Can Managers Create or Destroy Engagement in Your Organization?

The United States is a leader in employee engagement worldwide.  According to Gallup, a mind-boggling 34% of the US workforce is engaged.  You read that correctly…that is on the high-end globally. That same study indicates only 15% of employees are engaged worldwide.  Is there room for improvement? We believe so.  

Who is Responsible for Employee Engagement?

Gallup finds that at least 70% of a team’s engagement is related directly to their management.  As such the Ken Royal writes in the same article:

“The manager is either an engagement-creating coach or an engagement-destroying boss, but both relationships affect employee behavior.”

Perhaps you have worked under both of these types of managers. Under the engagement-creating coach, you may have been empowered, risen to challenges, seen through the lens of your unique contributions and strengths, and felt like you were thriving.  That is engagement. In these relationships, the behaviors of engagement are nourished. As such, a culture of: “You help me do this so I can behave like that” evolves and enables high performance.    

On the other end, maybe you survived the engagement-destroying boss. This is actually unfortunately the traditional boss…transactional.  This is also exactly WHY Gallup has also discovered that 75% of voluntary resignations are connected directly to the manager.

Under this boss, you may have felt helpless, discouraged, untrusted, and very unclear, to name just a few.  Under this traditional boss the culture is: “You give me this, I behave like that.” These bosses end up creating learned helplessness, and a need for constant managing. These bosses actually create exactly what they don’t want. Employees, unempowered, are told to take accountability. However, they are not allowed to take accountability, operate within their strengths, or tap their true potential.  They have to be bossed.


Both of these paths require close involvement and significant time in the way of the Boss.  This is precisely why managers have such a heavy impact on engagement. Ken Royal asserts that the difference in the kind of involvement is noticeable in a key way:

Coaches Individualize and traditional bosses generalize.  


Bosses who generalize everyone are unable to capitalize on the unique strengths and contributions of each team member.  As such, these generalizing bosses often cannot detect the engagement problems that are actually present.  


Bosses who individualize are intentional in seeing each team member’s unique qualities, contributions and needs.  This differs from worker to worker, and day to day. Bosses who work diligently on being the individualizing coach actually create the environment where each team member can feel safe to thrive and show up strong.  The Best Bosses who practice Individualization ask great questions that trigger reflection and critical thinking.  

So, with the knowledge that engagement rises and falls on the shoulders of bosses…what kind of bosses are in your organization?  Are the bosses running your teams adequately equipped to be Best Bosses? Remember the different kinds of bosses you have lived through…which kinds do you want in your organization? 

If you are ready to develop the best managers in your organization, and equip them with exactly what is needed to focus on strengths, cultivate and sustain employee engagement, enroll your managers in a Best Manager Academy.  The real question is: how can you afford not to send invest in a culture of best managers? For more information, visit

Darren Virassammy is the Co-Founder and COO/CFO of 34 Strong Inc. Darren’s top five strengths are: Achiever, Arranger, Relator, Learner and Responsibility.