Manager Disengagement and How To Solve It

 In Change Management, Change Management Competency, Communication, Leaders, Uncategorized

Written by Luke Rees

Managers are currently the main factor determining whether other employees are engaged in their work. According to Gallup’s most recent survey,[1] managers account for up to 70 percent variance in employee engagement in the US.

What can be done to make managers more accountable to their employees, and also to ensure that they themselves are committed to seeing their workforce enjoy coming to work?

In a separate study from Gallup[2], just 35 percent of U.S. managers were found to be engaged in their jobs, and this cycle of dissatisfaction is taking its toll on productivity. Estimates stand in the area of $450 billion to $550 billion annually of how much money disengagement is costing the American economy.

It’s time companies instilled a more evidence-based culture of accountability, with managers setting the prime example.

Managers Often Fail To Recognise The Problem

Management require a skillset that is not as readily defined as other staff roles, hence why great managers are so rare. They include skills like motivating others, building trusting relationships, and making unbiased decisions for the good of their team.

Due to the elusiveness of these skills and the difficulty that lies in judging if someone has them, managers are frequently miscast. The majority promoted to management positions were typically high performers in their professional field. However, they have never been given formal training on how to take on a leadership role, and have therefore never been responsible for engaging others. In fact, they don’t even recognise the importance of employee engagement and how focusing on this issue can greatly improve productivity.

Make Your Managers Especially Great Communicators

Frank and frequent communication is the foundation of any strong relationship, and relationship-building is the key to management. Hence, the single most effective way for managers to improve their relationships with employees, is to create a culture of open and honest communication.

Simple as it sounds, this is not an easy task. To meet workers’ needs and to ensure each individual feels that leaders hear their opinions, companies need to establish working channels to gather feedback from all levels of the organization.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Hold regular employee-focused meetings and encourage all employees to contribute to the discussion.
  • Have an ‘open-door’ policy with regards to employee feedback. This doesn’t mean simply keeping your door open during office hours, but also actively interacting with employees and getting to know them personally.

Make Your Managers More Accountable  

Accountability is probably the main factor helping to make mangers better at their jobs. Self-awareness is essential for building an environment of trust and accountability, as emotionally and socially aware managers are generally able to build the strongest relationships with others.

To help make self-reflection habitual in your organisation, all employees should feel like they can give guiltless feedback when a manager is not pulling their weight. Manager feedback surveys,[3] for example, are a useful and anonymous tool for doing this. In a reverse of the performance appraisal, this survey allows employees to voice grievances anonymously, whilst creating a clear culture of accountability based on data insights.

Managers should be constantly thinking about how to improve the performance of others, and they do that best when they are held accountable to their own performance.