Organizational Excellence

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Posts Tagged ‘employee engagement

Feeling Engaged-Thanks George

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George Mosley posted the following in the Employee Engagement Network’s  discussion forum. So many relevant points that it deserves reproducing here, followed by my reply.

Feeling Engaged

A while back, following the annual employee satisfaction survey, it struck me that conversations in our workplace were almost always focused on “why aren’t we engaged”. So, a few of us got together and talked about “why we are engaged”. We found we had the following feelings and attitudes in common.

  1. I enjoy what I do
    – The work I’m doing is interesting and challenging
    – I feel the work I do contributes to the success of the organisation
    – I feel that my expertise and talents are well matched to what I do
  2. I’m self-motivated
    – My self-motivation is acknowledged and honoured
  3. I’m curious about and aware of the various corporate activities and initiatives
  4. I’m interested in making a difference
  5. I feel my creative side is encouraged and supported
  6. I’m happy with my manager(s)
    – Supportive without getting in my way
    – Trust me to know what I’m doing and to know what needs to be done
    – Good behaviour model (an engaged manager –> engaged employees)
    – Comfortable social relationship
  7. I feel my input is welcomed by the corporation
  8. I’ve been happy with my growth and advancement opportunities

Our hope was that others might recognize their own feelings and attitudes (or absence thereof) in the list and find a starting point for personal change.

(my reply)

George, just a quick count…it appears there are about 38 key points embedded in you post! Not enough time to highlight all of them, so here’s just a few that jumped out at me.

  • The list is top-heavy on “feelings” and conspicuously excludes “things”.
  • It’s clear by the comments that engagement is highly personal as it is nurtured by individual values, or drivers, or whatever you want to call the stuff that makes each of us who we are and defines what we really, really need to succeed.
  • To be fully engaged people need to be given a personal reason to feel vested in their company.
  • This strengths-based leadership stuff has something to it!
  • Surveys, while they are dogged quite a bit for good reason, do have a secondary value-adding purpose: they spur dialog around the right things. If this stuff is water-cooler chatter at your company, George, it must be a pretty cool place to work!

Last…data is dandy, but anecdotal evidence often points to the really relevant stuff—the story behind the numbers. While comments take much longer to sift through and analyze, and the Board prefers black and white is / isn’t numbers, the effort is well worth it!

George, those comments you listed represent critical elements that are essential to engineering an environment that is capable of sustaining this weird life form we call high engagement. Develop a strategy focused on establishing those elements, and life is Good!


Written by Craig

November 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Posted in Engagement

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The X and I

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There is a great whiteboard video from the originators of the “X” posted at the Employee Engagement Network.  Come back after you watch.

If we can tell our personal story, it helps make engagement more real. If something actually has deep meaning to me and I can relate my own experience to others, I become a more credible source.

This is my personal story–how I have mapped the “x” in numerous sessions of BlessingWhite’s Managing Personal Growth. The story ran long, so I am posting it separately at my blog.

Telling my “x” experience is critical right now as I am about to use it to introduce myself, to open a proposal to our chief officers that is heavily influenced by engagement factors-the soft stuff that can drive operations managers nutty. My leaders need to understand me, my perspective, and most importantly the power of engagement as presented through the “x”. I need credibility, and telling my story here is a good warm-up for me. The X and I.  I’d love to hear your story too.

One Pebble, One Pond

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 I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do…

So I’ll leave it up to you. (Ten Years After, 1971)

1971 was at the tail end of the most socially conscious decade in American history. A great many movements and world-changers. I’d Love to Change the World lamented the state of society, and a perceived helplessness to do anything about it.

The “Occupy Anything Anywhere” movement 40 years later is nothing new. We used to call them “sit-ins” back in the day…right on.

Sit-ins, demonstrations and unauthorized occupations are not the only way to effect change, and possibly not even the most effective. What happens after the tribe disbands, and the event and press coverage go away? Change is more than an event. South American social guerilla / change agent Che Guevara knew it. He maintained that the only way to achieve lasting change is through controlling the education and communications systems–what people learn and what is continuously reinforced.

For those of us who are not radical wearers of Che beanies seeking to overthrow governments, for those who can’t take months off work to camp out in a public park to make our statement, we still have a huge impact opportunity in front of us.

It starts with one pebble, one pond — with me and my circles of influence. The tiny ripples from my single pebble eventually overlap and join with others, until the smooth pond surface is in constant motion, unrecognizable compared to the mirror surface it once was.

If nothing happens over time, the pond surface will revert back to what it was.

