Most organizations provide a comprehensive initial new manager development program. These programs include the latest research about becoming a great manager, such as innovative programs like the Oz Principle, Situational Leadership, Targeted Selection, and unique team-building events where participants engage in activities like walking around a field blindfolded and holding hands. These approaches are fine, but the problem is that once managers complete this development, what happens next? More important, what does the organization do to help managers sustain the concept of creating an engaged workforce? If generating and sustaining a fully committed workforce that is enthusiastic and emotionally attached to the business results is the objective, then managers need the skills, knowledge, and behaviors to help them sustain this engaged culture once they achieve it. In fact, I would argue that sustaining it might be more difficult than creating it. To sustain an engaged workforce, managers need the following reinforcement tools:
- Reinforce the Engagement Model – During new manager training, managers learned the fundamentals of creating a workplace that generates an engaged workforce. This model should not be a static model; instead, managers need development that constantly reemphasizes and reviews the key concepts of this model. Learning and development departments and managers’ supervisors can play a key role in this reinforcement.
- Continue Development – Managers should attend and participate in regular continuing development on the engagement model. In other words, if they get the 100-level course in new manager training, then they should get the 200- and 300-level courses as future development. True development is a process, not an event! Expecting managers to master all the skills, knowledge, and behaviors necessary to create an engaged workforce in one training event is unrealistic.
- Reward and Recognize Engaging Managers – The organization should value the degree of engagement managers generate in their teams. Think about it—the reward the organization will receive in terms of low employee turnover and the achievement of business results will far outweigh the cost of any manager recognition.
True engagement happens when everyone on a team does the right thing the right way at the right time and truly enjoys doing it. While this may seem unrealistic to some, to others, especially great managers, it is fundamental to their success. If this is true, then development is crucial to achieving engagement, and successful training and development organizations provide the skills, knowledge, and behavioral development to their management teams.