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Employee Engagement Through People Artistry

A People Artistry Tidbit

(Reading time: 50 seconds )

Peoplt Artistry at Work Book Cover

I had a wonderful conversation with the latest reader of People Artistry at Work. He just retired this year as the Assistant Superintendent of a very large school division. He believed the book was a fine leadership book and that it summed up his approach to successful leadership.

He stated, “it is amazing what we can accomplish and achieve together when we recognize and value people even if they initially lack skills.” Through our people artistry we empower, we build capacity and as leaders we never lose sight of the fact that we are only as good as the people we lead. We need to recognize all employees so they recognize their own strengths, gifts, challenges, and contributions.

To learn more about this $10 book or to order people artistry for all you leaders visit: www.peopleartistry.com.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Friday Factoid #31: Don’t Just Manage Employee Engagement, Engage Managers

Employee engagement: The strength of one and the power of many

Strenth Block Develop Others

80% of employees dissatisfied with their direct managers were disengaged.  http://www.dalecarnegie.com/employee-engagement/engaged-employees-infographic/

Commentary

Managers have a significant influence on engagement. When we improve the engagement of managers not only do we benefit by having more engaged managers we also improve the engagement of their direct reports. Don’t just manage employee engagement, ensure your managers are fully engaged.

David Zinger is a global employee engagement speaker and expert who uses the pyramid of employee engagement to help managers and organizations increase engagement.

10 Stops for Employee Engagement

Please come to a complete stop before proceeding…

  1. Stop waiting for a magic moment to engage.
  2. Stop mistaking engagement as someone else’s job or responsibility.
  3. Stop conceptualizing engagement as a problem to be solved.
  4. Stop searching for a stronger business case for engagement.
  5. Stop thinking of employee engagement as an extra.
  6. Stop believing you need more data to begin.
  7. Stop seeing the CEO or President as someone other than an employee.
  8. Stop wasting time formulating big programs and splashy launches.
  9. Stop extensive consulting with experts so that you have time to consult with employees.
  10. Stop trying and start doing.
David Zinger is a global employee engagement expert. Email him today at david@davidzinger.com for speaking, education, or consulting services.

 

Employee Engagement: Should We Ban Disengaged Employees?

An Olympic Action – An Organizational Consideration

The Olympics banned a number of female badminton players. One article stated:

The evening session of the tournament descended into chaos on Tuesday, with fans jeering two separate matches as players deliberately missed shots and dumped serves into the net in a race to the bottom, forcing the BWF to mount an investigation. A BWF panel charged the players with “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport” were brought against the players.

Ban disengaged employees? I am not suggesting that we ban all disengaged employees from workplaces as there are many causes for disengagement but it makes me think that we should take decisive action and “ban” employees who deliberately don’t give their best to their work because of self-interest as they fail to consider the impact their poor performance has on their customers, peers, and organization. Even if we work in a disengaging workplace we should be engaging our best efforts to advocate and create change for the better.

What are your thoughts? Is this a crazy idea or something we have neglected in our workplaces? I encourage you to write a comment. To ban or not to ban?

10 Story Tidbits for Employee Engagement

10 Tidbits – Kevin Bishop –  Anecdote – Employee Engagement –  Boston Story Course

David Zinger picture of swans at Boston Commons (June 2012)

Stories are engaging. Stories create a fabric and  foundation for our organization. Stories powerfully communicate what is going on in employee engagement in our organization.

Kevin Bishop from Anecdote in Australia conducted a one day workshop on story and leadership in Boston this June. I believe Anecdote does terrific work with story and organizations. It was an honor to attend Kevin’s session in Boston. The focus was not directly on employee engagement but I always relate my learning to the world of work and engagement. Here is a list of 10 tidbits I derived from the day. These are my thoughts and not necessarily exact representations of Kevin’s statements or Anecdote’s specific perspective:

