How to Counter Employee Disengagement
What can you do with an employee who is disengaged and how does one “bad” apple affect the rest of the barrel?
This is what disengaged employees look like: they appear to be lazy and don’t care about the quality or quantity of their work product. They have decided not to give the job their full, conscientious effort and they exude negativity. At best they are apt to coast. At worst, they are hostile and toxic toward the company, its leaders and other employees.
This is the effect they have on the workplace: they don’t accomplish assigned tasks and they drag down others on their team. Their negative vibes impact the experience and attitude of their co-workers and, because of their lower performance, can impact the satisfactory completion of team projects; and this ultimately affects the results of the company as a whole.
Clearly, disengaged employees need to be dealt with as soon as their negative behavior is observed.
What can you do to turn things around? Once you have identified employees who have become or are at risk of becoming disengaged (hopefully through a proven employee engagement survey), make sure that you do something about it.
Use the engagement data combined with customized employee engagement training for your managers to improve employee engagement and performance. This approach relies upon your managers having trusting relationships. Managers need to be able to speak directly, but objectively, to the feedback and about what they have observed. And employees need to feel they can reveal the reasons for their disengagement without repercussions. If you have established a corporate culture of open communication, disengaged employees will share their concerns and managers can explore ways to re-connect them to their work and to the organization.
Regardless of your employee engagement survey results, here are some fundamental management options to encourage re-engagement:
- Provide a clear and consistent picture of how every employee contribution connects to team and overall company success
- Consider a shift in roles and responsibilities to take advantage of employees’ strengths
- Offer a change in the work schedule to accommodate individual timing challenges
- Examine an increase in resources and support to ensure the desired results are possible
- Hire a performance coach to help employees learn more effective behaviors to better conquer obstacles
- Ensure that if employees contribute to the organization’s success that they will be recognized
It all starts with your managers and your management culture. Are your managers setting clear expectations? Confused employees can quickly become disengaged employees. Are your leaders modeling the desired behaviors? Be sure employees are not mirroring the negativity of leaders. Does your corporate culture foster trust? Your organization needs to show that you respect and encourage new and differing ideas and opinions.
Deal quickly and directly with disengagement as soon you see it. Otherwise the attitude will infect the rest of your team. And be proactive in encouraging all that you know is basic to building high performance teams.