By Brian Lucas

This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from white papers I am posting due to the gracious generosity of Katie Iorio-Martin in response to the enthusiastic requests for more information by many of her interview readers.  For more information go to www.dalecarnegiewayphilly.com.

Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.Stephen Covey

49% of employees satisfied with their direct manager were engaged, 80% of those who were dissatisfied were disengaged according to recent research from MSW Research.

It is said that employees don’t leave companies; they leave people.  Learn about how the immediate supervisor enhances employee engagement!



Dale Carnegie Training White Paper

Dale Carnegie Training Logo

Copyright © 2012 Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.   driveengagement_101512_wp

Engagement, the employee’s commitment to his or her organization and the
willingness to perform beyond expectations, has become a focus area for
management. Engagement is more than mere job satisfaction; fully engaged
employees are motivated and dedicated to making the organization a success.
At the most simplistic level, engaged employees lead to happy, loyal customers
and repeat business. Engagement also leads to improvement in retention levels.
In short, it impacts the bottom line.

Dale Carnegie Training asked MSW Research to undertake a benchmark
nationwide cross industry study of 1500 employees to explore engagement in
the workplace. The study discovered that although there are multiple factors
affecting engagement, the personal relationships between a manager and his or
her direct reports is the most influential.


The immediate supervisor performs a pivotal role. He or she connects an employee to senior management and vice versa, becoming the primary conduit for the flow of information within an organization. Top down, management imparts its goals and values through the supervisor who can best explain to individuals what these mean and how they may affect employees. Bottom up, the immediate supervisor ensures that employees’ voices are heard, listens to their concerns and responds to them, and passes that feedback to senior management.

It is said that employees don’t leave companies; they leave people. What managers do, how they behave, what they say and importantly how they say it affects employees’ attitudes about their jobs and the organization as a whole. Employees who are unhappy and dissatisfied with their immediate supervisors are less likely to identify with the organization’s vision and more likely to be absent or to resign. Employees who are engaged take pride in their work, support organizational goals and are less willing to change jobs for a minor increase in salary.


Employees were asked to rate satisfaction with their immediate supervisor. Forty-nine percent of those employees who were very satisfied with their direct manager were engaged, and an astonishing 80% of those who were very dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor were disengaged.


While the role of emotions in the workplace has been explored in detail in another Dale Carnegie Training white paper, “Emotional Drivers of Employee Engagement,” it is important to note that fully engaged employees express feelings of enthusiasm, empowerment, confidence and value based on their interactions with their direct managers. While a good supervisor makes all employees feel valued and confident, a poor supervisor irritates them and makes them feel uncomfortable.

The importance of this cannot be overstated; the relationship to the immediate
supervisor impacts the investment an organization makes in its people. When
supervisors communicate positive emotions, the employee feels good about
the organization as a whole. Likewise, negative reactions cause a decrease
in productivity and morale, leading to disengagement. Moving disengaged
employees to full engagement leads to an improvement in employee retention
rates, fewer sick days and less absenteeism.


Too often supervisors get caught up in the day-to-day business of managing;
it’s easy to imagine if there is no immediate crisis that everything is running
smoothly. But to achieve full engagement from workers, the line manager
needs to be proactive, exhibiting strong leadership and fostering a positive
working environment. Thirty-eight percent of employees who express
confidence in the leadership ability of the supervisor are satisfied with him or
her. Over half of these employees are engaged.

Good supervisors know employees need to develop the right skills to work
efficiently. For example, new employees need more guidance than those who
have been with the organization for a few years. While they are optimistic
and excited to advance within the company, they are unsure of their roles
and responsibilities. To succeed, they need feedback to understand what
they are doing right and encouragement to help them improve. Immediate
supervisors can turn that initial level of enthusiasm into full engagement by
setting clear goals and training staff. There is also a need for the supervisors
to maintain training as the level of engagement plateaus after three to five
years of employment. Fifty-three percent of fully engaged employees say they
learned a lot from their supervisor compared to 19% of people who are not
fully engaged.

Successful managers lead by example, which generates enthusiasm and inspires employees to work harder. A remarkable 62% of engaged employees say their manager sets a good example, compared to only 25% among those not fully engaged. Supervisors who delegate and trust employees to carry out tasks empower their staff to make decisions; 40% of those who feel empowered are engaged.

