Presentation on theme: "Practical IT Research that Drives Measurable Results Identify & Reengage the Disengaged."— Presentation transcript:
Practical IT Research that Drives Measurable Results Identify & Reengage the Disengaged
Introduction Your pain: Disengaged employees cost you a lot of time and money. Identifying and turning them around can be tricky. While it is easier to rely on organizational and departmental initiatives implemented after an engagement survey, disengaged individuals are often hidden by survey results and completely overlooked. One disengaged employee can have a negative effect on the entire department and cost the organization a great deal. Identifying and turning around an individual, who has become disengaged, is difficult but imperative to the success of your department. This solution set will help you: Identify those employees who are disengaged or are at risk of being so. Understand the causes of employee disengagement, as well as your role as a manager in addressing it. Make the case. Recognize that disengagement is prevalent in your organization and costing you a ton of money. Take action to work with the disengaged employee to reengage or cut your losses. 42 1 3 This research is ideal for: All levels of management at any organization. Human Resource representatives looking to educate managers. The broad picture. Be sure to read this set in conjunction with the solution sets Optimize Employee Engagement Surveys and Identify and Select Employee Engagement Initiatives for a full view of the engagement landscape.Optimize Employee Engagement SurveysIdentify and Select Employee Engagement Initiatives
Executive Summary McLean & Company3 You have disengaged employees at your organization that are costing you. Engaged employees have a significant and important role in an organization's productivity. Employees who become disengaged have an equally significant and important role in an organization's poor performance and high costs. The employee base of most organizations consists of 35% to 50% disengaged employees. Your organization likely falls into this distribution. You need to understand what makes up engagement to understand what causes it to plummet. An employee’s engagement is made up of a variety of factors: personal disposition, retention drivers (e.g. how much an employee is compensated), job engagement drivers (e.g. being empowered in a role), and organizational engagement drivers (e.g. trust in the organization’s senior management). As a manager, you play a leading role when it comes to individual engagement. While the responsibility for engagement also rests on the shoulders of many stakeholders, if you aren’t taking accountability for the engagement of your direct reports you are costing your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars. Identify disengagement by using survey results as a tool, watching for common signs and patterns, and heightening awareness around particular events that may act as triggers. There is no one step-by-step process that you can apply to every disengaged employee; however, there are some effective guidelines you can follow when discussing issues with employees. Being flexible and using judgment while working through the issues is critical.
IdentifyUnderstand Make the case for individual engagement Take action Between 35% and 50% of employees at an organization are disengaged at any one time. Organizational engagement surveys and initiatives address aggregate disengagement, but do not address individual engagement. This is a dangerous and expensive distinction to overlook. Most managers don’t understand engagement, its importance, how to identify it, or their role in addressing it. The result is they don’t identify disengaged individuals early enough to turn them around. Educating yourself on the causes of disengagement and how to identify and turnaround a disengaged employee could save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars, and result in a happy workforce. Roadmap Managers, here’s your proof. 42 1 3 Next Section in Brief
Managers: Evaluate your attitude towards employee engagement Do any of these common manager statements sound familiar to you? xThere is no handbook for how to help a disengaged employee. xEveryone in my department is happy. After all, I don’t hear anyone complaining. xI don’t have time for touchy-feely stuff. I’m a manager, not a “free hug” service. xWhat people are really thinking and feeling day-to-day is a mystery. I have a hard time identifying which employees are disengaged. xEmployee engagement is a “people problem,” which makes it HR’s problem, not mine. xEmployee engagement is important, but not one of my top priorities. xAn employee’s engagement is completely up to them – it’s out of my hands. xEmployees whine too much. They just need to grow up and get a thicker skin. xSome disengaged employees will cost us because they are A-players, but the rest are dispensable. xThere is no handbook for how to help a disengaged employee. xEveryone in my department is happy. After all, I don’t hear anyone complaining. xI don’t have time for touchy-feely stuff. I’m a manager, not a “free hug” service. xWhat people are really thinking and feeling day-to-day is a mystery. I have a hard time identifying which employees are disengaged. xEmployee engagement is a “people problem,” which makes it HR’s problem, not mine. xEmployee engagement is important, but not one of my top priorities. xAn employee’s engagement is completely up to them – it’s out of my hands. xEmployees whine too much. They just need to grow up and get a thicker skin. xSome disengaged employees will cost us because they are A-players, but the rest are dispensable. If so, STOP. Take a step back. Read this set. McLean & Company
6 If I read another blog post with an 8 step formula on how to engage employees at work, I think I’ll puke. There is no simple formula for anything at work, especially something as complex as engagement. - Dr. Bret L. Simmons “ ” A challenge of being a manager is you don’t always have a clear process to follow. Engaging employees is one of those instances Lacks the ambition to genuinely care about their job or organization. While they may not openly declare their dissatisfaction, their attitude slips into negativity and affects their work. Is stagnant in individual development and is disinterested in organization goal-attainment. Is focused on personal gains as opposed to team, departmental, or organizational best interests. An actively engaged employee…An actively disengaged employee… Has a clear sense of ownership, satisfaction, purpose and pride in regards to their job. Is passionate about, committed to, and contributes to their organization and its goals. Is energized, enthusiastic and self-motivated. Is focused on the organization’s objectives, not just their own. Functions as an ambassador for the organization. 2. The first step to understanding a fuzzy process is to know what the problem & solution actually look like. Before we get started, it’s important you understand two things. 1.Turning around a disengaged employee is not a “1-2-3, A-B-C” process that can be applied to everyone.
Think you live in engagement wonderland? Whether you know it or not, you have disengaged people on your team right now McLean & Company How many employees are disengaged at your organization right now? Estimates vary, but everyone agrees that it’s too many. 85% of individuals have changed from being engaged to disengaged at some point in their career. 51% of these individuals whose engagement has deteriorated admit to becoming very disengaged. McLean & Company consolidated data from a variety of primary and secondary sources to determine the following distribution of employee engagement.
