Call them what you will — soft skills, people skills or power skills — but non-technical expertise and abilities are the foundation of a management style that engages employees, motivates them to be more creative and productive and supports a workforce that drives profitability and remains loyal.
Mastery of a skill set that includes relationship-building, adaptability and emotional intelligence is critical in the age of the Great Resignation and as businesses increasingly adopt smart-machine technologies, according to MIT Management Executive Education.
“However, HR professionals report difficulty recruiting candidates who have these very skills,” the publication notes.
What Management Skills Keep Employees Engaged?
Gallup surveyed more than 2.7 million American workers on more than 100,000 teams in 50 industries and found that “for decades, employers have been measuring employment engagement the wrong way.”
The global management consultancy used the survey findings to develop Q12, a 12-question blueprint for developing strategies that engage employees in meaningful conversations about their workplace experiences. The questions focus on how solid management support engages employees by:
1. Ensuring employees understand expectations. Instead of a nuts-and-bolts response to questions about expectations, effective managers have conversations that help them recognize and understand the value of their contributions to the team, the business area and the organization.
Gallup says its research found that only half of surveyed workers strongly agree that they understand expectations. However, a slight increase can boost production by 10% and reduce attrition by 22%.
2. Providing them with the tools to do the job correctly.Engagement-savvy managers ask employees what they need, listen to them and advocate to obtain them. They do not simply assume what their workforce needs.
Only one-third of survey respondents strongly agreed that they have the resources they need to perform up to expectations. Nevertheless, Gallup says its engagement blueprint can lift profitability by 11%, improve quality by 28% and reduce accidents by 35%.
3. Opening opportunities for them to excel.Building relationships with employees helps managers understand what natural talent beyond education and technical skills they can use at work. Supporting those talents is a powerful way to keep high performers. Failing is among the leading reasons they leave.
Encouraging employees to use their natural talents creates an engaging environment that can reduce turnover by 30%.
4. Making sure they feel valued.Successful managers go beyond simply giving performance feedback. Instead, they inspire achievement by creating ongoing information loops that involve employees in decision-making processes. Meaningful employee appreciation leads to a 22% reduction in turnover and a 10% increase in productivity.
5. Providing a clear track for learning. Challenging employees to step up their performance and creating opportunities to acquire new skills and understandings encourages them to find better ways to do their jobs. Supporting employees’ desire to grow in their professional responsibilities can reduce absenteeism by 39% and increase productivity by 14%.
As top-performers are quitting at record rates — some even before finding a new job — in the so-called Great Resignation, McKinsey & Co. says organizations that fail to adopt effective engagement strategies “do so at their own peril.” The publication notes: “It’s been said people don’t quit jobs; they quit bad bosses.”
How Are Business Leaders Building an Employee-Engagement Skillset?
Effective managers are honing the high-demand soft skills that encourage employee engagement, increase productivity and profitability by earning a Master of Business Administration – General.
Students in an MBA – General program, such as that offered online by Youngstown State University (YSU), acquire the technical and soft skills for effective talent management that support employee engagement, analytical expertise and strategic thinking in complex business environments.