Around the world, only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs. Disengagement is more than just a percentage in a Gallup report, though. A disengaged workplace is the emotional effect of poor management. It’s an outcome that employees can feel daily, one that has a major impact on a company’s performance — no matter its size. For small and medium businesses, disengagement can be fatal.
Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation, and put discretionary effort into their work. Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Employee Satisfaction is defined by how happy or content your employees are.
In 2014, I was given a fabulous opportunity to put all of my coaching skills into practice and take a team of disengaged employees on their own journey of self-discovery.
Why were these employees put into one team?
They were underperforming and had the potential to be awesome, they just didn’t know how. I had an opportunity to re-ignite them back into the business and empower them to make effective decisions about their future. I was under no illusion that through empowering them to make decisions about their future they may decide to leave having gained clarity on what they wanted out of life.
In 2016, I launched and published my book Empowering Employee Engagement – How to Ignite Your Team for Peak Performance which Bev James, CEO of The Coaching Academy endorsed. In the book I share their individual success stories as well as the coaching process I went through to ignite their potential. You can also read their stories on my website.
What could you do when you have a team or individual that is disengaged?
1. Notice the change in behaviour and performance
As the leader don’t be afraid to have a conversation with someone if you notice a change in their behaviour or performance. Raising awareness by reflecting back on what you see, feel and hear. This is the first step to understanding what is potentially going on for the employee.
2. Create a safe psychological space
As coaches, we pride ourselves on creating a safe psychological space for our clients to be vulnerable and share what is going on for them in the here and now with no judgment. This is the same for your employees so it’s important that you have a place where you can have an open, honest and confidential conversation. This could be in a room face to face or virtually over Zoom or teams. Just make sure that both of you are at ease and the boundaries are in place.
3. Get to know your team
You can do this formally or informally by having one-to-ones or team meetings/outings. Ask them great open questions that create curiosity that you want to know more. I did an exercise where I asked the team to bring an object that best describes them. I had a variety of objects from a brick, an onion, a Kath Kidson tea towel, a bottle of red wine and a personal development book. I still remember to this day the significance of the object because they shared so much about themselves during that meeting. This was an excellent way to build and maintain rapport which is vital in a coaching relationship.
4. Play to strengths
One of the activities I still do today with my clients is a SWOT analysis and this was one of the activities I asked the disengaged employees to do too. It’s a great way for them to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and gather feedback from others, which in turn improves communication within the team. Once you’re aware of their strengths you can have conversations about opportunities that can be explored that play to those strengths. In the process, they may also eliminate some of the threats and develop weaknesses.
5. Celebrate Success
Whenever we set goals it’s important to start with the end in mind and this means for me “What are you going to do to celebrate when you have achieved your goal?” I find it’s a great anchor which acts as a reminder when motivation is lost. It’s another great way to understand what motivates your team and how you can incorporate this in conversations and activities.
A disengaged workplace is the emotional effect of poor management. Be the change that you want to see in leaders and become the leader that stands out in a crowd, the one that puts the human back into management.