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An Employee Engagement Journey Lesson from Dubai and the UAE

Employee Engagement Conference and Master Class Reflections

Dubai Sky Line

I recently travelled to Dubai for an employee engagement conference. I offered the opening keynote and provided a five hour master class after the conference. My thanks to Ramy Bayyour from Informa for the invitation and the conference.

There are quite a number of things that stood out for me and over a series of posts I will outline some key lessons.

The employee engagement journey. It was a long trip from Winnipeg Canada to Dubai UAE and return. Fittingly, the first thing that really stood out for me is the employee engagement journey metaphor for organizations and individuals. Masoud Golshani-Shirazi Vice Presiden HR from Aujan Coca-Cola Beverages Company referred to the journey directly during his holistic presentation onf employee engagement. I was impressed by the progress and resilience Aujan has had in its workforce and the idea of engagement being a work journey for employees to join with the organization.

Masoud Golshani-Shirazi

Masoud shared with us the wisdom of his grandmother who declared, “if you want to get to know someone travel with them.” Thank you Masoud, it was good to hear about the journey of engagement and the wisdom of your grandmother.

Here are my 4 points as I thought about the employee engagement journey:

  • Understand that different tools and pathways are required at different steps along the journey – surveys are not good nor bad, it is what we do with them that make all the difference.
  • The engagement journey does not have a final destination, it evolves as we keep moving forward or even stumble with setbacks.
  • Encourage employees to fully participate in planning and embarking on the journey, employees are not just along for the ride.
  • Journeys are about movement and ensure your engagement work does not become static.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who keeps journeying around the globe to learn more about engagement and help all of us as we journey together for increased, fuller, and more authentic employee engagement.

 

Employee Engagement: How to Make Your Day by Finding Your UP

What’s your UP?

Find Your UP

Enjoy David’s latest slide presentation on finding your UP:

Here is a link to the slideshare if it does not appear in this window.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who feel very up about work and well-being.

Employee Engagement: The Free Iatrogenic Disengagement E-Book

Employee Engagement: Let’s guard against creating disengagement in our efforts to improve employee engagement.

Iatrogenic Disengagement Book Cover

(Reading & Viewing Time =  2 minutes and 41 seconds)

Iatrogenic disengagement is the disengagement caused by trying to measure or increase engagement. It is often unintentional and frequently goes unnoticed. I am offering you two resources to help stop iatrogenic disengagement where you work. The first is a one minute video on the topic. The other resources if a slide presentation that can also be downloaded as an e-book. Use these resourses to increase awareness and stimulate conversation about iatrogenic disengagement where you work.

A video introduction:

Iatrogenic Disengagement from David Zinger on Vimeo.

The slides (e-book) resource.

If you prefer a PDF e-book version, click on this title or the image of the cover at the start of this article: Iatrogenic Disengagement e-book

David Zinger is a global employee engagement speaker and expert.

Employee Engagement: What’s Your Verb?

7 Ways to Make  Use of the  37 Verbs of Employee Engagement

Reading and Viewing Time: 1 minute, 22 seconds.

What's Your Veb

Below is a visual slide show with 37 verbs for employee engagement.

Here are 7 ways you can use this slideshow:

  1. Scan the slides for 37 seconds of inspiration to start your day.
  2. Pass on the slides to a coworker to make their day.
  3. Download the slides to use in advance of an employee engagement presentation.
  4. Show the slides to a training group and have them generate their own verbs.
  5. Create a personalized deck of your own engagement verbs.
  6. View if on your smartphone or tablet while waiting for a meeting to begin.
  7. Answer the question: what’s your verb?

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who brings engagement alive through behaviors and actions. His 3 word theme for 2014/2015 is the repetition of the verb engage.

Employee Engagement Gamification For Work and Well-being Made Simple

Are you game for a simple approach to improve engagement with work and well-being? 10 Lessons for Gamification.

Based on David Zinger’s personal experience this post offers you a simple and lean approach to using gamification for engagement. Although it is an experiment with just one person it offers some tangible evidence of how gamification can improve both work and well-being and how an experiment can help us improve the process of gamification. The post also offers you a glimpse into gamification based on a real experience and offers you a pathway to gamification that can be conducted at almost zero cost and does not require a training course to implement.

