Managers Are Employees Too

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Disengaged managers have disengaged employees.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager report, managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Sadly, the percentage of engaged managers is only slightly higher than the percentage of engaged employees. Pretty scary when you consider that only 30% of today’s U.S. workforce is engaged.

Most organizations understand the importance of engaging their employees. Unfortunately, efforts often largely focus on the engagement of its workforce and what managers can do to help grow their satisfaction. But, what’s being done for the managers who are first and foremost an employee too?

Managers can’t do it all alone. They need the help of their leaders as well. If you are a manager of managers, what can you do?

First, send your managers a clear message about their responsibility to engage and keep talented people. Clearly define retention goals, accountability, and consequences for reaching (or missing) those goals.

But, don’t stop there. Here are five simple tips from Love ‘Em or Lose Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans to help you effectively engage and retain your managers.

  1. Are the managers you manage conducting “stay interviews”? If so, great. If not, they need to start. Your job is to teach those you lead how to ask critical questions of their talent, how to prepare for employees’ responses and then how to make something happen. Help them learn by conducting a stay interview with them first. Ask them why they stay and what matters most. And then once you know, do. Take action to help them get the most of what they want out of work.
  2. Are you a family-friendly manager? Be a strong role model. Walk your talk. Your people watch how you prioritize and choose between work and home events and they might just follow in your footsteps. Coach them to flex, to partner creatively with you and with their employees as they struggle with work/life management. If you set the stage, show it can be done, and reward family-friendly managers, you’ll create a team that’s a magnet for talent.
  3. When was the last time you had a career discussion with your managers? Are you learning about what they want to do next? Talk about the options and help create a plan to get there.
  4. Notice how the managers you managers are rewarding their talent. Ask them their favorite ways of recognizing all-out effort and work well done. If they clearly have to search for an answer, it’s time to give them some ideas about this crucial aspect of excellent leadership. Oh – and how are you modeling this important behavior? What are they learning from you? When was the last time you said thanks for a job well done.
  5. We dare you to ask the managers who report to you if you micromanage them. If they nod their heads, seek specific examples. Ask, “When do I micromanage? What does it look like? Feel like? And what would success look like – you know, if I were perfect?” Having a frank conversation about this topic will put yielding on your radar screen and build trust in their abilities to get the job done.

If you manage people who manage people, you not only have the task of engaging and retaining the talent on your team, but also helping them do the same with their direct reports. Catch them in the act of putting those new behaviors into practice, practice them yourself, and remember … managers are employees too. Start engaging them today!

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