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Engagement & Retention...Managers are the Key to Success

    In my 30 year career as a Human Resources leader I have been involved in many Engagement & Retention efforts.  The Gallop organization…and several other well known firms have proven that business performs better with an engaged workforce.  Typically, we go out and survey employees, discover trends and attempt to effect change, often at the employee level.  But are we approaching effective change correctly?  Human Resources may lead the effort to engage and retain the workforce, but you may find that your management team is not prepared.

    Most people enter management to “get ahead” and move up in their careers.  Usually the selection process focuses on some aspect of their “technical skills” and viola an individual contributor becomes a manager.  In a recent CareerBuilder survey 26% of respondents stated they felt lost when it came to managing and 58% stated they didn’t receive any leadership training when they got the job.  In my experience (and the facts seem to support this conclusion) engagement comes down to the direct relationship between the manager and the employee.  This relationship is crucial as the most frequent point of contact with our employees are their managers…and we aren’t providing them with the tools to be good leaders.

    So if you are embarking on any engagement & retention efforts why not start by making sure your management team is prepared to execute on the results.  One article in Workspan Magazine Developing Managers: A Key To Employee Happiness by Cord Himeistein is a great reference if you are thinking about management training and engagement.  Also, at our recent January program author “Julie Winkle Giulioni” addressed effective career development (another key engagement issue) and the importance of the role a manager plays in engaging our employees in effective and meaningful career conversations.  Her book along with author Beverly Kay Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go is a must read in this area.

    So before you embark down the path of engagement you need to take a long look in the mirror and determine if your leadership is prepared to effect change.  If not, you may be providing just another reason why employees will go to work for someone else.


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