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Employee Engagement: Start Your Day with an Engaging Morning Routine

Can you say “good morning” and really mean it?


A few years ago, the morning I spent at the Taj Mahal, with my wife, was completely engaging. The picture I took above was just one of many that reflected my wakeful and blissful awe inspiring morning. It was an incredible way to start the day and the beauty was even better than described or anticipated. Unfortunately, this was just one of 365 mornings that year – I can’t start each day with a trip to the Taj Mahal (although I wouldn’t mind).

I focus on starting my day in a way that sets the stage for meaning, progress and relationships for the rest of the day.

My routine involves getting up around 5:00 or 5:30. I put the coffee on right away. I do a very quick scan of emails and then move into 15-minute periods of focused and engaging work. I work at completing fifteen 15-minute periods as early as possible in the day. After that batch of very focus work I often feel the rest of the day is bonus time. The vital key, for me, is to START. Once I click my timer to start a 15-minute period I am away at the races.

How do you start you day? Do you have a routine or ritual? Do you know the keys to setting the stage for an engaging day or what can happen in the first few hours that derails you into disengagement for the rest of the day?

Learn how others start their day. I encourage you to visit My Morning Routine and read each week how one person starts their day. Use their stories as a stimulus to create your personalized morning routine that fosters engagement for the rest of your day. Develop a routine that awakens you, engages you and enlivens you.

After you develop a good morning routine, you will be able to say, “Good morning” and really mean it.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement: Get Connected

Michael Lee Stallard released the book, Connection Culture, today. Congratulations to Michael, Jason, and Katharine on this wonderful book. Below is an image and quotation I created based on the book. I encourage you to get connected by reading Connection Culture.

Connection Culture

21 Tools and Concepts for Employee Engagement

One of my most popular posts was on 21 tools to improve employee engagement. I have create a slide presentation on the subject.

David Zinger
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement Flavors: Find Your True Vanilla

Find Your True Vanilla

Vanilla Ice Cream

I think employee engagement is simple. Please notice that I did not say that employee engagement is easy. We seem to keep expanding employee engagement with hundreds of survey questions and more approaches than you see in a desperate single’s bar on a Friday night. If you are not successful with employee engagement your approach might be part of the cause for a the lack of success.

In my ideal world employee engagement is good work done well with others every day. We don’t have a million statistics and accompanying pie charts — pies should be for eating not representing employee engagement levels. We work with the verb of engage and place the passive noun of engagement into the deep freeze of inertia-laden words.

We are each responsible for our own engagement while being fully cognizant of how what we do impacts other people’s engagement.

We can transform disengagement into engagement in about 12 seconds when we immerse ourselves in the work in front of us and connect to the people around us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the 10,000 flavors of engagement but it you are stuck and not producing the engagement you would like to see, abandon all the flavors, find your true vanilla, and work with that every day. And if you are successful you can add some sprinkles or branch out into other flavors.

David Zinger employee engagement speaker, consultant, and coach.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

I have lived in Winnipeg for 48 years or 80% of my life. I love the community and the terrific people I have become friends with.

For the past 10 years I have been focusing on employee engagement and seem more likely to work in Singapore, Doha, or London than Winnipeg. It is always a pleasure to work at home and I look forward to conducting an employee engagement session this month.

I feel honored to work with the Canadian Institute of Management, that has been around since 1942 (that’s 12 years older than me!). I plan to bring the best I have learned about employee engagement from around the world centered by being in my home city in the center of Canada. If you are in Winnipeg on April 23rd I would love to engage with you at the session.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

We invite your contributions to a second book on People Artistry

We want your help with the next book on People Artistry at Work

People Artistry Cover

We need your help. As part of the project, I am creating portraits of People Artists in one week. I am requesting 11 minutes of your time this week to either interview you by phone or have you respond to the 5 questions below by email for a book about People Artistry.

Peter Hart, the co-author, and I are very interested in the human artistry of drawing out the best in other people at work. To understand People Artistry better, here is a link to a copy of the first book on People Artistry.

