Five Questions Every Manager Should Ask About Employee Engagement

A lot is written about employee engagement. There are endless checklists of 10 things you can do to improve employee engagement and it can seem bewildering as a manager to know where to start.  But the real secrets of high levels of employee engagement aren’t that complicated.


Research[1] shows that most people want two things from their work. On the one hand, they want to do interesting and valuable work that challenges them just enough to be stretched and to learn.  On the other hand people want to feel valued and appreciated.


If you step back and think about what engagement is it really means having people who care about your business, who will go the extra mile for customers and show grit and determination to get things done. It shouldn’t be surprising that, if you want people who care, then you must reciprocate by showing that you care for them too.


This goes way beyond saying the occasional thank you. It means understanding what matters to your people, what they love doing, what they will avoid doing at all costs, and how they want to grow and be stretched.


Below are five questions you can ask yourself as a manager to assess how well you are building levels of engagement in your team.


  • How much do I know about what really matters to each of the people in my team? We don’t just mean what matters to them in the workplace. People are often so much more than they bring to the workplace. Find out what matters at home and in the rest of their lives. What is it they would move mountains for? What are their worries, hopes and dreams? Asking these questions builds strong relationships and brings people to life.
  • Do I know what the strengths are of each member of my team? By strengths we don’t mean what the person is competent to do but what do they love doing? The evidence[2] shows that employees who have managers that know their strengths are 71% more likely to be engaged. Sometimes we think we know someone’s strengths but we don’t always see the full picture. Have you pigeon holed someone based on what you have seen them do so far?
  • Do my team know their own strengths? Not everyone knows their own strengths. Team members who understand their strengths are more productive and more engaged. Take the time to tell people about the good things you see them doing and what you see them doing well.
  • Do members of my team appreciate the strengths of their fellow team members, especially where those strengths contrast with their own? Teams need diverse strengths but people don’t always appreciate people who operate differently from themselves. Building a sense of appreciation amongst team members builds levels of engagement and delivers a stronger, more effective team.
  • Do I know the growth point for each member of my team? By growth point we mean the areas where that team member is ready to grow and wants to be stretched. Remember that being stretched and learning new things is one of the top two drivers of engagement. If you want engaged people you must have an eye to each person’s growth. What is it that they can’t quite do yet but need to try in order to develop?

[1] Top Engagement drivers by industry, AON consulting 2015

[2] How employee strengths make your company stronger, Gallup business journal 2014

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