Article: Managers are the linchpin of employee engagement


Managers are the linchpin of employee engagement

In a recent virtual round table conference, People Matters and Glint came together to address the rising significance of the manager’s role and how to better skill and enable managers to help create a more engaged, performance-driven, and resilient workforce.
Managers are the linchpin of employee engagement

The world of work is undergoing many changes as we adjust to the new normal. During such a period when the business has to be kept running and the people responsible have to be kept engaged and motivated, the manager’s role takes great precedence. They have a steadily growing and significant impact on retention, engagement, culture-building, and the execution of corporate strategy. It is essential that we recognise that a manager’s position is a linchpin and leverage point in most organisations. In a recent virtual round table conference, People Matters and Glint came together to address this rising significance of the manager’s role and how to better skill and enable managers to help create a more engaged, performance-driven, and resilient workforce. 

Four manager priorities for the new world of work 

Shubhang Dave, People Science Leader, Glint emphasised four key priorities for the manager - employee well-being, generating a sense of belonging among team members, providing support for hybrid and remote teams and finally, fostering an environment of learning and growth. We must understand that, working alongside HR, managers can play a unique role in advancing these priorities.

Addressing the manager’s potential and the importance of conversations

It has been found that high manager capability increases individual performance by 12 percent. Employees who recommend their managers are more likely to be engaged, stay with the company and believe that their company has a great culture. But the question then arises is how do companies accomplish the building up of such managers? What are the skill sets that need to be inculcated?

The simplest answer, based on Glint data is to focus on the quantity and quality of conversations which takes place between managers and employees. It opens up an important communication channel and creates space to address those four key priorities of the manager. Shubhang Dave comments, “Conversations show what people really need for their own well-being, sense of belonging and self-worth.” Employees who have regular conversations with their manager are likely to feel that they received effective feedback, they can carry out meaningful career conversations and receive the support they needed from their managers.

Three key enablers for managers: Feedback, learning and growth, and the power to act

Although managers, rather than senior leaders, are the ones employees rely on for their growth and work-life balance, it is startling to find that only 26 percent of managers feel that they are highly skilled at fostering individual and team engagement. It is important that companies understand what motivates their managers and how they can help managers help themselves realise their potential. There are three key ways to do this:

  • Feedback: When it is delivered through a variety of mechanisms such as engagement surveys, 360 feedback and anytime feedback, it helps managers become self-aware and make effective adjustments for developmental purposes. 
  • Learning and growth: Feedback inevitably points towards the right direction for learning and growth in the most relevant areas for the manager. 
  • Power to act: Managers who are empowered to take decisions are more likely to be engaged. Companies must equip managers to act on feedback they get about themselves and their own teams. 

Lessons from the discussion

Nadiah Tan Abdullah, CHRO, SP Setia, in addition to the points discussed above brought new insights along with her team. She said, “There are five key points to be taken into consideration: collaborative leadership, power of communication, stakeholder management, shifting your business model and driving change management through leadership change.” Empowerment must come across from all levels which requires open communication channels and, as important as it is for managers and employees to re-invent themselves, it is equally important to measure and reward employees for their performance to keep them engaged. 

The final takeaway from this session was that manager enablement comes hand in hand with recognising that managers are also vulnerable. Pallavi Srivastava, APAC Talent Leader, IBM GTS, stressed the importance of HR to address this vulnerability and the creation of a manager community where managers can learn from each other. It is essential that companies in the process of upskilling their managers to drive the business forward give equal space to the vulnerabilities and needs of their managers to cater to their well-being and empower them in a rounded way. 

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Topics: Leadership, Leadership Development, Employee Engagement, Life @ Work

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