We invite your responses to the following 5 questions:

  1. How would you define a People Artist at Work in your own words?
  2. What makes you or the person you are thinking of a People Artist?
  3. Can you offer one or two specific examples of where and how People Artistry was demonstrated?
  4. What did you see as the results of the demonstration of People Artistry?
  5. Is there anything you would like to add about the topic?
  • Include your name and work position or title.

If you are willing to contribute, email me with answers to the questions above or let me know your willingness for a phone interview this week.

We welcome your thoughts, stories or examples for possible inclusion in the book. Thank you in advance for your assistance on this project.

David Zinger 


Employee Engagement in Doha: Geometry and Sun Light

I am currently in Doha, Qatar to work on employee engagement. I strive to be influenced by the sights, feel, geography and architecture of wherever I am working. Flying to Qatar from Montreal I watched a brilliant video about I. M Pei and his architectural design and work on the magnificent Museum of Islamic Art by the Doha Corniche.

Creative commons Image by Jan Smith (Flickr)

Creative commons Image by Jan Smith (Flickr)


I was very impressed with the spirit, enthusiasm, smiles, discipline, and demands I. M. Pei had for this project. Two themes really stood out for me with some metaphoric parallels for employee engagement.

Pei was influenced by sand and water and Islamic architecture. He wanted the building to change based on the movement of the sun. He stated: “the movement of the sun makes the building come alive.” It made me think of engagement in our organizations never being static and the movement of energy offers vibrancy to help the organization come alive.

Pei also made use of water in the building. He talked about the power of water for sound, movement, ripple, stillness, trickling, and reflection. I believe in the same way we need to see the properties of water within our organizations. We need reflection at times and stillness. We need sound and movement. And we should see engagement as continually flowing, not merely an annual snapshot from a static survey.

I appreciated how Pei came from New York and used his insatiable curiosity to understand what needed to be built. There are many people in Doha from other parts of the world that play a role in employee engagement in Qatar. Pei gave massive credit to his team on the project and like employee engagement in an organization no one does it alone. Pei will be 98 in April — his smile, his way of working, and his engagement is an inspiration to me as I work on employee engagement in Doha, Qatar.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement: One Big Idea from One Little Book

Employee Engagement: A Little Book of Big Ideas by Jasmine Gartner (Book Review)

Reading time = 2 minutes and 45 seconds

Susan, my wife, accused me of trying to maim her with tennis balls during our vacation in Punta Cana last week. We played tennis at six o’clock every night. It seemed like the perfect antidote before our evening assault on the all-inclusive buffet line.

Susan played on the side facing the setting sun and was blindly assailed by my lob shots. Finding shelter and solace in relationship she engaged in a dialogue with the couple playing beside us about the stupidity and ineptitude of the resort architect to have the courts face right into the sun, a simple problem that could have been solved by rotating the courts ninety degrees. I did not join them in their castigation of the resort designer because I had just finished reading Jasmine Gartner’s chapter on why companies need to include or inform employees on important strategy and organizational decisions.

How many times have you cursed the decisions of upper management and rallied your peers in bemoaning the blindness of those on top? And if you are a decision maker how many times have you failed to let staff know how decisions were reached and why certain options were rejected while others were accepted?

Jasmine Gartner Employee Engagement Book CoverLike a good chair umpire, Jasmine Gartner, with her education in anthropology, offers excellent insight and judgement on employee engagement with her delightful book, Employee Engagement: A Little Book of Big Ideas. She outlines five spheres of engagement: engaging with the company, the work itself, the team, the network, and society. I will outline how her idea on engaging with the company can save you from employees complaining about what is going on, the perceived ineptitude of leadership and management, and the feeling that senior executives are blindly lobbing tennis ball at employees’ heads.

In discussing the first of five spheres of engagement Gartner admonishes companies who fail to let employee know how they made decisions and the sense of unfairness many employees feel about decisions that affect them. Influenced by her work with Derek Luckhurst, Dr. Gartner encourages companies to engage employees in key strategy decisions either with input, if possible, or a full understanding of how a decision was reached.  She stated: “the key is that everyone needs to understand strategy, or the big picture of why the company works the way it does, and everybody needs to feel that change is fair, rather than a personal attack on staff” (page. 34).

