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When the last thread breaks at work – Spotting Employee Disengagement.

bored employee 2Relationships are like ropes someone once said to me, “they are made up of many thin threads or experiences, that weaved together they form a strong rope”.

Taking each thread as an experience, positive threads thicken the rope, negative threads weaken the rope. When you find yourself in a less than ideal culture – one that does not value your contribution, nurtures creativity or respects you as an employee or leader – each negative experience, rejection or disappointment weakens the rope until one day that last thread breaks.

That day can manifest itself in many ways….it can be the proverbial “straw that breaks the camel’s back” and inspires drastic actions like knowing “this has to end and it ends today” which often result in impulsive, emotional outbreaks and/or quitting on the spot. As much as this is disruptive and, needless to say, sends the company into a tailspin trying to find a replacement or coverage on the spot, that is not the worst scenario.

An employee that fully disengages but remains at work can mean two things to an organization ….

  • They are planning an exit strategy but will continue to do their job to the best of their abilities, albeit usually with diminished engagement or care. In this scenario there will be a definite change in behaviour, which can range from passive aggressiveness to overt agreeability – that of someone not attached to long-term outcome but not wanting to create too many waves….i.e. someone “buying time”. There is a possibility that if spotted early on one may still be able to address the matter, perhaps re-engaging the employee and salvaging the situation. It may even mean the possibility to agree to part ways, but giving both the employer and employee time to find alternative opportunities which is as much a win/win scenario as it is in turning it around.


  •  The employee decides to stay fully on board long term but completely absent of engagement or commitment. If an organization does not have a quick sensor on the pulse of the team or have regularly executed key performance indicators, an employee such as this can remain off the radar for years…..this scenario costing greatly to the company – not just directly to the profit line – but indirectly by affecting the culture and environment all around.


What could be some examples of obvious or not so obvious reasons for an employee to lose faith and trust in management?   After all “Employees do not quit companies, they quit management and their leadership”.   In my experience some of the top reasons leadership fails their workforce is due to:

·       Compensation ·       Broken Promises
·       Perceived Unfairness or bias ·       Lack of professional respect
·       Lack of appreciation ·       Being passed over for opportunities
·       Lack of Leadership ·       Lack of integrity
·       Lack of transparency ·       Cronyism
·       Work life/balance ·       Co-worker dynamics


Steven Covey spoke of the “emotional bank account” where your ratio of deposits (positive experiences) vs withdrawals (negative experiences) would determine the ability and strength of a particular relationship to withstand adversity.

Organizations that fail to see their team from the perspective of relationships that require work, investment, trust, encouragement, nurturing, accountability, respect, motivation no different than the relationship with their clients, vendors, investors etc, will fail to optimize the quality and competitive advantage that vibrant human capital can mean to success.

“Trust is central to an economy that works” Stephen Covey


Carolina Billings

Carolina Billings

Carolina M. Billings is an executive with 15+ year’s leadership experience in the fields of Business Development, Human Resources and Finance. As CFO-CHRO of a multi-million business conglomerate, she performs a truly interdisciplinary role within a portfolio of diverse industries ranging from Supply Chain, Logistics & Distribution, Wealth Management, Furniture Import, Sales & Distribution as well as Interior Design. She champions leadership initiatives as well as empowering and coaching/mentoring others to lead. Developing a hybrid of Finance and Human Resources has enable her to become leading business partner. Her great ability to influence and engage others in the pursuit of goals and objectives makes her a true innovator and change agent. Carolina is currently pursuing her Masters in Interdisciplinary studies with Royal Roads University, She holds Graduate Certificates from Cornell University and Queen’s University in the fields of Change Management and Leadership. She is a Co-Active Professional coach currently doing her practicum towards Certification with ICF. She holds a CHRL designation and a High Honor’s HRM Graduate Certificate. Carolina is the founder of Big Fish Coaching a private practice specializing in personal leadership, career coaching, conflict resolutions and life change management.
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