Picture this scenario: You're trying to finish a project but you need some information from your direct report. You call his desk to see if he can give you the information over the phone, but he doesn't answer. You walk over to his desk only for him to put his finger up as an indication that he is busy, and when he finally does look up, he is glaring at you for interrupting his thoughts.
He's probably just dealing with personal issues, right? Possibly. Or he just might not be that into you--and that's not only potentially damaging to you. It could hurt your company as well. Is there a cultural or generational gap? You need to understand what's happening and what, if anything, you can do about it.
"Employees who are not engaged are less productive," says Barbara Frankel, senior vice president and executive editor at DiversityInc. "[Disengaged employees] are almost never innovative and don't give you the creative spark necessary to get ahead in the growing global economy."
Here are some signs that your employees are "unplugged" from the company:
1. Coming to work late
2. Leaving early
3. Being on the phone with personal matters and texting during the day
4. Responding negatively or indifferently to teammates
5. Not paying attention in meetings
6. Not making eye contact
So what's the solution? For starters, you have to unload the dead weight, suggests Carolynn Johnson, vice president of business development at DiversityInc.
She also advises having a conversation before assuming the employee is simply disengaged. This, she says, helps your employees understand that you do care about them as a person as well as a worker.
"Before you make any allegations, ask the question: 'Are you OK?'" she says. "It's important to try and remember specific examples of what you are talking about. During the conversation, you, as the manager, may discover that your employee was too afraid to ask for help."
Here are other ways managers can turn the situation around:
1. Don't ignore the situation--address things when they happen
2. Don't try to change someone's passion
3. If there are cultural factors at play, reach out to employee-resource groups
4. Re-evaluate organizational changes and whether the individual still fits the changed corporate climate