You like Connie. You hired her for her spunk, her experience and her evident do-not-settle attitude. But lately Connie doesn’t seem herself. Her reports seem incomplete, her presentations are dry and even worse, her attitude has lost its luster.
As you rack your brain, you try to figure it out. Does she want more pay? Is it a personal relationship problem? Is it you?
And what about Roy? What the heck is going on with Roy? You’ve received some complaints from customers that he has failed to return their inquiries. That’s not like him at all.
So what’s his deal? Does he want more pay? Doubtful, he just received a raise that he seemed pleased with. Since he recently seems almost withdrawn, you’re starting to worry about that major project you put him in charge of a few weeks ago.
After some discussion with other department managers, you all realize what’s truly plaguing the company: disengagement.
Darth Vader, Mordor, Lord Voldemort, Lex Luther. and Disengagement. Yes, disengagement is to your company’s culture and success as any of these dark villains is to the characters they seek to destroy.
We’re not going to sit here and tell you that transforming a disengaged workforce into a motivated and productive movement is easy. Employee engagement is a battlefield but it has to be one that you are willing to take on for the well-being of your team and company.
First take a look at this World at Work video on Employee Engagement.
Consultant Max Caldwell of Towers Watson defines the traditional model of engagement (the degree to which people bring extra degrees of effort and productivity to their jobs) as the following:
- rational engagement - do I feel rationally connected to the company?
- emotional engagement - do I feel proud of the company?
- motivational engagement – do I feel like going the extra mile?
There are all types of obstacles that interfere with the daily lives of your employees – they can be professional or personal. Examples: Sales are down for two months in a row, slowly chipping away employees’ pride in their product. Connie, who just had a baby, is struggling to keep up with her presentations. Negative feedback from her supervisor for the last two has her doubting if she’s cut out to be a mother and still hold on to her desired career path.
Life happens. But healthy high-performance companies realize that the engagement mix includes a number of factors: healthy employer-employee relationships, co-worker relationships, clarity about goals and work expectations. They also realize that they need to equip their employees with the tools they need to be engaged and recognize the importance of a collaborative, healthy environment.
One practical step Caldwell gives is allowing employees to understand possible career paths and opportunities.
In our experience, we’ve seen time and time again that engagement is revived when human beings feel they can make a difference. If sales are slipping, then get the team involved and get them to start communicating their unique ideas for boosting sales. If Connie doubts her future career success because of her new parenthood, dialogue about the tools she needs to have a better transition as a working mother. Assure her that her place and work there makes a difference and then discover together how you can establish a healthy relationship.
Engagement is a battlefield. You’re in a battle for professional minds and souls here. There’s no simple magic wand trick or inspirational speaker that you can hire to change the tide. So arm yourself against distractions and obstacles and go right to the source - your people - to put together a plan of action.