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Disengagement and The Walking Dead: Part Two


Fri Nov 14 2014

Disengagement and The Walking Dead: Part Two

Read Part One of this blog series here.

What are the zombies consuming? This may well reduce down to a fundamental question: What’s dominant in each person’s brain stem: fight or flight, transaction or transformation, selfless servant leaders or selfishness?


Let’s assume we are hamstrung or did not flawlessly execute Jim Collins’s (Good to Great) adage: Identify and hire the right people and move them in or to the right positions. If we don’t or haven’t, sooner or later the unattended are likely to shuffle off elsewhere because:

  • lack of trust pervades from disingenuous words and actions to layoffs

  • employees crave to hear “thank you” and how their work has aided progress, productivity, or profit

  • dead-end jobs dominate

  • invitations are seldom received to any given seat at the tables, thus affecting contribution as well as effective and productive performance

  • people look busy but are not on task

  • whispering groups halt or break apart when a particular person walks in

  • perfection, not excellence, is sought

  • service is punctuated with complaints or compliance

  • complaints are unaccompanied by solutions

  • task completion supplants growth, development, cooperation, and process improvement.

These characteristics, however, are effects, not causes, of disengagement. Revealed in what people do and say, culture matters. Fortunately, building great environments is not mysterious, and the jury has rendered basic truths: beyond fair, equitable compensation, neither money nor compliance alters levels of engagement. Rather, engagement is cultivated through job match; a deliberate effort to ascertain what motivates each individual; being involved in decision-making and problem solving; and not isolated but open, networked communication accompanied by clearly broadcasted expectations.

We all have our blind spots in seeing ourselves, and sometimes in understanding others, so first, if we want to reenergize the zombies, we need to feed our brains. A nutritious start? Please read the scaffolded hyperlinks and authors included in this series and peruse Kevin Kruse’s newsletter, Bob Nelson’s blog, and free Globoforce resource materials.

Most importantly, we need to identify where to focus to ignite passions and uniquely tailor growth opportunities. Collecting and mining engagement survey data answers this need. Note three key priorities emphasized by Ken Blanchard: start with a valid assessment, tie assessment to specific outcomes, and devote resources to implementation. 

The engagement survey should maintain respondents’ confidentiality. Because trust is a crucial engagement driver, employees should trust that follow-up and follow-through in responding to results is immediate, and no one should be threatened by completing the survey or participating in focus groups. If disposition and will (actions and words) to face the challenges and implement changes are lacking, stop reading here. Mindful of the sustenance zombies crave, failure of timely follow through after gathering data will surely result in even less engagement and trust, not more.


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