Reading Time: 4 minutes and 55 seconds

Year of Points button

At times, I have struggled to start major projects. At times, I find that either my work or well-being begins to wane. At times, I wonder what I have accomplished. At times, I wonder if drudgery (as I define it) can be used to enhance well-being. At times, I wonder if my childhood love of pinball has any relevance for my work and well-being. This lead me to the conclusion that the time was right to personally experiment with the gamification of work and well-being. I believe we should never ask anyone to do what we are not prepared to do ourselves and I know I had advocated for the place of gamification in work and well-being.

It is interesting to me that although I am self-employed I can be disengaged. We often fail to see the disengagement of the self-employed when we believe organizations are responsible for engagement. There were also times that I let my efforts towards personal well-being languish. I needed some structural help with my work and well-being and decided that the gamification of these two key elements of my life could be helpful. I have been amazed at just how helpful this has been.

  • I am more productive.
  • I have eliminated most procrastination around big projects.
  • I enjoy my work more.
  • I found well-being in doing housework and Costco shopping, two activities I previously loathed.
  • I have triggered additional social contribution/donations.

Overall, I learned that games are so much more than just a trivial pursuit.

During 2014, I have been conducting a one year experiment on the gamification of work and well-being. In fact, some of the work goes back to 2012 with an elaborate approach to planning, monitoring, and measuring my work and well-being. Although many people play games as diversions from work I was more interested in applying the principle of games to be help me immerse more fully into both my work and well-being.

I continue to use a gamified approach to my work and well-being but I have greatly simplified the process and procedures.

Two factors were at play in the evolutionary simplicity. The first was my overall approach to employee engagement and work being based on the principles of: small, simple, significant, sustainable, and strategic. I must practice what I teach. I realized that my game was too elaborate and time consuming and needed to be simpler and smaller to be sustainable.

I believe that in our “crazybusy” lives that small is the new significantJane McGonigal, one of the world’s leading experts on gamification, states that, overall, games have four traits: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. Everything else is extra.

The second influence was the publication of my May cover story for ASTD’s Training and Development Magazine: Game On: A Primer on Gamification for Managers. In that article I shared a gamification approach used by Charles M Schwab from over 100 years ago (gamification is a lot older and simpler than many people think!)

Charles M. Schwab, the American steel magnate, in the early 1900s wrote about the practice of gamification in Succeeding With What You Have. He recounted the following story.

Schwab was concerned about production in one of his steel mills and asked the day foreman for the production number, or “heats” produced, by the day shift. It was six, so Schwab grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote a large number six on the floor. The night shift saw the number and asked about the meaning of it. Upon hearing that Schwab had put down six for the productivity of the day shift, the night shift competed hard and, based on their productivity, they erased the number before morning and put down seven.

The day shift, getting into the “game,” completed 10 heats and very quickly this mill, formerly the poorest producer, was turning out more than any other mill in the plant. With minimal application of a goal, rules, feedback system, and voluntary participation, the “game” greatly enhanced the productivity of this workforce more than a century ago. Who would have thought that Schwab was an early work-gamification designer even if he never used the word?

I realized how lean and simple gamification could really be. Just because there are lots of bells and whistles or huge epic massive multi-player online quests does not mean you need these things to have a good game. Gamification for work and well-being must be designed with the purpose you have in mind. Here were my 6 purposes:

  1. to bring a concrete daily focus to work and well-being
  2. to improve and get better with both my work and well-being
  3. to approach my work and well-being from a playful perspective and blur the lines between work and play
  4. to apply gamification to monitor and heighten the experience of progress while diminishing the disengagement of setbacks
  5. to ensure engaged work and well-being was triggered multiple times every day
  6. to have my results be bigger than myself by triggering a social contribution based on points accumulated through play

It was time for me to remove and reduce the extraneous bells and whistles in my game and thereby strengthen its focus, power, and purpose. The next two images show the evolution of the game from what it was to what it is. A short description about the game is above each image.

Version 1: This is the initial version of the game. The game board was a fresh PowerPoint slide created each day.  It had lots of colors and moving parts. There were goals, points, bonus points, and a hive like structure. I filled in the hive cells with every 24 minutes of work or wellbeing once achieved (yellow for work and green for well-being).  I thought it might make a nice mobile app but I began to wonder if it could not be a lot simpler. In addition, the Pomodoro technique that I discovered the third year into my experiment has already built apps that can be used for this purpose. Sometimes I seemed to be spending more time on the game dynamics than time on meaningful work and well-being.

Version 2: Below is  a scanned page from my current gamification of work and well-being. In some ways, it hardly looks like a game at all yet it elegantly fulfills my 6 purposes. The game board is a physical notebook, completed by hand and and I experienced a power and trigger in having a very tangible game book that I can carry around. I reduced the time periods of work and well-being from 24 minutes to 15 minute increments – this makes it easier to start each period, knowing I only have to go for 15 minutes (I have learned how much can be done with just 15 minutes — it still amazes me). I also experienced how refreshing a nap of just 15 minutes could be. Each 15 minute period awards 15 points which translates to a social donation of one cent a point. Yes, this is not a large amount of money but I found if the amount was 10 cents a point it did not work as well as one cent a point. For example, on Thursday October 30 I donated $100.40 to the Red Cross to support Ebola work based on work and well-being points accumulated over the past two months.

Sample Page from Work and Well-being Gamification Experiment

Sample Page from Work and Well-being Gamification Experiment

Here are 10 lessons learned from a year a gamification. I trust these could be helpful to you if you are thinking of gamifying your work or well-being:

  1. Just start, because in the starting the learning begins
  2. Games don’t have to be complex to be powerful
  3. Games can be more than escape, they can immerse you into your own work and well-being
  4. Experience is still one of the greatest teachers and don’t be afraid to change or modify things as you go along
  5. Always think about the purpose or the intent of the game and don’t let the game divert you from your purpose
  6. Never overlook the power of elegant simplicity
  7. Take ownership of your game design because you will then get exactly what you want and need
  8. Games can be a terrific mechanism to help us navigate through setbacks and progress or our real life game of snakes and ladders
  9. Gamification can contribute to social responsibility and contribution
  10. My gamification was used to create this post. It took seven 15-minute periods and it will contribute $1.05 towards a social contribution.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who believes we must practice what we teach. His love of pinball at sixteen is paying dividends in his gamification of work and well-being at 60.

A 21-Point Employee Engagement Manifesto

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything

Heart Diamond Engagement

Have you taken a stand on employee engagement? I wrote this manifesto to declare my beliefs and practices for employee engagement. I invite you to read it, to reflect upon the statements, to act upon the statements that make sense to you, and to determine your own stand on employee engagement.

Here is the beginning of the manifesto:

Our current practices and approaches to employee engagement are failing. They are failing to achieve organizational results and most employees fail to experience the benefits of their own engagement. These failures may result in widespread abandonment of employee engagement. This is intolerable and unacceptable as engagement has the potential to create excellent experiences of working for individuals fused with organizations capable of creating robust results. Let’s work together to ensure we avoid the loss from a failure to engage!

Read this new 21-point manifesto outlining my core beliefs, principles, and actions to improve employee engagement and work. Notice that each item is a verb directed towards action. These are strong declarations. You will discover where I stand on the major elements of engagement because “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” If you or your organization align with some of these statements I welcome and invite you to work with me.

Simplify employee engagement into an 8 word definition: good work done well with others every day.

Change engagement by changing behaviors and actions. We change attitudes, emotions and culture by changing behavior.

Make employee engagement actions and behaviors simple, small, strategic, significant, and sustainable.

Rewrite the grammar of engagement from the noun of engagement to the verb of engage.

To read the other 17 declarations view the slides below:

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Employee Engagement and the Verb of Engage

I am currently crafting a 21-point manifesto for employee engagement.

Zinger Employee Engagement Manifesto

I trust I will have it completed in the next 2 weeks and look forward to sharing this document and engaging with people based on a strong action statement of what I believe is required to move employee engagement forward for the next 15 years. Here is a list of the verbs that begin each statement:

  1. simplify
  2. change
  3. make
  4. rewrite
  5. diminish
  6. monitor
  7. recognize
  8. offer
  9. substitute
  10. awaken
  11. ensure
  12. reframe
  13. integrate
  14. mobilize
  15. energize
  16. enable
  17. learn
  18. commit
  19. elevate
  20. build
  21. forge

Look for this action manifesto within the next two weeks then engage along with me because the best is yet to be.

Zinger’s 8 Word Behavioral Definition of Employee Engagement

A shorter more simple definition of employee engagement

Employee Engagement Definition

It has taken me about 8 years and 10,000 hours to get to a definition of employee engagement that is both simple and elegant. I am discouraged with emotional and attitudinal surveys as I have become increasingly behavioral in my views of work and engagement. My definition puts engagement in the hands of each employee — I can choose to do this everyday while also being enabled and encouraged by my leaders, managers, and organization.

