Posts Tagged ‘employee engagement’

Employee Engagement, Culture, Leadership Top Issues in 2015

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

2015 Predictions by Bersin In his “Predictions for 2015” report for Deloitte Consulting LLC, Josh Bersin underscores the need for organizations to re-direct their focus on employee engagement, corporate culture and leadership. Why? Many employees are “overwhelmed” and employee engagement and retention is at an all-time low.

“While many people are still looking for work, more and more people are getting fed up with the 24/7 work environment…so they go to social websites like LinkedIn or”– and they get job offers. The companies that win the competition for the best and brightest employees are those that are “focused on mission, culture, and leadership,” Bersin says.  “They understand that people are not ‘talent'”; rather, the most desirable companies to work understand that employees are fully-developed people who have “their own personal needs and aspirations.”

I would add that the following leadership communication practices are highly effective tools for accomplishing Bersin’s recommended goals:

  1. Establishing personal connections with employees through regular direct contact
  2. Communicating clearly and consistently about mission, values and goals, and
  3. Demonstrating vulnerability by sharing stories from the leader’s own experiences to impart important lessons learned

A writer on the ever-changing landscape of business-driven learning, HR and talent management, he bases these views on a survey by It reveals clear differences between companies where employees are highly engaged and those where employees are actively disengaged.

Bersin says that the transformation he sees in today’s workforce is the most dramatic he’s seen in years. He says the main drivers for business success are “Engagement, Experience, and Environment… because ultimately employee engagement is all a business has.” He calls on leaders to direct their energies to building “highly engaged teams” along with achieving the desired business results, and his report includes guidelines on how to make this critical shift.

Culture of Communication Maximizes Employee Engagement

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

According to a recent Gallup poll, over 50 percent of the current workforce is not fully engaged with the company; they simply show up and do what they need to do to keep their jobs–a steady income, in other words–but they do no more than absolutely necessary. What’s worse, nearly 20 percent of employees are “actively disengaged,” which presumably means they “push the envelope” on how little is enough to get by.

Margie Warrell, a leadership coach and author, discusses this woeful situation in an article on Pointing out the urgent need for effective leadership communication, Warrell says that a leader’s level of interaction with employees makes a huge difference in how the workforce feel about their organization. As she rightly asserts, it’s crucial for a leader to regularly walk through the workplace and talk with employees. Transparent communication that divulges failures as well as successes is at the heart of creating a truly connected workplace, a culture of interdependence and mutual trust. And reminding people that their contributions are valuable inspires lasting commitment.

When people feel connected, they support one another fully and provide top-notch customer service. As Warrell says, “Relationships are the currency of the workplace, and so the stronger a leader’s connections, the better placed they will be to engage their employees…. Only when leaders demonstrate the courage they wish to see in those around them will they be able to unleash the human potential within their teams and organization, tap ingenuity,  raise the bar on innovation and optimize the value their organization contributes to all of it’s stakeholders.”

Stories are the best way for a leader to make those essential connections: stories that envision the future and make it palpable; stories that remind people of successes, both past and current;  stories about “lessons learned,” including those that describe mistakes the leader has made–and that have shaped the leader.

Over the past 21+ years, during which I’ve led hundreds of Corporate Storytelling workshops and delivered tens of keynotes, I’ve seen thousands of people light up when they experience the power of story. It’s the way humans derive meaning about life, from daily routines to remarkable accomplishments. Stories are the way we learn about one another, discover shared values and appreciate how much we can accomplish together.

Leaders who leverage the power of story with clear, consistent communication are sure to beat the competition. Their workforce will be fully engaged and committed to doing whatever it takes to realize the vision.

Powerful Listening Wins Employee Engagement

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Listening Ear

When you hear the word “communication,” what do you think of first: speaking, or listening? My hunch is that most of us think of speaking. In our hyper-busy, 24/7 culture, in fact, the “art” of listening–truly listening in a focused, intentional way–has been lost. It may sound like an oxymoron, but there is power in the ability to listen.

In fact, listening is an absolutely essential skill for leaders to develop. According to a recent Gallup poll, 63% of the global workforce is not engaged, and that translates into a waste of half a trillion dollars! And listening is one of the most powerful ways to engage employees, writes Greg McKeown in a wonderful article in “Harvard Business Review”. Unfortunately, leaders, like most of us, tend to focus on the messages they need to convey and forget that they need to listen to their employees.

By listening carefully to the people in their organizations on a regular basis, leaders will learn invaluable information:

  • what’s on employees’ and customers’ minds
  • what employees most want from their leaders
  • what employees most need from their leaders

What can be done to close the communication gap between leaders and their employees? McKeown suggests adapting a listening process used by the Quakers called the “Clearness Committee.” He describes in some detail how the process works and acknowledges that few companies would have time to invest in it.

