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How To Engage the Unengaged Employee 

Bob Furniss | Mar 13, 2007 2,066 views No Comments

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Recent research indicates that there are more than 100 million people in America that work in service jobs that require direct customer contact. I don’t know about you but I find that many of the people that service my needs on a daily basis are “less than engaged” and often lack the basic customer service skills required to retain me as a customer (much less delight me). It is not that the service is bad – but there is just something missing.

From time to time I receive emails from people that have attended my keynotes speeches. Last week I received just such an email from a frontline manager asking me how she can better motivate several of her long-term agents. She indicated that she has several employees that have been in the call center for several years and, while offering adequate service, they are not really engaged with other team members or with her as a manager.

I thought I would share several of the ideas that I sent her for engaging those people that seem to be stuck in the day-to-day box of “just showing up….”



1. I believe the key is to engage the employees individually. Meet with them one-on-one and ask for their help in leading a sub-group to solve a specific problem or create a new solution.

2. Be open about your approach. Tell them that you think they have a lot of potential but you also feel that perhaps you have not been successful in engaging them for their personal growth and for the benefit of the team. Tell them that you need their participation and ask how they might like to become engaged. Ask a lot of questions: What can I do to help you succeed? How do you define success? Are you happy in your job? Just be careful that you do not make them feel threatened. Seek to understand their perspective, their dreams.

3. Try to find their passion – what drives them? What do they love to do on the weekends? Begin to talk about these things when you see them. The intent is to engage them on the personal side in order to later engage them on the business side.

4. Put them in a position of leadership – it may be something small – a new project, etc.

5. Ask them to be a mentor for a new employee on the team. It is hard to be disengaged when you are responsible for someone else’s success.

Of all of these possibilities, I find that the straight-forward approach is usually the best. If you know that they are motivated to stay in their current position, that is OK but we need to engage them to help others and to see that they can have an impact on the team.

I find that with direct communication, people usually respond to the basic human need to connect and succeed.

If you have better ideas, please post then here at CRMGuru blogs or feel free to email me direct at [email protected].

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