We are each responsible for our own engagement as we are accountable to each other for the impact we have on making engagement easy or difficult for others.

I define employee engagement in 8 words as:

Good work done well with others every day.

Good work means consistent quality and good is also a pathway to great while great is a by product of good. Good can be good enough. Good is sustainable while also being fused with gumption and grit rather than the hype and hyperbole of the continual and debilitating pursuit of great. Putting work in the definition means the focus of engagement is less about liking an organization or having a good attitude and more about our tasks, project, and specific work. Without work in the definition employee engagement is practically meaningless. Of course, sometimes our work extends beyond task and requires us to work on building robust relationships focused on achieving results.

Done well means we perform well and that good work can make us well.

With others acknowledges our connections and even a solo performer has inputs and interactions with other. We need to stop thinking that we work for someone or an organization, rather we work with someone or with an organization. We are joined and not subservient. We are all “social workers” these days.

Every day refers to enduring and sustainable work Engagement is not a biannual survey it is something we focus on every day, and we can change engagement for the better any and every day.

So let’s keep it simple and ensure employee engagement is good work done well with others every day.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and global expert who does his best to engage fully with work every day while helping others ensure employee engagement is not so much mumbo jumbo but an enriching experience of the time we spend working.

Employee Engagement: Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving day in Canada. There are so many people I am thankful for in my development in employee engagement. I offer this post to both acknowledge these people and to encourage you to think about who helped you be where you are. It is almost impossible not to be engaged when we approach our work with a strong sense of gratitude for the other people in our life who make our work possible.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”  A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Engage the Revolution no click

Here are just a few of the people that contributed to my development:

Susan Gerlach is my wife. We have grown together, produced 3 children and she is not only a terrific sounding board for my work she offers insightful and critical input. She also flies around the world with me as I speak and teach on employee engagement. Without her accompaniment, my work might be just a job and not a journey.

Jack Zinger, Katharine Zinger, and Luke Zinger are my three children and they have each helped me with projects. They also give me insight and perspective on work for young people in their 20’s.

John Junson is a pal going back to  junior high. He is a brilliant designer and cartoonist. He brings humor and perspective to my work. He encourages new initiatives and my websites, books and work would not be what they are without John. I look forward to his fresh weekly cartoon on work.

Peter Dyck has been a client, a mentor and a friend for many years now. He has taught me to flock with eagles! His belief in my work has been a great launching pad for my orbit into engagement. Peter is married to Aganetha Dyck, and her art work with bees, has helped me to think differently inside the hive.

Peter Hart has transformed from a connection into a friend and we wrote People Artistry together. He is a people artist who has taught me about the nobility of recognition and engagement. His support means much to me.

David MacLeod has done fantastic work in the UK on employee engagement. He hosted both my wife and myself in his home and his caring and work has been inspirational about employee engagement.

Gail Pischak and Jean-Francois Hivon connected with me originally to become very “Crucial” in my work and teaching Crucial Conversations, Crucial Accountability, and The Influencer. I learned a lot from each of them and learned a lot from teaching these courses. Gail keeps the rocks alive in my work and Jean-Francois added juice to what I do.

Geoff Ronaldson invited me to South Africa to present on employee engagement. He was a fantastic host and gave me a view of engagement in platinum smelters on the other side of the world.

Siddhesh Bhobe was a connection in Pune India. His work on gamification and his wonderful hosting is inspirational. He gave me an inside look at the challenges of engagement in the IT sector in India.

Lisa Haneberg, Rosa Say, Steve Roesler, and Phil Gerbyshak have all been blogging on management, leadership and work long before most people knew what it was and I have been enriched by my association with each of them.

Scott H. Young is a young blogger who I have known just out of high school and he embodies his work about learning on steroids. He fuses learning with both business and blogging in truly creative and helpful ways.

The 6400 members of the Employee Engagement Network. Each person who has joined, supported or contributed to the Employee Engagement Network has strengthened my views of engagement.

There are so many others and I will be thinking much about them and my gratitude today. Who are you thankful for?

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker, educator, and expert. Who is both thankful and indebted to so many people who have contributed to his development and perspective on work.