Performance Management Blog

DIS-Un-Engagement – The only real way to engage people for workplace improvement
Some of the images used in debriefing the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game

So often, we see talk of engaging people. In actuality, the only real way to engage people for workplace improvement is DIS-Un-engagement. We improve Leadership Effectiveness only if we can get people to do something differently. Removing things that UN-engage people is the best approach that will work.

I get involved and engaged in many LinkedIn discussion threads where the author talks about engaging people. So, I often offer this simple challenge: “Go ahead. Engage me somehow.” I mean, HOW can one person possibly engage another? It is the other person’s choice whether to be engaged or not. You simply cannot force them to choose to be engaged. It is nothing about you; it is all about them. What you can do is create an environment where they will make that choice to be more actively involved, and one of the best ways to do that is to remove what they perceive as roadblocks or impediments to them getting more done. (Read more about roadblock management here.)

In posts a decade ago, I blogged about this reality in online discussions. I chose to be engaged in those threads and I offered my thoughts. But how many posts do not get much reader engagement? The viewer makes the choice.

I did surveys asking about people’s last boss and whether they were Best, Okay, Bad or Toxic. Literally thousands of people SAW the two polls but less than 10% chose to respond. Should the poll have been engaging? SOME people thought so, but most didn’t. (Sadly, these two polls showed that between 25% and 38% of about 100 responders thought their last manager to be TOXIC!)

And, this unscientific polling might lead one to conclude that some “leaders” might actually make things worse by being actively involved and trying to engage with their people. 


My focus for many years has been on the issues of organizational performance, individual motivation, involvement and active involvement related to issues of teamwork and alignment. Toward that end, I have presented on a wide variety of topics in 48 countries and I sell my tools inexpensively and globally. All that is simply meant to anchor the following thesis:

Most managers are un-engaging their people.

If we look at any of a very wide range of data, it is clearly evident that most people in most workplaces are dis-engaged and uninvolved. I share some viewpoints and data and other people’s ideas in two blogs referenced at the end of this.

With all that data supporting un-engagement, like the Sirota Research saying that 85% of new hires regress to “average” motivational levels within 6 months, it all begs the question as to whether managers and supervisors might simply CHOOSE to do some things differently. Might these people managers look to focus on something I will call, Dis-Un-Engagement.

Asking my Chatbot, it gave me this today in response to this question:  “What are statistics on working engagement in companies?”

The statistics on employee engagement in companies can vary depending on the source, the industry, the company size, and other factors. However, here are some general statistics on working engagement:

  1. According to a Gallup report, only 36% of U.S. employees are engaged in their jobs, meaning they are involved in and enthusiastic about their work.
  2. Another Gallup report found that globally, only 15% of employees are engaged in their jobs.
  3. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 40% of employees are considering leaving their current job within the next year.
  4. The State of the American Workplace report by Gallup found that engaged employees are more productive, have lower turnover rates, and are more likely to stay with their company long-term.
  5. According to a study by the Corporate Leadership Council, highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies than their disengaged counterparts.
  6. The same study found that highly engaged employees have a 20% higher performance rate and a 21% higher profitability rate than their less engaged peers.
  7. A study by Glassdoor found that companies with highly engaged employees outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

Overall, these statistics show that employee engagement is crucial for the success and sustainability of companies. Engaged employees are more productive, loyal, and likely to stay with their company, which can result in better financial performance and a positive workplace culture.

Again, though, we cannot simply “engage” people by doing something to them. It is their choice. Simply put and reframing as to what we CAN do, we can focus on removing the roadblocks that most people face in doing their daily jobs.

Many workers report that no one listens to their ideas for improvement (and have been doing that for the past 70 years, based on the research). Feeling more of a part of things is a powerful motivational tool. Again, tons of research. And many unengaged people feel they are simply stopped by some perceived roadblock.

Yet most people are not REALLY roadblocked, as most coaches will tell you; they are simply perceiving that they are, or they are somehow choosing to be. They could do things differently and will often do so when involved in some problem-solving team situation. Teamwork, peer pressure / support is a powerful tool for generating change.

Most decisions seem to emanate from the manager’s desk rather than the hands of the workers who try to push the wagon forward every day. If all they see are boards and hands, no wonder they don’t show up motivated and engaged. So, share the vision and ask what things are blocking them from (some performance).

Square Wheels - The View at the Front and the View at the Back


Dis-Un-Engagement — is a corollary of “Ask and Ye Shall Receive,” methinks.

I think that ANY one leading any group in any organization can IMPROVE their overall leadership effectiveness. There will still be that average curve of skills ranging from low to high because that is just a statistical reality of any population of people. What we CAN do is move that median score upwards to improve overall effectiveness of the population…

Dis-Un-Engagement. It does not even sound that hard to do, does it?

There are lots of elegant solutions out there, and Square Wheels are a great tool to use to generate them

I think that this is just another example of another simple, elegant solution!


For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools.
Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who is trying to retire!! He now lives in Cuenca, Ecuador.

You can reach Scott at

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.


Performance Management Company sells a truly outstanding team building game that focuses on, “Mining as much Gold as WE can.” It is designed to debrief about many topics of organizational improvement, collaboration between teams and other performance improvement issues. Some of our debriefing slide graphics are in the illustration below. If you want to know more about this powerful tool, click on the image to go to our website. You can also find a Press Release about our 30 years of selling and supporting the game here.

Some of the images used in debriefing the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game



Dr. Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of the amazing Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game and the Square Wheels facilitation and engagement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced global presenter. -- You can reach Scott at and a detailed profile is here: -- Scott is the original designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game and the Square Wheels® images for organizational development.

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