What to do about disengaged employees

In the fourth century BC, the Stoics lived in a tightly-controlled society. They weren’t able to change the conditions they lived in, so they changed their attitude through emotional disengagement. They called it ‘apathy’ and to them, it was a virtue. Recent studies peg the disengagement of employees at around 70 percent. It is difficult to see any virtue in employee disengagement. Employees disengage because of weak supervisors, onerous rules and policies, the drudgery of rote work without meaning, the inability to influence their work or work environment, and so on. Disengaged employees are going through the motions, and their companies are incurring an enormous cost by not fully employing the talent they pay for. The solution begins by finding out why people are apathetic; not to guess the reasons, not to tell them to behave differently, or impose some sort of incentive program, but to actually find out by asking them—engaging them.

© Bob Legge 2013 All rights reserved

Bob Legge is the Strategic Edge providing organizations with the ability to achieve their most audacious goals. He specializes in strategy implementation, change, organization development, and coaching. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, non-profits, education and government. To find out more, contact Bob at boblegge@boblegge.com or call him at (585) 305-7853.

Bob’s blog is http://www.boblegge.wordpress.com

Bob’s website is http://www.boblegge.com

Bob’s Twitter handle: @BobLegge

The Coming Flood of Employee Turnover

We are likely to see a lot of job changing when the economy finally recovers. All the signs are there including a high percentage of employees who have ‘checked-out’ on the job, or are actively negative about their work, their workplaces, and their leaders. The best talent want to work where they are respected, stimulated, and challenged to be their best, not just pressured to meet deadlines. Of particular concern are those professional, technical, and management employees whose work drives the most value. How do you know if they are getting the leadership and respect they deserve throughout your organization? What are you doing to really understand the current state of your organization and to put in place the key elements that create a high-performance and high-commitment workplace?

Stay focused on the person you are speaking with

Several years ago I participated in a panel discussion with Hillary Clinton and afterwards I had a few moments to talk with her. What impressed me was that she, unlike the countless other public figures I have met, kept her eyes focused directly on me the entire time we spoke. And when we ended our discussion, I watched her go from person to person doing the exact same thing.

When you speak with someone–a direct report, a peer, your spouse, or a family member–it is not the time to be multi-tasking. Keep your focus on that person. You’ll find that your communications will be better, briefer, more to the point, and you’ll have a greater positive impact.

Plans vs. Planning

We had intended to sail across Lake Ontario into Canada last week, but the weather and waves were not good, so we changed course for an equally long and still bumpy ride to Sackets Harbor. Another day brought high winds and waves, some as high as eight feet, but we continued on to our destination that day and actually enjoyed it. The contrast to a sailing trip last year couldn’t have been greater: we had no wind, no waves, and heat. No matter what sailing plan we deliver on shore, a capable crew makes all the difference when the boat leaves the dock.

Business plans are created in the relative calm of conference rooms. But everything can change when the plan is executed. Eisenhower said that plans are useless and planning is everything.

The reason nearly 90% of all business plans fail to deliver their promised results is not because the strategies are faulty, but rather because senior management often spends more time on constructing a plan instead of on implementing the strategy. A resilient organization capable of quickly adapting to changing conditions is critical to success. In many cases it is a primary source of competitive advantage. Creating a good plan is important, but success will depend on planning how you’ll implement your strategy.