The conduct of successful managers generates enthusiasm and inspires employees to work harder, creating a culture of employee engagement. Conversely, supervisors who “manage” at arms’ length and discourage open communication serve neither their employees – nor their employers.
Satisfaction with an immediate supervisor is the single most important factor that determines the enthusiasm and commitment of employees. That was one big conclusion of a recent national study of 1,500 employees in which Dale Carnegie teamed up with MSW Research, an independent market research firm, to look at what drives employee engagement.
The study found 49 percent of those employees who were very satisfied with their direct manager were engaged, but 80 percent of those who were very dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor were disengaged.
Clearly, the role of immediate supervisors is pivotal. They connect employees with senior management and senior management with employees. Supervisors impart and interpret company goals, objectives and values. Supervisors listen to employee concerns and ensure employee voices are heard.
Unfortunately, many excellent employees become managers or supervisors with little training. They know technical demands of the job but aren’t prepared for interacting with staff members in ways that build trust. Nor do they realize the extent to which employees want to learn from them and develop new skills.
Fifty-three percent of fully engaged employees say they learned a lot from their supervisor compared to 19 percent of people who are not fully engaged.
A successful manager in today’s economic environment needs interpersonal skills like never before. Shifts in what middle-aged workers as well as their younger counterparts need to feel good about their jobs, grow in them and stay with the company demand nuanced interactions. The study also found employees aged 40-49 often become less engaged as they face external family pressures. Supervisors who get to know their employees on a personal level and care about their private lives can counteract this “middle-age disengagement.”
Just one-third of respondents believe their manager cares about their personal lives, but 54 percent of these are engaged. Among the two-thirds who do not believe this, only 17 percent are engaged.
Not everyone possesses such skills innately, but everyone can learn them. Training immediate supervisors to care about employees and understand key factors in creating employee engagement will have a major impact on business performance, reducing staff turnover and boosting productivity.
It may be the single best investment a company can make.
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