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The Manager of Managers

The Manager of Managers

Webcast Details

  • What challenges do managers of managers encounter in coaching managers?
  • How can organizational leaders involve managers in effectively communicating decisions?
  • What is the state of managers' wellbeing and how can their managers address this at work?

Mike McDonald, Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 4 of a series on managers, Mike spoke about the manager of managers. According to It's the Manager, 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. Yet managers face strong headwinds to their own workplace engagement -- headwinds in which they need coaching from their managers. These include managers' responsibility to communicate leadership decisions to their teams; their lack of clarity about their job description; the disconnect between their pay and incentives and their organization's mission and purpose; and deficits in their wellbeing at work. How do Gallup data and research help managers of managers understand these challenges and coach managers effectively through them?

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 27. This is Part 4 of a 4-part series on managers. Access Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series on managers.

Only 36% of managers strongly agree that they have a clear job description.

Mike McDonald, 30:08

Managers will tell you that they're not struggling with the amount of things that they're having to accommodate. I mean, not that that's comfortable or easy. But that's far less of a challenge than the competing priorities.

Mike McDonald, 25:40

I think ... most organizations probably used to hold wellbeing as kind of a luxury item or a nice thing to have and focus on. Man, that got blown to smithereens in a pretty loud and clear way last year.

Mike McDonald, 41:36

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 26, 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. Mike, I'll say that forever and be able to repeat that for the rest of my life. If you're listening live, join us in the chat room -- the link is just right above me on our live page -- and go to YouTube. Sign in with your Google account and join us there. If you're listening after the fact, and many of you do, you can send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe to Called to Coach on your favorite podcast app or there on YouTube, so you never miss an episode. Dr. Mike McDonald is our host today. He works as a Senior Workplace Consultant; also doubles as my best friend at work. Mike, always good to have you on Called to Coach. Welcome back!

Mike McDonald 1:04
Yeah, thanks, Jim. I would have been here either way, whether you invited me or not, I probably would have shown up. So --

Jim Collison 1:12
You bet. We got the opportunity this morning. I was just randomly on a clubhouse. This is kind of this new app where you can just jump in. It's like radio shows; you can talk, they invite you in. And they were talking about Q12 this morning, and it was a great opportunity. They were wrapping up their Q12 kind of series. They had done one question a week for the last 12 weeks, which, kind of, you know, I'll remind folks: We've got 12 episodes, and really 14 total, with -- we think about an intro and outro to our Q12 for Coaches series. So if you go to YouTube and search "Q12 for Coaches," Mike and I put us a whole series together about 3 years ago to really intro you to this.

Jim Collison 1:52
By the way, Mike, that book, First, Break All the Rules that that code is in, eventually, we're gonna phase that code out. So folks that that those 10 free seats that were a part of that, that's going to be on a limited time. So if you're thinking about doing that, you might want to act on it pretty quickly here. But we put the series together and kind of think about, to kind of think about that. Today, Mike, we really, we wrap this 4-part series, which I consider kind of a lid on that, on that 12- or on those 14-part series. We talked about the mechanics of it. Then we spent some time talking about managers, because we know how influential managers are in this equation of engagement. And so, Mike, let's, let's go back. We've got that series. What else, what's, what else is kind of the textbooks for us during this time?

Mike McDonald 2:39
Yeah, yeah, Jim, we've been working over 3 specific points of content that I'd love to just keep reminding our group of. The, the It's the Manager book, I think a couple of us have heard about that. Here's the, here's the themes that you'll hear through each of these 3 points of reference or points of content is just continually translating research to action or thought to action. It's really the bias that, you know, we all lead with as coaches. I guess if there's a healthy bias, I would hope that it's that one. But that's what It's the Manager does.

Mike McDonald 3:10
It's one thing to have really powerful research, but the book that extends and it's a, it's, it's a, almost a manual, I guess to -- it's your owner-operator manual, Jim, to how do we understand the mechanics, the opportunities, the features of the best of managers in a way that truly moves an organization forward on a variety of levels. And I love it because on a couple of scales, it strips away a lot of myths and stereotypes that I think have been held on far too long about the way the world and the workplace is genuinely motivated. It's what I love about this audience is it's in tune and pursuing that as much as any.

Mike McDonald 3:47
So the It's the Manager book is a tremendous point of reference. And we'll, you know, that's our attempt is to operationalize that book in our conversation. Our Wellbeing at Work book, Jim, love -- when you talk about a lick, I love the latest, greatest evolution of that, as well. Just came, just came out here in the last couple of weeks. Dr. Jim Harter, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton cowrote that book. High-level perspective, much in the same vein as It's the Manager. But translating a construct, which, again, can be incredibly nebulous around well, you know, wellbeing could mean a million things to a million people. What does it actually mean? How do we lead through it at the organization level? How does it translate and change the way we talk about wellbeing so that we have a better life?

Mike McDonald 4:35
And I'll take it to one, one closer point of perspective; I think it's really worth our time, and again, as a point of reference. But if you go to, there is an article that I think we should all be very familiar with. It is "The Wellbeing-Engagement Paradox of 2020." And in that article, we see a lot of great interactions on dynamics between engagement and wellbeing. But primarily, this paradox is for the first time in history, Jim -- or at least the first time in Gallup measurement -- we saw wellbeing decrease and engagement increase. Those two have always had a very favorable relationship to each other; it's the first time that we saw them separate -- a divergent relationship, I think, is what we would say, Jim. So anyway, those are 3 points of reference that kind of guide the thought and our conversation; would encourage all of you to be pursuing or thinking about what those 3 can bring to your own coaching.