One disengaged employee could be costing your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars. Managers, this is your problem It pays to care about each individual’s engagement. Daily revenue while disengaged $10,000 x 70% At a mid-sized professional services firm, one sales employee’s hidden disengagement cost the organization over $207,000 in just three months. The firm let him go, citing under-performance. The firm’s daily break-even to cover operating costs: $1,200,000 Total sales people: 150 Individual daily sales quota: $8,000 Daily sales goal: $10,000 Annual salary :$40,000 (no commission) Time passed as disengaged: 65 work days Productivity: 70% Note: A disengaged employee typically operates at 30–70% productivity. This particular employee’s productivity varied, so a conservative assumption of 70% has been used. The FactsThe Cost Daily cost to the organization Break-even ($8,000) -$7,000 Daily opportunity cost Goal ($10,000) - $7,000 - $1,000 Total cost 65 days x $1,000 Total opportunity cost 65 days x $2,000 Cost to replace employee Estimated at 30% of salary Total cost of disengaged employee $65,000 + $130,000 + $12,000 $7,000 $1,000 $2,000 $65,000 $130,000 $12,000 $207,000
And we are just getting started. The firm considered, but didn’t sum the additional intangible costs; the list was daunting Base salary Lost revenue Lost productivity with increased sick days, leave days, shortened work days, etc. Manager’s time spent discussing and documenting additional performance management HR’s time coaching the manager and advising on legal implications Opportunity costs (missed sales, disgruntled customers, delayed/unfinished projects) Impact on other employees' productivity Direct Costs: Administrative materials Applicable litigation or relocation costs Severance pay Direct Costs: Job postings (social media, online listings, newspaper listings) External recruiters’ salaries Travel, accommodation, meals Administrative materials Direct Costs: Administrative materials Set up costs (computer, phone) Potential costs if the disengaged employee leaves the company: Time Invested: Exit interview conducted HR system and administrative updates IT deactivating account Redirecting inquiries (email/calls) Reclaiming company property Time Invested: Screening/contacting applicants Multiple stages of interviewing Background/reference checks Contacting unsuccessful candidates Time Invested: On-boarding hired candidate Training hired candidate Adjustment time for new employee (before reaching expected productivity) Current employee leavingRecruiting and hiring replacementOnboarding/training replacement Direct costs & opportunity costs of a disengaged employee:
Even if you understand the value of engagement, you probably can't spot a disengaged employee Why are managers so far off the mark? An employee may be engaged in their role, but seriously dissatisfied with the organization. Joy in the job is much easier to see day to day and can mask more persistent negative undercurrents. Disengagement is easier to ignore or dismiss as something minor than it is to actively address. Subtle clues may be hard to spot. For example, a normally quiet employee who is disengaged can easily slip under the radar while silently looking for another job. Many managers are not plugged in to the grapevine. Peers communicate grievances with one another that they typically hide or downplay with their bosses. The same mid-sized professional services firm investigated how many of their employees were disengaged. It first polled their employees through an employee engagement survey, and then asked each manager to identify the perceived engagement level of each of their employees. Only 37% of managers guessed right! Why doesn’t the manager’s opinion add up to 100%? The manager’s opinion bars show only the percent of managers who guessed their disengaged or engaged employees right. The discrepancy is the result of those managers who thought their employees were engaged when they were in fact disengaged, or disengaged when they were actually engaged.
And if you do spot disengagement, you may mishandle it. Managers make mistakes around responsibility & assessment… McLean & Company11 Blame the employee. Overestimating the level of disengagement and smothering them with concern. Diminishing or dismissing the employee’s concerns. Pretending you understand when you don’t. Are any of these common mistakes familiar to you? Responsibility MistakesAssessment Mistakes “He just needs to develop a thicker skin.” “I’ll deal with this. You just pretend it never happened.” “I can’t believe this happened to you. This really makes me mad.” “Engagement is the mandate of HR and the exec. It’s an organization- wide problem I can’t solve.” “Let’s focus on what you did to contribute to this outcome and what you should have done instead.” Continued… For example… Taking on the responsibility of solving the problem on your own. Going beyond sympathy to full-on commiseration. Abdicating the responsibility to HR. Over-focusing on the employee’s ownership over their own engagement.
…as well as timing, communication, action plan, and follow-up mistakes McLean & Company12 Avoiding the conversation and waiting for the employee to approach you. Talking to the employee’s peers or colleagues about it. Getting too personal with questions e.g. “Does this have anything to do with the divorce you are going through?” Using a cookie-cutter approach. Not setting expectations around your chances for resolution. Bribing the employee if you think they’re a flight risk. Offering more money may just insult them or be a short-term fix. Assume the employee has turned around after the initial conversation and stop following up. Doing too little, too late. At some point, the employee will reach the tipping point where they are no longer “re-engageable.” Pressuring the employee to act (or let you act) when they’re not ready yet or don’t want to. Not cutting your losses quickly when re-engagement is clearly not an option, or cutting your losses too quickly when re-engagement is a possibility. Are any of these common mistakes familiar to you? Timing MistakesAction Plan & Follow-up Mistakes Communication Mistakes Continued…
Identify Understand Make the case for individual engagement Take action Disengagement is caused by triggers in any or all of the job, organizational, or retention drivers. There are four levels of engagement within the McLean & Company Engagement model, ranging from actively engaged and plummeting to actively disengaged. While the employee ultimately owns their engagement, as a manager you play a vital role in keeping employee engagement in check by understanding and watching for signs of disengagement. Leverage your executive and HR, as well as others, in identifying issues with engagement. Roadmap People won’t stop talking about it: engagement. What exactly is it? 42 1 3 Next Section in Brief
Review McLean & Company’s engagement program methodology to get a grasp on what engagement actually is McLean & Company14 Personal Disposition Emotional OutlookNatural TendenciesState of Mind CompensationWorking ConditionsBenefits Retention Drivers Engagement Drivers Employee Empowerment Development Rewards & Recognition Co-worker Relationships Manager Relationship Culture Customer Focus Company Potential Department Relationships Senior Mgmt Relationship Job Engagement Organizational Engagement Overall Engagement Job engagement & organizational engagement make up an employee’s total engagement and are built once the basic needs have been met. Personal disposition: The lens through which a person sees their world. Overall engagement is made up of multiple factors. Retention drivers: Minimum requirements for engagement, but alone can’t engage an employee. Engagement Drivers: Distinct levers that drive the engagement. The left drivers are driven by manager trust, and the right drivers by senior manager trust. 1 2 3 4 See McLean & Company’s Employee Engagement Program for more information.Employee Engagement Program
Understand the four levels of engagement as a starting point 4 Levels of Engagement Actively Engaged Engaged Not Engaged Actively Disengaged Has a clear sense of ownership, satisfaction, purpose and pride in regards to their job. Passionate about, committed to, and contributes to their organization and its goals. An organization ambassador! Energized, enthusiastic and self-motivated. Focused on organization’s objectives, not just their own. Not proud of the organization. Puts in sufficient time to meet minimum requirements. Does not feel a sense of purpose or pride in their work – it’s “just a job.” Indifferent or apathetic to work-related issues or events. Satisfied with the role and committed to the organization. Motivated to go the extra mile from time to time. Feels a sense of purpose and pride in their work. Lacks the ambition to genuinely care about their job or organization. While they may not openly declare their dissatisfaction, their attitude slips into negativity and affects their work. Is developmentally stagnant and disinterested in organizational goals. Is focused on personal gains as opposed to team, departmental, or organizational best interests. Your focus. These employees are costing you greatly. Your employee engagement survey gives you a broad-based measure of engagement. You need to zero in on the specific individuals that make up that broad measure. The raving fan Happy-go-lucky The hater Indifferent
Disengagement can crop up in one or more of the following drivers McLean & Company Compensation Benefits Working Conditions Culture Customer Focus Company Potential Department Relationships Senior Mgmt Relationship Organizational engagement drivers Job engagement drivers Retention drivers Employee Empowerment Development Rewards & Recognition Co-worker Relationships Manager Relationship Examples I don’t understand how my work contributes to the company’s success. There have been too few growth and advancement opportunities in my role. No one recognizes when I go above and beyond. I can’t relate to any of my co-workers. My manager micromanages me even though I am more experienced than her. I don’t have the power to help my customers when they aren’t happy. I have no understanding of the organization’s strategic direction. I don’t know what it is that other department’s do each day. I don’t trust any senior managers because I don’t know them. I am not paid enough to cover the bills. I don’t know what’s included in my benefits. There is no where to eat my lunch in my workplace. The chemistry of individual engagement is complex. – CEO, BlessingWhite “ ” Personal Disposition Retention Drivers Job Engagement Organizational Engagement Overall Engagement Engagement Drivers
McLean & Company17 So, now you have a better idea of what engagement is. Let’s talk about what your role is, and where you can rely on others The Manager The Employee Executives Human Resources For a successful result, shared ownership of engagement is imperative. The owner of the relationship with the employee. The owner of their own engagement level. The creator of a culture that supports engagement. The facilitator of an engagement program (on an individual and aggregate level). For more details around each of these roles, read on.