Leaders, mangers, and writers banter abstractly about transparency, understanding, fairness, and trust. I applaud the specific advice of Gartner and how her concrete idea brings meaning and meat to transparency, fairness, trust, and understanding. Staff need to understand the process of important strategies and decisions and that includes all the strategies managers considered before arriving at their preferred option. Staff need to know why other strategies were rejected or they will believe that upper management is blinding them with the tandem of ignorance and ineptitude.

Back to my wife, there may have been a very reasonable explanation of why the tennis court was positioned as it was but she lacked information and the information lacuna quickly generated negative stories and judgements of incompetence towards the resort designer. It is possible the designer was ignorant, but it is also possible drainage, the placement of nearby roads, or the angle of the sun during different seasons played a role in the court placement.

So don’t double fault at work. Ensure employees can engage with important decisions and when they can’t be part of the decision making process because of government regulations or confidentiality issues, engage with them about how the decision was reached, what else was considered, and why other options were rejected.

I encourage you to read Gartner’s 100-page book as she serves up some more big ideas including engagement differences between  small teams and a large organisation, “the lesson here is that the values that work in a small team can ultimately lead to disaster in a large organisation. Large organisations have a different culture to small ones, and they must live by different values and rules” (p. 67).

David Zinger - Employee Engagement Speaker


One Small Step For Work: One Giant Step for Employee Engagement

Get a small win and keep on going

Reading time = one small minute

I have been advocating for the importance of small, simple, strategics, significant and sustainable behavioral actions as a key in employee engagement for the past 5 years. I also think we fail to focus enough on the impact of progress and setbacks on work, workers, and engagement.

Small progress is significant and even small setbacks can disengage. I encourage you to view this short slide presentation from Daniel Goleman in support of Teresa Amabile’s work on progress. I have been very focused on progress and setback’s since my conversation with Teresa Amablile on progress in August 2011.

After viewing the slides, if you want to increase employee engagement: think small, make progress.


David Zinger - Employee Engagement Speaker

Employee Engagement: Chop Wood, Fetch Water

David Zinger - Employee Engagement Speaker

15 Great Employee Engagement and Work Cartoons You Can Use

15 Work Cartoons to Make Your Day

EEN Junson Cartoon E-book

My friend and resident Employee Engagement Network cartoonist, John Junson has created an e-book with 15 free cartoons that you can use for work. Pass it along to a colleague. Use it in a presentation. Pin one cartoon to your wall or cubicle. Choose one a month and put it in your newsletter. Stress is a staff infection and humour is contagious so use the humor here to fight stress at work.

If you would like to download a PDF of this book click on the image above or, click here.

Here is a slide presentation of the cartoons for quick viewing:

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who appreciates the lighter side of work.

10 Second Employee Engagement Survey: Where Should We Focus Our Efforts in 2015?

Take 10 seconds or less to complete this one question survey. Thank you for your response.
Q Zing Survey Button

Employee Engagement: Good is the New Great

Why good is good enough in employee engagement.

Reading time = 1 minute.


We need to keep things simple and real with employee engagement. I think when we move to superlatives such as great work and exceptional engagement we create a credibility gap and a trust issue. I have been in a number of workplaces that declared they were great workplaces yet many employees tell me it is not as great as they say.

My definition of employee engagement is short, real, and simple:

Good work done well with others every day.

Good work is both believable and attainable and sustainable. When we strive for good we will at time touch great or exceptional. I will take consistent good days of work over a few great days anytime. I also like how good work done with both intention and consistency will at times touch greatness.

I like good in reference to employee engagement because it refers to both the adjective of good or the quality of work and the noun of good about the benefit of the work. I like work that is of good quality and is good on many levels for employees, customers, and the organization.

I hope you have a good day of work that is also good for others.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert striving to do good work every day.

