Are Your Managers the Top Deterrent to Employee Engagement?

BY Kathy Crosett
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You don’t need to hire an expensive consultant to tell you if your employees are engaged. All you need to do is watch the traffic at the doors. If people are leaving your company for one of your competitors, they haven’t felt engaged at your organization. Deb Calvert, president of People First Productivity Solutions, places most of the blame for this problem on managers. Here’s what you can do to improve the situation.

In a recent Manage Smarter podcast, Calvert called attention to research that shows how important employee engagement has become in recent years. Specifically, Barry Z. Posner has published research tying leadership principles like modeling desired behaviors and inspiring a shared vision to improved employee engagement. Calvert also believes that members of the millennial generation are driving the new focus on engagement. These team members are demanding something more from their work life. If they don’t get what they’re looking for, they move on.

Companies have been doing a great job with training managers on how to hit their numbers each quarter. Managers also know how to solve production problems when a piece of equipment breaks. They’re often not so great at figuring out how to get employees to work to their full potential.

Soft skills are still something that companies find it hard to invest in,” says Calvert. These soft skills are critical if managers want to truly connect with their team members. For Calvert, the first step is seeing managers make an emotional connection with their team members. Once employees have that emotional connection, they’ll likely decide to work a bit harder. We all know that employees have the free will to decide exactly how much effort they'll decide to the job. If you want them to be more productive, your managers will need to take that first important step.

Not every manager will come up the learning curve on soft skills at the same time. Some managers will be able to apply these skills more easily than others. The important part of Calvert’s message is to start implementing these changes in your organization now. Invest in training and development programs to help your managers learn to lead. Before long, you’ll see the outgoing flow of employees slow to a trickle.