A Tale of Disengagement: The Marginalized Employee

A friend of mine is frustrated at work. Frustrated enough to adopt the mantra “I’m learning to not even care.” (as he so succinctly put it). 

And he is, by nature, a very caring person. 

He cares about his customers, his company, and his performance.  He continues to focus on results and doing the best job he can.  But his joy, delight and mojo has left the building.  The energy – the effort! – he’s always put forth has been dialed down a few several many notches.

We can pontificate all we want about ‘attitude’ being a personal choice.  We can exhort people to show up at work and put their nose to the grindstone.  But we can’t, and we know it, make people give a shit.  And then, when they don’t give a shit, we absolutely cannot wonder “why.” 

But we do. We still aimlessly meander down the leadership trail in our pointless journey; doling out surveys, studying reports and lamenting the lack of employee engagement. Which, by the way, we have neglected to even DEFINE.

Naturally we look internally and pat ourselves on the back for doing it right (“damn straight Mr. CEO! We’re most assuredly doing all we can!”) and therefore decide it must be that individual.  That lazy employee.  That person who just shows up to collect a paycheck.  “We’ll never change that person”, we decide.

And deep down we know that’s the biggest crock ever.  But we’re afraid, more often than not, to take a real hard look at how things really are in our companies.  Am I right?

My friend?  A perfect example of how an organization can make someone a statistic and cause an individual to become yet another disengaged employee.  A few  of the recent happenings at his company:

  • A command and control management culture has returned after a brief hiatus (once upon a time some C-suite dude heard that, you know, command-and-control was ‘dead,’ but then…they somehow managed to bring it back to life).  Orders once again come trickling down from on high – through layers of management – and employees are expected to execute.  No input, no discussion and no questioning.
  • My pal, as are many others at his organization, is effectively out of the loop.  Business decisions and organizational strategies – even those which directly impact how he does his job – are not shared.  He operates in a vacuum. A giant corporate soul-sucking Dyson.  It may be the fancy kind with the patented cyclone technology, but it’s certainly not a vacuum with desirable features.
  • His position, one that is absolutely critical to success in the organization, has been relegated to the sidelines.  “Do as you’re told until we tell you to do differently.  That information is on a need-to-know basis.  And you don’t need to know.”




So when he says “I’m learning to not even care,” it’s because that’s what he’s being taught.

Not exactly what’s meant by learning and performanceis it?


this post is a re-run/re-work of one of the most (still) searched/linked/googled/found posts on the HRSchoolhouse (my old original site). I think it’s worth a re-run. I’m also re-running the picture/image from that original 2013 post because I just freakin’ LOVE this picture of the kitty with the vacuum cleaner.  


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