Employee Engagement: 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness

How not to be grumpy at work (or in the rest of your life)

Reading time = 13 minutes

Download a PDF of this article: 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness by David Zinger


grump·y ˈgrəm-pē\ : easily annoyed or angered : having a bad temper or complaining often : sulky, bad-tempered, crabby, ill-tempered, short-tempered, crotchety, tetchy, testy, waspish, prickly, touchy, irritable, irascible, crusty, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, bearish, surly, ill-natured, churlish, ill-humored, peevish, pettish, cross, fractious, disagreeable, snappish, grouchy, snappy, cranky, shirty, ornery

Do you find yourself being grumpy at work or grumpy with other people?

Some people have told me that I’m grumpy; it’s not something that I’m aware of. It’s not like I walk around poking children in the eye…not very small ones, anyway. ~Dylan Moran

My father was an executive for a Canadian railway but as a young boy I would sit around the dinner table and hear his grumpy ramblings and rants about work and the organization. Much of it was disheartening and the cumulative effect was to cause me to lose an appetite for work if working resulted in being grumpy even when you are at home with your wife, three children, and a hearty meal of spaghetti and meatballs. Dad inadvertently convinced me never to work for someone else because you will end up being grumpy (more on this later — how you can work with an organization rather than for an organization).

Preventing or intervening in grumpiness is more important than being happy. It is important not to be grumpy at work because bad is almost 3 times as powerful as good. As Roy Baumeister, a noted researcher on psychological experiences, and others stated in a landmark article entitled Bad is Stronger than Good:

The greater power of bad events over good ones is found in everyday events, major life events (e.g., trauma), close relationship outcomes, social network patterns, interpersonal interactions, and learning processes. Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones, and bad information is processed more thoroughly than good.

We may get more return in both relationships and results by investing more energy into the 22 tools not to be grumpy rather than striving blindly towards the elusive pursuit of eternal happiness in our daily toil. Instead of don’t worry be happy, we need to realize that it is okay to worry, not to be happy, but we can still avoid letting ourselves be grumpy about it. In all probability, you will encounter an equal number of blisters and blissful events at work.

I am now 60 years old and I have glimpsed the early warning signs of an aging lapse into becoming a grumpy old man. I swore I would never become one of those grumpy old guys and I am pleased to report that I am aware of being grumpy when I feel it, I don’t let grumpiness last, and I have developed 22 ways to not be grumpy while I work. By the way, I plan to work until I am 75 and I believe not being grumpy will be a major contributor to my work longevity.

I don’t promise that these ways will prevent you from ever feeling grumpy at work but I do believe they will

  • ensure that you are mindful of being grumpy,
  • your grumpiness will not be as severe or intense,
  • grumpiness will not last as long, and
  • you will be equipped to prevent much of your grumpiness before it festers from an emotional state into a rigid way of being.

An invitation. If you know someone else at work who is grumpy I encourage you to invite them to read this article, just watch out that they don’t get even grumpier because you told them they were grumpy. It is ironic but grumpy people are often quite sensitive about being grumpy.

I think some of Bob Sutton’s bad bosses, outlined in his brilliant book, The No Asshole Rule, are at least partly that way because they don’t monitor, manage, master, or transform their own grumpiness.

22 Anti-Grumpy Tools

(1) Know your G-spots. Your G-spots are the spots, interactions, thoughts and triggers that make you grumpy. Perhaps it is being thwarted in an action or maybe being snubbed or not getting enough sleep. Catch these triggers before they catch you and cause you to sink into a grumpy funk. Use foresight and anticipation to avoid those triggers that are avoidable.

(2) Be mindful of the roots of your grumpiness. Grumpiness does something to you and it may also do something for you. What is the benefit of being grumpy? What is the source of being grumpy? Does getting to the root cause offer you insight or perspective on constructive actions you can take? In this way rather than being triggered into grumpiness you are using the experience of being grumpy as a trigger to take constructive action to address the root cause.

(3) Assume the best intentions of other people. Before you create a negative melodrama at work about what she said or what he did, start by assuming best intentions about the behavior of others. Just because you start with good intentions does not mean that you have to stay there but begin with good intentions and ask questions or hold a conversation to check out other people’s behavior. Assuming best intentions will stop a downward grumpy spiral and pave the pathway to more constructive action.

