Employee disengagement is a malaise that can strike any organization at any point of time and it is best to stem the rot at the inception rather than end up fire-fighting.
In the first part of this series "The Warning Signals of Employee Disengagement", we looked at the factors that incite employee disengagement. Let's take a quick recap:
1. Performance graph of an enthusiastic, efficient employee dips
This is a warning sign. Take remedial measures before it is too late.
2. Proactive employees become reactive
When employees stop offering suggestions, look disinterested in meetings, shy away from volunteering for projects, engage in absenteeism and late-comings – take a close look at the possible reasons.
3. Tedium of working on the same project for extended duration
Working on the same project for longer periods can become frustrating. To quell boredom or fatigue, shuffle roles and switch tasks.
4. Consistently long hours of work
Give short breaks to your employees in between long and strenuous hours of work. Breaks help refresh enthusiasm and revive energies.
5. Change in team management
A change in the head of the department or team leader of some high performing employees may not always work out as planned. If you see adverse reactions to the change, take a remedial action.
We will now take a look at the ways in which you can reverse employee disengagement.
I. Simply talk to the employee
When you notice a downslide in the performance of a high performing employee, take the initiative to talk to him/her one-on-one. If the CEO comes up personally to inquire about a change in performance, it makes the employee feel special, noticed and valued. It is one of the surest ways of finding out what's going wrong and where.
II. Give value and importance to ideas and suggestions
It's one thing to ask for suggestions and quite another thing to accept and implement them. When employees find that their suggestions and ideas are being taken seriously, they will not find the excuse to crib about "they don't listen".
III. Share responsibility – for success and failures
As the CEO, you should be leading from the front. And that means taking responsibility for all that happens – be it success or failures. If you try to take credit for all successes and blame others for failures, you will lose the respect of your employees and add to their disengagement.
If you speak to other CEOs and business managers at your CEO Club or CEO Peer Group, you will find that most CEO peers will advise you against subjective sharing of responsibility. Employee disengagement increases when employees find that they are being squarely blamed for failures. You can reverse this disengagement by prudently and equitably sharing responsibility.
IV. Show consistency in words and deeds
Employee disengagement rises when CEOs and managers say something and do the opposite. Make sure your employees trust you as a person who is true to his words. Do what you say and let there be no gaps between your words and your deeds. When employees respect their managers for honesty and integrity, they feel more connected to the company.
V. Be there for trouble shooting
If your employees are struggling with problems, as the CEO you must take the initiative to help each employee find the solutions. Those who like to be independent may just need your advice and guidance. Others who like a bit of hand holding may need more in-depth supervision. As the captain of the ship, you have to take a call on how each employee should be helped towards the solution.
VI. Set realistic, achievable targets
As the CEO you have to push your employees towards achieving targets. But those targets should be achievable and realistic. Before setting the deadlines, discuss the work in hand with the employees concerned, take their views into account and set targets that are workable.
VII. Reward and recognize the achievers
Make sure you are free from any partisan approach or favoritism when judging and rewarding employee performances. Be impartial and fair and reward the achievers in full knowledge of other employees. This helps keep employee morale up.
Confer and consult with other CEOs, especially if you are a member of a CEO association or CEO club on how your peers have handled and reversed employee disengagement. The practical, proven tips always help.
Tom Bordon is a freelance writer who has extensively written about CEO club and executive coaching sessions. His articles focus on guiding CEOs, business leaders and entrepreneurs on how to manage their time effectively and make new business plans, and strategies in a CEO association or CEO peer group.