Here’s a sneak peek into my upcoming book: How To Hire the Best: The Entrepreneurs Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Team Members (Releasing September 15, 2020)

Why does disengagement happen?

Most experts blame immediate supervisors for employee disengagement. Certainly, a bad boss who yells and belittles team members will lead team members to become ticked off, apathetic, and disengaged. However, in my experience, most of the owners with whom we work are not bad bosses. In fact, they care considerably for their team members and yet they still have problems with disengaged team members. Here are the six primary reasons for employee disengagement.

1.   Team Members Not Understanding Their Role in the Story of Serving Your Ideal Client

FACT: Most business owners don’t have a compelling story about the “why” of their business and how their business serves a need of their ideal client and customer, much less a story that is appealing to their ideal team member.

When team members buy into why your business exists, why you are passionate about the customers and clients you serve, and why what the employee does matters, they are much more likely to be engaged. Taking out the trash is no longer just a chore to be done. It becomes a part of the whole story about why what you do matters.

2. Letting Too Many Slackers Hang on for Too Long

Letting too many slackers hang on for too long drags down morale. Your best people get tired of cleaning up messes made by the slackers. Plus, word gets out. Exceptional team members do not want to work with a bunch of warm bodies. By keeping warm bodies around, you are actually repelling exceptional team members.

3. The Boss Exhibiting Bad Behaviors

(Notice, I did not say “bad bosses.”)

Managing team members who constantly make mistakes and who do just enough to get by is maddening for even the most patient of bosses. We all have our breaking points.

Mike Bruno struggled to be patient with team members, especially when they made mistakes. He was repeatedly frustrated by the drama that arose when he criticized someone for not executing on the work he needed finished. Drama simply does not coincide with his personality type.

4. Failing to Delegate

As much as we business owners want to delegate, we can fail miserably in our execution of this. Failing to delegate will drag down morale. This often occurs because we do not trust the team members we’ve hired to get the job done.

5. A Mismatch Between the Team Member’s Immutable Laws and Yours

Many new hires are excited to work for you. They start out engaged, even though they are relatively ineffective because they are still learning the ropes. Once they are trained and have been with you for a while, they are exactly the kind of employee you want—engaged and effective.

6. Failing to Intervene Quickly When a Good Employee Shows the First Sign of Disengagement

You have a good employee who typically performs well and makes you proud. One day you observe this employee doing something out of character. Intervene as quickly as possible.

Too often, owners are inclined to overlook the problem, hoping it will go away. It won’t. Chances are, you’re seeing the first sign of a more serious problem to develop. Address it quickly and hold the employee accountable for improvement.

For tips on how to work through these problems and coach your team more effectively, please be sure to check out How To Hire the Best: The Entrepreneurs Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Team Members, releasing September 15, 2020.


Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist™ and author of the How to Hire the Best series is the founder of Tap the Potential. At Tap the Potential, we work to free business owners from the constant demands of a growing business. We believe work supports life, not the other way around. Through our proprietary Better Business, Better Life™ coaching program, we transform cash-sucking businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work, then send business owners on a 4 Week Vacation™ to celebrate that accomplishment. After the first year in our program, our clients have more time for what matters most and more money in their bank account than ever before.

Never one to accept the status quo or back down from a challenge, Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best series grew from her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability. What sprang from her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses — no matter what hiring challenges those businesses are facing — and earned Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures and highly engaged team members working from strengths. Her latest book, How to Hire the Best: The Contractor’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Employees, is an International Best Seller on Amazon! In this powerful book, Dr. Sabrina shares crucial hiring strategies to transform your small business AND improve your personal life. With her background in psychology, and years of driving profit in small business, Dr. Starling knows what it takes to find, keep and get exceptional performance out of your biggest investment — your team members.
Dr. Sabrina is working on her next books: How to Hire the Best: The Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Team Members (available Sept 15) and The 4 Week Vacation: Work Supports Life, Not the Other Way Around (available Dec 1; featuring many of our Trailblazing 4 Week Vacation™ Retreat Participants!)