Engaging Employees and Managers to Improve Performance

According to a recent survey by Hewitt Associates on the current state of employee performance management and career development, 89% of respondents reported that career opportunities are at least one of the most important drivers of engagement and retention, and 77% reported that career development is more important than it was five years ago. With these statistics in mind, there’s no doubt that one thing HR professionals should continually keep in mind is the idea of engaging employees and managers to increase and improve performance.

As HR wraps up the year with performance appraisals and prepares for a fresh start in 2011, “how can we do talent management better?” is an important question to keep in mind. One way to do so is to keep employees and managers engaged at all times. After all, it’s often said that employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. As such, it’s a wise choice to take a top-down approach by focusing on how to properly engage managers so they can in turn connect with their staff.

According to additional research by the Aberdeen Group, “The role that managers play in employee engagement cannot be underestimated. Organizations must not only provide the tools to help managers have development and performance conversations, but also must provide the skills that managers need to make engagement a reality.” But how?

It’s simple. If employees and managers don’t feel like they are being engaged, then they’re more likely to lose touch with their surroundings and may begin to stray. Ultimately, the key to employee retention is through career development opportunities.

All this to say, as you ramp up to start a new year with a fresh perspective on talent management, here is a checklist of things to think about when it comes down to how to effectively engage your people:

  1. Goal setting and development: Employees and managers should be encouraged to develop goals and expectations. Regular follow-up and check-ins will help to establish and maintain accountability.
  1. A solid overall process: Lack of manager involvement in the talent management process is often due to inefficiency in the process. The easier the process, the more willing managers and employees will be to participate and follow through.
  1. Communicate expectations and results: According to a survey by the Aberdeen Group, respondents cited the lack of follow-up between managers and employees regarding progress against goals and performance expectations to be a top challenge. If your managers lack skills in communication, ensure that this is on top of your ‘things to improve list’ for the coming year.


  1. Opportunity for training and development: Because employees are so attracted to career development opportunities, providing your people with the chance to grow and develop their skills, and giving managers the tools they need to bestow these opportunities to their staff is crucial.


  1. Pay for performance and succession planning: If your organization does not already do so, implementing a pay for performance structure and succession plan is an effective method of staying on top of key talent and make certain that top performers are rewarded for their efforts.
  1. Going above and beyond: Having all your ducks in a row when it comes to talent management is great, but sometimes going that extra mile for your employees is what keeps people around and wanting more. Employee incentives, bonuses, holiday parties and employee outings are just a few things that can help give you that ‘special touch’ and make your organization an attractive place to work.