From the BlogSubscribe Now

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

 

15 Great Employee Engagement and Work Cartoons You Can Use

15 Work Cartoons to Make Your Day

EEN Junson Cartoon E-book

My friend and resident Employee Engagement Network cartoonist, John Junson has created an e-book with 15 free cartoons that you can use for work. Pass it along to a colleague. Use it in a presentation. Pin one cartoon to your wall or cubicle. Choose one a month and put it in your newsletter. Stress is a staff infection and humour is contagious so use the humor here to fight stress at work.

If you would like to download a PDF of this book click on the image above or, click here.

Here is a slide presentation of the cartoons for quick viewing:

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who appreciates the lighter side of work.

10 Second Employee Engagement Survey: Where Should We Focus Our Efforts in 2015?

Take 10 seconds or less to complete this one question survey. Thank you for your response.
Q Zing Survey Button

Employee Engagement: Good is the New Great

Why good is good enough in employee engagement.

Reading time = 1 minute.

Slide1

We need to keep things simple and real with employee engagement. I think when we move to superlatives such as great work and exceptional engagement we create a credibility gap and a trust issue. I have been in a number of workplaces that declared they were great workplaces yet many employees tell me it is not as great as they say.

My definition of employee engagement is short, real, and simple:

Good work done well with others every day.

Good work is both believable and attainable and sustainable. When we strive for good we will at time touch great or exceptional. I will take consistent good days of work over a few great days anytime. I also like how good work done with both intention and consistency will at times touch greatness.

I like good in reference to employee engagement because it refers to both the adjective of good or the quality of work and the noun of good about the benefit of the work. I like work that is of good quality and is good on many levels for employees, customers, and the organization.

I hope you have a good day of work that is also good for others.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert striving to do good work every day.

Employee Engagement: How to Make a Small, Simple, Significant, Strategic and Sustainable Difference

The 4 Enablers of Employee Engagement Made Simple

4 Enablers of Employee Engagement

My passion and pursuit of employee engagement has taken over 14,000 hours yet resulted in me striving to make employee engagement small and simple. For example, my definition of engagement is just 8 words: good work done well with others every day. Although this is a simple definition of engagement, it does not mean that it is easy, yet I do believe it is attainable. This simple yet elegant definition avoids a lot of the excess jargon floating around employee engagement — which is itself a part of that jargon.

I admire the work of the Engage for Success Movement in the UK. I consider David MacLeod to be a friend and I am enriched by everyone who has been involved in the movement. One element that stood out for me from their work was using the term enablers rather than drivers or levers. It seemed real, kind, and more engaging.

Here is a short explanation of the four enablers from the Engage for Success Site:

Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and no master model for successful employee engagement there were four common themes that emerged from the extensive research captured in the Engaging For Success report to government (also known as the MacLeod Report). Taken together, they include many of the key elements that go to make successful employee engagement.

These four enablers of engagement have proved to be useful lenses which can help organisations assess the effectiveness of their approaches.

Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going.

Engaging managers who focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch their people.

There is employee voice throughout the organisations, for reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally, employees are seen as central to the solution.

There is organisational integrity – the values on the wall are reflected in day to day behaviours. There is no ‘say –do’ gap.

To me that simply means good story, good managers, good voice, and good ethics. Surely that is within reach in every organization. I am not revising the four enablers rather offering a simple image and 8 words to make it memorable and then actionable.

4 Enablers of Employee Engagement

I don’t need a great story or great managers or great voice or even great ethics. To me, good is good enough. In the next post I will outline a few good behaviors and actions that contribute to good story, managers, voice, and ethics.

Engage along with me, the best is yet to be.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is working around the globe to make work, work!