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Employee Engagement: People Artists Are Not Weary Travellers!

People Artists Use Their Eyes to See

People Artists Cover

On Friday I was returning to Winnipeg from Montreal. I had an hour before my flight and went to the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge. As I scanned the lounge the travellers looked so weary and seemed impervious to the hard work of the catering and cleaning staff’s constant work to replenish food and beverages and to keep everything fresh and tidy.

No one in any workplace should ever be invisible!

I always thank the staff as I move around the lounge but I took it upon myself to offer a little extra gestures of appreciation. I grabbed a business card and wrote a sincere note of appreciation for their work and how they made my journey easier and more enjoyable. As I left the lounge I said thank you to the last cleaning person I encountered and handed them my little note.

When I landed in Toronto to catch my transfer flight here is an email I received on my phone:

Thank You Note

Be a People Artist: As you travel through your workplace don’t be weary. Care, Listen, See, Talk, and Give.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert and the co-author with Peter W. Hart of People Artists: Drawing Out The Best In Others At Work.

Help Yourself to The 10 Best Free and Fantastic Employee Engagement Resources

Fantastic Free Employee Engagement Resources (plus a bonus resource).

I am celebrating my 61st birthday today. At my age, I don’t need any presents but I’d like to give some, so here are 11 employee engagement presents for you.



  1. The Power of Employee Engagement: Booklet on the Pyramid of Employee Engagement.
  2. Engage for Success: Enhancing Performance Through Employee Engagement.
  3. The Top Tens of Employee Engagement.
  4. Zengage: How to Get More Into Your Work to Get More Out of Your Work.
  5. Waggle: 39 Ways to Improve Human Organizations, Work and Engagement
  6. Employee Engagement: 72 Small Actions for Big Results
  7. Assorted Zingers: Poems and Cartoon to Take a Bite Out of Work.
  8. Engaging Questions: The Question is the Answer
  9. Primers for Engaging Conversations
  10. 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness: How Not to be Grumpy at Work (or in the rest of your life)
  11. Bonus: 15 Cartoons for 2015

Here is a bonus bonus resource for anyone interested in using gamification for managers: Game On

David Zinger Deed Image

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Employee Engagement and Working with Halogen Software

I am in Ottawa right now at the Halogen Software Conference.

Halogen Software Logo

It was a pleasure yesterday to facilitate a session on employee engagement. Halogen Software was welcoming, supportive, fun, and well-organized. My session went very well as I outlined the pyramid of employee engagement and even had the opportunity to have about 25 participants purchase an advance copy of the new book on People Artists by Peter Hart and myself.

It was an honour to give 3 People Artists awards to Connie Costigan, Melany Gallant, and Zoryana Cherwick for their ability to draw out the best in people through their work on the prolific, helpful and informative Talentspace blog. I think this site is worth a visit at least once a week.

For two and a half years I have written a monthly blog on employee engagement for Halogen. This was my first opportunity to meet them in person and I was impressed about who they are and how they work. Thank you Halogen for making my day!

An Ode to Distraction: The Lighter Side of Employee Engagement

I invite you to enjoy my Linked In post on distraction today. It includes a selfie taken with the Rosetta stone when I was in the British Museum. It also includes a picture of a tricycle that is too small for me to ride.

Click here to read the post and forget what you were supposed to be doing.

The post on Linked In begins:

What are the keys to employee engagement when we are distracted? Fox News  ( I often see a fox in the St. Vital park which is just a block away, and they have some lovely flowers) published an informative post on August 31st …

We should all know our keys. I just lost mine. I know they are around here somewhere. I also wish I could find my to-do list so I could remember what I was supposed to work on this afternoon.  I just can’t remember my password for Google Calendar, hey that’s a cool new logo they are using for Google. I know I put my passwords in a file somewhere (read the full post by clicking here – or did I already say that, I just forgot).

Employee Engagement: Engage the Year Ahead with 2-Simple Rules

Are 2 simple rules powerful enough to guide a year of work and interaction?

Reading time = 2 minutes and 50 seconds

2 Simple Engagement Rules

Simple rules. I have become enamoured with simple rules to guide and govern behavior and actions. It is a bit ironic as I always stated that rules were not engaging but somehow simple rules feels more inviting and not commandment-like at all.

A New Year’s Guide. This post outlines 2 simple rules I am using to guide my work and wellbeing from September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016. Even at 60 years of age, September 1st. always feels like the first day of the New Year. In my mind and experience, September marks the beginning of the school year in Canada.