  1. Stories paint images in people’s minds. They are facts wrapped in context and delivered with emotion.
  2. Be careful about using the word story in many organizations as many people will default on the “once upon a time” limited view of story.
  3. Jerome Bruner, one of the world’s leading cognitive psychologists, stated that we are 22 times more likely to remember a story than a set of disconnected facts.
  4. Stories are concrete – they move us away from abstractions.Words like disengagement take on new meaning and a high level of specificity when we talk about the time our boss created a needless and massive setback on the Miller project that lead to two members of our team leaving.
  5. We need a greater focus on the little stories rather than thinking we need an epic heroic story for our organization.
  6. Follow 3 pathways to stories: tell, trigger, listen.
  7. Your behavioral story is stronger than your told story. As a leader even if you don’t tell stories you trigger many stories in your organization. What stories do your actions trigger in employees? How well are you listening to the stories already embedded in your organization?
  8. We can all benefit from more deliberate practice with our story skills.
  9. Think of narrative strategy: 1. In the past.  2. Then something happened.  3. What we are going to do.  4. What will we have achieved when we succeed.
  10. We must go beyond story telling in organizations to a greater focus on how we elicit stories from within our organizations. It may be less about telling a great engagement story and more about asking: “tell me a time you were very engaged in your work, who were you with, what were you doing, what happened?”

What engagement stories are you triggering, telling, and eliciting?  For a more direct understanding of story and leadership visit the Anecdote site.

 

 

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert who is keenly interested in story and uses story extensively in his engagement work. Contact David today to speak and work on the story of engagement at your organization or conference.

 

Employee Engagement Dialogues: Happiness and Engagement

Employee Engagement Dialogues: Alex Kjeulf and David Zinger

Recording and transcript. Here is the recording and transcript for a 20 minute dialogue with Alex Kjeulf on happiness and engagement. Alexander is the founder of Woohoo inc. and one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work. He has a masters degree in computer science from The University of Southern Denmark and is the author of 3 books including the international bestseller Happy Hour is 9 to 5 – How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work. In his spare time Alexander reads. A lot. He also does Crossfit and watches tons of movies.

Employee Engagement and Happiness from David Zinger on Vimeo.

David Zinger: Hi, my name is David Zinger, and I want to really welcome you today to a focused dialogue on engagement and happiness. I’m so thrilled to have Alex Kjerulf from Denmark here with us today to talk about happiness. He’s The Chief Happiness Officer and has done tremendous work on happiness for, I would say before it was popular; Alex, welcome. [00:27]

Alexander Kjerulf: Thank you so much, David. [00:29]

David Zinger: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself – I know we have a slide up on your background – but what steered you in the direction of happiness and work? [00:37]

Alexander Kjerulf: Oh yeah, well I used to be in the IT business; I had my own IT company that I co-founded with two other people in Copenhagen way back in 1997, and when we started this IT company sort of our #1 goal was to make it a happy workplace. I mean sure we wanted to have a profit and have great clients and so on, but more than anything else we wanted a happy workplace where people could have fun. We ran that company for five years, it became quite successful, and then we sold it in 2002, and I sort of stopped at that point and asked myself what is my vision, what is my passion, you know, what do I want to contribute to the world, and I realized that what I was really passionate about was not IT solutions anymore; it was this idea of happiness at work, how do you create really happy workplaces where people just love to work, and so I founded my current company which is called Woo Hoo inc., and not woohoo, the company’s called WOOHOO! Yeah and just picking up the phone is a hoot. I founded the company in 2003. In fact, May 1st, 2003, we had our first paying client, so as of yesterday we’ve been doing this for nine years now making people happy at work. We do speeches, workshops, consulting work for workplaces all around the world. [01:55]

David Zinger: Well, congratulations, and so the primary focus in the audience is around the world of employee engagement, and the way I see engagement, it’s a little bit of a buzz word. I just define it as connection; connection to our work, connection to each other, connection to results, connections to customers. Before we launch into happiness and the connection between happiness, and engagement, and work, what engages you currently most with your work, Alex? [02:21]

