• Why Fix Disengagement in your Business? Simple. $$$

    Posted 24/01/2013 By in EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT With | 4 Comments

    This excellent post published by the Carnegie Management Group collates significant research from various sources on the state of employee engagement (or rather the high levels of disengagement) and the associated costs – estimated at billions of dollars per year in lost earnings and inefficiency in the US alone.  No, we’re not so different from the US I’m afraid.  We have similar jobs, similar employment conditions, similar standards of living, similar levels of technology and similar social structures. If they’re disengaged you can bet your butt we’re disengaged.

    Would you accept 70% engagement in this group of employees?

    Would you accept 70% engagement in this group of employees?

    Here’s an interesting calculation that demonstrates the cost of disengagement.

    Compared with 100 employees averaging 70% engagement, it would take 116 employees averaging 60% engagement to get the same result of those 100 at 70%.

    That is 16 more employees to do the same job!

    The cost of 10% disengagement @ basic minimum weekly wage of $544 = $452,608 per annum!

    (Imagine what this figure might be if it were to include on-costs and more senior employees, middle and executive managers)

    When asked who was responsible for this current status there were no surprises.  Leadership.  And not just leadership at the top.   A mid level manager who refuses to challenge the status quo (for whatever reason) is only condoning and supporting that current status.  If Executive Leaders are not made aware of the conditions and circumstances impacting engagement, how can they do anything about it?  I routinely remind the managers I work with that COURAGE is a key element.  Sometimes you’ve got to stick your head up, and yes, risk getting it cut off.  Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.  If your staff like flexible work, perhaps let them do it and keep a close eye on the outputs rather than the inputs.  I also tell my Managers that they are not alone.  Their colleagues will be grappling with the same issues and challenges as they are.  There is solidarity (and conviction) in numbers.  If you approach the board with the issue and some solutions that’s easy to put aside as an anomaly.  If 15 of their best managers front up, united with the same issue.   Well, that’s much harder to ignore.  I feel like I’m calling for a revolution here…. and I guess I am.  If you’re not prepared to do anything about the situation I believe that not only are you contributing to it, but your forfeit your right to complain about it.  So, next time you’re faced with the option, perhaps when considering doing nothing ask yourself “So would I be prepared to stand up and agree with this?”  If the answer is no…. or even a shaky… maybe.  Then you need to muster your courage, find some support and do something about it.  ps.  Happy to help you with this if you want to bounce options around.

    So any Executive Leaders reading this… you’re not off the hook.  Everything begins and ends with the person at the top.  In their outstanding paper, BlessingWhite_2011_EE_Report make the following recommendations to reduce the disengagement of your people:

    • Maximise managers – they need to know what engagement looks like and be able to model it themselves
    • Build a strong foundation – managers need to get to know their people, align personal and organisational goals, provide coaching, recognition and feedback and match mission critical projects with employee skill sets and aspirations
    • Ensure managers are engaged – If they are not inspired themselves, how can they inspire others?
    • Hold managers accountable for results and development
    • Weed out bad managers – Remove managers who are not willing to learn to carry out the above
    • Align, Align, Align – ensure daily priorities fit with company objectives, mission and vision
    • Communicate – employees need to know the “big picture” – and how their tasks fit in the greater scheme of things.
    • Start at the top – Senior managers need to be crystal clear – and in complete agreement – about the organisation’s priorities
    • Keep talking – Strategy translation requires two-way dialogue.  Employees need to know what this means to them and how they can make a difference.  You can read my blog on the importance of making a difference and it’s life threatening consequences if you don’t.  

    I have developed my Management Development Program to specifically address the issue of employee engagement.  It has real time projects for them to implement, it takes 12 months to complete and provides ongoing support to ensure participants put ideas into action.

    Please help me to spread the word by sharing.

      Sean is an experienced coach, speaker and facilitator who is passionate about improving the relationship between people, their work and the organisations they work for. If you want to get the most out of your managers, supervisors and their teams and think that work can or should be a rewarding and enjoyable component of a productive and meaningful life it might be worth a chat.

    4 comments on “Why Fix Disengagement in your Business? Simple. $$$

    1. Jess on said:

      Sean – I’m one of the mid-level managers you speak of, and I see so much around me that I would fix. Upper management is totally unreceptive to suggestions though – I’m at my wit’s end! What would you suggest?

      • Sean on said:

        When you view the situation through a relationship model like ‘Reciprocity’, you have three options when a relationship is not reciprocal (both parties needs are being met in a mutually beneficial manner), and it IS a relationship between you and your executive. 1) Do nothing. 2) Have a conversation to improve/repair the relationship. 3) Terminate the relationship.

        Depending on your situation options 1 and 3 are either inadvisable or not possible, leaving option 2. This is often the toughest as it requires a courageous conversation. Don’t just bring problems, take some solutions with you. Also, spend some time and energy looking at the perspective of your executive. What matters to them, where is their attention focused, what gets them fired up? Present your problem/solution in this context.

        Good luck and let me know how you go.

    2. Caitlin B on said:

      I’m a partner in charge of about 60 people under me…… My managers are not bad, but I don’t think they’re as engaged as they could be. I’m ultimately to blame for letting it get to this point. The business is not collapsing, but I don’t think it’s doing as well as it could be. Projects are getting completed on time (we’re an architectural firm), but I can’t remember the last time that one was completed ahead of schedule. Mediocrity seems to be the name of the game now…how can I get a fire lit under my managers feet again so that they can get one going for the people under them? Should I bring in new managers and shake things up, or can you get a staff back in shape after you’ve let them slack off for too long?

      • Sean on said:

        Hi Caitlin,

        Hmmm. Interesting question. If you have the right people as your managers then sure, you can fire them up. Without speaking to you in more detail it’s hard to make sweeping generalisations AND get it right for your situation. I would recommend starting by addressing the ‘elephant in the room’. The acceptance of mediocrity. Get your team together and have an honest and frank discussion. Start by getting their views first, rather than by espousing yours. That way you can gauge the level of ‘awareness’ in the room. There’s nothing more damaging than a Snr Manager raining on everyone’s parade when they think they’re doing a good job.

        Btw – surprisingly refreshing honesty on your part admitting you’re responsibility. Not to let you off the hook but I believe individuals also have to take responsibility for engagement. If they’re not engaged, they need to raise it. If nothing changes, then they need to consider other employers. Unfortunately, your talent is more likely to walk, leaving you with the ones who are disengaged but stay with your firm. Happy to talk more if you want to email me.

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