Free lunches don’t change growth outcomes. Only improving your ratio of great to lousy managers does

Here is a link to an interview conducted by with Supply One Virginia Executive VP Tom Anderson and myself on turning around Supply One Virginia.

Some of the results 

How front line managers were trained to lead the way to the turnaround and organization silos were dramatically reduced. 

Reduced unwanted turnover from 82% to 12% in 4 months saving the company $2.5

Employee engagement and profits have increased substantially. 

How trust was built in the organization

If you would like to talk about having similar results produced for your organization email me at and we can talk about if I can help your organization

The Most Effective Feedback Is the Kind You Ask for

How do you feel when a colleague says, “Can I give you some feedback?” Tense, defensive, anxious?

You likely feel very different when asked, “Can you give me some feedback?”

Those words can immediately create a trusting atmosphere in which feedback is exchanged and processed effectively. A feedback-rich environment drives business outcomes. Research shows that having conversations about development can improve employee engagement, which in turn improves productivity and profitability.

Despite these findings, most organizations still encourage their people to “give more feedback.” This is one of the reasons that only 26% of the feedback people receive is effective. This is also a sure way to create anxiety and fear in teams.

Avoid that. Flip the script. Encourage people to ask for feedback rather than offer it. It can change the whole feedback dynamic and boost engagement. Here’s why.

  1. It builds a busy two-way street: As Ben Wigert and Nate Dvorak point out, feedback should be a “busy two-way street.” You can’t improve traffic by only giving feedback — people retreat from too much criticism, and the street comes to a halt. When you ask for feedback, you get traffic moving and make it easier for others to request feedback in return. That gives people an opportunity to build partnerships, even friendships, that can make them both more productive and happier at work.
  2. It separates facts from feelings: Feedback can include more perception than reality, and it can reflect the biases of the giver more than the performance of the receiver. But whoever initiates the feedback process can clarify exactly what they want to discuss: “Tell me how you felt when you heard my presentation — we can add more data later,” for example, or “I’d like to address the factual accuracy of the statements I made during my presentation. I have asked an editor for help with the wording.” This gives people control so they can pivot the conversation or shut it down if the feedback becomes unhelpful or feels threatening.
  3. It sets personal parameters: By establishing the parameters of the feedback request, the requester alerts the giver to personal sensitivities — we don’t all want our grammar corrected or our expertise challenged, after all. That allows for more individualized and more compassionate feedback, and an effective way to show a coworker’s genuine care.
  4. It deactivates the fight-or-flight response: An offer of feedback can sound like the prelude to criticism, and it often is. But a request for feedback circumvents the lizard-brain fear of attack and opens the requester to needed development. And this signal of vulnerability can actually help coworkers bond — in fact, it’s a well-known aspect of social psychology’s attachment theory.

    Feedback Can Be a Means of Self-Development and Engagement

    Asking for feedback is a surprisingly powerful approach to self-development, especially when it’s part of basic performance management. It can even be considered a deliverable — the last step of a project. Regardless, requested feedback allows teams to demonstrate the care that everyone needs to feel engaged.

    But asking for a critique doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some workers might need their manager’s nudge — “Did you ask anybody for their input? Karl might be helpful to you; he worked on a similar project.”

    Leading by example is a time-tested method to gain traction, as well. Managers can make a point of closing meetings by asking someone for feedback to show people how it’s done. Employees could do the same on a rotating basis. One Gallup team instituted a monthly feedback group for themselves, and others found it so inspiring that they asked to join it.

    That’s how feedback should feel — inspiring. Unsolicited feedback rarely is. Usually, it produces more anxiety than uplift, more stress than engagement, more tension than development — and more harm than good.

    That’s the worst possible result of feedback. And it’s completely avoidable — if workers make a habit of asking for feedback rather than offering it.


The 5 Tactics of Teamwork: A Blueprint for Team Management

A recent Gallup study discovered something odd: Teams with fewer than 10 members have the highest and the lowest levels of engagement in Gallup’s database. Our scientists say this illustrates how easily smallish teams can be swayed in one direction or the other.

Of course, all teams can be influenced — but the fewer the direct reports, the greater the manager’s impact for good or ill.

Most teams are far larger than that, and though managers can’t always dictate team size, they still affect 70% of the variance in their team’s engagement regardless of size.

Managers are as accountable for the performance of two people as they are for 200.

To extend their influence over a large group and ensure workers are engaged, developing, and using their strengths every day, managers might find that the “5 Cs” — common purpose, connection, communication, collaboration, and celebration — provide a handy blueprint.

