Disengagement

The grass is greener…

A recent article by Gallup confirms the data we’ve continually heard in recent years, “67% of U.S. employees are disengaged at work”. 


What does that mean for you? There’s a strong possibility the majority of your employees are looking for greener grass… in the form of another job. The study also says  “51% say they’re actively looking for a new job or are open to one, and 47% say now is a good time to find a quality job.”


In a May 2019 article from ATD (Association of Talent Development), Kristina Nardi shared the idea that “an engaged workforce doesn’t arise from a single organizational role.” I agree. It takes an entire ecosystem to create an authentic culture of engagement (ie. HR, Leaders, Managers, Individual Contributors, etc.).

Business leaders want employees who are engaged, self-starters, loyal and who think about their jobs “as if they owned the business”.  If I were to ask you what percentage of your staff is truly engaged would you know? Would your managers know?  

  • Do your leaders know their staff as individuals?  
  • Do your leaders regularly seek out and receive feedback from their staff?
  • Would you describe your workforce as “friends”?
  • Do your leaders have time to invest in their team?  
  • Are you aware of a precipitating event that caused your employee to be disengaged?

If you answered no to any of these questions, it’s time to take a hard look at the engagement (or disengagement) of your team. Here are some easy ways to begin:

  • Create clarity and accountability through communication. It’s kind to be clear and the best way to do that is by communicating in a way that will resonate with your employees. Ensure leaders are well versed in the styles of their team members and are mindful to use this when communicating.
  • Ensure each employee is a match to their job. Does each employee fit the needs of their role? An easy way to increase engagement is to ensure each employee knows what they do is important and valuable to the organization.
  • Alignment of Purpose – Does each person in your organization understand their purpose? I don’t mean do they understand their job description and KPIs, rather do they understand how they impact and contribute to the overall success of the organization?

Little Red Flag

If there’s a thing that drives me about anything I do, especially the work I do, it’s that I want to really understand people. I want to understand why they do what they do. Why they make the choices they make. The drive to understand is what underscores my desire to learn as much as possible about each of my client’s candidates to ensure that they’re getting a great match for the role they’re looking to fill and that the candidate will be happy in the role.

The assessment tools I use and the results they provide bring structure to the analysis of a candidate’s talent from which we can predict performance.  The science behind the tools add what I call a scaffolding for one’s intuition. It reveals those things you can’t put your finger on but sense they’re there.   In talking with the client and weaving through the candidate’s results, I’m able to help decipher what the client really wants (and doesn’t) in their new hire.  

Here’s a great example of how the assessments can influence how the company can leverage the strengths of their employees.

Recently one of my clients, who I’ve been working with for many years, asked for my assistance in creating some development plans and career paths for one of their teams. One team member in particular procrastinated completing the assessment, which raised a little red flag.  Whenever I’m assessing an individual for purposes of development or performance management it’s important to know how they’re currently doing in the role. This individual was struggling in her administrative role. She joined the company as an intern and had been moved around quite a bit during her time there.

In reviewing the results of the assessment with her supervisor it came to light that the person’s style and the style that was required for superior performance in this role were complete opposites.  The supervisor asked about moving her into a customer service role. That role would also require a very high attention to detail, something she was struggling with in her current role. I cautioned my client against this.  What the assessment results were showing us is that this employee needed a lot of freedom with a small amount of structure. This was someone who would be happy in more of a troubleshooting role, not locked into a schedule, sitting at a desk.

As luck would have it, there was another opening as a junior manager who would pick up the slack for a very busy manager.  This role would allow the employee to flex her problem solving muscles, allow for a flexible schedule, and wouldn’t chain her to a desk.   It was a much better fit for her and for the company. Without the additional insight of the assessment, the supervisor would have placed this individual in yet another role that was a poor match.

These assessments still blow me away.

At the end of the day, It’s really all about finding happiness – for the organization and for the employees.  The assessment results provide clarity, that scaffolding for one’s intuition, information you can’t get from an interview or a resume.

In Search of Balance

I think it’s fair to say that we all seek balance in our lives. However, does anyone else feel like we are juggling so much that finding balance becomes just one more item on their to do list? While technology helps us be more productive it also aids in creating an expectation of instant gratification in all things business and pleasure. The work week is no longer 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday. We now work from our desks and also our couches, beds, on flights, in the middle of the night, and while on vacation. We can always squeeze in one more minute for an email, text or post.  

Hobbies are often recommended as a way to relieve stress and create balance. The dictionary defines a hobby as: “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” But it appears that ‘leisure time’ is no longer a big block of time but more like a short interval in between all the calendared events and to do’s that fill our lives. If so, is that interval still hobby worthy? Is your hobby technically still a hobby if you can only devote a few minutes to it? 

As a leader in your organization you may feel like you need to have the balance figured out. Chances are, you don’t. And you’re not alone. Furthermore, if you feel this way it’s almost certain your employees do too. That’s just one more added stress and distraction to productivity and efficiency within your teams. So, the real question becomes “What can you do as a leader to bring more balance into your own work and inspire others to do the same?”

Maybe our goal should be to transform items on our to do list into something that feels like a hobby. Are you an outdoors person? How much of your job can be done outdoors? Can you take meetings while going for a walk?  Do you get energy when you’re doing something creative? What routine project is on your list right now that could benefit from a creative approach?  Are you naturally competitive and want to get into better shape? Can you create a company-wide activity with some friendly competition? You get the idea. 

Balance can mean something different to each person. I think balance is when you feel in the flow. It’s when you tap into that something special you know how to do that comes so easily it doesn’t feel like work. In my work I measure people’s natural talents for organizations and I know that when natural talents match the needs of the job, the job can feel like a hobby.  The secret lies in the small things you can do to transform your everyday into something that makes you smile more often because you’re using those natural talents that are unique to you.