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What’s included in a good employee management strategy?

Learn eight essential focal points to effectively manage your employees, improve team dynamics, and boost overall productivity. Invest in these strategies to ensure a thriving work environment and set your organization up for long-term success.

Content team
Content team

Content manager Keith MacKenzie and content specialist Alex Pantelakis bring their HR & employment expertise to Resources.

employee management strategy

When a business has clear goals and plans for its employees and a defined management style, you’ll see the benefits.

But first, to ensure a good process, you’ll need to address each one of the following aspects of the employee lifecycle to ensure an effective employee management strategy.

1. Employee onboarding

The onboarding process begins when a candidate applies. Every step along that path prepares the future employee for success or failure at the company. Having a clear recruitment process builds trust in the company bureaucracy, which will play a role later in employee management.

When a new employee starts, paperwork is only a tiny part of the onboarding process. A good onboarding program integrates the new employees into the company and the company culture.

By the end of the onboarding process, employees should have their paperwork done, know where the bathrooms are, and know how their role fits into the larger company perspective.

2. Employee development and progression

While some employees may wish to stay in the same position for 20 years; most want to develop and progress.
And even if an employee wants to stay in the same position, the technology, company goals, and general economic environment mean that every employee needs development and progression.

Each employee needs a development plan that indicates a path forward. This should include:

  • Possible career paths
  • Skills needed
  • Plans for developing lacking skills
  • Stretch projects
  • Cross training opportunities

While not every business will be capable of taking someone from entry-level to CEO, most companies do have the potential for growth for some, if not all, of their employees.

Managers need to provide regular feedback and support candidates through internal movements. Make sure your policies don’t artificially keep people in their current jobs by giving power to current managers to block movement.

Also, remember to keep salary increases at the market rate as employees move up the internal ladder. If you don’t, they will leave for greener pastures.

3. Employee engagement

Employee engagement is a fancy way of saying how involved and happy your employees are at work. Gallup found that five factors lead to high employee engagement levels:

Measure progress

If you aren’t measuring something, you cannot be sure whether it is improving or failing. To have good employee engagement, you need to know your current status and in which direction you are traveling.

Have growth-oriented conversations

If your employees don’t know there is a plan, they will assume there isn’t one. If you don’t speak with them, you won’t know if they are engaged and what it will take to make and keep them engaged.

Provide clear, ongoing conversations

Do your employees know how their roles benefit the company? Do they know where the company stands? Are you keeping things secret just because it’s always been done that way?

While there are some legal reasons to keep some decisions to a small group, your employees should largely be aware of everything going on. Communication is critical to engagement.

Focus on well-being

Gallup identifies five areas of well-being: “career, social, financial, physical and community.” If your employees don’t have the ability to remain well in all these areas, they risk disengagement at work while struggling with the other areas.

Your business cannot be responsible for all aspects of an employee’s life, but you can provide support in these areas.

Have strength-based conversations

Your employees may not be working in their current areas of strength. They may have hidden skills that you don’t know about. Having these conversations can not only increase employee engagement but can also help your business as well.

Employee engagement doesn’t need to be fancy, and it’s not about pizza parties and team-building programs. It’s about communication and meeting employee needs. This leads to the next aspect of your employee management strategy.

Related: What is employee management?

4. Talent retention

Turnover is insanely expensive. Gallup estimates that turnover costs vary from one-third of the employee’s salary to twice the employee’s salary. When you balk at giving a 5% raise to a high performer, consider that, at minimum, you’ll pay 33% more just to get someone new in the door and trained – that doesn’t take into account the new salary you have to offer to attract new talent.

Consider that, at minimum, you’ll pay 33% more just to get someone new in the door and trained – that doesn’t take into account the new salary you have to offer to attract new talent.

Retaining employees can be a difficult task. Overall, the average job tenure was 4.1 years in 2022 and varied by profession and industry, with government employees having the longest average tenure (6.8 years) and service industries having the lowest tenure (2.8 years). Your retention plans should reflect the industry and positions.

Employee engagement correlates highly with retention, so listening to your employees’ needs can help you develop retention plans.

5. Internal conflict resolution and reduction

People do not like to work where they don’t feel comfortable. This means that good employee management strategy requires you to reduce internal conflicts. This does not mean everyone has to agree on everything–it means that you need to remove the emotionally charged disagreements that lead to real conflict.

