Monthly Archives: May 2007

Zengagement: Hold the door before going up!


Employee engagement is about engaging now not some future state we must strive towards

To live for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top. ~ Robert M. Pirsig

Engage now, where you are, with what you are doing.

Picture Credit: Seeing is believing … by


Employee Engagement: Making others care (MMP#15)


Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #15 (Early release)

by David Zinger

If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will. ~ Mother Teresa

Don’t let your employee engagement messages go to the dogs or lull people to sleep.

How do we provide emotional rescue to ensure that people care about an idea? Do we foster empathy in the way we present our ideas? Can we velcro our idea with an idea that people already care about? Can we show others the benefit of our idea not just for who they are but who they could become?

If we take people only as they are, then we make them worse; if we treat them as if they were what they should be, then we bring them to where they can be brought. ~ Johann Wolfgang  Van Goethe

Chapter 5 of Made to Stick outlines the emotional component of stickiness. The emotional goal is to make people care because feelings inspire us to act.

Here are are a few points to consider when crafting messages to foster higher levels of engagement:

  • Did I communicate empathy for people who may feel disengaged?
  • Do I know what people really care about and can I twine this with employee engagement?
  • Do employees see the benefit of engagement for themselves now and in the future?

If we take the last point for example. It appears to me that people who are fully engaged at work are also able to fully engage in retirement while people who are disengaged at work and dream of being engaged in life when they retire have a hard time engaging in retirement. There is an old statement that goes retirement is being tired twice: first tired of working, then tired of not working.

Here is a summary from chapter 5 of Made to Stick:

How can we make people care about our ideas? We get them to take off their Analytical hats. We create empathy for specific individuals. We show how our ideas are associated with things that people already care about. We appeal to their self-interest, but we also appeal to their identities — not only to the people they are right now but also to the people they would like to be.

Get Perking:

  1. Work at leveraging the motion inherent in the emotions of engagement.
  2. Care enough to really know who you work with, to know what they care about, and to mesh your caring with the encouragement, empowerment, and tools to be fully engaged yourself at work and to foster high levels of employee engagement.

Winner for Unexpectedness is worth $1.75: Dan Whitmarsh was the winner of the grand sum of $1.75 for triggering the unexpected thought of the Three Musketeers and employee engagement. Employee engagement is one for all and all for one. To demonstrate his sense of one for all, Dan asked my to donate his winnings to the Tim Horton’s send a kid to camp campaign. 

Picture Credit: Jackson Tries to Contain His Excitement By

What is the sound of your employee engagement echo?


Can you hear your echo? Reflect on Barrie Shepley’s Personal Best Newsletter story about the echo:

A son and his father were walking in the mountains. Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself and screams: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” To his surprise, hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” Curious, he yells: “Who are you?” He receives the answer: “Who are you?” Angered at the response, he screams: “Coward!” He receives the answer: “Coward!” He looks to his father and asks: “What’s going on?” The father smiles and says: “My son, pay attention.” And then he screams to the mountain: “I admire you!” The voice answers: “I admire you!” Again the man screams: “You are a champion!” The voice answers: “You are a champion!” The boy is surprised, but does not understand. Then the father explains: “People call this echo, but really this is life. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions.

When we engage in our work our work engages us.

Get Engaged:

  1. Click here to subscribe to Barrie’s weekly newsletter. Barrie Shepley has been Canada’s National Triathlon Team coach since 1991 and he has coached over 500 people to national championship titles, Pan American  Games medals, World Championship medals as well as successful completion of the Hawaii Ironman and the Boston Marathon.  You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from Barrie’s best!
  2. Monitor your engagement during this week. When you decide to fully engage in work, even when you don’t feel like it, what does your overall engagement feel like an hour later? If you are like most people you will find the echo of your engagement strengthens you as you engage in your work.

Picture Credit: “His goal in life was to be an echo” by

Zengagement: Mindful of the moment


We must make our moments count in employee engagement.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is

paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality. It wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. If we are not fully present for many of those moments, we may not only miss what is most valuable in our lives but also fail to realize the richness and the depth of our possibilities for growth and transformation.

Mindfulness is to engage fully in life and is integral to fully engaging in our work.

Photo Credit: Impermanenceby Josh Bonfili:

Credible makes it Edible: Employee Engagement MMP #14


Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #14

The key concept from chapter four of  Made to Stick is to make your ideas “edible” by you and the idea being credible.  Employees will bite into employee engagement when they trust the message and the messenger. As a leader you need to establish and leverage trust in the name of employee engagement.

When you make your ideas tangible and concrete they become more real and more believable. A lot of credibility is in the details or story you tell — so do not neglect the vivid and specific “d-tale” of engagement.

Three specific tips in the chapter include:

  • Make statistics accessible.
  • Find a powerful example
  • Get a testable credential.

There are many statistics on employee engagement ranging from overall levels of engagement to the costs of disengagement. Find a way to communicate this to employees in a way that they can readily grasp.

Here is an example taken from a poll of 23,000 employees cited in Stephen Covey’s, The 8th Habit:

  1. Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
  2. Only 20 percent were enthusiastic about their team’s and their organization’s goals; said they have a clear link between their tasks and their team’s organizational goals; and, fully trusted the organization they worked for.
  3. Only 15 percept felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals

Stephen Covey made the idea sticky by using this soccer analogy:

If a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.

With this analogy Covey makes you fully realize the impact of these numbers on teamwork in a specific and credible way.

When you speak about employee engagement find powerful examples that establish credibility. Use a testable credential. Have employees conduct an engagement experiment to see what the impact is for themselves, their performance, and their organization.

Get Perking:

  1. Whenever you cite employee engagement statistics find a schema or analogy that the listeners or reader will be able to relate to.
  2. Make a testable credential offer to employees about engagement that they can try out to determine their own level of engagement.
  3. Use the Sinatra test. In the song “New York, New York,” Frank sings, If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. In employee engagement, this would mean finding a strongly disengaged team or department and igniting their engagement. If you can make employee engagement work with the disgruntled team you can make it work anywhere.

Picture Credit: England away by

Zengagement: Just Do It


Read David K. Reynolds passage from page 5 of Constructive Living:

You see, the fully functioning human being isn’t someone who is utterly free of pain and happy all the time. Not at all. The mature human being goes about doing what needs to be done regardless of whether that person feels great or terrible. Knowing that you are that kind of person with that kind of self-control brings all the satisfaction and confidence you will ever need. Even on days when the satisfaction and confidence just aren’t there, you can get the job done anyway.

Can you just do it?

Picture Credit: Mars: Endurance Crater  by