Managers want their teams to be empowered to take risks, innovate, accept failures, and celebrate success. They also want to keep this rhythm going. According to a number of employee engagement surveys, drivers of engagement include clarity of purpose, learning and growth opportunities, creating an impact through special talents/skills, recognition, and appreciation, creating a high trust environment. These drivers, when executed, can boost the performance of employees in a substantial way. While these are well-known insights, what interferes with the process is who is accountable for keeping employees engaged? And is this the responsibility of HR or the line manager?
Markus Buckingham notes in his book, 'First Break All the Rules' that “People leave managers, not companies.” The relationship shared between managers and their employees is critical to an employee’s engagement towards his work and organization. An employee may join a company owing to its reputation in the market, beguiling leaders, superlative training programs but how long an employee stays and how productive he is will be determined by his relationship with his immediate manager. So, it is crucial that the managers work collaboratively with the HR department to curb the worrying level of disengagement among employees which is impacting the organization’s growth.
Here are a few simple things that managers can do to empower employees:
Ensure psychological safety:
Encourage employees to share their ideas, thoughts, and feedback. Make them understand their inputs are valued. A leading company employs a checklist to ensure psychological safety to make sure that employees are able to share their ideas without the fear of being reprimanded for doing so. Additionally, today there is project management software that allows a team to keep track of each other’s work and helps managers to give feedback and suggestions.
Check your bias:
Conscious or unconscious, biased managers can greatly affect the relationship between the company and your employee. Bias in leadership leads to frustration and affects engagement and productivity and can also directly impact retention. It is important to create transparent processes, performance goals, and metrics and allow each employee to take up challenging tasks. Also, consider working with a mentor to receive feedback from your peers and team mates.
It is important to recognize and reward self-improvement. Managers should meet their employees frequently and set short term goals and plan learning targets. They should also give them feedback often on their progress and appreciate them. Recognition should not be confined to the team, one should also leverage internal communication tools like emails, notice boards for organization wide appreciation and use external social media tools to help spread the word to family and friends.
An engaging culture starts with the flag bearers of the values of the company. And most often, it is the team leaders and managers who are the frontline representatives of the company. The success of the manager in enabling a culture of engagement also requires adequate support and training. Identify relevant training needs for your manager including coaching and mentorship to help understand and better engage their team.