Many companies have a huge problem right now. Some realize they have this problem, while others are clueless. They are trying to fix symptoms of the problems instead of the problem itself.
You can read poll after poll about the disengagement that exists in many companies right now. Dale Carnegie Training and MSW research partnered in 2012 and discovered that out of 1,500 employees polled that close to 70% of these employees are disengaged from their current employer and in their job.
So what does disengagement mean?
There are three classifications for workers in these studies.
Engaged: Employees who are committed and actively involved in contributing to the company.
Not engaged: Employees that show up everyday, but will not go the extra mile for the company. Are really looking for a reason to leave.
Disengaged: Are really seeking to hurt the company. These employees have negative attitudes and do more harm than good.
As the chart below by Gallup shows , millennial’s have the least amount of engagement in the workforce compared to their peers.
The research conducted by Dale Carnegie and Associates found that there are three major contributors that determine engagement by employees in the workforce.
- The employees relationship with their immediate manager
- Belief in Senior Leadership
- Belief in the organization
For years I have heard this saying “People don’t quit companies, they quit people” (managers). They quit bosses or so-called leaders. I know this is true first hand, and you most likely do as well. The research by Dale Carnegie and Associates confirmed this is true from the respondents, by discovering that the number one reason for engagement at work is the relationship a person has with their immediate manager.
Managers, Directors, Supervisors, etc. are the ones managing the day-to-day operations of a business. These leaders are the ones that are required to keep the employees engaged in getting the job done. Unfortunately, many of these leaders are not fully engaged themselves.
These day-to-day leaders are instead dealing with the problems amongst themselves from the decisions that are being made at the Senior Leadership level.
Here are five reasons that lead to disengagement that I have been a part of my self, and witnessed in many companies. These five things are driving disengagement at the manager and director level. Which is trickling down to the rest of the organization as well.
- The leaders who are making the decisions about the business are the ones furthest away from the actual day-to-day business.
- I understand that most companies are one step away from being sued for any reason a slighted employee can think of. However, in an effort to keep everything consistent, many great employees are being prevented from earning more or getting more perks. Which causes great employees to be less enthusiastic about the work. These decisions are usually made by senior leadership or a department that knows very little about the day-to-day jobs of the employees.
2. When people are more concerned about protecting their territory than making the best business decisions.
- It is a blood bath sometimes at the different levels of leadership within an organization. I have watched senior leadership make decisions strictly to go against the best interest of the company, all in an effort to make themselves look better and to show they have control over another leader.
3. When decisions are based on emotions instead of facts.
- Often times we as humans make decisions strictly on our emotions. If you think for a few seconds you can come up with a recent decision you made strictly on feelings and emotions. If this is the case for most individuals, why would we be any different at work? The answer is we are not.
- Unfortunately, the people who have the ability to make many of the decisions are not making the decisions on facts, instead they are making them on emotions. Those emotions could be nostalgia, the decision could go against a previous decision that they made, it could be ego, or insecurity. All of these are emotional reasons. And guess who is not that emotionally tied to the decision? The manager or employee that is looking at the issues objectively. Which then creates more discontent with the individual that has to live with the emotionally determined decision.
4. When leaders make decisions, but don’t implement strategies to manage the decisions.
- I can remember many times in my career where a major initiative was decided upon by senior leadership. The initiative might have been a decision to serve the employees better through some kind of perk or incentive. Or it could have been a major process or policy change that could alleviate a lot of frustration or extra work among a certain department or group within an organization. These decisions were made and communicated to everyone that needed to know about it. Then after a few months or a in as short as a few weeks, everyone could tell that this decision wasn’t actually that important, because no measurement or management was implemented to ensure that the decision was carried out.
5. Everyone wants to be a gangster until its time to do gangster shit. (Tony Soprano)
- I have found that most leaders just want the title. Especially at the Senior Leadership level. They get the title, but they don’t want the responsibility. Unfortunately, by the time they get the title it is too late. Poor executives/senior leadership will hire a manager or director and hope that this new hire or promoted internal candidate will fix everything. This is rarely the case. Senior leaders are relying on managers and directors to carry out the hard stuff while they sit back and dictate what needs to be done. Unfortunately, the managers and directors are watching senior leaders who aren’t willing to do the hard stuff themselves. This is their example. Guess who gets hurt in all of this lack of decision-making and accountability? The employees and the company.
So what do you do about this? What can you do if you have this in your organization?
It starts with candid feedback for everyone within the organization. It requires a senior level leader to take a hard look at what is going on within their company and then having the desire and the nuts to fix it.
The other way to get a grip on it. Is to hire a company or an individual to come in and do an assessment and get a feel for what is going on within the organization.
In either case, leadership has to be willing to take the necessary steps to change the culture and organization around. This is where the hard stuff begins.
Senior level leaders can’t expect managers and directors who are running the day-to-day operations to be engaged in the business and get others to be engaged in the business if they are not doing what they can to ensure the managers and directors are engaged first.
To your success and your future.
Research: Dale Carnegie and Associates Employee Engagement study (2012)