Magazine article HRMagazine

Make Managers Responsible

Magazine article HRMagazine

Make Managers Responsible

Article excerpt

At nine companies, various tools tie engagement to leadership.

Corporate leaders are making more demands on managers to maintain high levels of employee engagement, and HR professionals are drawing on a variety of strategies to get managers involved in nurturing an engaged workforce. Employee engagement has a direct impact on worker performance, dedication to mission and drive in helping an organization accomplish its goals.

Research has shown that employee engagement is higher when responsibility for sustaining it is spread throughout an organization.

A 2008 study by the American Society for Training & Development cites organization leaders, including managers, as key players in creating a culture of engagement. Here's why: While the corner offices provide inspiration and strategies, managers bring ideas to life with the help of the rank and file. Managers' daily contact with employees affects employee performance and morale.

"Management must be informed and trained, and ultimately accountable for their team's engagement," says Razor Suleman, founder and chief evangelist of Achievers, a San Francisco-based provider of web-based employee rewards and recognition programs.

How do companies hold managers accountable for employee engagement? The methods and strategies vary according to industry, size and culture, but here's a peek into HR practices at a handful of companies where all leaders work hard on engagement.

Measure and Train

WD-40's President and Chief Executive Officer Garry Ridge says holding managers accountable for employee engagement starts with identifying the business' strategic goals, then linking engagement to strategy.

Every two years, the San Diego maker of lubricants and cleaners conducts an opinion survey of its 334 employees. Results from the survey provide engagement measurements and are shared with each department and geographic region. Each team is charged with identifying areas for improvement. Supervisors and managers meet with their reports to discuss results.

"Every 90 days, we sit down with every employee in the company to reflect on their progress against their goals and our values," Ridge says. "Our goals are tied not only to financial performance but to the cultural performance of the company, which includes the level of engagement scores."

Ridge says the company ties engagement, metrics, coaching and training for managers together using leadership tools that can be tailored to fit an organization's culture and operating style. Ten leadership development competencies are used for evaluation, one-to-one and group coaching, and personal development programs for managers.

Positive results come from taking the mystery and uncertainty out of talent management, he says. WD-40's process includes goal setting and regular feedback between employees, managers and leaders.


The National Consumer Panel in Syosset, N.Y., has just 80 employees, but it serves as the backbone for consumer data collection and boasts two notable brands as partners-SymphonyIRI and Nielsen. The business uses an array of initiatives to keep managers rewarded and accountable for employee engagement.

First, SMART goals-that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals-are created for each employee. Managers meet with employees in weekly team meetings and individually to discuss progress in meeting their objectives. Employees participating in the talent management program target specific skills to develop for promotion and lateral moves.

Jane Slater, manager of human resources, conducts two employee satisfaction surveys annually "to keep a pulse on satisfaction and engagement." In addition, managers solicit feedback from employees regularly.

Slater points to Chief Operating Officer John Toomey as a driving force behind initiatives aimed at enhancing engagement, including awards, recognition and mentoring programs that let employees know their opinions make a difference. …

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