We have a phrase in our business…Leaders cast a long and cascading shadow. The true meaning to that phrase goes way beyond the idea of influence. When something is wrong in an organization or in a part of the organization one of the first places you should look at is at the relevant leadership. Typically, leaders are not even aware of how they impact the organization as a whole. But the culture of an organization is built on the behaviors of its leadership.
One of the concerns I have had for a while now is that employee engagement has been relegated to middle managers and direct supervisors. Managers are a significant part of the employee engagement footprint; however, they are only one aspect out of many. When we rely on managers solely we create a host of other problems one of which is we forget that managers are just employees with a unique set of responsibilities. Managers struggle with the same issues that everyone else does and hold more people responsibility as well. When we forget this we can put too much pressure on managers and cause them to become disengaged.
Accenture, a global management company, recently conducted a survey of job satisfaction with middle managers that revealed increased frustration for a variety of reasons. When asked to cite the most frustrating aspects of their jobs they cited the following:
· Increased workload — 36%
· Not receiving enough credit for their work — 32%
· Having no clear career path — 31%
· Less support to work effectively 31%
It doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out that if your managers are feeling frustrated on the job and you have a group of unengaged leaders it leads to unengaged employees. Maybe it is about time we teach managers as much about engaging themselves as we do about engaging others. After all, managers are people too!