Jim Collison 5:33
Mike, we are talking about managers of managers today. We've, as we wrap up the series, we talked about the current state, we talked about perks and challenges. And today, we talk about the manager of managers. And I have a little passion for this. This is a topic -- I've been hard on managers of managers over the last couple of years because I feel like oftentimes, we see managers who get maybe promoted, if that's the word we want to use. They get additional responsibilities to be a VP or whatever. And they kind of forget that they're, they're still managers. You know, they think they've -- I don't want to say they think they've arrived. But they certainly have a lot of pressure moving into an executive role or into a VP role, or however that lays out inside organizations. And they forget their fundamental job is still to manage people. They have managers underneath them, in some cases, or in most cases. And they forget about that.

Jim Collison 6:28
And I kind of want to spend this session a little bit talking about the importance of our coaches in thinking about how important -- because many of you coaches are reaching the executive level or that level of leaders. And we need to, that, like they have an -- if, if we say 70% of engagement is kind of tied to the manager, at that level, I think it could be more. And so it's really, really important they don't forget: They are managers; they are still managers. And so, Mike, as we kind of go through this for our coaches, I want to encourage you: Pull from this and help your executives; help your vice presidents; help your whatever, senior VPs understand how to continue to lead from a people standpoint. So with that, Mike, get us started.

Mike McDonald 7:16
Couldn't agree more. So Jim, a couple things as we, we'll take that conversation on. And so let's think about this, we always like to start off with our framework: the empirical, the emotional and the experiential. And so a couple of data points, I think, that really hold us accountable, Jim. When you talk about opening up the perspective of those senior leaders and the why it's so necessary for them to be actively mindful of the managers who report to them, there's a couple of things that really open our eyes. One is that we know that engaged leaders, right -- those leaders who model, demonstrate all the behaviors, all the interactions of being engaged themselves -- increase the likelihood of the managers who report to them to be engaged by 39%. That's a pretty powerful number. That's, that's, that's a strong lift.

Mike McDonald 8:08
The news gets even better, Jim, because the cascade influence of that, as we call it, is that teams that are led by engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged themselves. So what I love for this is, I think, to, I think, you know, I want to be fair to leaders relative to managers, because I do think for leaders, I think they make assumptions. And I love how our coaching moves us past assumptions. But I think they think that, Oh, managers, if you're a manager, you're probably OK. Maybe your, to your point, the managers who report to me as a leader have arrived. And maybe they don't need those developmental conversations. Or they don't, you know, they, so they start to make assumptions that remove their efforts somewhere else.

Mike McDonald 8:46
And so, the accountability, though, around that data, 39% and 59%, if I'm a leader, what I should be thinking about is, we can reach every associate in our organization if, if -- I don't have to do 1,000 skip-level meetings, but we can reach every associate in our organization if I engage the managers who report to me. I can literally put my finger on the culture of our entire organization, if any managers who report to me as a senior leader are categorically engaged, and just watch the transmission of our culture take, take itself forward that way. So I really get excited about that.

Mike McDonald 9:23
The other thing too, Jim, and, you know, there's, I think there's business-level accountability here. Just one point of reference. This just came from a conversation I had with an organization yesterday. But when you look at that chain reaction of engagement, and we think about some of the other perspectives of accountability around how an organization wins through its managers or loses through its managers, we know that 51% of the people who voluntarily left their organization did so to get away from their manager. "Jim, I'm leaving, and I'm running from this, from leaving Gallup and it's to get away from you," right. Like, just think about the decision that I'm making. I'm literally, I would risk unemployment and having to find a whole new job that may or may not be better than the one I have. But my manager is so bad that I'm willing to entertain all of those thoughts and go into the unknown.

Mike McDonald 10:14
And so here's where, here's where it really hammers its point is, organization I was talking to yesterday, they told, they annualize their turnover cost, Jim, $460 million annualized turnover cost. Like I almost had to have them repeat it. "Now, I'm sorry," I'm like, "Are you saying 4 to 6? Are you saying somewhere between 4 and 6 million?" They're like "$460 million annualized turnover costs." And you, so you take it back, bad manager, what do we get, 50% of that back? What if it was more just based on leaders engaging their managers and setting up that chain reaction of talent retention there? So --

Jim Collison 10:51
I think there's another number, too, 1.5 times the annual salary of the individuals who's left to replace them, and so when we think about those costs escalating fast. Mike, I also think about the levels of disengagement. Dr. Jim Harter, who you mentioned earlier, wrote the, is part of our research team and wrote the book, Wellbeing at Work. He has said, the most maligned group in an organization right now are those frontline managers, the first-level managers. They're stuck. They're caught, they're literally caught between a rock and a hard place. Because they have, they have disgruntlement with, with their, with their staff, with their employees, with their Go Tos, as we would call it at Gallup. And they're getting no support from their leadership above.

Jim Collison 11:38
And so they're, they're, sometimes we're hard on them, at this level, you know, and, and it's not always their fault, because they're just, they're stuck in the middle here. And I think we're seeing now a great migration of managers. I see a lot of folks who are managing in organizations through the pandemic and they're like, "I'm out, I am checking, I am checking out." Well, guess what happens? So now you have a manager of managers who wasn't managing the managers; they're not going to be in a position to manage those people who were being managed by someone else. Right. And so it's a, it's a real, it's a, it's a, it's critical, right, that we begin to address this.

Mike McDonald 12:22
Yeah, no, it is. It's, it's and again, 2020, if we redeem the year and the lessons that were learned, the assumptions they got, you know, stripped away or the assumptions that got confirmed, there was a lot of unvarnished perspective, I think, about what the year revealed to us. And it was exactly the point that you just made, Jim.

Mike McDonald 12:39
And so, for the audience, what, one of the things I would love to have you think about, when you think about the, and consider the interactions of senior leaders to the managers who report to them, is, we talked about this just a little bit in our first discussion, Jim, but I've been waiting, kind of restraining myself cause I really wanted to unpack it here. But help those senior leaders think about two primary words, OK: endorse and advocate. And think about how those words wrap themselves around that frontline supervisor, Jim, or any mid-level manager, any, any group or population that would report to a leader in the organization who actually leads a team themselves. And here's where we would see the misfire, OK.

