Coaching Towards Engagement

I love coaching kids’ soccer…most of the time.

On each of the 8 teams I’ve coached, I see the same breakdown:

  • There are about 2-3 players who really love the game and want to compete.
  • There are 5-8 players who may show up one game ready to play, but other weeks want to talk about video games, school, the clouds, etc.
  • Lastly, there are 2-3 players who are only out there because their parents want them to be there and they are not the least bit interested in the game.

This analogy may apply directly to your team at work…and to your life.

On a personal level, you fall into one of these three buckets. You’re either highly engaged, somewhat engaged, or completely disengaged. We should all be searching for roles that bring out a desire to engage with our work. According to the most recent ‘State of the American Workforce’ study, the Gallup organization found that only 1 in 3 people are engaged in their jobs.

On a management and leadership level, your team may be very similar to my soccer teams. You have ‘star employees’ who love their work and always give 100%. You have employees who are ‘clocking in and clocking out’. And you have employees who are like anchors dragging along the bottom of the lake when everyone else is rowing the boat! We may not see everything the anchor is grabbing onto under the water, but it is sure slowing down the boat and making everyone’s job harder.

We as leaders must recognize employee engagement is a powerful concept which effects our bottom line significantly. Here’s what it looks like to be fully engaged:

An engaged employee/team member is someone who takes emotional and psychological ownership of the organization’s mission.

Take a look at the chart below:

True Cost of Disengaged Employees

Your disengaged team members are eroding your bottom line significantly. For example, if you have 10 employees paid $15/hr each, according to the statistics, your disengagement is costing you $1,815/month.

But there is good news! Studies have also shown that investing in employees’ strengths can increase engagement by 6 times! Even if you have a highly engaged team, Strengths focus can increase engagement by up to 15%. It’s amazing to see how people thrive and engage when their roles are aligned with strengths!

Back to my soccer team analogy…As a coach, I see how my unengaged players impact the game as much as my highly engaged players. My strategy moving forward as a coach will be to start with ways to increase engagement with the game. It’s only when players want to engage that they will be open to learning and able to contribute to a team’s shared success.

I’ll have to let you know how it goes next season 🙂

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