By: Jaime Gonzales

Managers are integral to the success of engagement programs and your people’s overall employee experience because they are the closest to employees’ priorities, strengths, interests, challenges, and needs. They are in a better position than anyone else to understand and positively influence individuals and teams to achieve the objectives important to your business. They can work directly with your people to collaboratively build the trust that’s essential for honest communication; co-create solutions to improve individual and team dynamics, and share accountability for taking action against pulse results; therefore driving and accelerating meaningful progress.  Simply put, managers are the best equipped to take action on survey results. 

Unfortunately, too few managers are able to use survey data and insights to take action that effectively helps people be happier and more successful at work. Much of that can be attributed to the lack of timely access to the data, and limited opportunities to build good feedback and conversation habits.

Limited access and capability hamper manager effectiveness  

A full 47% of managers never receive team-specific employee engagement results. When managers do receive results, it can take months before they see them. In a traditional employee survey program, the HR team takes weeks to clean and analyze the results and comments. Then they cascade the results to each level of leadership, giving them time to understand the results and prepare their response. Only after many weeks have passed are results shared with managers.

The consequence is that, in the eyes of the manager, this rigid cascade frames the results as someone else’s data to own and act on. This often leads to managers deferring the responsibility of discussing and acting on feedback to organizational leadership or the HR team. In this scenario, managers feel neither motivated, trusted, nor equipped to prioritize employee engagement as they do other business goals.

This combined with traditional organizations still surveying only annually means that managers receive insights and recommendations once a year. As a result, managers are put in the difficult position of having to support organization-wide engagement initiatives with stale information.

What’s more, managers begin to lose their skills in engagement conversations and action taking because they have such infrequent opportunities to use them. This means leaders and HR partners must continually refocus and retrain managers on how to effectively use and lead conversations based on employee feedback. 

Improving manager access and capability  

According to Glint’s research, employees who don’t believe action will be taken on their feedback are seven times more likely to report being disengaged compared to those who believe action will be taken. An organization’s ability to act on their employees’ input is what separates a strategic employee engagement program from a traditional listening channel. At Glint, we strongly believe that managers should get access to results as soon as the pulse closes to create best-in-class engagement practices.

We’ve already established that managers are in the best position to take meaningful action on pulse results because they have intimate knowledge of the local issues that make a difference in the daily experience of individuals and teams. So quick access to survey results is one piece of the puzzle. But for that to happen we need to use an agile process and technology to gather and address employee feedback—because they are what will lead to actionable, team-level data. Today’s technology makes it simple for:

  1. organizations to solicit input multiple times per year
  2. employees to give targeted feedback on topics that matter to engagement
  3. managers to glean insights from mountains of data using sophisticated analytics and natural language processing tools

This regular feedback and action-taking cadence makes it possible for organizations to build a culture of continuous improvement through their managers—but only when these managers are empowered with access to the findings.

While managers are a linchpin to effective employee engagement programs, they are also often distracted by competing priorities and underprepared to live up to their vital role. But managers can feel empowered when provided with: 

  • best-practice suggested actions 
  • simple ideas for action-taking conversations 
  • a regular feedback and action-taking cycle

These resources also shift the expectation that HR partners or executive leaders are responsible for action taking, and they help managers empower employees to collaborate on solutions.

Helping organizations accelerate the release of employee engagement results 

Organizations that follow the cascade-based approach may have good reasons for their practices. Traditionally, this method was used to ensure leaders were aware of the challenges in the organization and could prepare messaging and responses to survey findings before they were broadly shared. Now, with modern employee engagement solutions, leadership and HR partners can monitor results in real time, as employees give feedback, meaning they can get ahead of major trends. This approach eliminates the need for lengthy, cascading reviews post-pulse close. A sophisticated engagement platform also removes the delays we see with traditional, more manual processes—inordinate time dedicated to data cleaning, comment analyses, materials preparation, etc. With this functionality, organizations can release results as soon as the pulse closes.

Instantaneous access triggers a virtuous circle

Replacing the traditional cascade-based approach of releasing survey results with a real-time approach is a catalyst for more frequent, high-quality conversations between managers and their teams, and builds greater organizational transparency. And these practices drive better engagement and performance.

When managers feel empowered to hold conversations about and take action in response to engagement data, everyone wins. The more managers use feedback, the better they become at using it and the more they rely on it to effectively enable their team. In many cases, managers shift from a mindset of “managing talent” to enabling their people—and the overall organization—to succeed. It all starts with frequent pulsing; timely access to real-time feedback and survey results; and insights that allow managers to take timely action.

Sharing pulse results in an accelerated timeline not only empowers managers—but it also signals an important shift towards transparency for the entire organization. This illustrates that leaders are open and honest in their communication, managers are trusted with information, and employees are part of the solution (rather than kept in the dark). This brings a level of cohesion and sense of “We’re in this together” for the entire organization.

Ready to explore how your organization can give your managers access to timely survey results? Check out our People Success Platform.