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Monday, December 3, 2012

German Workers Equally Satisfied With Male and Female Managers

By Marco Nink, Senior Strategic Consultant

Nine countries, including Germany, have already expressed their reservations about the European Commission’s desire to put into place a binding gender quota for the boards of corporations across Europe. The new regulations, if approved, would stipulate that women occupy 40% of the seats on the non-executive boards of Europe's publicly traded companies.

While there are many arguments one can make both for and against a legally binding gender quota based on fairness, Gallup data show that female and male leaders likely affect employee engagement to a similar degree. In Germany specifically, a nationally representative Gallup survey of 1,920 employed adults, conducted Oct. 25-Nov. 18, 2010, found that a manager’s gender made no difference in a team’s overall level of satisfaction with that manager or in the team’s collective level of engagement. Both male and female supervisors received an average rating of 3.65, based on a five-point scale, with "1" being the lowest possible rating and "5" being the highest possible rating.

Although women in politics, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, already hold top positions, the boards of the top 200 companies in Germany are staffed almost exclusively with men. Of 942 board positions in 2011, women held only 28, according to a study of the Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung. A precursor to this may be that men are more likely than women to work in supervisory roles according to a Gallup survey conducted in Germany; 34% of male employees are responsible for other staff compared with 22% of female employees. Since management experience is an important prerequisite for a board position in Germany, it would thus follow that male managers would be more likely to be considered for higher level positions, such as placement on a company board.

Decades of Gallup research indicates that employee engagement, which is highly correlated with productivity and the company’s market value, will soar or plummet depending on the employee’s relationship with their manager. Each employee feels the impact of a good manager’s ability to meet his or her needs and expectations -- or a bad manager’s incompetence. On 11 out of 12 questions about engagement at work, male and female managers received similar scores. For example, male and female managers are rated equally well when it comes to giving positive and constructive feedback and creating opportunities for employees to express their opinions or ideas.

The one exception is that employees with female managers are more likely to agree with the statement, "My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work," than employees with male managers (3.91 average for those with female managers compared to 3.69 for those with male managers on a five-point scale). This difference may mean that female managers are better at providing clear quality standards and keeping those standards at the forefront of their team members' minds -- a quality that could be valuable among board members.

Whether Germany decides to implement a legally binding quota, the bottom line is that managers should be chosen based on their ability to meet the needs of their employees -- as that is what makes employees and organizations thrive.


Anonymous said...
December 4, 2012 at 4:32 AM  

I am working in an operating environment in which diversity is under-utilized as a differentiating advantage. Is there any research done on the productivity and/or profitability of diverse vs. non-diverse teams? I see Jason Krieger's article on building a culture of innovation, but is there any additional research done?

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