Employee Engagement- It’s NOT about the $

November 24, 2010

If you’ve seen the movie Jerry Maguire, you’ll remember the scene where Tom Cruise asks Cuba Gooding, Jr., “What can I do for you?” Gooding says, “Show me the money.”

Many employers think that’s the key to employee engagement. But any company that THINKS you have to pour money on employees to get them engaged will write off employee engagement efforts during tough economic times. “We just can’t afford to do it right now,” they say.

In fact, you can’t afford NOT to pay attention to engagement, especially when the wind is howling outside. Employee engagement scores regularly account for up to 50 percent of the variance in customer service scores. A disengaged employee can cost you 30 TIMES as much in safety-related incidents. And disengaged employees are over 85 percent more likely to leave.

A 2006 study by the Gallup Management Journal found that engaged employees make up an average 29 percent of a company’s workforce, leaving a startling 71 percent who are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.”

Engagement comes not from dollars but from more personal factors. Here are seven things that will help your employees stay engaged for the long term.

  1. An employer who cares enough to listen. The best way to know what your employees need and expect is to ask them—and to listen carefully to their answers.
  2. Clear, consistent expectations. Vague policies and unclear expectations can make employees feel irritated, unsafe, even paranoid. And yes, disengaged. They click into survival mode instead of focusing on how to help the company succeed.
  3. A sense of the importance of their work. This has a greater impact on loyalty and customer service than all other factors COMBINED.
  4. Opportunities for advancement. The chance to work your way up the ladder is a tremendous incentive for productivity, bonding, and engagement.
  5. Good relationships with others in the workplace—especially the supervisor. If that relationship is toxic, you can forget about asking the employee to put his shoulder to the wheel for the company.
  6. Regular feedback. If you want to keep them moving forward, give employees the occasional rudder report. And don’t forget positive feedback, which should ideally outnumber the negative by about 5 to 1.
  7. Celebration and rewards for success. Set realistic targets, then reward and celebrate when they are reached. And don’t wait for the end of a big project to celebrate. Pick landmarks along the way and go nuts when you hit them.

Most employees want to feel valued and a part of a purpose bigger than just their job.  These seven simple steps will help you create an environment that will stimulate and sustain engagement!


  1. Assess your own organization.   How engaged are your employees?  Your manager?  Are you? 
  2. Determine one thing you could begin to do differently to increase your own level of engagement  and start doing it today.

Question:  How engaged are You?

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Categories: Culture, Employee engagement, Employee satisfaction, Leadership, Morale.

The Science of Motivation

November 24, 2010

The Science of Motivation Click on this link to watch Daniel H. Pink talk about the science of motivation. 


 Daniel Pink is the author of several provocative, bestselling books about the changing world of work.  His latest is Drive:  The Suurprising Truth About What Motivates Us which uses 50 years of behavioral science to overturn the conventional wisdom about human motivation and offer a more effective path to high performance.     Check out our review of Drive in our Book Review this week.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Create the Cruise of Your Dreams

November 17, 2010

by Phil Humbert

This week, a remarkable experiment in human psychology occurred. As a Psychologist, I can testify that because of ethical restrictions on research with human subjects, this particular experiment is unlikely to ever be repeated. So this was a one-time-only event, but it provided powerful data that can benefit each of us. I hope you’re paying attention! The information gained from this experiment could transform your life.

Last week about 3000 people embarked for a cruise aboard the Carnival ship, Splendor. They paid lots of money and the test subjects were encouraged to expect fine dining, perfect weather, relaxation and luxury as they cruised along the Mexican coast. All of this, of course, was before the fire.

After the fire, their expectations changed, and that’s where the research began.

For days after the fire, there was no electricity, no hot food, and no running water. It’s important to note that what scientists would call “other external conditions” did not change. The rooms and furnishings were the same. The lounges were the same. And of course, the weather did not change. For those who wished to “get away from the hustle and bustle,” the ship must have been wonderfully quiet, with no shows, shore excursions or other distractions.

But what a change in expectations! And here’s where the research gets interesting.

After the ship was towed back to port, I saw the passengers being interviewed. For many, it was a terrible experience. Long lines for cold food, no hot water (only cold showers!) and toilets that backed up. And of course, no fine dining, no shows, and no excursions. Just a slow 4-day cruise to nowhere and back.

But did you notice the other passengers? Some reported a grand adventure! Some reported that while their expectations were disrupted, the primary focus of their honeymoon had hardly changed at all! (VERY interesting!) Others reported making friends, and experienced mainly cooperation, patience and courtesy among passengers and staff. Some did lots of reading, played games and had a safe, uneventful time, even if it was very different than their initial expectations.

While some passengers reported extreme discomfort and a reluctance to ever cruise again, others were eager for the free trip Carnival promised as a “make up.”

With such a large number of research subjects (most human research involves less than 100 test subjects, while this one had over 3000!), the results are probably reliable and they are profound: We can safely conclude that for most people, most of the time, our experience is more dependent on our attitude than on external circumstances.

That’s very important! Some human beings are able to have a good time under even the most unusual (and difficult) circumstances, while others are reduced to misery. On a powerless cruise ship, some find ways to enjoy themselves, while other complain of terrible conditions and experience mostly deprivation.

About 70 years ago, Anais Nin observed, “We don’t see the world the way it is, we see the world the way we are.” What a concept!

Later, the Psychiatrist and author, Viktor Frankl, emerged from Nazi death camps with a similar observation. He said, “Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

On board the Splendor, some saw an adventure and opportunity. Others saw only danger, discomfort, disappointment and anxiety. Some (probably the honeymooners) experienced very little disruption, while others were enormously upset. They all had the same experience of a cruise gone bad, but chose vastly different reactions and interpretations.

So here’s the application for each of us – How do you see the world?

* Some see a recession, political and economic turmoil, hard times and difficulty.

* Others see enormous opportunity and a time for growth, creativity, courage and resilience.

* Some experience life, in Will Rogers’ immortal words as, “Just one damn thing after another.”

* Others see life as an adventure, full of the unexpected and the beautiful.

In the long run, most of the time, we get what we expect in life, so why not expect the best? Is your world a glass that’s “half-full” or a glass that’s “half-empty?” It’s your choice, but it comes with enormous implications. Choose well.

Question:  Who is showing up in your world?  In your week?

Categories: Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.

Leadership Development isn’t a spare time activity

November 9, 2010

Many of us think – I’ll do professional development when things slow down, when I find time, when I really need it.  But, what we need to consider is that development happens every day.

We learn by listening to our employees.  We learn from discussions with peers.  We learn from our mistakes (hopefully).  We learn from what we read, groups we attend  . . .

Learning happens whether it’s formal or informal.

Answer these questions and determine where you are on the leadership development scale.

  • What did you learn today?
  • When was the last time you scheduled professional development for yourself (a class, a MasterMind group, a teleconference or webinar, a coach)?
  • Beyond the scheduled training sessions from the training department, when do you work on developing you?
  • When the opportunity to do the next job in your leadership career emerges, will you be ready?
  • Are you too busy to find time to develop yourself?
  • Will you be as effective tomorrow as you are today if you remain static in your development?
  • Do you only work on you when you have “free time”?

Action Plan

  1. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to think about what you learned that day.
  2. Determine what you are going to do to make sure that you continue to develop yourself as a leader with formal and informal practices and make it happen.

Question:  Who is your mentor (dead or alive)?

Categories: Collaboration, Leadership, Leadership development, Personal development.

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