No one knows a team better than its manager. Wearing many hats, the manager is at times a planner, advocate, taskmaster, mentor, and individual contributor. The manager intimately knows the team’s highs and lows, wins and failures, likes and gripes—the daily business of getting the job done. Yet with traditional engagement tools, such as the annual employee survey, managers are often sidelined in the process. Or they are tasked with simply delivering the boilerplate survey results to their team, with the hope that any resulting dialogue may spark solutions. This hierarchical approach leaves many employees feeling disconnected from a process meant to feel inclusive.

The Data Ivory Tower

In many companies, employee engagement data is kept top secret, accessed only by HR and the C-Suite. The data gatekeepers carefully control the message and present engagement data to the entire company in a consistent, yet broad, communication. Although on the surface this strategy may seem empowering, in today’s workplace it has become a habit that limits a company’s potential to improve employee engagement. We delve into this further in our whitepaper: Seven Habits That Are Stalling Your Employee Engagement Program And How to Fix Them.

As we discussed in a previous blog post, high-performing organizations are moving away from a one-size-fits-all strategy to a more targeted approach for improving employee engagement. Using data to identify specific teams’ unique challenges, they craft tailored solutions that drive engagement at the team level. The natural leader of this grassroots approach is the team manager, the person who is best equipped to understand the motivations, goals, and concerns of their people.

Factoring Managers Into the Equation

Embracing the manager-employee relationship is a significant step toward improving engagement on both sides of the reporting structure. Companies that give managers the responsibility to improve employee engagement can inspire a powerful ally who can greatly influence their team’s happiness and performance. Managers can lead action planning in collaboration with their teams. They can discuss specific concerns alongside individuals with whom they already have a relationship and ongoing dialog.

FICO, the analytics software company, recognized the need to change its traditional approach. As the company expanded to new geographies, it became challenging to maintain cohesiveness. The firm’s annual employee survey only produced static reports that ultimately proved ineffective. The company developed a new strategy that embraced managers as agents of engagement. FICO provided its managers with on-demand team-level data that allowed them to better understand their motivation and engagement on an ongoing basis. This re-energized managers around engagement and gave employees the attention they needed.

Glint’s analytics, manager dashboards, and role-based permissions empower managers with visibility into engagement challenges, and give them tools to course correct when needed. Charged with team-level engagement, managers can develop their leadership skills and improve communication on their teams. And the former data gatekeepers—HR and the C-Suite—can participate in the process with their expertise as engagement facilitators, coaches, and advocates.

Learn more in our new whitepaper: Seven Habits That Are Stalling Your Employee Engagement Program And How to Fix Them.