Category Archives: disengagement

Breakthrough to Employee Engagement: MMP#24

Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #24


How do you create a breakthrough to achieve fuller employee engagement for yourself and the people you work with? Often we feel stuck or disengaged. We want a breakthrough. But we are not sure how to proceed or even get started.

Lisa Haneberg offers a solution in her book: Two Weeks to a Breakthrough.

Lisa moves beyond simplistic pop psychology or self-management and offers a very practical and explicit method to get fully engaged.

She recommends taking 2 weeks to create the breakthrough and gives you guidance each day on how to proceed. The daily practice is the key to move beyond dreaming of change and breakthroughs to zooming towards your goal.

Each day is configured slightly differently but the practice consists of 3 fundamental components:

  1. Share your goal with others
  2. Take action that support your goal
  3. Make request that will help you move towards your goal

Share-Action-Request makes our breakthrough method public, tangible, and connected. I know one of the first times I tried this method I let the sharing part of the method slip. I thought I could just do it on my own. I now realize how important this was to create what I call an accountability allies – others who will both support and challenge me on my work.

Here is a short outline on the approach if you are a leader striving towards creating more engagement in your workplace:

  • You will get specific about what you are trying to achieve.
  • You will be talking with many people about your plans and actions to foster fuller employee engagement.
  • You will be taking multiple actions to increase engagement.
  • You will be requesting help – full employee engagement can not be achieved on your own.
  • You can monitor the progress and results.

One thing I love about Two Weeks to a Breakthrough is how short it is. If you did not get the results you hoped for you can start again with a fresh two weeks and use what you learned from the last breakthrough approach to ensure more success.

Fostering high levels of employee engagement will be both a service and a contribution you make to your employees and the organization.

How about it? What are you planning to do for the next 2 weeks? I hope you make a break for full employee engagement.

Get Perking:

  1. Read Lisa’s book: Two Weeks to a Breakthrough.
  2. Visit and engage in Lisa’s breakthrough blog.
  3. Learn from your own experience, apply the method and monitor results.

Blogging break…Retire Now

I will be taking a vacation from work and blogging for the next 3 weeks. Watch for this blog to resume full operations near the end of August. I am reprinting an article I wrote for Slacker Manager on Retire Now.

I believe “retirement” does not mean full disengagement, just as I do not believe that work means full engagement. I will be weaving some “retirement” into my summer…

Retire now: Weave retirement into your work even if you are in your 20s

In about 10 years the number of young people getting into the workplace will no longer be enough to replace retirees.

Tim Cork, a career coach, stated in The Globe and Mail, “if you are fifty-something and you can expect to live into your 80s, you should be thinking of this as half-time and not the beginning of the end.”

 He encourages older workers to think about a new career with these tips:

  1. focus on your strengths
  2. find your passion
  3. network
  4. create your brand
  5. do your homework
  6. take action
  7. don’t be discouraged
  8. have a support system

I don’t know about you but this would be the same advice I have heard for recent graduates from high school or university.

If you are younger you may be expected to work longer in your life.

Don’t wait for retirement, retire now.

Retire now…

Retire now  does not mean you stop working. It means you work at what interests you and what you care about.

Retire now  means that you take vacations, breaks, and time with your family.

Retire now  means you stop always trying to climb up the career ladder and enjoy being on the rung.

Retire now  means you “stop trying harder and try softer.”

Retire now  means you don’t always have to be connected or respond to each email within 22 seconds.

Retire now  means that you make contributions to society and you fully develop yourself.

Retire now  means you can take full satisfaction in what you have done in your life, even at 22 years of age!

Retire now  means you learn from the past, look forward to the future, but live in the ever changing current now.

Retire now  means that retirement is a part of working not apart from working.

Don’t wait for some magic age such as 50, 60 or 65. Don’t wait for some “retirement package.” Retire now.

Click, Slacker Manager, if you would like to read all 5 posts I wrote for Slacker Manager in the last week of July.

If you would like to read all 5 posts in David Zinger was lucky enough at 21 years of age, 32 years ago, to have listened carefully to Don, an 80 year-old-fried who said retirement was wasted on the elderly and that people 21 should be retired. David has been retired ever since while still actively working. Retirement is a way of living and working that can successfully reside within an active and full career. 

Making Employee Engagement “Mmm, Mmm, Good” Again (MMP #21)

Employee Engagement Monday Morning Percolator #21


At the turn of this century, the Campbell Soup Company’s employee engagement was not “mmm mmm good.” In addition, soup sales were stagnant and the stock was slumping. The executive wanted to assess employee engagement but many employees, including managers, did not want to complete the anonymous Gallup employee engagement questionnaire and when the results were in, Gallup told Douglas Conant, the CEO, that it was the worst level of employee engagement they had ever seen.

