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Employee Engagement: David Zinger at 60

21 Employee Engagement Intentions for the next 15 years

Zinger Engage Button

Today, September 24th, 2014, I turned 60. This is a time when friends and colleagues are retired, turning their thoughts towards retirement, or focused on the end of work. Yet, I intend to work for 15 more years. I love my work. I want to make a contribution to work for others. I want to see employee engagement evolve into something richer and more robust. Of course, I know, this is dependent upon the health of myself and my family.

For quite a few years I have used the line, “engage along with me, the best is yet to be.” I shamelessly riffed that line from Robert Browning:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made…

It appears to me that engage along with me and grow old along with me are now fusing inside myself and coalescing for my best is yet to be for engagement. My intentions are to contribute to engagement in more than 21 ways over the next 15 years:

  1. To make employee engagement simple, small, strategic, and significant.
  2. To move more to actions and behaviors versus emotions and attitudes.
  3. To reduce the noun of engagement into the verb of engage.
  4. To reduce engagement to 8 words: good work done well with others every day.
  5. To reduce the hype and superlatives of great work to the grit and gumption of good daily work.
  6. To have us think more of the hourly and moment-to-moment fluctuations of engagement rather than bi-annual measures.
  7. To give employee engagement both a name and a face and remove or reduce anonymity in measurement.
  8. To contribute to the development of mobile and daily engagement measures that result in real time metrics for both the individual and the organization.
  9. To replace work/life balance with life-work infusion.
  10. To help more workers around the world realize that work can make them well, really!
  11. To ensure that engagement is approached to improve both results and relationships.
  12. To change the term employee engagement into work engagement.
  13. To have engagement integrated so closely into how we work that we will see a disappearance of special or extra engagement programs and initiatives.
  14. To help all understand that they own their own engagement while being accountable to everyone else for their influence on other’s engagement.
  15. To help leaders, managers, and supervisors to be personally more engaged and socially more engaging.
  16. To help managers and leaders fully engage their virtual and mobile work forces.
  17. To continue to travel around the globe offering the best in engagement and learning from the best in engagement.
  18. To ensure I personally practice what I preach.
  19. To transform the social elements of the Employee Engagement Network into an authentic badge and certified learning resource.
  20. To develop robust and open source certification for employee engagement.
  21. To fuse work and play into a richer personal experience of engagement. After all, employee engagement is an experience to be lived not a problem to be solved.
So on my 60th birthday as I grow older and more engaged please engage along with me for the best is yet to be.
David Zinger Deed Image
David Zinger is a 60 year old global employee engagement speaker and expert available to work with you for only 15 more years.

Employee Engagement: Is Employee Disengagement a Form of Death?

Something dies in us when we disengage

RIP Employee Disengagement

I was flying from Winnipeg to Singapore at the end of August to do a one day workshop on employee engagement. I was minding my own business when my brain began to nudge me with a quiet question that began to get louder and louder in consciousness: Is employee disengagement death?

At first it felt like an absurd question to be pondering at 39,000 feet over the Pacific ocean. My immediate answer was no. But the question had me in its grip and would not let go. Before I got to Singapore I had decided that disengagement is indeed a form of death. I believe something dies in us when we disengage.

What dies might be such things as

  • contribution,
  • fair exchange,
  • all the time we spend working,
  • a distant career spark burning out like an old light bulb,
  • a sense of meaning,
  • both care and caring for ourselves and others,
  • working relationships,
  • a spiritual connection that work provides to something greater than ourselves.

Here is a little thought or word replacement experiment I encourage you to try at work.

When talking about employee engagement substitute the word life for engagement, as in employee life or living. When using the phrase employee disengagement change it to employee death or dying. Yes, I know, it sounds too strong but perhaps we need this strong language to stop being complacent or helpless around employee disengagement.

Organizations, leaders, managers, and supervisors all have an obligation towards employee engagement not just for the organization but for the life and wellbeing of each employee. Don’t let employees die on the job because of career suicide, being murdered by meaningless work, or the hundreds of other ways one can die on the job.

So, what do you think? Can we infuse life into work or am I dead wrong on this?

David Zinger – Employee engagement speaker and expert who firmly believes that work can make us well.

Employee Engagement: Learn to Boost Engagement with Progress and Setback Conversations

If you are a virtual or mobile manager we need your help: 

  • Do you manage 10 or more mobile or virtual staff?
  • Do you want to improve employee engagement?
  • Do you know how to engage by focusing on progress and setbacks?
  • Are you willing to be experimental in your approach to management?
  • Do you want to make a contribution to the science of engagement?
  • Do you want free coaching to improve engagement?

David Zinger and Fuze are looking for a Virtual Manager to engage in “THE ENGAGEMENT EXPERIMENT.”

