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How Well do Your Managers Know Their Employees? 6 Points of Information to Strengthen the Manager-Employee Relationship

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Alessandra Fagone
on March 28, 2016

Many of today’s managers came into their position without proper management or leadership training. They may have been quickly thrown into a position and had to jump in with both feet. Without knowing it, they are oftentimes the motivating (or, if they’re not careful, demotivating) factor for employees throughout the organization. Your managers may not realize the impact that they personally can have on an employee’s engagement level and career. 

According to a study conducted by Gallup in 2015, only 1 in 3 employees in the United States reported feeling engaged at work. That leaves 2 out of every 3 employees feeling less than engaged. How can you help your business unit managers to increase employee engagement? 

Knowing employees goes beyond asking where their last vacation was. Those kinds of conversations are great – and necessary – to foster a more friendly relationship with staff, but in order to build a rapport, there are 6 essential points of information every manager should know about their employees.

Share these 6 points of information with those managers that they may not have considered as important to really knowing an employee and their career aspirations. 

  1. Perceived contribution by peers

    WorldatWork reports that peer recognition is increasing in popularity among workers. Maybe certain teams send each other witty e-cards for a job well done, or post congratulatory messages on an internal portal for others to chime in and add to. If you’re separated from your employees by time zones and/or different work schedules, staying up to date on peer recognition is one way to keep up on team dynamics and performance. Perhaps one employee may be modest, but one of their peers would want to recognize a project that was well accomplished. You’ll be able to see that by staying up to date on peer appraisal and chime in where appropriate. Peer recognition networks add another forum for you to interact with employees in an approachable environment and better understand the perceived contribution of an employee by their peers.

    employee manager relationships

  2. Internal mobility and openness to relocation

    The average cost of relocating a home-owning employee reached $90,017[1] in recent years. If your company operates more than one office either nationwide or globally, it is the manager’s responsibility to know which, if any, of employees are open to office relocation. Young employees are often the most willing to relocate based on current life stage, but don’t discount employees with established roots either. The benefit to having these discussions ahead of time is to avoid scrambling to fill positions on a short turnaround time, and retain those high performers who are ready for new locations.

    In a similar vein as employee relocation, interest in internal mobility is a conversation managers should have with each employee to understand what other roles or departments might be of interest. Is someone on the operations team attending night classes in finance? Your next finance manager may well be that high performer currently in operations. This talent management best practice promotes strong internal bench strength and succession planning practices.

  3. Employee performance KPIs

    KPIs are critical for some roles, especially those in customer service, operations, or sales roles. Performance management is becoming much more data driven, with best practices that influence how employee data is collected and feedback is given. Accordingly, it’s imperative that you know an employee’s key performance indicators at a glance. By knowing how employees are meeting their key indicators in an agile environment, changes can be made, road blocks removed, and all employees will have an increased opportunity to meet goals. Modern performance strategy encourages agile goal alignment and feedback in a real-time setting. Over time, you might notice a pattern and be able to advise managers to help their employees overcome it. Make note of the fact that at any given time, managers should be able to answer the capacity at which their direct reports are working at so they can assign work or delegate accordingly. This avoids disengagement due to lack of work and exhaustion due to working at or over capacity.  

  4. Core strengths and competencies

    Knowing the core strengths and competencies necessary for each team is imperative to proper talent acquisition and performance evaluations. Managers should encourage employees to document their competencies and skills within talent profiles. Strengths and competencies go hand-in-hand with learning opportunities and allow employees to own and excel at a particular set of responsibilities. In fact, 73% of organizations say that developing strengths, rather than evaluating weaknesses, is critical to effective performance management[2]. Addressing hindrances to job performance is necessary, but don’t dwell on shortcomings. Focus instead on coordinating performance management with learning opportunities to deepen employee expertise.

  5. Career development plans

    How do employees at your company see their current role progressing? Do they envision their future with the company? You might be surprised to know that only 12% of employees see their next career move up the ladder internally[3]. Managers can have an open discussions with their employees to understand career aspirations. Do they see themselves with the company for years to come? Why or why not? Invest time in processing their answers so you can take proper measures to ensure they are provided the learning opportunities necessary help them meet their goals.  Start by sharing what you can about your own career path and be open to questions. Offer to collaborate on finding solutions, sharing resources and suggesting learning experiences for them to take advantage of.

  6. Leadership potential
    62% of organizations we surveyed responded that leadership development is their top talent management strategy. Similar to career development discussions, it’s imperative to know which employees see leadership as a viable goal in their career future.  Make sure your managers know your organization’s process for leadership development and if there are certain paths they should be taking along the way.

For more information on modern performance management, check out our Modern Performance Management Doesn’t Have to Be Ratingless executive brief! 

For more information on how PeopleFluent can help you to achieve high levels of employee engagement with aligned and inspired talent with a Talent Management Suite visit our website at or give us a call at (877) 879-8807.


[2] Brandon Hall, Learning & Development Benchmark Study

[3] BlessingWhite, Navigating Ambiguity Career Development Study

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