Alexander Kjerulf: You know what really gives me a major kick is seeing that the work we do has an impact. In fact, we sat down last year to sort of formalize our company values and vision, and our vision is it’s a world where happiness at work is the rule and not the exception, and we defined certain values, and sort of our most important value is we optimize for impact, you know, we want to make a difference in everything we do. So, when I hear back from a client that we had a workshop with you three years ago, we’re still using the principles, it still helps us make the company more effective, or when I hear from people who have read our books or read the website I just love that kind of thing. I got an email from a lady saying she had been considering quitting her really crappy job for ages, and finally she got up the courage to do it, and that was because one of our articles, and that’s the kind of thing that really engages me. [03:27]

David Zinger: So, really seeing the results and the elements of what you’re doing. So, the big question in the short period of time we have is what is the relationship between work, happiness, and engagement, and if I can, you know, in doing some research to interview, and looking at your material, again I’ve been looking at it for years; I was really struck by your talk about the connection between happiness, results, and relationship, because I think so often people think of happiness as something extra, and outside, and oh my god I’m too busy for happiness, but you really seem to have weaved it right with results and relationships. I’d love to hear a little bit more about that. [04:03]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yeah, I think the two major sources of happiness in the workplace are results and relationships, you know when you do good work that you can be proud of, that work that is meaningful to you, that makes us happy, and also good relationships, you know when you like your co-workers, you like your boss, you like your employers, you like your clients for that matter. Those are the two major sources of happiness, positive emotion in the workplace, and what we know now from decades of research in psychology, sociology, and neurology is that happiness has a major impact on our performance at work, and when we are happy we are more productive, we are more creative, we are more helpful towards other people, we deliver better customer service. Happy people are better managers and so on, so very simply put, we are more effective and more successful when we like what we do, which of course goes completely against the old idea that work, you know, it’s all about hard work, it’s all about effort. Right, it’s all about suffering, and the more you suffer, the more effective you will be, and of course this is completely wrong. [05:10]

David Zinger: Yeah, and I mean Tony Hsieh from Zappos did a whole bunch of work on happiness and you’ve predated him by many years in what you’re doing and how you’re looking at that, and you would say the Scandinavians are one of the few to have a language that has a word for happiness at work; I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about that. [05:28]

Alexander Kjerulf: Sure, the word in Danish, it’s arbejdsglæde, and this is going to sound really weird of course to the rest of the world, but arbejde in Danish means work, and glaede is gladness, happiness, so arbejdsglæde is literally just work-happiness, and the cool thing about this is that this word exists only in the Scandinavian languages. We’ve checked and there is no word for this in any other language in the world except Danish, Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian, and this is not a coincidence; there is a long standing, you know, decades old tradition inScandinavia for focusing on happy workplaces. This is something we’ve been doing for 40-50 years now and this is something they do not have in the rest of the world, this focus on creating great workplaces. [06:14]

David Zinger: I was watching your TED Talk recently. You made a nice distinction between satisfaction and happiness, because I think some people would just equate those two things together. [06:24]

Alexander Kjerulf: Oh yeah. Yes, that’s actually one of the misguided preconceptions we’re fighting is that it’s employee satisfaction, and of course you know the sources of satisfaction – are you satisfied with your work – the sources of that are there’s stuff like, you know, salary bonuses, perks, your job title, promotions, raises, that kind of thing, those are the things that make us satisfied, but those are not the things that make us happy, and the research confirms this again, and the thing is that those benefits I talk about, you know, being more productive, and more creative, and so on, you don’t get those benefits from being satisfied. You know, overall I’m very satisfied with my job. You get those benefits when you’re happy right here and right now; when you’re sitting at your desk today going oh my god, I love my job, it’s awesome! That’s when you’re more productive, and more creative, and so on. So, and there’s nothing wrong with job satisfaction in and of itself, it’s just that it shouldn’t be the major focus of our careers, and work lives, and workplaces. We should really focus on happiness, because that is where we get all those performance benefits and that’s when the company makes more money. [07:35]

David Zinger: Yeah, and it seems to me that satisfaction is a fairly anemic measure of how we are at work, and when it’s reduced to a bi-annual or an annual survey that we call engagement, it’s got very little to do with happiness and engagement, because those seem to be things of the day-to-day and the moment-to-moment. [07:52]