But McKeown says the business world can adapt the process this way: “When one of your team members comes to you with a particular challenge, you can ask her questions to define what the real dilemma is, instead of jumping in with premature, well-intended solutions that actually miss the mark”….and you can increase the ratio of listening to speaking by asking questions.

He suggests spending at least 50% of any conversation actively listening to the other person speak. “The bottom line is this: if you want to engage your employees at a whole new level, if you want to become a person of greater influence, and if you want to discover a new kind of power — listen.”

Reality TV Techniques for the Corporate World

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Driven by the desire to create video content that’s engaging and also “takes viewers on a Kim Goodhart had to overcome early doubts about her ability to face up to senior executives. Photo / Chris Louftejourney,” two New Zealanders are applying reality TV techniques to videos they produce for corporate clients. As explained in an article in the New Zealand Herald, the partners said they realized well-told stories have the power to transform lives, and they set out to empower and inspire companies’ employees through ad lib video interviews with people at all levels instead of relying on tightly-worded scripts for executives, as corporate videographers traditionally do.

The result since their 2009 launch is a thriving business called Real TV, which counts major corporations among its clients. Co-founder Kim Goodhart, who earned a degree in psychology, never imagined she would be a business owner. For her the hardest part of launching a business has been learning how to run a business, but it “has become a real passion.”

She enjoys helping companies get their message out to the right audience and using video to help them get their great ideas disseminated into the international marketplace. It’s exciting, she says, to be “able to help them tell that story or promote their product in a way that means that they can send it to anyone, anywhere in the world, rather than having to fly out there and demonstrate it.”

Goodhart and her partner, Reuben Pillsbury, want to be the best in the world at providing reality TV for corporate storytelling, and she also wants to use the technique to benefit society at large. The approach, she says, “can be a powerful tool for helping society change and grow.”

Kim Goodhart shown above, photo by Chris Loufte

Tell Stories Worth Telling, Win Customers and Employees

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

“Fast Company” recently posted an excellent article on 10 ways that companies can bring core values to life, which emphasized that in today’s information-loaded environment, having a purpose that benefits your community is essential. The article reports that 87% of global consumers believe businesses “should place equal weight on societal issues and business issues,” and a study on meaningful brands found that “73% of existing brands could disappear and consumers wouldn’t care.”

Three of the 10 ways to bring core values to life align with three main points in my Corporate Storytelling® system. They are

  1. Make customers the celebrity of your brand story, explaining the benefits of your products/services
  2. CEOs must lead by example, enacting the values on a regular basis so that employees understand the desiredbehavior that will be rewarded
  3. Inspire employees to become brand advocates

Each of these can be achieved by clearly articulating a relevant story that engages your employees, customers, and community and galvanzies support for your mission. Stories are powerful communication tools for many reasons; chief among them are that stories touch people emotionally, act as glue that sticks your brand in their minds, and motivate them to promote your business.

The lesson here is that you have to work harder to cut through the information clutter, and the most effective way to do that is to tell a story worth telling–one that clearly communicates values your customers, employees and community share.

To ensure that your company’s brands aren’t among that startlingly high 73% that the marketplace doesn’t care about, read the “Fast Company” article and assess how well you’re doing on all 10 measures recommended.


Four Kinds of Corporate Culture

Friday, February 10th, 2012

There are four distinct types of corporate culture, according to a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, and the one preferred by employees surprised researchers. Also, the firm’s study confirms that a mismatch between the culture and the CEO is often the cause of a CEO’s “flame-out.”

LeadershipIQ says the four types of culture are

  1. Hierarchical–built on tradition, rely on clearly defined roles
  2. Dependable–focus on process, slow to change
  3. Enterprising–value creativity, competition and meritocracy
  4. Social–emphasize collaboration, trust and relationships

Which one do employees prefer? Not the one LeadershipIQ expected, as it turns out. The firm thought employees would favor a social company, but instead, they’re most engaged in an enterprising culture.

Understanding the type of culture you’re joining is important for any employee’s satisfaction, and it’s especially important for a new CEO. Otherwise, the leader is working at cross-purposes with the rest of the company. How good is the match between you and your company’s culture?


As Employee Engagement Goes, So Goes Retention

Friday, November 11th, 2011

In a recent post in Workforce Management entitled “Losing Lifeblood,” author Garry Kranz says many companies are feeling the effects of neglecting employee engagement as they’ve focused on the challenges of the extended recession. Often when employees disengage, they begin looking for other opportunities; this is especially true of top performers, who assume that they can (and usually do) find a company that will offer a more supportive environment and reward them appropriately.

Even if employees stick around, a drop in their level of engagement is commonly accompanied by a drop in productivity and commitment to customer service. Have you noticed these symptoms in your company? If so, what are you planning to do about it? You may want to launch a storytelling initiative. It’s a proven managment tool for reminding people of shared values and keeping them focused on the long-term vision.