1. Common purpose: Managers have more influence over team culture when all members share the same mission and purpose. To gauge how well that purpose is understood and integrated, managers should ask themselves and employees:

  • What positive feedback does the team receive most often? How have the team’s collective strengths contributed to that success?
  • What negative feedback does the team receive most often? What potential talent gaps may contribute to that? How might you use your team members’ talents to help you resolve these issues? What talents can you leverage?
  • What are the team’s performance goals? How does the team identify its goals and objectives?

2. Connection: Teams that relate to one another via their innate talents create productive, engaging cultures on their own. This is true even when some members work remotely, which 43% of workers do at least some of the time, so ask:

  • What specific actions does this team take to stay connected to one another?
  • When everyone connects, what do they think they’ve accomplished? How much is work related, and how much is social?
  • Who are your team’s cheerleaders? Who can rally everyone together?

3. Communication: Great managers individualize, so they must be able to convey expectations geared to each member and model effective communication in the workplace. But team members need to be able to communicate well without the manager’s input. To that end, consider:

  • How effectively do your team members communicate with each other?
  • Who on your team can ensure that the right information gets to the right people?
  • Where does your team excel in communication? When and where does it stall, and how can you improve it?

4. Collaboration: 84% of U.S. employees say they are “matrixed” to some extent, which increases pressure on them to cooperate effectively and encourage collaboration in the workplace. Managers need to know:

  • How does your team build and nurture relationships?
  • Does everyone on the team know and appreciate each other’s talents and strengths?
  • What specific actions can you take to create a team culture where everyone recognizes and appreciates each person’s talents and strengths?

5. Celebration: Recognition of an individual’s accomplishments is vital to that employee’s engagement. But teams need to be acknowledged, too — it promotes cohesion and sets a good example for others. So, managers should recall:

  • What are your team’s recent successes?
  • How did you celebrate these successes?
  • How do you publicize and celebrate your team’s talents and strengths?

The 5 Cs help managers and team leaders think more deeply about team culture and approach managing it more effectively. Even — or especially — when the team is huge.

The more people, the less influence, but managers are as accountable for the performance of two people as they are for 200. No matter the team’s size, when those workers are engaged, developing, and using their strengths every day, their performance is easier to manage — and keeping the 5 Cs in mind can help.

Here is why I guarantee that I can improve your organizational performance

Below is an article about giving up bossing and take-up coaching. This is how I help you improve organizations to improve performance or I don’t get paid. How can I be so confident? Well, only 2 in 10 of your managers have the natural ability to manage people. In fact, some of your managers should not be allowed to manage people at all. When we train you, managers, to move to coach instead of boss sales go up, profits go up and a lot of other good things happen that is described in the article. Give it a read and then let’s have a short call do see if there is a fit for us to have further discussions.

Gallup started studying managers many years ago (including an analysis of 49,495 business units with 1.2 million employees across 22 organizations in seven industries and 45 countries) and found that great managers are completely different from adequate ones.

In brief, they’re not bosses. Bossing is the least of what they do and a last, unwelcome, resort. Rather, these managers are coaches. And coaching is distinct from bossing, Gallup’s research shows, in three key ways:

  1. Coaches focus on individual and team engagement, seeing their role as the provider of what employees need to succeed. Whether by training or preternatural talent — or, ideally, both — they know the 12 elements of engagement by heart and deliver them.

    Bosses, on the other hand, usually just tell people what to do.

  2. Coaches understand, leverage and get great satisfaction from deploying the unique talents and strengths of each employee. Great managers are always developing and positioning talent to maximize outcomes, and they get extraordinary results from it: Workers who know and use their strengths average 10% to 19% increased sales and 14% to 29% increased profit, among other bottom-line results.

    Bosses, by comparison, often just supervise production.

  3. Coaches set clear expectations and performance goals, offering feedback that optimizes individual strengths (a rare practice, as only 26% of employees say the feedback they get helps them do better work) and increases team effectiveness.

    Bosses, however, typically watch for opportunities to correct or punish employees whose performance doesn’t measure up.

There’s another, maybe more noticeable, the difference between great managers and less effective ones: The best managers talk to their employees and teams. A lot. But it’s not their word count that defines them — it’s what they say.

Great managers know great performance comes from frequent, meaningful conversations with their workers. They can’t abide “management by remote control.” They know what to talk about because they know their people well, which sparks conversations that improve performance and build genuine relationships.

So it’s a pity there are so few managers like that. Only about two in 10 managers intuitively understand how to engage employees, develop their strengths and set clear expectations through everyday conversations. In effect, only about two in 10 managers instinctively know how to coach. But the others can learn.

How Managers Can Learn How to Coach

If leaders want their managers to take daily accountability for employee engagement, performance and development — to truly give up on bossing and begin real coaching — those managers need to be coached themselves.

That will require leadership’s ongoing support: training, resources and internal best-practice champions. In fact, a multidimensional and longitudinal development strategy for managers is leadership’s best option. But organizations don’t have to design a whole new management structure — just execute on the right resources.

