Velas Coaching

Employee Engagement Management Driven

Employee-EngagementWe all know that employee engagement is essential for the retention of great employees and for increasing employee satisfaction and motivation. But what is it about engagement that makes employees want to stick around and, most importantly, help the company succeed? After studying these concepts and gathering information from academics and practitioners alike, the Conference Board created the following composite definition for engagement:

Employee engagement is a heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organization, manager, or co-workers that, in turn, influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work.”

According to this definition, employee engagement is exactly what we’ve been saying it is all along: the combination of extra effort and a personal desire for the company to succeed—effort and affiliation.

Further research supports our assertion that one of—if not the—biggest drivers of engagement is the direct manager. No other component within the company has the power to engage employees in a way that is sustainable and organic. This is why it is so important to involve managers in all employee engagement initiatives.

Many companies make the mistake of limiting engagement initiatives to an academic exercise in which only HR and the executive team evaluates results. Little is trickled down to the managers. This is where we need to change. Let’s call this concept Employee Engagement Management Driven (EEMD). By involving managers in the process, we empower them with the information and tools they need, thereby activating the biggest driver of engagement. EEMD is further supported by bestselling author and business consultant, Marcus Buckingham. In his book, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Buckingham describes the factors that lead to an effective workplace and concludes that an employee’s manager, not the company, is the critical link to employee engagement.

Interestingly few managers have the talent to achieve excellence.  If great managers seem scarce, it’s because the talent required to be one is rare.  A research conducted by Gallup reveals that about one in 10 people possess the talent to manage. Though many people are endowed with some of the necessary traits, few have the unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve excellence in a way that significantly improves a company’s performance. These 10%, when put in manager roles, naturally engage team members and customers, retain top performers, and sustain a culture of high productivity

Google, a data metrics driven company has found out what makes a great  boss at Google.  They usually train new managers after they’ve already started their new role – generally 45 to 90 days into management. While, intuitively, it makes sense to prepare someone for a job before they start doing it, the team has found managers are most receptive to learning after they’ve had some time in the new role and gathered some experience upon which to reflect.

Companies definitely need to train managers to become better bosses and engage employees to create a more productive company.   The question is how do we do this?

We do it by sowing and cultivating a mindset of employee engagement, and managers are the ones with the power to plant the seed, nurture it, and watch it grow. They just need the information and tools to do so, combined with their own mindset of engagement. A manager equipped with the right tools should be able to:

  1. Actively listen to his or her employees
  2. Provide positive feedback on performance
  3. Effectively coach their direct reports.
  4. Encourage and provide positive reinforcement
  5. Set and achieve realistic goals
  6. Develop through delegation

These skills, along with a strong employee engagement mindset, will allow any manager to engage their employees in a way that is sustainable and lasting.


Luis Velasquez MBA, PhD

Luis is a leadership coach, employee engagement expert, and management trainer. Formerly a University professor and research scientist, Luis holds a dual Ph.D. from Michigan State University; and an MBA in Organizational Leadership.

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