When we speak about employee engagement, the spotlight is often focused on the employees themselves. If we refer to employees (defined as those without any managerial responsibility) as being at the ‘heart’ of business success, then it follows that their managers are definitely the ‘brains’ of the game.

But a managers’ job is never easy. Often overwhelmed in a complex battle of budgets, strategy, growth, planning, productivity, ROI… and of course, ensuring the success of their teams to be a successful manager is tough. The true challenge for HR Directors is knowing how to engage and help managers evolve so they embody commitment and performance, passing this example down through the ranks to the employees themselves.

So, what strategies can HR adopt to support and encourage managers to succeed? We’ve identified three main axes: levers of commitment, individualized support, and implementation of new management rituals.

Deciphering engagement levers

The industry is putting a big emphasis on listening to employees, , but we sometimes tend to forget that the same principle applies at the management level. With only 8% of managers saying they’re engaged in their job (Gallup), how can a team really be motivated to succeed if they’re working for a manager with no drive, low commitment and poor productivity? The answer is simple: they can’t, but we don’t need to tell you that. Engaged, productive managers are successful, and ultimately set a prime example to the teams they manage.

Move aside Employee Experience, we want to focus on the Manager Experience. It’s crucial that HR (and in a broader sense, top managers) actively listen so they can understand the driving forces behind engagement. The good news is that it’s quite easy!

With our Key Drivers feature, HR can identify via two simple questions what managers truly value and if those values are being met. From salary to working hours to the company’s environmental strategy, HR can use this new-found information to form a holistic picture of what really drives manager engagement.

With only 8% of managers saying they’re engaged in their job, it’s crucial that HR actively listen to understand the driving forces behind engagement.

With our engagement meter, you can go even further and decipher managers’ engagement levers through 6 main axes (such as the alignment with the company, the relationship with the manager, or career evolution possibilities) and to monitor regularly – each quarter for instance – the progress you’ve made on these topics.

Equipped with these insights, HR can act and create a work environment perfectly adapted to the wants and needs of managers, ultimately increasing engagement and transforming the Manager Experience. The evolution will be visible in no time, and you’ll quickly realize that modern management practices have numerous – and sometimes unexpected – positive effects on your company.

Such actions will help you create a powerful organization based on manager engagement. They can include creating new company rituals (weekly planning meetings, monthly debriefs) or setting new goals (frequent training opportunities, increased team activities); below are a few good practices to try out.


Dissemination rituals

Wanting to act to improve managers engagement in your company should be natural for two reasons: They are both beneficiaries of these practices (in their relationship with their own managers: top management) and the ones enforcing them (with their teams).

Moreover, the HR sphere has been questioning the very traditional – if not “antique” – management style a lot lately. How could a company be successful and face its inevitable challenges with outdated management practices?

We are now moving forward and entering a new era where Taylorism and Controlling management styles are abandoned in favor of more autonomy, agility, continuous feedback and self-questioning practices. From these new considerations was created the concept of “manager/coach”, a new way of considering the time and support we give our employees. And guess what? This transition can’t wait, employees around the globe are not just aware for it, it has become a requirement. But how can you make this concept a reality in managers’ day to day life?


We always encourage our clients to take advantage of this digitalization of the HR landscape to create and adopt new practices. The good thing is that they are easy to implement and beneficial to every hierarchical level. The possibilities are almost unlimited: weekly briefs, daily mood, 360° feedback, frequent check-in with the team, encouragement between colleagues … to mention only the ones Zest can help you with right away.

The most successful rituals are those that are conducted frequently, in real-time, are agile, measurable, and promote a 360º dialogue.

An excellent example of this dynamic is the “check in” module we designed around a customer’s need. Decathlon wanted to find an alternative solution to the dreadful “annual performance review” and asked us to develop a new module. Check out Decathlon’s Success Story here.

The most successful rituals are those created giving priority to the managers’ needs (more than HR directors or the top management). They should be conducted frequently, be measurable, agile, and happen in real-time. Other advice, rituals promoting a 360º dialogue tend to work best as they are not forced or imposed from above. When they are led from the bottom-up, they are most likely to be adopted as they are rooted in concrete necessity rather than projected needs.

With the backing of HR, those new management practices can become a real toolbox for the modern manager and be an accelerating factor for the success of his team (and as a consequence, for himself). This is the best cure for unmotivated or uninspired managers.


Master of your own success

Those new management practices give managers the opportunity to be the master of their own success. By giving them the starring role of enhancing their performance and strengthening their commitment, HR are facilitating managers’ professional development without really lifting a finger.

We love Zest, and we think it is the best solution ever. But we are not going to say that a digital app is an answer on its own, as we are aware that this profound transition is challenging. All the more when only 61% of the managers are satisfied with the support provided by their top managers to acquire new skills.

To have everyone on board, the trick is to complete this transformation with a strategy built around two main ideas: individual development and collective intelligence.

With individual development, managers can forge their own paths, learn from first-hand experience, and discover which leadership techniques work for them and their teams. The most powerful form of individual development is coaching. Calling on coaches was previously reserved to top managers, setting aside middle management. Once again, we are lucky HR trends are changing! Solutions as MoovOne help you popularize this practice.

Add collective intelligence to the mix – in particular co-development practices – and you’ll push transformation forward by encouraging managers to share their successes, failures and best practices amongst themselves. This collective management dynamics will naturally increase managers are committed to their work.


3, 2, 1… Blast Off

With all these ideas for improving managers’ commitment and performance, it’s time to put them into action.

An engagement solution, like Zest, facilitates each of the mentioned axes and will assist you in creating an environment where managers are heard, empowered and supported. Engagement solutions do just this: with features centered around individual development (skill development, goal management, performance progression) and collective success (sharing ideas, providing feedback, giving recognition). managers can learn to enhance their performance to the benefit of their teams, their own individual career development and the success of the company.

Our mission is to help you in this beautiful project, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you want to transform your Manager Experience!

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