One aspect that most employee engagement experts and practitioners alike can agree on is that an employee’s manager can influence greatly their level of engagement (possibly more so than any other factor).
This isn’t something that is new or surprising. You’ve probably heard of the phrase ‘people leave managers not companies’ and, certainly in our experience, that holds true. Gallup researched and wrote a very detailed report back in 1999 (some 12 years ago!), if you haven’t read it already, I recommend having a read. What is more, when one steps back it makes perfect sense – I’m sure we have all worked for bosses who we respect and would ‘put ourselves out for’ or ‘go the extra mile’ and in return make us feel respected and valued. The reverse is also likely to be true, where we have worked for people where there is no mutual respect and we certainly wouldn’t go ‘above and beyond’ – more likely we would ‘work to rule’.
So, one of the logical steps for improving engagement levels within an organisation is to help managers improve their management skills (primarily their people skills). The interesting aspect here is that it isn’t all that difficult. Take Google and their recent ‘Project Oxygen’, suffice to say, they gathered and analysed copious amounts of data and came up with eight very simple but highly influential factors for their managers, including:
“Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.”
“Help your employees with career development.”
“Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.”
What is more, Google having implemented these has the evidence to back them up and argues that it doesn’t require a ‘personality transplant’.
So, to improve levels of employee engagement in your organisation, look at your managers (all managers), find out what they do well and what works and also what doesn’t and build a picture of better management for your organisation.