The Manager’s Role in Employee Engagement

An involved manager it turns out is a very important piece to ensure employee engagement. What role does a manager play in ensuring someone is engaged? At the most basic level, a manager must ensure an employee knows what his job is and what’s expected of him. And at the other end of the spectrum, a manager needs to encourage and motivate staff.

A 2013 Gallup Report shows the levels of engagement -- not engaged, actively disengaged, and engaged haven’t changed very much since 2000.

Like anything, there is a large bell curve when it comes to engaged employees. The largest groups of workers -- 54% are not engaged. Not engaged means that although they are at work, they are not contributing. 18% of workers in North America are actively disengaged – this means they are not present at all - and in fact may be a cause of negativity in the workplace. The remaining 28% are engaged. The engaged employee knows what is expected of her, and wants to be successful in her job performance.

So stop and consider this for a minute. Over half of your workforce is not present in the moment at work. They are most likely ambivalent about what they are or aren’t’ doing and definitely don’t care about the success of the organization. Clearly this works against all of those in the organization who care, and are trying to meet goals, have impact, and be creative and productive. Isn’t fixing the attitude and work habits of 54% of the workforce a very important charge? Of course! So what can be done to engage these individuals?

First of all, engagement at all levels of the organization must be recognized as vital to success. It must have equal priority with other strategic goals because without it, other areas of the organization won’t be reached.

Since it is recognized that a manager plays a key role in ensuring staff engagement, it makes sense to create a domino designed training around engagement. If everyone in the organization (that is anyone who manages others) needs the training, it must be offered from the top down.

Engagement training explains the value and importance of engagement. It defines what engagement is, and outlines how it can be achieved individually, identifying what responsibilities each person has for their own engagement. It also clearly identifies the role of managers in engagement, and expresses how the organization will collectively support engagement.

This speaks to organizational culture – the norms, practices and expectations of work. How are individuals motivated? Are employees provided opportunities for innovation in their day-to-day job? Can anyone in the organization suggest a new idea, or pose a better way of doing something? Engagement also comes from open communication and sharing, so everyone feels included and informed of where the organization is directed. This too is part of the organizational culture.

It’s clear that supporting an engaged workforce will have a positive effect in several areas:

  • Open communication

  • Managerial support of professional development

  • An innovative and creative working environment

It’s time to take engagement seriously. Start making changes to support engagement and enhance it.

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