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What Leaders Told Us… What Drives Employee Engagement

by John Zettler

July 8, 2015
Over three Tuesdays in June, we had 12 Leaders from various companies throughout the GTA attend our Leadership Training for Managers course in Mississauga. During day #2 of the course, we conducted focus groups on a current hot HR topic – “Employee Engagement”. While the responses we got may not be surprising, the question that we challenged these Leaders with, and now challenge you with is:

Are you prepared to integrate these practices into your business to be successful?

Dale Carnegie’s definition of Employee Engagement:  “The emotional and intellectual commitment of employees to deliver high performance.” 

Employee Engagement Video

We define the 3 Drivers of Engagement to be:
1. Satisfaction with Immediate Supervisor
2. Belief in Senior Leadership
3. Pride in the Organization

Approach: We broke the 12 Leaders out into 3 groups where they were tasked with discussing what they would do to positively impact the Drivers of Engagement.  Here’s what they had to say!

Satisfaction with Immediate Supervisor
  1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – We all know the value of communicating to our employees, so why don’t we do it? Spend time talking to your employees, getting to know them, getting to know what’s important to them, what challenges they’re having, and what you can do to help them.
  2. Provide Recognition and Praise – I recently sat in on a Dale Carnegie session where a participant spoke about the impact on him when a Leader gave him recognition and praise for a great job he did.  His exact quote was “it made my year”.  When I probed him, he indicated that it was so powerful because he’s never received this type of feedback before.  It’s free to give praise and recognition and the benefit will be amazing.
  3. Develop – The 70 – 20 – 10 “rule” originated in the 1980s from a Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) study and is widely relied upon as the model for development.  It says people grow mostly through their experience (70%), supplemented by development through people/relationships (20%) and training (10%).  In the article “How Leaders Grow Today” Dale Carnegie identified these four key components organizations need to foster to most effectively grow Leader’s today: Build a Helpful Culture, Select both Formal and Informal Mentors, Build Strong Internal/External Networks, and Identify and Foster Individual Confidence.
  4. Conduct Regular Performance Discussions – Feedback, formal (performance reviews) and informal (coaching/mentoring) is important for development, retention and motivation.  If you provide frequent feedback I assure you the “dreaded” performance review will become easier because there will be no surprises, it will be a summary of discussions you’ve already had.  Remember the goal of performance feedback – improve performance in a constructive and supportive way and encourage and praise when appropriate.
  5. Have Fun – Hold Regular Team Building Events – You can’t make every interaction with your team a transaction.  We spend at minimum 1/3 of our time at work and we need to remember to have fun.  Consider starting a meeting with some form of team building, or dedicate an entire meeting to team building.  Nothing to do with work, and you can rotate who will be responsible for chairing the meeting which is a development opportunity too.
Belief in Senior Leadership
  1. Above All, Be Transparent – In Daniel Pink’s book – Drive (I highly recommend you read this), his research suggests that there are 3 drivers to motivating your employees: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.  Transparent Leadership is the Purpose mode.  Let people know what the direction/vision of the company is and how their role plays a part in achieving that vision.
  2. Hold Regular Town Hall Meetings to Discuss: a. Vision; b. Economy; c. Market Conditions
  3. Celebrate Successes – There’s no shortage of research that suggests “happy” employees are more productive employees. So it should go without saying that it pays to celebrate successes within your business.
Pride in the Organization
  1. Be Socially Responsible – Corporate Social Responsibility is measured as a driver of many employee engagement surveys.  By definition it is described as: the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economic, social and environmental sustainable manner.
  2. Provide Time for Employees to Engage in Charitable/Volunteer Work – I’ve personally worked at companies where time was provided to get out into the community and volunteer their time.  Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Big Bike, Walks/Runs for Cancer are only a few great causes that I’ve personally participated in with the support of my Employers.  To see the passion and happiness in the faces of people participating in these events is to see the value of why you need to support this.
  3. Company Newsletter – Linked to transparency and celebrating success, the company newsletter is a tool that helps people feel connected to the company they’re part of.
  4. Employee Idea Collection – *Disclaimer* I get that the idea I’m going to describe doesn’t work in every industry.  There are many companies that have implemented what’s loosely referred to as 20% time. 20% time is the 1-day per week where employees don’t work on their current workload, rather they get to work on whatever innovative idea they want.  Did you know that Google’s Gmail and 3M’s Post-It-Notes came out of 20% time?  My point isn’t that you need to implement a 20% time program in your company, rather then your employees have great ideas and you should encourage them to bring them forward.
As you can see by this list of how to engage employees, there is no silver bullet.  It requires a great commitment from Leadership throughout the organization to operate and think differently.As I read through and listened to all the great ideas that each of the Leaders provided us, it dawned on me that there was a common theme – the theme I want to leave you with today. Treat people with respect and dignity and you’ll be well on your way to having a workforce willing to scale walls for you.
So I leave you with this question until next time:

What one small change are you willing to make today that gets you closer to achieving the engagement levels you want to see in your organization?  

Best Success!
John ZettlerDirector, Talent Strategy
& Development, 
Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-826-7300 x 235 orjzettler@dalecarnegie.ca 

We are pleased to welcome John Zettler to the Dale Carnegie team as Director, Talent Strategy & Development.
“John’s commitment and passion to the growth and development of individuals, teams and organizations is evident,” says Kevin Crone, President and Managing Partner, Dale Carnegie Business Group. “His engaging and collaborative approach along with his strong business acumen and focus on results make him a great fit for our team. We are thrilled he has decided to join us.”  
John ZettlerJohn Zettler brings almost 20 years of human resource experience to the challenge of better leadership we all share. He has invested his skills and energies and debated leadership with some of our country’s best leaders. Through this, he has refined a style of management that focuses on leadership conviction, authenticity and caring as the cornerstones of a more nuanced set of management skills we can all benefit from.

Instead of balance in our life, he challenges us to a new style of work life blending that both gives us:

  1. The rush of seeing our people grow and prosper in a company that truly cares about them and their dreams.
  2. The time and focus to also contribute the same level of passion to the needs of our families.

To hear the insights we captured in three minutes of his own words, click here.







Take a look at our previous Accelerated Talent Development Blog!


Dale Carnegie Resources

Employee Engagement White Paper - Dale CarnegieEveryday people make decisions based off of their emotions. Their levels of engagement in the workplace will be related to the emotions felt about their organization, the immediate manager, and senior management. Dale Carnegie Training has identified the specific emotional drivers of employee engagement.
Dale Carnegie Training’s White Paper “Emotional Drivers of Employee Engagement” will help you better understand the emotions needed to drive your employees to engagement.
how_leaders_grow_smallProfessional growth doesn’t just happen. It has to be: allowed, inspired, nurtured and rewarded. How much time and effort are we putting in as leaders to create this environment? Learn more by downloading, How Leaders Grow Today“.
Find out about local meetings and resources to help you succeed!www.dalecarnegie.ca

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