eMusings Newsletter

JULY 2011



3 Human Elements


Last week, our managing partner and I were invited to be part of a Speakers Showcase for a statewide organization catering to association executives. I love to take part in this sort of thing - not only do I get to share some of what I know with participants, I also have an opportunity to see and hear what others are sharing. From BoldWork, we spoke about how to use Motive Drive to help create successful, sustainable organizations (whether profit or nonprofit) and how to use storytelling as an effective marketing tool. Of the remaining 8 speakers, 4 focused on some aspect of improving customer service...which was certainly timely, given a couple of recent encounters.

I was carded in Target buying a half case of Smoking Loon (it makes great sangria). I'd like to say I was flattered but honestly, no one would ever mistake me for being underage. I asked the cashier why she needed to check my ID. "It's something that came down from Corporate. It's a total waste of time and makes a lot of people mad. I don't know why we have to do it. They never tell us anything."

Fast forward to a day later and I'm in Subway. I love their sandwiches but that afternoon, I just wanted to score some flatbread. It turns out that wasn't possible. The manager on duty (MOD) said he couldn't just sell me flatbread. Why? MOD: "We don't have a key for that." He had no idea what to charge and absolutely no interest in taking the initiative to figure out a price.

I wish these two examples were out of the ordinary - unfortunately, I'm experiencing lousy customer service on a regular basis. I think most employees start out with the intent to deliver good customer service. Over time, that intent erodes and they end up not caring....which is probably why keynotes that focus on how to create excellent customer service are so popular.

The two customer service keynotes I was able to catch at the showcase were energetic, funny, entertaining and contained some good basic info. But are they effective? Are they sustainable? And are they worth up to $5,000 a pop to hear them?

I don't think so. Maybe it's just me...but I think the key to excellent, sustained customer service lies with employees who are engaged and willing to "go that extra mile" because they believe in their company, understand how what they do contributes to the company's success - and feel valued.

What about you? Do you need to be engaged...or is a funny keynote enough?

 Jennie Ayers

Senior Partner, BoldWork 
In This Issue
Let's Get Engaged!
Do You Enchant Your Employees?
Join Our Mailing List!

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Quote for the Month

"in everyone's life, our inner  

fire goes out. It is then

burst into flame by an  

encounter with another human being. We should all be

thankful for those people

who rekindle

the inner spirit."

                          Albert Schweitzer
"Let's Get Engaged" by Jennie Ayers                                           

(479 words - estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes)


brain cogsAs Beck mentions in her review of Guy Kawasaki's book below, employee engagement is top of mind. An article just came across my desk this morning about finding the right performance metrics, meta-analyses and business impact studies. Another colleague sent me a link to stats on the value proposition of employee engagement, including the correlation between engagement and sales growth/operating margins. I know when it comes to ROI, numbers are important. But on a more human level, employee engagement is important because it gives people an opportunity to use their skills and discretionary effort to make a difference in the world and contribute to the sustained success of a company or organization. When you talk to an individual about whether or not s/he feels engaged, they don't talk numbers. They reflect on personal satisfaction with their work and a sense of their own contribution; in short, they feel valued as a person and as an employee.

Ah, the Survey

Most companies use some kind of employee survey in order to gather information about the level of commitment and involvement of their employees. Some do it in as little as six questions. However, I think we may have surveyed ourselves to death. Too often, employees are skeptical and cynical about surveys - and why wouldn't they be? They take them and nothing ever changes. red pencil surveyOne client boasted that they must be doing something right - their level of employee engagement was very high. They based that perception on the fact that 88% of their employees returned the surveys. It never occurred to this client that employees might be responding to the surveys - not because they were engaged - but because they were desperate to be heard - which ultimately turned out to be the case.

The bottom line is this. If you plan to use an employee engagement survey, make sure you're ready with effective follow up. Address concerns and issues. Remember, whenever you poke a system, you're going to get a response. Ignoring that response will only exacerbate any issues that may be present.

What Employees Want

Through our experience over the last 25 years and the insights of similar practitioners, we've identified four foundational elements associated with the highest levels of employee engagement:

  1.  A work environment that meets our need for high achievement
  2. Honest and open communication, which provides clarity and transparency
  3. Alignment between an employee's core values and guiding principles and the values and principles of the organization
  4. The work of the organization is linked to a higher purpose

As a leader, are these four elements on your radar?


All organizations have a responsibility to maximize employee engagement.  As individuals, managers and leaders, we all contribute, though sometimes in different ways. When it comes to employee engagement, it's all about shared ownership. We'll take a look at that shared ownership in next month's e-musings.


"Do You Enchant Your Employees?" by Rebecca Ripley

(397 words - estimated reading time: less than 2 minutes)

You can't read a business book or news article these days without running into the topic of employee engagement.  And that's as it should be.  According to Gallup research, 54% of employees today are not engaged and an additional 17% are actively disengaged at work.  That leaves a mere 29% of employees who are engaged.  When the economy rebounds, many of those less-than-satisfied employees will actively seek new opportunities.  Most businesses haven't paid enough attention to this very important topic - in spite of the fact that it's been important from the beginning of time.  I remember reading Robert Desatnick's wonderful book, Managing to Keep the Customer published in 1987.  He said "we can't expect customers to be treated well if we don't treat employees well."  Poor treatment inevitably leaks into customer interactions.

Enchantment bookGuy Kawasaki's delightful new book Enchantment - The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions Portfolio/Penguin, 2011 (http://amzn.to/mFBqYs) reinforces Desatnick's message and more.  While the book primarily addresses how to enchant external customers, he devotes an entire chapter to "How to Enchant Your Employees" and another to "How to Enchant Your Boss."  All twelve chapters are compelling, a tad irreverent, and well worth reading. 

Kawasaki introduces the Japanese word bakatare. He writes,"It means 'stupid' or 'foolish,' and it's the perfect description of people who think disenchanted employees can enchant customers."  Kawasaki goes on to explain the importance of providing an opportunity for employees to achieve mastery, autonomy and purpose on the job.  (Given that these factors are in perfect sync with our WorkClimate dimensions, we couldn't agree more!)

The book also includes Stanford University professor Bob Sutton's list of the twelve beliefs of good bosses.  This checklist originally appeared in Sutton's book Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best...and Learn from the Worst.  This "Good Boss Manifesto" challenges us to determine how good (and enchanting) a boss we are.

The book also includes a number of "personal stories" that showcase real people's experiences relative to the chapters of the book. Guy Kawasaki strikes me as a genuine, friendly person. To get a taste of this author's style, watch this YouTube clip where he shares highlights from his book.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f66naHGTsFU

Then ask yourself, are you creating a work climate where your employees are engaged and enchanted?  If not, why not?  Turnover is far more expensive than engagement, and it's not nearly as much fun!


boldworklogoAt BoldWork, we specialize in helping businesses and organizations optimize the performance of the people who work for them.

Typically, our clients come to us when they are seeking to change, to solve problems or to challenge a status quo that no longer works. Most importantly, they call us when they want to create a WorkClimate that increases motivation and strengthens employee engagement.

Please take a moment and visit our website at www.doboldwork.com to find out more about us and what we have to offer. Or contact us for additional information at info@doboldwork.com