(4) Hit the pause button for 90 seconds. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a very engaging brain researcher who studied her own stroke from the inside out, suggested that the shelf life of an emotion is 90 seconds. Yet many of us seem to hold on to an emotion for years if not the rest of our lives. Give yourself 90 seconds from the moment you feel grumpy before you act on that emotion. Also know that you must feed your grumpiness every 90 seconds to keep it alive. We feed it with fragments of tragic stories, feelings of being wronged, and a multitude of micro, almost unconscious mechanisms, to keep being grumpy. If you remain grumpy ninety seconds after the initial emotion it may be valuable to ask yourself: “How am I feeding my grumpiness to keep it alive?”

(5) Drop your sense of entitlement. You are not entitled. When you think you are entitled and you do not receive the expected entitlements it tends to create grumpiness. I don’t care if you have been working 30 years or you have a big office or you are a new hire with exaggerated expectations…just drop the sense of entitlement and watch your grumpy meter also drop.

(6) Steer clear of energy suckers. Grumpiness can be a staff infection. Avoid Debbie Downer, Nellie Negative, Peter Pouty, and Arty Angry. Who you hang out with can kindle and ignite your grumpiness or add fuel to the fire of your negative state. In addition, ensure that you don’t become one of those energy suckers, when you are inflicted with the grumpy staff infection it is advisable to experience and express it in isolation to lessen the spread of contamination to others.

(7) Do something for someone else. Grumpiness tends to be a very self-absorbed state of mind and emotions. Get out of your self-focused shell and do something for someone else even if you don’t feel like it. Often emotions and attitudes follow behavior so don’t wait to feel altruistic to act altruistically. You just might find that your grumpiness is diminished after an act of kindness or caring.

(8) Know that you work with an organization not for an organization. We often feel impotent and useless when we believe we are at the bottom of the pyramid or at the mercy of someone else’s whims about work. Our words and metaphors around upper management, front lines, and report up, create and sustain a sense of being subservient when you are an employee. We are equal in our humanity within the organization and there is no “real” up or down, top or bottom. Stop believing that you work for someone or for an organization. Turn yourself into a partner by knowing and acting in ways that demonstrate that you work with others not for them.  Your sense of competence and confidence can be a great antidote to grumpiness and may also improve your working relationships.

(9) Fixate on a specific task for the next 15 minutes. Stop all the internal chatter and external negative behavior that swirls around being grumpy. Find a task and work with your full focus on it for the next 15 minutes. Set a timer on your phone or watch for 15 minutes. When the timer chimes after 15 minutes of time check back into your grumpiness…you might be amazed how often it has dissipated if not completely disappeared.

(10) Cease your shallow or simplistic characterizations of others and even yourself.  Avoid the miserable mental gymnastics of seeing people as good guys or bad guys, or helpless pawns. You are not a victim, there are very few real villains at work, and stop pretending there is nothing you can do about your situation beyond feeling grumpy and ranting incessantly about how bad it is.

(11) Seize the next moment. Ask yourself what you can do in the next moment to stop being so grumpy, you don’t have to be happy just shift from reverse into neutral.

(12) Neutralize the neural almond brothers with a question. The amygdalae are the two small almond shaped parts of the brain that are the source of much emotion and drive towards action. When you are grouchy there is a good chance the amygdalae are running the brain – these “almond brothers” are not good drivers for your life or your work. Because the amygdala is not a language center you can remove them from the driver’s seat by asking yourself a question. When you transform your judgement into curiosity with a good question it can transform your grumpiness. By the way, there are good questions and bad questions. A bad question for a person who is grouchy is a judgemental, “what’s wrong with those people?” A good question is: “how can I look at this differently to short circuit my grouchiness?”

