Disengaged Employees Are Dangerous to Your Team Health


Per Gallup, only a third of the America’s workforce finds their work engaging. These engaged workers love their jobs, enjoy the people they work with and for, and seek to make their organization better every day. Fifty-one percent of the workforce just shows up. Their disengagement from their work suggests they mark time while there, largely neutral toward what they do and the organization’s goals.

That 51% just getting through the day is still less concerning than the remaining 16%. These people are the actively disengaged. According to the Gallup poll, as the engaged employees work hard to build the organization up, the actively disengaged “seem to exist only to destroy what the most engaged employees are building!”

Why are people disengaged? It depends on the person. One may have a broken relationship with the team or the manager. Another may no longer enjoy the work. Yet another may not understand the value of her contributions. So, if the reason that people are disengaged varies by person, what can shift folks from disengagement to engagement? Coaching.

Internal management coaching can help you motivate neutral and antagonistic employees toward genuine engagement with your company’s goals. This kind of coaching involves a manager discovering and discussing employee strengths, setting and working toward goals, and assessing and revising plans as needed. This approach isn’t part of a once-a-year performance review. It needs to happen frequently and regularly to make a difference. Here are some actions to take to establish a relationship open to coaching:

  • Build trust. Look at your relationships with your staff. Do they trust you? Do they look to you for guidance and support? Can you depend on them to be honest with you, even when it means disagreeing with you? Openly evaluate each relationship to determine where you need to build or rebuild trust. Without it, coaching becomes impossible.
  • Set goals. Set goals for yourself and help your staff set development goals as well. Having development goals for yourself helps model growth behavior for your staff and shows that you still have areas to develop. Helping others set goals shows you are investing in your staff’s development and believe in their potential for growth. 
  • Seek commitment. Often, managers are satisfied with compliance—staff who do what they are told, nothing more, nothing less. You should strive for commitment—staff who go above and beyond because they care about the organization’s success. These staff members may ask more questions and express more interest in the “why” and “how” of your business. Encourage that response by eliminating compliance-generating behaviors like progressive discipline and annual appraisal. Instead, increase commitment-generating behaviors like providing frequent feedback and goal setting.

The management coaching relationship flows naturally from these steps. 

At Gillespie Associates, we can help you transition your staff from actively disengaged destroyers to actively engaged builders. We accomplish this through executive coaching with an organization’s leadership, so they can better function in the manager-coach role. For those new to leadership, we help develop all the skills necessary to effective leadership and coaching with Gillespie Nimble New Manager JumpStart with its one-on-one coaching component that allows for a personalized training experience.

Learn more about how we can help you re-engage the disengaged.