Ineffective Ways of Engaging Employees

“It is not efficient to hold people in the same role accountable for perfecting exactly the same style.” – Gallup Organization, Gallup Management Journal, September 2002

Engaging employees in desired work-related behaviors: focus on strengths.

In a recent survey the Gallup Organization found that 58% of respondents cannot say, “I know what is expected of me at work.” Clarifying how an employee’s position and performance relates to the organization’s goals allows employees to grasp how their roles directly impact the organization’s success. Results of recent research have indicated that organizations succeed at engaging employees when they are given opportunities to build on their talents. However, workers who are expected to perform tasks that encompass their weaknesses will become less engaged. Subjective performance appraisals decrease employee engagement, especially if they are linked to compensation. According to, “The Four Disciplines of Sustainable Growth,” in the Gallup Management Journal, dredging up past behavior to substantiate negative ratings or employees devoting substantial amounts of time working on weaknesses can lead to a loss of productivity. Employees who are uncertain about how their efforts are valued can disengage and feel apprehensive about their future in the organization, causing organizations to lose employees that have high potential to succeed.

Focusing on outcomes can overlook how employees achieve desired results.

By identifying and supporting employees’ strengths, you can demonstrate that you value their contributions to the organization’s goals. According to Gallup Research, 20% of respondents strongly agree with the statement, “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.” Not every employee is meant to climb the corporate ladder; some employees prefer to improve their status by growing within their role. Allowing employees to own their work can be more satisfying than advancing them through the managerial ranks and being responsible for others’ work. In fact, they may find supervising employees stressful because it detracts them from their work. Keeping an employee from perceiving themselves as successful is (indirectly or directly) one of the most dominant root causes of disengagement and ultimately turnover.

Teaching supervisors and managers how to identify specific talents that each employee possesses allows your organization to invest its training budget more efficiently and succeed at engaging employees. Creating development opportunities that encompass an employee’s talents reinforces the belief that the organization values their accomplishments. This approach bolsters employee engagement and improves many skill sets as opposed to implementing remedial steps to only improve weaknesses.


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