You Must Have Engaged Employees–And It’s Not That Hard

Research over the last decade has made a convincing case that companies whose employees feel highly engaged outperform companies with less engaged ones in just about every important metric: growth, profitability, productivity, innovation and so on.

Not surprisingly, research also shows that managers can have a big effect on how engaged their people feel. So there has been a focus on teaching and training managers to be better coaches, to be more empathetic, to use active listening and generally to nurture the people who report to them. These are all good things to do, but they may not be the easiest, quickest or least expensive approaches, especially when you need a turnaround in engagement right away and can’t wait for the benefits of training.

Research done by my consulting firm, Louis Allen Worldwide, shows that even if managers don’t take specific actions to increase the level of engagement their people feel, they still can have a dramatic effect on it simply by being engaged themselves. That’s right: Engaged managers lead directly to engaged employees.

It’s obvious when you think about it. If a manager is enthusiastic about what he or she does, expresses genuine belief in the company and its direction and is working hard as a result, his or her direct reports will likely respond in kind. This is an example of how “role modeling,” one of the fundamental tools of an effective leader, works in practice.

A caveat: This approach will not work if any of five “engagement killers” exists in your organization: (1) a lack of trust in management, (2) a feeling that compensation isn’t fair, (3) a belief that career opportunities are controlled by politics, (4) a belief that the organization doesn’t have the wherewithal to be successful and, most significantly, (5) poor manager-subordinate relationships.

How do you avoid those failings? First, make use of a well-constructed engagement survey, such as the Conference Board’s Global Employee Engagement Survey, to get input on the level of engagement your people are feeling right now as well as input on those five engagement killers. If your organization has a problem with any of the five, you must work on it.

It amazes me how many organizations don’t have a problem with the five engagement killers yet still take no specific action to engage their managers and create a culture of enthusiasm and belief in the company’s mission. Far too many companies allow an attitude of “just do your job, that’s what we’re paid for.” Failure to make work meaningful undermines engagement, leading to lower performance–the start of a vicious cycle.

So what should you do? It’s not that hard. Get your senior management team together and talk about what’s great about your business and your organization. What’s great about its history? What’s great about its current situation? Most important, what’s great about what it’s trying to do now? Why is what the company is trying to achieve in the future something to be excited about working to accomplish? The fact that customers spend good money for what you do is something to be proud of. Take some time to understand and appreciate that powerful fact.

Undoubtedly many people can live lives in which work just means a paycheck, and they don’t feel particularly underprivileged. But most people absolutely light up in a way they never imagined when they get the opportunity to be part of something exciting, something meaningful. That something does not have to be working on a cure for cancer or discovering a way to eliminate world hunger. Anything, absolutely anything, has meaning if someone else is willing to pay their hard-earned money for it.

So, that’s it. Get your senior managers together. Understand and articulate the exciting meaning in your business. Find words and emotions to express it with enthusiasm, and then go about your work, making sure everyone you deal with knows how you feel.

Managers thus engaged will turn everyone in the organization from people merely doing their jobs into enthusiastic hard workers who feel enriched by the meaning they now get out of their work lives.


J. P. Miller is the chief executive officer of Louis Allen Worldwide, an organizational-effectiveness and change-management consulting firm.


Miller, J.P. (2009, May 11). Retrieved from

Performance and Results Management (CESB Accredited Program)
July 25-26, 2019

Understand the discipline of having a systematic Performance Management System by learning how to plan, manage and monitor people performance, and provide timely, precise & accurate feedback to individuals and groups to improve individual, unit & organizational performance. Managing people’s performance is the key objective of establishing systematic performance management system in the workplace.  Performance […]

Building Powerful Teams (CESB Accredited Program)
August 8-9, 2019

Building powerful a powerful team is an essential tool of any successful and good company. When building a powerful team is done right, it is fun and it can help build camaraderie which is essential for a company’s success. Develop your team’s ability to better define objectives and goals, solve problems, resolve conflicts and trust […]

Transformational Leadership (CESB Accredited Program)
August 15-16, 2019

Transformational Leadership is to positively influence the organization. With the combination of right approach and talented employees, the potential of being a great organization is limitless. Positive transformation in an organization is always a good indicator of effective leadership. Learn and understand the basic concepts on being an effective leader. Understand how to help subordinates […]

Strategic and Critical Thinking (CESB Accredited Program)
August 29-30, 2019

Strategic and critical thinking is an essential factor for an organization to succeed. We make personal and professional decisions  everyday, not just hundreds but sometimes we make thousands and so on. In this program, learn to develop strategic and critical thinking that allows you to develop a plan of action designed in order to achieve […]

Problem Solving and Decision Making
August 28-29, 2019

Making effective and timely decisions can contribute to the proper execution of business strategy that ultimately leads to organizational effectiveness. To have this, managers and staff need to be equipped with the skills to decide quickly, implement these decisions and ensure that the implementation is flawless.     When done correctly, your organization and its […]

Driving Execution (CESB Accredited Program)
September 5-6, 2019

Driving Execution is very essential in the organization, implementing plans is very difficult as some are resistant to change.  In this program learn the art of implementing plans despite the numerous challenges that may arise and be skilled in understanding and coping with the dynamics of change to help you achieve organizational success.   Date: September […]

Coaching: Raising Performance to the Next Level (CESB Accredited Program)
September 12-13, 2019

Coaching is a training and development of a learner. Coaching is very important as it help to bridge the gap between education and work experience.  It is a way to develop the employees which can be vital in achieving goals. In this program, understand and apply the different styles of coaching. Boost your employees performance […]

Building a Culture of Innovation in the Workplace
September 16-17, 2019

Organizations (profit or non-profit) are facing change like never before. Driving forces to this change include a rapidly expanding marketplace (globalization), and increasing competition, diversity among consumers, availability of and accessibility to new forms of technology and even a changing workplace culture. Creativity and innovation are keys to the success of a business. Leaders need […]


Subscribe to receive our latest updates

View our clients’ testimonials