June 2013
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TD Magazine

Managers Are Vital to Employee Engagement

Saturday, June 8, 2013
Editor’s Note: Managers Are Vital to Employee Engagement

This month's issue of T+D examines the role of managers in employee engagement.


In honor of ASTD's 70th anniversary year, I decided to peruse previous issues of T+D to examine the topic of engagement and management development. I found articles in the late 1950s that specifically highlighted the role that managers play in the success of an organization. I also found articles that focused on employee satisfaction as part of employee performance reviews.

But, as you well know, things are different today. The focus is on the manager's role in employee engagement and the difference between engagement and satisfaction.

The role of the manager in employee engagement has become vital in today's business world where the need for increased productivity is greater than ever. As Julie Nielsen and Tracy Maylett wrote in an April 2012 T+D article, "Three broad categories combine to define engagement: satisfaction, motivation, and effectiveness. While each of these factors are important on their own, only when all three are present simultaneously does true engagement occur."

Peter Psichogios, in his feature article, defines engagement as "everyone in the organization doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time—even when no one is watching. Engaged employees who are enabled to create exceptional service experiences will give organizations a real and sustainable competitive advantage. If you can create that type of culture, it is difficult, if not impossible, for competitors to replicate."

His article examines "the everyday activities that take place where, as a leader, you have an opportunity to enhance engagement, maintain engagement, or create disengagement."


Although managers play a key role in giving their employees the tools and processes to be effective in their jobs and making employees feel respected and valued by soliciting feedback, meeting one-on-one, and recognizing employees for good work, motivation is personal. It varies from individual to individual. Instead of workplace trainers focusing management development solely on project management and strategy implementation, management training today encompasses the role that managers play in engaging employees, developing employees, analyzing skill sets, and retaining high potentials.

Today, training at the manager level is all about workforce development—providing managers with the essential tools, resources, and content to help them engage their staff—and increased productivity. Can managers in your organization look to you for the help they need in establishing a culture where employees bring their hearts and minds to their jobs every day?

Paula Ketter
Editor, T+D
[email protected]

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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