Moving on from a 3 word theme. For the past 7 years I have used a 3-word theme to govern the year ahead. I loved the focus and simplicity of it. I was reluctant to give it up but I was looking for a more active approach to the year ahead wedded with specificity. The three word theme was a nice beacon or personal north star while 2-simple rules is a detailed daily road map through work and wellbeing. I am craving a more behavioral action guide for 2015/16. I was planning to write 3 simple rules but in drafting the rules, and my love of small and simple, I decided I only required two rules.

My two daily rules are:

Rule 1: Action – 15

Start and record fifteen 15-minute periods of engaged work or wellbeing sustained with resilient grit.

Rule 2: People Artistry – 5

Draw out the best in others or myself 5 times through connection and expression of appreciation, curiosity, or recognition.

Rule 1 is focused on using short engaged time zones to maximize productivity and well-being. The key moment for me with this simple rule is to just start. I start each period of work or wellbeing by pushing the button on my watch timer already preset for 15 minutes. A second challenge is to sustain engagement for the full 15 minutes. To do this I added resilient grit into the rule. I want to bounce back after inevitable setbacks and I want the grit and gumption to stick with this rule for the year. I know that a big factor in success for me is to keep recording the periods. I don’t need to conduct detailed assessment and analysis but I know that I often become derailed when I stop recording.

Rule 2 is inspired by the new book I wrote with Peter W. Hart on People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work. This book will be released in October of 2015. The image on the one page guide at the start of this post is taken from the cover of the book and was painted by Peter Hart. I did not want to just write the book and offer the book to others, I plan to make it a personal daily practice. This rule will bring the concepts and practices of the book to life while also offering a trigger for 5 daily acts of people artistry. Most of those acts will take the form of appreciation, curiosity, or recognition.

Background. Some of  the background for this change in approach from a 3-word theme to 2-simple rules came from the literature on Kaizen and a recent book  by Donald Sull and Kathleeen M. Eisenhardt on, Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World.

Rule your own world of work, wellbeing and engagement. The primary purpose of this post is to encourage you to develop a few simple rules to improve your work and wellbeing. My rules are not your rules. You are welcome to use mine as a starting point or a launching pad to design your own rules. Later this year and in 2016 I will be writing more about behavioral employee engagement and simple rules. You will learn guidance on how to formulate and apply the concepts of simple rules. I encourage you to read Sull and Eisenhardt’s book to develop a deeper understanding of how simple rules have been used in a variety of setting and how you can use simple rules.

Your next action. I encourage you, for now, to think about what rules would help you engage more fully with your work and wellbeing. As you think this through I encourage you to take a few notes and to write down some early drafts of the rules.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is pairing the behaviors from the pyramid of employee engagement with simple rules to make a difference to engagement in 2016.

Get Small and Simple for Employee Engagement

In employee engagement — SMALL IS THE NEW SIGNIFICANT!

Reading time = 54 seconds


How has that big employee engagement program been doing? Is your large employee engagement initiative making a difference? I have no doubt that employee engagement can make a big difference but that does not mean employee engagement approaches have to be big to matter. Small is the new significant.

Pyramid of Employee Engagement and Engaged Well-Being

We need to determine and act on small and simple behavioral practices that can be practiced daily by leaders, managers, and employees themselves. I am currently at work on taking the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement – making it action-oriented – articulating the actions as simple rules – and helping leaders, managers, and employees reduce the 10-block pyramid to a personalized 3-block pyramid embracing simple rules to govern their engagement work.

Here is a perspective from the School of Life that inspires me to keep on this path:

Rikyū reminds us that there is a latent sympathy between big ideas about life and the little everyday things, such as certain drinks, cups, implements and smells. These are not cut off from the big themes; they can make those themes more alive for us. It is the task of philosophy not just to formulate ideas, but also to work out mechanisms by which they may stick more firmly and viscerally in our minds.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Winnipeg, Canada

Employee Engagement: Embrace Your Jagged Experience of Work and Wellbeing

The New Balance in Employee Engagement is Jagged and Precarious

I know you have seen them. The stack of smooth stones that offer a visual of calm and tranquility. I confess that I have always been attracted to them and even used them on the cover of my first book, Zengage: How to Get More Into Your Work to Get More Out of Your Work.

Zengage Red

I trust you are also aware of the the increasing abandonment of the term work/life balance. Many say we can’t achieve balance because of how we work today and the influences of technology and the expectation to always be “on.”  It is problematic that we would use a balanced and smooth ideal image when jagged and precarious captures more of the lived experience of work, wellbeing and engagement for most of us.

