Driving Employee Engagement: Relationships Really Do Matter


Want a highly engaged workforce? Begin by looking closely at the employee/manager relationship.


It is no longer front page news that people don't leave their jobs, they leave their bosses. It's been proven through research and it is anecdotally undeniable.


Truth is, there may be no greater contributor to worker satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty than a healthy, productive relationship between employee and manager. And no greater detriment than a relationship gone sour.


So then, just what makes for a "disengaging" relationship between an employee and his or her boss? Here are five major contributors.



Lack of trust.
When your employees don't believe what you tell them, when they feel you're withholding information, or when they just don't trust that you've got their back, you've got a serious problem. Without trust, people won't come to you with challenges, concerns, opportunities or to seek support where needed. They most certainly won't put themselves on the line to help you get the job done.


Lack of communication.
When your team isn't getting the straight scoop from you, when they aren't getting a full or consistent story, or when they don't experience open lines of two-way communication, you've got another serious issue on your hands. When people don't have the information they needed to be successful, how can you possibly expect them to do their jobs well? Even when they do manage to "meet expectations," they almost certainly won't push themselves to go above and beyond.


Lack of alignment.
When trust is lacking and communication insufficient, it is impossible to ensure that you and your employees are on the same page. And unless you can align around the vision, goals, expectations, priorities, and mutual accountabilities, you will be hard pressed to engage the hearts, minds and over-the-top efforts of even your most dedicated employees.


Lack of opportunity.
When people don't have reasonable opportunities for career development and growth, motivation to give their absolute best will almost certainly begin to falter. Why put forth the extra effort when it doesn't lead to anything more exciting, interesting or rewarding? Your bright, talented workforce will quickly lose the fire in their bellies without the opportunity for forward movement.


Lack of recognition.
It's simple. When people do great work, when they consistently "do more with less," when they come to you with new and dynamic ideas, you've got to show them that you appreciate it. It doesn't need to be anything elaborate. Even an informal word of thanks can do the trick. Your silence, on the other hand, can be a real motivation killer.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that just because your employees aren't complaining, they are fully and wholeheartedly engaged in their work. Ask yourself, are you really getting everything they've got? If the answer is no, you'll need to work a little harder to build those vital relationships, keep the lines of communication open, align with your employees, and provide them with meaningful opportunities for growth.

Remember, the cornerstone of your group's effectiveness - and the hallmark of any successful organization - is the ability to inspire, engage, and evoke excellence through outstanding interpersonal relationships. Fostering strong relationships with your employees isn't a luxury. It's a requirement for every effective leader.

All the best,  


Liz Bywater, PhD 
President, Bywater Consulting Group 
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Copyright 2013. Liz Bywater, PhD. Bywater Consulting Group, LLC. All rights reserved.