The Engaging Manager

Robinson D, Hayday S | Report 470 | Institute for Employment Studies | Oct 2009

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All of IES's work on employee engagement to date has pointed to the importance of the relationship between the employee and the line manager.

These findings led to this research, which aimed to identify how, in practice, engaging managers behave. We visited seven organisations and interviewed 25 managers, their teams, and their own managers, about their management style.

The 'engaging 25' were nominated by their organisations because their teams had scored highly for engagement in the latest attitude survey, and because they were known to be good at motivating and encouraging their staff.

We discovered that our engaging managers had a lot of characteristics in common, but personality was not one of them. Some were energetic extroverts, others were quiet, even shy – some were intensely practical, while others were creative and innovative, or liked intellectual challenge. Most had been with their organisations for some time, but others were more recent recruits.

Their behaviour towards their teams, however, was very consistent. The interest they took in people as individuals, and in developing and nurturing their teams, did not prevent them from tackling difficult issues like breaking bad news and managing poor performance.

Something else they shared was a focus on performance and an expectation that their teams would deliver to a high standard. The recession was biting when we carried out our research, and some of the private sector companies we visited were suffering, but our engaging managers recognised the need to maintain their engaging behaviours in bad times as well as good.


The Engaging Manager assessment toolEngaging Manager 360 assessment

The IES Engaging Manager assessment tool is based on our in-depth research into engagement and engaging behaviours, and has been tested and validated by institutions and organisations such as British Gas, Family Action and the House of Commons.