(13) Expect setbacks and unfairness. Teresa Amabile and her husband, Steven Kramer, demonstrated that the single biggest source of daily disengagement for knowledge workers is setbacks. We need to expect the inevitability of setbacks while not sinking into grouchiness when they occur. A setback does not in and of itself create upset. We can learn from setbacks, we can experience the loss without getting grumpy, we can bond with others, and we can have resolve to keep going. I love watching professional tennis players like Serena Williams or Novak Djokvic bounce back after a bad call or a double fault. It is inspiring to watch a figure skater fall in a major program at the Olympics and get right back on their feet and land a quad. You maintain your edge when you stay sharp and avoid becoming edgy when things don’t go right.

(14) Grow out of a fixed mindset. The gestalt of grumpiness is based on our mindset. Carol Dweck encourages us to distinguish between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Know that being right all the time is wrong even if you are right. In the fixed mindset, every situation calls for a confirmation of your intelligence, personality, or character. The growth mindset focuses on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts and you can change and grow through effort and experience. If you want to fix a grumpy mindset you need to believe you can grow out of it.

(15) Just see what you can do. You don’t have to be part of the mass of people who live lives of quiet desperation or be over the top brimming with positivity. I am not a fan of the positive thinking that is similar to putting a coat of paint on a wall to hide a broken foundation. Bad things happen. I have had more than my fill of positivity and at times of struggle or strain it can be okay just to shift into neutral. When my youngest son was an 8-year old hockey goalie, he aced the idea of being neutral. He knew he would get scored on and it would never bother him or be a source of post game grumpiness. I asked him how he mentally prepared to go into the net before each game and he told me he just said to himself, “I will see what I can do.” I loved his statement; it was neutral, open, curious, and constructive. Tomorrow when you go to work I encourage you to just go in to “see what you can do.” Of course, watch out if someone shoots a puck at you!

(16) Don’t let being skeptical lapse into being cynical. I love working with skeptics. They are the best people to conduct experiments with. But there is a fine line between being a healthy skeptic and a grumpy cynic. I believe that a cynic is often locked into a negative view and is not open to having their grouchy beliefs and declarations disputed and challenged. Here is the short test to determine if you have moved from skeptic to cynic: Can you be skeptical about your cynical beliefs and thoughts? If you can, skepticism can be a primary pathway out of grumpiness.

(17) Drop your grouchy security blanket and face your fears. Being grouchy for an extended period of time begins to feel like a toxic security blanket. It feels familiar and it may even feel safe. But what this toxic security blanket often covers are your fears. Fear may be one of the primary root causes of grumpiness. Start to examine your grumpiness as a mask for fear and see what is behind it. Do you fear being wrong, being left behind, not belonging, unable to handle setbacks and challenges, your future at work, being successful, failing at your work, interacting with someone in authority, or a host of other potential fears masked by grumpiness. It might be helpful to have a friend, family member, coach, or counsellor create a safe relationships as you hold a conversation to uncover and move through the fears masked by grumpiness. Dr. David Martin from the University of Manitoba, one of my counselling educators, helped me learn that the only way to overcome a fear is to experience it while also feeling safe and that the safety found in a supportive and understanding relationship was the mechanism that extinguished the fear

(18) Transform engagement in grumpiness into engaged working. It takes a lot of energy to be grumpy. Unfortunately it is a constant energy drain for yourself and others. Energy is the raw material of employee engagement. If you let go of some of the grumpiness you may be left with energy to engage more fully in your work.  This use of energy often results in an energy gain as opposed to an energy drain and as you learn to fully engage in work you may also fully experience how work makes us well.

(19) Discover empathy as an antidote to grumpiness. Empathy is our ability to understand others, to see the world from their perspective, to walk in their shoes. It is not just an expression of mushy emotion, it is the courage to leave our own views and perspectives behind as we fully understand another person. For many people who are grumpy, empathy is a rare commodity. Empathy can crack the hard and brittle shell of grumpiness. And as Leonard Cohen sang, there is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

(20) Challenge yourself towards gritty, real and authentic optimism. We too often confuse optimism as shallow positive thinking. Martin Seligman taught me that optimists see bad events, they are not naive and superficial thinkers. After a bad event, rather than gravitate towards grumpy, optimistic people view the bad event as temporary, specific, and they don’t blame themselves or others for what occurred. They recover, they are resilient, they bounce back and they are less grumpy. Embrace a sense of impermanence after a bad event and you will move away from grumpiness towards equanimity.