Alexander Kjerulf: Exactly. [07:54]

David Zinger: Right now I have one of your websites up – The Chief Happiness Officer, and you have a ton of excellent blog posts, and articles, and resources on there. How long have you been at that and if people go there what should they be looking for? [08:10]

Alexander Kjerulf: Well, I started blogging in 2002, believe it or not, I mean everybody and their dog was getting a blog at the time, so I thought what the hell, I’ll get one too, and been blogging every since, and the blog has been getting really, really popular; I think we have about a million visitors a year, which is just awesome, and on there are we have different categories. We focus a lot on… I think our main focus is still what can I do, and you know what can I do tomorrow to make tomorrow a great work day, because happiness at work is something you do, it’s something we do together every single day. I mean we create a happy workday today or we don’t and then we do it again tomorrow or we don’t. It’s not like you can sit around and just wait for somebody else to come and make you happy, so that’s really the main thing we have on there is, you know, tons of tips, and videos, and articles on what can I do tomorrow to be happier and more engaged with work? Actually, I’d like to ask you, David, because you, you know, I really wanted to ask you this: how do you see the connection between happiness at work and engagement, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I’m not sure I have a clear answer. [09:16]

David Zinger: Well, you know I think there’s a very, very strong connection, I mean engagement tends to contribute to happiness or wellbeing and wellbeing or happiness contributes to engagement. I, originally when I created a pyramid of engagement that had 10 sources, happiness was one of them. I’ve since changed the label to wellbeing with happiness embedded in that, and yet I think sometimes the danger of that is that then people don’t look closely and see the key component of happiness in there, and you know I think we’re beyond that for most people in the field thinking of happiness as something fluffy, or something extra, or a soft skill or something, but I still think, and many people in the workplace they’re still equating happiness as something extra, or frilly, or whatever, and I think that’s doing a disservice to an experience that we spend so much of our time at. [10:12]

Alexander Kjerulf: Exactly. It sounds like we agree that happiness and engagement, it’s not like it’s the same thing, but they’re very closely tied together. Would that be fair to say? [10:23]

David Zinger: Yeah, I think, you know and we need to engage with our sense of wellbeing and happiness, and its bidirectional; I see all engagement as bidirectional. [10:33]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yeah. [10:33]

David Zinger: We engage with our work as our work engages us. We bring a happiness to work and our work can make us happy, and so that bidirectional element is important. I liked your term that we’re responsible for our own happiness, but our managers and organizations are also responsible for setting up the conditions. [10:53]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yes, exactly, I mean as a manager you can create conditions where it’s almost impossible to be happy at work, and let’s face it, a lot of managers do, but also again as a manager, as a workplace you can create conditions where it’s very, very easy to be happy, however no matter how good those conditions are, you can never make people, you know, you can never force people to be happy; that’s just not the way it works. People have to want to be happy within those conditions, and I think they…  [11:23]

David Zinger: And so you’re… Sorry about that, but usually happy hour is after 5:00PM, and your popular book is Happy Hour is 9-5. [11:32]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yeah. [11:32]

David Zinger: And it’s happy hours; it’s hour after hour with that, and that’s… [11:38]

Alexander Kjerulf: There’s a famous episode of the Drew Carey Show where they say, you know, where they talk about these people who needed the bar, and they complain about their jobs, and they complain about their spouses, and they complain about everything, and that’s called happy hour, and so I thought, you know, what if happy hour wasn’t from 5:00PM – 6:00PM at the local bar, what if happy hour was, you know, 9-5; what if we could actually wake up in the morning and be excited about going to work, and I think that’s where most people should be, not necessarily every single day, but most days. [12:10]

David Zinger: And that’s a book that’s in a number of languages and accessible from a number of resources from your website and other sources and even some of it’s freely available; if people are starving for money they can always read the book online with that. [12:24]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yeah, the English translation is available completely free on the blog on www.PositiveSharing.com if anyone wants to read there. [12:31]

