The Conference Board of Canada recently released a report showing that about 7 in 10 employees in Canada are disengaged. This is a consistent theme over the past decade.  Despite the alarming nature of the problem, there has been an inability for organizations to reverse the trend. While the report signals out the importance of senior leaders, it is middle managers who are critical to creating alignment within the organization.

Engagement is all about the emotional/psychological relationship that people have with their work and their colleagues. From the results it is clear that companies have not been able to pivot effectively to generate a culture that produces higher engagement. Better productivity and economic benefits that will follow from higher engagement are not being realized.

Diagnosing Low Engagement Starts with Networks

Macro-level solutions to low engagement (new policies, reorganization, culture change) have so far left many feeling frustrated. Employee surveys have offered often unclear or difficult to implement solutions. Surveys represent organizations as a collection of individuals making finding solutions difficult.

If middle managers are critical elements in an organization as the Conference Board suggests, this points to the importance of the network of communication and influence in an organization. It is people within networks that can drive change.

Individuals are engaged or, often, disengaged within a particular social context. Organization policies, procedures and ways of working are part of that context but understanding the true nature of disengagement requires mapping your network. By revealing the social interactions that underpin your organization you can see how individuals are becoming engaged or disengaged by the their position in the social network that is your company.

Social Networks are the Key to Better Performance

And, social networks matter. Consider a recent HBR article, that reported on recent research on the role that good managers play when they interact with people on different teams. Smith, Kirkman et al. found that an empowering leader empowered people to be better not just on that team but on other teams, including those with less empowering leaders.

It is therefore critical to understand who is influencing who in the organization. The deployment of leaders and managers within an organization is an important strategic lever in getting the most your of employees. But using this lever requires understanding your human network.

Energy mappingTM offers are an effective way to proactively address engagement in your workforce by focusing on what truly matters. The relationships your employees have with each other.

For more information, tools and advise about how to measure, map, leverage and heighten the energy in your organization, please reach out to

Richard Jenkins, PhD.