Is employee engagement a problem for your company? According to recent research by Dale Carnegie Training and MSW, only 29% of the workforce is fully engaged, so the likelihood is pretty strong that your organization may suffer from engagement problems. The symptoms of poor employee engagement can be as drastic as high employee turnover or as subtle as decreased performance. What’s causing this problem with employee disengagement? According to Ron Hirshfeld and Irit Oz, the problem may be related to the Information Revolution.
“You see it everywhere,” Hirshfeld says. “The skills that a teacher used to teach well have changed. Today it’s about knowing how to trigger their curiosity.” What applies to teachers in educational settings also applies to team managers, according to Hirshfeld. Historically, team managers have been responsible for teaching their employees how to do their jobs. With the Information Revolution, though, that information is readily accessible on any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone, rendering moot the point of the manager to “teach” anything.
This “Information Revolution” is spearheaded by the almost instant availability of any information you might need by way of the Internet. Rather than sitting through a classroom on how to program, for instance, you can find almost limitless tutorials and “how to’s” on the Internet that teach what used to be available only through formal educational classes.
Managers today, according to Hirshfeld and Oz, “need to know how to get all the information from their employees. If organizations do not adjust to the new landscape of information acquisition, they’re cutting the wings of their employees.” Hirshfeld and Oz believe that this leads to employee disengagement, because there is no mechanism to bottle up the information that employees have and use it for the betterment of the organization.
The changes have to happen from the top down, and the managers need to establish better leadership qualities. Hirshfeld and Oz point to John Maxwell’s five levels of leadership, and state that most organizations with employee engagement problems probably have managers operating at the first (position) or second (permission) levels of leadership, where employees follow their managers either because they have to or because they want to.
Hirshfeld and Oz conduct leadership training seminars that aim to get leaders to Level Four, People Development, where people follow a leader because of what that leader has done for them. Rather than managers trying to teach their employees, managers should be trying to “find ways to empower them and retrieve their information,” Hirshfeld claims, and then points out that a Level Four leader is able to do just that.
Retrieving information from employees leads to much better teamwork within the organization. Teamwork empowers employees and makes them more engaged. While many organizations claim to have an amazing organizational culture for teamwork, Hirshfeld says that “most of them don’t promote those values.” Because of this, Hirshfeld and Oz have launched a new leadership program that is built to “concentrate on changing the mindset first and right after providing the ‘tools.’” Through this leadership program, organizations can start executing the “new” way of empowering employees to bring their information to the table, which will “create a momentum that will change the game,” Hirshfeld states.
Is the Information Revolution really causing this much employee disengagement? While it may not be the sole cause of employee disengagement, it is certainly a huge driving force, according to Hirshfeld and Oz, and human resources teams and managers are just now starting to notice and adjust to this new landscape of obtaining information.