September 21, 2017

By: Ron Guest, Senior Partner, TwoGreySuits

This is the dilemma facing many organizations in North America and in fact worldwide as research is now showing. The stats for the USA are not much different for other countries where there is data.

Refresher on Employee Engagement definition:

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company.
Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.

I like to even simplify this more to say Employee Engagement is a measure of how much an employee cares about the company coupled with their motivation to exhibit this every day in every situation in the workplace. It is also about the comfort to speak up even when this may not be popular to do so.
Perhaps what is often over looked is the 26% Actively Disengaged. These are employees who may even appear happy but are behind the scenes only doing very minimal work to remain employed. In some cases they are actively working against the company for a variety of reasons, some having to do with a poor relationship with their manager or even a huge dislike/disrespect for the manager to the extent that they will not support the manager in their thinking and their actions on the job. When these type employees are not identified they can wreak havoc because they utilize significant time in purposefully unproductive ways. Many of these type employees are unmotivated to seek other work, they would rather ‘stick it out’ and hope things will change, however, it is their own attitudes and ideas and behavior which ironically requires change. Some of these employees can be very long service employees and feel a certain sense of entitlement. In the absence of meaningful manager/employee communications and clear goals and objectives and a measurement system, these energy and emotionally draining employees stay on and affect otherwise good performing employees in a negative way.

I recently had an example of what everyone thought was a highly engaged employee but was in fact a very highly manipulative and behind the scenes very negative employee. Without getting into all the detail, only an experienced manager can spot these types and return them to acceptable levels of productivity.
Let’s be very clear – Employee Engagement is largely a management problem, not an employee problem! Employees are often products of the environment they are provided to work in. Managers have more control and authority to instill the right work environment. For the sake of brevity in this blog, the first thing to do with employees who are not engaged or actively dis-engaged is to be able to identify them. The way to identify these employees and to start on the path of increasing employee engagement is done through purposeful discussion and regular communication about their own job, their goals and objectives, talking with others in the department, their co-workers, knowing and removing  barriers for success, deeply understanding their skill set and how they process or think situations through to a resolution. In other words, there is no downside to getting to know your employees even better than you do now. As an example, knowing your employee’s spouses name or their children’s ages is not enough. (these are perhaps nice to know but they don’t really help the employee in the workplace) You need to understand your employees much better, know their dreams, disappointments, goals, motivators, fears, and the activities that build or drain their energy. What you should know about your employees are what their personal goals are, their stressors, what excites them and how they define success, identify what is meaningful to your employees. Effective management and leadership requires that you understand your employee’s perspectives & their hopes and dreams and that you present them with challenges that leads them in the direction they want to be moving anyways.
So many managers these days, in my view, are too consumed or worried about getting their own job done and they cannot see the link of their own personal success and the effect of having highly engaged employees working for them. But, it takes effort, it will not happen simply because you want it to, it is about communicating with your employees on a different level than you are perhaps used to. If it feels uncomfortable at first, good, that is a sign that things are changing. (old adage – no pain no gain applies here)

So, my main point here is if you want to move employees into the engaged group, spend more quality time getting to know them and actively helping them get to where they want to go anyways.
If you subscribe to our TwoGreySuits www.twogreysuits.com  website we have Employee Engagement surveys for you to measure this in your company and we also have a complete set of management guidelines of how to effectively communicate with and manage employees. These are referred to as the Management Skill Building Challenges in the Performance management module with over 500 ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do’ examples. Specifically they are:
1. Involving Employees in Setting Objectives
2. Setting Clear Objectives for Employees
3. Managing Employees to Achieve Their Objectives
4. Ensuring Employee Understanding and Clarity in Delegating Tasks
5. Coaching Employees to Solve Their Own Problems
6. Modeling High Personal Standards to Employees
7. Building Cordial Relationships with Employees
8. Encouraging and Rewarding Risk and Innovation
9. Reviewing Individual Performance on a Regular Basis.
10. Relating Rewards Directly to Performance
11. Building Effective Teams in the Workplace

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TwoGreySuits is a leading edge provider of on-line human resource management information, processes, tools and forms servicing the North American market. They have linked the HR practices associated with the key drivers of Employee Engagement in the form of an on-line training application for managers utilizing the vast amount of well-organized information on the website. They license their product to individual companies and Associations, Franchisors and Value-Added Resellers (VARS). Contact them at info@twogreysuits.com

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