Open and honest communication between employee and supervisor allows for greater understanding of both expectations and job performance. Employees who trust and feel respected by their supervisor will be confident that they can speak freely without fear of repercussions. Conversely, a supervisor who fails to communicate openly may lose the confidence of his direct reports and cause them to doubt their own ability or the ideals of
the organization. Supervisors who communicate and trust and respect their staff generate the highest levels of engagement.

These consistent, positive interactions with employees promote a spirit of teamwork and cooperation. However, effective immediate supervisors realize a one-size-fits-all approach does not lead to full engagement. For example, disengagement is higher among post graduates than college graduates or those with a high school diploma. Immediate supervisors can ensure these employees feel valued by recognizing their talents. Similarly,
low-income and low-level employees are among the most disengaged. The role of the immediate supervisor is vital in ensuring these employees, who are often in clerical or sales positions with direct customer interaction, feel their job is valuable and understand the contribution they make.

Employee Perception

Employees perceive their value as an individual through the prism of the immediate supervisor. Recognition of their contribution, along with feedback and encouragement on their performance from their manager, leads to increased confidence, commitment and achievement. Failure to recognize and reward good work can negatively impact employee morale and productivity. Many respondents say that their supervisor respects them, but fewer mentioned that their supervisor provides feedback or encouragement tto improve. This last aspect is what most generates engagement.


It pays dividends for line managers to get to know their staff as this translates
into higher levels of engagement and all the consequent positive effects on the
organization. An employee wants to feel that the immediate supervisor is interested
in him or her as a person and cares about his or her life outside work and its effects on
job performance. Research revealed that employees aged 40-49 often become less
engaged as they face external family pressures. Supervisors who get to know their
employees on a personal level and care about their private lives can counteract this
middle-age disengagement.

These caring activities are two of the four most important drivers of engagement.
Training the immediate supervisor to care about employees has a major impact on
business performance, reducing staff turnover and heightening productivity. This
leads to more satisfied customers and increased sales.

Employees have a positive relationship with supervisors who care. Just one-third of
respondents believe their manager cares about their personal lives, but 54% of these
are engaged. Among the two-thirds who do not believe this, only 17% are engaged.
There is a dramatic opportunity to boost engagement by managers demonstrating a
caring attitude to staff.

Dale Carnegie Training has programs proven to help management develop the
necessary interpersonal skills for supervisors to become strong leaders and caring
managers. Building a cadre of effective supervisors will ensure an engaged workforce
leading to increased productivity, quality of service and higher profitability.

About Brian Lucas

In his life, Brian Lucas has been a coach, farm worker, forester, health care advocate, life guard, general contractor, mechanic, mixologist, musician/singer (in a rock group), salesman and teacher. Brian has worked as a project manager, technical marketer, methodologist, manager, software architect, systems designer, data modeler, business analyst, systems programmer, software developer and creative writer. These efforts include over a hundred hi-tech initiatives in almost every business and industrial sector as well as government and military projects. Among them, he designed and developed a quality assurance system for the first transatlantic fiber optic communications network, a manufacturing system for a large computer manufacture’s seven manufacturing centers, a data mining system for steel production, an instrumentation system for cable systems, defined requirements for government’s information systems and designed and developed human performance management systems. Brian has educated and mentored many over the years, designing programs to discover and develop talent. He has also lectured extensively to a variety of audiences. Brian is currently devoting as much time as possible to the innovation of business agility and human capital management along with the next generation of agile software development. As an amateur theoretical physicist he is working on joining general relativity and quantum mechanics through a multidimensional time corollary on string theory and negating the uncertainty principle with Louis de Broglie’s wave/particle hypothesis. He is also an avid blue-water sailor and wilderness backpacker. He enjoys billiards, boxing, chess, cooking, famous battle reenactments and war gaming, fencing, flying, gardening, horseback riding, martial arts (particularly Ninjutsu), philosophy and psychology, playing musical instruments (7 so far), poker, rapid-fire target shooting, reading (he tries to read a new book every night), painting with oils, scuba diving, skiing and recently writing novels.
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  1. Jack says:

    This says it all. Toxic managers cause good people to leave. Even more than good managers engage people. Getting rid of bad managers should be priority. It sounds like a focus on the negative, but with those toxic managers in the organization you will not get much traction with any positive initiatives.

  2. Fran says:

    Very good series of with papers from Dale Carnegie! Thank you Katie for letting Brian post these!

  3. Geri Sportelli says:

    This was a good series of posts Brian. I do hope that you and Kathy follow through on some of the ideas you talked about!

  4. James Huett says:

    Thanks for sharing this series Brian!

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