Do You Create Engagement or Disengagement?


We humans have a tendency to believe that what we do and how we do it is “all good.” We rarely pay attention to the signs around us that we may not be seen as positively as we'd like.

No matter your role in your family or work team, you have a responsibility to understand how others perceive you.

To learn those perceptions, you must observe other's reactions to you closely and invite feedback on any of your behaviors that erode trust and respect.

Let me offer an example of a leader who wasn't aware of the negative perceptions of him.

Years ago I was working with a manufacturing client. I was teaching a two-day leadership course for plant leaders. Getting to and from the training room from the facility lobby required venturing through the production lines (hard hats, eyewear, and earplugs were mandatory).

Safe walking lanes were well-marked, and one had to stay within those boundaries.

The cafeteria was located further along the manufacturing floor, demanding the same safety procedures.

One day after lunch, the client took me up on the catwalk for a unique perspective on the production lines. Forty feet above the floor, he described the work flow. We happened to have stopped above a work unit who's leader was in my class.

I had been told that this particular leader was “old school,” and wasn't going to embrace the relationship-based influencing tools and techniques I'd be teaching. His behavior in class reinforced his lack of confidence that our leadership model would work for him.

We glanced down on the work unit and noticed this leader walk in. He walked briskly towards his desk to drop off paperwork before heading back to my class.

What happened next was amazing to observe. Without a word, his team members moved quickly out of their boss' view. They ducked behind machinery. They moved behind tool bins.

They didn't want to be seen by or engage with the boss, so they hid, quickly and efficiently.

When the boss left their unit a few minutes later, team members moved back to their work stations.

These team members believed it was better to simply not engage with their boss if at all possible. They acted to ensure they weren't seen by him!

If this leader had cared about how he was perceived, he could have paid closer attention. Work was being done during this time frame; team members were in the unit. Why wouldn't he ask himself, “Where is everybody?”

This “oblivion” happens to team members as well as team leaders. All of us need to conduct regular “reality checks” to gauge how our plans, decisions, and actions are perceived.

Once you learn how you are perceived, you can work to behave in ways that boosts your positive impact and beneficial perception.

You can refine your plans, decisions, and actions to engage people you work with, not create disengagement.

What do you think? Do team members in your organization “hide” from their boss at times? In what ways do you invite feedback to learn your impact – and refine your behavior to engage?

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Photo © Fontriel – Adobe Stock. All Rights Reserved

S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year executive career leading and managing successful business teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Under Chris’ guidance, culture clients have consistently boosted their customer satisfaction and employee engagement rates by 40 percent or more and results and profits by 35 percent or more.