How Managers Matter to Engagement – Q&A with Scott Carbonara

May 3, 2013 Darcy Jacobsen

Author Scott Carbonara explores the critical role managers play in engagement

We talk a fair amount about crowdsourcing and the importance of peer feedback and reinforcement on employee engagement and productivity. It’s all very true, and peer-to-peer recognition is a powerful way to turbo-charge your engagement. But the quiet engine that really jump-starts and drives that engagement—to no one’s surprise—is employees’ relationships with their managers.

In multiple studies and reports, the quality of the employee-manager relationship has emerged as a key variable in employee engagement, retention, job satisfaction and just about every human capital metric you can name.

In fact, according to the Dale Carnegie institute: a “caring” manager is one of the key elements that drives employee engagement. That
 is, employees want their managers to care about their personal lives, to take an interest in them as people, to care about how they feel and support their health and well-being. A manager’s ability to build strong relationships with employees, build strong team interaction and lead in a “person-centered” way creates an engaging environment in which employees can perform at the highest possible level.

The Corporate Executive Board agreed, saying: “While employees’ commitment to their manager is crucial to engagement, the manager is most important as the enabler of employees’ commitment to their jobs, organizations, and teams.”

According to Towers Watson, employees who feel “truly taken care of, appreciated, and trusted” by their employers, managers and senior leaders have higher energy and significantly better engagement. Seventy-four percent believed senior leaders had a sincere interest in their well-being.

Which leads to success.  Towers Watson has noted that companies with low engagement scores have an average operating margin just under 10 percent. Those with high traditional engagement have a decent jump–a margin of 14 percent.  But Towers Watson found that companies with what they called “sustainable engagement”—or management that seems to care about and try to meet the needs of their employees—had a significant boost in one-year operating margin, to 27 percent.

So yeah. Managers matter. A lot.

Scott Carbonara knows this. He’s been working in this space for years, offering leaders and managers clear, sound advice for building engagement. There’s a reason he’s known as the “leadership therapist”!

Our own Elizabeth Wilcox was able to sit down with Scott recently to ask some questions about what exactly managers can do to tap into employee engagement.  Scott had some eye-opening ideas and tips on the subject that I think you’ll find as valuable as I did.

Read that interview, here.

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