thinking about improvements, maybe even inventions, right, that transform the way we do work and the products that we put forward to external stakeholders, clients, customers, about a quarter of the managers out there can strongly agree that they have that type of bandwidth.

Mike McDonald 14:06
So thematically, Jim, if we were to wrap those two numbers together, managers have an advantage in the fact that they just have a greater say in their experience, and it's upstream, right, so that they have a little less, what would we say, maybe disruption or whiplash from, from reacting to things and have a chance to maybe brace themselves if not really shape and carve out what that decision is going to look like. So we can think about that. And I think the advantage to that is if managers have that, I think the key question -- and I know you all coach this -- but it can be an accountability point where managers probably need to be mindful that they're bringing their teams along with them.

Mike McDonald 14:46
And sometimes it can be really easy, and I think as humans, it's easy for us. We, you know, we get into this notion of projection. But for managers, if they're having that strong of an experience, the immediate reaction from them should be, How do I connect my team with this as effectively and quickly as possible? Otherwise, they'll get long ways down the road very, very quickly and look around. And there's nobody else with them at all, right? Because they haven't continued to stairstep that on through to their team through the right questions, their own coaching, their own buy-in and bringing them along with them. They can easily make assumptions that they don't even know they're making. So. I'll stop there, Jim.

Jim Collison 15:21
No, I think it's a good, you know, good timing. We just spent some time with Matt Mosser on Tuesday talking about communication and really the cascading concepts of communication. How does it cascade down? What's the import -- the chronology of communication? How does this, how are managers held accountable for the communication that, that needs to make its way down? If it's a perk that they're involved in the decision-making process, I think, like, what I hear you saying is, then the value is in bringing those that they manage along in that decision-making process. Also making them feel like they're, they're a part of that, that they get to have some say in it, right? That's kind of the whole purpose of the Q12, right, is that they have a voice, they also have a voice in it. And it's being channeled up through, through -- and I hate to use this word, but -- through chain of command or through the leadership that exists in the organization, however that's structured.

Jim Collison 16:14
At Gallup, we have a very thin layer there. It's a very flat infrastructure. So it doesn't take long for the communication to get there. Not all organizations can work that way. So we just recorded that; it's still in the live channel. But Jaclynn Robinson and I have been doing a series on teamwork. We talked a little bit about purpose. And the next one was on communication, just recorded this week. So I think timely that you bring that in as being one of those perks, but it can't be kept to themselves, right. They've got to be able to move that down, move that downstream, across-stream, upstream -- however you want to say it, right, from that perspective.

Mike McDonald 16:49
Yeah, that would be my, that would be my request for this audience, Jim, is honestly, if we know this about managers, how do we convert that advantage to the outcome, to the engagement in a really effective way to benefit their team? And I think you're exactly right in that. I'm going to make an assumption, Jim, that when you had your conversation with Matt Mosser, I think it's one of the saddest, sorriest data points that we have out there. But right now, when we look at leadership, only 13% of the United States workforce says that their organization, that the leadership of their organization communicates effectively to the rest of the organization. Only 13%. And I think you connected the dots right there, Jim.

Mike McDonald 17:28
And I talked a little bit about this in our first call; I want to unpack it a little bit more, because I think it is the drawbridge to this, where we can really make this all work, is I think leaders need to use that natural resource of what managers represent in that communication chain, I think that you described, to effectively create localized conversations. And I think if we are intentional about that communication network, feedback, coaching, all those conversations become powerful vehicles, where we can have maybe some strong, tough, but necessary decisions being disseminated in a way where we still keep our teams intact. They're in a locus of control; they have a sphere of influence. All of those things were made, but we have to do it on purpose.

Mike McDonald 18:14
I use the reference point, we talked about it a little bit, I want to unpack them with a lot more detail, because I think this is really important: Organizations and their leaders have to really pause and examine, How effectively can our most local leaders endorse these tough and necessary decisions? We don't have the luxury of the opportunity every time to build consensus. So coaching those leaders, sitting with them, having a group conversation -- any manager who reports to a leader should have the chance to be coached through the "Why" behind this conversation. How does it align with philosophy? How does it predict a better future? How does it stabilize us during the temporary sets of circumstances? And what you want to hear back, right, is, is don't feel, don't yield to the temptation to push that out. And I think we're challenging ourselves to start to look at the difference between information and communication.

