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The Subtle Art of Disengaging Employees … a skill mastered by so many organisations that are driven by a command & control mentality, bureaucracy and outdated systems!”

A sure recipe for disaster in a modern market place that needs a workforce that is agile, flexible and adaptable to the demands of a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous playground!

It is toxic and costly, WHY would you …?


“A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that …
outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow.”


Here are the figures from a recent Gallup poll. 87 percent of staff worldwide are not engaged at work with 24 percent of those are actively disengaged! You do the math of how many are actually and actively engaged.

Why is this important?

The poll also states that the companies with a highly engaged workforce outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share! That is telling, is it not?

I would hope, if you are reading this and you are in an influential leadership position, that these figures are not new to you but may serve as a reminder.

Turning the subtle art of DISENGAGING employees into the subtle art of ENGAGING employees and outperform your peers by 147 percent!

Keeping a workforce engaged is not a static act. Engagement is not a THING, it is a process. The process of engaging. We need to do something to stimulate it, to nurture it, to maintain it. A process has movement and energy. We can influence that movement and energy.

To engage is to relate!

From an organisational perspective it begins with the question … How do we want to relate to one another? And in that context … How do we want to view and value each other as human beings and what we bring to the organisation? How do we want to have this show up in the way we interact with and treat each other? What kind of conversations do we want to have? How do we want to listen to each other? What kind of energy and feel do we want our culture to project as well as out to our customers? You get the drift!

I have deliberately used the description of WE in the questions to point to inclusive and transparent thinking, we are in this together!

A highly engaged workforce is inclusive, it is not a one person’s job although it requires someone to take the lead and point in the right direction and more importantly … Go First, lead by example and inspire!

Your mental, emotional and spiritual (non-religious kind) positioning is critical in this process as it makes the subtle difference in connecting or disconnecting with others. What do I mean by that? Here is a little exercise for you. Think of the people that you work with, your colleagues, your subordinates, your managers. When you think of them, where in your mind’s eye, do you perceive yourself in relation them? Are you above them and looking down at them? Are they above you and looking down at you? Are you at eye level? Are you side by side looking in the same direction?

As you do that, step back and reflect on the feel you get from any of the positions that you have noticed. What is the level of connection that you have with the people that you relate to and the ease of interacting with and influencing them?

Now pick one that is the least comfortable and effective. Again, in your minds eye, level yourself with the person or group so that you are at eye level with them. Then imagine sitting or standing side by side with them looking in the same direction. What do you notice now about yourself and them? What is the feel of that?

Next time you interact with that person or group, keep this in mind. Position yourself, in your mind’s eye, side by side looking in the same direction and notice how this makes a difference. Notice how the other person responds to you.

Developing a highly engaged workforce is not rocket science, although many organisations seem to have made it one.

Developing a highly engaged workforce, firstly, starts with a decision to create one. Secondly, you want to create the conditions where high engagement can happen.

As a starting point consider the following points:

  1. Induce a little humanness, humility and kindness into your culture.
  2. Create a vision and purpose that stands above just making profits and cutting costs. One that serves not just your consumers but also the greater good of the community. One that people want to be part of, are inspired by and are eager to contribute. A good way is to create a movie like story. One that your people can associate with and perceive themselves in.
  3. As leaders, lead and point the way … Go first, lead by example and inspire. Ask yourself, what conditions do we want to create to make high engagement happen. And in what energy do we have to show up to bring those conditions to life!

So, the art of disengaging or the art of engaging employees?

The choice is yours. Do you prefer to spend a large chunk of your days in an environment where people feel uninterested, miserable, disillusioned and uninspired or one where they feel inspired to participate and go the extra mile with a smile?

And consider this, your customers experience with you will be what your people experience with you!

I trust that what you have been reading has aroused your curiosity!  To find out more about how you can increase the level of engagement in your workforce or simply reach out to start a conversation contact Mike at mi**@mi***********.com or visit www.mikeschwarzer.com.

I look forward to serving you with my next reflection!

to your highest learning and growth



About Mike Schwarzer

Mike is a Transformation Professional and Learning Leader who helps leaders and organisations to solve the problems that they have not been able to solve elsewhere. He works with the underlying mental, behavioural and deeper innate dynamics that drive people’s and organisations’ thinking and actions. They learn how to tap into their inner and outer capabilities in transformational ways and develop behaviours and qualities that are flexible and supportive of the challenges of an increasingly uncertain and complex world.

For more information about Mike visit www.mikeschwarzer.com and www.thoughtleadingpeople.com.au.