But What Does “Lack Of Engagement” Really Mean?

Written by Mike Shapiro | | September 29, 2016

Articles appear time and again quoting survey results that show workers aren’t “fully engaged” in their work. And so, the folks in management embark upon company-wide communications programs.

But when people answer survey questions that indicate lack of engagement, do they really mean they want more communication from the top about the mission and goals of the company?

That’s doubtful. There’s already plenty of information about productivity and customer satisfaction, plans, actions and activities to achieve them, all proved by metrics and shown on scorecards.

The problem is there’s a disconnect: Individuals do the work but the results are described as team results, unit results, department results, company results. It’s pretty hard to put forth effort every day when the results are always characterized as belonging to an entity.

It may be that what they really want and need is to see how the work they do every day affects the company’s progress toward those goals and objectives.

Leaders often kid themselves into thinking they make all the important decisions. The hard truth is that your associates — the people on your team — are making dozens of decisions, large and small, every day, most of which you will be mainly unaware at the time. Every one of these decisions has some kind of impact, and some may ultimately have an enormous effect on the outcome of the project and company objectives.

There are two things you can do right now:

  • Recognize that your people are making important decisions and solving important problems every day. Give up on the illusion of controlling the results of those decisions and focus instead on influencing people in a positive way.
  • Demonstrate the connection between every person’s work and the results they achieve.

Lacking the ability to personally approve each and every critical decision made by the people on your team, help your people so that their actions are more likely to lead to positive results.

And then put together a simple, easy-to-understand communication tool that shows how those actions are connected to enterprise results.