Velas Coaching

Manager, Employee Engagement Biggest Driver

Employee engagement is about people feeling a connection with their company and making an extra effort because of that feeling. Measuring the level of employee engagement, unfortunately, has become an academic exercise.   HR launches an Employee Engagement Survey; and after the data has been collected little is trickled down to where it matters, the employees.   The data is used to create fancy presentations and very expensive initiatives that take a lot of time to implement.   By the time these initiatives are finally implemented, if ever, employees already feel that their voice was never heard or the data is already obsolete.

Clearly the single most important variable in employee engagement is the quality of the relationship between employees and their direct managers or supervisors. Two recent studies, one at Google and other at Facebook have demonstrated that the qualities of a great manager are related to how they treat their employees.

Of course, there are other drivers of engagement, things such as pay, benefits, work culture, etc. What is clear is that these have a minor role in engagement; it is the direct manager the biggest driver of engagement.

Google and Facebook have been able to track manager’s performance by measuring several components, including employee engagement. They have identified several characteristics of great leaders. Their data has proved that in addition to superior technical knowledge, periodic one-on-one coaching, expressing interest in the employee, and frequent personalized feedback are a few of the components of a great manager.

For organizations today, deciding who should be promoted to manager has a ripple effect on everything else including employee engagement. Talented managers attract and engage talented employees. They have a natural gift for developing employees’ strengths and getting the most out of each person. Therefore, the most important component of selecting and developing an engaging manager is identifying and coaching the right individual. Facebook, for instance, only promotes people that want to be managers. Employees know that they don’t need to become managers to be successful. “The most important thing is that we choose managers who want to be managers,” Lori Goler, Facebook’s VP of people, told Business Insider.

But according to Gallup, naturally talented managers are rare. Gallup’s research has discovered that only about one person in 10 has the natural talent to be a great manager. Therefore, it is important to support and train existing managers and give them the right tools to succeed.   In a Google, Facebook fashion, measuring what are the gaps of existing managers is key.  The second step is providing them with the training and tools to manage their people in a way that is engaging and effective.

There is undeniable evidence that the direct manager is the most important component in the employee engagement equation. The second element is making sure that they know it, they have the right mindset and management tools to unleash the employee engagement advantage.


For more information on how to help your managers engage their direct reports please visit

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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.

4 thoughts on “Manager, Employee Engagement Biggest Driver

  1. And unless individuals assume some ownership for their engagement, the efforts of the best managers may have limited utility.

  2. Equip managers to involve their team in understanding the findings and increasing team engagement with employee engagement best practices.

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