Managers: Understand your role in individual engagement. You own the relationship with the employee… Be attentive and proactive. Once an employee decides to leave the organization due to disengagement, it is likely too late to reengage them. Be vigilant when events occur that could negatively affect an individual’s engagement. Help the employee align their individual passions and talents with organizational objectives. Get to know employees. Understand their skills and unique engagement drivers. Coach your employees. Career development and training are engagement drivers. Coaching is also an opportunity to get to know employees, build rapport and relationships, and recognize disengagement. Set expectations with employees. Ensure they understand that they own their engagement. Take control of your own engagement. If you are disengaged, your employees will notice and follow suit. Self assess. Reflect on your own influence on employee behavior. The 2011 BlessingWhite Employee Engagement Report determined that managers aren’t doing the things that matter most, namely: recognizing and rewarding achievements and building a sense of belonging in their department. Gain the trust of your employees. Employees who trust their managers are more likely to be engaged. As a manager, employee engagement is part of your job description even if it’s not explicitly written out. The Manager Employees won’t necessarily stick around for a good manager, but they will leave because of a bad one.
…while the employee owns their engagement, and their reaction to situations Employees need to understand and communicate their own values, interests, skills and goals. Employees should initiate conversations with managers, ask for coaching, and talk to managers if they are feeling disengaged. Employees should take control of their own destiny: seek clarification, understanding and action. Employees should take a moment when it’s needed to reflect on their role, expectations and outlook. A lot of it is personal. There are things that happen in the organization that start the ball rolling, but you allow the snowball to get bigger and worse. There is nothing anyone can say to turn you around until you make the conscious decision to alter your mindset. – A reengaged employee after 8 months of disengagement. “ ” Every employee has the choice to not play the victim. The Employee How does self- reflection help? An employee who is able to take responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings and reactions is personally empowered – they actually feel more in control of their own work life, which in itself is a major driver of engagement. Managers can’t realign the stars. Employees need to be masters of their own engagement destiny.
Leverage your executive & HR team: They play an indirect role in individual employee engagement Engagement starts at the top. Take all HR priorities seriously, especially engagement. Establish an organizational culture that places importance on engagement. Identify and work to reengage any of your own disengaged managers. Coach your direct reports that are managers on how to maintain engagement and spot disengagement. Conduct “manager once removed” meetings where you talk to your direct reports’ employees. Practice what you preach. You can’t advocate for engagement without making it a priority yourself. Set a tone such that a single negative employee action doesn’t put a “Disengaged” stamp on their forehead. Work with other executives to keep a finger on the organization’s engagement pulse at all times. Act as a steward and champion of the overall employee engagement process. Facilitate the employee engagement and re- engagement process. Prove the importance of individual engagement management and senior management. Leaders respond well to evidence. Support the manager through their resolution of employee engagement problems. Don’t take on the employee’s or the manager’s problem – remain objective. Ensure the manager knows that employee engagement is part of their job responsibilities. Don’t be the monkey in the middle. You are not an advocate for the employee. Your role is to coach and counsel the manager to understand how to manage the employee. Investigate and escalate if needed if it appears that the manager may be the cause of the employee’s disengagement. Work with the executive team to keep a finger on the organization’s engagement pulse at all times. ExecutivesHuman Resources A role review for executives: A role review for HR:
Action Taken Impact Scenario The manager realized they weren’t having good conversations in their 1-on-1’s, so he started taking the employee out of the office for their meetings. He listened as the employee surfaced legitimate concerns and saw things from the employee’s perspective. The manager encouraged the employee to speak with a few of the senior leaders in the organization. Together they determined that the role needed to be redefined and expectations clearly set. The employee appreciated everyone’s concern. While initially skeptical, he realized they had his best interests at heart, and started to better understand what was expected of him. He spent a lot of time self-reflecting. The employee decided to stay on the promise that the situation would change. I really had to turn it around because I was miserable. I decided that I had to leave or get my stuff together. - Marketing Manager, Public Relations Firm The initial conversations were more about listening and less about sharing. There was learning for myself and others out of this. - Marketing Manager’s Manager, Public Relations Firm I went from nearly walking out the door to being the most engaged I have been since I started here. - Employee Public Relations Firm “ ” ” ” “ “ Open, honest dialogue leads to common understanding and an opportunity to resolve concerns. Case Study: Sometimes it takes more than one party to flip an employee from disengaged to engaged From the employee’s perspective I know I was very critical in the workplace. Everything was a problem and I made sure everyone knew it. I had recently been promoted and my former position wasn’t filled. I felt like I was doing two jobs, and neither very well. I started looking and received an offer with another organization. From the manager’s perspective Until recently he had very strong performance reviews; however, after his promotion he was performing okay, but not great. His previous responsibilities superseded the new ones likely because he was comfortable with them. He was closed off during our 1-on-1’s, but was very vocal in group meetings.
When it comes to understanding engagement & the roles involved, remember these three things McLean & Company22 Disengagement can result from triggers in any or all of the job, organizational, or retention drivers. There are four levels of relative engagement, and your biggest concern is those employees who are actively disengaged. While the employee ultimately owns their engagement, you as the manager play a vital role in understanding the factors that affect employee engagement, and keeping that engagement in check on an individual and aggregate level. Leverage your executive, HR and management peers in identifying issues with engagement. They play a crucial role in setting organizational attitudes around employee engagement, pointing out brewing problems you may have missed, and resolving challenging or sensitive situations. 1 2 3
Identify Understand Make the case for individual engagement Take action An employee swings in and out of different engagement levels over time. One bad day doesn’t mean that the employee is disengaged. Be aware of the fluctuations, but don’t act on them until you notice a clear pattern. Most managers have a disengagement spotting toolkit at their disposal: leverage survey results, every day interactions, your knowledge of each employee, and your understanding of common personal and professional triggers that may push them towards disengagement. Recognize that your speculation is just speculation. Even if you pay close attention to each employee, you may get it all wrong and assume they are disengaged when they are not. Roadmap An employee doesn’t wear an “I’m disengaged” t-shirt to work. 42 1 3 Next Section in Brief
24 First, give yourself a reality check: Try to place each of your employees within the four levels of engagement Most managers think that far more of their employees are engaged than really are. Most of an organization’s employees typically fall into the following distribution: Actively Engaged Engaged Not Engaged Actively Disengaged 5% – 15%45% – 55%30% – 40%5% – 10% If you have more disengaged employees and less engaged employees, you need to acknowledge that disengagement is costing your department. If you have more engaged employees and less disengaged employees, are you sure you are being realistic? Frequently volunteers to take on extra tasks. Takes pride in their work and in the organization. Rarely complains. Is enthusiastic and self- motivated. Highly involved in the company. Innovative and generates ideas to better the company. Sometimes volunteers to take on extra tasks. Takes pride in their work and in the organization. Complains infrequently. Seems satisfied with their role, but not overly enthusiastic. Participates in organization or team events. Puts in sufficient time to meet minimum requirements. Does not volunteer for extra tasks. Complains occasionally. Is not self-motivated. Rarely participates in organization or team events. Does not meet requirements frequently. Appears “checked out”. Complains about role, organization, manager and peers. Is reserved and quiet. Does not participate in organization or team events. Puts in time, but not effort or passion. McLean & Company
Understand an employee’s engagement lifecycle to identify triggers that may plummet an employee to disengagement 25 Engaged Disengaged The straw that breaks the camel’s back. Typically, disengagement is a cumulative build-up of events, followed by a breaking point. An employee dips in and out of engagement over time. Then, one event acts as a shock or realization, causing the employee to plummet into active disengagement. The engagement lifecycle of one employee could look like this: Employee gets negative feedback. Overwork causes work-life imbalance. Manager hasn’t talked to the employee in weeks. Employee doesn’t get expected promotion. Employee is engaged when they join the organization. Don’t be hyper-sensitive to these events – this is part of the ebb and flow of engagement. A conversation regarding disengagement is not required here, but a heightened sense of observation needs to be put into play. Ensure you are keeping the lines of communication open through regular interactions. Actively Disengaged The reality check will get you to think about the engagement level of your employees right now. However, disengagement is cyclical and you need to keep an eye on it: someone who is engaged today may not be tomorrow.
