After over two decades in the field of employee engagement surveys and running over 500,000 employees per year through employee engagement surveys, we can pretty easily guess what happened to the disengaged employee on the left and what kept the employee on the right engaged in terms of discretionary effort, advocacy and intent to stay.
#1 Employee Dis-Engager: Unclear Expectations
Nobody told the employee on the left what he needed to do to be successful or how his success would be measured. He is confused and full of questions about what went wrong and why he has to struggle to keep in the race. He had no idea that there would be obstacles. He worked a full day from Monday through Friday. He thought he was working on the right projects. He continued to draw his paycheck. No one indicated he was running down the wrong path. In fact, no one spent any time evaluating his performance except once a year when he was told all was OK. And, he had long ago decided not to rock the boat by asking how he was doing. He became complacent.
Shame on both the manager and the employee. Every worker deserves to know what it looks like (and what it takes) to succeed in their role. Without clear direction and measured results, employees can get lackadaisical and get beyond striving. They just keep doing the same old, same old. Of course, this leads to disengagement! On an organizational level, strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies. At an employee level, “Alignment with Goals” has a similar impact on employee performance. If you want to increase employee engagement, use employee engagement training to make sure that your managers create the circumstances where their employees understand:
#2 Employee Dis-Engager: Inadequate Skills
Underperforming and disengaged employees often feel as though they are facing huge and often unanticipated barriers. In the picture above, not only does he not know what he should be doing, he doesn’t even know if he has the skills to get over or around the wall.
Engaged employees are clear about what success looks like and they (and their direct manager) know what specific skills they need to succeed. Don’t handicap your employees by neglecting to provide them with a training needs assessment of where they need to improve. Employees should be evaluated on a regular basis, in both formal assessments and informal performance discussions.
Engaged workers appreciate on-the-spot coaching so they know what behaviors are desired and which are considered negative. The more they know about where they fit and how they contribute, the happier and more secure they can be—especially if they feel they will be fairly rewarded for their contribution.
#3 Employee Dis-Engager: No Opportunity for Growth
The losing employee stuck behind the wall now has a third strike against him…not only does he not know what to do, or if he can do it, but now he does not know how to do it.
Engaged employees report that if they don’t have the right skills to succeed, their manager will see that they have the opportunity to learn them. Engaged employees also report being consistently encouraged to grow and given development opportunities throughout their careers. They know what they need now and in the future as they move forward with the organization.
When you set your workers off on the path to success, equip them with a clear picture of what they are to do and give them the specific skills needed to do it well. These workers will be in the race and on their way to a successful finish.
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