How Do Successful Managers Keep Employees Engaged?

What habits do successful managers practice when it comes to employee engagement?

Answer by Hector Macdonald, Strategic Communications Consultant and Author of Truth, on Quora:

What habits do successful managers practice when it comes to employee engagement?

To answer this, we have to think about what motivates people at work. Dan Pink has written well about this in Drive. He cites Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose as important sources of workplace motivation, and I agree with him. So what does that mean for managers?

1. Give employees some control over their own work. People who can decide when and where they work often put in many more hours and much more productive effort than those who have to follow strict rules and timetables. They may also come up with better ways of working, and more innovative solutions. This means managers have to trust their employees to do the work, but in most jobs there is the space to assess whether that trust is well-founded before too much can go wrong.

2. Help employees get really good at their job. People enjoy being good at what they do, so provide them with coaching and advice. If budget permits, send them on training courses. This has obvious benefits for the organisation, but it also gets people more motivated. If the work is very repetitive and dull, try to find some other activity that the employee can also do, even if it’s just a few hours each week, that requires more skill and gives greater opportunity to develop mastery.

3. Give employees a clear purpose, beyond the enrichment of shareholders, for the work they do. I do a lot of consulting in this area, writing organisation-wide purpose statements that help energise whole corporations when properly communicated (there’s a bit about that in my book, Truth). But even at the team level, managers can develop small-scale purposes that motivate colleagues. It doesn’t have to be ending hunger or bringing peace to the world. A manager who clearly states how an employee’s work makes life easier for their customers, for example, can transform the way that employee sees their job.

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