How Important is MANAGER Engagement to Business Success?

26 Nov

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:

Professional managers

  • 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?

Enthusiastic managers

  • 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.








4 Responses to “How Important is MANAGER Engagement to Business Success?”

  1. Blanche Cordero November 30, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    I read a lot about employee engagement. I not believe we should discuss it a separate issue from company culture. Unless there is a commitment at the top and all the components required for a company of engaged employees which starts with the on-boarding process, on-going training & development at all levels of the organization, an environment of empowerment, open two-way communication to name, paying for performance with a program that is accepted, automated, is ongoing and was developed to help employees achieve goals and to develop new skills targeted to the success of the business. It’s an easy formula, but hard to turn a behemoth organization even with buy in at the top without eliminating barriers to success or small organizations without the commitment – just another implementation going nowhere and changing nothing.

    While it is great to develop commited managers, if they are islands, the company will continue to lose employees. Why should they stay? TRUE leaders would have the answer.

    • ianclive December 1, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

      Hi Blanche,

      You make great points and I agree that corporate culture is key to establishing an environment where engagement of all kinds will flourish.

      It is also essential that managers are competent and receive appropriate training and coaching etc. That would also be driven by corporate culture and corporate values.

      If the culture is supportive, the structure is efficient and managers/employees receive relevant training and motivation, the committed managers should not be “islands” and everyone should benefit.

      Thank you, Blanche, for your insight and very helpful comments.


  2. The Manager December 1, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Amazing. After all these years of saying that there is no manager engagement or why is there never an article about employees engaging their managers, I thought finally here’s one. WRONG AGAIN. This is another article is employee engagement disguised manager engagement. What a farce.

    • ianclive December 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      Hello “The Manager”

      Sorry to disappoint you and that my article is not on the subject you are particularly interested in. I suggest that you set out your thoughts and explain your specific concerns about employees engaging their managers and I will gladly respond.

      There are many “angles” to the subject that I think you are talking about and it would help if you are more specific about the aspects you are most interested in discussing.

      Very best wishes,


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