Nothing lasts without continued effort and focus on what must be accomplished. We need more pebbles and more people dropping them. One pebble, one pond.

Circles of Influence, Meet Chain of Command

Influence is the unofficial authority a person of credibility has, and it has impacts that reach way beyond positional power. People comply to the orders of a position, they commit to follow a person of influence. Big difference!

This is not a denouncement of chain of command, it’s an endorsement of influence. A positioned person needs influence to be an effective leader of people; without influence that person is just a manager of things. Credibility feeds influence, which feeds things getting done. So if credibility is the trigger, how do you ‘do’ it?

People earn credibility, and a company or organization does as well. Both earn credibility when they consistently deliver results with integrity…

with integrity?!

Credibility and integrity are almost interchangeable. One certainly enhances the other. The difference: while credibility has to do with how well you do things, integrity comes into play with how you behave while you’re doing those things.

You can have one without the other:

John is the go-to guy for this kind of project. He can do it in half the time and get amazing results. But watch out…his “get it done whatever the cost” approach has left broken people in his wake more than once. But that’s the price you pay for tapping his expertise. Ouch.

Mary is the consummate team player. She’s great to be around, and you can always count on her to be there and do what you ask of her. But she has a hard time taking the initiative to move forward on her own without approval. It’s really tough to find something of importance that you can be sure she is able to do without guidance, and you need low maintenance self-starters to get this project done. Ouch again.

What we really need is John and Mary in one package. But if you could only have one which is more critical—credibility or integrity?

Written by Craig

April 11, 2012 at 7:55 am

Was Darwin Right?

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It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change. (Darwin)

Following is a real-world dilemma, once again using the bell curve. What would you do?

You’ve been tasked to research leadership development material for a rather “young” group of leaders in a startup operation. Based on comments and observation you are concerned with the varying levels of team leader buy-in to the training. Your original focus was “what is the best way to get everyone on board?” But the initial effects of the kool-aid have worn down and now you’re beginning to wonder “can we realistically expect everyone to happily hop on the bus and go to Disneyland with us?”

Framed in terms of variation and natural distribution, below is the bell curve of leader buy-in. The left tail is comprised of nay-sayers and no-wayers, while the right tail has visionaries and natural leaders. The largest population is the fence-sitters in the middle.


Would it be more effective to offer elective leadership development to any interested person, regardless of whether they are currently leaders? The “deadwood” on the left can choose to participate and improve, and we may convert some of them. But if they don’t want to or can’t get on the bus, we can’t drag them on board and expect good results.

I really hate to ask this…would we be better off developing from scratch those with potential and the right attitude, rather than attempting to shape and mold miscreants against their will?

This is a major shift for me, may lose some sleep. Your thoughts?

Written by Craig

June 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Primers for Engaging Conversations

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 The following is posted at the 4,000-member Employee Engagement Network. It is an invitation to contribute to an e-book, topic described below. Go check it out and if you aren’t part of the EEN community, come on in! Sign up and contribute.

 High on the list of a leader, manager, or supervisor’s daily work should be having meaningful conversations with others, beyond the regular small talk. Taking time to talk with a person goes a long way and is even more powerful if the conversation targets what matters most. This says to the other person I recognize you, I care about you, I am committed to your success, and I support you.
Our next e-book is Primers for Engaging Conversations: Questions or Conversational Primers to Help Others Engage

What question or statement would you use with peers, reports, bosses or others as a conversation primer to help them engage more fully in work, relationships, customer service, organizational goals, results, etc?

Write your engaging conversation primer question in one sentence. The ideal question or statement should be written in a conversational style that reads the same way it sounds if it was voiced.

Submit one question or statement at a time. 
This book will be co-edited by Craig Althof and David Zinger with design by John Junson.

Written by Craig

February 7, 2011 at 12:46 am

Posted in Engagement

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How to Better Engage Employees in the Performance Management Process

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Note from Craig:

This is a guest post from blogger Sean Conrad, a senior product analyst at Halogen Software, a leading provider of performance management software solutions. For more of his insights on performance management, read his posts on the Halogen blog.

I was a site administrator for a Halogen corporate user, and was pleasantly surprised to have Halogen contact me about running this guest blog. Halogen’s approach to performance management is employee rather than manager-driven. One of the major drivers of engagement is involvement, and that is what the Halogen process ensures.

The points that Sean makes here are absolutely critical to engaging employees in an effective performance management process.


How to Better Engage Employees in the Performance Management Process, by Sean Conrad.

