Are Managers to Blame for Disengagement?

I was listening to some folks from the Partnership for Public Service, Department of Agriculture and Deloitte Consulting talk about the responsibility of employees for engagement.

They raised the eternal question that has not been answered yet. Who is mostly responsible for engagement, the manager or the employee?

Let’s set the context of this debate. Neither managers nor employees are doing a great job at engagement according to the above experts.

Based on the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government Index that measures satisfaction and commitment on the following questions, gratification and work devotion are at their lowest levels in the federal government among employees since 2010.

• I recommend my organization as a good place to work-not really.
• How satisfied are you with your job-not much
• How satisfied are you with your organization-do you really want to know.

As these experts bandied around this age old question as to who owns engagement, it became crystal clear that when employees are asked about their interactions with supervisors or the proper use of their talents in the workplace, engagement appears to decline.

Employee responses to the following Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey questions seem to support the notion that a manager can make or break you when it comes to engagement.

Look at this dichotomy. When employees are asked, “When needed I am willing to put in the extra effort to get the job done,” 94.5 % say they do. Nearly 90% of them say, “I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better.” Look what happens to their responses when you bring up their managers. Less than 60% of them feel their managers support engagement. Barely 50% say they are used well in the workplace by their managers.

Bottom line, all employee engagement roads appear to lead back to the manager. Why not? They have most of the power in a federal workplace that has a checkered past when it comes to sharing power.

A well noted servant leader once said, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Perhaps our managers will follow this wisdom and realize that when it comes to engagement it is not about the accumulation of power. It is about the sharing of power through empowerment.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply