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Managers Need To Get Educated on the Causes of Disengagement

Engagement doesn’t just happen, and in most organizations frontline management has a lot to do with the success – or failure – of an organization’s engagement efforts. Recent research from the Gallup organization on employee disengagement in Germany, for instance, suggests that highly motivated people can become disengaged when their supervisors don’t ask for their opinions, don’t offer feedback, show little interest in them as human beings, and ask them to do jobs that are not suited to them. “Quitting is almost always a statement against the immediate supervisor,” says Gallup strategic consultant Marco Nink. For a more extensive interview with Nink on the supervisor’s impact, click here.

Another error that frontline managers sometimes make is to focus their performance improvement efforts on employees’ weaknesses, rather than focus on their strengths. But Gallup research shows that the worst thing managers can do is to ignore their employees. According to Gallup researchers Brian Brim and Jim Asplund, “If your manager focuses on your strengths, your chances of being actively disengaged at work are only 1 in 100. If your manager ignores you, however, you are twice as likely to be actively disengaged than if your manager focuses on your weaknesses. Being overlooked, it seems, is more harmful to employees’ engagement than having to discuss their weaknesses with their manager.” For more on Brim and Asplund’s research and conclusions, click here.

To be successful in the evolving world marketplace, and even in their own workplace, leaders and managers must begin to understand their constituents’ state of mind, says Gallup’s chairman and CEO Jim Clifton. Human decision making is more emotional than rational, the research suggests, and “State of mind is everything that matters to leadership: talent, innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, optimism, determination, and all of the other things that create economic growth,” Clifton says. Successful leaders, he adds, will be those who can quantify those states of mind to better understand the emotions that cause behavior. “If you are making decisions without understanding what your constituency is thinking, you are making bad decisions,” he says. For more of Clifton’ comments on “The Next Generation of Leadership,” click here.

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