An Undervalued Force: The Mid-Level Manager’s Influence on Employee Engagement

Three out of ten employees are actively engaged at work, meaning they are all-in to achieving the organization’s goals.

This statistic includes mid-level managers, specifically the levels of management between senior executives and first-line managers.

There is an undervalued force at work –  the mid-level manager’s influence on employee engagement.

Why Employee Engagement Matters

Whether a small business, large corporation, or non-profit organization, employee engagement matters.

With higher employee engagement, organizations experience –

✅  23% higher profitability

✅ 10% higher customer loyalty

✅ 18% higher sales productivity

✅  Lower absenteeism

✅ Consistently lower unwanted employee turnover

Having only 31% of your mid-level management team actively engaged impacts business performance. 

Source: Gallup.com

Why? 

Your mid-level managers plan, orchestrate, and navigate daily actions. They are the cohesive glue for high-performing teams. 

Senior executives rely on mid-level managers to bring stability, focus, direction, and leadership to their teams. 

Mid-level managers translate enterprise-wide strategies and help employees create a sense of connection and commitment to the business purpose and goals.

The Mid-Level Manager’s Challenge

It is difficult for mid-level managers to create an environment that champions active employee engagement while managing personal career hurdles. 

With proven skill in managing operational challenges, mid-level managers are often left on their own to figure out how to navigate the complexities of human behavior and people situations – in other words, how to lead people effectively.

Consequently, managers find doing more of the work themselves is less emotionally taxing than working with and through their team members to achieve business objectives.  Doing so seemingly mitigates the potential risk of failure. 

Instead, it creates a climate for personal and team member disengagement.

Team Up for High Performance

Authors Marshall Goldsmith and Sally Helgesen identified several behaviors and habits impacting leadership effectiveness.  Many of these influence how managers create the space for employees to engage wholeheartedly in their work. 

Books: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith; How Women Rise, co-authored by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith.

Leadership Behaviors Influencing Employee Engagement

Below is my take on a few of Goldsmith and Helgesen’s cited behaviors that empower and enable mid-level managers to create higher employee-engaged work environments:

  • Delegating more effectively.
  • Listening with an open mind to different points of view before stating one’s personal opinion.
  • Matching one’s leadership style to the specific needs of others.
  • Dealing with performance problems timely.
  • Giving proper recognition and credit (praise or reward).
  • Listening to others – fueling a culture of inclusion and collegial respect.
  • Being less focused on flawless performance – minimizing stress for oneself and those with whom the manager interacts.

An Organization’s Call to Action

What if you could support your mid-level managers in amplifying one of these leadership behaviors to effect a positive change in employee engagement?

It’s worth the effort. 

According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of their team’s engagement level variance.

To create the climate that brings out the best in your organization’s stakeholders – its employees – begin with your mid-level managers.

Your mid-level leadership team can and will make a marked difference with the right support system.

Need help? Schedule a complimentary consultation.

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and women’s leadership strategist. Her leadership program, Maximize Her LeadershipSM, guides women in bringing together their talents, strengths, and executive presence to experience a thriving career.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.