(21) Give yourself fully to one grumpy day. Take one day a year to get fully into your inner grumpiness. Exaggerate it. Maybe you can find and wear an Oscar the Grouch costume and let your expressions of grumpiness permeate each moment and every relationship for the entire day. Or you could be Grumpy, one of the seven dwarfs in Snow White. I bet you will find it a difficult challenge to be grumpy all day as you wear one of those costumes and you get exhausted continually cursing others and your fate. You might even end up seeing the humor of it. Those who laugh have a hard time making grumpiness last. A Chinese beatitude points the way: blessed are those who can laugh at themselves they shall never cease to be entertained.

Oscar the Grouch

(22) Anticipate the benefits of being grumpy-free. Other people will not avoid you by ducking into the nearest cubicle when they see you walking towards them. You will have stronger relationships at work and at home. Your team will probably be stronger and accomplish more. You may look forward to work with anticipation rather than dread. You will probably show up to each moment with more energy, awareness, connection, and caring. There is a good chance work will be an energy gain not merely an exhausting energy drain. You won’t bring the nastiness of work home with you, and you and your family can truly be nourished by a hearty meal of spaghetti and meatballs topped with caring conversations.

A bigger okayElisabeth Kübler-Ross who knew more about death and dying and how to live than anyone else I know once offered a short mantra on how to be okay even when things are not okay:

I am not okay, you are not okay, and that is okay.

Let your harrumph become a heartfelt hurrah. If you choose to dwell in grumpiness know that you will never fully experience the possibility that work can make you well. When you decide to stop being grumpy you will experience more space in your life for real joy, happiness, and well-being. Bad does not have to trump good when we get good at 22 tools to overcome, manage, or master grumpiness. Overcoming grumpiness can transform your last harrumph into your next hurrah!

To download a PDF version of this post, click here.

. . .

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Canada who works around the world on leadership, management, engagement, well-being, and work. He has encountered many grumpy people during his sixty years. He is firm in his resolve to not become a grumpy old man while also helping others use the 22 uplifting tools and levity to overcome their downward gravitational pull towards grumpiness.

Employee Engagement: How to Make a Small, Simple, Significant, Strategic and Sustainable Difference

The 4 Enablers of Employee Engagement Made Simple

4 Enablers of Employee Engagement

My passion and pursuit of employee engagement has taken over 14,000 hours yet resulted in me striving to make employee engagement small and simple. For example, my definition of engagement is just 8 words: good work done well with others every day. Although this is a simple definition of engagement, it does not mean that it is easy, yet I do believe it is attainable. This simple yet elegant definition avoids a lot of the excess jargon floating around employee engagement — which is itself a part of that jargon.

I admire the work of the Engage for Success Movement in the UK. I consider David MacLeod to be a friend and I am enriched by everyone who has been involved in the movement. One element that stood out for me from their work was using the term enablers rather than drivers or levers. It seemed real, kind, and more engaging.

Here is a short explanation of the four enablers from the Engage for Success Site:

Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and no master model for successful employee engagement there were four common themes that emerged from the extensive research captured in the Engaging For Success report to government (also known as the MacLeod Report). Taken together, they include many of the key elements that go to make successful employee engagement.

These four enablers of engagement have proved to be useful lenses which can help organisations assess the effectiveness of their approaches.

Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going.

Engaging managers who focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch their people.

There is employee voice throughout the organisations, for reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally, employees are seen as central to the solution.

There is organisational integrity – the values on the wall are reflected in day to day behaviours. There is no ‘say –do’ gap.

To me that simply means good story, good managers, good voice, and good ethics. Surely that is within reach in every organization. I am not revising the four enablers rather offering a simple image and 8 words to make it memorable and then actionable.

4 Enablers of Employee Engagement

I don’t need a great story or great managers or great voice or even great ethics. To me, good is good enough. In the next post I will outline a few good behaviors and actions that contribute to good story, managers, voice, and ethics.

