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Ideas to motivate staff: Line Management is key to success


Line management is a vital link to getting your sustainability message across.

The employees who work hardest to achieve environmental goals are also the ones who believe it matters to their direct boss. This is one of the findings of a study (1) of employee environmental engagement in the supply chain division of a global retailer. While we rightly point to the importance of senior management commitment in environmental programmes, we sometimes overlook the crucial role that supervisory and middle management can play.

The findings are grounded in “organisation support theory,” which essentially means that the more an employee believes their organisation is committed to a policy and demonstrates this by providing the required support and resources, then the more the employee will reciprocate with increased commitment and effort of their own. The findings demonstrate that one of the key links in implementing organisational sustainability commitment is the direct line manager, as it is to these that people often pay most attention, and in many cases may have a greater influence than senior management.

Another study by Dale Carnegie Training (2) also reaffirms the critical role of an employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager. Although there are many factors that impact on employee engagement, there are three key drivers according to the findings: Relationship with immediate supervisor; Belief in senior leadership; and Pride in working for the company.

Although it might sound obvious, many organisations are guilty of overlooking this vital link in the employee engagement chain, and fail to adopt strategies to address line management. Middle managers can build or block an organisation’s sustainability efforts through their influence on the staff they oversee.


Further information:

(1) Cantor DE, Morrow PC and Montabon F. Engagement in Environmental Behaviors Among Supply Chain Management
Employees: An Organizational Support Theoretical Perspective. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 48(3).
(2) What drives employee engagement and why it matters. White paper. Dale Carnegie Training. 2012.