Gallup’s learning programs and courses can help managers build their own individual development plans, increase their own capabilities and solve their own local-level problems. And time is of the essence: Managers are 27% likelier than their employees to report feeling a lot of stress at work, and many are at risk of burnout. Moving managers from boss to coach may require a better  manager experience.

The best managers talk to their employees and teams. A lot. But it’s not their word count that defines them — it’s what they say.

Leaders should also keep close tabs on their managers’ engagement. Managers are slightly more engaged than individual contributors — not much of a coup, as roughly a third of all U.S. workers, are engaged — and their feelings about work can affect the rest of the team. As one manager Gallup interviewed noted, employees watch and take cues from their manager. While bossing just requires stamina, coaching requires purpose and belief. And leaders can do a better job of investing in manager development.

Be a good steward of time and talent. Start coaching soon.

Gallup research shows that seven out of 10 leaders and managers see developing people as one of their primary tasks, and that’s a good sign. Engagement, performance and development are interlinked and interdependent. The conversations that great managers have — can’t help but have — weave engagement needs, performance coaching and development opportunities together. That brings clarity to strategy and goals, allowing workers to do what they do best.

To be honest, not every manager is capable of that. Some believe their role is to crack the whip until goals are met. Those people have no business managing others. That’s why a scientifically valid selection instrument is so important — it tells leaders what kind of manager they’re putting in charge of employee performance.

Their teams wish leaders would hurry. Along with researching managers, Gallup has been tracking the “will of the workforce”: the elements of a job that matter most to workers. The most highly talented thoroughly reject command-and-control management. They crave development. They expect purpose. And they will leave a boss as fast as they can in search of a coach.

Seven out of 10 leaders and managers see developing people as one of their primary tasks.

The best workers want the kind of manager Gallup started studying years ago — the exceptional ones who catalyze outstanding performance, development and engagement through conversation. Leaders should want that kind of manager too.

Those managers are how companies succeed. And they are completely different from everyone else.

Employees Want Work That Matters — Managers Can Help

Did you know that young adults ages 18 to 29 in the U.S. view socialism more positively than capitalism? It is the only age group in the country to demonstrate such a preference.

Yet, this interpretation of the data is overly simplistic.

Young adults are not so much interested in socialism as they are disenchanted with capitalism. The reason younger generations expect more from capitalism is as much about their desire to have an impact on the world as it is about their social influences.

Finding Purpose in Work and Life

Church, families and local communities are how many older Americans have derived purpose and meaning from life, but younger adults view these institutions differently. Whereas 64% of Americans aged 65 and older belong to a church, only 42% of millennials do. Millennials are also waiting longer to get married and are less likely to feel pride in their communities. They are much more likely to look to their daily work to find purpose.

Younger generations of employees want more than a paycheck. They want a job that will make an impact, and there is one person in the workplace who can help connect their purpose in life to their purpose at work. That person is the manager.

Managers Who Align Employee Purpose Improve Engagement

Gallup has interviewed tens of millions of employers and managers across 160 countries and found that 70% of the variance in an employee’s engagement — the level of psychological commitment to work — ties back to the immediate supervisor. When it comes to fundamental employee needs that, when met, drive performance at work, managers can influence all 12. From setting expectations and providing supplies and materials to challenging employees to learn and grow, a good manager guides their employees to tap into their talents in pursuit of higher performance. A great manager leverages these opportunities to win employee buy-in and align an individual’s purpose in life with their role in the workplace.

The manager is uniquely positioned to be the one person in the organization who unlocks purpose, especially for younger generations. The best managers help employees understand their worth — not just in their organization and workgroups, but also in society — through the lens of their strengths.

Younger generations of employees want more than a paycheck.

When managers practice strengths-based leadership, it helps them understand the unique talents of the people they manage and provides a common language to discuss what people do best. When employees feel recognized and appreciated for what they bring to the table, they are more likely to open up about what they want from their work. Then, their managers can help employees apply the best of who they are to their purpose and see how it connects to the purpose of the organization.

Uncovering this purpose for the employee is like the hinge of a door for a manager. A personal connection to work opens a person’s focus from their individual needs to the team’s needs. As human beings, we have a natural desire to belong to a larger group and derive meaning from being a part of that group.

When a person feels that they belong and that fellowship means something to them, they begin to focus on the group’s needs and not their own. The employee is able to work with broader horizons in mind once that personal dimension is activated.

The manager is uniquely positioned to be the one person in the organization who unlocks purpose.

When managers engage teams purposefully, they outperform their peers who don’t on a number of substantial metrics including lower absenteeism, less turnover, higher productivity and increased impact. It feels like magic, but it’s not — it’s what the younger generation expects from the workplace.