Line managers must be equipped to influence employee engagement

1 July, 2020
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Recent analysis by Gallup shows that highly engaged workforces are more likely to perform above average during a crisis than they are during normal times.

Their research shows that line managers are the most important piece in the engagement puzzle. An incredible 70% of engagement is within their control. As a linchpin role, it’s essential managers influence employee engagement and build their confidence.

Line managers who are equipped to communicate effectively are more likely to have engaged employees on their team and create stability despite uncertainty.

Communication from the top down

When people are kept informed, their confidence grows. This is in the remit of line managers as they are in constant contact with employees.

During crises, when rumours are rife and concerns are compounded, it is especially crucial that the flow of information is both consistent and constant. This information must cascade from the top. If managers are not informed, they cannot be expected to keep their people informed.

When information doesn’t flow, the result is misinformation and eventual disconnection from purpose – which in turn leads to disengagement and below par performance. When the going gets tough, employees who are not engaged are likely to retreat from the challenges they face.

Gallup found that highly engaged teams have a more than 90% chance of performing above average during crises. The lesson is that an employee engagement strategy is critical, especially to improve an organisation’s resilience.

The importance of communicating your plan of action

Employees who understand what is happening at their organisation are more likely to perform strongly. They are more likely to be problem solvers who improve productivity. Yet the study has found only 1 in 4 employees feel that their managers keep them informed of what is going on and why. This leads to disconnection with an organisation’s mission and purpose, and a decline in employee engagement.

Why do as many as 75% of employees feel disengaged? The answer is that their managers are not communicating the organisation’s plan of action. This isn’t always the manager’s fault. In fact, the study found that 1 in 3 line managers don’t feel that they have sufficient information of what is going on in their organisation. Lack of information leads to lack of communication, which leads to poor employee engagement.

A clearly defined and well communicated plan of action will help employees understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how their work adds value to the organisation and helps achieve organisational goals to survive and thrive. Line managers who can share their organisation’s plan of action help their people feel safe and confident. Informed and equipped managers can influence employee engagement because they drive employee motivation by connecting their work to the organisation’s purpose.

Going back to basics

During periods of disruption and change, it is crucial that managers show their people that they care about their wellbeing. Here again, Gallup has found that most employees don’t feel valued, important and appreciated. Only 27% of people surveyed recently said they feel their organisations care about their wellbeing.

A people-centric approach to communication is key to showing a caring and nurturing culture. Instead of asking about the task being undertaken, conversations should start with asking how the employee is feeling and coping. This helps managers show compassion, tune into needs and motivate individuals and teams.

Sharing best practice

During crises, people experience highs and lows. Effective managers will discover from their employees what those highs and lows have been and seek ways to individualise work practices. They will focus on people’s strengths, learn what makes their people happiest and when they are most engaged in their work. They will find opportunities to allow employees to do what they find most interesting and what they do best.

With the people and task knowledge they build, managers can develop a set of best practices and share these with their people, while ensuring that they reinforce the organisations mission and purpose.

Equip managers to engage employees

For managers to influence employee engagement, it is essential that organisations equip them with the information, training, tools and resources to communicate effectively:

  • It is crucial that managers have the information they need to let their people know what is going on
  • A clearly defined plan of action must be shared with clarity
  • Communication should be compassionate and caring, delivered in a people-centric approach
  • Best practices should be shared
  • Managers need the skills to be able to communicate effectively with their people

It is your managers who drive employee engagement. Line manager’s have the biggest impact on how well-prepared people feel to do their job, and how safe and confident they feel in their work – whether they are located in the workplace or working from home.

Managers who are equipped to manage will lead more highly engaged and confident teams – the key to developing the resilience and agility your organisation needs to face whatever challenges come your way.



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