Sometimes when working with a particular group, you feel that things aren’t that great. There’s some friction between your team members – work is not proceeding as smoothly as expected. There are criticisms that are directed externally. And there’s a growing frustration about the pointlessness of the task. You feel the team is suffering from disengagement with the goals. Maybe it’s just one person, maybe it’s the whole team. So, how do you know you have an engagement problem? And how widespread is it?

Fear not, this isn’t just happening within your team, it is a global challenge. A 2015 Dale Carnegie study revealed that only 29% of team members are actively engaged in their work. Of the remainder, 45% only give the appearance of directly contributing. In other words, the majority of the workforce seems to be not engaged or actively disengaged. This quite alarming statistic should drive companies and organizations to rethink their workplace environment and rebuild one that organically increases employees engagement. This drives to maximise productivity, performance and enthusiasm. But how?

How to spot disengagement

You can (and should) look for behavioral patterns within your team. During your daily interaction with them, consider the following:

  • Are they enthusiastic?
  • Does the team act inspired?
  • Do they empowered?
  • is there a confidence about them?

By figuring out these questions, you will get some idea of who is engaged and focused on their work. This does require observation. But there is one simple question you can ask your team members that can provide you with a lot of information:

Do you know what are the goals of your current project?

If a team member can clearly express the project goals in a way that anyone would understand, and can convey them with very little new information, then they are probably engaged and grasp the purpose. The question itself might spark a deeper conversation where you can help them see the vision.

However, if a team member has trouble answering or is non-committal, this is a good sign they are unengaged. From there, you can proceed by asking them directly more open questions about the behaviourial patterns. This will uncover underlying issues. This open conversation will empower them by expressing concerns they may have with the goals. If there is a lack of understanding, this is your chance to directly work with them in the moment. Which will help them make small steps back towards becoming fully engaged with the team.

How to use the question

Always ask this question in a one-on-one environment, so you can hear individual answers. You do not want to base your conclusion from a group-think answer, where the most vocal and forward members answer. This will leave behind valuable insights from quieter people.

You need to know what the project goals are, and have the ability to communicate them clearly. And by asking the question, you aren’t looking for the ‘right’ answer, but how it’s answered. Rote answers may be right, but they may not show the inspiration or confidence that mark an engaged employee. Make sure to question your team not just on the how and what, but also the why. The project goals may be relatively clear, but also knowing why these goals are in place is as important.

Repeat this exercise with every member of one particular team. If the majority of the members are engaged, then you can focus your valuable time with the rest of the team individually and help identify why they feel unenthusiastic, and figure out steps to ignite their sense of purpose. But, if the result showcases unengaged members and a disengaged team, then the problem is wider and it would be a good time to examine the overall team dynamic.

Learn more about improving your team dynamics, contact Enigmatic Events about our game-based interactive learning session here.

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