Engage your Managers to Engage your Employees

Disengaged managers create disengaged staff

It is well documented that employees are far more likely to be engaged if their managers are engaged. However, a recent Gallup survey in the US showed that nearly 60% of managers are not engaged or are actively disengaged. Whilst the UK may not be as bad as this, there is still definitely room for improvement.

Poor employee engagement has serious financial implications for business. For example, the cost of low employee engagement in the US has been estimated to cost businesses $319 to $398 billion dollars per year. So what do you need to do when your managers are so disengaged that they don’t have a clue what’s going on in their team?

The first step is to understand the reasons for managerial disengagement. There are many, but perhaps the two most common (related) causes are:
• The manager is “blind” to the reality of the current situation
• The manager is afraid to engage with their team

The “blind” manager thinks their employees are engaged but this conclusion is based on false assumptions. Typically such managers will hold occasional team meetings where they talk at their team, and because their team members fail to ask questions at these meetings and never raise concerns the “blind” manager thinks that they are happy.

Managers become blind to the realities their team are facing because they create a barrier between themselves and their team. This barrier can be either because of habit (such as always running a team meeting a particular way) or on purpose (where the manager avoids seeking out their teams views and opinions).

The first step to re-engaging the blind manger is to identify whether they are oblivious to the fact that they are “blind” or are they behaving this way because of some inner fear of what the team may ask or say.

If the manager is simply oblivious to their blindness then they will need some skilful feedback and coaching in order to help them recognise the issue. The first step to all change is helping the manager recognise that there is a problem and that they are the cause of it.

However, if the blindness is not because the manager is unaware of the situation but because they are trying to avoid it, then the answer may be some additional training to build their assertiveness skills so as to increase their confidence in managing difficult situations.