Two Sides of the Disengagement Coin


Disengaged employees often appear to lack commitment. In reality, many of them crave re-engagement. No one enjoys working without passion or joy.

While many factors cause disengagement, the most prevalent is feeling overwhelmed (or, conversely, underwhelmed). Disconnection and overload pose obstacles to performance, yet they often go undetected or ignored because neither qualifies as a disciplinary issue.

Meanwhile, managers try to work around such problems, hoping for a miraculous turnaround or spark that reignites energy and drive. They try incentives, empowerment programs or the management fad du jour.

While it’s impossible to spark flow moments all day long, you can greatly improve your ability to help others achieve peak performance. Until recently, managers tried various motivational methods, with only temporary success.

You can’t sprint to peak performance, the brain needs careful management and rest. Brain science tells us that as knowledge workers, we must manage our thinking minds with care.

In addition to variety and stimulation, we require food, rest, human engagement, physical exercise and challenge. You cannot expect a human being to sit at a desk for hours and produce quality work without providing these essential elements.

We often forget that thinking is hard work. If you work too many hours, your brain’s supply of neurotransmitters will be depleted, and you won’t be able to sustain top performance. Without proper care, the brain will underperform—and brain fatigue mimics disengagement and lack of commitment.

Peak performance also depends on how we feel: hopeful, in control, optimistic and grateful. We need to know that we’re appreciated.