Mike McDonald 13:20
So let's, we'll use 2020 as a, as a convenient example. And whether it's 2020, it's, I think the case is always going to be made. But here's what will happen is, every organization, most organizations had to make some pretty tough but necessary decisions, right? Some were really hard in terms of like, well, we just lost 90% of our client base, right? Or some were hard in the fact that, you know what, we're growing at a rapid rate; in a weird way, we're actually benefiting, right? We know that there were some industries that actually benefited from some of the change and disruption of 2020. But that growth now challenges because how do we onboard people virtually, because none of us can go on site? Or how do we, how do we address and meaningfully create work-from-home policies that keep our culture and our organization intact, even though we're still trying to add value to clients because -- a, a million different perspectives.

Mike McDonald 14:12
And so at their, you know, any of these decisions the organization has to make to keep their viable, sustainable future, open and in front of them. And if you think about this, though, we can send out organization-level emails that communicate that. We could put that content out in newsletters. We could have our CEO or senior-level exec, you know, talk about it at a town hall. I don't think those forms of information or communication are going to change engagement or change behavior or decision-making on the receiving end. I think they'll contribute to it. But the most powerful way we're going to change the reception for every associate is How does that form of communication, that endorsement of that tough-but-necessary decision, how actively and how local can it be created in the conversation between a team leader and their team, one-on-one or at the team level?

Mike McDonald 15:05
So think about this, Jim. Let's just say that we're changing our benefits package at Gallup. And certainly I'm going to get some great information from our, our terrific, you know, department here at Gallup. And they'll, they'll tell us all the mechanics and the technical details. But Jim, if you're my manager, are you having a parallel conversation locally that helps me to feel confident, secure, and that I have access to the right experts and resources, so I can meaningfully make the right decision on behalf of my family? Can you connect that dot for me, Jim? Or maybe, Jim, maybe you're kind of frustrated yourself, right. We have a disconnect between your leader who is supposed to be engaging you as a manager, and there's some open space, and you don't really understand the "why" behind the decision; you don't know if you really buy into it and believe in it.

Mike McDonald 15:51
So Jim, when you do have that conversation with me, there's gonna be no endorsement. I can pick up -- I'm emotionally astute enough. I'll pick up on the fact: I don't think my manager actually, I don't know, I think he's just passing content along, you know, moving, moving words around. But I'm not sure -- I definitely know I'm not engaged in the process now. And actually, maybe I've lost a little trust in the organization. Now, maybe I'm starting out, you know, so all these things can unfold. But we have to think about our local team leader's capacity. And we're -- not out of, not out of threat or coercion, but honestly, out of coaching, that, Jim, do you understand it enough? Is there something else that could be supplied to you, as a manager, from your leader enough to where that does connect now and change the interactions that you have with me as a team member?

Mike McDonald 16:33
So now I can be wildly engaged. It can be a very tough and difficult decision; a lot of organizations did that. But we saw a lot of organizations, Jim, that actually moved engagement forward, because the integrity of that interaction was so strong. "Yes, I know, it's tough and necessary. But guess what? You valued me; you brought me into part, as part of the process; I have a choice about how I receive it. And it does set us up and I understand the 'why' behind how our success is going to be predicted futuristically." So I think that endorse piece, and I'll pause there, I think that's a, we just can't miss the mark on that. And I think we're making assumptions about our local leaders' capacity to deliver that message effectively.

Jim Collison 17:09
We had Matt Mosser, who's both the manager for you and me, on here talking about communication just a few weeks ago. And I'm always, Mike, I'm always reminded when we have, when we sit in our, our meetings with him and we know we have to deliver some tough news. And we get to have this discussion as a team: How are we going to do this? How are we going to do it consistently? How are we going to do it the same across all our teams, but individualize it both by team and by person to make sure it lands correctly? And I see a lot of coaching in those conversations; not all, doesn't always just come from Matt.

Jim Collison 17:44
I think we as managers spend time with each other, coaching each other, I think that's been the value I've found in the relationship with you oftentimes is the coaching that I get from you in some of these things that we have to do, right. And I think the power of the management team is to be able to have those conversations. I think that's one of those areas that we miss in, in coaching is, as part of a management team, we've got the, everybody's in the same place. And we've got this ability to coach each other and be coached from, from, from our manager in it.

Jim Collison 18:18
Mike, what else, as we think about the, that scenario? So now we have a management team and a manager of managers. The value in that is the, is the team coming together in communication and talking about. What else is there available?

Mike McDonald 18:32
Well, yeah, that's a great perspective. So when we think about that extension, and you're really right about that dynamic. Imagine a leader having that conversation with a, with the managers collectively, report to them. It does take pressure off the leader, right, because now we get a bit of a crowdsource mentality around it. But there's something about that identity, Jim, and about that shared struggle and that shared success that when, you know, when you think about our real-life example, when we're in those manager meetings with Matt Mosser, he facilitates those conversations, brings some really strong points to, to the discussion. But we then kind of supply, you know, each other with, you know, what, what our thought is. How do we organize and cohesively -- and I think that's the important piece to it -- then now cohesively, we're unified around and agreed upon the "why."

Mike McDonald 19:19
So that, Jim, when you go back to your team, it's consistent and aligned with what I'm sharing with my team. Right? So we can come together, challenge, add. But at the end of it all, we've unified our culture. And now, despite our delivery, everyone's -- and think about the trust factor. You know, think about the exchange. So Jim, when somebody on your team talks to somebody on my team, and they can compare notes, they've heard the same things. Boy, that really boosts our confidence. We know our organization is really tight, it's very intact and committed to that decision. And so it's, it's an important emotional and psychological level of stability for our organizations to navigate change and disruption.

Jim Collison 19:59
Yeah, well, and I think it's a, it's a little bit of a healing balm or salve for a team, right, to, for everyone knowing going out of this, if we have to make difficult decisions, or even great decisions that are made, right, that everybody's on the same page. Hey, at least on this team, we're all on the same page moving forward. I think that's an intentional communication strategy that has to be implemented. And space has to be allowed for that. We have to find time, right, to be able to get together. Matt mentioned, you know, we get together on a weekly basis. Doesn't happen all the time. But when it, it's more when it needs to be; it's less when it doesn't need to be, but to get that time for us to communicate, which is super important. And for, for the truth to be spoken -- we talk, you and I talked about this a little bit in preshow, for the truth to be spoken in. So that we know we're not guessing, right? We're not, we're not doing that.

Jim Collison 20:51
I think managers of managers sometimes are afraid. They get to this spot where they're now with their peers or they're with their, with other managers, and they're afraid they have to have the right answer. And it has to be spoken downstream every time. And it has to be flawless. And I think the art in this is knowing when I've, as a manager, when I've made a mistake, and how do I get out of it? Like, OK, how do I admit it? And then how do we change as rapidly as we changed the first time to correct that mistake? And I think there's, we kind of lose that because we're afraid, right? I think sometimes managers are afraid to admit they that they were wrong.

Mike McDonald 21:29
Absolutely right. So Jim, I love that. So you take it back to this place. And I call, this is kind of the pressure valve that I, that I see so much of and, and it really, I think when you consider an intervention spot, you just described it. So let's, let's, we've established the capacity for a local leader, any leader, to be able to endorse, right. So let's just keep that, keep that intact. Now, the other word that I mentioned is the capacity to advocate on behalf of their teams. And to your point, Jim, where, like, I think where fear, apprehension, anxiety shows up is are leaders creating the space, Jim. So go back to that conversation. We have our team leader, Matt Mosser. So we're all, as managers, having our conversation. Matt's there facilitating it. There's space inside that, though, where we can advocate on behalf of our teams. We can start to sense like, Hey, where do we think our teams are gonna struggle with this? Where do we think they're gonna receive it? And collectively put that picture together.

Mike McDonald 22:23
But also, more importantly, then, as we go out and have the conversation with our team, for the next discussion that we have, when we get together as a group of managers with Matt, is we're able to say, "Hey, you know what, here's the feedback. Here was the reaction. Here were the key takeaways that our teams had." And so that ability for us to come back and, again, advocate on behalf of our team: "Hey, it went great. They loved this aspect of it." Or, "You know, what, not everything was great. Thought I had this thing down; I think our strategy was well-intended. But you know what, the feedback, the team really felt like the timing of this was off." Or "You know what, the language came across a little tone deaf." Or maybe the decision itself could have used some revision, or here's some additional features that maybe would be available to us to -- you know, that, that now, think about this. Now, as a team leader, I have the confidence that I can endorse on the behalf of the organization really effectively.

Mike McDonald 23:20
But to your point, Jim, if, if there's a little course correction necessary in the, in the reception of my team, you've also created space for me to advocate on behalf of my team. So now I can accommodate that translation spot that most team leaders need to be really excellent at; is I can do both and, and not feel like I'm in the middle of a tug-of-war and on the rope, right. And so, and for managers, most of them in that pressure valve, they can't do either. And so now think about it: Expectations gets shattered; materials and equipment gets shattered; opportunity to do -- everything now is up for grabs, and likely not heading in a positive direction. And so now -- play out the scenario.

Mike McDonald 24:02
That impact that I have, the 59% level of engagement that's driven by having an engaged manager, we've given it away. I'm a, I'm a not-engaged manager, maybe an actively disengaged manager; I'm running for my life. And my team can pick up on every bit of that, and we lose the whole culture and organization in the process. So we have to, we have to win that space: endorse and advocate. Use whatever words you want to, but I'd love all of our coaching to just invade and fight for that real estate right there.

Jim Collison 24:30
Mark in the chat room says, I see the challenge of that the managers of managers being pulled in multiple directions and are unable to really coach their managers. Mike, we, we've talked about the expectation of unclear expectations, Q01, like not knowing what's expected of me. I think, is there, do we see this at the, at that the manager of managers level? You would think it would be really clear, but is it?

Mike McDonald 24:57
Yeah, it, and I don't think it's any more clear than it is for any other role, Jim. And I do, Mark, I see your comment. I love what you're saying. Because I do think there can be, there's more variables. If you think about especially that mid-level manager, frontline supervisor, like their air-traffic-control capacity has to be dazzling. Some have more capacity for it than others. But that's a space where, I think, leaders again, Jim, to your point, just have to know. I don't think we have to win everything. But the clarity of expectations, and we've seen this over and over again as a theme, managers will tell you that they're not struggling with the amount of things that they're having to accommodate. I mean, not that that's comfortable or easy. But that's far less of a challenge than the competing priorities.

Mike McDonald 25:40
And if we can help them understand, and I'll play out the metaphor, that we're not necessarily saying "No" to some things; we're actually saying "Yes" more slowly to some things. And how, how can you, Jim, as my leader, help me understand, Hey, Mike, I know you've got these 15 things. They, yes, they all need to get done. It's not a competition. Take these first 2 or 3 on; get them landed, and then I want the next -- you know, and so there's that subtle and nuanced approach to helping me just exhale and go do my job.

Mike McDonald 26:11
But Jim, we would say if we help local, if we help senior leaders do it, we're still talking about the same fundamentals and performance development that we've talked about throughout all of your other podcasts. We're still talking about one meaningful conversation per week. Doesn't have to be a heavy lift; could be 30 minutes to 5 minutes. But if you think about it, if I'm a senior leader, and if I'm truly held accountable to organizational outcome, I want to have the conversation with somebody who thinks that they can prioritize something more than the engagement strategy or the engagement and the influence and effect on the success of the entire company. So I, on the short list of things that they're paying attention to, engagement of their managers better be first or second? I'm kind of wincing as I say that, because I don't know if I feel good about even allowing second place to be an option. Maybe it's first, right. So --

Jim Collison 26:59
I think some of this stems from a startup culture that we've celebrated here, here in the US in particular, where, you know, the founders end up being the senior leaders, and they're great, they're great entrepreneurs. They may not be great people leaders.

Mike McDonald 27:15
No, great call. Great call.

Jim Collison 27:16
Right? Right. So they get into these roles. And then, and it's, so the, they continue to build out the company, but there's no direction or very little direction coming from that senior leadership of founders, who are, who are really good at starting things but, but may or may not come to the table with these expectations that we talk about -- the frustrations, especially in the area of development, right. They, they're, they're used to developing product, not people. And I'm not saying this is the case in every, for all of them. And this is a big, broad stroke.

Jim Collison 27:48
So I don't want any, I'm not trying to jump to conclusions, but I'm just kind of thinking through the -- I grew up in the Silicon Valley. I've seen how those things, kind of thing operate. I see what happens as these companies get big and, and those executive teams get, kind of get replaced, or hopefully get replaced with people leaders. But Mike, as we think about then, if that's happening, and our middle managers or managers are not getting training, they're not getting opportunities to learn and grow, what kind of effect does that have, from an organizational standpoint? Because we know that's a fundamental need as well.

Mike McDonald 28:19
Yeah, you know, and this will sound cliche, so you all have to bear with me. But I think we would all agree it's true. I don't know how leaders or managers can create anything on behalf of their teams if they're not consuming it themselves. So if we want to influence a culture of performance development, how does a manager actually do that if they're not being developed themselves? How does a manager, you know, how I mean, so I think, again, as a point of accountability for all, every senior leader is if you're frustrated with something that's not happening with and for your organization, maybe you ought to just reverse-engineer it back and really do an audit of well, how would that show up in the interactions and the evidence of the, of the relationships that I have with the managers who report to me?

Mike McDonald 29:01
So let's, you know, if we play this on out, and I, George, I loved your callout in the, in the chat about how many managers say they're not being supported or developed accurately or proficiently? There's, you know, one of the features, Jim, that we like to highlight is that empirical nature. And I've got 4 data points that I think really just walk right through the door that George took us through. I'll put these up in front of all of us, just to help guide the rest of our conversation forward. And again, I think these are great, you know, data can be recreational or it can be wildly productive, depending on how it's used. I think what I would nominate these data points for for all of you as coaches is I think they help hold those senior leaders that you're coaching accountable -- that these data points are not productive or positive. And so as senior leaders, how do we make sure we're not part of these percentages? How do we actually shift our behavior in the output on behalf of our managers, so that these things would not be true for us?

Mike McDonald 29:59
But here's our 4 key numbers I'd love to have us focus on as we continue to unpack our conversation. First number is 36%. Only 36% of managers strongly agree that they have a clear job description. So Jim, I would encourage, you know, when we think about coaching conversations, and I've had this, it's been really effective so far this year. Had a lot of leaders who part of their commitment is, you know what, I need to just sit down with my managers and go back and review the job description with them and just coach and have a conversation with it, because maybe I need to update this job description. Maybe there's a tension and a disconnect between somebody, you know, a manager sitting down and looking at this thing on paper and, but then also realizing, I'm not doing 70% of this. Am I supposed to? Is that OK? You know, and so how do we release that?

Mike McDonald 30:51
Only 26% -- 26% is the second data point -- only 26% say that their pay and incentives motivate them to do what is best for our overall organization. So we're not talking about pay as a transactional indicator necessarily in and of itself. But where does it align with philosophy? Where does it align with mission and purpose? Where does it align with culture and values? That's where pay becomes a really primary vehicle. So imagine, imagine the exposure here, Jim. So imagine a manager who with clarity, passively or aggressively, I guess we could say, even if we open it up, doesn't really feel like their pay aligns. I wonder what kind of interactions they're having with their teams, or team members around their own pay, right? And again, we're picking up on all these clues all the way through. And I don't know if every manager at their most shallow moment, in their worst week, is holding back some words, right, that might malign some of the pay structures about how they feel about their own pay. It doesn't take much, we don't have to hear too much of the content of that conversation for us as a team to start to sell out as well, so to speak. So only 26%, only 26% there.

Mike McDonald 32:02
The next number that I'd like to have us lean into is only 34%, or, I'm sorry, not only, but actually, 34% of managers would strongly agree that the demands of their job interfere with their family life. So now we're talking about going back, Nate, to your point about this being Wellbeing Wednesday. How do managers create a wellbeing-driven culture if they're struggling with it themselves? They could talk about it. But we're all seeing them, or we're all witnessing the struggle that they're having. Again, I don't think they're withholding their language or their points of reference, as they think about the compromise they're having to make between the choices they have around doing their job well, and maybe the toll that that's taking on their capacity to involve and interact with their family in a meaningful way. So again, only 34% -- or, I'm sorry, not -- it's 34% strongly agree that the demands of their job interfere with their family life.

Mike McDonald 32:58
So, and again, wellbeing, we talked about this last time, Jim, I think every -- I'll just, let's just see if we can tell the truth here. I think every organization -- not every -- most organizations probably used to hold wellbeing as kind of a luxury item or a nice, nice thing to have and focus on. Man, that got blown to smithereens in a pretty loud and clear way last year. So good to see the truth revealed there. But again, managers aren't experiencing this, so how do they create it?

Jim Collison 33:24
I think we're gonna see that number climb over the next couple of years. And I think, coaches, this is a clue to a question you should be asking your, your, your leaders. How much of your job is getting in the way? Where is it, where is it interfering with your family? Because it's a discussion, it's, there's no fix to this that's a perfect one-size-fits-all, right. We need to kind of think about everybody's individual situation on it. But it's a great question to ask, you know, is it, How much of your job is interfering with your family life? And how important is that? You know, Mike, in my case, my kids are all grown. They're mostly gone for the -- the one that's still here in the house is super low maintenance. Like I can give 50, 60 a week easy. In fact, sometimes I do it voluntarily, because I love what I do, right?

Jim Collison 34:11
But I'm in a totally different situation than a lot of the, a lot of the individuals I work with who have young families, right. Or they're doing, it's different, right? Maybe they have a parent that they're they're. Listen, my brother just retired to take care of my mom. Right? I mean, he's just 50 I shouldn't say what his -- how old he is, I guess in public here. He's in his late 50s. And he, his, the, his demands are even different, more different than mine. He's taken it upon himself to be the caretaker for my mom, who's in you know, in her last couple years. So I think that question for coaches is super important to dig into. So coaches, if you're not asking that question, that's a free one for you. Take it; embed it in the conversations you're having.

Mike McDonald 34:58
Yeah, you know, and it's one of those things where I, that's, I think as coaches -- and this is where I will go back. The Wellbeing at Work book, Jim, and again I'm just, this will, I'll lead with a bias, but I, you read it, you consume it and you translate it from like, would I actually or could I do the things that this book is saying? There is some phenomenal, like, very practical and very useful coaching advice around how do we, you know, those wellbeing conversations can get a little dicey. I think we have to earn our way to have those types of conversations. And there's some really great takeaways in that Wellbeing at Work book that it can help leaders and managers have confident wellbeing-oriented discussions with the people that they are leading. And I think to your point, Jim, we have to acknowledge that. The world and the workplace intersect. It's always been that way. Now, our research tells us in a very graphic light, that it's, that it's true. And so our conversations have to shift accordingly.

Jim Collison 35:52
What's that fourth number, Mike?

Mike McDonald 35:54
Yeah, so the fourth number. If we thought these others were really sad, this is the worst one. Like, I just can't even believe this number when I see it. But here we are. George, this is your fault. George took us, and I just want to make sure it's on record that this is, this conversation now has, just is the door that we're walking through that George, George opened. So here we are. Only 8% of managers would strongly agree that the performance reviews that they receive inspire them to improve. I'm not sure if we could come up with a more sad or desolate number, Jim, and I'll repeat it just to make ourselves feel worse: Only 8% of managers say the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve.

Mike McDonald 36:33
So again, Jim, how do I go on and move my team forward? And how do I even know what performance development looks like? Right? How do I understand, if performance development is to equip, improve and inspire the growth of the people on my team and in a way that shows up to better outcomes, I don't, I mean, I can read about it. But I don't know, I can't translate it because I'm not receiving it myself. Eight percent, only 8% strongly agree with that one feature. So again, some of these things, I think, are interesting, Jim, because they on the surface, it might be like, Well, we're talking about pay; just pay people more. We're talking about details in job descriptions. So just clean that up. But, but there's the conversation around and inside that -- and you all, this is what I love about this audience -- that actually reveals where the right decisions, the right timing, and the right outcomes will all align for the right person. So --

Jim Collison 37:24
Well, the good news is, I think in the final moments we have left here, we, we've got some ways to help coaches. And we've, we've been sprinkling those in. But Mike, as we, as we kind of, kind of wrap up the series as well, in thinking about the manager experience, where can our coaches -- or maybe you're a manager listening to this -- what kind of things can you begin to do to start changing these numbers? Because this is not just doom and gloom. We're not here to, we're not here to be like, Oh, the world sucks; you should get off. We've got to do some things about this. So how can we, how can we arm our coaches and our managers listening to this to be able to start changing those numbers?

Mike McDonald 38:04
Yeah, yeah. So first and foremost, and this has been a really strong topic here as of late, is, you know, going back and thinking about, you know, we talk about mission and purpose a lot, Jim. And, and, again, I'll challenge us, and I'll ask you to challenge the people that you all are coaching, is, I think we are, we, in the past have probably approached mission and purpose as -- and I'm gonna use, Jim, one of your points of reference -- as kind of a single-dimensional kind of perspective. Where it's a, it's a slogan that we've got some flashy branding around, and it's printed and it hangs on our wall. And, and heaven forbid, don't, don't take the, don't, don't fall prey to the temptation of asking a senior leader or managers what that mission statement actually is, because you might be, they might be embarrassed, and you might be in some, an uncomfortable situation for exposing the fact that they actually couldn't recite their mission statement.

Mike McDonald 39:02
But if we were to make it, to Jim's point, to one of your points of reference earlier is, making it three dimensional. I really wonder, and I've kind of been challenging myself on this lately is, how often do I actually talk about or reference our mission and purpose synonymous with client and customer in a normalized approach with our, with my team or with my organizations? Not as a grand statement, but as a, as a authentic point of reference to, Hey, we do this because ... the "why" behind this is because ... the "why" behind our mission and purpose, client and customer. And so for leaders, as they transmit that, ask your, ask the leaders that you're working with, How often are they actually authentically integrating those reference points around the "why" behind the organization? The "why" behind the customer is the "why" behind our role, and how it's necessary and vital every single day. And I think there's a great connection there that would be really useful.

Jim Collison 39:55
Mike, such a great reminder, because even our own, you know, at Gallup, we believe we're the analytics and advice, analytics and advice for everything that matters. And I bring that to this community, right? It's -- what are we doing today? We're talking about analytics and advice for things that matter. But I don't know if I say that enough, probably, to the community, right? I don't know, if I had asked the community that listens to this, What do you think are some of the values, some of the corporate values that we live by, from -- that's, that's our, that's our purpose statement? Right. So even in, even in my role, I probably have some opportunities. And is it as simple as kind of framing it up that way, to say it kind of often, to remind folks like, this is what we do. And, and our values are holding true to this, and this is why we're doing this. Is it that simple?

Mike McDonald 40:42
Yeah, it, well, it is. You know, it's, it's the, our coaching really operationalizes those values in the exchanges and interactions that we have. So, you know, I think there's some really pragmatic discussions asking people, so Where in your role do you feel our mission and purpose most directly? How would you describe our mission and purpose in your own language? Who have you noticed on our team that you think really represents and models the behaviors and actions that we would associate with our mission and purpose most vividly? You know, so it starts to kind of create this bandwidth.

Mike McDonald 41:14
And again, Jim, to your point, now it's three-dimensional. Because now I'm starting to think about, ooh, it's not words; it's behaviors and actions. And I see it in Jim. And, and I'm connecting it now to my role. And so now, there's really not a day where I come in that, with intentionality, I shouldn't be mindful about the fact that I'm adding value. That somewhere out there is a client and customer that's fulfilled through our mission and purpose. Their success is vital. They don't have the luxury of us just surviving and just getting by as an organization, because if we resign ourselves to that, then they're gonna fail. And now their future is compromised, and/or they're gonna find somebody else that can help them, you know, actually succeed in a way that we were unable to, or unwilling to, maybe in that, so --

Jim Collison 42:00
I get asked the question all the time, you know, we've done, we've been doing these webcasts now for 8 years, which is pretty crazy, Mike. I mean, 2 years short of a decade, it's a, it's been an amazing run so far on this. And people say, How do you, how do you keep doing it? And I say, Well, I have the best, I mean, I have the best supporting staff of anybody on the planet. You know, it's just, it, I'm developed in it; I'm given resources for it; I have great opportunity to spend time with you. Imagine if we began to kind of think of those the, you know, if my job is to communicate, to collect analytics and give advice to the world for everything that matters. And, and we're doing this through you, how great is it that I'm given the resources I need, the time, the people to be -- and it's not perfect. I can't, like, you know, I can't, I get you for 7 weeks a year now as opposed to, you know, maybe 20 before. But, but it is, it is provided. And that's, that is incredible, that allows me to keep doing this for 8 years.

Jim Collison 43:02
And so I just, I really do, as we think about that, I really do think there's great opportunities to think, from our managers of managers to think through, Am I providing the, the, the support, the incentives, the expectations, right? Oh, hey, news flash: That's the exact same thing our employees need. Right?

Mike McDonald 43:21
Yeah. It's just translated to a different, from a different source to a different space. But the fundamentals where, where proverbial winning and losing shows up is still based around the same level of interaction. Yeah.

Jim Collison 43:32
Yeah. What else, Mike, as we think, in the few minutes we have left?

Mike McDonald 43:35
A couple, a couple of points I'd love to have the group think about. Again, this is, just plays perfectly to this audience. You know, I do think we need to help leaders continue to reestablish and look at what succession or who needs to ascend and take on different roles a little differently. You all know this, but it's far less necessary about their subject-matter expertise, their skills or knowledge, as it is, Can they build a great team? Can they just continue to grow and build out great teams, regardless of the size or, you know, they may start off leading a team of 5; can they lead a broader team of 15? Can they then roll it to a unit level and still build a great team? A division and build a great team? An organization and still build a great team?

Mike McDonald 44:24
And, and you'll see this notion of building a great team. It's still that comfort level. And this is where you'll start to see a little separation. And this is where engagement tells the truth is where do leaders start to have an expansion of their bandwidth or show a restriction of their bandwidth, relative to their capacity to engage and work through others, and do less of it necessarily themselves? Or can they literally transmit all the way through larger populations? And so I think if you start off with that criteria, are we moving the best leaders forward in the capacity to build teams, and again, whether that's strengths and/or engagement, where are we seeing the evidence of that? Or is the answer to performance always just that person? Which again, that's not bad. But that's, there's going to be a cap to that. And that's fine. We just need to, at that point, just have that person's, you know, reside there and be excellent. But others who move on, right, how much broader can they cause that audience, that performance to show up?

Jim Collison 45:24
That does, Mike, speak a little bit to the intentionality of hiring managers to be managers. In other words, right, and we talk a lot about this, so we won't dwell on this here. But in our selection, as we think about the work of hiring those folks who have the right talent to be managers, identifying that talent is different than taking your, your best salesperson and making them the sales manager. So we won't belabor that point. But it does speak to that, right, of getting people who have those natural thoughts, feelings, behaviors that lead to great managing doing their job of managing, right. And there are folks who are good at it; we know that. And there are many that are not. And so I think it's important to know in that, in that, in that place.

Mike McDonald 46:06
That's where I think Q12 becomes such a great diagnostic, Jim. I think you'll see it; you'll see, you'll see, you know, the, and it's not the size that predicts the engagement; it's the manager that predicts the engagement through whatever size group that they lead. So we've got these great testimonies. One of my favorite leaders I ever worked with, Jim, is she had a, she had 69 people on her team. There was no manager or supervisors in between her and 69 people. She was like a 4.9, 4.93 on our GrandMean score for all 12 [Q12] questions, right. Defied stereotypes, defied math; she was just a great leader that knew how to involve herself and to bring out the best of her team across 69 people.

Mike McDonald 46:49
So it, really impressive numbers in there, and there's a lot more of the story there is just, it's still, it's the talent of the leader that transmits most effectively. That when we measure engagement, we can start to see leadership capacity show up because the engagement never falls off despite the size of the group that they're leading. Jim, one last point that I'll make in our, in our coaching acumen to bring this all in for a landing. I want to go back to the point that I made earlier, and again, this is perfect for this group is, one meaningful conversation a week.

Mike McDonald 47:19
And so, yeah, a lot of leaders are gonna say, Look, I'm, you know, we're running for our lives. I've got an entire organization I have to worry about and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and budget and things that I'm trying to manage. The, the sales pitch here, the area where we should help them be convinced that they can cause the best of those things to happen is still back to the center of our conversation: Hey, if you've got all of these moving parts and variables, just shrink it down. If you win your manager, those things become symptomatic, or byproducts of all the success or challenge that you think you're facing right now. But commit and just imagine, right -- this goes back to the accumulation of the coaching between the leader and the manager. One meaningful conversation for each of those managers, the math multiplies there.

