Date of Conferral







Barbara Turner


Small businesses, which are important to the success of local communities, continue to fail at a much higher rate than their larger counterparts. Employee disengagement contributes to small businesses failure and is often precipitated by a misalignment of leader intent and employee perception of engagement strategies. The purpose of this case study, grounded in prevailing engagement theories, was to explore the alignment of employee perceptions to leaders' engagement strategies. Research questions elicited employee perceptions of leader engagement strategies and how these perceptions influenced their attitudes toward work. Data were collected from employees and the owner of a small Midwestern, privately owned restaurant totaling 17 participants. A normed climate survey was also administered and determined the congruence with the alignment and areas of misalignment of perceptions. Interview data were coded to identify patterns and emerging themes within the data. Results indicated the both the workers and leader were perfectly aligned on safeguarding the reputation of the business. However, some misalignment was identified and demonstrated by displays of avoidant behaviors and lackadaisical work. The disengaged employees felt they had limited opportunities to advance. Where misalignments arose, employees tended to look to internal motivators such as personal pride of work and internal work ethic often served to overcome the misalignments. Engagement strategies should be employed to continually assess opportunities for alignment to minimize disengagement. Promoting positive employee feelings of value to the organization though alignment can help mitigate dangerous side effects of disengagement and help reduce small business failures.