The idea that managers play a critical role in creating engaged workforces is not new. In fact, the concept that an inspired workforce is more effective than one that is not has been around since at least the 1950s, and great leaders probably have intuitively known this for ages. Additionally, the role that managers play in this engagement also is well studied. However, I would argue that organizations rarely train managers to engage with their employees. If an engaged employee is one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about his or her work and, therefore, has an emotional attachment to the results, then two questions come to mind:
- What skills, knowledge, and behaviors do managers need to master to create engagement on their teams?
- What development will help managers master these skills, this knowledge, and these behaviors?
Most organizations focus management development on technical skill development, providing only basic soft skill development like coaching skills. Please don’t get me wrong; this type of training is absolutely necessary, but managers also need to complement and integrate it with skills, knowledge, and behaviors that develop employee engagement. In addition, this development can’t end with new manager training. Sustaining a culture characterized by employees who are highly involved, enthusiastic, and fully committed requires managers’ continued development to ensure they have all the necessary tools.