Connect with us


5 Signs of A Disengaged Employee



I love the definition of employee engagement that I read in this recent TalentCulture post. It’s succinct and comprehensive:

When employees are engaged, they adopt the vision, values, and purpose of the organization they work for. They become passionate contributors, innovating problem solvers, and stunning colleagues. 

But what does it mean to be a disengaged employee? Well, according to that same post, disengaged employees are “not poised to put in extra effort for success. They don’t like going to work most days. They’re unlikely to recommend the products of, or employment with, their employer.”

Laziness, apathy, and dissidence are merely symptoms of bigger problems. And by the time many of those symptoms surface, remediation might be impossible.

Update: Check out the infographic below for more insights into the causes of disengagement and how you can motivate your employees to be more engaged. 

2 Types of Disengagement

According to Gallup, employee engagement isn’t binary. There are actually three classifications; engagednot engaged, and actively disengaged. Engaged employees are easy to spot as are the miserable, dissident, counter-culture folks who are actively disengaged.  The silent majority who are not engagedmake up over 50% of the American workforce, and are adept at blending in with the rest of the herd.

Sure some things are obvious – absenteeism, low energy, bad attitude, frequent use of social media, lack of enthusiasm…but few disengaged employees start out by staging a coup from their cubicle.  What are the early signs of employee disengagement?

1) No Initiative

Poor work product is a reliable barometer for disengagement, but good work might be a red herring. An employee may feel disconnected from your organization but might still perform because of a personal work ethic. Or maybe their job is too easy and they are not being challenged. Don’t be fooled that everything is okay simply because the person is producing. In fact, the lack of challenge that manifests as quality work may be what is behind the disengagement.

 Instead, look how motivated the person is in a different context. Stage a voluntary hack-day for the company. Make it fun and offer great prizes. Does your top performer choose to not participate? If there are no other matters taking up their time, you may have a disengaged employee.

2) Unhealthy Activities

How often does an employee go to the break room for a coffee or snack? How often do they head out for a cigarette? Of course your employee may just be hungry, tired, or addicted to nicotine, but sometimes people over-indulge in unhealthy behaviors to fill a void in their personal or professional lives. People who are truly motivated by purpose often derive fulfillment simply by working diligently at their desks. They may even have to be reminded by a grumbling belly that they haven’t eaten lunch yet.

3) Silence

Ok maybe you just have an introvert on your hands. Some people feel their batteries recharge when they have their own space. But when the entire company or specific teams are experiencing a win and a select few show no excitement or celebration, that’s an engagement issue.

4) Lack of Learning

When is the last time that quiet employee shared an article of interest about your company, marketplace trends, or interesting research dealing with their role? When is the last time they shared anything at all? Curiosity is a good sign that an employee cares about the bigger picture. They want to learn and grow in their role and share that with others. When you encourage learning and growth as a company value and employees don’t share your enthusiasm, it’s time to take a closer look.

5) Wasted Weekends

When we aren’t happy or we’re uninspired at work, those emotions have a way of infiltrating all aspects of our lives. Are people spending their weekends sleeping most of the time, or are they pursuing a personal passion?

Winning at Work

I like to think of work as a game. As a player, I need to know the rules of how to play and how to win. These are set out via clear goals and objectives from management. I want teammates (employees) and fans (customers) who are loyal and energetic. Lastly I have to love the game and care about the outcome of playing it.

Problems begin when people don’t have clear direction from leadership. They are not placed in roles that are aligned with their strengths or where the outcomes of work feeds their souls. According to Forbes, employees like to use their strengths. A strong defensive player shouldn’t be thrown onto the court as a power-forward, and a creative contributor should not be head of sales.

Another major deterrent to engagement is when the company either lacks values and purpose, or those phrases have just been written down somewhere and are no longer alive in the organization. Leaders at work are like coaches. Their job is to inspire everyone to win, to achieve the larger purpose.

Want to know how to improve employee engagement? See what the 7 most fascinating employee engagement trends for 2016 are.

The Missing Piece for Disengaged Employees

Google the words “employee engagement” and you will see no shortage of articles explaining why disengagement happens and what you can do about it. Most place the responsibility firmly in the hands of leadership. They suggest defining the company purpose and values, acknowledging employee triumphs, creating clear goals and objectives, and most importantly creating a culture where open communication is valued.

