Summer 2018 Issue
We know higher engagement is related to better performance. In fact, organizations go to great lengths to ensure their employee engagement is high. They have managers and employees take Employee Engagement Surveys regularly. And while these surveys offer plenty of insight, is it measuring something that matters? In a way, yes. We know that organizations with higher employee engagement are more successful. This is incontrovertible.
However, the reality is that Employee Engagement Surveys merely measure symptoms: does the organization suffer from poor communication, conflict, or drift. These surveys indicate how some departments decide to do things themselves rather than trust their peers. And they bring attention to whether the people who should be making the decision are not actually making those decisions, resulting in delays, missed opportunities, and duplicated work. These are all very real symptoms of employees that are not engaged.
In an effort to improve engagement, organizations treat these symptoms. But just as treating a fever by taking aspirin provides some immediate relief from symptoms, the underlying disease, the cause, is not being addressed. The signs of poor engagement come back when the intervention ceases, just as a fever returns if the infection itself isn't treated.
But what if the underlying causes could be measured so that root cause issues are addressed? How? By measuring manager effectiveness.
Are the managers focused on the right things?
Are they carrying out their managerial leadership duties?
There is only one way to attack symptoms of employee disengagement. Managers must manage. In most instances, employee engagement issues are caused by problems at the management level.
Research shows that managerial leadership practices drive employee engagement, which in turn boost customer satisfaction and ultimately, overall organizational performance. Back in 1994, James L. Heskett’s Putting the Profit Chain to Work research was released. It discussed the “relationships between profitability, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity”.
More than two decades later, the Service-Profit Chain theory is as relevant as ever. It’s simple. When employees are satisfied with their organizations, they feel invested in that organization’s success and therefore, perform their tasks with purpose. This earns clients’ trust and commitment. When customers are satisfied, their loyalty and repeat purchases are the result.
So how do employees become satisfied with their organizations? Again – Managers must manage. When managerial leadership improves, employee engagement improves.
The service-profit chain is in fact grounded in managerial leadership practices. While Heskett refers to the importance of managerial leadership practices, this aspect has been forgotten by most organizations. Driving top organization performance should look like this:
The following figure compares the overall mean of a client organization that has repeated both a Manager Effectiveness Assessment and Employee Engagement survey two years apart. As can be seen below, the increase in overall manager effectiveness correlates to increased employee engagement.
This was reflected over and over again on many dimensions in both surveys.
The effectiveness of managers is directly tied to increased productivity and profitability. The most valuable and influential relationship that employees have at work is with their immediate manager. The importance of those in managerial roles doing managerial work cannot be understated. Unfortunately, management practices are often not supported or structured in a way that allows for optimal results.
Ultimately, what is needed is an accountability and authority framework that is clear and implemented down and across the entire organization.
Dwight Mihalicz helps organizations improve performance. He focuses on manger effectiveness, ensuring that all managers, from the CEO to the front line, are focused on their key strategic priorities and have the accountability and authority required for success. Dwight has founded and is President of Effective Managers™, a management consulting firm based in Canada, providing services globally. The firm uses the Effective Managers™ Survey to assess manager effectiveness, and The Effective Point of Accountability® to help organizations focus managers on the right work while breaking down silos. He is also Chair of ICMCI (CMC-Global), of which CMC-Canada is one of its 50 members. To learn more about Dwight's work, visit: www.effectivemanagers.com Check out his YouTube channel for free VidCasts and recorded Webinars.