a)plan coaching

Unlocking Managers

The ripple effect of healthy engagement at work is profound. Highly engaged managers are 2.5 times more likely to report that their employees are engaged, according to Gallup. In other words, managers set the tone for the entire organization—they are the heart of your culture.

In theory, improving manager engagement, communication, and commitment, and the rest should follow. However, with a staggering 67% of the global workforce disengaged, it’s evident that most have not cracked the code.

For a growing number of organizations, the solution lies in empowering managers with a personalized combination of tools, communication skills and one-on-one coaching. 

The Challenge

Before we cover a solution, let’s first unpack the struggle. Engagement is a two-layer challenge between senior managers and their front-line leaders. 

Managers need opportunities for growth and leadership development to foster their own engagement. Too often, organizations mistakenly believe that managerial roles inherently breed that engagement. But that’s not how behavioral psychology works, and it leaves many managers without proper support or skills. Meanwhile, their front-line leaders have that same experience.

At the front-line then, it’s not difficult to see where challenges emerge. How engaged can one really be when their supervisor faces their own struggles? Effective leadership demands role models, which necessitate the proper tools, space, and resources. Let’s hand them the keys.

The Solution: Improving Manager Engagement

Leading organizations are prioritizing strategies to enable managers as that trusted source of information and coaches, driving organizational growth and leadership excellence simultaneously.

It starts by understanding themselves, particularly their strengths, career aspirations, and leadership vision. It includes building skills to understand the evolving needs of employees as well as creating a communication foundation to authentically and effectively support and engage a team.

Our approach couples personalized coaching with an adaptable communication framework as the foundation for a measurable, sustainable model that empowers managers to inspire others.

How It Works

Through one-on-one coaching, managers have a space to explore and establish career-aligned goals that are aligned with the organization’s vision. Deep reflection drives actionable plans focused on behaviors, habits and/or personal development skills around leadership and, in particular, communication.

Either one-on-one or as part of a collaborative workshop, managers cultivate skills for building context, adapting to audiences and tailoring messages through authentic communication that keeps employees informed and engaged. A key element to the workshop is building a trusted cohort of peers with whom to evolve, share best practices and continue learning.

What’s more, through dashboards and gamified feedback, employee engagement with key messages can be measured at the manager level, fostering accountability and iterative improvement for managers as a communication channel.

With coaching as a core component, consistent check-ins reinforce growth and progress, offering managers a dedicated partner to navigate challenges and, just as importantly, celebrate wins.

Bottom line, enabling managers as communicators and authentic leaders has the potential to unleash all employees by engaging those who hold the keys.


Carolina Mata, BCC, is a leadership coach and Senior Advisor at Integral, an award-winning employee experience agency serving leaders of Communications, HR, Marketing, and Technology across industries. As a trusted counselor to senior executives, Carolina has a proven track record of re-imagining company culture, optimizing content and channel strategies with a personalized approach, building relationships between leadership and employees and continuously adapting tactics based on data and measurable results.

Sara Ellis Conant is a coaching-industry pioneer with over 25 years experience. She started coaching in 2000 after being trained by her father, Dave Ellis, one of the founders of the coaching industry. Sara is co-founder and CEO of a)plan coaching, an optimized, scalable, and tech-enabled virtual coaching service for changemakers. She and her team of a)plan coaches assist individuals and teams to make lasting improvements in the areas of productivity, innovation, diversity & belonging, talent retention, fulfillment, and more.

A version of this article first appeared on Integral’s site.

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