• Kate Pritchard

Improve employee engagement – start with your line managers

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

It’s a hard job being a line manager.

Often, these employees are promoted because they are the best in the team at what they do day in and day out and, as a reward, they’re given people management responsibilities.

The trouble is, they are not given extra time to carry out these duties and, in some cases, no training either.

While senior managers will (hopefully) provide inspiration and direction, it is line managers who employees connect with day in and day out. And the relationship people have with their line manager can be key in deciding whether to leave or remain in a job.

So line managers are a critical population who play a key role in the engagement and retention of their team.

They themselves need to feel valued and supported to enable them to be the best they can be.

Here are five ways to enhance the engagement and effectiveness of your line managers:

1. Help them keep focused on people management.

Managers tend to have a busy day job before their people management responsibilities are taken into account, so be clear of your expectations of line managers as people managers from the outset.

Add people management responsibilities to their job description and objectives and use one-to-one meetings as an opportunity to check in on progress and provide feedback. This will ensure that people management gets the priority it deserves, and that managers know what is expected of them.

2. Provide opportunities for skills development.

Whilst people management will come naturally to some, others will struggle, so ongoing development is important.

Following introductory management training, consider mentoring and coaching.

Mentoring is an effective way for managers to learn from those with more experience, with mentors often acting as a critical sounding board. Coaching helps managers to fulfil their potential by providing a safe place to work through challenges and develop effective solutions.

3. Keep communication channels open.

Just as line managers should be available for their team, managers need easy access to their managers so that information can be shared and discussed.

It is important that employees find out about company developments through formal channels rather than through the grapevine, so important news needs to reach managers quickly. This ensures that managers can communicate with their team in an appropriate way and be prepared to answer questions.

4. Help managers prioritise.

Line managers struggle the most with work-life balance.

Help them to prioritise and delegate to ensure that a high workload does not distract from team management and engagement. And support them in maintaining a healthy work-life balance so that they can be at their best when they are at work.

5. Recognise great performance.

Employees need to feel appreciated. Good managers will provide regular recognition to their team and it is important that they in turn receive appreciation for developing and supporting their team.

Show you value great people management as much as other great performance. Celebrate high levels of employee engagement and communicate your commitment to building and maintaining an engaged workforce.

Implementing these practices will increase management capability and motivation, an essential first step in building employee engagement.