How Do We Disengage People?

It’s great to visit an organisation and hear the leadership team express the desire to improve morale, to have everyone in the workforce engaged and to keep their people motivated during a time of uncertainty.  Why?  Simply because the answer to the question is so easy to find.

How quickly we forget those times when we were starting our careers, when we were on the front line, or in the back office, learning the ropes.  Did you ever gather around the water cooler with your work chums to practice low morale, disengagement and general can’t-be-botheredness?   How often were you lured from your positive state to joining in with your more disaffected colleagues?  What pushed you onto the slippery slope?

1.       The classic reason cited by nearly every piece of research into the matter is a lack of trust in leaders.  The problem here is that this means different things to different people. Is it determined by your actual or perceived experiences, or is it fuelled by the experience or perceived experiences of others?

2.       Not surprisingly a lack of communication will also be high on the list.  So often leaders report that ’we told them’.  Did you tell ‘them’ in the way they wanted to be told, so that they perceived they were being communicated with effectively?

3.       ‘We don’t feel valued’ ranks highly.  This is an emotional response. You may value your people very highly but what have you done that would reinforce this?

4.       Uncertainty is usually a root cause of people leaping onto the bandwagon of disquiet.  At least we can be certain that everyone we talk to on this vehicle to despair will share, or at least sympathise with our views.  When leaders tell us that the only thing we are sure about is that things are currently uncertain is hardly reassuring.

5.       Other stuff which seems trivial but isn’t.  My child has mumps, I’ve got a bad back, I’m going out tonight and I haven’t got enough money. These are all the things that leaders cannotcontrol yet they have great pertinence to the individual rehydrating for the third time this morning. 

This (more or less) means that the answer is very simple.

Go and stand by the water cooler.  Hear what ‘they’ hear, see what ‘they’ see, feel what ‘they’ feel.  Remember when you were standing here with your chums and what made you want to join in these conversations.  Now, ask what would I have wanted my leader at the time to say to me, to reassure me that everything will be ok?

To find out more about how Paradigmantics can help your UK organisation to engage with its workforce contact for a brochure or further information.