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Learn 12 Secrets to Becoming a Thought Leader

Cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am.

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David Zinger Cartoon Smaller Version

Learn how to be a thought leader from David Zinger’s employee engagement thought leadership. Do you want to be a thought leader? This post outlines a quirky 12 step process to thought leadership.

What’s in a name? I have been referred to as a thought leader in employee engagement and was conferred engagement Guru status by the UK’s Engage for Success movement. I never knew that a business and workplace movement in the UK could confer guru status. I believe that if you think you are a thought leader or a guru in all likelihood you are neither of these things. I don’t think I am a thought leader, just a fifty-nine year old guy living on the Canadian prairies in Winnipeg who developed an abiding passion for the various permutations and combinations of engagement in leadership, management, work, and living.

Here are 12 idiosyncratic steps if you are interested in being thought of as a though leader:

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. - Walt Whitman

Develop a mild to medium obsession with a topic.  I admit that I am obsessed with engagement and what it means. I can’t resist reading a book or blog about engagement. I check tweets on engagement about five times a day. I think about engagement all the time.  Psychologists suggest we have about two thousand 14-second daydreams each day. A fair number of my daydreams involve engagement.

Be willing to go anywhere to learn about your specialty. I have gone from military bases in Winnipeg to distilleries in Manitoba to learn about engagement. I have walked the tunnels of uranium mines in Northern Saskatchewan and spent time scurrying though a platinum smelter in South Africa in search of engagement. I got a real buzz of engagement by using computers over three summers to interact with honeybees in their hives to learn about social engagement. If you want to buzz off for a few moments click on the title of my free eBook: Waggle: 39 Ways to Improve Human Organizations, Work, and Engagement. Thought leaders need to go anywhere to learn from anyone (even another species) about engagement.

Your best thoughts always begin with ignorance. Everything I have learned about engagement has come from my ignorance. To me, ignorance simply means not knowing. Stupidity is thinking you know when you don’t. It is okay to be ignorant just don’t be stupid about it. Just because we start with ignorance doesn’t mean that we stay there.

You are only half right but don’t let your brains fall out. I believe that half of what I say is right on, evidence-based, and state of the art while half of what I say is wrong. The conundrum  is that I don’t know the difference. Concepts, ideas, and practices need to be played out and what works for one person, team, or organization may not work for another. Jacob Needleman, the philosopher offered the following advice, “it’s good to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”

It is more important to write than be right.  E. M. Forester once wrote, “how do I know what I think until I see what I write.” Writing has proven to be a good way to think. I have written over 2500 blog posts, 3 books, and 10000 tweets. I read to learn but I also write to learn. A thought leader can seldom go wrong by writing.

You can think on our own but you are never alone. Thought leadership does not exist in isolation or a vacuum. I founded and host a 6100 member community on employee engagement.  I have devoted countless hours over the past 6 years to this community and it has been worth every second. We are now firmly embedded in the era of social thinking supplanting solo thinking.

You can never know enough, or retain enough, to stop being a student. I am enthralled by learning and learn from everyone I encounter. I default on being a student. I study rather than read. Currently, I am studying, Employee Engagement in Theory and Practice. I can’t help myself as I make notes and draw little diagrams in the margin, I argue with certain statements and put giant check marks beside other statement, and the white pages of the book are streaked with contrails of yellow highlighter.

the Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement Square

Build a pyramid so that your thoughts will outlast you. I never intended to build a pyramid but I ended up building a 10 block pyramid of  engagement. I am a visual thinker and created images for the key elements of engagement. Before I knew it the blocks took the shape of a pyramid. Partially as a tribute to the great UCLA’s basketball coach John Wooden’s pyramid of success and partially because the pyramid structure created a strong, almost intuitive, visual representation of the tactical and practical requirements of full engagement. It may be premature to declare this but I believe the pyramid of engagement may be my magnum opus, or it could be the manifestation of regression to when I was three years old and  totally engaged in playing with wooden alphabet blocks.

