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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 david@davidzinger.com 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) http://bit.ly/1OBUuwN

Creative commons Image by Jan Smith (Flickr) http://bit.ly/1OBUuwN

 

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