One of the subtle but important messages in Craig’s posts about performance management, is that employees need to be actively engaged in the process. This is important. In many, if not most companies, performance management is something that managers “do” and employees “receive”. That tends to lead to employees being disengaged from the process, and even cynical about it. For performance management to be truly effective, we need to change that paradigm. The question then is: how to do it?

Here are some suggestions. Ideally you would execute these at the organizational level, but you could take these steps as an individual manager as well, or even as an employee.

Get Employees to Complete a Self-Appraisal

Getting your employees to complete self-appraisals, before their managers write their appraisals is a great way to involve them in the process and in their performance. It’s a way to give them an active role and a voice in the process. It’s also a great way to give the manager insight into their employees’ perspective on things, and identify any differences in opinion before the performance appraisal meeting. Even for managers who work closely with their employees, it’s hard to get the full picture, and understand all the factors that affect their employees’ performance. Employee self-appraisals help fill that knowledge gap and avoid surprises. But more importantly, they give the employee an active role in the process.

Ask Employees to Draft their Goals and Development Plans

Most of us are more committed to the things that we signed up for than to the things others ask us to do. This is not to say that employees should get to do only what they want to. But giving employees access to the organization’s high level goals, and the department’s goals, then asking them to identify how they, in their role, will contribute to these is a great way to give them context for their work and to get them committed to their goals. It’s also a great way to uncover hidden talents, abilities or interests you might not know about otherwise. It can help start a conversation about the employee’s roles and responsibilities, and ways to expand them, or even focus them.

Similarly, you should ask your employees to draft their own development plans. Doing this invites them to take an honest look at areas they want to develop or improve. And again, if they initiate it, they’re more likely to be committed to the outcome.

Foster Ongoing Dialogue Between Employees and Managers

It’s hard to be engaged in something that only happens once a year. We all know how everyone tends to file away their annual performance appraisal and forget it until next year. Employee performance is really something that should be managed on an ongoing basis.

One of the ways you can do that is by encouraging the use of some kind regular progress report or shared performance journal. It can be a short weekly report, or a more comprehensive monthly report, or even better, a kind of performance or project diary where the employee keeps notes on progress, successes, failures, etc. This kind of recording encourages reflection, which can foster learning and growth. Sharing this regular progress reporting with the manager can open up another forum for dialogue and keep the manager in the loop with what’s going on in the employee’s worklife.

You can also foster more ongoing dialogue by building in more frequent “mini-performance reviews” into your process. A lot of companies find it helps to conduct quarterly reviews in addition to the annual performance appraisal. These mini reviews make everyone stop, take stock of where things are at, make any needed adjustments to goals and development plans, and address any performance challenges before they become big issues. And they just get managers and employees formally talking about performance on a more frequent basis – which is always a good thing.

Better Engagement Means Better Performance

The more engaged your employees are with your performance management process, the more your organization will reap its benefits. Don’t just go through the motions of rating performance, setting goals and identifying development plans. When done well, employee performance appraisals can be an invaluable tool for driving employee engagement.

Written by Craig

September 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm

About the Flawless Execution Web Site

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If you stopped by this blog, chances are you will be interested in visiting my other home on the web. I’d like to invite you to  Flawless Execution. No frills, just information that I hope is of value to you. Look around, and if something grabs your attention or you have a question or comment, email me at or come back to the blog and comment. I’ll be glad to help when I can.

I am a people and process improvement practitioner and have worked closely with organized labor leadership, as well as all levels and functions of management. This diverse background has given me a broad perspective on what it takes to achieve flawless execution. Defined:

Achieving a goal, meeting a requirement or completing a task in minimal time and effort, doing it right the first time, to perfection.

Flawless execution is the end result of doing many things very well, including providing an environment that promotes full engagement, alignment and cascading of the plan, ensuring clear expectations and accountability, continuously communicating with and involving the team, providing necessary system and skills support, and gathering and acting on meaningful real-time metrics.

Two attributes in particular make a real difference in achieving flawless execution, and are my points of emphasis:

• Dual Perspective: I have been both a driver and a do-er, in both operations improvement and people development;

• Double Vision: focus on both process and people to achieve excellence and optimal results.

Referencing back to the definition of flawless execution above: some companies are good at some of these things, some are good at others. The exceptional companies excel at all of these. It’s a lot like Deming’s insistence on all 14 Points or none. All are essential. Except I don’t quite have the credibility or clout WED did.

Last, I hope you’ll take time to consider The Greater Good: applying concepts, principles, tools and techniques from the worlds of business and industry to society, community, local government, education, individual excellence et al. This is a work-in-process: we all thrive on striving for the greater good!

Written by Craig

September 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm