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How Your Manager Experience Shapes Your Employee Experience

How Your Manager Experience Shapes Your Employee Experience

by Ben Wigert and Ellyn Maese

Story Highlights

  • Managers are the linchpin of a great employee experience
  • Learning the top challenges of being a manager can help you improve their engagement
  • Creating a better manager experience will benefit your entire organization

How do employees feel about your organization?

The answer to that question influences many of the most important measures of your organization's health -- from retention, engagement and performance to customers, revenue and operational efficiency.

The employee experience is the entire journey an employee takes with your organization. This includes everything from pre-hire to post-exit interactions and all the steps in between. It also includes things like the physical workplace, relationships with coworkers and the ways a job supports one's overall wellbeing.

Gallup's approach to improving the employee experience focuses on seven key stages where employees interact with their organization in a pivotal way.

Flowchart detailing the seven steps in the employee experience journey. The steps are attract, hire, onboard, engage, perform, develop, depart.

When an organization gets these seven stages right, the result is a compelling employee experience that creates a distinctive, engaging culture that can drive real, organic growth.

Why Managers Have the Greatest Power to Improve the Employee Experience

If your organization is struggling to construct a cohesive employee experience strategy, it may seem daunting to fix all these aspects at once.

But Gallup has made an incredible discovery: An employee's interaction with their manager is one of the most important factors for success in all seven stages of the employee journey.

Consider just a few facts Gallup has uncovered:

  • Attract: Millennials say that "quality of manager" is a top factor they consider when looking for a new job.
  • Onboard: When managers play an active role in onboarding, employees are 2.5 times more likely to strongly agree their onboarding was exceptional.
  • Engage: Managers account for an astounding 70% of the variance in their team's engagement.
  • Perform: Only two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.
  • Depart: Fifty-two percent of exiting employees say that their manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job. Nevertheless, only 51% of employees who left their job had a conversation about their engagement, development or future during the three months leading up to their departure.

Clearly, if you want to radically transform your employee experience, you must first fix your manager experience.

  • How can your managers engage employees if they are not engaged themselves?
  • How can they provide effective performance reviews if they don't receive them, too?
  • How can they create a compelling culture if they are confused about your organization's mission, values and brand?

Or consider it this way: If you can get your manager experience right, it will transform and grow every other dimension of your organization -- from culture to performance management to customers and profit.

Managers are the bridge between leadership's vision and the hard realities of the front line. They are often your most committed employees and they can also be your best critics -- providing valuable feedback that moves the organization forward while avoiding roadblocks and blind alleys. Great managers help their leaders make better decisions while helping employees understand organizational dynamics and making them feel like valuable contributors to an important mission.

Consider it this way: If you can get your manager experience right, it will transform and grow every other dimension of your organization -- from culture to performance management to customers and profit.

Make Your Managers Your Stars, Not Your Scapegoats

Many leaders are likely undervaluing their managers.

Managers have an incredible responsibility. They are responsible for the performance of your organization, as well as its culture, brand and values. But all too often they become the excuse rather than the solution.

The truth is that we know what great management looks like and what it takes to get there, but most leaders haven't implemented best management practices based on the latest science of human behavior.

Here's where leaders can start to change the practice of management at your organization:

Learn how to improve the manager experience so your entire company can benefit:


Ben Wigert is Director of Research and Strategy, Workplace Management, at Gallup.

Ellyn Maese is a Research Analyst at Gallup.

Ryan Pendell and Rachael Breck contributed to this article.

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