Mike McDonald 19:05
And in information, Jim, you and I can shove content at each other's face all day long and feel like we're being productive, and actually push each other further away in the process. Communication, we would contend, is where we create an effect on the receiving end. And so I think as we transmit this, thinking about, OK, we're gonna put out a conversation. Maybe it's a newsletter, town hall, organization email. Can we say the way it's written, the way it's intended and aimed, will it change anyone's behavior on the receiving end? Will it change their engagement? Will it change their decision-making? Are we surrogating the leadership of the local manager, which we shouldn't do? So at the very least, put out those broad messages; they, they're necessary and they do help unify us, but at least have the expectation that it's necessary to have a parallel local conversation. How do those broad messages set a local manager and team up to have a very powerful and effective engagement-driven conversation around what will this look like for us?

Mike McDonald 20:10
And then and then, Jim, I'll just put, spend this more time. So that's the endorse aspect of it. Advocacy, you know, so then, let's not just leave it as an arrow pointing down and through the manager; let's bring it back full circle to the leadership. So Jim, when you and I meet with our teams and we talk about a conversation or a policy or something that's, that's shifting about Gallup, the invitation then for us to advocate on behalf of our teams: Hey, you know, what, we thought this was gonna, was gonna go well, and you know what, it did. And here were the parts that really landed. Or, in all raw transparency, you know what, our timing was off, Jim. The language was a little bit tone-deaf or maybe the decision itself could have used a little more refine -- you know, whatever those things are.

Mike McDonald 20:52
But those are really tough courage moments. And I think that that, that centerpiece of the manager is just paramount in the capacity to either cause it to be a wild success -- because you know, Jim, I can, I can deliver the exact same message and wildly engage you in my delivery, my buy-in -- we're going back to the 59% lift. Or I can just, you know, essentially, Hey, Jim, here's the piece of paper I'm supposed to deliver. I'm just a messenger. And you can tell, like, this guy has no belief in this, no buy-in. And I'm actually more disengaged now and probably a little bit more fearful and anxious and apprehensive about the future of our organization, whether I should be or not. So --

Jim Collison 21:28
During, during that conversation with Matt on Tuesday, we talked a little bit about the Individualization component of communication, especially for managers, and understanding, Mike, you may even deliver that same bit of information the same way to two different people, and may be received differently. And understanding how that communication needs to happen -- if managers are not having regular communication with, with those that they manage, I mean, it all boils down to this 5, the 5 Coaching Conversations for managers, right? If they don't know, if they don't know how to bring and deliver that, this, this perk of being involved in the decision-making process is quickly wasted because they're not able to communicate it to those who need to hear it. And that may need to be different, you know, some, something, we'll have a team meeting, and I'm just going to say it. Well, OK, that might still not be the most effective way to get it done. Right.

Mike McDonald 22:22
Yeah, 100%. That's another data point. But I think it really, not so much for the recreational pursuit of collecting, collecting data points, but for what they mean to the exact point that you made, Jim. It wasn't a centerpiece of what we were talking about, but it gets my attention every time. We asked a very simple question a few years ago to the United States workforce. And the question was, "Does your manager have regular meetings with you?" Couldn't be more simple and straightforward. Right? And then we just, it was just a Yes/No. Not on a 1 to 5 scale, just a Yes/No. And on that item alone, the population that said, "Yes, my manager has regular meetings with me," 40% of the population were categorically engaged, and 9% of that population who said "Yes" were actively disengaged.

Mike McDonald 23:07
And we all know, right, if I'm engaged, I'm all in, I withhold nothing; if I'm actively disengaged, I'm passively aggressively withholding effort and information that I by choice know would benefit my team or my organization. So a pronounced shift between those two mindsets. The population that said "No" was only 25% categorically engaged, but the attention really showed up in the actively disengaged: 30% of that population are actively disengaged. So it goes back to your point, Jim, and here's where the frequency of those conversations pushes back on fear, anxiety and apprehension about where we're at, why and what's next, relative to confidence, strength, security, right -- that we're calibrated, we're connected, we're confident because we haven't had so much gap between, you know, left to wonder, you know, where we're going, and maybe why. We just closed those, those gaps. And those were meaningful, right? But we're talking about a profound, we're back to the emotional portion of our conversation. It changes who we are and our confidence to get there on the other side.

Jim Collison 24:11
Mike, can coaches have conversations with their managers along these lines of saying, How do you feel it's going? How, tell me a little bit about your, your team and how you're communicating with them. Is that, I mean, is that an area that, that can be coached as we think about that channel of communication or the way they work with their teams?

Mike McDonald 24:33
Well, it can be, and I think that's, again, what I appreciate about this group and just the chance to have this conversation is, is when we hold -- so first off, right, we're thinking about ownership. So I think it's a, for me, and I think as we coach, I think it's helping those leaders think about and collect evidence that they actually are having the right conversations at the right time with the right person for the right outcome, but with the center of this all being ownership. And for them to come back, and we get into that notion of storytelling, but I love, as I coach leaders, having them tell, tell me a story about a conversation or a coaching interaction you had where you know with evidence, qualitatively or quantitatively, that you actually created ownership. You had an interaction with somebody on your team on purpose, and they produced or performed better -- not just productively, but personally showed growth as a result of that conversation.

Mike McDonald 25:26
And those stories -- I go back to our friend, Ed O'Boyle, who just, I, he should have, I plagiarize him all the time on that statement: Stories propagate our culture. And I think there's a lot of best practices. We study success. It's wildly strengths-philosophy based. But I think it also helps the manager internalize around 3 points, and I challenge them on this. I want managers to think about, Am I effectively creating those stories because of my coaching? Like, Is Jim generating more performance-oriented stories that are meaningful to him as a result of my coaching? So creating those stories is important. That's one aspect of it.

Mike McDonald 26:04
The second piece, though, Jim, is if I'm coaching well, I should be capturing those stories. So the follow-up, Jim, should be, in the framework of feedback, Hey, Jim, guess what? We had that conversation. We set a goal; you did it, or you're profoundly moving towards it. And there's a lot of success to celebrate there. So we have to have eyes wide open, capturing those stories as they occur right before our very eyes.

Mike McDonald 26:26
The third piece, then, is communicating those stories out and making them the worst-kept secret we possibly can. So we create, capture and communicate, and I think we could mass-produce the most powerful stories that move our entire culture forward and reveal so much about what true performance is on purpose, and with the partnership and support of very meaningful peers and leaders in our own lives. So it's a simple framework, but it's one that helps organize, you know. Sometimes we can talk about stories, and it feels like, you know, a little loose, a little vague and wandering, but this simple framework, I think, snaps together well.

Jim Collison 27:03
What stops that in organizations, Mike, you think? I mean, what, I, while you're thinking about that, I oftentimes think there's risk and fear associated with that. In other words, I'm going to share a story. In some, some work cultures, you know, it's like the whack-a-mole; if you stand up too tall, they whack you back down, right? And so you're afraid of maybe making too big of a deal of someone in that or overpromoting someone? What else gets in, what else short, just, just kind of quickly here, what else short-circuits that in organizations that you've seen?

Mike McDonald 27:36
Well, I, you know what, it's funny, because, you know, I laugh at myself, I just laugh, I just, I think we all get a good joke at human beings in general. Right? You know, I think we have these fabulous flaws that make us wildly entertaining and endearing. But I will give us credit. I actually do think to a large degree, I think we're all fairly, and maybe some of it's fear based. But I do think there is some humility. I think we all like to be in sync with our peers and be authentic. And I think sometimes there's a reservation, Jim, and again, I keep sharing my appreciation for this audience and just the repositioning of strengths alone.

Mike McDonald 28:14
But I say this all the time, and I help clients understand, and not as a cliche, but we, if we know, just, just as a point of reference, Jim, the odds of you and I having the same Top 5 in the same order, as everyone in this group knows, is 1 in 33 million. Not just recreational data, but there, there is something there, right that, Jim, if you authentically don't do that thing, your contribution is essentially irreplaceable, mathematically irreplaceable. For me, my contribution is mathematically irreplaceable. But I think sometimes we see it as self-preferential, self-oriented. And I think we just, you know, we reserve that, because maybe out of humility, we just don't want to come across as egotistical or as showboating or grandstanding, etc.

Mike McDonald 29:01
But I think what we can do in this, again, what I love about this group, I love the authentic, continuous positioning that, Jim, everybody mathematically is great, performance-wise should be great. And we have to connect those two features. But the way we do that is I think repositioning it. We are not talking about ego; we are simply talking about the best high-level expectation we can to make our maximum contribution, again, with the accountability that if you don't, we're gonna graphically miss a key part of what our success could look like.

Mike McDonald 29:33
And I think the repositioning of that -- this is what I love about the focus on performance -- is it takes the preference out of the way, right. Because if it wasn't about performance, then it would be easy for it to be just about me. Am I getting a bigger share of the stage? Is the spotlight even brighter? And are there less people around me so it's just all about me? But when we're talking about performance, you do see this natural alignment where now it's like, you know, it's this collective pooling of resources. And we still get to grow and develop, as we see that output really generated.

