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The Secret to Employee Engagement

Jan 13, 2015

Written by: John O'Brien
(View Author Bio)

Every organization needs employees who are creative and innovative, but they also need the people in place who have the skill sets to put these ideas into action. See which employees are the secret weapon to turning top-line strategy into day-to-day action by workers to increase employee engagement.

Secret to Motivating Salespeople


As the punch line of jokes in comic strips, TV shows, movies and employee happy hours across the country, middle managers have a tough job, though few employees or senior executives would likely agree. From an outside perspective, middle management can seem like the ultimate “cushy” job. To employees, it appears middle managers are shielded from the day-to-day grind of direct internal and external customer contact. To senior executives, middle managers don’t have to face the intense scrutiny of the C-suite and board of directors regarding financial and productivity measures.

Much Responsibility

In reality, middle managers themselves often feel like they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They frequently have many duties and responsibilities, but very little authority. On any given day, a middle manager could be conducting interviews with job candidates, holding a performance review with a current employee, helping deal with a customer crisis, filling in for an employee who is out of the office, training in new employees, completing budget planning, consulting with other departments on cross-functional projects, meeting with senior management on a strategic initiative, meeting with unhappy employees, serving on special project committees, attending training for themselves, meeting with customers, approving orders, researching new equipment and supplies...the list goes on and on. 

Little Authority

However, when decisions need to be made, they often don’t have the autonomy to act alone. Scheduling time with their bosses to get approvals can take weeks, leaving employees unhappy that it “takes forever to get anything done around here.” This creates distrust between middle managers and their employees—something that good managers work very hard to avoid. 

Changing landscape

In addition to their myriad of duties, managers are also increasingly stymied by the
rapidly changing diversity in their direct reports. Many supervise employees covering four
generations ranging in age from 18 to 80. Others supervise new immigrants who may
need guidance in business cultural norms. Some are now responsible for a change in
traditional gender roles as more men go into fields such as nursing and women take on
jobs such as construction.

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John O'Brien

Vice President
Employee Performance Group

As Vice President of BI WORLDWIDE’s Employee Performance Group, John O’Brien’s primary focus is to develop employee engagement strategies and solutions that change the behaviors of employees to align with customers’ business objectives. An expert in Employee Recognition Strategy, he educates HR professionals around the world on how to best engage their employees through employee engagement strategies, solutions and best practices.