Engaged or Disengaged?

Recently Steve, one of our directors, asked a chief executive, “How many people work for you?”

“About 25%”, was his unexpected answer. But was he perhaps exaggerating?

In their most recent report on employee engagement, the Gallup Organization
identified three groups of employees.

There were those who they define as “engaged”.  They are committed to the
work that they are doing and to the team to which they belong.  They are
fully present.

The second category are those they define as “disengaged”.  They are neither
committed to the work that is required of them nor are they to the team.
They blame and complain, but they do come to work …. some days.

And the last group, which has only recently been identified, is described as
“actively disengaged”.

The percentages shown in their most recent survey in our area, described as
“sub-Saharan Africa” which surely includes South Africa, are very worrying

10% are “engaged”
57% are “disengaged”
33% are “actively disengaged”

Worldwide the percentages are as follows:
13% are “engaged”
63% are “disengaged”
24% are “actively disengaged”.

More concerning is the suggestion that “actively disengaged” might better be
described as “destructively engaged”.

For a number of years we have been measuring individual, team and
organizational energy, using our reliable eQ Energy Survey, and our results
reflect very much what the Gallup Polls suggest.

If you thought of asking yourself the same question: “How many people
actually work with me?” we could help you arrive at a fairly accurate
answer.  And then help you to improve it … quite radically.

Engaged and Disengaged employees

“ENGAGED” now has a new meaning beyond an engaged telephone or a young couple who have “plighted their troth” as Shakespeare wrote. It is now used more and more often in HR circles to describe an employee who likes what they do and who they do it for. An ENGAGED employee, because they are happy at work, delivers of their best there. Perhaps, surprisingly, it describes a minority of employees if credible surveys done all around the world are correct.

The majority of employees – up to 92% in some countries – are DISENGAGED.  They aren’t happy at work or their performance is mediocre.

Since there is growing evidence that ENGAGING the DISENGAGED significantly enhances the bottom line, a whole range of new and more sophisticated strategies have been evolved such as bonus schemes, retention plans and team builds.

ATTRACT, RETAIN AND REWARD is now a common HR mantra. The simple assumption that more money buys more employee happiness and, as a result, better bottom line, doesn’t seem to be working.

And the mantra, with all the investment it involves, is not working because for the overwhelming majority of people what blocks or discourages full ENGAGEMENT is not a money issue – it is a human energy issue. Unfortunately money cannot buy human energy on a sustainable basis.  It has to be earned. Leaders understand this, managers don’t.

Our company, “Learning to Lead” has over 20 years experience in defining human energy, and the impact it has upon human outcomes. We specialize in Human Energy Management to improve the effectiveness of the individual, as well as the team.

Aligning the individual to the groups objectives

Alignment is always such a one-way process in corporations. “You must all align with me” is such an outdated attitude to relationships.

It simply doesn’t work.

A husband who demands that his wife “align herself to his objectives” is courting a divorce, as would a wife. Parents who insist that teenage children “align themselves to the parents’ objectives” are also in for a surprise. So, too, are corporations.

The real challenge is to co-create objectives that accommodate all the wishes and dreams of all the stakeholders – not just those of the CEO, the shareholders, or customers – but all the stakeholders.  That way it truly becomes OUR vision and everyone can and does buy in and engages.

What could we do better if we all worked together in high energy high trust relationships?

Where could we get to if we pooled our resources, abandoned our power games, and worked together by each spiralling up the energy and effectiveness of the other?

What sort of a legend could we become if we used all the potential human energy we have within our team?

These are far more exciting options than merely trying to align the employees with the company’s objectives.

Does your company, or do you, co-create objectives to accommodate the wishes of all stakeholders?

Execution Excellence…and Energy

Managers are on a treadmill – a daily grind towards execution excellence. Driven by competition, internal and external, we get up earlier and work later; desperately seek skills and competencies; design systems and structures; invest in technology; build hierarchies and then try to flatten them; create, monitor and avoid controls; set budgets and targets with shorter and shorter review dates; clutter the day with meetings about what happened yesterday, constantly try to find blame for the past and predict the future; cut costs; cut payrolls and cut corners.

Managers are on a treadmill and it moves faster and faster.  They are lonely, live a divided life, and demand more compensation – in the form of bonuses, huge salaries and stock options – for the sacrifices they are making.  Danger money?

Yet the awful truth is that the organisations they are managing are standing still or even going backwards.  Execution never becomes excellent – it remains mediocre.  There seem to be very few exceptions.

More team builds, strategic planning sessions, more carrot and more stick.  More effort and most often no sustainable benefit.  More command, more control and less response.

Ernst & Young have just published bleak research findings amongst which is the observation that 66% of strategic decisions taken don’t get implemented.  A study in the United States amongst senior and top management showed that 69% didn’t know what their company’s vision, mission or objectives were…and didn’t care!  Franklin Covey has a process for measuring execution excellence and in most organisations they find it to be worryingly low.  Levels of stress, burnout, divorce, however, keep climbing.  A recent finding published in the United States suggested that almost a third of the population was clinically depressed.

Why?  Why?  Why?  Because we have lost our balance – personal and organisational.  Because we have forgotten that getting things done and finding the energy to do them are both essential.  We have to balance them.  We have forgotten that willing human energy gets things done far quicker, far better and far cheaper than power and punishment.  But you can’t buy it – leaders earn it.  It’s not that competence, structure, systems, budgets, bonuses, authority and order are wrong.  Far from it, they are essential and they all require management – lots of it.  But without willing human energy they are futile.

A modern racing yacht has all of these features – design, competence, structure, process and the captain has to have authority too.  But without wind it doesn’t move and any auxiliary motors it may have are not enough to feel its true potential.  To feel it “in the groove” only the lightest touch on the tiller is needed.

We can arrange to help you measure your organisation’s execution effectiveness. Your own assessment will challenge you.  Even more challenging will be the results from an internal energy survey, which we can help you do.

Then even more exciting is the energy journey when you see the prospect of a high energy team of high energy individuals on a sustainable basis – including yourself!  To a yachtsman it’s a steady 50-knot wind from the right quarter; to a glider pilot it is a powerful thermal.  To a human organisation it feels like magic.

Spiralling up energy is what excites us most – and what we do best.