Engagement transcends manager/employee relationships

The rapport between supervisor and worker is just one element of motivating and retaining your staff. Alignment with departmental and organizational values and goals is another key factor.

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Conventional wisdom has led companies to spend countless billions of dollars in an effort to turn supervisors into communicators.

The conventional wisdom is that the relationship between employees and their supervisors is the key to engagement. Bolstering the argument that the relationship is vital is research from Gallup—the organization that, for all practical purposes, invented the concept of employee engagement. It found that about half of people who quit a job do so “to get away from their manager.”

The employee-manager relationship is a key to engagement, but it’s not the only one. It may, however, be the hardest problem to fix. We have been banging our heads against the wall trying to turn people managers into good communicators for as long as I have been in this business—40 years next May. I don’t think the needle has moved much in all that time.

When engagement surveys reveal a problem, CEOs generally turn to their human resources department for solutions. Eleven percent of the time, HR responds by launching training programs meant to help managers improve their communication skills.

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