Keeping frontline staff engaged and energized is a growing problem. The leadership opportunities were just illustrated again last week in a couple of leadership development workshops with supervisors and managers who were frustrated by the low levels of morale and commitment from the staff on the teams they lead. They were quick to point to our turbulent times, lack of organizational communication, senior management leadership, and bureaucracy, among other factors as the reason people were disconnected and de-energized.

In the workshop they chose the top five factors they feel have the highest potential to increase engagement with the people reporting to them from a list of 25 (“Engaging Commitment” survey from The Leader’s Digest: Practical Application Planner). I have run this exercise dozens of times in the past five years. Here are the five top choices that most often emerge:

• More involvement in planning processes
• Increased openness and information sharing
• More recognition, appreciation and celebration
• Seeking input and ideas for improvement
• Effective coaching and counseling

Mirror check time. Gallup’s extensive research on engagement found that at least 75% of the factors that engage or disengage staff are influenced by the immediate supervisor or manager. Their own results have just proven the point. All of the top five engagement factors are controlled by the immediate manager. Time to stop blaming and start leading.