Employee engagement is that elusive state of mind that inspires employees to really care about their work and be motivated to contribute at the highest level. Employees can be inspired because they are truly interested in the work and have genuine professional commitment. The more consistent path to employee engagement, however, is inspired by great managers and leaders who care and show, by their example, the way to genuine engagement. They inspire others to care and want to be part of their work environment and share the excitement and success.
We talk a lot about employee engagement. We talk a lot about what managers need to do to promote the engagement of others, but the personal engagement of managers is not frequently discussed. Managers are employees too and can equally be engaged or disengaged. How important, how necessary, is genuine MANAGER engagement to achieving the engagement of regular employees?
There are many types of managers and first line supervisors and their style and commitment can be expressed in many ways. Assuming the managers have excellent functional work management skills, some examples of leadership skills are:
- Well trained in leadership skills and understanding the “tricks of the trade” and the needs of employees, they are in the best position, by doing the right things, to inspire employee engagement.
- Can a professional manager who is not personally engaged (possibly not detectable by others) still inspire the engagement of others? They should be able to, I believe, but would the level of achieved engagement be affected?
- If a manager has excellent skills, but is not the type of person people generally warm to (seems distant, superficial, not so friendly) can he/she still hope to achieve a high level of employee engagement?
- A truly committed and engaged manager, who cares about employees and would like to see employees sharing the same level of enthusiasm and commitment. A manager who will do his/her best for the employees, including encouragement, communication and recognition.
- The enthusiastic manager may have high potential to achieve employee engagement, but if he/she has not received significant management/leadership training, to what extent would that affect the effectiveness of employee engagement? Is there a risk that engagement achieved may be more personal (team solidarity) than focused on progressive work practices and continuous improvement?
Follow the boss manager
- A manager who is not seen as an empowered manager or someone ready to take a stand for employees or encouraging original thinking. He/she may frequently refer to what the “big boss” wants and if rules change would usually attribute the changes to what the boss (or HR) says has to be done.
- If the “follower” manager has good skills and a reasonable level of personal engagement, is it likely that he/she can inspire the engagement of staff reporting to him/her? Because engagement of the manager is primarily to the boss, would the follower manager, similarly have to sell engagement of employees to the big boss rather than to himself/herself?
- Although employee engagement will be influenced by the practices of an organization and other external aspects, to what extent can an individual manager sell engagement based on the organization and its senior management rather than based on his/her own management style or likeability? What do you think?
Employee engagement is not essential but desirable for the effective operation of an organization. Based on surveys worldwide, the level of employee engagement seems generally quite low. How achievable is it? Are there certain requirements an organization should meet before making additional investment in employee engagement? Should the first requirement be that managers are properly trained in leadership skills and basic employee relations? How important is it for managers to be engaged before requiring the engagement of others? What do you consider most important?
Thank you for your interest. I look forward to any thoughts and comments you may have.