Use all the tools available to you to identify disengagement annually, every day, and following trigger events 26 Trigger events Knowledge of professional and personal events that may impact employees Trigger events Knowledge of professional and personal events that may impact employees Annually Employee engagement survey results Annually Employee engagement survey results Everyday Knowledge of employees Everyday interactions Noticeable patterns Everyday Knowledge of employees Everyday interactions Noticeable patterns Macro level: Engagement surveys give you an overview of the aggregate results and trends. It’s a measurement. Micro level: As a manager, you need to look at it on an individual level. An individual’s engagement is hidden in the results of a survey. Checking engagement isn’t a once a year thing – it’s continuous.
Leverage the results of your employee engagement survey as a signal and reminder to pay attention to individual engagement McLean & Company27 Are you getting a good response rate without coercion? Highly disengaged and highly engaged employees are most likely to jump on the survey. Are there outliers in either direction? Even if the outlier is a positive one, could that person be uncomfortable being honest? Are there any individuals who are not participating in the post-survey engagement initiative brainstorming sessions or demonstrating apathy around participating? If the survey shows poor results, you should take it as a sign to pay closer attention to the everyday signs and symptoms. Use the data to target specific aspects of engagement so observations are more focused and valuable. It is anonymous. Not everyone fills it in. Individual results are hidden in the collective results. It only depicts the engagement level for one moment in time. To a certain extent, employees may skew their answers positively (e.g. don’t want to get in trouble for complaining) or negatively (e.g. employee is having a bad day). Some companies have implemented organization-wide employee engagement surveys, resulting in some solid engagement improvement initiatives. It’s not enough. A survey has limitations when it comes to individual engagement: However, you can still use the survey on a micro level by asking yourself: Refer to the solution set Optimize Employee Engagement Surveys.Optimize Employee Engagement Surveys
Get to know your employees: Discuss engagement focused topics to get a handle on how they’re doing McLean & Company 28 Biweekly, spend 10 minutes of your coaching conversation or 1-on-1 with the employee asking questions specific to engagement. Spend the rest of the time gauging it for yourself. Ask about their job satisfaction – what they like, don’t like, etc. Talk about job engagement and organization engagement – get a feel for their happiness and commitment levels. Express, offer and demonstrate your support. Ask the employee what they need from you. Ask about the employee’s talents and skills. Talk about the employee’s contribution to the company’s success. Talk about their goals and priorities in their role. Ask if they have any questions for you. I believe very strongly in personal relationships and personal rapport with your employees. You need to understand how they communicate, how they interpret what you say, and what makes them tick. - IT Manager, Professional Services Firm “ ” Get to know your employees. Engaged employees’ goals are aligned with the organization’s and they work toward achieving them. Identifying their goals will allow you to help them do this. Their goals. Engaged employees feel that they contribute. Leveraging their strengths to better the department and organization will leave them feeling productive and important. Their strengths. There are things employee dislike that you just don’t have control over. Understanding these will help you to proactively work with the employee to minimize the impact. Their dislikes. Get to know the employee on a personal level (as long as they’re comfortable with it). It can build trust and rapport, improving communication. Their life.
29 Engagement isn’t static. It can change quickly. Continuously gauge individual employee’s engagement through the following group and individual interactions. Refer to the storyboard, Train Managers to Effectively Communicate at Every Touch Point to Improve Performance. Train Managers to Effectively Communicate at Every Touch Point to Improve Performance An employee doesn’t wear an “I’m disengaged” t-shirt to work: Use everyday interactions to gauge engagement Employee is increasingly less interested in their development goals and career progression within the company. Employee is becoming very vocal and is getting frustrated more often than usual about common issues faced by the employee or organization. Employee is skeptical at your attempts to be motivational and questions your intent. Employee is much less social and collegial towards you and his/her peers. Feedback Organizational/ operational messaging Coaching Issue Management Collegial conversations Motivational messaging Employee does not participate, show interest, or get involved in organizational discussions or events. Employee either receives feedback with little reaction or gets defensive. Often, it’s not what the employee is saying, it’s how they are saying it…or what they’re not saying at all. The grapevine. Use it, but don’t abuse it. Your peers, staff, HR, and pretty much anyone hanging around the office can provide you with valuable information about one of your staff. Listen, absorb, and keep it in mind, but don’t immediately approach the employee with it unless you have observed it yourself. Getting grapevine info is an opportunity and a risk if you don’t act with caution, discretion and integrity.
