9 Ways to Become a More Engaging Manager

by David Zinger | Posted | Engagement

9 Ways to Become a More Engaging Manager

If one thing is evident about the hectic pace, the orientation to action, the variety and fragmentation of the activities of managing, it is the enormous amount of energy that effective managers bring to their work. This is not a job for the lazy. ~ Henry Mintzberg, Managing

Management = Engagement is a bold declaration as we transition into 2015. It is time to abandon discretionary effort and pizza parties as our approach to engagement and rightfully install engagement into the heart of how we work and manage. Good managers are engaged, they engage their staff, and they manage with engaging methods and approaches.

engagement everywhere the wheel of engagement

Why engagement = management

Numerous studies have indicated the importance of managers and engagement. The UK’s Engage for Success Movement identified engaging managers as one of the four key enablers of engagement: Engaging managers focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch their people.

Gallup has devoted much of their massive engagement efforts towards enabling managers to improve the employee-manager relationship. Gallup's research suggests that about one in 10 people possess the talent to manage. Custom insights found that problems with managers or direct supervisors account for 49% of disengaged employees while Gallup estimated that managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units.

Canadian management thinker extraordinaire from McGill in Montreal, Henry Mintzberg, declared in his book Managing:

“To manage is to help bring out the positive energy that exists naturally within people. Managing thus means engaging, based on judgment, rooted in context.” (p.214).

In 2015, we need to delve much deeper and further into engagement as the way of managing and work rather than as something extra or discretionary. I believe the very elements that foster engagement are also the elements of good management. Hence, the bold assertion: engagement = management.

Previously, I defined engagement in simple terms as, “good work done well with others every day.” I use this definition for all employees but it seems to be an especially good fit for managers. I have devoted about 14,000 hours on engagement and have distilled the building blocks of engagement into 10 key elements: results, performance, progress, relationships, recognition, moments, strengths, meaning, well-being, and energy. Managers play a vital role in making each of these blocks come alive for both themselves and others at work.

9 ways managers can instill engagement

Here are 9 ways managers can install engagement at the core of management, work, and well-being:

1. Extend invitations as opposed to making impositions.

2. Ask questions versus having ready-made answers.

3. Hold conversations versus holding court or issuing commands.

4. Listen to employee voices as opposed to making solo decrees.

5. Center work on strengths and address variances and performance gaps from a foundation of strength.

6. Master the ability to co-create meaningful work with staff versus trying to tell people why work is meaningful.

7. Strive to maintain an open versus a fixed mindset by being experimental, learning from failure, and maintaining authentic optimism about work and others.

8. Embed work in a social framework versus silos and solo endeavours.

9. Ultimately, achieve results while building relationship rather than achieving one at the expense of the other.

Managers and supervisors have a strong influence on engagement for both themselves and employees who report to them. This group can have a disproportionate influence on engagement and is deserving of special attention when we examine engagement at work. When managers have a mindful approach to engagement, it can reap benefits for individual employees, the team, and the organization as whole!

Your turn:  How do managers approach engagement within your organization?

HBR Report: Frontline Managers

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HBR Report: Frontline Managers

Frontline managers are pivotal to organizational success. Are they given the leadership tools to succeed?


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