business growth

Is the perceived lack of employee engagement really a lack of manager competence?


Let me explain.

Like many business owners you have invested in the annual Strategic Workshop with your senior & middle management team.

Together you set the vision, agreed on the strategies that would get you there, got the buy-in and commitment on the who, what, when & where.

Sounded great at the time, you really felt that the whole team were on board and that the vision was achievable.

What happened since has got you wondering why you bothered; instead of results you get excuses, instead of solutions you get problems.

What went wrong and where to from here?

Firstly, it is not enough to simply set the vision with your core team and expect it to happen; you need to expand on this by ensuring that:

  1. EVERYONE is on board through both a clear explanation of the company vision &
  2. Being transparent through total open book management (a good example of this is Jack Stack at SRC).

Why do I say that? Well, how do you expect your team to win if they don’t even know the rules of the game as well as their current score?

Because if your very intelligent people (that’s why you hired them remember) don’t know:

  1. What’s expected of them &
  2. How the company is faring, why would you expect them to care? The tendency is for them to assume that you are making so much money that they actually don’t need to work their a**e off and seriously, who could blame them!

This is the reality; put yourself in their position, think about how you would feel.

Now back to the title of this post; we hear a lot about employee engagement lately but is that the real issue? How much of what was discussed and agreed on in those strategy meetings really got communicated to the “troops”? In my experience, not a lot and that is the real problem.

You spent a lot of time and money on the strongly advised Strategy Workshop and expected to see tangible results but as you have most likely seen there is a bit more to People Management than simply dictating what you would like to happen during a “strategy” meeting with your senior team.

Involve EVERYONE in the Vision, the Strategy, the Resources required, the continuous improvement or Lean manufacturing ideas. In other words, get the people in the front line, in manufacturing, warehousing, admin, engineering etc ALL involved in the Vision!

Depending on the size of your business, follow up the strategy workshop by calling meetings by department or business unit or whatever. Explain clearly to ALL employees the Vision for the business, where you’re going, how you are going to get there and especially what their involvement (and importance) is.

In other words, don’t rely on your managers relaying the same message that you sold to them with passion when you got their buy-in because guess what, they are not yet competent to do that. In fact, if you think about it, it is your job to sell the vision to all stakeholders rather than micro-managing your people.

You are the ambassador, the person that your people look to for inspiration so do this rather than frustrate your management team, they don’t need you to look over their shoulders as they are or should be competent managers (again, that’s what you hired them for).

What they do need is for you as the owner of the business to sell the vision to EVERYONE, get them on board, show them the cost involved in a job (and hopefully the profit), show them where they fit in, the importance of their role in making it happen. In my experience this is what makes the most difference to an employees engagement in a company’ success; your people want to feel that they make a difference,that their voice is being heard, that they are all important pieces of the puzzle.

You can’t rely on that same middle management team you worked on the company’s vision with to actually deliver the outcome unfortunately. That’s your job, sell them the passion, the vision and together they will make a difference!

Try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

3 thoughts on “Is the perceived lack of employee engagement really a lack of manager competence?

  1. “Get the people in the front line, in manufacturing, warehousing, admin, engineering etc ALL involved in the Vision”

    – Nailed it on this point! An engaged business culture is a productive one… By fostering employee satisfaction through constant communciation, recognition, feedback and praise, goals can be achieved efficiently with a step towards vision being fulfilled.

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