Look around your office and see if you can spot the tell-tale signs of disengagement. Do employees tend to leave five minutes before their shifts are over? Do they gaze into space or surf the internet after finishing one task instead of looking for another? Do they passionately defend their positions during meetings, or do they glaze over and disconnect as soon as a louder person grabs the floor? If you’re seeing these signs on a regular basis, it’s not because your employees are poor workers or lazy people; it’s because you, as a manager, haven’t convinced them to invest in the success of the company or care about how their work fits into the bigger picture. Here’s how you can remedy the situation.
Love comes from within.
You can’t browbeat, shame, pressure, punish or criticize another person into loving you. And you can’t use these tactics to make them love their jobs. Instead, give them a reason to lean into their work instead of away. Remind them how their tasks make the world a better place and respond to small efforts and small engagements with big thanks and big appreciation.
Give entitlement a rest.
Too often, companies feel entitled not just to an employee’s time, but to their heart as well. Here’s some news: the company is not entitled to their heart. Instead of expressing disappointment or pique when your employee doesn’t dedicate their life to shareholder value, talk to them. Find out what they want to get out of the job and how they envision their career growth. See what you can do to help each other reach your respective goals.
Make sure passion pays off.
Make sure every employee who goes the extra mile, stays an hour late, visibly cares about an idea or makes a personal commitment gets rewarded for their investment and sacrifices. A public thank you might do the trick. So might a symbolic award, a raise or a bonus of some kind. The worst possible move: Knocking an employee down for reaching high and falling short. Withholding appreciation and giving thanks only for slam dunks will quickly encourage checked-out employees to check out further.
Assign responsibility properly.
Place the blame for a disengaged culture squarely where it belongs: on leadership and management, not on the rank and file. This form of resentment (“Why don’t these lazy ingrates love working here?”) will drive employees out the door. Instead, own the problem, reach out, level up and reap the rewards of your own willingness to go farther and do better. Before you can change others, change yourself.
For more on how to encourage passion and engagement on your teams, contact the Milwaukee workplace experts at Extension.