Managers must ask questions so that they can find out what employees want – from their jobs or in their personal lives. This can be as simple as a new stapler, or as complex as creating a telework situation so that someone can finish their degree or start a family.

Great managers also ask employees to share their ideas. And when those ideas are implemented, they share the employee’s triumphs with the whole team or company. They let everyone see the difference that was made.

In workplaces that value open communication, especially between employees and their managers, issues and frustrations quickly surface. Instead of festering and eventually leading to disengagement, managers can offer support. Employees are more likely to trust leadership, building relationships where people are more forthcoming and willing to ask for help.

Disengagement may be an epidemic in the American workplace, but communication is the antidote. When it comes down to it, many of us are willing to let down a boss who is a stranger at a company where we are just pawns in their game. But how many of us are willing to let down the people we care about, when we are trusted equals in an enterprise where outcomes truly matter?

Want to learn more about why your employees are disengaged & how to motivate them? Check out this infographic from our friends at Company Folders, or read their expanded article here.


About the Author

This article was written by David Mizne of 15five, an awesome place for people to connect with management. They get to answer questions about their work and communicate if they are meeting their objectives and goals. see more.


Lessons Learnt from The Lean Startup



The Lean Startup book authored by Eric Ries has been sitting on my shelf for quite sometime now, so since I am currently contributing to the making of a startup I figured I’ll take a look into it.

The book is divided into 3 parts, after reading the first two I had my mind blown with the pragmatic and scientific approach to building startups that is described in the book.

In this post, I would like to share some important insights that I gained regarding building highly innovative businesses.

Validating Value Proposition And Growth Strategy Is The Priority

Usually, a highly innovative startup company is working in its most early stage at building a product or a service that will create a new market.

Consumers or businesses have not been yet exposed to something similar to what is going to be built by the startup. Therefore the absolute priority for startups in early stage is to validated their value proposition i.e. to get real data about eventual customers interest regarding their product/service.

The other priority is to validate that the growth strategy that is going to be executed is, in fact, effective.

The growth strategy of a startup is its plan to acquire more and more customers in the long term and in a sustainable fashion.

Three kinds of growth strategies are described in the book:

  • paid growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to be charged for the product or service, the cash earned from early users is reinvested in acquiring new users via advertising for example
  • viral growth in which you rely on the fact that customers are going to bring customers as a side effect of using the product/service
  • sticky growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to use the service in some regular fashion, paying for the service each time (via subscription for example).

These growth strategies are sustainable in the sense that they do not require continuous large capital investments or publicity stunts.

It is important to know as soon as possible which strategy or combination of strategies is the most effective at driving growth.

Applying The Scientific Method

The scientific method is a set of techniques that helps us figure out correct stuff. After making some observations regarding a phenomenon, you formulate a hypothesis about that phenomenon.

The hypothesis is an assumption that needs to be proven correct or incorrect. You then design experimentations that are going to challenge the assumption.

The results of the experimentations makes the correctness or incorrectness of the hypothesisclear allowing us to make judgments about its validity.

In the lean startup methodology, your job as an entrepreneur is to formulate two hypothesis:

  • hypothesis of value (assumptions about your value proposition)
  • hypothesis of growth (assumptions about the effectiveness of the growth strategy)

These hypothesis are then validated/invalidated through experimentation. Following the precepts of lean manufacturing, the lean startup methodology prescribes to make experimentations while minimizing/eliminating waste.

In other words, you have to burn minimum cash, effort and time when running experiments.

An experimentation in the lean startup sense is usually an actual product/service and helps startups in early stage learn invaluable things about their eventual future market.

Sometimes startups learn that nobody wants their product/service, imagine spending 8 months worth of engineering, design and promotion work (not to mention cash) in a product/service only to discover that it does not provide value to anyone.

Minimum Viable Products And Feedback

As we pointed out earlier, an experimentation can be an actual product or service and is called the minimum viable product(MVP).

The MVP is built to contain just enough features to validate the value and growth hypotheses, effectively requiring minimum time, effort and cash.

By getting the MVP launched and in front of real users, entrepreneurs can get concrete feedback from them either directly by asking them (in focus groups for example) or via usage analytics.