Balance Rock Crayon 2015


Let’s embrace a new balance for work and life in 2016. This balance has rough edges symbolized by the third stone in this stack and balance is fleeting, temporary, and precarious as symbolized by the almost tipping top stone on the top of the stack. I believe 2015 asks us to get more comfortable with things being jagged. We need to find our equanimity in edges and crevices and cracks.

I placed some crayons beside the stones to symbolize our need to work and play with what we’ve got and not dream of everything being smooth. Zen perspectives embrace impermanence and ask us to stop being so smooth and rather to be mindful and accepting of what actually is.

I encourage you to embrace jagged work, such as:

  • Leaders who are frayed and flawed
  • Projects without enough time or budget
  • Fluctuating states of health
  • Energy that peaks, dips, and twirls
  • High degrees of uncertainty about future work.
  • Co-workers who can be just plain difficult

The new balance of life and work as we move towards 2016 is jagged, resilient, real, imperfect, and impermanent.

Learn to live it rather than trying to live up to some ideal.

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert and speaker who believes are best work can come when things are not smooth and balanced but rather jagged and precarious.

Employee Engagement: Get Respect

My post on employee engagement and respect was just published on Halogen’s TalentSpace. Click here to go read it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.56.48 AM

I look forward to an action-packed and insightful presentation at the Halogen conference in Ottawa in September.

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert and speaker.

Turn People Artistry into Your Healthy Routine

Do you have a recognition routine to draw out the best from the people you lead and manage?

People Artists

People Artistry is anything but routine yet paradoxically a routine is what can get you into People Artistry and sustain your work at bringing out the best in others for many years. In our time of energy depletion of having far too much to do and too little time to do it, intentional structure and routine operate as strong guides of behavior.

Watch for People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work coming in October 2015.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who joined forces with Peter W. Hart, an expert on recognition, to create People Artistry – an approach to making workplaces better for all.

People Artists: The Little Human Guidebook for Leadership and Management

People Artists Draw Out the Best at Work

Reading time = 55 seconds


People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work will be released this October. I encourage you to think about what it would mean for you to be a People Artist. By this, I mean someone who brings an artistic sense to how they lead, manage, and work with others. Henry Mintzberg demonstrated the importance of art, science, and craft in management. In our time of unbounded enthusiasm for analytics and the science of work, let’s not ignore the art of managing.

And don’t tell me you are not an artist.

Everyone can be, and already is, an artist. Perhaps you need some encouragement, inspiration, and education to be a better People Artist. Peter and I would love to show you the way and in the interim we encourage you to take initial steps to bring out the best in others at work.

Just start. Once you embark down this path, People Artists can act as a guidebook and toolkit to take you further on the journey. If you want to know more before the October launch, I invite you to get in touch with me.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who believes in the power of People Artistry to enhance and enliven our employee engagement and employee recognition work.

People Artists Coming in October: Catch the Fire

People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work will be released this October.


Peter W. Hart and I will be releasing our new book on People Artists in October. The picture in this post, painted by Peter, was used for our cover. Watch for updates, ideas you can use, and other material as we approach the launch in a couple of months.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Winnipeg, Canada.

Employee Engagement: Just Another Brick in the … Pyramid

Here are 10 “bricks” I use for employee engagement.

Pyramid of Employee Engagement and Engaged Well-Being

The bricks from top to bottom and left to right are: results, performance, progress, relationships, recognition, moments, strengths, meaning, wellbeing, and energy.

They were unstructured bricks until one day I played with them and they rearranged themselves into a pyramid.

I like the 10 bricks and the pyramid but you can use your own bricks or another structure for employee engagement. Perhaps you can use my bricks or structure as a foundation or a launching pad. Or maybe in rejecting my bricks and structure you make a stronger declaration of your own approach. They key is that it has to work for you and who you work with.

What are your “bricks” and how are they structured for engagement?

Here is a short video made by m ss ng p eces (love their name) in conjunction with MIT Media Lab Knotty Objects to inspire you to think differently about your bricks for engagement:

MIT Media Lab Knotty Objects: Brick from m ss ng p eces on Vimeo.

This video is one of a series of videos in collaboration between m ss ng p eces and MIT Media Lab for the Knotty Objects Summit, the first MIT Media Lab Summit devoted to design.

David Zinger is a Canadian employee engagement speaker and expert who believes we need to be more playful in how we approach engagement.