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Sparking Employee Engagement With Humble Inquiry

Learn to ask with Humble Inquiry

(Reading time = 1 minute 14 seconds)

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

(Reading time = 15 seconds)

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

(Reading time = 1 minute 51 seconds)

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

(Reading Time = 1 minute and 28 seconds)

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

(Reading time = 28 seconds)

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.

(Reading time = 54 seconds)


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.

Employee Engagement: 3 Lessons from Newfoundland Icebergs

Encountering and engaging with icebergs

(Reading time = 1 minute, 10 seconds)

Newfoundland Iceberg

I came to Newfoundland to do a session on employee engagement for Memorial University. My wife and I decided to stay for 20 days travelling around the province. This province is a Canadian gem.

It is iceberg season and I have enjoyed driving along the coast and spotting them and especially enjoyed taking a boat out and circling a large one south of St John’s. I find it very ironic after a very long Canadian winter that I would be drawn in by these frozen white magnificent structures slowly floating along the coast. I know I am not alone in the fascination and it has been intriguing to watch so many Newfoundland men pull up in their pick up trucks with a Tim Horton’s coffee and binoculars to stare out at these  white monoliths. Their size and stillness are so captivating. Even as I write this post in Fogo I can’t help but look up every 2 minutes to visually connect with two icebergs directly in front of me.

Iceberg watching has made me realize that often in work and engagement we don’t take enough time to just stop and watch and we fail to realize how much is below the surface.

Three lessons I will leave with from the icebergs around Newfoundland are to:

  1. find more stillness in movement
  2. simply stop and look and keep an open fascination with what is right in front of me
  3. keep acknowledging how much is below the surface of whatever or whoever we encounter

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Manitoba who fell in love with the province of Newfoundland.


2. Employee Engagement: Creating Iatrogenic Disengagement – Creepy Interventions

Don’t be creepy if you want to create fuller employee engagement

(Reading time = 58 seconds)

Creepy Employee Engagement

This is the second 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.

Creepy employee engagement approaches occur when they are inauthentic or manipulative. Perhaps the leader or manager seems to be saying and doing the right things but something just does not feel right. I believe our social brain is wired to detect creepy through our spindle cells and mirror neurons. For example, a manager learns that strength based conversations have a high probability to reduce employee disengagement. He or she endeavours to hold these conversations with staff but they seem so out of character and feel manipulative. This “creepiness” will cause disengagement rather than reduce it.

Cure: The cure is to ensure all employee engagement efforts are based on caring and focused on the benefits for all. Our actions, conversations and interventions must be respectful and human. It can be helpful to be skeptical but counterproductive to be cynical.  Let’s stive for “real” employee engagement efforts that make a difference for everyone.

David Zinger Employee Engagement Speaker


David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who abhors creepy approaches at work.

1. Employee Engagement: Creating Iatrogenic Disengagement – Anonymous Employees

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

(Reading time = 1 minute 39 seconds)

Wellbeing Symbol Flipped

In medicine there is a term call iatrogenic illness. Iatrogenesis or iatrogenic effect is preventable harm resulting from medical treatment or advice to patients. For example, you go into a hospital for a minor procedure and leave with a bad infection. According to a wikipedia entry on iatrogenesis:

In the United States an estimated 225,000 deaths per year have iatrogenic causes, with only heart disease and cancer causing more deaths. Causes of iatrogenesis include negative effects of drugs, chance, medical errornegligence, unexamined instrument design, anxiety or annoyance in the physician or treatment provider in relation to medical procedures or treatments, and the adverse effects or interactions of medications.

Although the term iatrogenic originated with the term physician I believe there is iatrogenic disengagement as we try to cure the negative factors of employee engagement with tools, approaches, and methods that may unintentionally create or sow the seeds of disengagement. During the month of May I will outline various sources of disengagement created ironically by our attempt to measure or improve engagement.

Iatrogenic anonymity. Employee engagement is fostered when employees are made visible and we fully hear their voice. Yet our most common measure of engagement is anonymous surveys. We do this to try and get honest feedback yet I think it also communicates the message, we don’t want to know who you are and the organization cannot be trusted to hear your voice. In addition employees may believe that if the organization knows who they are they may be punished for a negative response.

