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The Chairman's Blog
Gallup Finds a Silver Bullet: Coach Me Once Per Week
The Chairman's Blog

Gallup Finds a Silver Bullet: Coach Me Once Per Week

What CEO would take a leadership course called "An Introduction to Maximizing Human Potential"?


While we all want more productive, high-development cultures, we just don't know where to start.

Gallup found that managers report higher stress and burnout than the people they manage.

This means, mathematically, the 130 million managers leading the world's 1.3 billion full-time employees struggle with their mental health more than their teams do.

The practice of management really is broken.

Historically, we have been given rating forms by HR and then managers spend hours filling them out -- and that remains the current state of management. Somewhere along the way, we learned that giving employees free snacks, a meditation room and allowing a day to bring your pet to work was the new "enlightened workplace."


The result is that only 23% of full-time employees worldwide are engaged in their work. (Engagement as defined by Gallup is a harder state to achieve than a simple satisfaction rating scale where 4s and 5s are added together.)

This is economically concerning because it slows not only your organization's growth but total global productivity.

Productivity is a word that economists use for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person. If global growth is slowing, it means we don't make and sell as much stuff to one another as we have over the last 100 years.

What if the world's broken workplace was suddenly fixed?

Imagine if all businesses worldwide could increase real employee engagement from 20% to 40%. That would change capitalism -- and the world.

Whether you run the executive committee, a customer team, a department or branch or store, the fix is to maximize the potential of each team member, create high collaboration and drive team success with customers. That is the job of the manager.

Breakthrough: Gallup has discovered -- through studying what the best managers do differently -- that great managing is an act of coaching, not one of directing and administrating.

One of Gallup's most famous leadership breakthroughs, based on meta-analytics of 100 million employee interviews, is that a full 70% of the variance between highest engaged teams and persistently disengaged teams is just the manager.

There really is a silver bullet to running a culture of high performance and high development.

It's always the manager.

Gallup has discovered -- through studying what the best managers do differently -- that great managing is an act of coaching, not one of directing and administrating.

All the treatments we are taught in business school and or get from our HR department -- rating forms and gap feedback, giving employees flex hours and free nuts and bananas -- are fine, but they don't matter. There is little to no connection between these activities and mental health outcomes (lower stress and burnout), let alone connections to customers and shareholders.

It's just the manager. Write it down because -- at least for me -- it is oddly difficult to remember.

So you say, "I know intuitively this is true. But I didn't know it explained 70% of the variation, and I still don't know exactly what to do."

Gallup's advice:

1. Accept the new will of the world. Gallup finds what the whole world wants is a good job. This is especially true for millennials and even more so for Generation Z. They actually want to learn and grow. The key is to address the "learn and grow" not the free stuff.


2. Announce you are transforming your culture from administrating teams to coaching teams. This is another game-changer.

3. Announce a change in the actual practice of management within your organization. Cancel all rating forms. Define the change exactly this way: We lead through a habit of having one meaningful coaching conversation per week with each team member.

The one coaching conversation per week can be in person, on the phone, email, Zoom, at coffee or standing in the hallway. This is a highly researched finding and will immediately change your culture.

4. You will get a question -- they'll say, "We love it…but what should the conversation be about?" Your answer is "goals." The silver bullet conversation is about progress on goals and winning with customers.

5. They will then say, "I have never been trained to coach nor maximize the potential of an individual let alone a team -- how exactly do I do that?" Tell them this, "We are changing everything. We are building transformational tools and a coaching course to reskill and restart you as a certified strengths-based manager. We are going to teach you to develop people just like a winning coach develops a great player and team in any sport -- by maximizing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses."

Everybody's life will change -- including yours. Your people will win more at work and in life. Your customers and shareholders will too.

This is a CEO-led transformation. You are the Head Coach.

Start developing your managers today:


Jim Clifton is Chairman of Gallup.

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