Passive staff engagement is failing

I’m watching it happen, all over the place, in every sector.

The “must engage our staff” teams have overcooked it, and engagement fatigue has surfaced.

One too many surveys, created by psychologists, asking the same boring questions that everyone is fed up of answering. The condescending talk of positive approaches, and “we’re listening to you,” yet nothing really happens.

The real questions are avoided, like elephants in the room, and the train trundles on.

It needs to change. We need to wake up and realise that engagement is nothing more than a symptom of disconnected management. Nothing more complex than that.

In organisations, we have trained our managers to manage risk, contain problems, work to process after process with little or no variation. For that result, they are rewarded and promoted.

It reminds me of a book called The City Slacker (McKevitt) which describes a person who never takes a risk or a decision, who avoids changes until they are sure they will succeed. A person who aligns with the successful only when it is obvious that it will happen, but offers only lukewarm support to everyone. On review, they are considered a model manager, after all nothing ever goes wrong on their watch (because no decisions are taken, no new action initiated); they are a safe pair of hands, to be trusted in the business.

So they are promoted, and the cycle starts again.

We train and reward our managers to be automatons, subservient to processes, trying to manage teams to behave in the save way – no wonder our people are disengaged. No wonder they’ve “quit but stayed”, and little wonder when they stop completing Engagement Surveys.

We need to get to an ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT conversation. A reason for engaging, around a defined theme of holistic change, or a big subject that will actually lead to organisational improvement, and not just a shuffling of the deckchairs.

We also need to release our managers from the shackles of process, and allow them to develop a leadership style that orientates around CHANGE and INNOVATION and, yes, MEASURED RISK

It is these things that will ensure our Organisation’s future success; otherwise I think we will surely all die of boredom in our variation free process led worker existence.

If you think Team Action Management might be able to help your organisation engage it’s staff, call us today for an informal chat on 01246 456304 or email us at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.