Cure: Be very cautious of using anonymous measures, build safety in the organization so that there is a more transparent voice based on trust where disengagement is not a punishable offence but a trigger for a conversation. Understand that engagement is much more likely where people are visible, appreciated, and recognized. Ask yourself: what would it take have a transparent survey system where all opinions are voiced and respected without fear?

David Zinger Employee Engagement Speaker Testimonial


David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who would like to know who people are.

David Zinger’s 1500 Blog Posts on Employee Engagement (eBook)

Everything you always wanted to know about employee engagement but were afraid to ask

Eh List Cover

Here is an eBook listing all the posts I have written on employee engagement. If you open the eBook in your browser you can click on any title and it will take you right to the post.  If you had  a weekly newsletter on engagement where you work you could use a new post every week for 30 years!

To begin reading click on the cover above or click here.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who loves to write about employee engagement.

Employee Engagement Saskatchewan Style

Coming back to Saskatchewan

(Reading and viewing time = 2 minutes, 30 seconds)

Flag of Saskatchewan

I look forward to returning home to Saskatchewan near the end of April to conduct two sessions on engagement  in both Regina and Saskatoon. There is a lunch session on employee engagement and an afternoon session on engaged well being. I am doing this in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP). I will be in Regina on Monday April 28th  and Saskatoon on Tuesday April 29th. Here is a 1 minute 42 second invite/introduction to what we will focus on. I look forward to you joining me.

David Zinger Engage SK from David Zinger on Vimeo.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who was born in Regina, lived in Saskatoon, and never stopped being a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan.

Employee Engagement is Not About Great or Amazing Work or Workplaces

Have a ball at work by doing good work well with others every day.

(Reading time: Under 1 minute)

The Ball of Employee Engagement

I have sharpened my focus on engagement in 2014 to: Good work done well with others every day. I believe this is both attainable and sustainable while also being a big challenge. What I too often see is the cheerleaders of engagement trying to lead us on to great and amazing work and workplaces. Seldom do I find a great place to work being great for everyone. And even though I have occasional amazing days at work what is truly amazing to me is that I have hundreds of good days. Don’t get me wrong. I love great and amazing work. It thrills me when I see it or experience it myself. Yet I think that great and amazing work is the occasional byproduct of good work done well with others every day. I would trade 1 great day for 10 good days anytime! I don’t need hype or hyperbole when I work, I just need to know my work is good, that I am well because of it, and I can sustain it day after day.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker, expert, and consultant committed to making engagement both simple and real.

The 8 Word Definition of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement in 8 words.

(Reading time: 9 seconds)

David Zinger Engage

Good work, done well, with others, every day.

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert striving for lean, simple, and significant approaches to employee engagement.

Employee Engagement Through People Artistry

A People Artistry Tidbit

(Reading time: 50 seconds )

Peoplt Artistry at Work Book Cover

I had a wonderful conversation with the latest reader of People Artistry at Work. He just retired this year as the Assistant Superintendent of a very large school division. He believed the book was a fine leadership book and that it summed up his approach to successful leadership.

He stated, “it is amazing what we can accomplish and achieve together when we recognize and value people even if they initially lack skills.” Through our people artistry we empower, we build capacity and as leaders we never lose sight of the fact that we are only as good as the people we lead. We need to recognize all employees so they recognize their own strengths, gifts, challenges, and contributions.

To learn more about this $10 book or to order people artistry for all you leaders visit:

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Making the real definition of employee engagement more real

Making it real

(Reading time: 1 minute)

Real Zing Box

When I wrote the original definition of real employee engagement, I was wrong. I usually am wrong about 50% of the time but being wrong promotes learning and revisions so being open to being wrong feels quite right to me.

I recently wrote the real definition of employee engagement:

Good work, done well, with others, on a daily basis.

I loved the down-to-earth elegant simplicity of the definition but I forgot something. Supposedly Albert Einstein said, make things as simple as possible but no simpler. I think I was too simple with the first definition. I had neglected the first principle of my 10 principles of engagement, first composed in January of 2008 and revised  in 2010. The first principle stated:

Employee engagement is specific. We cannot sustain engagement all the time and everywhere. When we talk about engagement we need to ask: Who is engaged, with what,  for how long, and for what purpose?

I now believe the new real definition of employee engagement must add:

Good work, done well, with others, on a daily basis to …

You need to complete the “to …” What result is it that you seek from engagement? This could range from safety and wellbeing to profits, cost reductions, or lean processes. Ensure your engagement work has a direction.

