Great managers consistently engage their teams to achieve outstanding performance. They create environments where employees take responsibility for their own — and their team’s — engagement and build workplaces that are engines of productivity and profitability. But not every team is led by a great manager.
As Gallup has reported, only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged at work, and a staggeringly low 13% worldwide are engaged. However, research also shows that people who feel supported by their managers and organizations are more engaged and productive at work. And a productive team will free you up to take on more varied, visible, and higher-level tasks and to avoid being swamped at work. Here are just a few ways to offer support to employees in your daily role as a manager.
Put the power of positive feedback to work for your team. Gallup research shows that employee engagement increases and employee turnover decrease when managers focus on what’s right, rather than what’s wrong. Commit to positive feedback, focusing on people’s strengths. Let them know when they’re making progress. Show that you appreciate their work, even if it’s in a small way — a word, a note, a call to say “thank you.”
Believe in people. Make sure the people you manage understand that you believe in them. Extensive research supports the relationship between positive expectations from managers or teachers and positive outcomes. Say explicitly, “I know you’ll do a great job with this assignment” or “I know you’re the right person for the job because you handle data well, and you’re also able to see the big picture.”
Keep the environment positive. Ensure that people stay engaged in their work. Don’t let favoritism, negativity, or group conflicts interfere with people’s productive energy.
Give people responsibility and accountability. Encourage the people you manage to take ownership of their performance. Avoid micromanaging, but at the beginning of an assignment, establish a system for keeping informed of the individual’s progress, so you can give feedback and criteria for measuring success. Work together with employees allowing them to set some of the deadlines, goals, and processes for reviewing their work.
Remember your off-site employees. Since they may be missing out on interactions at work, be sure they get weekly positive feedback, too. Show them that you have positive expectations for them, and ensure they receive support from co-workers.
Generally, people whose family and personal needs are being met will focus better and be more engaged when they are at work. Some managers work with employees to design flexible schedules that allow them to attend to family and other personal issues.
When there is a problem, you might refer an employee to your organization’s work-life or employee assistance program (EAP) for help. Or, without being intrusive, you might simply make sure, in big and small ways, that employees know that you are respectful of their commitments and priorities outside work.
An organization’s work culture refers to the work environment and how employees feel about it. It encompasses everything from a manager and employee communication to the support employees think they have to balance work and personal commitments. Here are questions to consider as you examine how employees feel about the culture in your workgroup and organization:
Here are ways to offer support: