Managers are the key to improve employee engagement

A recent Gallup report predicted that low employee engagement levels of around 20% are likely to exacerbate the ongoing skills shortage as the economy recovers in the wake of Covid-19.

Why does this matter? Disengaged employees cost businesses up to US$550 billion per year for two reasons:

  1. They’re more likely to leave (driving up recruiting costs) and
  2. Disengaged employees drive down productivity.

The good news is that managers hold the key to boosting engagement levels through frequent, honest, and open conversations. During the Covid crisis, great managers in businesses of every size have coached their teams through massive disruption and the transition to remote work.

Are the leaders in your organisation up to the task?

AbilityMap’s Capability Framework includes detailed descriptions to help companies apply distinct and measurable descriptions to their teams to identify highly capable leaders, and those who may require further development in specific areas.

Below, we explore the key capability for managers – known as “Leading Others” – as well as listing several other capabilities that contribute to leadership success.

Leading Others Capability Set

Highly Capable leaders

Highly capable leaders can be relied upon by others for inspiration and engagement. They enjoy mentoring others and offering guidance, taking on the role of coach rather than boss.

Leaders do not command respect, but earn it through acting with respect and integrity. They know their strengths, and are comfortable making decisions while adapting their leadership style to different people and situations.

Finally, great managers are not reluctant leaders. They enjoy leadership roles and are happy to step up when necessary.

Red flags indicating leadership development needs

Leaders who require development are less likely to be interested in identifying the talent of others, or encouraging them to do their best. They may fail to involve their team in defining goals and planning ways to achieve team success. Similarly, they often have difficulty delegating work.

In terms of communication, the way they present messages and feedback may come across as overly harsh or critical.

Other capabilities that define great coaches, mentors, and managers

There are several other skills found across AbilityMap’s capability framework that help make a great manager. These include:

  • Accepting responsibility
  • Sharing knowledge
  • Personal communication
  • Influencing and persuading
  • Setting goals
  • Motivating others
  • Listening to others
  • Understanding others’ needs
  • Coping with pressure

Companies can take a mix-and-match approach to managerial capability depending on the leadership style they seek. For example, a company that wishes to hire or train more empathetic leaders may incorporate listening to others and understanding others’ needs within their measurement criteria and focus on building these capabilities with people who display a low inherent preference to apply these skills.

Know what you need before hiring and training managers

There are plenty of online resources that attempt to define the skills that make a great manager. But if you want to understand the specific skill-sets that drive leadership success in the unique context of your organisation, start by accurately defining the capabilities of your top-performing managers.

Follow these steps to unlock the power of evidence-based decision-making when recruiting and hiring managers:

  1. Know what you need. Identify the leaders in your organisation with highly-engaged, high-performing teams (they should be easy to spot) and have them undertake a capability evaluation. 
  2. This will provide you with a success map or profile of the X-Factor capabilities that make a great manager in your business.
  3. When hiring, use this data to brief recruiters, and quickly evaluate incoming candidates against this success profile. 
  4. When training, evaluate your team against the profile to identify top performers, potential future managers, and development needs.

Contact us to discuss how we can define the capabilities of your team and increase your employee engagement through strong leadership. 

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