THE ENGAGEMENT EXPERIMENT is a 6 week initiative consisting of once a week online progress/setback conversations with half of your virtual reports. Our hypothesis is that regular online manager-generated and employee-focused conversations involving progress will increase employee engagement and other key results. By participating you will learn new engagement skills and approaches for a mobile workforce to achieve results and build relationships.

Ideally you manage 8 or more virtual employees. They will be randomly assigned to the conversation group or the control group. We will assess engagement before and after the experiment along with gathering anecdotal comments and any other relevant metrics.

We’re looking for managers who want to make a difference in their culture by applying new ways of engaging your staff. You have the opportunity to contribute to both the design and delivery of this experiment. We want your input combined with your critical thinking on this approach to engagement.

You will be coached by David Zinger, a global expert on Employee Engagement, on how to construct and hold engaging online conversations about progress and setbacks.

Your online management success will be dependent upon your willingness to ask a few good questions, listen closely to your reports’ responses, care deeply about employee voice, and do what you can to enhance progress and lessen setbacks. We want your thoughts, experiences, and input.

We trust you are excited about making a contribution to the science of organizations, management, and engagement. You are open to post experiment dialogue about the experience.

Your total time commitment to this would be about 10 hours spread over 6 to 8 weeks, in the fall of 2014.

Contact: David Zinger: david@davidzinger.com if you would like to learn more or if  you are interested in volunteering to be an engaging manager.

Employee Engagement Invitation: Work Can Make You Well

Get to Work and Find Well Being

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I think for far too many of us work is hell not well.

  • We disengage.
  • We experience drudgery.
  • We burnout.
  • We feel drained.
  • We encounter toxic relationships.
  • We lack the resources for the job.
  • We live for the weekend but lack enthusiasm for much beyond napping when the weekend arrives.

The last thing we need is someone being motivational and inspiration and saying that we just need a little attitude adjustment and work will be great.

Now here is the tricky part. I believe work can make us well. Really? Really!

And much of it is simple even if it is not easy. I think it begins with experiencing work as an invitation to well-being. Like any invitation, we are free to decline it, we don’t have to go there.  Yet, we need to realize the consequences to us, our co-workers, our customers, and our families when we fail to accept this invitation.  Of course, here is the tricky part, no one sends you the invitation in a fancy card with gold embossed script saying you are invited to be well at work.

So if you have read this far, please accept this bland blog invitation to merely entertain the idea that work can make you well and join me over the next month or two and explore how we can find well-being right inside the work we do.

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David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is saddened by disengagement and the impact it has on individuals and families. David taught counselling psychology at the University of Manitoba for 25 years and was the employee assistance counsellor for Seagram Ltd. for 15 years. He founded and host the 6400 member Employee Engagement Network. He knows work from the inside out.

 

Get with it: Are you ready for Employee Engagement 2015?

Get with it for more robust employee engagement

Employee Engagement To For With

I frequently see three different approaches to employee engagement. In the first approach employee engagement it something the organization does to employees. In the second approach employee engagement is something done for employees. In the third approach employee engagement is something done with employees.

Here is a brief outline of each approach.

EETo

TO:  In this approach employees often experience the organization’s approach as something being done to them to get them to work harder and longer.  Levers are pulled and drivers are pushed to get more discretionary effort. Organizations go in search of the secrets of engagement or hope to plug another organization’s best case into their operations without having to do anything else. This is a mechanical approach and engagement is a method used to get more productivity with a failure to ensure engagement is a benefit to all.  Senior leadership and even many managers may fail to fully acknowledge that they are also employees. This approach may cause iatrogenic disengagement when employees are cynical of the organization’s motives and sometimes see the statement “employees are our greatest resource” paired with a lack to transparency and a lack of ethical integrity.

EEfor

FOR: This approach is paternalistic in nature. The organization will look after employees. Brady Wilson from Juice Inc. has done some excellent work differentiating parenting from partnering in the workplace.  This approach often fails to involve employees in their own engagement, engagement data is not readily shared with everyone and sometimes the organizations seems at a loss when employees did not get on the bus failing to realize that many employees want to drive themselves or they may even prefer to walk. Employees are asked in surveys about their opinions and attitudes but are seldom drawn fully into conversations about engagement. Engagement data is not readily shared nor is it transparent. In this approach there is frequent reference to buy-in as leaders are transformed into sellers while employees are viewed as buyers or consumers of engagement. Engagement is seen as a problem to be solved rather than an experience to be lived.

EEWith

WITH: In this approach employee engagement is co-created with employees. Two of my favorite lines that demonstrate this are “never do anything about me without me” and “if you want everyone on the same page you need to give them an opportunity to write on that page.” Employees are seen as authentic partners and their input may even begin with the organization asking them to help formulate any engagement questions used in surveys or data collection. Engagement is much less about a program or initiative and more about the verb of engage being infused into how we lead, manage, and work. There is a lack of any sense of victims, villains, and helplessness in the organization. Employees are responsible for their own engagement while everyone is accountable for their influence and impact on the engagement of everyone else. Employee engagement is truly viewed and approached as being a benefit for all.

If you want to be successful with employee engagement in 2015 don’t you think it is time to get with it?

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and educator who is working more and more on with!

How to Live Fully at Work: The New Employee Recognition

We need more authentic and robust employee engagement and recognition.

Klinic World Suicide Prevention Day

I am honored to be invited by Klinic Community Health Centre in Winnipeg to speak during lunch hour at Vimy Ridge Park in Winnipeg during “Connecting Canada” for World Suicide Prevention Day.  If you are in Winnipeg on September the 10th., I encourage you to come by for the short presentation and the free community barbecue.

Yes, I believe that a strong organization or company will help all employees live fully at work – with a full life and a life full of meaning and mattering. We need to recognize when employees are struggling and what we can do to help. This adds a lot of oomph to how we work and relate with each other. Because our focus on September 10th. is on suicide prevention I plan to to offer a brief focus on what I consider the opposite of suicide — living fully.

To live fully is to have a full life in years while putting fullness into each day. It embraces and acknowledges life’s joys and suffering,  both our own and others, letting in compassion and support.  Living fully is about living for both us and for others. Living fully at work is more about work/life integration than trying to find an ideal state of balance. Living fully at work is the new meaningful employee recognition when we are attuned to others in our work community and we recognize and connect with them during progress, celebration, setback, struggle, and loss.

Consider accepting even one of the following 10 invitations that life offers us at work:

  1. Accept each day as an invitation to live fully.
  2. Be mindful of moments and in touch with all your fluctuating emotions.
  3. Engage with both your work and the people you work with.
  4. Acknowledge impermanence – know that even negative experiences will change over time.
  5. Move beyond isolation from others by making connection and contribution.
  6. Flourish at work with positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment, and strengths.
  7. Open your head, heart, and hands to your coworkers.
  8. Transform the ritual question of “how are you today?” into an authentic curiosity and really listen and respond to what the other person says.
  9. Face fears and create safety at work by caring for others and caring about what they are trying to achieve in their life.
  10. Know that small is big, by taking small steps day after day you will make a huge difference in your life or the life of someone else.

Bonus: Entertain a playful serenity with this modified serenity prayer: God grant me the laughter to see the past with perspective, face the future with hope, and celebrate today without taking myself too seriously.

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert and speaker who resides in Winnipeg Canada and works around the world. David was also a volunteer counsellor at Klinic over 30 years ago.

12 Tips for Virtual Employee Engagement

Don’t Be So Remote 20140428_172531 It was a pleasure to write this blog post for Fuze, an excellent platform for mobile work,  on 12 tips for virtual employee engagement. Here is one of my opening paragraphs and one of the 12 tips. I encourage you to go to the full article to learn more.

I believe the key question for managers of remote workers and distributed teams are to ensure the team and workers feel a part of the organization and work rather than feeling apart from the organization. We want our virtual workers and teams to be a part of something greater while also playing their part in achieving results and being engaged with the various facets of work. Mobile managers must prevent mobile employees becoming detached from their team, distant from their organization, disengaged from their work, and disappointed in their managers.

Tip 2: Go bad. According to volumes of research reviewed by psychologist, Roy Baumeister  bad is twice as strong as good. We must not shirk away from bad news, setbacks, or bad behavior. It is vital that managers mitigate against the disengagement and demoralization of setbacks. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer in The Progress Principle demonstrated that setbacks were the single biggest cause of lack of motivation and engagement for knowledge workers and the most common source of those setbacks were during collaborative work. Progress, the single biggest source of engagement for knowledge workers was most frequently experienced during collaboration. Don’t shy away from working with bad news, setbacks, or bad behavior.

It has been a terrific to work with Fuze as one of the knowledge partners on the employee engagement network.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is doing more of his work virtually and focusing more on helping others foster, enhance, and increase virtual employee engagement. This post was written in Winnipeg in late August and posted while David is in Singapore to work on employee engagement and read by you as you work and reside any place in the world. The picture was taken while David was flying between Regina and Saskatoon Saskatchewan to conduct sessions on employee engagement.

Employee Engagement 3 Word Theme for 2014/2015: Engage, Engage, Engage

Engage Logo David Zinger

History of the 3-word theme. I first read about the 3 word theme from Chris Brogan. I have been using a 3-word theme for my work for six years and will be entering year seven in 10 days. Previous themes included:

  1. In 2009 my theme was: authentic, connect, engage
  2. In 2010 my theme was: engage, mobilize, produce.
  3. In 2011 my theme was: engage, educate, enliven.
  4. In 2012 my theme was: stop, focus, and finish.
  5. In 2012/2013 my theme was: discern, invite, engage
  6. In 2013/2014 my theme was spark, grow, write

Benefits of a 3 word themeA three word theme is succinct, easy to remember and leverage as a tool for work. It offers a quick guide and evaluation for work completed. It is a nice reflection tool for work and progress. It is also a great planning tool to get a tighter focus on the year ahead while offering flexibility in how those 3 themes are actualized.

