Employee Engagement – Are you switching them off or on?

Meet Fred the Foreman. It’s 1980 and Fred’s out of control mustache and curly perm are slowly taking over his whole face. He stands in his brown camel coat with clip board in hand watching as the staff slowly clock in for another riveting day at the jam factory. He watches them as they unenthusiastically put lid after lid on pots of sticky jam. Fred shouts at them if they go too slow or if they are doing it wrong. He never pats them on the back for doing well. The day ends and he watches as they rip off their hair nets and run to the door to clock off again.  Fred comments to his peers that this is the quickest they’ve moved all day.

The PU View

Fast forward 35+ years and some managers are sadly still managing in this way. The perms have probably made way for a fancy flick, the moustaches may have turned into carefully preened beards and the brown coats have been replaced with business suits or smart tweed jackets, but management styles in some cases haven’t moved on at all. I meet managers all the time who ‘watch over’ their team…managers who micro-manage and display zero trust in their people.  What they fail to realise of course is that there is an undercurrent of disengagement bubbling away, which if left, will have dire consequences.

These types of managers will no doubt sit in their management meetings chatting about why their teams aren’t firing, why they are disengaged with the business and the brand. Looking for excuse after excuse as to why no one looks interested and why they seem to be ‘going through the motions. These managers need to stand up and take a serious look in the mirror. In many cases, employees feel unhappy because of their manager and their style of leadership. In far too many cases, it’s the managers’ fault that their team feels disengaged.

If we met a manager like Fred in his Monday morning meeting, we’d love to ask him:

  • Do you empower your team? In what ways? Do you ever let them off the leash? Do you hand over responsibility and accountability for projects and targets?
  • Do you provide regular and timely feedback to help reinforce desired behaviours and improved performance?
  • Do you recognise great team performance and encourage the sharing of best practice?
  • Do you actively communicate individual, team and wider business goals and expectations?
  • Do you instill a healthy, positive and transparent culture? A culture where employees feel happy to work in?
  • Do you trust your employees? Do they trust you?

Chances are the answer to some, if not all the questions above would be no.

The consequences of course lead to one big unhappy and disengaged team, some of whom will have been plotting their escape for some time. Imagine how different their teams would look, feel and perform if they answered yes to all of the questions above….

Other Resources 

We’d highly recommend Drive, by Dan Pink.  Packed full of tips and advice all supported by evidence, with the aim of helping you to engage your employees and motivate them at work.

Listen to Mike talking about the part managers play in motivating teams in this short clip from our YouTube channel 

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