Last Friday I attended the launch of a white paper written by acclaimed academic Julian Birkinshaw (Pictured left). The paper was sponsored by Indian IT company HCL, who are famous for their Employees First, Customers Second policy.
Employee engagement is arguably the hottest topic on the management landscape at the moment, so this paper is both timely and relevant. The report unearthed a number of interesting findings.
Quality of manager is key
The report suggests that the number 1 determinant of happiness in the workplace is the quality of your manager. The researchers asked participants whether they would recommend their manager to others. They found a direct correlation between the answer to this question and the happiness of the participant.
So what makes a good boss?
There were some clear behaviours that distinguished a good manager from a poor one. The report suggested great managers did three things particularly well. They:
- Pushed decision making down to employees
- Communicated the meaning of the work being done loudly and clearly
- Provided support when it needed
So far so obvious. None of the above is particularly revolutionary and I suspect that many managers are aware that these are good practices to follow. However the report found that whilst many people know what they should do, there is a clear knowing-doing gap.
Bridging the knowing-doing gap
The report outlined a few things that managers can do to go from knowing what to do, to actually doing the right things.
- Seek out opportunities to walk in their shoes. Management by walking around is not a new idea, yet few managers actually practice it. Try things like reverse mentoring, doing front-line work or skip-level meetings.
- Package work into projects. Project work provides strong intrinsic motivation.
- Get to know your employees properly. Only if you know your employees well can you align their strengths to the tasks they need to do. To often employees are asked to do things that don’t align with their strengths.
- Deliver high quality employee experiences. This means going beyond the basic 360 appraisals and give people opportunities to raise concerns whenever they arise.
- Turn your employees into advocates. The report compares modern approaches to marketing with a desirable approach to management, and just as marketers want customers to become advocates of a product, so managers should look to turn employees into advocates of their employer. To measure this they suggest using the Net Management Promoter Score (NMPS). This is basically the percentage of your employees that would recommend their manager to others minus the percentage that would not.
The report raises some good points on both the theory of employee engagement and the mental obstacles that prevent us from achieving it.
If you would like some help on becoming an engaging manager, Professional Manager is chairing a free webinar on inspirational leadership on the 1st November at 3pm. To register visit the link below.