Disengaged Employees Are Holding You Back. Here’s How To Deal.

14 January 2020

You’ve seen it before: A once promising employee stops taking initiative. Spends far too much time scrolling through Facebook. Constantly calls out sick, and is nowhere near reaching the goals you agreed on. As a manager, can you turn a disengaged employee around? Should you bother? Read on for advice.

First things first: What is employee engagement?

According to CustomInsight, a leading provider of online HR assessment and development tools, 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.” (Don’t confuse employee engagement with employee satisfaction, which merely indicates whether your employees are happy.)

So how does an employee become engaged—or not? “Studies show work engagement is influenced by three primary psychological states: meaningfulness, safety and availability,” says Zach Mercurio, Ph.D., a faculty member and researcher in the department of psychology at Colorado State University. “Psychological meaningfulness is characterized by an employee’s knowledge and belief that what they do is positive, purposeful and significant. Psychological safety manifests when employees perceive they can speak up about new ideas or concerns without fear of retaliation or [damaging their] reputation. Psychological availability means employees have access to the resources they need to do their job. When these three things occur, engagement usually follows. But there’s a catch. If the demands of the job (i.e., time and tasks) outweigh the resources one has to maintain energy for the job, burnout and disengagement can follow.”

Since engagement is not always easy to measure, you might want to rely on more than just observation—your own and others’—to assess a particular employee’s situation. “Employees have different personalities,” says Lilia Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify. “Some may be more enthusiastic and outspoken than others but not necessarily more engaged.” Stoyanov suggests measuring engagement via 360-degree peer reviews and surveys, met deadlines, and the employee’s voluntary enrollment in internal training and other activities that are encouraged by the company.

“There’s a difference between being disengaged (apathetic) and actively disengaged (destructive),” adds Bryan Zawikowski, vice president and general manager at executive search firm Lucas Group. “Actively disengaged people will sabotage your business and your team. They look for ways to undermine you and destroy the organization. Don’t try to fix these people. Terminate them immediately. There is hope for disengaged associates, but don’t let it fester. Deal with it privately and directly. Explain that you have noticed the behavior change—be specific—and ask them why. Don’t let them get away with a simple apology. Once you find out what’s driving the disengagement, you can take appropriate action to get it turned around.”

What about your A-players?
Speaking of morale, you need to consider how the actions of a disengaged employee and your reaction (or lack thereof) are affecting your top performers, who may be annoyed that they’re required to compensate for their teammate’s lack of effort. “Sometimes all it takes to smooth over ruffled feathers is to let them know that you aren’t oblivious,” says David.

You can keep your A-players motivated by giving them complicated assignments and sponsoring their continuing education, says Stoyanov. “By default, A-players are bright people eager to learn and develop.” Financial incentives are also key. “Performance bonuses are a great way to encourage good performance and differentiate the A-players from those who aren’t pulling their weight,” she says.

You can also stress to your top performers that not everyone is cut from the same cloth. “Remind your A-players that the world is not created equal and not everyone is on the same level as they are,” says Mollor.

“If [top performers] come to you with complaints, assure them that you’re addressing the problem,” says Mullarkey. “Talk to them, and use their input to steer your course of action. You shouldn’t share any information with them about their coworker’s improvement plan, as it’s not their business, but you should let them know that you take their input to heart and that you’re working on rectifying the issue.”

Zawikowski puts it a little more bluntly: “A-players who are fully engaged recognize those lower on the engagement ladder and need to see their leader doing something about it or they won’t stay around.”

Adds Washington, “A leader must demonstrate the ability to confront the under-performing employee in a timely manner or risk losing their credibility and the respect of the team.”

Read The Entire Article Here: “Disengaged Employees Are Holding You Back. Here’s How To Deal.” Connecticut Innovations