Employee Disengagement: 6 Signs the Cranks are Winning

Is Employee Disengagement Costing You a Fortune?

If you’re not working with one of the star employers, in a culture that inspires, and a line of prospective employees heading out the door, then the disengaged employee is probably costing you.

We’ve assembled these signs of what to watch for when you’re working – on increasing engagement, improving your corporate culture or just generally trying to improve productivity and morale.

Six Signs of Employee Disengagement and What to Do About Them!

1. Infighting

This one is number one because it’s the most destructive, and seemingly the most intransigent. And importantly it will occur within teams and, more destructively, between departments that should be cooperating. Interdepartmental infighting always wants to escalate to a level where management can properly deal with it, and it often won’t budge. But just like when dealing with teams, departments often work best when they’re forced to work closer together. Very often responsibilities or areas of focus are misunderstood and even assigned to the wrong area. Management has a responsibility to oversee work assignments, and even the dirty details, and often infighting results because management can’t or won’t modify earlier plans that were badly implemented.

2. Superiority Complexes – and Resulting Excuses

Too many excuses are bad for everybody. Ever notice that they more often result from some kind of perceived superiority than from any admitted incompetence? More often than not, talented people are also humble, but when it comes to departments or team level esteem, again you can run into problems.

Like above, look at misdirected responsibilities or inherited areas of influence. Encourage inter-team or inter-departmental dialogue and co-responsibility.

3. Complaints

Any situation of constant dissatisfaction is liable to cause irritation. The resulting mood of continual denigration and negativity quickly spreads. There should be room for disagreement and continuous productive improvement. But too much complaining is almost always a sign of something much worse.

Management needs to decide if the complaining is coming from an individual actor – or from some subset (department/team/area, etc.). Taking reasonable action means confronting the deeper issue, rooting it out and shining some light in there. Admittedly, it can take a thick-skinned manager to go in there. Wear your dragon-hide gloves.

4. The Initiative Vacuum

It’s not just leadership that should have initiative. Star performers will tell you – what’s wrong and what’s right. They not only know how to get where they’re going, they need encouragement to get there. Herd behavior is simply not good enough.

Talking is the answer and the number of managers who have never asked their charges where they want to go should astound you.

Ask. Listen. Help them get there.

5. Enthusiasm Deficit

This should go without saying. You don’t need a squad of cheerleaders. You don’t need balloons, or parties or music.

Star performers are coming to your place of business – for now – because it leads to somewhere else. Not because it’s fun. They won’t stop coming because it’s not fun. They will stop coming because it doesn’t lead somewhere else, or it just leads to more of the same.

Again: Ask. Listen. Help them get there.

6. A Freelancer’s Curiosity   … About Everything! 

Here’s a key tip for management. Your employees can’t learn everything they need from inside your company. If they lack curiosity, they also, likely lack engagement!

Particularly for business struggling with practices or procedures or models – you’re probably the last place they should look for answers.

On the other hand, even medium sized business expect that some of their star performers will be working on outside jobs, freelance projects and “lab-rat projects” just to keep themselves learning.

Establishing an open and transparent policy about when and where they can pursue their outside interests – and non-competitive lucrative projects – is key. If your key players are in demand, it’s undoubtedly better to have them learning on outside projects – and bringing that experience back in – to you!

The Recipe for Employee Engagement:

Curiosity. Enthusiasm.  Initiative. Tranquility. Humility. And Mutual Support.

We might add “mission” in there, along with enthusiasm, right? It sounds more somber. And after all, having a little full on cheerleading is probably not a bad thing. What would you add to the list?


Photo this page: 1915 Ford Model T Crank 6-9-12 © Flickr Creative Commons License by Don Graham

Karin Jakovljevic

About the author

Karin Jakovljevic

Karin Jakovljevic is the head of marketing at Ximble, a powerful, cloud-based workforce management system, simplifying employee scheduling and time tracking for retailers, restaurants and small businesses.

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