How To Avoid Having Unengaged Employees On Your Team

What you really want is for the members of your team to be engaged
What you really want is for the members of your team to be engaged
Image Credit: Ged Carroll

When you have new people join your team, they generally do so with a great deal of excitement. There are a lot of things that they want to accomplish and they are looking forward to learning many new things. However, over time this has a habit of changing. Over time you are almost guaranteed to have a dip in morale. Surveys have been done and what they have found is that this affliction hits roughly 70% of the people who will be joining your team. What’s a manager to do?

It’s All About Avoiding Being Unengaged By Being Transparent

When your team is small, it can be quite easy to make sure that everyone knows what is going on. However, as your team grows in size and eventually starts to spread over multiple locations, it’s going to get harder and harder to keep everyone in the loop. As the manager you need to realize that if you want to keep the members of your team engaged in what they are doing, then keeping things transparent will now become part of your job.

In order to make this transparency thing work, you are going to have double up on your efforts to get the word out about what is going on. You need to be willing to share as much information as possible–what your sales are, what the strategy is, why you’re making certain decisions. As managers we all want our team to be part of the company’s growth. The more aggressive you and the company are with growth, the more helpful it is to make ultra-transparency a priority

Hire Like The Big Boys

As a manager you know what an effort it is go to out and find the right person to invite to join your team. Once you’ve found this person, made an offer, and gotten them to accept the offer, that’s when the real work starts. You are going to have to do a good job of onboarding your new talent.

All too often we’ll spend our time trying to figure out the right way to select the right person for a role. Once we’ve accomplished that task, our attention then tends to shift to other things. That’s not good. Instead, what we need to be doing is to codify how you perform onboarding earlier than you think you need to, so people feel like they’re being integrated smartly. How a new team member feels right off the bat can have a very large impact on how quickly they will become productive. If you don’t do a good job of this, then your new team member often end up spinning their wheels and accomplishing little–a sure-fire recipe for dragging down team morale.

Collect Data, Use Data

As a manager, it is your responsibility to stay on top of how your team is feeling. When your team is a small team, this can be easy to do. If you take them out for a meal, you can get a general feel for what everyone’s thinking and what the mood of the team is. As the team grows larger and starts to be more spread out, this approach is not going to work for you anymore.

You are going to have to adopt a different approach to how you find out what your team is really thinking. You are going to need to replace your gut checks on how your team is feeling with more formal tools. The good news is that there is a crop of new tech products that let you take quick pulses of employee happiness. Your goal is going to be to err toward weekly or monthly feedback. Annual surveys are basically pointless, given how quickly the team and the company are changing.

Everything Is A Big Deal

As a manager, this is one area where I must confess to dropping the ball occasionally, The people on your team who come into the office day after day and do their job can very easy start to feel as though they are simply a part of the big machine. That their individual contributions really don’t matter all that much. As the manager, you need to realize that this is happening and this is when you need to step in and change things.

So what’s the best way to go about doing all of this? Call out major wins often, with formal awards or casual staff emails. Surveys have shown that forty percent of workers say they’d work harder if they were commended more often. As a manager you need to realize that this is so easy to do that there is really no excuse for us forgetting to do it.

Clearly State Your Roles & Goals

When you first formed your team, you needed the people on your team to be jacks-of-all-trades. Every day had different challenges and you needed them members of your team to be willing to step up and take charge. However, as you team has become bigger things have changed. Now there is a need for expertise. Things are going to have to change.

This shift in the type of people that you need to be adding to your team can spell disaster for the mood around the office. What can happen is that the ground-floor hires start to think they’re getting passed over without consideration. Your job as a manager is going to be to make sure people don’t find out about a new position after you’ve made an outside hire. Instead, you need to attach quantifiable skills and metrics to each role, so your current team can see how they stack up–and how they can advance. If you can do a good job of this then bringing on a senior specialist can even raise spirits, if the current team “sees the person as a potential mentor as much as a boss.”

What All Of This Means For You

As a manager it is your job to manage your team. What this comes down to is the simple fact that you need to find a way to make sure that each member of your team remains engaged in what the team is trying to accomplish. Finding ways to keep a team engaged and not becoming unengaged is a critical part of your job.

In order to keep the members of your team engaged, you need to make sure that everything that you do is transparent. This is easy to do when the team is small, but can become more of a challenge as the team grows in size and locations. As you are onboarding new employees you need to take the time to make sure that they feel engaged from the start. It’s all too easy to think that your job stops once you’ve found the right candidate; however, it turns out that this is just the start of your responsibilities. Understanding how your team feels is important. As your team grows, you are going to have to start to use tech tools to find out where their minds are at. In order to ensure that the members of your team remain engaged, you are going to have to celebrate every team accomplishment. Since your team will be growing and new people will be added, make sure that everyone knows why someone is joining the team.

A team is made up of a complex set of smart professionals. As a manager it is your job to find ways to ensure that all of these people remain engaged and committed to achieving the team’s goals. Take the time to constantly make sure that nobody on your team becomes unengaged and your team will be able to achieve great things!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What steps should you take if you discover that one or more team members has become unengaged?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As a manager, you have a team of employees who work for you. You’d like to think that you are getting 100% out of everyone on your team each and every day. However, you realize that even with your manager skills this is probably not the case. This then leads to the big question, of the people who are on your team, who are the most productive? How is a manager supposed to determine this?

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