Management Mistakes that Cause Low Employee Engagement

The problems of every organization will be unique. But some common threads run through these challenges. More often than not, they require us to view the problems from a different point of view, introduce possible paradigm shifts, and execute them.

The number of highly engaged employees is directly proportional to the vibrancy of the work culture and productivity. But identifying the causes of low employee engagement and solving the same can be difficult. 

The problems of every organization will be unique. But some common threads run through these challenges. More often than not, they require us to view the problems from a different point of view, introduce possible paradigm shifts, and execute them.

Here are some management mistakes that cause low employee engagement:

Fault vs Responsibility

I did not cause it so I must not fix it either.” This is a mindset that will be counterproductive for any manager in the long run.

Here’s why:

If the quality of work is starting to suffer, it is natural for employees to point fingers at others.

As good management, we must know how to navigate through this. Do we shift the blame on more shoulders and wait for them to make changes? Do we punish the employee for messing up and create an atmosphere of tyranny?

A good manager assumes responsibility. The employee might have been at fault, but the management must assume responsibility. Resorting to punishments is almost never an option either. Addressing the issue, finding the faults, and leading the organization into improvements is almost always the answer. It is worth noting though, that it might not be the employee who is at fault even though it might appear so – which brings us to the next mistake.

Not Defining Expectations

It is a known fact that the priorities of companies are subject to variation. But this very common observation might also be the cause of low employee engagement.

Picture this:

An employee regularly hands in their work at a certain time. But one day, the organization needs them to hand it in a little earlier than usual. One of two things may happen here. Either the employee is not aware of the situation and on handing in their work, it is deemed unsatisfactory. Here, the employee appears to be at fault even though they simply did their job. Or the management clearly communicates the needs of the hour and saves everyone a lot of extra effort and time. Defining the expectations in a timely manner can lead to higher employee engagement.


It is in our very nature to enjoy working with some people more than others.

And while there is nothing wrong with having some favorites in the workplace, it is detrimental to almost everyone when that seeps into daily tasks at the office.

Here’s how.

People, on seeing someone else being favored over themselves, feel a sense of envy. Some use it as inspiration. Others do not or can not. Either way, it leads to an environment that can significantly lower employee engagement. The favorites often have unrealistic expectations to meet and more work to deliver as well.

But it gets worse.

Amidst all this favoring and envying, the final product suffers. Neither of these two sides is really capable of delivering their best if they work disjointed. Negativity within peers can cause them to work in silos, and while some people do manage to perform at their peak when working alone, it does not do much to bolster a culture of teamwork.

Teamwork is a tool that can be used more creatively – which brings us to the next big mistake.

Non-Inclusive Business Strategy

Every meeting that is held without allowing employee participation is a meeting wasted.

Often, employees are expected to simply obey and abide. But this mindset is also what drives employee engagement down the sink.

Here’s the problem:

An employee is much more likely to put more effort into achieving something that they fully understand and feel connected to. If it is simply something they are asked to do, it becomes just another addition to their To-Do lists.

The solution to this is simple:

Let the employees have a say. Not just for the sake of letting them connect to the plan but also for staying open to interesting insights. This opens doors for highly fruitful collaborations and significantly higher employee engagement.

Lack of Clarity in The Bigger Purpose

A good management system would want its employees to be emotionally invested in its mission statement. This becomes a challenge if the company does not have a clearly defined bigger motive, to begin with.

Most companies start with some ambitious goal. If the employees are showing signs of low engagement, it might be the right time to revisit the grander ideas that birthed the company in the first place. Focussing on purpose rather than only incentives not only builds business confidence but also drives investment. Simply knowing the “why” can give more direction to your whens, whats, and hows. This very “why” when communicated to the employees, will dictate behavior, influence strategies, and give the employees a bigger purpose to attach themselves to.

Employee engagement is an emotional issue. The management needs to connect with their employees on not just a professional but an emotional level to boost morale and thus, engagement. Communication, teamwork, empathy – these are not just keywords for motivational posters. When properly implemented, they can fix the aforementioned problems for organizations. The problems of every organization will be unique. But taking the time to solve these will kickstart the troubleshooting.


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