Since the beginning of this century, when Gallup first began to measure workplace engagement in the U.S., more than two-thirds of workers have stated that they are not interested in their jobs. Essentially, these findings have shown that people show up to work for the paycheck rather than because of any intrinsic motivation. It also suggests that many workers only do the bare minimum necessary to avoid getting fired.
Fortunately, Gallup also did another report called the State of the American Manager that could possibly provide a solution. Apparently, the bridge between productivity and profitability is talent and engagement, and managers have a great deal to do with how motivated people are to do their jobs. Bad managers are often responsible for discouraging people from enjoying their jobs. Another Gallup study of 7,272 workers discovered that one in two employees leave their jobs to escape the harassment of a bad manager.
The best way to improve workplace engagement is not to offer employees more flexible hours, financial incentives, or some innovative perks, but to improve how managers go about their jobs.
With that in mind, here are 4 ways to be a better manager:
1. Improve communication
A good manager communicates with their workers. This can occur in person, on the telephone, or using electronic messaging. Clear communication is possible even in large organizations or when managing remote teams. With advances in technology, communication is easier now than ever before. A good manager has many excellent software tools at his or her disposal to increase collaboration.
Performance management is enhanced when there is a spirit of collaboration within a team as well as the technology to make communication almost effortless. By using software like Brosix Instant Messenger, a manager can provide guidance when an employee is not sure how to do something or when a project is due.
2. Build a working relationship
The reason communication works as well as it does is because it creates a relationship. Employees prefer to work with managers who understand them. One way of building this relationship is through having regular meetings. In fact, it’s estimated that employees who have regular meetings with their managers are almost three times more likely to find their job interesting as opposed to employees who have no meetings or only meet with their managers when it’s absolutely necessary.
Essentially, employees are motivated by managers who are interested in their well-being. Top managers understand how people are different and want to be recognized for their uniqueness. Simply relating to everyone in the same way, as if they all had interchangeable knowledge, abilities, and skills, only creates a sense of alienation. People resent feeling like cogs in a machine and want to be recognized for their individuality.
3. Establish clear expectations
A good manager sets clear goals for employees. He or she makes sure employees know what to do, when they should do it, and why it matters. In other words, employees learn to follow through on what is expected of them.
Employees often need guidance because they are faced with a deluge of tasks are often confused about what is expected of them. Disconnected from the big picture, they don’t know how to arrange their priorities or how fast they should work. When managers merely give annual reviews and developmental pep talks, employees only get a vague idea of what they are expected to do. They don’t understand their company’s vision and don’t grasp what they are expected to do.
4. Focus on strengths rather than carp on weaknesses
One of the biggest weaknesses in current management is focusing on weaknesses. This is a losing battle. Managers feel forced to confront employees and employees feel resentful or intimidated by constantly being called out for poor performance. Instead of things getting better, they get worse: employees fail to do what is expected and managers struggle to meet project deadlines.
The way to end this conflict in working relationships is to do the opposite: focus on strengths. A corporate culture that focuses on strength assigns work based on talents. As a result, everyone wins. Employees learn to do their jobs faster and better, and besides producing more work and higher quality work, they are less likely to change companies. The high rate of company turnover is often due to employees wanting to get away from feeling harassed at work for nonperforming. Employees who work with their strengths are often more likely to request training to further add to their knowledge and skills. It’s a positive, upward cycle.
Good Managers Enhance Workplace Engagement
An engaged employee, according to Gallup, is someone who is interested, involved, and enthusiastic about their jobs. Employees appreciate managers who help them decide on priorities, who establish clear performance goals, who encourage accountability, and who play to their strengths. Engaged employees enjoy their work because they feel that they are treated fairly and that they have a chance to create a great career.
By contrast, disengaged people are indifferent, and they sleepwalk through the day, uninterested in improving their own performance or in the success of their company. This attitude of showing up and going through the motions not only affects the workers themselves and their companies, but it also affects the economy as a whole, reducing economic growth.