Mike McDonald 30:04
But those are a couple of features that I think really keep, but I do think that, that notion of, I think people are to a large degree, just like, I don't want to seem like I'm coming across like a big deal. I want to be in sync with the rest of my group. And so they hold back a little bit. And I think we can push that board as long as there's evidence around it that brings the team along.

Jim Collison 30:22
I think a great example for my own role is in 2020, my goal was to communicate as much as possible. So the measurement was, How many of these things do we make? Like it was literally that simple. What, what are we doing? How many? And the goal was just to keep talking, right? And so, you know, we did 80-some of these Called to Coaches in 2020; that was a 50% increase from the year before, right? This year, the focus with my manager, Matt, if you want to, he's on that Tuesday session, is quality. What do we know now? Like, what kind of feedback are we getting on these? What kind of numbers are we getting on them? We want to do less, but we want to make them better.

Jim Collison 31:00
And so that's a convers -- doing the, I'm doing the exact same thing. Just a, the focus is different, like, and so I'm starting to think through, How are we measuring those quality numbers? How do we know we're doing -- it's easy to measure less. How do we know that less is more from a quality standpoint? So we have these quality conversations around them where much more, much of an emphasis on tracking the number of downloads, number of views, whatever, all that stuff is measurable. So we get to have that conversation, I get to have that conversation with my manager, that then engages me from the standpoint of being very, very clear on what we're looking for. So, OK, we're gonna run out of time if we don't keep going, Mike, so keep us on track here. What else?

Mike McDonald 31:41
Yeah, will do, and the chat's got a fascinating conversation moving it, moving forward in that as well. So I love the content going on there. Yeah. So Jim, the the other two numbers that I wanted to call out specifically, pay is the other feature. So we talked about span of influence, right, and the decision-making that managers have up front. Pay, which might rival what? -- I don't know, is there a least favorite subject that we could probably get our arms around other than just pay and what it represents?

Mike McDonald 32:06
But managers actually, and we're not talking about, they feel good about the fact that they might think that they're paid more than the teams [they] lead. What we're really talking about (and this is, I think, is a really central feature for us when we think about the emotion around pay) managers, that 26% data point that I mentioned at the beginning of our discussion, 26% of managers strongly agree -- and again, I think we all as coaches will hear the language very loudly here -- strongly agree that "My pay and incentives motivate me to do what is best for our overall organization."

Mike McDonald 32:38
And so when you think about that, honestly, pay is just a, it's just a vehicle. It's honestly a vehicle that, if it's used effectively, it connects philosophy, mission, values. But when we think again about the central feature of ownership and influence, does our pay operationalize those, the vision, the purpose, the philosophies of our organization, to you, Jim, to me, to any one of us in a way where we feel like we can live those out authentically with the right priorities of what we're actually paid for, and they're within our span of influence?

Mike McDonald 33:12
And I think there's a far bigger picture than just, you know, Jim, did you make, do you get paid $50 more this year than you did last year? You know, and sometimes we get too transactional, I think, around what's, and our measurement shows up over and over again that the experience around pay is infinitely more powerful and effective than the actual currency itself, so to speak. So a lot there for us. And again, managers, right, and this is where if that advantage for managers is, is, is strong, and if we can invest in it even more, and always making sure that pay and philosophy are wrapped and bound tightly together, think about how then that shapes and shifts how they can affect their teams positively for that.

Mike McDonald 33:50
I will tell you, when we go back to our conversation around financial or about wellbeing, Jim, the scariest -- when we talk about, just fear, raw, redline fear, the scariest feature of any of our constructs around wellbeing, we call it a component, but the component of future financial wellbeing scares everyone to death. Like it is, like it's so scary, we just want to, like, it's the head in the sand, close our eyes, hum loudly to ourselves so that we could just never ever think about it, which inevitably, right, creates the very problem we're trying to avoid. But if you think about how vital it is and how much personification of purpose wellbeing, all of those values coming to life through the advantage of the manager, it shouldn't be scary, right? And if we can, how can we set up managers -- the philosophy actually stabilizes our confidence and security about having a high-impact conversation around what does our future financial wellbeing look like, and what can we do today to cause that to be the best that it possibly can?

Jim Collison 34:54
What's the conversation for managers individually around pay? I mean, what do we, do we have any numbers or do we know kind of how it affects -- because we talk a lot about the manager having an influence or an effect on their team's performance. What about their own individual performance?

Mike McDonald 35:10
You mean the manager's own individual performance or an individual's performance on their team?

Jim Collison 35:14
A manager's, their own individual performance, how they're measured, what they're doing, and their own personal pay? Because we often find that's difficult. I mean, yes, it's difficult to manage the pay of others. What about my own pay? How does that ... What do we know about that?

Mike McDonald 35:31
Yeah, I, you know, well, I'll tell you what, so let me take that -- that's a great segue into our next data point. Whether you did that on purpose or not, your instincts are uncanny.

Jim Collison 35:38
Maybe, maybe a little.

Mike McDonald 35:39
I don't know about that. But let's talk about that. We did talk about the effect on the organizational level; when we get down locally to the individual, the 41%, which as we know, is the highest number of the data points we shared. So 41% of managers strongly agree that their pay and incentives motivate them to achieve individually. So we're getting -- that's a strong number, that 5. I just want to keep emphasizing, I know, sometimes we're like, only 41%; only 26%. We really have to earn our way to that 5. So if it's a 41% figure, that does give us, again, I think an area of opportunity, a strength that we should build on that you can see at that individual level, that local influence, that span of control.

Mike McDonald 36:21
Jim, I'm going to go back, and this, you know, you called it out. But I think as much of our conversation, I would hope, does two things: One is it helps managers know that these constructs are true. And if they're representative, if these are 4 data points that represent part of my experience as a manager, Jim, your experience as a manager, I think it allows the manager to own and activate in a very productive, positive way, conversations that would extend the 5, or get our experience closer to a 5, as they lead up, as they manage up to the people they report to, right, and be able to say, Hey, I know these features are important. Here's how I think it could be better for myself. And it's a very high-level, again, positive conversation that's not delivered as complaining or whining or deficit in its orientation. So that I think is important.

Mike McDonald 37:11
But we, ideally, we wouldn't have to wait for the manager to activate on that. I would hope these data points and constructs really equip leaders of managers to connect down and to make sure that the investment in an area of strength, in an area of separate advantage for leaders relative, or for managers relative to the team's elite is really augmented, knowing the chain reaction that extends and connects to throughout the entire organization.

Jim Collison 37:35
One of the things I think we do really well at Gallup is -- I'm not saying every manager, but many managers have a kind of a side gig as far as maybe an individual; they're still contributing individually in some way, as well as managing their teams in ways that I think allows them to have that -- it's that individual outlet. So how can we best use them? How can we take what they're really good at? This is why I'm doing what I do now, here on webcasting, right, and continue to grow that out. And I have just seen, Mike, that that doesn't show up in a lot of books or in a lot of, you know, in a lot of, in a lot of the data. But I've watched some amazing individual contributions from managers doing things, still feeding that engagement beast, so to speak, so that they can have an area where they're particularly good at and win -- and not only win for themselves, but win for their organization and continue to drive that high engagement.

Jim Collison 38:29
And so it's been, again, it's, I don't, I don't, we don't talk about that; doesn't show up in our books. But that is something I've noticed inside our organization that I haven't seen happen in other orgs where they get an opportunity to succeed. Moving forward, you know, we've spent a lot of time since It's the Manager talking about this idea of managers moving from boss to coach. We have, you've spent a lot of time, you know, we haven't, we have a course around that for individuals and organizations. Talk a little bit about the -- what does that really mean? Just for folks who maybe are coming to this and thinking like, Oh, what does it mean to move from, from more of a, you know, from a boss to coach?

Mike McDonald 39:16
You know, it's, it's, one way to think about it, Jim, is a, it's like full-range leadership is a way to think about it. So we're not necessarily -- I love the authenticity of it. It's, it's knowing that in that role, it's, it's different than a lot of coaches, you know, in the community here, but when we think about managers and teams that coaching, you know, we're still trying to create an effective performance. But it's in a different arena, so to speak. And we're pretty, we're pretty up front about the fact that sometimes, given the circumstances, Jim, you and I may have to involve ourselves as a boss. Those situations might be necessary and direct, and I always say, to use the metaphor, Jim, if you're teaching me how to fly a plane, and, you know, you're sitting next to me and I'm on that inaugural run, right. And we're, I'm, but I'm sitting there involved in chitchat with you and I'm not paying attention and we're literally flying into the side of a mountain, you would not, you should not coach me at that point in time; you should be the world's most amazing boss: Yell, yank the steering wheel, whatever we need to do, clear the mountain, and then as quickly as you possibly can, get back to coaching me. "Now, Mike, let's review, let's review this near miss, right? Let's, let's reflect what could we have done better? Da-ta-da-ta-da.