Engage along with me, the best is yet to be.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is working around the globe to make work, work!

The Employee Engagement Network is 7 Years Old Today

Seven Years of Employee Engagement with David Zinger

It started 7 years ago on a very cold Saturday in Winnipeg. I wanted a few people to network with on the topic of employee engagement. Today is our seventh anniversary!

We have gone from 1 to 6515 members and have a member in just about every country in the world.

We have gone through many changes but I am proud that we are still such an excellent resource for anyone interested in employee engagement. I can’t wait to see what the next 7 years brings to the field of engagement. I am honored to have founded and host such a terrific engagement resource.

Visit us by clicking on the image below or the following link:

EEN at 7 Years

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert. He founded and hosts the 6515 member Employee Engagement Network.

Employee Engagement and Engaged Well-Being: Does Work Make You Well?

Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. ― Studs Terkel.

Pyramid of Employee Engagement and Engaged Well-Being

I believe engaged work and well-being is the pathway of life-work infusion. Ensure that life infuses your work and that your work infuses your life so that you are able to thrive and sustain both your work and well-being. We need to see work and life more holistically and abandon the antiquated thinking of separation and balance.

I believe the pathway to this is less than 10 blocks away. Use the pyramid of engagement for both work and well-being so that you achieve results, master performance, experience progress, build relationships, recognize others and self-recognize, make the most of moments, use your strengths in the service of others and yourself everyday, create meaning in your life and work, work so that work makes you well, and that at the end of the day you experience your overall life and working life more as an energy gain than an energy drain.

If work is not making you well than start building your personal and work pyramid of engagement today.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert focused on both employee engagement and engaged well-being to achieve full and authentic life-work infusion.

7 Employee Engagement Questions to Keep Your Work Fresh Every Day of the Week

Questions are the new answers to increase and improve employee engagement

Enjoy my latest slide presentation on 7 daily questions for employee engagement.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Employee Engagement: What’s Your Purpose?

Reading time = 27 seconds

Zinger Engagement Purpose Statement


Transform information, questions, and conversation into thoughtful action, thereby assisting organizations and individuals to fully engage in achieving meaningful results while building robust relationships.

As I thought about my purpose in being involved in employee engagement the above statement felt both true and desirable.

Do you have an employee engagement purpose?

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert devoted to the topic and ensuring engagement occurs for the benefit of all.

See For Yourself: Be Experimental with Employee Engagement in 2015

Experiment with Employee Engagement in 2015

Reading time: 2 minutes and 18 seconds

Recognition BW

I encourage you to make 2015 a year of experimentation for employee engagement. Help your leaders, managers, and employees become more scientific in their adoption and work with engaging approaches.

Let’s move from the dated and proverbial best case to test case. Develop testable hypotheses about what can make a difference in improving engagement for an individual, a team, a department, or even the organization. Run short experiments to test out your ideas and either fail fast or scale quickly.

I am reading Karen Maezen Miller little book on zen (hand wash cold: care instructions for an ordinary life) and I appreciate her pithy summation of the Buddha’s teaching as: See for yourself. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not asking you to become a Buddhist, I am asking you to start seeing for yourself as opposed to waiting for directives from a consulting company.

In the December 2014 Harvard Business Review magazine Stefan Thomke and Jim Manzi wrote an article on The Discipline of Business Experimentation. Thomke and Manzi wrote about experimentation on a larger and more innovative scale for organizations but much of what they wrote would apply to small scale experiments in employee engagement:

In an ideal experiment the tester separates an independent variable (the presumed cause) from a dependent variable (the observed effect) while holding all other potential causes constant, and then manipulates the former to study changes in the latter. The manipulation, followed by careful observation and analysis, yields insight into the relationships between cause and effect, which ideally can be applied to and tested in other settings.

Here is a page from my Employee Engagement Masterclass to help you “see for yourself” and experiment with employee engagement. This is part of a workbook that was used in masterclasses on employee engagement in Singapore and Dubai in 2014:

Employee Engagement Mastercall Experimental Page

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert devoted to helping organizations and individuals become more experimental with employee engagement in 2015.