Embrace contradictions and change your mind.  My mind has been changed often in engagement. I have more questions than answers. My thoughts lead me more than I lead my thoughts. I have always loved the line by Walt Whitman at the start of these 12 steps: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

To find enlightenment be a lamp. A much wiser one than I, the  Buddha, said “be a lamp unto yourself.” We must shine a light on own thinking and approaches. We can go around the globe in search of engagement and fail to realize that it resides in our own hands, head, and heart.

Waggle while you work. My honeybees taught me to waggle. Waggles are their dance-like movements to communicate with their community about sources of pollen and even the location of a new home. I trust my thoughts will help others find and nourish their own engagement work. I place countless links in my tweets and updates on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds.

Think, pray, laugh. I have kept everything in perspective by following the Chinese beatitude: Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, they shall never cease to be entertained. I also maintain my serenity with the modified serenity prayer I learned about 30 years ago: God grant me the laughter to see the past with perspective, face the future with hope, and celebrate today without taking myself too seriously. Thought leaders who laugh, last. Enjoy Assorted Zingers: Poems and Cartoons to Take a Bite Out of Work.

Alfred Adler was a thought leader for psychological thinking. He didn’t follow Sigmund Freud’s path or someone else’s path, he created his own. Supposedly after presenting his latest theories and thinking on psychology in front of very large audiences he would conclude his presentation with this statement of heartfelt uncertainty, “things could also be quite otherwise.” As we journey forward in engagement towards 2020, let’s never forget that, things could also be quite otherwise.

The map is not the territory. ~ Alfred Korzybski

David Zinger Employee Engagement Speaker

David Zinger has been led around by his thoughts on employee engagement for the past 7 years. He is an employee engagement speaker from the Canadian prairies who believes we must be on the same level with everyone else and that pyramids are for blocks not for people.

Employee Engagement: 23 Things to Avoid That Cause Iatrogenic Disengagement

Are you and your organization creating the very disengagement you are trying to solve?

Wellbeing Symbol Flipped

In medicine there is a term call iatrogenic illness, define as of or relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment. A common example is to go to the hospital for a procedure and end up with an infection. We don’t want to infect our employees with disengagement but many things we do may unknowingly or unintentionally be creating the very problem we are trying to solve.

Here is a list of 23 sources of disengagement caused by our efforts to engage:

  1. Taking away personal responsibility for engagement when we state that managers, leaders, or organizations are responsible for engagement.
  2. Using anonymous surveys unintentionally tells employees we don’t want to know who they are.
  3. Asking for comments on a survey and never ensuring that employees know that their comments were read and respected.
  4. Stopping our employee engagement work because we don’t like the lack of results we have received.
  5. Asking questions on an engagement survey that we lack the wherewithal to address.
  6. Taking far too much time between when we survey employees and when we release the data and sometimes never releasing the data. Engagement measure should be more like good toasters. You insert the data and have it pop up in no time.
  7. When employee engagement is talked about as something extra or a thing.
  8. Creating high levels of frustration when we foster motivation but fail to give employees the proper tools to do the job.
  9. When engagement is used as a new word for motivation and we fail to look deeper.
  10. Telling employees that we expect rather than encourage them to have a best friend at work.
  11. Having employee engagement as a mere program or event and expecting sustainable improvement.
  12. When we fail to ask employees directly what can be done to improve engagement.
  13. When we fail to ask employees to write some of the engagement survey questions.
  14. When we fail to believe in our employees.
  15. When disengagement is treated as a punishable offence rather than a trigger for a conversation.
  16. When we fail to address progress and setback as a key engagement issue.
  17. When our work becomes creepy.
  18. Failing to end something before we begin something.
  19. When we resort to hype and hyperbole about being a great place to work.
  20. Paying lots of money to be a great place to work and get the badge but there is a lack of substance behind the badge or credential.
  21. Believing that everyone should find the same sense of meaning from their work.
  22. Failure to make use of the inherent engagement in smart phones and tablets.
  23. Failure to move from surveys to just in time bio-measures of engagement.

What sources of iatrogenic disengagement are you seeing?

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who founded the 6300 member global Employee Engagement Network.

Employee Engagement Pyramid: 10 Keys to Engaging The Power of One

A singular approach to employee engagement

Employee Engagement Model: Pyramid of Employee Engagement

I am working on the power of one and singularity in my employee engagement practice.  I have revisited my pyramid of employee engagement and awoke to another layer of it. This is a phenomenal coaching model to use with my clients who are striving towards full and powerful effectiveness, engagement, and efficiency. It offer a structure for them to follow and a structure for us to dialogue and develop engaging actions.

  1. Results: Work on what the client wants to achieve and for them to articulate the results. Discuss what needs to end and discuss what the end is they have in mind.
  2. Performance: Determine what the client will need to do to achieve results and how they make key performances worthy of their attention.
  3. Progress: Monitor and work towards progress and manage setbacks.
  4. Relationships: Determine key relationships that will be vital for the client.
  5. Recognition: Create self-recognition and fully recognize others.
  6. Moments: Determine a fine level of granularity of what behaviors to build, foster, and advance.
  7. Strengths: Determine and utilize strengths and use those strengths on a daily basis.
  8. Meaning: Focus on the why of work and find the why behind the results for self and others.
  9. Wellbeing: Encourage wellbeing found inside of work.
  10. Energy: Ensure that work is an energy gain and determine how to energize others.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and coach based in Canada.

Enliven Energy: 10 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Enliven Energy

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the tenth of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on enliven energy, the block at the base on the far right hand side of the pyramid. This question was originally developed by Donald Graves as he examined the energy to teach:

What gives me energy, what takes it away, and what for me is a waste of time?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Enhance Wellbeing: 9 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Enhance Wellbeing

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the ninth of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on enhance wellbeing, the second block from the right at the base of the pyramid.

How do I work this week so that work makes me well?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Make Meaning: 8 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Make Meaning

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the eighth of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on making meaning, the second block on the base of the pyramid of employee engagement.

Why do I do what I do?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Leverage Strengths: 7 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Leverage Strengths

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the seventh of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on leveraging strengths, the first block on the bottom row of the pyramid of employee engagement.

What is a fundamental strength I have for work and how will I use it in the service of others this week?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Master Moments: 6 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Master Moments

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the sixth of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on mastering moments, the block furthest to the right on the third row of the pyramid of employee engagement.

What can I do in the very next moment to enhance engagement for myself or someone else at work?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Foster Recognition: 5 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Fostering Recognition

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the fifth of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on fostering recognition, the center block on the pyramid of employee engagement.

How will I recognize someone this week for their good work?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Build Relationships: 4 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Building Relationships

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the fourth of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on building relationships, the fourth block on the pyramid of employee engagement.

What can I do this week to build and strengthen one key relationship at work?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Join Us at the TMA Employee Engagement & Retention Conference this July in Washington DC

Join myself and other employee engagement experts in Washington DC this July.

The Talent Management Alliance is hosting a conference at The Venable on employee engagement and retention in Washington DC from July 21st to July 23rd 2014. Here is the direct link to the conference if you would like to go there now: the-tma.org/employee-engagement-retention.

I am presenting a keynote on Tuesday July 22nd., entitled: What Science Says Leaders, Managers, and Employees Can Do in 7 Minutes to Fully Engage, Achieve Results and Build Relationships. Here are a few key points from this presentation:

  • Equate the noun of engagement with the verb of engage by solving the employee engagement equation:  Employee Engagement = Small Actions + Good Work + Daily Performance.
  • Successful employee engagement is based on strategic, small, simple, strong, significant, and sustainable evidence based actions, such as high quality connection and progress monitoring to strength based conversations.
  • Engagement is built with grit, gumption, and caring for good work, done well, with others, every day.
  • The Zinger Pyramid of Employee Engagement offers a memorable, tactical, and practical structure to overcome the stumbling blocks and enliven the building blocks of full engagement.

