Note To Team Leaders: Engage Them!

January 16, 2017

Building employee engagement

As a team leader, you can’t afford to overlook the connection between employee engagement and business results. Consider the findings of AMA’s survey, “What Does Engagement Have to Do with Getting the Job Done?”: Some 64% of respondents strongly agreed that engagement is closely connected to productivity. Another 32% agreed that this connection exists.

And yet, the AMA survey also found that employees may not sit up and listen—and some are indifferent or even resistant—when management turns to the topic of engagement. A “show, don’t tell” approach may be required for an engagement initiative, the study said.

Three pillars of employee engagement

How can a manager support engagement among team members? In its Edgewise podcast series, AMA asked this question of Jathan Janove, principal of Janove Organization Solutions and author of Hard-Won Wisdom: True Stories from the Management Trenches (AMACOM, 2016).

Janove defined employee engagement as “an enthusiastic commitment to, accountability for, and alignment with the employer’s goals.” Here’s his advice on how to make it happen:

Establish a shared sense of purpose. Consider what your “why ratio” is in your interactions with employees, said Janove. That is, when you tell employees what to do, how often do tell them why they need to do it? You can create a shared sense of purpose when you “start bringing ‘why’ into the relationship,” he said.

Create an environment that encourages a sense of accomplishment. Janove asks managers to think about how rewarding it is to go home at night feeling that you’ve made a difference. Employees should have that sense of achievement.

“Great managers focus on how do I create the environment, the conditions, the circumstances where my employees feel like they are making a difference? Not that I am making a difference, but they are making a difference,” he said.

Make the human connection. Avoid the trap of viewing employees as cogs in a wheel who help to achieve goals, Janove warned. There’s a human element to engaged relationships, so employees need to know that you care about them as individuals.


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About The Author

American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.


  1. avatar

    […] are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces,” and that “only 22% of U.S. employees are engaged and thriving.” To stay competitive, we are going to have to close the engagement […]

  2. avatar

    It would be great for leaders to avoid telling their team members what to do and instead to use coaching skills to flesh it out. This would be truly transformative for the member.

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