The Smell of Disengagement
The couple got engaged and then disengaged- what happened?
The employee got so engaged in work and then got disengaged? What happened?
The people got engaged in an environmental issue and then disengaged? What happened?
The investors got engaged in investing and then disengaged? What Happened?
Emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization, which tends to influence his or her behaviors and level of effort in work related activities. The more engagement an employee has with his or her company, the more effort they put forth. Employee engagement also involves the nature of the job itself - if the employee feels mentally stimulated; the trust and communication between employees and management; ability of an employee to see how their own work contributes to the overall company performance; the opportunity of growth within the organization; and the level of pride an employee has about working or being associated with the company.
I used before the metaphor of paints disengagement from there substrate and the leaves disengagement from their branches. Are these metaphors related to employee disengagement? Let us explore this assumption more deeply and also introduce the glue metaphor here. The metaphors fit very well with the definition of disengagement outlined above.
The paints and trees show wrinkling. Wrinkles form when the top layer dries faster than the bottom layer or when top layer is applied on a contaminated surface. The top layer in organization is the upper management. If the upper management interest in the organization dries up then the glue that bonds the organization together. We know that making wrinkles with glue is a safe and easy way to make our skin appear old and aged before its time. But this wrinkling effect of the glue make the organization looks old and outdated. The employees can smell the deteriorated glue and get disengaged as well. Top management ooze of interest is an invitation to employees to follow steps.
The glue not only wrinkles, but may also degrade into intoxicating volatiles. This reminds me of books. Fresh books may smell right, fresh and energizing. In contrast, once the glue used in making the books or the papers of the book degrade they may produce intoxicating volatiles. Not few volatiles, but degradation produces lots of them. Employees may decompose like paper does while management may decompose like glue resulting in repulsive odors. And who wishes to stay in such environment? Even if the employees stay, their engagement shall be low and their productivity as well.
I recall a visit to a university library with the dean of sciences. The library smelled beautiful and the books were in great shape. I drew the attention that almost all the books had their plastic cover intact. Nobody opened them. The dean inspected many shelves and only one book was borrowed for one hour. He then nodded his head regrettably and asked "why do we invest so much in acquiring new books if nobody is reading them"? Not the teaching staff or their students did. This was a refreshing smell of disengagement. What a paradox!
Management should act the glue for the organization. Not all glues are the same. Their life span and serviceability depend on the environment, correction of application and the glued substrates. Some glue should be applied with great care because they can be risky to the health till they have sat in. Some glues produce foam. Foam formation may be attributed to the use of low quality glue or to incorrect application of the glue.
Painting the "organization wagon" with low quality paint will lead to all sorts of problems such as wrinkling, flaking, formation of ugly paint spots and many other problems. The paint shall also degrade and produce intoxication. No managerial "glue" shall be able to keep the paint. It is only when the correct glue is applied in the right environment correctly to the correct substrate that it may last. If not, it shall degrade and intoxicates the work environment. And then we ask why do employees get disengaged?
Rotten Roots Lead to Rotten Actions
1 year ago · 5 min. reading time
Layering of our thoughts
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