This is just one session of 3 full days on employee engagement and retention.  Here is a list of the other speakers at the conference:

  • Christopher Henry Corporate Vice President, Talent & Organizational Effectiveness, MGM Resorts International
  • Andrew Biga Director, Talent Management and Analytics, JetBlue Airways
  • Linda Stevens Manager, Organizational Development, Agrium Inc
  • Ami Curtis Head, Leadership Development, North America, Nestlé
  • Jennifer Dudeck HR Director, Cisco Systems
  • Grant Beckett Vice President, Product, Globoforce
  • Elizabeth Lupfer Director, External Communications & Executive Engagement, BAE Systems
  • Jamie Leitch Director, Career Development & Training, American Infrastructure
  • Isabelle Michel Magyar Corporate Vice President for Employee Engagement and Diversity, Schneider-Electric Group
  • Sarah Matney Learning Manager, Leadership Development Ingersoll Rand
  • Derrick R. Barton Chief Talent Leader/CEO Center for Talent Solutions
  • Ruth Ross President, R Squared Resources
  • Sharon Arad Director, Assessment & Coaching, Engagement & Performance Management, Cargill

If you register by  June 27 you can save $200.

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert and founder of the 6300 member Employee Engagement Network.

Achieve Progress / Minimize Setbacks: 3 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Progress and Setbacks

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the third of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on progress and setbacks, the third block on the pyramid of employee engagement.

What can I do this week at work  to heighten progress and minimize setbacks?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Master Performance: 2 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Master Performance

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the second of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on maximizing performance, the second block on the pyramid of employee engagement.

What task is most worthy of my attention this week and what makes it worthy of my attention?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

Achieve Results: 1 of 10 Daily Questions to Improve Employee Engagement

Achieve Results

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Pyramid Model of Employee Engagement

This is the start of a 2 week series outlining a different engaging question you can ask yourself each day. The questions are derived from the pyramid of employee engagement. Here is today’s question based on achieving results, the top block of the pyramid.

What result do I really want from my work this week?

David Zinger developed the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement as a model to structure strong, simple, sustainable and tactical improvements in employee engagement.

 

Sparking Employee Engagement With Humble Inquiry

Learn to ask with Humble Inquiry

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Humble Inquiry Book Cover

Edgar H. Schein is a wonderful organization and business writer. His latest slim volume on Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling is a gem. Because the world of work has become increasingly complex, interdependent and culturally diverse we need to rely more on asking than telling.

Questions are a fundamental building block of engagement and questions based on humble inquiry boost the level of connection and engagement. Schein defines humble inquiry as:

the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions in which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.

The approach asks managers and leaders to make themselves more vulnerable, humble, and willing to acknowledge their own ignorance. Relationships are vital in today’s workplace and humble inquiry is a pathway to building authentic relationships. Schein gives us a blue print to transform tell — leading to compliance, into ask — leading to co-created action.

I love brief books and this 110 page book should be in the library of all managers and leaders who want to engage more fully in their work while simultaneously bringing out the best in engagement from the people they work with.

What’s the last good and humble question you asked at work and what is the next question you need to ask?

David Zinger Picture May 22 2013

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is learning to be re-enthralled with the role of questions in engagement.

Employee Engagement Vocabulary: Say

You don’t say

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Employee Engagement Vocabulary - Say

You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say. ~ Martin Luther

What are you not saying, that if you did, would make a difference in employee engagement?

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker from Winnipeg Canada.

Mobile Employee Engagement: Meet Like You Mean It

Create Engaging Mobile Meetings

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Turmel, Meet Like You Mean It

Wayne Turmel is a master of mobile meetings and his 100 page book imparts his wisdom to you to help you ensure mobile meeting success. I appreciate his concrete tips and actions and how by applying what he offers you will create a more engaging mobile experience. He offers a guide to increasing your comfort, confidence, and competence in creating painless and productive virtual meetings. I especially enjoyed reading the book as this type of book can often be a dry affair but Wayne spices it up with humor and a conversational tone that is inviting and engaging. He offers specific tips and includes checklists and templates to put the ideas to use right away.

