Why Good Employees Go Bad

Let’s talk about employee engagement.

According to Gallup, only 34% of U.S. workers are engaged and enthusiastic about their jobs and companies. And, it’s a number that hasn’t changed much in the past 18 years.

So, what’s engagement and why should we care?

Well, engaged employees are better employees. These are the people who care the most and routinely go above-and-beyond for their organizations.

They are your BEST employees!

Marcus Buckingham, author of First, Break All the Rules, defines engaged employees as having “a positive state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption”

He goes further to explain…

Vigor is the willingness to invest in work with high levels of conscientiousness, persistence, energy, and mental toughness.

Dedication just means being connected to work, experiencing a sense of significance, pride, enthusiasm, and challenge.

Absorption describes how deeply involved in their work these employees are. For them, time passes quickly and disconnecting from work is difficult.

OK. That makes sense.

So, it’s in our best interest as leaders to create and maintain a high level of engagement in our organizations. We will be more successful when we are surrounded by engaged and dedicated employees.

We will be more successful when we are surrounded by engaged and dedicated employees. Click To Tweet

Got it.

So, what are we doing wrong? Why are 60-70% of employees disengaged and disinterested?

And…why does this affect even our BEST employees?

Let’s review some of the causes:

  1. Good employees become disengaged when managers don’t listen to their ideas and concerns. This is especially true for new employees!
  2. Good employees become disillusioned when managers allow circumstances to compromise the mission. When the actions of management don’t support the mission, good employees get frustrated.
  3. Good employees become disenfranchised when managers are disengaged and disconnected. Disengaged managers create disengaged employees.
  4. Good employees lose trust in their organization when their manager’s actions don’t match their words. A recent ADP study shows that employees who trust their manager are 12X more engaged!
  5. Good employees get frustrated when bad employees are not held accountable. Whether you like it or not, this is true.

I like this quote from Hilton Barbour: “Your culture is defined by the worst behavior tolerated by leadership.”

“Your culture is defined by the worst behavior tolerated by leadership.” Hilton Barbour Click To Tweet

The final thing I would add on this topic is something from my good friend, John Brubaker, over at CoachBru.com. Speaking to great employees, he said…

Go where you’re celebrated not where you’re tolerated.”

As leaders, I would say, if you don’t want your best employees to become disengaged, frustrated, and disconnected, you need to celebrate them!

And if you don’t what that means…

Go get a copy of my latest book – “I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following”  Chapter 10 is all about Celebrating Employees!

That’s it for today

Think about this topic this week. What are you doing as a leader to keep your BEST employees engaged?

If can keep them engaged and happy, you will be a more effective leader.


By the way, If you want to get more out of your daily commute, listen to my podcastDeep Leadership.  It’s available on all podcast apps.

And my best-selling leadership book, I Have the Watch, is also available on Audible for your commuting pleasure.

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