by Alex Palmer | April 28, 2015
Managers make all the difference when it comes to employee engagement, reiterates a new report from Gallup. A new study from the research firm finds that 70 percent of the variance in workers' engagement with their job across business units comes down to their relationships to their managers - and that poor managers may be costing the U.S. economy almost $400 billion annually.

The report, "State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders" draws on a vast amount of data: 2.5 million manager-led teams comprised of 27 million employees across almost 200 countries, measured through four decades. The report found a widespread lack of engagement across the U.S., with just 30 percent of American workers found to be engaged.

If there is one main reason for this weak connection to work, according to Gallup, it's the managers. It found that managers failed in tracking and rewarding performance beyond basic annual reviews: Just 12 percent of respondents strongly agreed that their manager helps them set work priorities, while 13 percent strongly agreed managers helped them set performance goals.

"If great managers seem scarce, it's because the talent required to be one is rare," the report states. "Knowledge, experience, and skills develop our talents into strengths, but unless we possess the right innate talents for our job, no amount of training or experience will lead to exceptional performance."

Based on Gallup's criteria of what it takes to be a strong manager - naturally engaging team members and customers in order to retain and get the most from top talent - the report finds just 10 percent of current corporate managers fit the requirements. The reason for this low number may relate to the reasons organizations generally put people in managerial roles, the top two of which Gallup found to be success in a previous non-managerial role and lengthy experience at the organization regardless of managerial experience.

The full report can be downloaded here.