AnnaMarie Houlis
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According to a survey commissioned by Lynn Taylor Consulting, employees waste 19.2 hours a week worrying about what their bosses say or do — 13 of which occur during workweek and 6.2 of which consume their weekends. That's why it comes as little surprise that one in two employees have actually left a job to escape a manager and improve their overall life at some point in their career, according to Gallup's recent State of the American Manager report.

Managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores, accoring to the report. The findings suggest that bad management can undermine a company's efforts to help employees improve their health (i.e. investments in benefits programs aimed at employee retention and lowered healthcare costs). For example, the report reads, "Having a bad manager is often a one-two punch: Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and putting their well-being in peril."

According to Mercer's National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, the average health benefit cost per employee has increased by over 16 percent in just the last five years, which means that companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars—and poor managers negate the positive effects of those dollars.

But most companies neither think of good managers as a benefit, nor do their publicize that to prospective employees, and Gallup calls that a missed opportunity.

In order deliver on the promise of great management, the report suggests offering training and development for managers throughout their careers. Devoting more attention to promoting and developing good managers should come first, and then companies can truthfully publicize their noteworthy management to prospective employees.

It shouldn't be a difficult task — Gallup research reveals that about one in 10 people possess high talent to manage. That 10 percent has a natural ability to put the right people in the right roles, create a culture of clear accountability, engage employees with a compelling vision, motivate every employee individually, coach and develop their people by focusing on their strengths, make decisions based on productivity instead of politics, and build trust and dialogue with their people about both work and life outside of work.

According to the State of the American Manager report, "18 percent of those currently in management roles demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others, while another 20 percent show a basic talent for it. Combined, they contribute about 48 percent higher profit to their companies than average managers do."

But this all means that managers should be promoted for the right reasons, unlike tenure or mastery in an irrelevant prior position, for example, which are often what put people in management positions. Nonetheless, Gallup finds that "companies fail to choose the [managerial] candidate with the right talent for the job 82 percent of the time."

If companies put the right people in the right roles for the right reasons, it'd reflect in employee retention. And happy, healthy employees ultimately lead to a more productive, profitable company.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.

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