Keeping managers happy

Rewards, access to leadership, influence critical to engagement

The real competitive advantage at any organization is talent. Ensuring this talent is engaged, motivated and emotionally involved in the success of their employer is key to continued growth.

Maintaining an engaged workforce falls heavily on the role of middle management. Managers are not only required to lead their respective teams to execute corporate strategies but often set the standard in attitude, behaviour and results for the workforce. In order to be successful, you need a culture in which managers thrive.


Most successful organizations have strategies and programs in place to develop employee satisfaction and build corporate loyalty. But in a standard employee rewards system, managers are often overlooked, frequently not receiving recognition while their teams and individual performers receive incentives and bonuses.

Building a talent-rich environment requires development and recognition at all levels. Managers should be rewarded by the same standards as other employees and equally commended for their achievements and initiatives that further the business. Management incentives should reflect a manager’s ability to achieve set goals, to coach, inspire and lead their team to success.

Corporate enthusiasm is contagious — managers tend to have the greatest interactive reach across an organization with both senior and junior positions. A manager who feels valued by a company will not only be a more loyal employee but openly advocate the benefits of the corporation and instill a greater work ethic.

Senior leadership

Managers are often taught to lead through collaboration and communication, although many are given limited access to senior leaders. Creating a culture of shared leadership is vital to the growth and development of a strong management team. Managers should have regular, engaged interaction with senior leadership on a weekly basis to share ideas, collaborate and provide updates on projects and initiatives.

Developing stronger management includes the creation of communication channels that promote idea generation, proactive reasoning and strategizing. Managers need to feel their input is valued by being encouraged to bring new ideas forward in aid of their individual careers, team success and the growth of business platforms.

One of the key reasons managers feel undervalued is their belief they have a limited ability to develop a strategy for their team in the overall approach of the organization. Managers are often kept in the dark — asked to execute goals, policies and projects with little or no information surrounding the impact and importance of their work. To build a culture that allows managers to thrive, they need to feel they are part of the leadership of the organization — not just a member of staff.

“Managers feel disconnected from the business strategy when decisions pertaining to their department get made around them, and are left feeling like things are being done to them, versus involving them in the decision-making process,” says Sherri Evans, vice-president of HR at NEI Investments in Toronto. “We ensure our managers are not only aligned with the company’s strategic goals but involved in team decisions and clear on the impact their individual and team contributions are making to our overall success.”


A successful manager is actively engaged in the success of the business through execution and management of his individual and team’s body of work. Creating value and understanding around these initiatives creates a culture where the management team can thrive and create a lasting investment in the corporation.

Involvement in the decision-making process is particularly important from a resourcing perspective. Whether employees are on the way in or on the way out, managers should be fully involved in any process that directly or indirectly affects the infrastructure or head count on their team.

During any restructuring process, a manager should be given the ability to discuss and choose which team members are to be impacted, whenever possible. Without the ability to manage the strengths and weaknesses of the team, it is unrealistic to hold a manager accountable for his team’s output.

In an environment where head count is being affected without the manager’s input or knowledge, corporate loyalty is put at risk. Managers need to be given the information and tools to mentor their team in a changing landscape, providing informed feedback and keeping the group focused on projects and strategic initiatives.

Managers who are unable to choose and develop the members of their team are less engaged in the success of the group and less willing to encourage individual growth within the team.

Managers play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of any business but their effect and reach go well beyond their body of work. A happy, engaged manager not only imparts best practices and encourages collaborative mentoring through her team but also sets a valuable standard for corporate culture and loyalty.

A manager who feels valued in her work will contribute to a culture of career collaboration within her team, thereby lending to the succession planning for employee development.

Identifying and rewarding a manager’s success is a key factor in establishing value in her work and creating positive corporate culture.

Managers must feel they have access to leadership and are able to make decisions that affect the direction of their team and, ultimately, their own career path. A strong manager is not only a great leader but a corporate advocate and champion of his organization’s culture.

Mona Mitchell is president and CEO of ACHIEVEBLUE in Toronto. She can be reached at or for more information visit

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