Mike McDonald 40:22
So it's OK to be a boss, but our span of effect and influence really shows up in coaching. And maybe, Jim, futuristically and proactively, better coaching from you might have avoided that situation from ever occurring in the first place. But we get the full range, right, of predominantly, what does it really look like to be a coach in the arena of leading a team? And there's some specific features that really do connect the dots up to where managers thrive and to how do they involve themselves most effectively in the transference of the noun of being a coach and the verb of coaching?

Mike McDonald 40:54
And those 3 features, like, you know, as we bring those to life, 3 things that I would have us think about. One is when you think about the employee experience, onboarding, development, even to retirement and exit, how much can managerial coaching explain a thriving and fulfilling experience across each of those 3 features, regardless of how long or short each of those 3 touchpoints is?

Mike McDonald 41:21
I'll throw out a couple of data points that I think we can do so much better at with the managerial advantages that we put on display. Only 12% of organizations or people inside organizations in the U.S. would say that their company does a great job at onboarding. It's a miserable figure. And I want to make sure we unpack that figure, Jim, because it's important. We asked that question, nationally representative sample. We didn't ask it just to the new people who were in their first 6 months or first year, we asked it, Jim, to you, to me -- people who have been with Gallup or other organizations for decades, or, you know, 5 years or more. And we're looking back, answering that question and holding it up to the light and saying, What, you know, I wish I knew then what I know now; I could have been far more accelerated. Right? So there's, there's an opportunity there when we think about the managerial influence in that onboarding piece.

Mike McDonald 42:09
Also, we know that No. 1 reason that people are actually dissatisfied, maybe tempted to leave their organizations, is the lack of development opportunities inside the organization. And when we think about those 5 Conversations, I've contended many times that the hardest one for managers to lead is the developmental coaching conversation, because it's not held accountable to a project or a client or a deadline. It's literally us carving out, with intentionality, the space to grow the people on our team with stretch assignments and developmental positioning. But yet, you know, we know this, this tagline of "People don't leave organizations; they leave managers," but what they're leaving that the manager is lacking is the activation around that developmental opportunity.

Mike McDonald 42:54
The third piece, then, that I would have us call out, you know, is that people -- and this is, the conviction around this is tough, but 52% of people who leave their organization say that their organization or manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving, which is ghastly when you think about, you know, that, that talent drain. And yet, the people leaving say that something could have been done, but wasn't. So those 3 touchpoints: entry, development -- career development -- on through to exit, we really, really need to aim our managers directly at those at those specific pieces.

Mike McDonald 43:30
So that's really, the course is a broad structure around that. But it's understanding what's either present as an advantage or absent if we don't, and really calling into accountability a manager's capacity to coach using the tools and resources of strengths as a philosophy, engagement as a framework, performance as an expectation to really connect the dots between all 3 and involve themselves very appropriately.

Jim Collison 43:57
We, I loved when I was managing the, the interns and they would come in. We get them for 12 weeks in the summer. And I know another instrument that has 12 questions in it. And so we had a question every week. We'd speed those up towards the end, because it didn't make sense to be covering Q12 on the last week, but, you know, the last question. But Mike, it was, it was, for me, it was an experience that I made, I made sure as their manager, I wanted to walk through the expectations of each one of those. And it kept me accountable, to make sure I was covering all those topics with them -- not telling them how they should give, you know, how they should answer it or what they should answer.

Jim Collison 44:35
But the premise behind it -- this is why this early series that we did around these 12 questions and kind of what they mean for coaches was so important. I was actually doing that during that series, when we were putting that together. And it, and a great, and I think it set, it set the tone for them through the course of the summer, or many of them we hired later on, but it kind of set the tone from an organizational standpoint to say, Hey, these are our values. These are our, this, this is how we see these things. And they could hear it from me as a manager: Here's how I see these things. Let's dialogue about this. And then also hear from them: Here's how they feel about this, and, and gave me the opportunity, I think, sometimes in the onboarding cycle.

Jim Collison 45:20
And by the way, Danny Lee did an amazing job last year. We spent an hour with Danny Lee talking about onboarding. So go to, search "Onboarding" and look for Called to Coach with Danny Lee. I, Mike, it's a make or break in some cases. In other words, you just spent all this money hiring this person. Like, you know, if you don't have, if you're not helping organizations discover, develop and deploy an onboarding program that's meaningful, just flush it. That, that money is just like, so I think great opportunities there. I think as we think of managers being coaches, the great opportunity in the onboarding experience to really practice that, right.

Mike McDonald 46:03
Yeah, 100%. It's, it's interesting. And I know Danny brought this out, but I can't be struck. There's two ingredients that the world I think is starting to figure out -- our data would absolutely support this, that really shift and transform our onboarding efforts so that we can move well past 12% as companies doing a great job of onboarding their associates. And the two ingredients that we're seeing a lot of traction is, one, and you called it out, Jim: putting managers as far upstream into that process authentically and actively as much as they possibly can. It helps to normalize; it helps to accelerate, you know, how a person connects to their team, to their expectations, making meaningful contributions much more quickly than they would if they just went through a traditional knowledge-transfer experience. Right.

Mike McDonald 46:52
And so, Jim, actually what you did with your interns is perfect, because what we would say is, is extend that onboarding to a minimum of a year, right? We, we're way too, we're way too collapsed in our expectation of what onboarding should look like and to really establish those footings of confidence. We don't need to rush that, accelerate it; we just need to do it really well. And then add on to it once we have the confidence that it's perfectly established.

Mike McDonald 47:18
But that's a great, with a manager, we see, actually see that if the manager is effectively involved, it triples the likelihood, more than triples the likelihood for people to say that their onboarding experience was exceptional. So that piece is really powerful. And I think another important thing for this group to know: strengths. Strengths upstream in that onboarding experience -- I'm having a lot of clients who are winning awards, our Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award, our Don Clifton Strengths Award, they're doing a remarkable job of aiming strengths so that as people show up, Day 1 on training, I've got my full 34 report sitting there ready and waiting for me. And it just transforms and accelerates everything about the onboarding experience.

Mike McDonald 47:57
And just think: People leading the knowledge transfer know how to lead the courses more effectively because they're more in tune, right, with that strengths reception. I can own my performance and my success in whatever my expectations are in my onboarding, because you've given me now these 5 things that ensure success in output, 10 things that ensures success in output, changes the entire dynamic. But it's exciting to see that we can take such a miserable 12% figure and transform it with the emphasis on two predominant features. So --

Jim Collison 48:05
Mike, my life changed when Tiffany took Theme Thursday and embedded that into our own onboarding process. You know, you talk about, you know, eating your own dog food or drinking your own champagne or eating your, making your own cupcakes kind of thing. She embedded that in, and so part of onboarding was listening to, going out and listening to your Top 5 on Theme Thursday. And you know, there were some pieces in that onboarding that held accountability for that.

Jim Collison 48:27
And that really changed the equation, even internally, for us, in a lot of ways. And for me, in particular, because then every, every single employee saw what we were doing and saw the investment we were making ourselves in strengths. And it was a little creepy the first couple times: I'd have new folks recognize me in the lunchroom. I just, I just, "Thank you," you know, kind of thing, but, but it does begin with that, right. And that was a very, that was very early. Organizations can still do that; we have 6 seasons to choose from. You can begin to embed those and use them in a way -- you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You don't have to make your own, although if you want to, you can. But a great opportunity to, to embed those in your system as well. Mike, as we think about wrapping this up, final thoughts and kind of put a bow on this for us.

Mike McDonald 49:40
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think if I was just to tie this all together, so one, one shout-out that I wanted to say to you, and this is what I love about the commodity that you've honestly created through this community, the conversations that we're all seeing in the chat and having, and I know a lot of coaches are doing this, maybe all, but I just want to continue to endorse it. But it, I don't know if there's a more powerful, effective way for us as consultants, coaches to position the most effective content represented by the work that you put together, Jim.

Mike McDonald 50:09
Again, the right message, the right audience, at the right time, this, these, these can be collapsed into sound bites, series, etc. But they bring organizations along in a way that I think really preserves the premium of who we are as coaches and consultants so that we're not so heavily involved, and again, in knowledge transfer and establishing a foundation, but preserving our time for real value-add levels of involvement where we're genuinely necessary. So just wanted to put that out there, that you've, you've accelerated, you know, that foundation and put it, really attacked in a way that's almost -- you created the good news/bad news situation, where the good news is, you have everything. The bad news is we have to figure out what's the right point of content at the right time. But that's, that's where our expertise comes in. So I love the scenario there.

