1. Don’t include your employees in the big-picture purpose of their role.
This means that when your employees are working, they are completing their tasks – without thinking of the bigger reason why they are completing their tasks. Unfortunately, they won’t feel connected to the company, and they won’t be strategically aligned with overall company objectives.
My younger sister recently came to look after my son (who is 21months) while I was working.
- I wanted to create a list of all the ways my husband and I parent our child, all the things to watch out for, all the activities he should and shouldn’t participate in, all the foods he should and shouldn’t eat…and then I checked myself.
- How would she be able to remember all the details that would impressed upon her?
- How would she feel if I listed all the do’s and don’ts.
- She may try to attack each task, but at the end of the day would I really be getting what I wanted and needed? And would she be completely engaged in taking care of my son after reading the laundry list.
Instead I told her, “The only real rules are to keep him alive, and to have fun. Everything else after that will fall into place”.
I gave her breathing room and trust, and funny enough, it let me relax.
Similarly in the workplace, employees need to know what their main objectives are. And once they understand those objectives, all of their responsibilities should be driven in that direction. This gives employees the breathing room that they need. And, it lets them manage themselves according to overall company Strategic Alignment.
2. Treat people as if they were just another product within the company.
If your employees feel like products, they will feel less than human. And that is not a good thing.
If you never engage in personal conversations with your employees, they can start to feel invisible. Managers that consciously (or unconsciously) avoid real conversations about life outside of work, may find that their employees become disengaged.
On the other hand, authentic conversations don’t have to be lengthy, and they don’t have to intrude on another’s personal life. Real discussions simply make an employee feel cared for, and make them feel human.
There is a great section on www.tutufoundationusa.org that gives space to the importance of storytelling. In one post, Rachel Rafferty (PHD student – Peace and Conflict Studies) shares that, “When we tell stories we remember that we are human, when we listen to stories we remember that other people are human. Even when stories are about our differences, our uniqueness, they still remind us of what we all share in common”.
This is a great reminder that we need to connect with each other in a genuine way.
Yes, we get busy, and stressed – but without taking small moments to have a conversation with someone, you may be losing your employees in ways you can’t imagine – disengaged
3. Program people to behave like robots. Employees must follow manuals/rulebooks, and act in accordance to them.
- Is your way the only way to get things done right?
- If you don’t control every aspect of a project, do you think that it will it fall apart?
- Do you find yourself frequently saying, “We will just have to agree to disagree”, but never have to compromise to the other person’s point of view?
- Do you get nervous when your employees think and act off the grid, because no one can handle problems like you do?
Do any of these statements sound like you? If so, you are stifling Individual Leadership, and perhaps leading your team towards disengagement.
When I was a University student, I worked four summers for a large manufacturing company. During one lunch break, one of my friends walked up to the lunch table shaking his head. He had been working in the warehouse, and just had an incident with his supervisor.
My friend had mentioned to his boss that there could be some improvements in the logistics of their operations, and proceeded to advise him of his thoughts. He was hoping that the information would be received positively. However, the supervisor bellowed angrily, “you are not paid to think around here…just do your job”. And that was that. The biggest loss, was that my friend really became unmotivated after that, really didn’t care about his job or the company.
If you DON’T want robots for employees, they need to be told that they CAN think for themselves, and that they are trusted to make the best decisions for the success of the company. The result – engaged employees!
4. Keep important information to yourself (or department) – intentionally or unintentionally.
If you are holding key pieces of information to yourself (or to your department), others will be working in a crippled environment, and/or they will be duplicating work that already exists.
Let’s face it. Most of us work in busy environments. There never seems enough time to get anything done…but we do get it done.
In my life, I complete work responsibilities, I keep my son and dog alive, I communicate with my husband (sometimes loudly/sometimes lovingly), and…the house is a disaster. If my husband and I have to fail somewhere…I suppose that is okay.
All that being said, could you imagine the frustration if the following story actually happened:
- I tell my husband that I don’t like the shade of beige in our living room.
- A few months pass, and the room is still the same colour.
- When my husband goes on a business trip for a couple of days, I decide to hire someone to paint the living room for me.
- My husband comes home, but I forget to tell him I that I have changed the colour (due to my busyness), and he doesn’t notice the new colour (colour blind).
- A week passes, I decide to go out for the day with friends.
- I come home – and my husband has the living room cleared out, and is on the last wall…painting. He just repeated work that had already been done! And, he just wasted the better part of a Saturday.
- Can you imagine the frustration and argument?
“Why didn’t you tell me?” – says angry husband.
“I was busy, I forgot!” – says busy wife.
Who is the real loser here? Is it the hubbie that duplicated work unnecessarily? Or, is it the wife who is overworked, but now understandably has a disgruntled partner?
The message is, make-work projects are not cool. If you want people to be engaged at work, embrace Operational Transparency, share information across your company, your department, and with each other.
The bottom line:
You may not want them, but according to statistics….you probably have some disengaged employees…
In 2013 the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM) reported that, “Among those who work for an employer in the United States and Canada, 29% are engaged in their jobs, while 54% are not engaged and 18% are actively disengaged. The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.6-to-1 — the highest among all regions worldwide.”
- Unmotivated with no initiative
- Negative and potentially hostile to their workplace
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Lack of TRUST
Disengaged employees are expensive!
They waste time and money. They sabotage company culture. They disrupt productivity. And, simply…they hinder the success of any company.
Based on the stats, you probably have disengaged employees. You may not be intentionally following the above steps, but it is important to re-examine your behaviour and decide if your leadership may not be as positive as you would like it to be.