As business leaders try to tackle the problem of performance management, they’re always looking for ways to improve and to maximize the efficiency of the workforce. They’ve tried everything from emphasizing health and wellness to increasing training for vital professional skills. Often, though, the answer simply lies with employee engagement.
If people are focused and passionate about their jobs, they’re sure to perform at a higher level, but the sad truth is they often don’t. The biggest problem where engagement is concerned is the employee’s direct supervision – the relationship between an employee and his or her manager is often the driving force behind productivity.
Sadly, there’s a lot of room for improvement where worker-manager relations are concerned, according to the Harvard Business Review. The news source recently published the results of Gallup’s employee engagement report, entitled “State of the American Manager,” which reveals that engagement is struggling because of breakdowns with managers.
Gallup found that less than one-third of Americans feel engaged with their jobs in any given year. This has remained consistent since 2000. Moreover, it was found that managers account for as much as 70 percent of the variance in people’s employee engagement scores, and that approximately 50 percent of people have left their jobs at some point in their lives to get away from their managers.
Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist of workplace management and well-being, told HBR that strengthening relationships between employees and managers is difficult, but it should be a top priority.
“Given the troubling state of employee engagement in the U.S. today, it makes sense that most managers are not creating environments in which employees feel motivated or even comfortable,” Harter explained. “Having a bad manager is often a one-two punch – employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and negatively affecting their overall well-being.”
So what can your organization do to fix the problem? Below is a look at three strategies for better relationship-building skills for people and their managers.
Always communicate well
One of the main reasons that managers struggle to connect with their employees is that sometimes, communication breaks down. It’s important that both parties regularly follow up with one another and clarify their expectations. Are workers meeting their goals each week, each month? Are managers providing the necessary support?
Set goals and measure performance
It can be difficult for employees to stay engaged if they don’t know specifically what they’re working toward. One role of the manager is to set precise, quantifiable goals for their employees’ performance – that way, they can gauge their employees’ progress and regularly update them on their status.
Emphasize people’s strengths
No one wants a micro-manager who’s constantly reminding them of their faults. We’re all human, and we all have strengths and weaknesses. The best way to lead people is to identify their best qualities, then put them in position to use those attributes daily. By bringing out the best in everyone, managers can push the workforce to succeed.