The Nine Habits of Highly Engaged Managers The Nine Habits of Highly Engaged Managers, and a similar number of "watch outs"
Although we agree with the recent focus on building and sustaining employee engagement, it's also important not to forget that employees are extremely unlikely to reach a state of engagement with their work all on their own. They need a work environment that encourages and rewards their commitment, rather than working against them.
Based on our normative database, there are a number of factors that have a powerful influence in building job satisfaction and engagement, including:
Although satisfaction with immediate supervisors is not one of these top drivers of performance, the performance of immediate supervisors is critical to achieving many of them. In other words, it is not surprising that what really matters to employees is that these important organizational culture factors get successfully addressed (i.e., a culture of recognition, career advancement, effective communications) but that is not to diminish the role of supervisors in helping to make them happen. As immediate supervisors and/or direct managers get more engaged, so should their employees.
- The level of reward and recognition
- The opportunity to learn new skills and grow on the job
- The opportunity to make suggestions (which we see as an "empowerment" measure)
- To what degree their work is respected by their employer
- Satisfaction with the resources available to do their job
- Agreement that their job makes good use of their abilities and skills
- The effectiveness of communications within the organization
- Their opportunities for advancement
So, what are some of the more important habits of highly engaged managers? In our experience, these include:
In stark contrast to these positive behaviors, many managers continue to ruin their opportunities for building employee engagement by failing to directly address the following self-sabotaging beliefs:
- They provide intensive feedback and coaching to new hires and proactively manage the "onboarding" process, so that they can make a positive first impression.
- They don't stop there but go on to create a culture of continuous feedback and coaching for all of their employees - perhaps not surprisingly, many employees prefer informal, on-the-job conversations with their supervisor over formal performance reviews. It is imperative that every manager give timely and frequent feedback to employees but, equally important, the manager should not be solely responsible for initiating feedback.
- They are brave enough to communicate with their employees in clear and direct language.
- They recognize that they are being held accountable for performance management and are honest in understanding their own strengths and limitations as a manager.
- They recognize the need for training in performance feedback, which also means that their employer must see the need to provide that training.
- They work to make the performance management process more of a partnership with their employees and emphasize mutual performance assessment over performance appraisal.
- They pay special attention to their "quiet talent," recognizing their consistency and dedication and rewarding them in ways that are meaningful to them.
- When employees are not meeting expectations, these managers listen, and listen actively, to these employees and make suggestions from the vantage point of their professional capacity that will help them overcome their problems and difficulties.
- They are not afraid to terminate non-performers when best efforts to coach or reassign do not pay off. In our surveys, we often see complaints from good performers that underperforming employees are tolerated, or even promoted and rewarded with raises, while they themselves are overworked or ignored.
Look carefully at this list of behaviors - If you are a people manager, do you recognize yourself in any of them?
- They convince themselves that they are too busy or important to deal with the "people stuff" that is such a key part of management.
- They believe that employee turnover is inevitable, that employees will always refuse to take their jobs seriously and that there is no reason to invest time or money in employees who are going to leave anyway.
- They think that, if they compliment their employees or recognize their efforts, those employees will simply want more money.
- They are reluctant to answer many of their employees' questions because so many of those questions are "stupid."
- They don't have time to listen to those employees who are unable to get right to the point.
- They don't see any value in trying new approaches to old problems or encouraging creativity in coming up with solutions.
- They know "what's best" for their employees - if only they would listen!