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5 Leadership Practices to Help Disengaged Employees

Posted on Jul 11th 2019


5 Leadership Practices to Help Disengaged Employees

Struggling employees add strain to a company’s balance sheet. They are less productive, cost more to get the same amount of (or less) work done, and can contribute to engagement problems for other team members.

Jumping straight to termination is rarely necessary when dealing with engagement issues.

Here are 5 practices you can employ to help get struggling talent back on track.

Demonstrate Empathy

There are a myriad of factors that can go into decreased engagement. It can encompass recent changes in job function, benefits, pay, leadership, processes, and policies. Or they can extend to issues with other employees and leaders, workplace culture, and life outside of work.

Demonstrating empathy in conversations with struggling employees can help clear the air about what’s really going on, giving you a better picture of the problem’s severity and how you may or may not be able to help.

Keep Communication Open

Single conversations about performance or engagement are rarely what’s needed to get an employee back on track. Revisiting these conversations on a regular basis can help the employee understand that their ongoing efforts are noticed, whether for good or bad. They also give employers the opportunity to demonstrate ongoing support.

Conduct regular touch points for employees on corrective paths, as well as those that simply seem a bit disengaged or less productive. Making sure communication channels stay open will allow them additional opportunities to address concerns or ask for help.

Provide Clear Direction

Getting lost in the weeds and not understanding where to turn can also lead to decreased engagement. Providing clear direction from the outset and in every stage of a project or change helps avoid the “what now” feeling that contributes to a sense of uncertainty.

In an ideal world, employees that lacked clear direction would ask for it. However, different leadership styles and personality types can contribute to that occurring far less than you might prefer. If you feel like an employee might be struggling with employment insecurity or impending changes that leave a lot left to question, don’t be afraid to ask them what’s on their mind.

Expose Them to New Challenges or Projects

Boredom and burnout are real job threats, especially to those that do the same thing day after day, year after year.

Sometimes shaking things up is all someone needs to get the wheels turning. Exposing a struggling employee to a new project or challenge can reignite the fire and enhance interest in their role.

Reset Expectations

Have you recently undergone changes in leadership, long-term company plans, company culture, or job functions?

Change of any kind can cause disruption in employee engagement and performance, especially if it’s made to fix bad behaviors that a previous leader allowed. Whether someone’s coasting because they always could, or their role is being altered to make a department more effective, take the time to reset expectations.

Even if no major changes have taken place recently, resetting expectations about a struggling employee’s role and contribution can be the wakeup call that lets them know they’re off track.

Most employees don’t enjoy feelings of disengagement, boredom, or lack of contribution. Adjusted expectations can help reignite their passion and interest in playing a more effective role.