As an executive, you make countless decisions on a daily basis. Of all the decisions you make, however, one holds the greatest potential to impact your company’s success: assigning the right people to management roles.

According to a 2013 Gallup State of the American Workplace report, “When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits — nothing.”

Why does the choice of manager hold so much weight — especially in today’s workplace?

One reason is that American companies are facing a serious problem: lack of employee engagement. Only 33% of U.S. workers are engaged at work, leaving 67% actively disengaged or simply not engaged, as reported in Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report. This lack of engagement has the potential to dramatically impact retention, productivity and profits.

Hire — or Promote — With Care

Because first-line managers have the most day-to-day contact with employees, they have the most power to influence employee engagement.

Through all your years of business school, the importance of selecting the right people for management roles was likely never given the emphasis it deserves. Yet moving the wrong individual into this role can trigger a downward spiral of disengaged, unmotivated and nonproductive employees.

In some cases, it can even send an employee straight to the exit door.

employee quitting

On the flip side, effective leaders cultivate engagement:

  • They form authentic connections with employees.
  • They empower employees at all levels to make decisions and take action.
  • They listen and make their employees feel heard.
  • They make sure employees have the resources to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
  • They provide employees with opportunities to contribute directly to the organization — and to be recognized for it.

This dynamic underscores the importance of hiring the right candidate for — or promoting the most qualified team member to — a management position.

How do you identify that person? Very carefully.  Not everyone is a right match for your company or organization, nor is everyone cut out to be in a leadership role. Executives often promote high-performing employees, or people who excel in their field, failing to recognize that leadership requires its own set of skills.

Related: Navigating the Transition From Expert to Leader

Focusing on fit more than on experience tends to yield better results. Does this person’s values align with the company’s? Will they fit in well with the corporate culture? Individuals who possess strong communication skills, high levels of emotional intelligence, a flexible mindset and the ability to form authentic relationships, will be far more successful in increasing employee engagement.

leader increasing employee engagement

Employee Engagement: The Right manager Can Make All the Difference

While putting the wrong person into a management role can have a negative impact on employee engagement, the good news is that the flip side is also true: Great bosses cultivate a workplace environment that breeds employee engagement — and can do so rather quickly. “Choosing the right managers in an organization has an immediate effect on employees’ engagement,” according to Gallup.

It’s never too late to facilitate positive change in your leadership team. Executive coaching can help turn mediocre managers into strong, effective leaders. In gaining deeper insights into factors that motivate their team members, managers can learn how to cultivate an environment that encourages employee commitment, promotes a positive collective attitude and, ultimately, contributes to their company’s long-term success.