A Perfect Score — The Elusive Harmony of Engagement, Management & Capacity

by Dominic Atkinson

In an era of alarmingly low employee engagement scores, just 10% of employees are engaged in the UK, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce report.

It’s a revealing assessment that correlates with a CMI report last year that found poor leadership and toxic cultures drive one in three employees to leave their jobs, with nearly half of employees rating their managers as ineffective.

So, why is this happening?

Firstly, let’s take a breath. That’s a lot to consider, and you may have nodded a couple of times, thinking, ‘Well, of course’. So, let’s soften the blow and break it down with a nice metaphor. Let’s think about employee engagement as akin to an orchestra’s harmony, which is essential yet challenging to achieve. Each employee is a skilled musician, and the managers are the conductors. The success of a performance hinges not only on the talent of the individual musicians but also on how well they are led, harmonised, and inspired by their conductors.

Effective managers, like skilled conductors, are crucial in creating a harmonious and engaging work environment. They provide clear communication, support professional development, and create an inclusive atmosphere where every employee feels valued.

The problem, however, is that managers aren’t always equipped with the right skills or capacity to transform the workplace into a symphony where everyone is motivated to perform at their best.

Investing in Effective Leadership — Finding the right composition

Organisations must invest in their managers to ensure they have the capacity to lead effectively. Most organisations invest in short-term management development programmes that need more depth for sustainable leadership growth.

The results speak for themselves:

Source: CMI

Multiverse, a tech-first apprenticeship platform that combines education, work, and technology, has created the Multiverse Leadership Accelerator (MVLA) for its leadership team, marking a significant shift in leadership development. MVLA is a 12-month intensive programme that goes beyond traditional short-term training methods, ensuring continuous development through mentorship, applied learning, and coaching to elevate employees’ careers and pass this on to their teams.

It’s not just Multiverse who are Investing in Effective Leadership


Siemens demonstrates a commitment to leadership development through its “Growth Mindset” initiative. This program focuses on fostering both individual and collective growth by encouraging continuous learning, innovation, and adaptability among its employees. The initiative is designed to cultivate a culture of curiosity and resilience, enabling leaders to drive transformation within the organisation.


Pepsico’s Transformational Leadership Program (TLP) aims to develop leaders who can navigate the complexities of a global market. The TLP provides high-potential employees with the tools and experiences needed to enhance their leadership capabilities. By focusing on transformational leadership, Pepsico ensures its leaders can inspire and guide their teams through significant organisational changes.


IBM’s “Extreme Blue” program is a leadership development initiative tailored for future tech and business leaders. This immersive program combines real-world problem-solving with mentorship from experienced leaders, offering participants the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects. The goal is to equip future leaders with the skills and experience necessary to drive innovation and lead effectively in the tech industry.

By investing in their conductors/managers, companies can develop the skills necessary to be great leaders and mitigate the risk of toxic work cultures, improving overall employee satisfaction and engagement.

External Allies: Making Professional Development Stick

Collaborating with an external expert who’s plugged into an organisation focuses on reflecting on and improving overall performance and understanding the manager’s impact on outcomes, rather than working in isolation. This not only enhances managerial skills, but also accelerates and supports the rollout of initiatives.

A good external ally provides:

  1. Tailored Coaching Programs: Customised coaching programs that align with the specific goals and needs of your team. This ensures that the advice and strategies are relevant and actionable.

  2. Progress Tracking: Platform’s that include tools for tracking the progress of team members. Managers can monitor development and adjust strategies as needed to ensure continuous improvement.

  3. Resource Library: Access a comprehensive library of resources, including articles, templates, and guides, to help managers implement career development strategies effectively.

  4. Workshops and Webinars: Facilitated workshops and webinars on various topics related to career development, leadership, and team management. These sessions provide practical insights and techniques that managers can apply in their roles.

  5. One-on-One Support: Managers can also benefit from one-on-one coaching sessions to address specific challenges and develop personalised action plans. Assisting them in team development so they get back their time without letting their team down.

  6. Feedback Mechanisms: Managed regular feedback from team members and managers to refine and improve the coaching process. This ensures that the strategies remain effective and aligned with organisational goals.

What Decision Makers Should Do

  1. Invest in Long-Term Development: Short-term training needs to be improved. Organisations should follow Multiverse’s example by committing to long-term development programmes.

  2. Emphasise Coaching and Mentorship: Incorporating coaching and mentorship can significantly enhance the effectiveness of leadership training.

  3. Focus on Diversity and Inclusion: Programmes like MVLA highlight the importance of nurturing talent from diverse backgrounds to drive innovation and success.

An investment in leadership is a major step in addressing the root causes of employee disengagement and poor management. By adopting similar strategies and external allies, organisations can cultivate influential leaders who will inspire and engage their teams, ensuring the sustainable growth and success of their organisations.

For further assistance, consider booking a consultation with us.

Subscribe to Spark! our fortnightly newsletter for teams & managers

Subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter

Spark! is where we share the latest career development and team performance insights, inspiring articles and podcasts along with free resources for teams and managers.

Get FREE Career Development Advice

Join our Spark! Newsletter for teams and managers to receive exclusive actionable career advice, free tools, and resources delivered directly to your inbox every two weeks.