David Zinger: And if we go back even further, not only do you have a book, you have a manifesto on happiness, and I’ve always liked the people at the Change This site, and it’s a delightful manifesto because it’s short, it’s got I think what, about 25 points in the manifesto if I remember correct? [12:48]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yeah, very good, exactly. [12:49]

David Zinger: What stands out in your mind right now out of those items in the manifesto that seems to be either what’s really challenging workplaces or what seems to be improving for workplaces? [13:01]

Alexander Kjerulf: I think it really, really comes… For me it always comes back to the same thing, which is that my happiness at work is my responsibility, and you know if I want to be happy at work I have to start with myself. Not that I have to go it alone, OK, it’s just that I have to be responsible for my own work life, and for my own life in general, and one area I see right now that’s really challenging for people is if you have this horrible job, can you still quit, you know, in these uncertain economic times with the financial crisis and so on, can you quit your job, and right now I see a lot of people staying on in jobs they absolutely hate, and I think that’s horrible. I think this is something, you know, we know from the research that hating your job can make you sick, it can ruin your career, it can even ruin your relationship with your partner; it can in the end kill you, so I always encourage people to, you know, if you really hate your job, quit, move on, sometimes it is the only way even in these times. [14:13]

David Zinger: Yeah and you’re not minimizing the economic currency, but there’s a currency of happiness and wellbeing. If we don’t attend to that currency, as you say at the end of that first page in the manifesto – because the future belongs to the happy – and you would also say the present does too. [14:29]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yeah, exactly. I think it does, and the thing is when people are considering should I quit, what they really focus on is, you know, if I quit, what will I lose, and you may lose, you know, you will lose your salary, and you may lose your healthcare benefits, and you may lose your pension, and your co-workers, and so on, but the question people never ask themselves is if I stay at this job that I absolutely hate, what might that cost me, and I think you’re not having a balanced look at it unless you also consider that question, and in the end staying at that horrible job that you absolutely hate, it can kill you, yeah. [15:09]

David Zinger: Yeah and you have a number of rules of productivity, and particularly in the field of engagement. I get so frustrated with our field when we do these biannual or annual measures and somehow believe that we kept our engagement. There are shifts wildly from day-to-day, and I love your point #1 – your productivity will vary wildly from day-to-day and this is normal. [15:30]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yes. [15:31]

David Zinger: And what role does happiness have in that wild productivity? [15:35]

Alexander Kjerulf: I think… Well, one way I apply is that when I come into work in the morning I don’t necessarily go by my to-do list, you know, it’s not like I start working on the top of the list and then go to the next item, the next item. There’s all this stuff and I ask myself, you know, what do I feel like doing today; do I feel like, you know, tackling emails, do I feel like calling some clients, do I feel like writing a new blog post, and then I do that, and some days I will come into work and I will feel like doing absolutely nothing, and on those days I will go home or go do something else, because why hang out at work if you’re not getting anything done anyway, and my point is this is normal. I mean this is… For knowledge workers your productivity depends on your creativity, you know, on your ability to think of new things, on your ability to write, or whatever. There are some days you will do great work and there are some days you will do no work, and this is completely normal. [16:36]

David Zinger: OK. Well, we don’t have too much time left, and I’m pulling this question out of left field, it just kind of occurs to me. The statistics suggest that we are now… You talked about knowledge workers, that we’re the billion mobile workers. What’s the potential or the challenge for happiness for people who are mobile workers, any thoughts about that? [16:59]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yes, one challenge for mobile workers is relationships. I mean if you work out of this one office in this department, then you’ll have co-workers, you have a boss, and you have strong relationships; people who know what you’re doing, who can give you encouragement, criticism, praise, advice, companionship, and as a mobile worker that becomes a lot harder, so that’s a challenge, and as a mobile worker you may have to find your relationships somewhere else, maybe in networks, or knowledge groups, or whatever. However, the cool thing about mobile workers is that they often get to choose. They have more ambivalence over what they do, so they have more of a chance of picking, you know, interesting tasks, challenging tasks, meaningful tasks, however only if they remember to do so. [17:50]

