Strategic Recognition? It’s Key to a Great Manager-Employee Relationship

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If present trends continue, this week’s series of blog posts may be an ongoing theme of “isn’t that obvious?”

Yesterday, I shared results of the Parnassus Fund (consisting of companies that treat their employees well and with respect), which performs consistently better than the S&P. Today, I’m sharing an article about Gallup research showing the manager/employee relationship is critical to employee engagement.

I’m sure we’ve all uttered the truism: “People leave managers, not companies.” Well, this is the research to back it up as featured in an Incentive magazine article:

A new article from Gallup researchers points to the pivotal role that the employee-manager relationship plays in driving the performance of companies. Drawing on data from more than 50,000 employees across 10 major industries, the analysts found that while effective engagement and recognition programs are key to a company’s success, strong relationships between managers and their subordinates are the key factor in making those programs work.”

Managers need the tools to do good work

Breaking this down further:

  • 70 percent of employees giving managers a “best” rating also ranked the company’s recognition and engagement system as very good (vs. only 5 percent who rated managers as “best” also saying recognition programs were poor).
  • 85 percent of those rating their manager as “below average” said their recognition programs were poor.

Call me an optimist, but I really believe the vast majority of managers want to do right by their employees. They want to facilitate excellent work and help their employees in the best way possible.

Yet, why do so many fail? I also believe we don’t equip managers with the tools they need to be the best managers they can be.

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Managers know they need to recognize and reward employees for exceptional effort. Perhaps they’ve even received training on this management philosophy. But have you given them the tool and process needed to not only recognize employees, but to do so in a meaningful, personal way tied to what matters most to your organization (demonstration of your core values in contribution to achieving strategic objectives)?

Desires and objectives without a means to deliver are nearly useless. Empower your managers to be the “best.”

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


2 Comments on “Strategic Recognition? It’s Key to a Great Manager-Employee Relationship

  1. Thank you Derek. Many managers today are indeed burnt out and are even not receiving real support from their HR people. Of course this is no excuse for remaining blind to the power and effectiveness of sincere recognition. I agree that managers on the whole want to do right by their employees. Hierarchies in companies are still in the dark about why many employees jump ship? Some of my comments from my experience. Tai

  2. Great insight Derek! Another great way to help out your managers is to provide analytics and transparency so they can build a stronger team overall, in addition to one-on-one relationships.

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