Mike McDonald 50:55
Three touch points, Jim, if I was to bring this all in for a landing: Think about the advantages that, the advantages that we talked about that managers have, and, and don't miss the mark. Aim those advantages specifically at performance issues or challenges that your clients are having, culturally, through onboarding, development, exit, etc. Just think about the aim of those advantages that managers have towards an issue that the organizations are having that you're working with.

Mike McDonald 51:24
The second is real-life scenarios. Your coaching is a vital part of development for managers. And so when you think about the context of these data points or the context of where managers naturally struggle, where managers naturally thrive, I think that really helps to put some right angles, some 90-degree angles to help managers step in with a level of confidence and clarity and see where they can, you know, with intentionality, involve themselves, either out of opportunity or out of advantage.

Mike McDonald 51:56
The last piece that is, I think, when we really start to coach and help organizations reconsider what does managerial success look like moving forward? Where do individual contributors authentically become managers? Where do managers authentically become leaders of teams of managers? This notion of engagement, right, if, if leaders and managers can demonstrate their effective leadership through engagement increases, that's as strong an evidence as we would say that they can build and lead through others, which is a noncompromise, right. And it's, it's where you start to see separation of player/coach to a manager of a team without actually then being a player, on into leaders who maybe actually never touched the product at all but can organize a division, a department, a unit to actually deliver on that outcome successfully, just by being a phenomenal team leader and organizer of talent.

Jim Collison 52:54
Next week, we're going to talk about managers of managers. Tease that for just a little bit. Why should they come and listen next week?

Mike McDonald 53:01
Yeah, well, so here's the gap, right, is we have this book called, It's the Manager. And the whole world is paying rightful attention to that pressure point. But we want to make sure we don't overcorrect, right. And oh, by the way, it is about the manager. But guess what the managers need? They need phenomenal leaders. And leaders, quite frankly, have a very parallel level of acknowledgment, coaching interaction. It's somewhat unique and different, but very consistent with what we're asking managers to do. And guess what? Leaders need to be developed. They need to be developing managers into better leaders. And so how do we start to uniquely take a look at leadership interactions to bring out higher level of leadership on their own part, better managerial effect for the managers who report to them, and align that with organizational structure and outcomes? So we just want to make sure we aren't leaving leaders behind as, if this, if this reference point of manager was too tightly, I guess, defined and restricted.

Jim Collison 54:00
I'm excited for that, as we lead up to the new manager report that is coming out. This is kind of all coming to a conclusion and in, in a symphony of communication that we've done. Jaclynn and I have been working on this idea of teamwork. You and I have been spending some time looking at the manager with this new manager report, plus the Summit is coming up. So a lot of things happening. So Mike, thanks for taking some time today to talk about this and to be a part of that conversation.

Jim Collison 54:25
With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available now on Gallup Access. Go to Sign in there. And if you haven't checked out the Resources tab, go to the upper left menu, drop it down and choose resources and just start searching. Listen, there's a library of stuff available for you there, regardless of whether you're a subscriber, a full subscriber or not, that, that you can get access to -- a lot of the stuff we're talking about. And don't forget all the resources Mike had mentioned is on So get out there, get it in; and whenever somebody says they don't have enough information, I'm like, "You're not trying hard enough." We have tons of stuff out there that's available for you. For coaching, master coaching or if you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, send us an email: There's actually some great coaching deals that are going on during the Summit. So if you want to purchase coaching for yourself, coaches, coaches need coaching. Do you want to have one of our master coaches spend some time with you? Now's the time to purchase it. I think it's 15% off if you attend the Summit. So get in there -- Scroll all the way to the bottom, you see those offerings that are available there as well. Thousands coming to that; it's June 8 and 9, by the way. Love to have you register, love to have you a part of it. Jump in there and get that done. If it's after the fact; if you're listening to this maybe September, October, November of 2021 or any other year, we probably have another Summit going on, so make sure you check out and we'll have that available for you. You can find us on any social platform just by searching "CliftonStrengths," and if you found this helpful, we'd really love it; it'd make our day, our engagement would go way up if you'd just share it. Just get that out there, grab the link, share it with those that are in your, that are in your mastermind groups. Share it with those maybe that you coach. Take parts out of it; send them links, the YouTube links to specific parts that you want them to listen to. Lots of great opportunities to share it. I know that helps me, so thanks for doing that as well. We'll see you next time. Actually, I think tomorrow. I think we got one more of these to do with you. We have a coach coming on, gonna talk a little bit about confrontation. So it's gonna be kind of fun to do that as well. We'll see you tomorrow. 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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