Team member disengaged? The subtle change that can make all the difference.

Ever have someone on your team who’s disengaged?

Almost every leader has. And there’s no shortage of advice in the leadership literature:

  • Reflect back what you’re observing: “You seem to be low energy recently. You’re not participating as much in meetings.”
  • Try to understand if there’s something going on in their personal life.
  • Get to the heart of why they might be disengaged: map out their actual work to what they value in a job, e.g. work/life balance, money, recognition.

Wise suggestions, to be sure.

But even as they’re asking all the “right” questions, coming from a place of good intention, I often see leaders approaching these situations with a problem-solving energy:

Makes sense, of course. There’s so much to get done!

But there’s a subtle shift that can make a big difference between having frustrating conversations that go nowhere and conversations that create trust, and thus speed.

👉🏻 Make the only goal of the conversation to connect as human beings.

That’s it. Connect as fellow humans — not “You, problem. Me, problem-solver.”

Because we all know that feeling of being disengaged.

We don’t want someone coming in and trying to “figure things out” or “get” us to open up.

We want to feel like someone cares about us, not our level of engagement. 

I know, putting aside your own agenda takes self-control and patience. But it’s just for now, not forever.

Otherwise, you won’t have access to the full range of possibility.

Want influence as a leader? Focus on the connection.