Retention & Engagement

Keep Your Workplace Humming With Engaged Employees

Tips for Dealing with Problem Employees

Every organization faces management issues which if ignored, can be perilous.

Not long ago a suburban bank lost a huge chunk of its staff when some 35 employees left within a single week. Without knowing the details, it’s impossible to guess the causes. But it’s likely this business had some fundamental organizational issues.

I frequently emphasize that any organization needs to work hard to ensure that they become a High Performance Organization. I define a HPO as a place where people don’t “just work,” but instead are engaged in their work. Although they might not put it this way, workers that are a part of a HPO are committed and enthusiastic about management’s mission, vision and values.

It’s doubtful any business can be comprised entirely of engaged employees. But research by the Gallagher Organization suggests that only 25 percent of the typical work force is engaged. These employees are the core group who can always be counted on to produce and make things happen. They train the new people, carry the owner’s banner and support the company, even through hard times.

The second group, about 15 percent of the typical workforce, is disengaged. They are disgruntled, negative and act to undermine the organization. They will throw cold water on any idea and attempt to take new employees under their wings in an attempt to corrupt them. They are often technically competent but inter-personally incompetent. If management knew just how much undermining and damage this group can cause, they would no longer be employed.

The third group of employees is the 60 percent who are neither engaged or disengaged. They do their jobs then go home. They underachieve, in part, because they are not engaged but also because they may have not been recognized and encouraged to achieve. People usually live up to or down to the expectations others have for them.

In a high performance organization, ideally you would have zero percent of the work group in the disengaged category, no more than 15 percent in the middle group and the balance, approximately 85 percent, engaged. Imagine what it would be like in your work setting, without spending one more nickel on personnel costs, if 85 percent of your associates were engaged and nobody worked to undermine you? Imagine an organization where nobody is working against management and most people work at the highest levels!

My job is to help the business owner or executive expand the engaged group of employees. If they cannot be converted, my objective is to extricate them from the organization. This may sound cold, but in a business climate where you have to do more with less, all employees must be firing on all cylinders at all times.

Combating this takes an engaged management team, and that engagement often turns on how well they listen to their employees. It’s not easy and there isn’t just one-way. Simply listening to employees is good for morale, but actually devoting time and attention is even more powerful. Real communication can provide management with valuable information while helping employees understand their roles. It’s a positive outcome that will benefit most organizations.

Category: Retention & Engagement


About the Author: Steve Cohen

Steve M. Cohen, Ed.D., CMC is President/Partner of Labor Management Advisory Group, Inc. and HR Solutions: On-Call, both based in Kansas City, MO.Often described as a “mess management” expert for his ability to skillfully resolve people prob…

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