Mike McDonald 48:03
But now just what they really need to do is do the math: How many of the team members that report to those managers now will be beneficiaries or the recipients of the best of what that conversation and exchange look like between leader and manager. So, you know, when we think about the frequency of those conversations, we think about wellbeing, we think about expectations, all those things can really, quite frankly, be transmitted.

Mike McDonald 48:27
And I would, I'll nominate 3 really simple points of reference that I think are effective. If managers, or if leaders are struggling, "Well, I don't know the right questions that I want to ask," I would nominate these 3 that I think are really effective. If these are the 3 that you're left with, I think you could move everything you want to. But simply asking, if I'm a leader, simply asking the managers who report to me once a week, "What's working for you?" "What's working against you?" And "What's next?" I would contend that the wrap inside each of those 3 points of reference, I'm not sure where the conversation couldn't organically go. They would produce really great outcomes, calibrate that manager to be at the best for their team and really cause our organization collectively to win. "What's working for us?" "What's working against us?" And "What's next?" And just watch it go.

Jim Collison 49:16
Those are 3 great, those are 3 great questions!

Mike McDonald 49:19
I like them a lot. I wish, I'd love to say that I came up with them. But I will tell you, I use them like they were mine. And so take them away. But I think it, here, you know, you, this is what coaches, what I love about coaches do so well is it's helping leaders and managers to help their intentions and their motive to qualify as a coach. Right. And I think those 3 questions qualify me to be a coach, Jim. I can ask those 3 questions and if my motivation is, you know, really on point, it gives me a lot of content to do things with.

Mike McDonald 49:51
I did see Lisa's, you know, clarify "What's next?" So Lisa, what really helps us there is, and this is what, what's so strengths-based, but when we know when we're operating out of our weaknesses, we're reacting to things typically. Right? We're coming from behind on things. And when we ask managers, when leaders ask managers, "What's next?" there's that future lean that operating out of our strengths really causes us to have in our posture and our approach towards what's, what do, what's our earliest indicator? What's our "canary in the coal mine" approach towards what do managers think is out there on the horizon? What should I as a leader be thinking about that completes the feedback loop that that manager might be representing their team with?

Mike McDonald 50:36
So if, by asking managers, "What's next?" you give them the space to pause and think like, "Oh, yeah, you know what, I think my team might be needing this." Or "I'm starting to get the sense that there could be something out there in front of us that we could, we could get to preemptively." And so it's a great feedback loop for a leader to have at their disposal, but it keeps that manager, I would say, metaphorically, if we think about our athletic stance, on the balls of their feet, rather than on their heels. Constantly thinking futuristically and forward about solutions and opportunities, future challenges that we can make small things instead of big things. So yeah, that's the point of that "What's next?" question.

Jim Collison 51:15
Leading from the charge instead of from the retreat. Right? Yeah, no, super great. Mike, thanks for taking these last 4 weeks that we've had together here. A nice little package, as we think about managers; a new manager report is on the horizon as we record this on May 26. May 27 is the release of that new manager report. Many of you will be listening to this in, that we recorded, weeks from now. And so the manager report is already out there and is available. And you can check that out as well. Austin and I spent a bunch of time talking about that last week on Called to Coach, and so lots of details around that, and we'll have lots of information. Lots of changes happening today and tomorrow on our sites to make that, all of that happen.

Jim Collison 51:57
But Mike, thanks for coming in and kind of, kind of preparing the soil, as I like to say, to, to not only be a supplement for the Q12 for Coaches series, but to kind of bring us up to speed on our It's the Manager work to kind of, and now Boss to Coach, as we think about that. All those pieces in place to really begin to equip managers to make the work environment a better place, right. They control a lot of it and so, so good stuff indeed.

Jim Collison 52:22
Mike and I are going to get an opportunity -- we have 3 more sessions postsummit that we're going to get together on, and we're putting the planning together for that right now. I'd love to get some feedback from you. If you, if there's a topic or a subject you'd love to hear from Mike, send me an email: If you can't remember that, or you can't spell "Collison" right, send it to coaching -- it's a tough one: And they'll route that to me, so we can get it. We'd love to get a little bit of feedback from you and, and just kind of hear what you're kind of thinking and maybe we can address that during that series. So Mike, thanks for doing this. Appreciate your time.

Mike McDonald 52:57
Jim, the only thing that would have made it better if it would have actually been on your birthday. That, that's your fault for not scheduling it. But maybe you wanted to actually have a birthday. So --

Jim Collison 53:07
It's a big enough day; it's a big enough day. It could, it can live on its own. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available now in Gallup Access. Go to Log in with your account. And man, we have a ton of resources that are available for you there, including a ton of engagement resources. I think, you know, we speak to a CliftonStrengths-dominated crowd, but we have a ton of engagement resources available inside Gallup Access. So if you, that's actually why we built Access -- just, just a little secret there. We built it for engagement and, and added strengths to it. So if you're interested in coaching, master coaching or you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, we do that as well. You can send us an email: And just note that somebody will call you back with some information on it as well. If you want to keep up to date, like I mentioned these 3 sessions that Mike and I have coming up, and you're like, How do I know when these things happen? You can follow us on Eventbrite. So go to -- B-R-I-T-E on that one --com. Follow us there, create an account, follow us there. You get an email whenever I publish anything new. Mike mentioned the Summit that's coming up, or maybe I mentioned it, June 8 and 9 -- maybe a little late if you're listening to this in the podcast form. But for those listening live, if you're not registered, we will miss you if you don't come: You can register for that 2-day event right now. All sessions are recorded. So if it's out of your time zone, we'll have it available for you when you wake up. Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths." And again, thank you for joining us today. We will get out of here. Oh, we're a little over; get to your next meeting. 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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