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Providence Financial









MONTHLY NEWSLETTER:  FEBRUARY 2007 ISSUE

THE VIRUS OF EMPLOYEE DISENGAGEMENT
BY BRENT H. VAN ALFEN
PROVIDENCE FINANCIAL CO., INC.


While I was on a long, late flight home one night last month, I noticed a man sitting near me reading a book that caught my interest. The title was “I Quit But I Forgot To Tell You” written by Terri Kabachnick. The book sounded interesting, so I bought a copy. It addresses the “virus of employee disengagement” and points out that this is one of the greatest hidden expenses of modern business. The author asks a provocative question at the end--“No one takes a job intending to fail. No employer hires with the intent to fire. Both parties want only the best. So what happens?”

Employee disengagement is when they become disinterested, disheartened, and disconnected from their job. The employees who may have begun their jobs with such enthusiasm and energy, slowly but steadily, become disillusioned with it. While they continue to show up for work and collect their paychecks, employees no longer give their job all of their energy as they once did. Something about their job or position in the company changed or was not what they understood it to be when they were hired. I have owned companies with up to 100 employees and have learned first hand how difficult it is to find, hire, train, and keep the right people. I have learned what profound impact for good employees can have as well as how they can damage a small business. Experience has taught me that the majority of small businesses are, in reality, the sum total of their employees. Just about everything about a small business is reflected in the attitudes, energy, countenance, and ability of their employees.

Charter schools rely exponentially more on quality “engaged” employees than most small businesses, because they supply a service that is so important…..education. Further, they serve a customer base (children) that is vital to the families who love them and the very future of their communities and the nation at large. It is critical that teachers and administrators in charter schools recognize the importance of their jobs.

Charter schools rely exponentially more on quality “engaged” employees than most small businesses, because they supply a service that is so important…education.

The author of the book cites eight reasons for employee disengagement as follows:

1) Job/employee mismatch occurs when the employee is either over qualified or not qualified for the job for which they were hired.

2) Overworked and underappreciated employees become disengaged because of a heavy workload, long hours, and a lack of appreciation.

3) Culture shock resulting from changes in management, business direction, etc. can leave some employees feeling like they no longer belong.

4) Politics and perception can create disengaged employees where they feel that management plays favorites for other than business reasons.

5) Politics and control issues can result in employee dissatisfaction when a boss, usually a new hire, begins to bring in his/her “own people” from outside and the established employees begin to leave by choice or by force.

6) The “Peter Principle” causes employee disengagement when a recently promoted or hired employee begins to realize that they cannot handle the responsibilities of his/her new job.

7) Business “By the Book” results in unhappy and disaffected employees when the people serve the program rather than the program effectively serving the people.

8) Bad management is the final cause of employee disengagement that the author cites. This is a general cause that encompasses many things that may be situational in nature.

Unfortunately, your best employees are the first ones to leave if the “virus of disengagement” occurs at your school. They are the ones who have the confidence, talent, and proven track record to be marketable. They usually have the contacts in the marketplace and know they can find another comparable position elsewhere. The less desirable employees may realize that they have the best situation they are likely to get, so they stay whether they’re happy and productive or not. To get an idea of the management effectiveness of the school, one of the questions that a potential lender or investor is likely to ask is what is the percentage of employee and student turnover each year?

In some states, the charter school business is getting very competitive as new charters enter the market and even the stodgy old public schools are beginning to wake up to the new reality that they must perform. As this trend continues nationwide, charter school personnel everywhere will realize that they must become better managers and learn to hire and retain the right employees to compete. More than any other market, charter school teachers and administrators are, in fact, the “business.”

Brent Van Alfen, President, Providence Financial Co., Inc.
Phone: 801-299-8555, Email: brent@providencefinancialco.com