What If You Are Not Engaged At Work?

By Kevin on August 14, 2015 in employee engagement, leadership

What do you do if the person that’s disengaged is you? I’m Kevin Kruse and I love this question that got sent in. I’m going to let her remain anonymous and she wrote, “I just read your article on ‘what do you do about that one negative team member who just doesn’t want to get engaged?‘ This may be a stupid question but what do you do when the person who’s not engaged is you? Still performing at a high level, still getting high marks from staff, not negative at all but it’s almost like being on auto-pilot.”

Great question. First of all, what I would say is there are ways that we can really perform at our best even if we’re not actively engaged. I myself have worked in a couple of environments for a couple of bosses where I really wasn’t loving the environment. I wasn’t loving the company. I wasn’t passionate about the team that I was on and yet I was still performing top in sales and profits and growth, and nobody would have been able to tell and that’s because some of us have other triggers that are very strong like pride. I am not ever going to perform less than my best just because of pride and reputation and just being passionate about always doing my best.

That’s a lot of intrinsic motivation, internal motivation. A lot of people are wired that way, where we don’t need a lot of external factors to give our best. Most people need a lot of those external factors as well so I just want to acknowledge that you can be a great worker, a great contributor even if you’re not fully engaged at work yourself. As a manager, listen, it’s nice to have people engaged but we want people engaged so that they perform great. If you’ve got someone that’s a top 10% performer, I mean they’re just killing it, but you can tell they’re just sort of floating day in and day out. They’re giving it their best, they’re performing best but they’re not just fighting for you and the company, I say that’s okay. You’ve got a top performer. That’s great.

Most important, though, is what if this person who’s not engaged is you. Look, if you’re actively disengaged, the answer’s easy. Life is too short to be unhappy at work, so run out that door and find a new job, whatever your passion is. You don’t want to be actively disengaged, but if you’re in the middle, I would say see if you can reconnect and recommit to the mission and vision of the company. See if you can reconnect with your boss, with your leader, to get that passion that maybe you once had.

If you can’t find it at work, are there enough benefits at work? Maybe it’s a short commute, maybe it’s flexible hours and you have kids at home, see if you can get that emotional engagement from something else. Maybe you’re working during the day but working on your novel at night. Maybe you’re a writer in the day but you’re pursuing some other interest, setting up a business on the side or for your next move.

If you can’t get it at work, I say get it in your life from somewhere else. Life is too short not to be engaged with something. Just look really deep. What are your values? What are your passions? What are you great at? If you can find a way to get that from your current job situation, your current career, that’s great. If you can’t, take your time and find a better place where you can fulfill all those things.

Thanks again. Visit KevinKruse.com to subscribe to the newsletter or subscribe to my YouTube channel for more of these Q&As, and if you have a question yourself, send it to kevin at kevin kruse dot com. Thanks a lot.


Kevin Kruse is the creator of the Leading for Employee Engagement eLearning program for managers and author of the bestselling book, Employee Engagement 2.0.

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