For example, I was working with a group on employee engagement and customer experience. As I thought about the real definition of engagement for their purposes, I added:

Good work, done well, with others, on a daily basis to enrich the customer and employee experience.

This definition offered focus and direction to engagement and offered a specific purpose to the engagement work.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert on his way to a better way of working with work.

A review of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

(Reading time: 58 seconds)


I enjoyed Greg McKeown’s new book on Essentialism.  To be effective with the small, simple, significant, and sustainable approach to employee engagement we must focus our efforts and time on the essentials.

McKeown had a lot of fine points including the discernment and the unimportance of practically everything. His four E’s of essentialism encompass: essence, explore, eliminate, and execute. The essentialist start small and gets big results while celebrating small acts of progress. Are you doing that with your employee engagement programs and initiatives?

Here is a quotation from the book on only doing what is essential:

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.

My quibble with this book on essentialism was the length of about 250 pages. I believe our books on engagement need to be more essential while also being briefer. I encourage you to read the book but only focus on the essential sections!

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who encourages all of us involved in employee engagement to be more essential in how we focus on engagement and how we work.

Is Employee Engagement a Threat or a Thread?

Are we creating iatrogenic disengagement?

(Reading time 1 minute, 20 seconds)


Employee engagement may threaten the established ways of working when we fully engage employees and stop stifling  voice, identity, and innovation. I believe the fresher ways of working produce both fear and threat for many leaders and managers. I think conducting anonymous surveys suggest that engagement is seen as a threat in the organization. I have always believed that disengagement should not be a punishable offense but rather a trigger for a conversation about work. How can it trigger a conversation if we don’t know who is saying what?  If leaders and managers really don’t know who is saying what and have to rely on a survey to get some aggregate data I think they need to be more engaged with employees.

It seems to me engagement must be threatening if the only way we believe employees will tell us the truth is if we make their responses anonymous – - – yet being anonymous inside an organization is certainly one of the contributors to feeling disengaged from the organization.  In medicine this is termed iatrogenesis – the illness is caused by the treatment. I think in many circumstance, our anonymous surveys are causing iatrogenic disengagement.

Engagement can be a thread that sews work, management, and leadership together. It changes how we work as we operate more from invitation, connection, conversation, trust, value-congruence, etc. So let’s take the thread of engagement and use it to stitch together the open wounds of threat in our organizations and work together so work will work for everyone. If we do this, I sincerely believe work can be healing and make us well.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who firmly believe that for work to be sustainable it must make us well.

Watch the Watch: A Big Disruption in Employee Engagement?

Stop telling time and start telling engagement: Employee Engagement can change in a minute.

(Reading and viewing time 4 minutes and 15 seconds)

Engage the Revolution no click

As you watch your watch will your watch be watching you?

Employee engagement is moving to real time very rapidly. The antiquated idea of an annual, or heaven forbid a bi-annual, survey of employee engagement it becoming ludicrous. We need real time measures that also offer transparency while giving the most important person data on their engagement — the employee!

We all know our engagement probably changes from about six to sixty times a day. So how can we enter the stream of engagement as opposed to using an auger of measurement drilling into a frozen bi-annual survey of attitudes? I just watched the short video on android watches and believe this is the future of engagement at many levels (it may be an apple watch too).

With the new watches hitting the market combined with our needs and some programming, we can monitor engagement, we can connect, and we can use the watch to trigger engaging actions. The limiting factor of how this tool could be used for engagement may be our own limited thinking.

Get ready for a watch that can tell time but can also tell energy and engagement and connection. It is also a watch that will listen to us!

A few years back I predicted this would occur by 2020. I was far too conservative. This will occur during 2014 and be refined and in full usage with a number of individuals and some organizations by 2015.

So go ahead and watch this watch video and start thinking about how you could use this tool at work for engagement and get busy with your IT department to help your organization go mobile with engagement and really be fully engaged in 2020!

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who has always worn a watch and he is now looking for a watch that he can engage with while also being a watch that will engage him.

The Real Definition of Employee Engagement

Let make it simple!

(Reading time 16 seconds)

Real Zing Box

We have too much jargon at work in employee engagement. So here is my real definition of employee engagement:

Good work, done well, with others, on a daily basis.

Enough said.

David Zinger is a leading employee engagement speaker and expert who strives to make employee engagement real.