Keep in mind: Any one of these signs should not cause alarm or lead to false assumptions. These signs should be a signal to set up a conversation, not to label the employee as disengaged. Once they became disengaged, employees admitted that… Showing up late once doesn’t mean an employee is disengaged. Signs of disengagement are sustained: watch for patterns Demonstrates an exaggerated sense of dislike for a manager, executives, peers and the organization. Finds any way to sneak out of work early. Increased interest in working from home. Increased absenteeism. Shows up late for work. Spends time working on personal, non-work related activities. Feels and/or expresses that everyone they work with is incompetent. Changes from having a generally good attitude to a generally bad attitude. Reduced productivity. Continuously misses deadlines. Doesn’t volunteer for work-related tasks. Avoids helping teammates with their tasks. Never goes above and beyond the call of duty. N = 137 Source: McLean & Co. Some common disengagement patterns:
Recognize triggers of disengagement. An employee who flip flops can permanently fall off the deep end as a result of one event McLean & Company Culture Changes in geographical location Union changes Merger and acquisition Implementation of quality/performance standards (i.e. becoming ISO compliant) Customer Focus Changes in branding New customer service policy Company Potential Deployment of new product/service line Organization performing poorly Wide scale change in strategic direction Department Relationships Change in departments’ leadership Senior Mgmt Relationship New CEO or other senior executive Change in leadership behavior/reputation Flattening of the organizational ladder Employee Empowerment Contributes ideas that were ignored A bad project: too hard, pointless Low autonomy or loss thereof Development Struggling in new role after promotion Change in job responsibilities or scope Negative feedback Rewards & Recognition No promotion or bonus Negative performance review Co-worker Relationships Underperforming teammate Bad performance of others ignored Loss of a valued teammate Manager Relationship Management shake up A disengaged manager or supervisor Proactively seek to confirm the engagement status of anyone who’s undergone the following: Triggers of organization disengagement Triggers of job disengagement Triggers of retention disengagement Compensation Did not receive a raise Peers received larger raise Benefits Changes to plan Working conditions Burn out Work and life imbalance Safety compromised 31
Case Study: At times, there are no disengaged signs or patterns. Understanding triggers will allow you to still be proactive 32 Don’t wait for the employee to reach their breaking point. Be proactive and recognize when an event may have an impact. Impact An A-player at a consulting firm received a poor project performance review. She showed no signs of being affected by it. A manager who knew the employee well approached her in a group setting and casually asked how she was doing. It became clear that she wasn’t only upset about the project, but also disheartened about the organization, her role and her superiors. ActionSituation Pain PointsKey Success Factors I didn’t have to observe a symptom of disengagement to take action. I just had to know the employee well enough to know this could affect her. If I had waited, one of my strongest reports might have reached a non-resolvable point. -Manager, Consulting Firm The employee left with a commitment to follow up, not necessarily change. However, after going home and thinking about what was said, she e-mailed her manager the next day to say she had learned a lot from their impromptu meeting and felt better about the review. There is a power in understanding the situation. Show the employee you’ve been there, you’ve made it through, and you understand where they are coming from. -Manager, Consulting Firm The Last Word “ ” “ ” Once the manager realized the extent of disengagement, he immediately took the employee out of the group setting into his office. He let her vent. He got her to consider her role by asking, “What would you do differently next time?” This didn’t help, so the manager told her about a similar experience he had years ago. He shared his frustrations, but also his lessons learned. This employee’s engagement level wasn’t obvious, but it was plummeting fast. If you know your employees, you’ll be able to be proactive. If you are proactive, you’ll catch disengagement in time. -Manager, Consulting Firm “ ” McLean & Company
Heighten awareness around certain events in an employee’s personal life 33 Pay attention when: An employee has been at the organization for 1–3 years or in a role for 1-3 years. Employee is a Gen-Y. The BlessingWhite 2011 Employee Engagement Report shows that those born 1978-1994 are the least likely to be engaged. Employee holds a lower-level role where they do not contribute to strategy decisions or work with clients. An employee has had a milestone birthday. There are natural points and events in people’s careers and lives, both positive and negative, where they are more likely to become disengaged. Consider age, level and tenure characteristics. I once had three employees come to me on different occasions all within the same month. After speaking with them individually, I determined that all three had just recently had milestone birthdays and were going through a bit of a mid-life reflection. - HR Manager, Technology Firm “ ” What goes on during that 1–3 year period? Many employees are close to mastering their duties and they decide to settle in or move on.
Case Study: Recognize that disengagement can be a result of personal factors so that you can take appropriate action 34 If disengagement is caused by factors outside of the workplace, being supportive and empathetic can help turn things around. Impact An employee had been with an organization for 15 years and in his role for five. He had recently celebrated his 40 th birthday. He was feeling dead-ended, found trivial things annoying and was generally unhappy. His wife had just had a promotion and he felt that he wasn’t reaching the same level of success in his career. His performance was good, but not stellar. ActionSituation Pain PointsKey Success Factors Be empathetic with your employee’s and be prepared to refer them to others who can help. You may not have all the expertise or answers required to help them. Show your support while they work things out. - HR Manager, Technology The employee initially indicated that he was okay, but after further probing from his manager, he admitted that he wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about the role anymore, but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. The manager suggested that the employee call their employee assistance program, which offered a career counselling program. The employee realized that he was very well suited to the role he was currently in and it really met all the conditions for satisfaction in his ideal job. After some self-reflection, he realized that his issues were about a personal phase he was going through, not the job. It was the right environment for him after all for the long-term. Sometimes disengagement has nothing to do with what’s happening in the workplace and everything to do with what is happening in the employee’s life. - HR Manager, Technology People’s lives ebb and flow at work and outside. Helping an employee through a rough patch can result in a long lasting loyal relationship. - HR Manager, Technology The Last Word “ ” “ ” “ ” McLean & Company
Use your toolkit to contemplate and collect facts, not to speculate & act too soon Regularly late Doesn’t volunteer Takes long lunches Performance has dropped Doesn’t feel hard work on a recent project was recognized Workload is unreasonable and is causing burnout An issue with a co-worker has been ignored Bored and unchallenged with current project Rewards & recognition Employee empowerment Co-worker relationships Working conditions Symptom Speculation Doesn’t care Taking advantage of a flexible work environment Was passed over for a promotion and is angry Lazy. Just can’t get up in the morning Absenteeism Organizational changes have caused stress and uncertainty Company potential Social life is impacting work Real causeDriver affected Managers often speculate that a problem is due to an employee’s disinterest. In reality, it could be about something that is inherently wrong with the workplace. If you speculate incorrectly and act on that speculation, a disengaged employee might be ignored, or you may form an action plan that doesn’t address the real issue. The next section walks you through how to have a conversation with the employee to ensure that even if you speculate incorrectly, you will discover the underlying issue as a team.
When it comes to identifying those employees who are disengaged, remember these three things McLean & Company36 You may be missing some serious cases of employee disengagement – most managers do. Remember that disengagement is cyclical and cumulative – not only do you need to continuously keep an eye on it, but you also need to be careful not to overreact to every instance of employee unhappiness you see. Getting to know your employees as people and interacting with them daily are the most powerful tools in your disengagement-fighting toolkit. By applying these tools, you’re more likely to notice negative changes in behavior and understand the factors that might be influencing those changes. Be aware of the types of workplace or life events and personal characteristics that make employees more prone to disengagement. Know to raise your vigilance levels when you spot these events or characteristics manifesting. 1 2 3
IdentifyUnderstand Make the case for individual engagement Take action Create a safe environment for the employee to encourage him or her to be honest and comfortable. Have a conversation to confirm your suspicions, understand the situation. Explain your observations and intentions, identify and prioritize the underlying issues as a team, and commit to an action plan to fix the problem. Sometimes an employee’s disengagement isn’t resolvable or their problem is out of your control. You need to evaluate whether or not it makes sense for you to keep them around, or cut your losses. You must follow-up on what was discussed, or the employee’s engagement level may plummet further. Roadmap “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” - Peter Drucker 42 1 3 Next Section in Brief
Once you have identified an employee as potentially disengaged, it’s time to have a conversation 38 McLean & Company This is four-step process will not be right for every situation. Each piece is an essential component to consider when sitting down to a conversation to discuss an employee’s disengagement. The following slides walk you through these four key components.
