You often hear that employee engagement starts with leadership, but what does that really mean?
Managers in particular are at the front lines with employees, and play a key role in motivating, inspiring and engaging them. That’s why companies need to ensure that managers are adequately prepared for the workforce.
How important is this, really? This stat from Gallup’s State of the American Manager report may give you pause: 50% of employees leave their jobs “to get away from their manager.”
Through Ceridian’s cultural transformation journey, CEO David Ossip told the Financial Post he learned that a leader’s most important job is taking care of their people, and individuals promoted into these roles need to understand this. “[Leaders’] primary responsibility is to their employees. You have to weave that sense of service into the fabric of your culture to be successful,” he says.
Investing in leadership development is equally as important. When managers aren’t prepared with the tools they need to empower their teams, those shortcomings can trickle down to the rest of the organization. It’s important to close leadership skills gaps to set managers up for success.
The best organizations equip managers with technology and training, so they can focus less on transactional aspects of management, and more on inspiring and motivating their employees. Here are two ways to strengthen leadership, and help managers power up.
Gallup’s State of the American Manager report, and numerous other research findings related to employee-manager relationships, found that communication is what employees want most from their managers. Start with simple things: managers should set a regular cadence of one-on-one meetings with their employees. These are informal, but they’re important to build trust and rapport.
“The ability to listen is one of managers’ most powerful tools,” says Deb LaMere, Ceridian’s VP of Employee Experience. This means not simply saying you have an open-door policy, but being just as open to receiving feedback as you are to giving it, and demonstrating to employees that they’re being heard.
To hold leaders accountable for engagement and strategic success, we’ve established a leadership effectiveness index at Ceridian. It’s a simple set of questions we ask employees about their managers.
The goal of these questions is to understand, for example, if they are satisfied with their immediate managers, and whether or not they feel empowered and inspired by their managers. The outcome of having great leaders who embody organizational values is that employees are more engaged and committed, going above and beyond in their roles.
At Ceridian, we ask these questions on a pulse, or ongoing basis. When you’re starting out with a leadership effectiveness index, it’s important to establish a baseline, and then do it regularly so that you can get an accurate trend going forward. This helps to identify both leadership challenges and potential triggers of disengagement.
This blog is part of our series The five keys to employee engagement. For more tips to improve employee engagement, check out Four ways to improve communication with your employees, and read this post for tips on better employee recognition.