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Video: The Role of the Manager

Written by
Helen Murphy
Helen Murphy

Having great employees is definitely good for your business, but having great managers is perhaps even more vital. 

We chatted with Vicki Yang, Bonusly's VP of People Operations, about why managers matter and the most important things managers should do to keep their teams engaged. Listen to the interview or read the transcript, below! 

Hi Vicki! Thanks for joining me. Today we are going to talk about a topic that is near and dear to your heart: the role of the manager when it comes to employee engagement. 

One of our Bonusly writers recently shared this analogy about the role of a manager at a company: 

In the workplace, a manager is like a guide holding together a team of hikers on a long, winding trail. 

The guide needs to keep the group together, determine when to stop for breaks and when to push on, adjust the pace, and offer guidance so everyone can make it to the end of the trail successfully. 

What are your thoughts on this analogy? Would you expand on it to further define a manager’s role within a company? 

I love the analogy, I’ve heard terms like guides, coaches, conductors, all of those really help paint a picture of what a manager does. One thing the analogies don’t encompass is that you don’t have to have all the answers, you’re also a facilitator, trying to bring out the best in people and magnify their ability to get things done and solve problems.

Why do good managers matter? 

People naturally want feedback, in fact we’re always looking for it, it’s that search for data to know something as simple as, is it hot outside to am I doing a good job. We’re not always great at asking for feedback from other people, but we crave it. And in the workplace managers are in a role to help support giving feedback. Having a good manager who cares and gives feedback has a daily impact on the work and engagement of their entire team 

One of the most important factors in how satisfying and engaging employees find their job is their manager.

Managers are so critical to an employee’s experience on the job that half of the workers who quit their positions say they left because of their managers. This is according to Gallup’s State of the Workplace Survey.  

What are the three most important things managers should do to keep employees engaged?

It’s pretty hard to manage people well! Managing requires a complex mix of strategizing, prioritizing, technical skills, interpersonal skills, and support from the whole organization. It’s not easy given peoples communication styles, strengths and areas for development, and ways of working. But there are three basic things you can do to help keep employees engaged.

1. Know your people.

    • Is how you’re managing them working for you and them?
    • Do you know what they’re doing day to day AND how that ties into what they want to learn and do in the future?

2. Commit to communicating.

3. Create a healthy workplace culture - this is about creating trust and psychological safety.


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Originally published on June 29, 2021 → Last updated March 31, 2022

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Helen Murphy

Helen previously drove product marketing strategy and processes for Bonusly.


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