The Leaders Advisory Blog

To unite the two most crucial parts of business: the results that come, and the people who create them.


By Tony Walmsley

I had an interesting week attending a variety of webinars, groups and listening to podcasts. Of particular interest was the clarity with which people spoke around engagement and culture, as if they had a secret that nobody else had discovered.

The thing is, the more I learn about engagement and culture, the more I realise that meaningful differentiation is unique to each setting. Every group of people needs a different approach, however slight this may be.

What we know today

• 68% of people are passively engaged. Working but not fully present. There in body, but not in spirit. That’s according to the latest statistics.

• 17% are fully engaged. Active. High performers. Advocates.

• That means 15% are actively disengaged. These people are contributing nothing, or worse, undermining the efforts of others.

Let’s simplify this, using research conducted by Dr Stephen Smith over a decade ago.


As a business, looking to turn demand into value, if we can understand more about what is going on underneath this data, if we can solve more of the conundrum, we can create significant competitive advantage.

A Sales Example

Look at it through a sales lens. If we manage to move the dial for 30% of those passively engaged/disengaged (20%), we can double the number of fully engaged high performers. Apply this to your sales figures and see what that looks like.

In parallel with this, if letting the actively disengaged people go is determined the best outcome, the whole business dynamic shifts, and the needle moves forward. The lowest performers are now engaged to some degree with the potential to be better motivated and the business is saving money. The workforce is happier. Win. Win. Win.

Re-Engagement is Key, but it’s Hard

The absolute is that every engaged, or disengaged person is unique. Every manager of these people is unique. Every business has a unique environment and every team has a unique cocktail of personalities. The variation in energy alone, without the hard preferences, or skill factor can determine success.

In football the adage of, you don’t have to like each other to be successful, is true. It is about people with different attributes bringing their unique strengths to the team when needed the most.

This is an incredibly complex dynamic, because of the uniqueness of every possible interaction. Different things disengage different personalities. This erosion of contribution accumulates over time, often unnoticed. Understanding this is the first step to re-engagement.

Most managers experience challenges with these dynamics. The need to deal with each personality type differently is difficult if you don’t know who you are dealing with. The truth is, many haven’t yet worked out how to manage themselves.

51% of people quit their job because of their manager.

Two Examples

  1. Adopting your own default setting may work for a few staff, but the stats indicate this to be in or around 1 in 5. How many people do you mange? How many managers do you employ at your company and how many people do they manage? You may be able to start counting the cost, but you will need more fingers.
  2. Often managers get promoted without any support to understand this and can quickly feel overwhelmed. The result can be seen in the statistics already highlighted above. This is a clear example of a common challenge that many get wrong. If you manage a team, test your assumptions.

People become disengaged over time. Without any benchmarks, or an audit, it is impossible use intuition, or gut feel to work out a point in time when someone moved from an engaged to disengaged state. It is not a single event, but a series of small chips in the armor.

Testing the Approach

Have you worked with, for, or managed people who do not volunteer their feelings or opinions freely? I assume, like me, you are not a mind reader, and it is easy to do, or say the one thing that seems to provoke a defensive response. So, how do you avoid upsetting people like this?

If you are curious enough to ask the question, you are in the right place to progress. Even better, this is a great first step to bringing someone who is holding back and doing the minimum to get off the bench and make a difference. This is potentially life changing for the manager. Peak experiences in waiting.

If you are a manager, it is statistically likely that you have one or more disengaged employees under your charge. Right now. No one is in a state of bliss when they are disengaged, so with the courage required to reflect, learn, and apply new insights, you can make a serious impact in your organisation.

From High Cost Transactions to Embedded Value

People are the greatest competitive advantage when they are engaged.

Investment in training can be a huge waste of money, especially when you factor in the level of disengagement present in most groups. This points to a more calculated investment in management and team dynamics that guarantees results.

The small investment required to move the engagement needle, will guarantee returns in productivity and wellbeing

The Leaders Advisory is a Performance Coaching and Leadership Development organisation that uses applied psychology to help companies improve their engagement, productivity, and wellbeing. Tony Walmsley, founder is a Performance Coach and Profiling Specialist with a 30-year history as a business leader, professional football manager and coach educator.

Written by Tony Walmsley