Saturday, January 16, 2016

7 Ways to Break the Cycle of Working on Autopilot

Employee engagement

Working on autopilot is easy. Doing what you’ve always done is safe. You show up. You shut your mind off. Boring.

People who are working on autopilot are
  • Bored
  • Not emotionally invested in the work
  • Not working up to their potential
  • Putting in their time but not their passion

What can be done to break the cycle of just showing up and going through the motions?


Set your intention. To break any cycle, it must be intentional. Make a decision to be present at work, have positive self-talk, and meet your goals.

Re-acquaint yourself with your professional goals. Do they align with your organization? If they don’t, it may be time to look for another position, organization, or profession. If they DO align with the organization, re-commit to your goals and seek out mentors or leaders with whom you can share your goals and who will support you in reaching them.

Pay attention to your internal judgment messages, such as “Grading papers is monotonous ” or “Bosses can’t be trusted” or “My colleague is trying to show me up.” When you pay attention and let go of these messages, your emotional intelligence improves and the negative judgment messages won’t drive your behavior.

Practice gratitude. When you practice this daily activity, it redirects your focus from the negative to the positive, from what you don’t have to what you do have. Gratitude strengthens relationships and reduces stress.  Just five minutes a day of practicing gratitude can rewire your brain and create a more positive, productive, creative YOU.


Help your employee re-focus on the WHY. The organization has goals, and each employee is a vital part of the team working towards achieving the goals. Start a dialogue with your employee about the team’s goals, the meaningful work required of the employee, and your employee’s goals. Additionally, commit to helping your employee succeed in reaching his or her goals.

Avoid the “tell me what to do” trap. Employees who are on autopilot will ask the leader to tell them what to do. This perpetuates the cycle of showing up for work and going through the motions. As a leader, help your employee get clear on what he or she brings to the table that will help in achieving the desired goal.

Model the behavior you expect.  Model innovation for your employees. Show your employees that you are invested and giving your best. Collaborate with others, give praise, and say thank you. Model commitment and fortitude.

What other ways can we help ourselves or others re-engage at work?

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