The Bad Manager’s Guide to Employee Engagement

Managers have a direct effect on employees’ motivation and engagement. While an engaged employee is enthusiastic about their job and is excited to contribute, an employee who isn’t engaged is unmotivated and unproductive.

According to Gallup, in 2016, 33% of U.S. employees were engaged. Most were not – and hadn’t been for awhile.

Companies looking to increase performance and boost their bottom line should focus on engaging, motivating and supporting their employees. As Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says, “It’s about the people, getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment and helping to find a way to innovate.”

Just as you nurture your audience to convert them into loyal customers, so too must you nurture your employees. After all, they could become your biggest brand supporters. An engaged workforce is critical to the success of your company. Engaged employees are excited to come to work and always put their best foot forward, which in turn translates to high production and increased success for your company.

But if you’d rather stick to the status quo and squash employee engagement from the start, then this guide is for you. Here are some do’s and don’ts that bad managers frequently follow to a T – and some tips on how you can change course to start better engaging your employees today.

Don’t Listen to Employees

Good managers are active listeners who are attentive, ask questions, stay on subject, and don’t interrupt. Bad managers don’t do any of those things, and are more apt to want to hear themselves speak than listen to what their employees are saying. Or, they may simply tune out while employees are trying to make their voices heard.

On the other hand, listening to employees and paying attention to their ideas makes them believe you care about them and what they think. Engaged employees feel like their voices are heard and that what they say matters.

“When people are financially invested, they want a return,” says leadership expert Simon Sinek. “When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” Good managers allow their employees to contribute. This could be by asking their opinions up front or setting up an employee suggestion program.

Besides ensuring they regularly communicate with employees, good managers also make sure that their communication is beneficial. This means building a strong relationship with employees and creating an environment where they feel comfortable talking to you.

Do Avoid Communicating Regularly

The best way to become a bad communicator is to avoid it. Good communication is best done in person, so bad managers tend to schedule remote meetings or send emails instead. Pay attention to nonverbal language, too: standing with your arms crossed or your feet pointed towards the door can both be perceived as negative and signal that you aren’t interested in communicating.

“The best managers make a concerted effort to get to know their employees and help them feel comfortable talking about any subject, whether it is work related or not,” says Jim Harter, Ph.D., chief scientist of workplace management and well-being for Gallup.

Managers who want to see their employees succeed set up regular meetings with them to discuss their goals, progress, concerns and more. This allows employees to feel better connected to their manager and, in turn, their company.

Don’t Recognize Employees

Employees want to feel like they are valued by the company they work for. That way, they feel motivated to do their best work. By recognizing and rewarding employees for their efforts, managers can ensure they retain their best workers.

Bad managers fail to recognize employees when they’ve done a good job. This creates a negative environment for the employee and causes them to become dissatisfied and unproductive.

Good managers recognize their employees in a variety of ways. This could be a simple thank you, a special note or calling the employee out publicly. Managers may even choose to take things a step further and reward the employee with a gift or lunch or set up an innovative employee recognition program.

Do Micromanage

If you want to be a bad manager, micromanagement is one of the top skills to learn.

Micromanagement causes employees to feel stressed and unmotivated. Nobody likes someone else telling them how to do their job, much less doing it for them. Managers who micromanage are in danger of losing their employees’ trust and risk having them quit.

Good managers know their employees don’t need their hands held every step of the way. Instead, they support them in their duties and ensure they have everything they need, but they also step back and allow them to complete the job at hand. They work with the employee, but they don’t overstep.

Don’t Provide Growth Opportunities

If employees don’t see a future at your company, they won’t be motivated to do their best work. When they do their best work, they want to be recognized and rewarded, with the ability to move up the corporate ladder.

Take a look at Chipotle, for instance. They have one of the happiest company cultures out there. Why? Because they have a strong focus on employee engagement – specifically, on employee growth. They promote from within, and believe that their current employees make the best managers.

To help employees grow within the company, managers should set up regular performance reviews. While you probably already have some type of company-mandated program set up, take it a step further. Don’t make performance reviews merely a yearly occurrence. Instead, set up regular sessions to discuss your employees’ goals, progress and performance.

Good managers are mentors to their employees, helping them achieve their goals and drive success. They guide their employees on their career journey and ensure they are doing the best work they can. When employees feel engaged, it is a reflection on you as a manager, and contributes to the overall success of your company. How have managers you’ve had kept you engaged – or not? Let me know in the comments below:

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