Psychologist and business strategist Liane Davey posits that there is a difference between healthy conflict and destructive conflict.

Passionate idea discussion is a type of healthy conflict, while jockeying for position, gossiping, and undermining people are all examples of destructive conflict.

Your job is to reduce the latter, but not the former. How do you do this?

Set and maintain boundaries

When people know where those boundaries are, they are less likely to push against them, reducing some types of conflicts.

For instance, if your boundary is no f-bombs at work and you maintain that for everyone, you don’t have to sort out if it was a neutral f-bomb (for instance, swearing at a printer) or a conflict one (swearing at a person). The boundary is clear.

Don’t give in to your biological desire to be nice

Davey says humans are wired to get along, but this can go too far for leaders managing employees. Yes, nice is good, but sometimes we have to override the ‘conflict avoidant’ urge to ultimately reduce conflict. Instead of weakly laughing at a sexist joke, a manager must deal with it immediately.

Don’t let bullies run roughshod over the department because confronting them is uncomfortable. As the manager, it is your job to promptly take care of bad behavior.

Set an example

Bullies get away with bullying because leaders allow it. Sexual harassers get away with sexual harassment because the leaders allow it. If the manager encourages destructive conflict, employees will engage in destructive conflict.

Make it OK to discuss ideas

This, again, must come from the top. If the manager doesn’t listen to other people’s ideas, the employees will not either.
Be transparent

When people know why X and Y happened, it reduces conflict and backbiting. If you cannot explain a decision, it’s possible it’s wrong.

6. Clear organizational goals

Without organizational goals, you cannot effectively manage employees. Until this point, employee management strategies have focused on the people side of things, but without organizational goals, it doesn’t matter how warm and welcoming an environment you’ve created.

Managers need to inform employees what the company goals are and how their part fits into the organization. Break down goals into workable targets with rewards (which can be simple praise) at each step.

While there should be a discussion (good conflict) before the leadership sets the goals, once the CEO signs off on the goals, managers need to promote those goals, even if they disagree. (Excluding, of course, morally or legally wrong things.) It is critical that everyone work toward the same goals.

7. Succession planning

Who will take over the marketing function if the chief marketing officer leaves? Who will run payroll if the payroll manager gets sick and needs to take six weeks of protected FMLA leave?

Succession planning isn’t just about the big positions but every task that needs to be done. When you think about succession planning, remember that the average tenure is only four years. People will leave, or they will be promoted, and you need to work on your pipeline.

You should correlate your succession planning with your career planning for your employees. You create an internal pipeline that saves time and money and preserves institutional knowledge.

8. Clear objectives and expectations

Do your employees know exactly what you expect? When the job description said “flexible schedules,” did you clearly define that? Sometimes expectations can be as simple as explaining whether people generally eat at their desks or go out to lunch.

For achieving business goals, how often should people meet to discuss progress? Should employees provide progress reports? Do employees present their own work to the senior team, or do department heads compile it and present it? What measurable goals do you assign to each person?

There are many ways to set expectations and goals, but one helpful acronym is SMART. Goals should be:


For example, a goal of “increase sales” sounds great. A specific goal would be even better, such as: “increase sales by 5%”.


If you can’t count it, the goal isn’t measurable. So, “be nicer to customers” isn’t a measurable goal. “Decrease customer complaints by 5%” is.


Is this goal realistic? Increasing revenue from $150K to $150,000,000 is probably not achievable, as nice as that outcome would be. Make sure you can actually meet the goal.


There are lots of great things but is this relevant to your job and your company? Giving everyone in the company a sales goal probably isn’t relevant for everyone.


If there’s no deadline, there is no goal. Make sure you put time parameters around the goals. Often it’s best to break the goals down into manageable time periods. It’s better to say you’ll accomplish X in one month than 100 times that in five years.

With those things in mind, you can set goals for your company, department, and employees.

If you want your employees to succeed which in turn will help your business succeed – focusing on employee management can make a direct impact.

Make sure you create a clear plan for managing your employees and train your management team in order to maintain a uniform experience throughout the organization.

With all of these in place, you’ll have the groundwork for a solid employee management strategy.

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