Manager LeaderThere’s a lot of talk these days about employee engagement – and rightly so, given that over two thirds of employees are less than fully engaged at work. But alas, too often organisations don’t focus enough on employee engagers.

So what – or who – is an employee engager?

Given the spread of views on how to define employee engagement (you can find the Emenex point of view on it here) I hesitate to introduce another debate about definitions. But for me, it’s quite simple (and it has nothing to do with people in the recruitment sector): an employee engager is anyone who has an influence on how engaged an employee is with their work and their organisation. And the most important of those is clearly, to my mind at least, the immediate line manager.

Yes, of course every individual has a part to play, but that one one relationship – direct report with immediate line manager – is key to levels of employee engagement of workers at every level of the hierarchy. Regardless of whether we’re talking about a shift team supervisor, department head or a CFO, the line manager is vital to creating the working environment in which every employee can feel increasingly engaged and thus give of their energy, enthusiasm and discretionary effort.

So what do effective engagers do that causes their reports to want to continue coming to work, whilst other people in the same organisations can often feel very differently?

The answer, of course, is that they do many things, but here are some things that are absolute essentials:

  • They consistently and clearly communicate their expectations to every one of their direct reports;
  • They consistently and clearly give feedback on progress and behaviour, measured against those expectations;
  • They consistently and clearly live by their own values, and those of the organisation;
  • They consistently and clearly role model what it means to be an engaged employee themselves;
  • They consistently and clearly coach and mentor their reports, enabling them to grow, develop and be achievers;
  • They consistently and clearly encourage every one in their care to “be the best that they can be.”

Yes, it’s a bit of a simplification and I know there’s more to it that that; but there’s a clear theme coming through: in everything they do, employee engagers are consistent and clear in everything they do.

Here’s another challenge though: being consistent and clear in the wrong things will have your employee engagement score tumbling through the floor and your employees running for cover. So be consistent and clear, yes… but make sure it’s doing things that cause your team members to want to go the extra mile. After all, the old adage is certainly true: People don’t leave organisations; they leave managers.

Where are your people going? And if you don’t like the direction they’re heading, what will you do about it?


Image courtesy of Vlado at

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