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Engage your managers to engage your employees

May 13, 2015

By Cheryl Kuch, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

According to Gallup, the percent of employees who report feeling engaged in their work continues to be low for most U.S. organizations at about 30%.  Gallup’s research, as reported in its State of the American Manager, finds that engagement among those who supervise others (i.e., among managers) is only slightly higher at 35%.  Can the manager’s engagement level affect employee engagement levels?  Gallup’s data says yes.

According to Gallup, a manager is “someone who is responsible for leading a team toward common objectives.” Managers have a significant impact on employee engagement.  Gallup contends that the variance in levels of engagement among employees is about 70% determined by their managers’ level of engagement.  So, with only a little more than one-third of managers reporting themselves engaged in their work, it can be no surprise that an even smaller proportion of their employees are engaged in their work.

But what about the converse? If a manager’s engagement level is high, would her employees’ engagement levels be high also?  The Gallup report shows that employees who are managed by highly engaged managers are a whopping 59% more likely to be engaged than those who are supervised by actively disengaged managers.   

And then what about the manager’s manager?  Managers who are supervised by highly engaged leaders are 39% more likely to be engaged compared to those supervised by actively disengaged leaders. 

And what about gender?  Gallup found that more female managers (41%) are engaged than male managers (35%). Correspondingly, Gallup found that employees who work for female managers were more likely to be engaged.  Female employees working for a female manager were most engaged. 

So what should organizations do to raise their managers’, and their employees’, engagement levels?
The likelihood of more highly engaged employees cannot be a reality if their organizations do not focus on manager engagement first.   Gallup suggests organizations focus on three things to help engage their managers:   

1.Connect to the Vision: Most employees want to find meaning in their work, and connecting work to the company vision or purpose is an important engagement factor. Organizational leaders that consistently communicate the firm’s vision and purpose to their managers can help get them, and keep them, engaged.
2.Provide manager development: Employees who get a chance to grow and develop their skills are twice as likely to spend their career at one company.  Growth and development is also noted in two of the Gallup 12 elements (Q12) that engage employees most.  Organizations should create an environment of continuous learning.
3.Identify and focus on manager strengths: Leaders that help managers identify their strengths and provide opportunities for them to develop and use these strengths on the job are more likely to engage managers. 

What can you do now to begin to tackle the problem of employee engagement?

First, ASE’s partnership with McLean & Company gives ASE members access to top-notch employee engagement surveys that are affordable and easy to execute. Contact us if you would like to hear how we can help you measure your level of employee engagement. 

Second, ASE can help directly in the manager development area. Our “Principles and Practices of Supervision” (I and II) are three-day training classes that provide the kind of personal development experience that will energize your managers to become more engaged in their work. It will also teach them what they can do to engage their employees. The next available starting dates for those classes are shown below.

Principles and Practices of Supervision I 
June 9, 16, 23  Traverse City
June 10, 17, 24  Livonia
July 14, 21, 28  Saginaw
July 16, 23, 30  Livonia

Principles and Practices of Supervision II 
May 14, 21, 28  Saginaw
June 4, 11, 18  Livonia 

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