Strong Leadership is Critical to Employee Engagement

8 Common Management Botches Organizations Make

Over the last twenty years working with organizations all over the globe, at CustomInsight we have discovered three critical elements that make and/or break employee engagement: management, management, management.

Though employees might not be outright aware of how important leadership is, the Happiness Research Institute study on Job Satisfaction found that having a positive relationship with managers was four times more important than that of having a positive relationship with colleagues. As we wrote in a previous blog, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

Leadership is The Happiness Research Institute on Job Satisfaction’s number two influencer in employee engagement and employee satisfaction.

Great managers don’t “just happen.” In fact, there has to be something deliberate about the choosing and training of managers to fit each organization’s culture. So, finding the right fit and working with those managers to become even better is crucial for employee engagement.

Nevertheless, there are some commonalities that, over years of working with thousands of companies, we’ve discovered hone in on great management. On the flip side, we’ve seen common mistakes organizations make in choosing managers or sticking with bad managers that that kill engagement and, in turn, production. To put a spin on it, we’re going to list the what not to dos of leadership in organizations:

1. Don’t mistake skill for leadership: Doers aren’t necessarily leaders. Having a phenomenal engineer, the best of the best, doesn’t mean she’ll be the best leader to a team of engineers. A great manager is a combination of competence and leadership.
2. Lack of direction: As whimsical and fun it is to watch movies about geniuses who throw caution to the wind and work mad hours to discover something out-of-this-world, it’s not the real world. Great managers have deliberate plans and give direction to their teams. They have a clear vision and strategy. Assess constantly to change according to needs.
3. “Detail oriented”: Micromanaging is not only an engagement killer but is downright annoying. Stop it. Step back. Let your team flourish. (You are not Steve Jobs. And from what we can tell, he was annoying, too.)
4. Unconstructive, vague, obscure: Managers have to be accessible. Feedback must be constructive, clear and relevant. Performance reviews are important and should be done regularly, face-to-face. (Honestly, it’s not an HR torture device to give you more work. Your job is to make sure your employees are assessed constantly). Transparency is critical. Hoarding information weakens a team.
5. Do as I say, not as I do: This doesn’t even work with Kindergarteners. Lead by example. Show your team that you’ll roll up your sleeves to get the job done with them.
6. Being liked doesn’t mean being respected: A great manager isn’t a buddy. A great manager sets high expectations and pushes the team to reach them. A great manager holds her team accountable to reach organizational goals. And when they do, she celebrates the team, not her great management.
7. Playing it Safe: Show your team that they have great opportunities if they let themselves be vulnerable. Risk-taking, failures and set backs are part of every business model. But you can’t expect great from your employees if you don’t give them a chance to dream big and stumble.
8. Work-Life Balance: Always working early. Staying after hours. Great managers have a life, too, and should set up a company communication policy to insure their employees have one, too.

The first step toward hiring great managers is understanding company culture and how to make strategic choices to fill those positions. Great managers create great workplaces as managers influence almost every aspect of our work – from setting goals and leading the team to reach those goals, to who we’re going to work with on a team.

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