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Train Managers to Strengthen Employee Relationships to Improve Engagement

Transfer the ownership of employee engagement from HR to team managers.

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  • The responsibility of employee engagement has been on the shoulders of HR and the executive team for years, but managers, not HR or executives, should be primarily responsible for employee engagement.
  • Managers often fail to take steps to improve due to the following reasons:
    • They don’t understand the impact they can have on engagement.
    • They don’t understand the value of an engaged workforce.
    • They don’t feel that they are responsible for engagement.
    • They don’t know what steps they can personally take to improve engagement levels.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Managers have a large impact on employee engagement and retention. According to McLean & Company’s engagement data, every 10% increase in the category “my manager inspires me to improve” resulted in a 3.6% increase in an employee’s intent to stay.
  • To improve the manager relationship driver, managers cannot abdicate the responsibility of strengthening relationships with employees to HR – they must take the ownership role.

Impact and Result

  • When an organization focuses on strengthening manager relationships with employees, managers should be the owner and IT leadership should be the facilitator.
  • Info-Tech recommends starting with the three most important actions to improve employee trust and therefore engagement: inform employees of the why behind decisions, interact with them on a personal level, and involve them in decisions that affect them (also known as the “3 I’s”).
  • Use this blueprint to prepare to train managers on how to apply the 3 I principles and improve the score on this engagement driver.

Research & Tools

1. Make the case

Educate managers on the impact they have on engagement.

2. Prepare for the training session by understanding key concepts

Learn the 3 I’s of engagement and understand IT leaders as role models for engagement.

3. Plan the training session and customize the materials

Determine the logistics of the training session: the who, what, and where.

4. Track training success metrics and follow up

Determine ways to track the impact the training has on employee engagement.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a three call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Prepare for the training session by understanding key concepts

Call #1 - Gain advice on the 3 I’s and how they can be applied by managers.

Guided Implementation #2 - Plan the training session and customize the materials

Call #1 - Gain advice on setting the logistics for the training and modifying the deck with your own engagement data.

Guided Implementation #3 - Track training success metrics and follow up

Call #1 - Discuss how to track the impact the training has on employee engagement.

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Module 1: Make the Case for Strengthening Manager Relationships

The Purpose

  • Educate managers on the impact they have on engagement and the relationship between employee trust and engagement.
  • Identify reasons why managers fail to positively impact employee engagement.
  • Inform managers of their responsibility for employee engagement.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Increased awareness of managers regarding their impact on employee engagement.
  • Improved understanding of manager role.
  • Creation of plan to increase employee trust and engagement.




Describe relationship between trust and engagement.

  • Gain an understanding of the 3 I’s of building trust.

Review data on manager’s impact on engagement.

  • Address key objections managers might have.

Module 2: Prepare for the Training Session by Understanding Key Concepts and Your Role as HR

The Purpose

  • Understand key concepts for engagement, such as inform, interact, and involve.
  • Use McLean & Company’s advice to get past pain points with managers.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Understand the key principles and activities in the manager training deck.
  • Gain advice for dealing with pushback from managers.
  • Learn about actions that you can take to adopt the 3 I’s principle and act as a role model.




Practice manager training exercises on informing, interacting with, and involving employees.

  • Become familiar with and prepared to take managers through key training exercises.

Module 3: Plan the Training Session and Customize the Materials

The Purpose

  • Determine who will participate in the manager training session.
  • Become familiar with the content in the training deck and ensure the provided examples are appropriate.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Logistics planned for your own training session.
  • Your own case made more powerful by adding your engagement data to the training deck slides.
  • Improved delivery of training, making it more effective and engaging for participants.




Consider your audience for delivering the training.

  • Ensure that your training sessions include the appropriate participants.

Plan out logistics for the training session—the who, where, and when.

  • Deliver a smooth and successful training session.

Module 4: Track Training Success Metrics and Follow Up

The Purpose

  • Determine ways to track the impact the training has on employee engagement.
  • Understand how to apply the 3 I’s principle across HR functions. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Measure the value of engagement training.
  • Gain immediate feedback on employee engagement with the McLean Leadership Index.
  • Determine how HR can support managers in building stronger relationships with employees.




Determine how HR can support management in strengthening employee relationships.

  • Create a culture of trust throughout the organization.

Member Testimonials

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