Meet Hugh, Debra and Louis. Use these examples to better understand how a conversation and action plan can play out McLean & Company Hugh (‘A’ Performer) Hugh is an A performer. Hugh is a knowledgeable and participative teammate who has many ideas. Louis is a C performer Louis is very social and outgoing, but he tends to waste too much time. His performance reviews are getting worse as a result. Debra is a B performer Debra always asks for extra work and enthusiastically puts in the time to get things done. She’s an ambitious go-getter. Louis (‘C” Performer) As we walk through each step in the conversation, we’ll check in to see how each of these disengaged employees are responding. Follow these three disengagement stories through each stage of this section. Debra (‘B’ Performer)
Prepare for the conversation Don’t be a chicken, take the initiative. Waiting for the employee to approach you is a bad idea – they may never. Only 30% of managers get the guts up to actually initiate the conversation themselves. It’s easier to ignore, but it will cost you and your organization. Up until the conversation, document what you see so you have clear examples that demonstrate the reasons why you are meeting with the employee. Don’t over-prepare. The employee could be put off if they think you have been spying on them. Set expectations around objectives of the conversation. There’s no need to prepare a meeting agenda. This should be a fluid conversation. However, setting your own objectives in advance will act as a reminder once you are in the meeting. When? Speak to the employee as soon as you spot disengagement. It does not need to be a formal or planned conversation. Where? In person is best, and one-on-one is imperative. Inviting them into a common room – a small meeting room or going out for coffee – is a good neutral place to have this conversation. How? Envision and plan for all possible outcomes. See the next slide to get you started. HR’s involvement? If you think you’re walking into a sensitive situation, inform HR and get their advice. Make the decision to have the conversation. Prepare, but don’t over-prepare. Plan the logistics. Prepare Conversation Action Follow up
Ideal reactions are rare: Plan for a variety of outcomes when it comes to the employee’s reaction What If… The employee asks for the impossible? Ensure that you understand what the employee is really asking for. If it is truly impossible, be honest and explain that you won’t be able to meet their demands. What if the employee wants to be left alone to sort it out? Reiterate your support. If you have an employee assistance program, provide them with the number. Determine a timeframe to reconnect. The employee denies that they are disengaged? The employee gets offended, defensive or angry? Reassure the employee that you only want to help them and that you are concerned about them. Restate your observations. Be sincere. The employee says their problem is with you? Don’t get defensive. Ask what the issue is and hear the employee out. Do they have a valid concern? Determine if they are earnest or merely deflecting. If deflecting, see above. The employee goes to HR or over your head? The ideal situation is when the employee comes to you first, so hear them out. If they go to HR or your manager, don’t get offended. Listen to the concerns and reassure all involved that you are interested in resolving the situation. Then… McLean & Company Confront the fact that even if they aren’t disengaged, there is a problem that is causing you to bring this up (e.g. absenteeism or reduced productivity). Express your desire to identify the root issue (even if it’s not disengagement) and offer support. Prepare Conversation Action Follow up
Prepare: Hugh, Debra and Louis’ respective bosses get wind of their disengagement and lay the groundwork. McLean & Company Hugh (‘A’ Performer) Sandra (Debra’s boss) notices that Debra is punching the clock – arriving at 9:00, leaving at 5:00. Debra seems irritated when given extra tasks above her regular ones. Sandra informally tracks Debra’s hours to confirm the new pattern. She decides to ask Debra about her changed work habits during their next weekly one-on-one meeting. Based on recent behavior, Sandra expects Debra to get irritated and defensive during their meeting, and possibly get angry. Debra (‘B’ Performer) Louis (‘C” Performer) Hugh’s teammates have found him unusually quiet for the past month. When they ask for his input, he says he’ll go along with whatever they want to do. One of his teammates asks their boss, Donna, if Hugh is okay. This change is news to her. Donna pays closer attention to Hugh’s behavior. After a few days, she invites Hugh to a coffee shop around the corner for a chat about how he’s feeling about his job. Donna thinks Hugh will say everything is fine and hedge, but will ultimately open up. Louis has been talking to everyone about his recent bad review. He’s even less productive than usual, and is distracting his co-workers with his complaints. Louis’ boss, Frank, hears about Louis’ comments from a range of people. He needs to act quickly and decisively. Frank schedules a meeting with Louis for that afternoon Frank consults with HR prior to the meeting to review his options and finds that Louis has already been there to lodge a complaint. This meeting could get confrontational. Prepare Conversation Action Follow up
Assume the best of others. Be curious going into the conversation instead of angry or annoyed. The intention is not to put the employee on the defensive but instead show a genuine concern. Make sure your body language is neutral. Create a safe environment. Recognize that individuals perceive things differently. Consider the employee’s personality traits when deciding your tone, the amount of pressure you’ll apply, and the words you will use. Have the conversation: Set the right tone within the first 30 seconds or risk being tuned out Use your knowledge of the individual.Create a positive environment. Get their view of the situation before giving yours. Avoid “why.” The employee may feel they are being judged. Ask open-ended questions to get more from them. Start off slowly. Put on more pressure only when it’s required; for example, if they aren’t being very forward. Give them a chance to speak up instead of drilling them with questions. Use cautious words like “I’m not sure if you know this, but you are coming across as upset.” Use facts, not opinions, to make your point. Facts should be about the behavior, not the individual. Avoid generalities, such as “I always see this.” Gauge self-awareness. Ask, “What do you think are the reasons A and B are happening?” instead of placing blame by saying, “I’ve noticed lately you’ve been doing A and B.” Do some talking too.Ask questions. As a manager, you need to understand the person’s perspective, where it comes from and how they are going to interpret what you are saying. You need to be able to communicate with them, and that means you have to understand how they are hearing you. – IT Manager, Professional Services “ ” Refer to the next slide to learn more about creating a safe environment. Use the following guidelines when conducting the conversation. Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Empower the employee to participate by creating a safe environment Explain your observations and ask for theirs. Share your intention. Explain why you are meeting. Set expectations for what the conversation will entail. Establish mutual purpose or a common ground. What’s important to both parties? Demonstrate that you care about their goals. Envision what the employee might conclude. Use contrasting statements – explain what you don’t mean as well as what you do mean. “This is not a performance review, feedback discussion or anything that will be reflected on your PA. This discussion is all about your satisfaction with your current role.” “This is what I am seeing” instead of “This is what you are doing.” “What happened?” instead of “Why did you do that?” Examples Explain the gap between what was expected and what was observed. Explain the results and consequences of the gap. Use facts. Defensiveness means the employee’s safety is threatened. If this happens, move away from the issue for a moment. Listen as much as talk. Hear their point of view. The book Crucial Confrontations speaks to the importance of a safe environment. People are comfortable talking when there is safety – it prevents anger, defensiveness and silence. It is your responsibility to create this safety. Follow these “safety-creating” tips and tricks. Greet the employee. “Thanks so much for quickly meeting with me. I really appreciate it.” Don’t act too seriously or give the employee the impression they are in trouble. Thank them for their time. Tips, tricks and safety. Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Identify, prioritize and agree on the underlying issues McLean & Company Identify the underlying issue, together. Take your time. Don’t rush or jump to conclusions. Prioritize and agree on issues. Analyzing the consequences helps to determining what is most important to discuss. Focus on one issue at a time. Consider seriousness, time-sensitivity, what’s important to the employee, and what is controllable. Examples Be concise. The issue should be condensed to a single sentence to ensure it is clear, understandable, and focused. Diagnose the root of the issue: Is it a skill or will issue, or is it an issue with a person? It may be a non-work related issue (i.e. they’re distracted, not disengaged). “Do you have what you need to do your job and know what is expected of you?” “Is there something going on that I should be aware of?” “How would you do x, y or z?” “What are the consequences of this problem to me and you, to our relationship, to the task, to any other stakeholders?” Note: A successful result was classified as individuals who remained at the organization and became reengaged. There is a significantly higher likelihood of a successful result when it comes to disengagement if the employee has a manager that understands the reasons behind the disengagement. This demonstrates to the employee that you care about them and their contribution. Tips, tricks and safety. Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Recognize when the employee’s disengagement is irresolvable & cut your losses McLean & Company Despite your best efforts to resolve the situation, it’s clear that you and the employee aren’t going to come to a resolution. Now what? As a result of Personal Disposition As a result of Retention Drivers Overall Engagement As a result of Organizational or Job Engagement Drivers You have agreed on the underlying issue. Before turning to action, go back to the engagement methodology explained earlier to ensure the issue is resolvable. If the issue is a result of a personal disposition, it is likely uncontrollable and therefore not resolvable. However, there are some occasions where issues not related to personal disposition can’t be resolved… Employee is making demands that can’t be met or you aren’t prepared to meet. The employee places blame on your shoulders and isn’t prepared to work with you to find a solution. The employee has a bad attitude; never satisfied. Performance continues to be impacted and you’ve approached the employee multiple times, yet they won’t tell you what the problem is. The employee would really be better suited to a different position. Depending on whether you have/need a replacement, you most likely need to cut your losses. Follow your organization's termination process. If you aren’t ready to let the employee go, but their performance continues to be a problem, follow your performance management process. Involve your HR team in determining options for next steps. If the employee is engaged with the company, and the problem is at the job level, consider whether it would be reasonable to redeploy the employee to a better suited area. Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Case Study: Know when to say no and how to let it go Sometimes you just can’t give the employee what they want. Impact An employee had been in the field of information technology for a number of years. He was a mid-tier performer; not stellar, but reliable. On several occasions, the employee requested a pay increase indicating that he was worth more and would leave if he couldn’t have a raise. ActionSituation Pain PointsKey Success Factors I was willing to cut my losses on this one. He was an okay performer, but not outstanding. I also made sure that I had someone else cross trained on his role so I wouldn’t be left with a hole if he quit. - IT Manager, Insurance The manager invited the employee to a one-on-one meeting and had an honest conversation with the employee. After explaining how salaries were determined, the manager indicated that the employee was well placed in the salary range and no salary increase would be given. The employee responded that he would find a position elsewhere. After considering the impact, the manager felt that he was willing to take the chance for the sake of equity in the team. Had the employee been one of his strongest direct reports, he might have handled it differently. Finally, after a long two years, the employee found and took another position. In this situation, I didn’t agree with the employee’s position and felt the risk to the overall team equity was important. I knew he wasn’t underpaid in the market, so it was almost a challenge to him to find another job. - IT Manager, Insurance Nothing was going to change this situation without creating a bigger problem elsewhere. Sometimes you just have to say no and take the consequences. - IT Manager, Insurance The Last Word “ ” “ ” “ ” McLean & Company Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Have the conversation: Each respective manager sits down with Huge, Debra and Louis to identify the underlying issue McLean & Company Hugh (‘A’ Performer) Sandra says she’s noticed that Debra is keeping different work hours. Debra tenses up, stating that she’s doing the job she’s paid to do. Sandra agrees, then indicates Debra doesn’t seem to be enjoying her work anymore. Debra says that no matter how hard she works, it’s not getting her anywhere, so why bother. Sandra asks where Debra wants to go with her career. Debra’s explicit about wanting a promotion – isn’t it apparent that’s why she worked so hard for so long? Debra (‘B’ Performer) Louis (‘C” Performer) Donna asks Hugh directly how he’s feeling about his job. When he says “It’s okay,” she lets him know that his recent withdrawal and lack of enthusiasm have her concerned. With additional probing, Hugh admits that he’s feeling ineffective and is spinning his wheels. He has lots of ideas on how to make things better, but they’re rarely implemented. He simply doesn’t have the clout to make them happen on his own, and he’s frustrated. Frank cuts to the chase and says he wants to revisit Louis’ most recent review. Louis looks smug thinking Frank got in trouble with HR, until Frank restates his assessment. Louis vigorously expresses that the review was harsh and that his talents are being wasted. Frank asks Louis what he has to offer the company that they’re missing out on. Louis describes a dream job that is not, and will never be, available at the company. Frank tells him this, then lays out the options: master his current job, look for a different job in the company, or pursue his dream elsewhere. Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Have expectations been clearly set with the employee? Commit to action: For resolvable issues, start discussing a solution using the SCRE model McLean & Company Be flexible: As you learn new information or eliminate potential issues during your conversation, consider the SCRE model to determine next steps: SET CLARIFY RESOLVE ESCALATE Expectations Understanding Concerns Issues If expectations are set, do you need to clarify to ensure the employee understands? If expectations are set and clear, do you need to resolve concerns? If concerns aren’t within your ability to resolve, escalate the issues so that they can be addressed appropriately. Admit and be confident in the fact that you don’t have all the answers. If another problem comes up while you are working on one problem, you need to consider which one is a priority. Focus on one problem at a time. Set expectations for what you can do as a manager. Action Plan Some tips & tricks… Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Get on the same page: Set and agree on an action plan McLean & Company 88% of managers don’t build action plans to reengage with employees, missing out on a key opportunity to reengage them. When managers help their employees to build an action plan to reengage them, employees are 68% more likely to reengage. Objective To resolve life/work imbalance John (manager) and Colleen (employee) John with HR John and Colleen By whom March 1 By when March 20 March 15 Rewrite job description Review job description with HR Review as a team, implement new role Tactic John and Colleen April 20Follow up meeting Establish commitmentSet timeframe As a team, write a an action plan that addresses what, how, who, and when. A manager may have the power to eliminate necessary barriers facing the employee. The manager can’t do anything about a barrier if they don’t participate in the plan building. Building a plan together is essentially like building an accountability contract. If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t count. The manager is an important reality check – they may be aware of things that can help or hinder the employee in achieving their goal. If the plan is left entirely in the employee’s hands, it will likely not be implemented. Plus the employee might see the manager’s lack of involvement as them not caring. Why is manager involvement important? Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Commit to action: All parties agree on & commit to an action plan McLean & Company Hugh (‘A’ Performer) Sandra commits to supporting Debra’s development and ultimate promotion. Together, they identify specific proficiencies Debra needs to master in order to get to the next level. Sandra and Debra identify specific training and in-the-field opportunities to increase Debra’s knowledge, exposure and experience. Debra (‘B’ Performer) Louis (‘C” Performer) Donna and Hugh discuss specific areas of his job where more decision-making and execution authority would be helpful. Donna realizes granting authority to Hugh alone may single him out, so they also discuss the impact of increased authority for the team as a whole. They decide to call a team meeting to have the team decide where they’re willing and able to take on more authority. Donna expresses her trust in them and support. Louis still disagrees with the review. He doesn’t like any of Frank’s options, but decides to stay in his current job. Frank tells Louis that he must stop discussing his feelings about his review with his colleagues – it’s having a negative impact on morale and productivity. He also outlines that Louis’ performance must improve as per the review. Frank follows up the discussion with a recap e-mail to get it in writing. Louis makes no commitments to change. Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Case Study: Develop a joint action plan to bring the employee off the disengaged ledge Giving negative feedback is never easy. Be proactive and recognize when a performance review can have a negative impact even when intentions are good. Impact An employee within the HR department at an insurance firm was performing his role at an acceptable level; however, the manager believed the employee was capable of far more. This was important as the employee wanted a promotion. After receiving a “meet expectations” on his review, the employee was angry and offended. He was not open to discussing the feedback and went to the manager’s manager to complain. ActionSituation Pain PointsKey Success Factors In the end, once he understood that I really had his best interests at heart and was trying to help him achieve his goals, he came around. - Manager, HR The manager approached the employee and indicated that she knew he was unhappy; however, her goal was to help the employee get a promotion. She suggested that they work on an action plan together to help the employee achieve this goal. Once the employee understood his manager’s intentions were in his best interests, he eventually calmed down and approached his boss for help. Together, the manager and employee committed to the action plan. The employee had a really hard time understanding that he wasn’t meeting my expectations for a role that he was technically overqualified for. -Manager, HR It was a difficult time. I could have lost an employee with a ton of potential, so handling this with empathy and building an action plan was critical. - Manager, HR The Last Word “ ” “ ” “ ” McLean & Company Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Following up is the last & most important step in re-engaging an employee - don't drop the ball after one conversation If you drop the ball when it comes to follow up, the employee will likely become more disengaged then they were to start with. This is the point where employees can transition from disengaged to actively disengaged. If this happens, your chances of turning them around are slim. McLean & Company Great! You've identified a disengaged employee, have identified their issue, and created an action plan to resolve it. Don't waste your hard work and the employee's sanity by not following-up. Understand that this may take multiple conversations. Disengagement is not a one shot solution. Engagement backsliding will likely occur. When an employee is disengaged, usually their trust in you or the organization has been damaged in some way. Trust takes time to rebuild. During this time, the employee may be overly reactive to setbacks or be suspicious of the actions and intentions of others. Predictability and integrity on the manager's part is critical. Reinforce the employee's ownership over their own re-engagement – they are not a passenger in this process. The employee will have to do some work of their own by meeting you half way and making a concerted effort to stop demonstrating the behaviors that got you concerned in the first place. Critical! Beware the backslide… Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Follow-up: Time passes, but the commitments made are followed up on. Progress is discussed and evaluated McLean & Company Hugh (‘A’ Performer) Debra and Sandra use their weekly one-on-one meetings to track Debra’s progress, amend development objectives, and pick new stretch goals. They extend their weekly meetings so Sandra can provide some hands-on soft-skills coaching. Debra has the will and work ethic to succeed – she just needs Sandra’s direction, support and investment. Debra is now on a clear and predictable path up the ladder. Debra (‘B’ Performer) Louis (‘C” Performer) Hugh’s team establishes new limits of authority. They define issues where Donna must be consulted. She reinforces expectations on the increased accountability that comes with increased authority. Donna observes the next few team meetings to gauge progress on the new way of doing things. She sees a very positive effect – it’s like a spark has been lit. Donna touches base with Hugh to see how he’s doing. Good news! He’s clearly excited about his job again and has already successfully implemented some quick wins. Louis continues to complain about his review and Frank. His performance does not improve. Frank realizes Louis does not want to do this job and can’t be turned around. He decides to cut his losses. Frank puts Louis on a performance improvement plan, and begins succession planning for the role. There is no change in Louis’ behavior, and he is ultimately fired. Prepare ConversationAction Follow up
Don’t let disengagement fester – get on it immediately. But first, be sure to get your facts straight, envision the possible outcome, and create a positive and safe environment to talk about the employee’s concerns. When it comes talking to potentially disengaged employees, and setting a course of action, remember these three things McLean & Company55 Not all employees will be forthcoming about their concerns. Probing questions are critical to getting to the real cause of their disengagement, but remember that the conversation is not intended to be an inquisition either. Getting the employee to accept their share of the responsibility for re-engagement without feeling blamed is part of the goal. Following up is everything. Resolution will not happen overnight, and may take several conversations. Beware: if you commit to action and don’t carry it out, you will erode trust and drive the employee’s disengagement even deeper. 1 2 3
Conclusion: So, where are we now & where are we going? McLean & Company56 The employee base of most organizations consists of 35% - 50% disengaged employees, and each of these employees can cost their organization hundreds of thousands of dollars. Understand how many disengaged employees are in your organization and build strategies to address the situation. An employee’s engagement is made up of a variety of factors that fall under three categories: personal disposition, retention drivers, and engagement drivers. Although the responsibility of engagement rests on the shoulders of many stakeholders, as the manager you play a leading role. While others can help you by sharing their concerns and observations, take personal accountability as a manager for knowing and supporting your employees. Identify disengagement by watching for common signs and symptoms, getting to know your employees, and heightening awareness around particular events that may act as triggers. Pay close attention to new patterns of behavior in order to catch disengagement before it’s too late. Don’t underestimate the effect of events inside and outside of the work environment on your employee’s engagement level. Resolving employee disengagement is not a structured, cookie-cutter process. However, using the four key components of a good conversation will help you work with the employee to turn around disengagement. Take the time to have a thoughtful conversation and commit to an action plan that you can support.
Buckingham, Marcus, and Curt Coffman. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. Simon & Schuster, 1999. Clarke, Nita, and David MacLeod. Engaging for Success: Enhancing performance through employee engagement. UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 2009. Endres, M. Grace, and Mancheno-Smoak, Lolita. The Human Resource Craze: Human Performance Improvement and Employee Engagement. Organization Development Journal; Spring 2008; 26, 1; pg. 69; ABI/INFORM Global. Gable, A. Shelley, Seung Youn Chyung, Anthony Marker, and Donald Winiecki. How Should Organizational Leaders Use Employee Engagement Survey Data? Performance Improvement, vol. 49, International Society for Performance Improvement; 2010; pg. 17 - pg. 24; www.ispi.org. Lockwood, R. Nancy. Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR’s Strategic Role. SHRM® Research Quarterly, 2007. Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Switzler, A., & Covey, S. R. (2002). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high. New York: McGraw-Hill. List of Resources McLean & Company58 The following resources were used to compile the information contained in this research report. Many sources were used for information gathering purposes only.
Primary Sources Methodology McLean & Company59 In 2010, McLean & Company engaged in three primary research activities to discover the successes and challenges of the employee engagement survey process as well as to solicit experiences on engagement initiatives implemented as a result the survey. 1.In June, July, November, December 2010 and January 2011 we conducted in- depth interviews with HR professionals, business leaders in chief executive roles, managers, and employees to learn about employee engagement surveys and initiatives. 2.In June and July 2010, we fielded surveys to better understand the factors that influenced the successful outcome of an employee engagement survey in various organizations. The survey attracted over 140 respondents. 3.In November and December, 2010 we conducted 10 brainstorming sessions with staff from three organizations to test brainstorming processes and solicit initiative ideas. Over 100 employees took part in these brainstorming sessions. 4.In January 2011, we fielded a survey, polling 137 employees (no managers), to better understand their level of engagement, their experience being disengaged in their career, as well as the signs and symptoms they demonstrate when disengaged.