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3 Ways Managers Can Ignite and Engage Their Teams


Wed Feb 12 2020

3 Ways Managers Can Ignite and Engage Their Teams

The New Year high has come and gone and after several pep talks and goal-setting sessions, it seems your team is already running out of energy. The culprit? It might just be your management choices. Thankfully, the fix is in your management choices.

A person’s motivation and passion for their work is what I like to call “fire”—one of four key components of performance that I discuss extensively in my book. If your employees are lacking the necessary fire for their jobs, it always shows in their work.


My company’s recent study about fire and its effect on performance found that employees, on average, are only 67 percent engaged at work. This could mean employees either turn on autopilot for one-third of their projects at work or that employees only give 67 percent of their full effort on each project. Also, 80 percent of employees say managers influence their fire at least monthly, and more than 50 percent say managers affect on their fire at least weekly.

Here are three ways managers can help ignite their employees’ fire at work throughout the year:

  1. Watch Out for Bad Management Habits

Based on our survey, most respondents (57 percent) said micromanaging is a sure way to decrease their fire. Close behind, 42 percent said unrealistic expectations and giving unclear instructions (38 percent) were also management characteristics that reduced their fire.

I’ve seen it firsthand in coaching sessions. Managers with these kinds of habits, like micromanaging or unclear communication, are their own worst enemies. Although usually well-intended, their management styles can hinder themselves and their employees.

If you’re looking to know what habits might be useful to change, asking your people may give some useful data. In fact, asking them is likely to improve the level of trust provided that you say “thank you” for whatever they suggest and take action on the useful parts.

  1. Maximize Growth Opportunities

While some management choices can decrease fire, managers can increase fire for their employees in plenty of ways. Nearly half of survey respondents said managers help boost their fire by giving them opportunities for growth and recognizing them.

These two findings show there is a common desire for empowerment among employees. While micromanaging often shows a lack of confidence in employees, managers who provide opportunities for growth and recognize employee contributions demonstrate confidence in their employees’ abilities to learn and grow.

  1. Develop Yourself As a Coach

Our survey respondents said managers could help improve their fire by listening, leading by example, and giving clear, consistent feedback. In other words, employees want a manager who can coach. This is especially true for those managers working with millennials and Gen Z. Our survey found that this demographic was 28 more likely than older generations to say coaching would increase their fire.

While coaching is an approach every manager should be familiar with and one they will usually say is an important part of their role, when I’ve asked managers what gets in their way, the response is usually, “I don’t have the time.”

This statement indicates that managers see coaching as something additional to be done. This belief is the trap. Coaching is not about scheduling a special meeting; it’s about conducting the meetings you already have in a more intentional, organized manner. Coaching doesn’t take more time; it saves time because it helps a performer take more responsibility. The more responsibility a performer takes, the less supervision a manager has to do.


Your people already evaluate each conversation they have with the you against three criteria:

  • Do you care about me as a person?

  • Are you candid (honest) with me?

  • When I leave a conversation with you, do I feel it was helpful to me?

If you want to improve the impact of your conversations, whether you call them coaching conversations or anything else, start paying attention to whether you are caring, candid, and constructive.

The road to boosting employee fire is not an easy one because many elements are at work when it comes to someone’s motivation. When managers take ownership, everyone benefits.

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