In order for any workplace team to be effective, it really does require all players to be engaged and active in the work of the team. Too often this just isn’t the case. So, what do you do when one of your employees has decided to disengage? Is it possible to get them re-engaged?
Here is some hard-core truth. If your employee has disengaged, then you disengaged with them. This is not to cast blame. In fact, this is a good thing, because it is something you can fix (if you want to).
Just like in any relationship, when two people like each other, they engage with each other. They help each other. They are interested in what each other is doing and they work around the needs of the other person. The same thing goes on between you and your employees. Chances are, if you have a disengaged employee, then at some point, they feel you disengaged with them.
So how do you get the fire back?
The first thing is you have to make engaging with your employees a priority. Not something you “should do”, but a real priority. I know as a manager or leader, there are always a thousand things that need to be done and there are always demands on your time. It is easy to put your employees at the bottom of the list, but in fact they need to be at the top. You need to be prepared to give them you time, your attention, your focus and your energy. If I told you I had something that would make you more money, cut down the amount of work you had to do and would make you more successful, you would jump at whatever I had to offer. My offer is an engaged employee. They are far more valuable than you can know.
Let’s be honest, people are not always easy. They have thoughts and ideas. They have feelings and emotions and drama and opinions and believe it or not, they are not always in line with how you think and feel or how you think things ought to be. It is the pain of being a leader, but it is also the joy, which leads me to the next thing.
Understand how your people want to be lead. Each of us likes to work in our own way and often, as leaders, we think our employees like to be managed the way we do. This simply is not the case. What you believe is important for you can be grossly misinterpreted by someone else.
For example, you wanting to know every detail about a project, could be because you are interested. For your employee it could be interpreted as, not trusting them to do their jobs or not believing in their abilities. Conversely, if they like to seek input from others and you never have the time to meet, this can be interpreted that you don’t care.
It takes time to get to know your employees and it requires you to be flexible in your own style. Yes, as the boss, you can dictate the rules, but is that really the boss you want to be?
When you engage with your employees, it provides the chance to create an open dialogue where you can discuss what is working and what is not. Remember, that you are only a leader, if you have people following you. People disengage when they stop following.
Finally, make sure you set goals. Sometimes people disengage because they are bored. Anyone who doesn’t feel they are needed and valued in an organization for the skills and strengths they bring to the table are bound to put their efforts into something else. You know yourself, when you are given challenging and rewarding projects or task and when you are asked for your opinions and allowed to take on different roles, then your feel better about the work you do and about your contribution.
Remember, as a leader, you are continually telling your people how much you need them and value them, through both your words and your actions. Make engaging with your employees a priority and you will be amazed at what you will all accomplish!