5 Reasons Your Team Might be Disengaged

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One of my deepest passions is helping people enjoy what they do every day. As Simon Sinek says “Imagine a world where people wake up inspired to go to work.” He pretty much sums up my life mission. To me that just makes sense and looks something like this:

A company creates a culture that attracts and keeps the best in their industry. Employees are inspired and excited to work each day. Customers receive a fantastic product and/or experience, which keeps them coming back.

Seems like a win-win-win situation. Impossible? I don’t think so and I’m staking my career on it. So what’s the problem?

1. Top Leadership is Disconnected. Often, upper management has no idea there is a problem. It’s not that they want disconnected, disengaged staff, they just haven’t put themselves in a position to know, asked the right questions, or staff are so disengaged they won’t tell them there is a problem. Head nodding and silent agreement at meetings is taken as a sign that everything is good.
2. Stuck in the Cycle of Reactive vs. Proactive. If a team is disengaged, then there is often high staff turnover and/or low productivity. Both of those cause managers to go into reactive mode – hiring new staff, micromanaging current staff, filling in the gaps themselves. Without a plan, you will stay stuck in that loop. It takes an intentional plan (and a lot of work) to stop the cycle and shift it to a proactive stance. The alternative is the definition of insanity.
3. The “I pay my staff, they should just do their job” Attitude. I’ve seen this, have actually heard this, and yes, I’m sad to admit, even thought this early in my career. Maybe at some point in the industrial revolution, this was an acceptable way of “motivating” staff. Has that attitude ever motivated you? If it doesn’t motivate us, why do we think it will motivate others?
4. Too Busy Looking Forward to Look Back. Billy Hybels at the Global Leadership Summit in 2014 mentioned this as a leadership gap and it has stuck with me ever since. Often the leader is such a visionary that she is so busy looking forward she forgets to stop and look back at her team to make sure they are still with her. She may then come to the conclusion that “they just weren’t the right people for the job.” That leader also often ends up in a cycle of hiring because no one is able to “keep up.”
5. Because I’m the Boss and I said So. The boss that says “it’s my way or the highway” usually has “yes men” (or women) working for him; and not much staff loyalty. If you are about to make a bad decision, do you want the “yes men” on your team or smart, honest leaders that are willing to point out the cliff you are about to fall off? The best leaders are humble, vulnerable, willing to admit when wrong, and understand that others may have a better idea than we do (just to name a few). After working hard to start a company or climb the ladder to upper levels of leadership, it can be easy to forget that.
6. Wrong people in the wrong position. Yes I said 5 and sometimes it’s as “easy” as it being a wrong fit. However, if that describes most of your team, you may need to examine your hiring practices OR go back to one of the reasons above.

Not sure if your team is disengaged? In my next post I’ll share some of the signs that your team might be disengaged. Other thoughts? Feel free to share in the comments below. Know someone that is struggling with a disengaged team? Feel free to share!