Analytics scales better then directly talking to customers but the latter is nonetheless used to cross validate results from the former.

It is crucial to focus on metrics that creates fine grained visibility about the performance of the business when building(or using) a usage analytics system. These metrics are called actionable metrics because they can link causes and effects clearly allowing entrepreneurs to understand the consequences of ideally each action executed. Cohort analysis is an example of a analytics strategy that focuses on actionable metrics.

The bad kind of metrics are called vanity metrics, these tend to hide how the business is performing, gross numbers like total users count are an example of vanity metrics.

The author cites several examples of different startups that managed to validate or debunk their early assumption by building stripped down and non scalable MVPs and even sometimes by not building software at all.

You would be surprised to hear for example how the Dropbox folks in their early stage managed to created a ~4 minute video demonstrating their product while it was still in development. The video allowed them to get more people signed up in their beta waiting list and raise capital more easily.

Closing Thoughts

In the first two parts of the book, the author talks also about how employees inside big companies working on highly innovative products and services can benefit greatly from the lean startup approach, although very interesting this is not very useful for me right now.

The third part, talks about the challenges that arises when the startup gets big and starts to stabilize and how to address them. Basically it revolves around not loosing the innovative spirit of the early days, again, this is not very useful for me so maybe for good future reading.


About the Author

This article was produced by Tech Dominator. see more.

Continue Reading


Women on Top in Tech – Dr. Sanna Gaspard, Founder and CEO of Rubitection



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Dr. Sanna Gaspard is the Founder and CEO of Rubitection, a medical device start-up developing a diagnostic tool for early stage pressure detection, assessment, and management. She is an Entrepreneur, inventor, and biomedical engineer with a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship, healthcare and medical devices. She has received recognition and awards including being selected as a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards(’13), a semi-finalist for the Big C competition (’14), a finalist for the Mass Challenge Business accelerator in Boston, and taking 1st place at the 3 Rivers Investment Venture Fair’s Technology showcase (‘11). Her vision is to make the Rubitect Assessment System the global standard solution for early bedsore detection and management.

What makes you do what you do? 
I am driven to have impact and improve healthcare as I have a strong drive to problem solve, comes up with new ideas, and see them come to life.

How did you rise in the industry you are in? 
I first focused on getting the educational background and then I pursued the goals I have for myself. I got my PhD in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in medical device development. Having the educational background is important as a woman and minority to assist people in taking your seriously.  After completing my PhD, I focused on bringing my invention for a medical device for early bedsore detection and prevention called the Rubitect Assessment System to market to help save lives and improve care.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I started my startup, Rubitection , because I felt it was the best way to bring the technology to market. I knew that if I did not try to commercialize the technology, it would not make it to the doctors and nurses. I also have confidence that I could manage developing the technology since I had taken classes on entrepreneurship and had my PhD in biomedical engineering with a specialization in medical devices.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
No, I don’t have a specific mentor in my field. I am looking for one at the moment. However, I do look up to Steve Jobs and Oprah as examples of how one can start with nothing and work their way up and build a successful, global, and reputable business and brand.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?  
I first try to find people who have fundamental technical or work experience to be competent to complete the work. I then evaluate the person for intangible skills like independent thinking, reliability, leadership, resilience, organizational skills, strong work ethic, open mindedness/flexibility, and good communication skills.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why? 
I consciously make an effort as a minority woman in tech, I intimately understand the need to promote diversity within my business and outside my business. I first hire the best people for the job and also make a point to hire women and minorities qualified for the position.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?  
It takes resilience, vision, being a team player, an ability to inspire others and delegate work, knowing your weakness, and knowing when to put your business or yourself first.

Advice for others?
My advice to others is to take calculated risks, pursue every opportunity, surround yourself with supporters, build your team with smart dedicated people, and stay focused on your vision. I am striving to implement this advice myself as I work towards commercializing my technology for early bedsore detection, grow my team, and recruit clinical partners to address an $11 billion US healthcare problem which affects millions around the world.

If anyone is interested in learning more about our work or company, please contact us at [email protected].

To learn more about Dr. Sanna Gaspard, CEO of Rubitection visit:

If you’d like to get in touch with Dr. Sanna Gaspard, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about Rubitection, please click here.

Continue Reading