Douglas Conant now focuses as much on employee engagement as he does on soup, manufacturing facilities, and marketing efforts:

Every day, you’ve got to be making deposits in the emotional bank account of your company. When people do something right, you have to celebrate it, and then you have to celebrate it again. And if they do something wrong, you have to thoughtfully call them on it, because this isn’t a patronizing culture, it’s a performance culture.

Conant believes that lifetime loyalty is a thing of the past, but said that doesn’t worry the young people joining Campbell Soup today right out of college.

They are not looking for a job for life; they want meaningful experiences where they can do something special and contribute. It’s not about security. It’s about making a better world.

Get Perking:

  1. Heat up performance and engagement for the benefit of employees and the organization by making the workplace a better place to be.
  2. Carefully craft the ingredients in your recipe to create chicken soup for the employee engagement soul? Make the cultural broth of your workplace performance based not patronizing or penalizing.
  3. Transform your organization so that employees are slurping up nourishing work and saying, “mmm, mmm, good” rather than cracking under too many demands, lack of meaning and trust, and an increasing sense of disconnection from the work and each other.
  4. Click here to read the New Jersey Star-Ledger article that inspired this post.

Photo Credit: Warhol @ Moma: Campbell Soup Series by

Employee Engagement: Engage with Stories (MMP#16)


Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #16

by David Zinger

Stories engage us and we can foster engagement with stories. This is the final of 6 reviews about the book: Made to Stick. Make your ideas sticky by making them simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional as you communicate your ideas within stories.

Stories are a way to embrace the principles of Made to Stick. They are concrete, they often have both unexpected and emotional elements, they can be simple. You might not even have to create a story. You may just need to take some time to spot the stories that come out of experiences.

Take this quick memory test:

  1. What do you remember about the story of the 3 little pigs?
  2. What is the plot of the tortoise and the hare?
  3. What is your organization’s strategic plan?
  4. What percentage of your employees are fully engaged at work?

Chances are you will remember stories better than facts and figures. Do you also remember to use stories to make your ideas stick? Stories are the glue that holds listener to speaker and reader to writer.

The power of story is

it provides simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act)…a credible idea makes people believe. An emotional idea makes people care…the right stories make people act.

For example the authors cite the use of Jared’s inspirational story as a spokesperson for Subway. His story mobilized people to eat at Subway after Jared lost so much weight from his original 425 pounds after eating only Subway food for a year. It took some perceptive people within the Subway organization to spot the power of this story and to recognize the value and stickiness of the story.

… springboard stories mobilize people to act. Stories focus people on potential solutions. Telling stories with visible goals and barriers shifts the audience into a problem-solving mode.

There are 3 main structures that create effective stories. When you are trying to spot stories to foster engagement look for stories that have the themes of overcoming challenges, making connections or creative development. A really good  story might have all three themes woven into the telling.

To start filming a movie a director may shout: lights, camera, action! Use engagement stories and engaging stories to enlighten, help people get the picture, and create action to move into high levels of employee engagement.

Marcus Buckingham, a leader in the strengths approach to work, has a 6 part DVD series about putting our strengths to work: Trombone Player Wanted

Buckingham is a skilled speaker, the strength focus is vital for employee engagement, yet what adds stickiness to the 6 videos is the use of a story involving a young boy who is stuck playing the trombone in the school band yet really wants to be a percussionist. By the end of the final video, the boy has found someone else who loves the trombone to take his place and he is drumming with delight. The story in relationship to strengths development embraced challenge, connection and creativity. The school band subplot demonstrated that it wasn’t easy, it was important, and if a young boy can do this than any of us who are disengaged at work can make moves to foster much richer levels of employee engagement.


Added bonus to the Monday Morning Percolator:  If you would like to read David Zinger’s 18 page free booklet on the videos with suggestions for action click on the following link to a PDF E-booklet .

Trombone Player Wanted – Free E-Booklet.


Get Perking:

  1. Uncover the stories of your workplace or life that can be shared to mobilize others into engaged action.
  2. If you are going to make a major presentation on employee engagement try ditching the PowerPoint slides and hitching your message to 3 or 4 powerful stories that create a real power point of engagement between you and the audience.
  3. When you spot a good story develop a method to keep track of it for later use. This can be as simple as creating a document, call it stories, and everytime you encounter an experience that would make a good story put a few key words and perhaps a title in the document to remind you of the story. If you don’t track your stories you can easily lose that you could use. Review the document when you are looking for a good story to make employee engagement sticky and to mobilize actions.

Picture credit: gluey harmony 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