Here are a few tidbits that stood out for me as I read his book:

  • virtual meetings suck
  • managers spend 50% of their time in meetings
  • About 66% of participants say webmeetings are a waste of time yet in the United States,  people spend 66 million person-hours per year engaged with these meetings
  • 75% of people who use presentation tools have no training before beginning
  • set up everyone as a speaker or panelist for your meeting, loosen your control and set the stage for collaboration
  • Let everyone write on the whiteboard
  • Get photos of people when they are introduced
  • use mostly uploaded files
  • get participants engaged with polls and other tools
  • transform passive participants into active attendees

This book should be in the library of anyone holding virtual meetings and I believe the practices Wayne outline will offer a wonderful boost to mobile employee engagement. I am conducting some experiments with Fuze on a manager’s influence on mobile employee engagement and will be following a number of the fine recommendations that Wayne made to improve the design and delivery of these experimental manipulations in engagement.

David Zinger Picture May 22 2013

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is quite interested in mobile employee engagement and what we can do to improve engagement for people who spend all or part of their day being connected virtually.

 

 

 

Employee Engagement = 7 Ways to Help Employees Grow

Are you setting the stage to encourage employee growth?

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”  ~ Robert Frost

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Employee Engagement and Growth

I was looking at my Norfolk Island Pine reaching out with new spring growth. It made me think of employees in organizations. Are we setting the stage for their growth and development. Career growth and development is often considered one of the key enablers or drivers of employee engagement. It seems my Norfolk Island Pine just wants to grow and it performs this so naturally with just a little bit of care from me.

Perhaps employee growth is a natural state of affairs.  If this is indeed the case, and I believe it is, are we offering the right care for this growth? Here are a few questions to see if you are setting the stage for employee engagement and growth:

  1. Do employees know I care for them and what they are trying to achieve at work?
  2. Am I offering employees new challenges and opportunities for learning?
  3. Am I equipping employees with new skills and abilities to meet their work challenges?
  4. Do I give employees a high level of both trust and autonomy to do their work?
  5. Do I nourish employees with frequent conversations about their work?
  6. Do I fully recognize employees for progress and growth?
  7. Do I help employees guard against setbacks?

What others things do you need to do to foster high levels of employee engagement and growth? Get growing today.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert committed to employee growth and development.

Employee Engagement in Germany is Too Low

Disengagement in Germany’s Workforce

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German Flag

Marco Nink wrote a post on employee engagement in Germany from Gallup’s perspective. Summarizing Gallup’s research he stated that the percentage of actively disengaged workers fell from 24% to 17% while the percentage of engaged German employees remains stable at 16%, and the percentage of employees who are not engaged increased to 67%. Actively disengaged employees cost Germany between 99 billion and 118 billion euros per year due to lost productivity at work.

Is this what you are seeing? If you work in Germany, what are you doing about it?

To read Nink’s post, click here.

David Zinger Employee Engagement Speaker

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert interested in employee engagement around the globe.

3. Employee Engagement Creates Iatrogenic Disengagement – Adding More

Stop with discretionary effort and making engagement something extra or more.

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Block_Non3D_Moments_Time

This is the third post in a series on iatrogenic disengagement. Iatrogenic disengagement occurs when our efforts at employee engagement fail and cause disengagement. Read the first post here and read the second post here.

We may be causing disengagement when we keep asking or telling employees to do more or do extra. We may also be causing disengagement when we view employee engagement as something added or extra to what we are already doing at work.

Cure: The cure is to begin engagement by seeing what we can end or stop doing. To look at what we may be able to subtract rather than add. To ensure that engagement is not another program, rather it is integrated into all the facets of how we work, manage and lead. We must create space and room for engagement by eliminating, ending, subtracting, and reducing.

David Zinger Employee Engagement Speaker

 

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who continues to focus intently on the small, simple, and significant things we can do to enhance employee engagement.