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5 Manager Tasks That Drive Engagement

Managers define employee 5-Manager-Tasks-That-Drive-Engagementengagement: they drive their teams’ cultures, conduct development conversations and activities, advocate for their teams to higher leadership, and ensure employees are secure with appropriate pay and benefits.


Managers can make employees love their jobs or dread coming to work. We've all heard it before: People don't leave organizations, they leave managers. In the same way, people aren’t engaged by organizations, they are engaged by managers.


Based on 15 years in the industry, a plethora of original research, and a database of over 8,000 organizations and over half a million employees, new Quantum Workplace research has found that these five manager tasks are the key to employee engagement. Read on to see why these behaviors are so crucial.


1. Recognize results and effort.


Even though receiving enough recognition is a top 5 driver of employee engagement, the survey item “If I contribute to the organization’s success, I know I will be recognized,” ranks in the bottom five in favorability, nationally. In other words, recognition can drive employee engagement, but employees aren't currently getting enough.


So what do managers have to do with this? Our research found that employees put more importance on recognition from immediate managers than from peers — a whopping 19% more importance! So, if your organization is trying to improve employee engagement, chances are you need to tap into your recognition superheroes: managers.


2. Follow-up after surveys.


Our research also uncovered that employees want managers to be involved in survey follow-up, even more so than HR or the C-suite. Of survey respondents, 59% believed that managers are the group most responsible for enacting and implementing employee engagement strategies, and 64% believe managers are the group most responsible for communicating engagement results to specific employees or teams. Bottom line? To engage employees, get your managers involved in survey follow-up.


3. Discuss performance frequently.


Organizations and managers are doing an awful job communicating to employees how their performance is measured — 24% of employees don’t know or are uncertain of how their performance is measured. The culprit? The annual performance review. Only 9% of employees prefer the frequency of annual performance discussions, with an overwhelming 49% preferring to discuss their performance on a quarterly or monthly basis.


More frequent conversations establish a mindset of continuous improvement, rather than evaluation, enabling employees address challenges as they’re occurring and improve skills throughout the year. Give managers the tools and training they need to have these conversations, and you’ll see a drastic increase in employee performance and engagement.


Download the GOOD template here!


4. Communicate around goals.


Effective goal setting and achievement are essential for employee engagement. However, employees lack visibility into how goals are set and tracked. The stats are disheartening: only 37% of employees are very involved in the process of setting their own goals, only 12% of employees have full visibility into the goals that are set and tracked by other teams or departments, and only 23% of employees have full visibility into the goals that are set and tracked for their organization.


Your solution to this confusion? Managers. As the employee’s most frequent, personal relationship with the organization, managers are in the perfect position to bring clarity to individual, team, and organizational goals. 


Need help defining your goal philosophy? Read our Power Workbook for Setting Employee Goals and OKRs.


5. Coach and develop employees.


Employees want and need lots of opportunities to be coached and developed by managers — in fact, visibility to growth and development opportunities is a top ten driver of engagement. Yet, these opportunities aren’t being leveraged. More than 21% of employees are unsure about the growth and development opportunities available to them, and only 66% of employees have been coached by a manager in the last 12 months. If your organization wants to engage employees, they need to emphasize manager communication around growth opportunities and equip managers to better coach their direct reports.


As you can see, the research shows an undeniable gap in the way organizations and managers are behaving and the behaviors that would engage employees. But don’t give up hope! Download the entire report for the rest of the stats as well as the helpful insights and resources to train your managers.

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