OK, women aren’t better than men in general – necessarily. But, if the ability to engage employees is at the top of your list of mandatories for management hires, you should probably hire a woman. At least that’s the conclusion offered by Gallup’s recent report The State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders (http://www.gallup.com/services/182216/state-american-manager-report.aspx.). Based on over four decades of research, this study of 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, comprising 27 million employees found that women managers were more likely than men to inspire employee involvement, enthusiasm and commitment to work and workplace.
Why is employee engagement so important? On average, companies with engaged employees outperform the norm by 147% in earnings per share. And sadly, as a worldwide average, 87% of employees report they are not engaged with their job or workplace.
What is it that women managers are apparently doing better to drive higher engagement? The report lists 4 key areas.
- Setting basic expectations.
One might think that establishing clear and concrete goals for employees is primarily important to assure they are working according to company priorities. But it also promotes engagement. Apparently we humans find comfort in knowing the rules we are expected to follow and the tasks we need to achieve.
- Building relationships.
In hunter-gatherer times, men went off while women foraged, farmed and child-reared together and cemented social bonds. Apparently, according to the study, that’s still true in part. Women tend to do better at forging personal relationships with their reports which helps build trust, mutual respect and caring – all of which translates to higher job engagement. Traditionally, women have also been better at communicating in general and in navigating emotional issues which specifically help build stronger relationships.
- Encouraging a positive team environment.
If you’ve ever been on an executive retreat, you’ve probably encountered a team-building exercise or two… and groaned. The reality is, people are much more willing to go the extra distance for the good of a team they feel that they are a part of than they would be just to hit some metric targets.
- Providing employees with opportunities to develop within their careers.
Showing an active interest in helping an employee develop is an explicit demonstration that they are valued. And, as numerous studies have shown, being valued and achieving recognition is generally a bigger motivator than money!
Given that employee engagement produces better performance, every company should try to foster it. If you want to do it better then, according to the Gallup report, every manager would do well to get in touch with their feminine manager side.