David Zinger: So, in some ways there’s a little bit of a bigger challenge on the relationship, and yet the upside is you’ve got a little bit more direct control of how you move through the results and what you’re trying to achieve along the way with that. [18:02]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yes, and you have more freedom over how you work, and where you work, and when you work, which is fantastic. I mean a lot of mornings I work out of a café instead of going to our office, which is you know, which I like doing. [18:14]

David Zinger: I guess one final thought. You know sometimes I think we equate happiness with everybody wearing clown noses, and jumping up in joy, and you know wild on airlines or whatever. Any thoughts about, for lack of a better term, and this is my term – quiet happiness – you know that happiness that just kind of resonates inside, and yes it can be shared, but sometimes just that happiness we feel as we’re working, and no one else may almost notice it, any thoughts about that? [18:41]

Alexander Kjerulf: I think yes, and we’ve got to remember that happiness looks different on different people, right, I mean some people when they’re happy you can instantly tell, and they’ll be jumping, and shouting, and singing, and laughing, and that’s fantastic, and other people, you know, when they’re really happy, and engaged, and fulfilled they’ll just be sitting quietly at their desk doing their work feeling fantastic, and this is exactly the way it should be, and you can not equate happiness at work with sort of all of that, you know, let’s say the wild stuff that you mentioned; the clown noses, and the partying, and the dancing, and so on. That’s only one element and some people will derive a lot of happiness from that, whereas other people will derive most of their happiness from just sitting at their desk doing their jobs knowing that they do it really, really well, and we’ve got to remember… I think this is the main point here: everybody’s different, everybody’s different, and if you try to treat everybody the same we’ll make a lot of people unhappy. [19:37]

David Zinger: Yeah, and so one of the last screenshots I have here is your Woohoo site, and I was watching your TEDx Talk, and actually showing you at work; I got a screenshot of you at work and you’re happy as you’re presenting it and you’re even showing some pictures of people coming to the conference who may not be quite so happy with that, and so people… [20:00]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yeah, I just want to correct you here that it’s not woohoo, it’s WOOHOO! [20:02]

David Zinger: Oh, I don’t give enough emphasis. It’s all in the emphasis, right? [20:06]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yeah, exactly. [20:08]

David Zinger: WOOHOO! Did I get it? [20:09]

Alexander Kjerulf: There you go. [20:11]

David Zinger: Got to get that voice lifted up, and you got the audience engaged, so if anybody’s unfamiliar with Alex, I highly recommend going to www.PositiveSharing.com and looking at the blog, and coming to this site and watching the video or if you type his name into YouTube, there’s a number of videos of you presenting or whatever, and probably a much richer experience would be to get Alex or one of the members of his team to come out and spend some time with you. [20:38]

Alexander Kjerulf: I think that’s a fantastic idea. [20:40]

David Zinger: Just as we’re closing, any last thought, say if someone’s listening to this early in the morning of something they should consider, or think about, or do to increase their happiness for the day? [20:52]

Alexander Kjerulf: Yes, absolutely, and I think well, we keep coming back to this one tip, and it’s probably one of the most basic findings of positive psychology, which we use as the foundation of all of our work, is that the best way to become happy yourself is to make somebody else happy. There’s quite consistent finding in these studies is that whenever you do something for yourself, that makes you a little happier, but when you do something for somebody else, it makes you a lot happier. So, my challenge to people listening to this is what could you do today to make somebody else happy at work; a co-worker, a client, a vendor, your boss, an employee, some completely random person at work. Could you do something to make somebody else happy at work, you know, praise people, do a random act of workplace kindness, whatever, but could you do one thing today to make somebody else happy at work, and I can promise you it’ll come right back to you. [21:48]

David Zinger: Oh, well said, and really some people started to say that stress is a Staph infection, and certainly laughter can be contagious, and humor certainly is a pathway out of it. [22:00]

Alexander Kjerulf: Absolutely. [22:02]

David Zinger: Well, thank you very much for taking time with us and joining us today; it’s really been a privilege… [22:07] END

David Zinger is a global employee engagement expert. He developed the Pyramid of Employee Engagement and David is the founder and host of the 4800 member Employee Engagement Network.