Many CEOs don’t know that there is a philosophical battle occurring in the ranks of their company’s managers. On one side are the performance-oriented managers who try to help their team perform at high levels by focusing their management activities — such as conversations and development meetings — on the team’s objectives, goals, and desired outcomes. On the other side are the engagement-focused managers who try to help their team perform at high levels by focusing their management activities on creating an engaging environment that energizes and motivates employees and teams.
So in this philosophical war, which side is right? Should a manager focus on performance or on engagement?
To answer this question, Gallup asked more than 8,000 employees about their relationship with their manager. Can they approach their manager with non-work-related issues, talk to them about anything, and get prompt responses to requests? We also asked them questions about how their manager inspires performance and accountability. Does their manager know what projects or tasks they are working on? Does he or she help set work priorities or set performance goals and hold them accountable to those goals?
What we discovered is that managers don’t have to choose between creating strong, positive teams or focusing on high performance and accountability. High-performance managers do both. They are strengths-based, engagement-focused, and performance-oriented. They develop deep interpersonal relationships with their employees and focus on performance. Managers who emphasize one approach while ignoring the other risk alienating their team members, lowering engagement, and damaging performance.