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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

What Managers Need to Increase Employee Engagement


Do women managers care more about their employees? A recent Gallup Poll finds that “female bosses are more engaging than male bosses.” They site several reasons why and conclude by recommending businesses hire more female managers. While we certainly need to keep narrowing the gender gap in America’s management ranks, what can anyone do to increase employee engagement among their direct reports?

Let’s start with the Gallup Poll. These management activities were found to increase employee engagement:

  • Encouraging their subordinate’s development
  • Checking frequently on their employee’s progress
  • Giving recognition and praise for good work

These are things that everyone could do better, male or female. With U.S. employee engagement holding steady in the 29-32% range over the last several years, it’s worth looking closely at the results. Gender does play a role, but for the employee as well as the manager—and judging by the numbers in the chart below, there’s room for many managers of both genders to improve when it comes to employee engagement.


So, statistically, having a woman in the mix (as manager or employee) gives engagement an edge, but these are still talents that both men and women can have, and more importantly, most managers can work to develop.

Our own research and experience makes it clear that some people—regardless of gender—are more likely to be better managers with higher levels of employee engagement. These are people who have greater natural intensity of talents that fall under the heading of People Acumen; these talents (among a number of others we assess on our Manager Interview) clearly indicate the potential to succeed as a manager.

People Acumen will improve employee engagement and can include these themes:

  • Relationship: Proactively maintains healthy relationships with staff, shows interest and knows what is important to each person, and is a good listener.
  • Caring: A deeper level of relationship, highly individualized, in which the employee feels personal cared about.
  • Positivity: Seeing more opportunities than obstacles, and confronting issues in a way that restores positivity.
  • Recruiter: Places importance on potential over pedigree, and naturally identifies what people are good at. 

To increase employee engagement, companies need to hire more managers with People Acumen. Statistically this tends to come easier for women, but that won’t be true for every woman or every man you encounter. These are talents that should be identified in each individual, and if the potential is there, those talents should be developed.

Engaged employees are more productive, and productive salespeople drive top-line revenue.

 Download the management sustainability index