How Managers Can Drive Employee Engagement

If you’re wondering why your employees aren’t engaged . . . look at your leaders.

In my work with groups and organizations striving to create an engaged and effective workforce, I have witnessed a common trend:  a team’s engagement rises and falls with the engagement of their leader—and for good reason.

Because leaders and managers are the direct drivers of change within an organization, their teams and direct reports naturally mirror the leaders’ levels of engagement. Managers are the conduits of information from the top of the organization; they set the tone for how information is received by their team.

More important still, leaders in any organization have to make a crucial choice: they can either be advocates for the company’s vision and goals, or be detractors from the company mission.  A leader’s choice here directly affects his or her direct reports, peers, and supervisors—essentially, a leader’s decisions affect the entire organization.

Of the many different powers that leaders inherently possess, influence power is perhaps the most potent.  While often this influence is productive, it can also be destructive. By leveraging this power to influence others inappropriately, leaders can create resentment, dissatisfaction and, ultimately, disengagement by what and how they communicate.

Recent DecisionWise research conducted with 252 managers and their direct reports in a multinational manufacturing organization provides striking support of the notion that a manager or leader’s own level of engagement has a direct connection with the engagement levels of his or her team.  Consider the following:

  • Fully engaged managers had the highest percentage (38%) of fully engaged employees in the organization
  • Fully disengaged managers had the highest percentage (22%) of fully disengaged individuals on their teams.

Further examination of leadership engagement within this organization shows that regardless of the engagement level of the manager, each team consisted of at least half of the employees fitting into the category of “key contributor.”  These individuals tend to possess basic levels of satisfaction with the job and working conditions, but are not in a state of mind making them either fully engaged or fully disengaged.  In other words, it takes a fully engaged leader to drive full engagement.

In our webinar How Managers Can Drive Employee Engagement I’ll further explore the connection between leader and subordinate engagement.  In addition to these interesting statistics, I’ll show you more evidence that a team’s level of engagement generally has direct correlation to the level of engagement of that team’s manager.  I’ll also answer other crucial questions about a leader’s effect on his or her team’s level of engagement.

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