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Feb 18, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

The odds are good that you have at least one disengaged employee at your company. After all, it’s estimated that approximately two-thirds of all U.S. employees aren’t engaged in their current jobs.

The tricky part is that disengagement is difficult to detect.

You can’t assume your employees are engaged just because they’re checking off tasks. People can perform efficiently without being emotionally invested in their contributions to the organization.

And if they’re unhappy, the danger lies in the fact that you don’t know if and when they’re going to leave — putting you in a bind.

Why do employees unplug?

Employees usually become disengaged for two reasons:

  1. First, they don’t know how their work contributes to the mission of the company. Without that sense of purpose, it’s hard for them to be the focused, creative, and determined workers that you want them to be. They need reminders that what they’re doing is meaningful.
  2. Second, disengaged employees often feel unappreciated. Not feeling valued can cause just as much dissatisfaction as salary concerns can.

Strong two-way communication will help workers feel as if their jobs are meaningful and their work itself is valuable. But understanding each employee can be challenging because everyone is different, which means a person’s disengagement can’t be addressed in the same way as his or her co-workers.’

Simple surveys about employee satisfaction aren’t usually effective in analyzing these employees because they normally produce surface-level answers. On the other hand, personality profiling can make reaching out and customizing engagement easier.

Plug your employees back in

Personality profiling helps you understand how your employees operate and what stage of engagement they’re in. And that’s the important first step. Once you figure out where they are on the engagement spectrum, you can then assign them to one of three categories: critical, chronic, or terminal.

  • Critical employees are engaged and working to improve themselves and the company. They are the people who foster innovation.
  • Chronic employees are overwhelmed, and their disengagement leads them to only work on what’s directly tasked to them. They aren’t fully confident in their purpose at the company.
  • Terminal employees are ready to quit and are looking for the first opportunity to do so.

After you’ve determined your employees’ levels of engagement, you can then use personality profiling to categorize them. Most will fall into one of these categories:

  • Cheerleader/Networker — This person prefers to communicate with and encourage others.
  • Perfectionist/Analyzer — This employee likes to study and find the best solutions to problems.
  • Stable Task Doer — This worker focuses on completing a series of tasks or projects.
  • Compassionate Teacher — This person is most engaged when he or she is teaching or mentoring.

For the sake of simplicity and visualization, you can also assign each of these categories a color based on the dominant skills that they use. For example, “blue” employees could be your compassionate teachers, and “green” employees could be your perfectionists and analyzers. Using colors can help you quickly identify where different types of personalities are located within the company.

The perks of personality profiling

People are challenged and motivated in different ways based on their personalities. If you understand what makes each employee tick, then you can better engage everyone.

This will benefit your company by giving you:

  1. An appreciation of differences. You’ll learn why people behave the way they do; in turn, you can engage them in a way that creates a positive flow within your organization. Not only will you recognize diversity within your team, but you’ll also begin to appreciate it and use it to build unity.
  2. Empowered employees. In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he says, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” When you understand how people work, you can put them where they best fit in the organization and set goals accordingly. Using the analogy of a bus, Collins shows that a winning team puts the right people in the right seats. Only at this point can a company truly figure out where it wants its bus to go.
  3. A balanced business. When you have a balanced business, the weaknesses of one group are counteracted by the strengths of another. Through profiling, you can see whether you’re lacking certain personality types. Perhaps the majority of your employees are spontaneous and aren’t really focused on the details, so you’ll need tactical and analytical project managers in order to make a project succeed.

Putting them in empowering positions

It’s like a symphony orchestra. Each instrument can create beautiful music individually, but a true masterpiece perfectly combines the sounds of many different instruments.

When you know your employees’ personalities, you can put them in empowering positions.

Their personalities will be suited to the jobs they are required to do, which will help them have a clear vision of their purpose and value at the company. That, in turn, creates engagement and alignment.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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