3-Word Theme for 2013/2014. My new 3-word working theme is: engage, engage, engage. I know, this is the same word used three times. In my mind, the repetition adds emphasis. Also, this is the last year I will construct a three word theme. After this year I will reduce and simplify to a one word theme.  Engage, engage, engage will govern my work from September 1, 2014  to August 31, 2015.

Why I chose engage, engage, engage. I have spent the proverbial 10,000 hours towards expertise on engagement over the past 10 years. It has been my primary focus and frequently my exclusive focus over this time. I am much fonder of the word engage, a quick verb to initiate action, than the longer noun of engagement that seems more passive and removed. During the year ahead I plan to engage myself fully in my work, I want to help others engage fully in their work, and I want to expand the depth and breadth of engage in our workplaces and our wellbeing. Using just one word three times is easier to remember and provides a more succinct focus for my efforts. So engage along with me, the best is yet to be.

A sample of engage projects for 2014/2015

  • I will engage fully in thousands of fifteen minute periods of work.
  • I will be presenting  in Singapore on employee engagement
  • I will be speaking and conducting a Master Class on engagement in Dubai in December
  • I am creating a virtual three week intensive course on engagement in conjunction with a university for February 2015
  • I will continue to write about engagement at this site, further refining the term and practices.
  • I am in the midst of writing a twelve part series on the Halogen blog on the wheel of engagement
  • I plan to unite people in Manitoba interested in engagement/engage into a community of support and practice
  • There will be many more projects, tasks, and endeavors that embrace the theme of engage.

How to Write Your Own Three Word Theme. I encourage you to compose and act on your own 3-word theme for work. Here are 9 steps to create and apply your own unique 3 word theme:

  1. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. Take time to mull over 3 words that are personally meaningful.
  2. The process of doing this may be of equal value to the outcome.
  3. View a number of other people’s 3-word themes by clicking here.
  4. Voice your intended 3-word theme to other people to get their impressions and input.
  5. Once you find the 3-words that fit for you for the year ahead declare them to both other people and yourself.
  6. Create an image for your theme to keep it in focus for the year ahead.
  7. Leverage the 3-words to contemplate more focused and productive work.
  8. Apply the 3-word theme as your internal work GPS.
  9. Use the 3-words to evaluate your work.
David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Excellent and Eclectic Guidance on Employee Engagement and Virtual Teams

How to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams

Fuze Dialogue on Managing Virtual Teams and Employee Engagement

Nearly 40% of global knowledge workers are now considered “anywhere, anytime” workers and an increasing number of us work in different locations than our managers and teams. Managing people and teams you rarely see in person is a reality, yet very few of us are given tactics and tools to be successful.

In conjunction with Fuze, I invited a panel of experts to discuss how managers can foster better employee engagement and performance among remote staff. No boring slides or sales pitches — just unscripted conversation and practical strategies you can start applying right away. I loved being able to watch the four people talking rather than watching an endless array of data slides flashing by on my screen. The sound quality was excellent.

The guests were:

Wayne Turmel, Author, Meet Like You Mean It

Yael Zofi, Author, A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams

Claire Ucovich, Head of People and Culture, Fuze

There is so much offered through this dialogue, here are just a few highlights from the one hour free flowing discussion on mobile management:

  • witness how we, as a four person round table, manage and move through our own technical difficulties as we begin
  • we will have technical glitches in our work, they are inevitable, what is key is how we respond to, and manage, these glitches
  • technology tools are necessary for the job yet only 10% of employees are trained in how to use those tools
  • two thirds of people claim online meeting time is wasted
  • 80% of people only use 20% of the features of collaboration tools
  • learn how work is changing and staying the same
  • hash-tags are great tools for remote workers
  • how do we foster the human connection in our mobile efforts
  • learn about the 3 conflicts in mobile management
  • have a people plan, a communication plan, and a risk management plan
  • ensure your fuse technology with the human connection while getting deliverables out the door.
  • hear about some specific examples of companies who are making good use of mobile tools
  • understand why and how we need to  move from agents of change to agents of connection

I hosted this dialogue and I have watched the recording twice, it is packed with perspectives, practices, examples, and ideas you can use.  This is well worth the 55 minutes it takes to watch and you can always break it up by watching  it over a week with five 11-minute periods. Watch now to improve your mobile management and employee engagement.

Webinar Managing Virtual Teams from Fuze on Vimeo.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who lives in Winnipeg Canada and works throughout the world.