Five Practices that Crush Employee Engagement

Five Practices that Crush Employee Engagement

Just this week, Deb Siverson posted a blog about Transforming Employee Engagement. In her writing, she gives some startling statistics about the misconceptions of employee engagement and offers great ways to increase engagement in organizations.

Here, we’ve listed some ideas from a different perspective: what not to do if you want an engaged workforce.

While some of these might seem obvious, the big moral of our story is that today’s employees are looking for more than just a job, they are looking for a meaningful experience that enriches their lives beyond a paycheck.

So, without further delay, here is a list of five practices that kill engagement at work:

  1. Micromanage – It’s an ugly, almost universally reviled word, and yet the practice continues. Most often, the perpetrators of micromanagement don’t even realize they’re doing it. There is a fine line between being explicit in your preferred strategy and sucking every ounce of creativity out of a room. Studies show that autonomy breeds engagement. When employees feel the weight of their own responsibility, and believe it is up to them to solve puzzles, increase efficiency, and steer their own course, magic happens.
  1. Recklessly reduce labor costs – Sure, reducing costs and increasing profits are top bullet points on any business’ to-do list, but saving pennies at the cost of your work force is doing your company a disservice. Invest in employee and management development. Implement and nourish a coaching culture. Employees recognize that when the company invests in development, they are investing in human capital – THEM. Not only do professional services like executive coaching drastically improve individual enhancement and productivity, it sends a strong message that team members are important to the organization and worth investing in.
  1. Let accomplishments speak for themselves – Leaders are typically quick to point out errors, and all too often let praise slip by the wayside. Experts argue that the ratio of praise to criticism should be close to six items of praise for every one criticism. Even when successfully employing this ratio, don’t keep the praise private. Maintain a public culture of recognition. Whether it be a parking space, picture on a wall, or acknowledgment during a team meeting, little things can go a long way.
  1. Keep your best players right where they are – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Wrong. If your star team members don’t see any growth opportunity where they are now, they will look elsewhere. As much as it may pain the organization to think of certain key employees moving out of roles in which they flourish (and often set new standards of performance), it’s far better to retain their expertise within your own organization. Actively facilitate talent mobility. Offer self-directed learning paths and establish a high-impact learning culture.
  1. Separate the company’s mission and purpose from the individuals – There was a time when the popular management sentiment was “I don’t care what you do in your spare time, but when you’re here, we expect blah, blah, blah.” Today’s most effective leaders absolutely care what employees do in their spare time – namely what matters to them, what excites and inspires them in their personal moments. Disconnecting the values, vision and mission of individuals from those of the organization, loses the essential overlaps of the two and damages any natural connection that may have occurred. Employee engagement is based on many things, but the alignment of individual values with those of the organization is perhaps the most important.