2019 – A Year of Gratitude!

I tend to love the “Year In Review” shows and articles, etc. It’s easy to forget how much actually gets done or happens in a year! It seems like it goes by in the blink of an eye, the next one starts, and most of what happened is forgotten.

I had a lot happen in 2019, but as I began to write about all those things, the things seemed less important and the people involved in those things were really the things I remembered. So, I thought, Oh, I’ll just write about all the people I’m grateful to have interacted with and met in 2019. Yeah, that was way too long of a list!

And I’m stuck. Stuck in regards to what to write, for a person who never gets writer block! Probably because the big thing that happened in 2019 was I lost my mother, unexpectedly in February, and in our culture, and being a man, that should be over ‘by now’. We move on. The year certainly did. There are a few months that I’m not even sure what really happened. It’s all a blur.

The people in your life when tragedy happens are never appreciated enough. You aren’t in a space where you can appreciate them and by the time you are, so much time has passed it seems strange to even mention it. I’m so grateful for so many people surrounding this, I just need to show some of that gratitude:

My wife. I was stuck in Las Vegas on February 21, 2019. Vegas had measurable snow for the first time in a decade. I got the call my Mom had died. I was stuck. No planes in or out for 24 hours. My wife and sister had to take on the responsibility of the most terrible thing that has ever happen to us. I’m always in control. I’m the one the family turns to. I was locked in a hotel room in Vegas. Helpless. She did it. She handled it all. I’m beyond grateful for all of that.

My right-hand lady in business, Teresa Carper. I have this awesome, smart, caring, woman who works beside me. She lets me big ideas, and she executes. We’ve worked side-by-side for a decade, and she was also close to my mom. No way I make it through the year without her. Really the entire HRU team has had to put up with me basically being someone else for the most of the year. I’m beyond grateful for their patience.

My best friend, Kris Dunn. I’ve taken Kris’s call when his mom passed and had plenty of talks about his parents and their impact on his life. KD had to take that call from me this year. Two grown-ass men talking about feelings (that could be a great podcast I think!).  It’s unusual in our world where guys can have this and I’m grateful for my friendship with Kris.

My family – I’ve got this super weird, extended family dynamic that is a sitcom waiting to happen, but I had so many of my family step up in great ways. It’s too much to go into each one, but I’m so grateful for their support.

My friends – The night in Vegas when I got the call I was just walking out of my room to dinner with Carmen Hudson. I was speaking the next morning at Recruiting Trends. I called Carmen in shock, told her what happened, and this amazing woman took control. I don’t even really remember the conversation with her. She just made all of that stuff I was responsible for go away. I’m grateful for friends stepping up at the moment.

My mom. Since I was little, my Mom put me in a position to have high confidence in myself. She didn’t do that with everyone, but she did with me. That helped me succeed at a lot of stuff. She also fired me, which probably was the single biggest thing she did to help me become successful. I wasn’t ready, as a business person, to run her company. I was an asshole. Or at least I acted like an asshole way too often. Getting fired by your mom sticks with you for a while!

When the time came on February 22, 2019, to take over the business (for real) and take on leading the family, I was ready because of all those things my mom did for me. It wasn’t always fun. I didn’t always like her for doing what she did, but I was ready. I’m grateful for my Mom helping me be ready to take on all of this responsibility.

I could have listed a thousand people I’m grateful for. It’s a bit overwhelming and heartwarming that I have so many. I can definitely count my blessings in so many ways. I don’t think 2019 was my best year. It was good, but I was really knocked off-center for a bit. My hope is 2020 will be a better year in terms of focus. My plan is to write my second book and have it launched in 2021! (Oh, God, I’ve been contemplating this, but now it’s out in the universe, I better make it happen!)

I’m also launching a new podcast with my friends, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee, called “HR Famous”! You should see episodes up by Mid-January. I’m speaking all over the place. I want to do more video work. Of course, I’ll be writing and sharing my thoughts, ideas, and reactions. Thank you for being with me on this journey. I’m grateful to have this platform and so many people who find it interesting.

 

 

If you think GenZs are Entitled Snowflakes, You’re an Idiot!

I made this joke on Twitter recently:

This has been a frustration of so many of my peers in Human Resources over the past couple of years. We have leaders, usually Gen X or Boomers, who think anyone younger than them are called “Millennials”. It’s uninformed at best, and just a bad look for leaders in our organizations.

The crazy part is it’s not just about getting the generational names correct, it’s also about how we tag a generation. I’m not a fan of “generational” training programs, but they are hugely popular. I get requests to come and talk about generational differences to organizations monthly, and I’ve never spoken about generational differences!

For some reason, we are fascinated by the concept of having multiple generations working together in the workplace. We want to know all the broad differences between the generations, knowing as soon as we throw out one of those stereotypes, we immediately look like idiots.

I’m particularly triggered by older leaders who feel Gen Z’s are just a bunch of kids you are entitled snowflakes on their phone all of the time. I’m this way because I have three Gen Z sons and see who they, and their friends, are becoming and in so many ways they will outshine my Gen X generation over the same period of time, by a mile!

CNN did an article highlighting four GenZs who are doing amazing things:

  • One is teaching swimming to people with disabilities.
  • One started a movement to cheer up kids going through difficult times.
  • One is helping Vets in need.
  • One is making and delivering “Blessing Bags” for the needy.

What all of these GenZ people have in common is what I see from my own GenZ connections. GenZ grew up during the Great Recession and saw what hard times do to people. In turn, that experienced shaped them into young people who want to help others, are willing to do the work to help others, and do it in a way that is modern and digital.

Yes, they are on their phones a lot. So, are we all. But, they use this digital world to do things a speed we could have never comprehended when we were their age. They are consuming information at a rate far exceeding every generation before them, which makes them better informed than most before them.

I wouldn’t call them entitled or snowflakes. They are not delicate or looking for a handout. They were raised in hard times and they are giving back as much as any before them. You might call me a fan of this generation. I have so much hope for what they will bring to the world. As a parent, I guess we probably all feel that way about our kids.

As we get ready to go into 2020, I would love to see all leaders embrace this growing younger workforce in a way that is positive and hopeful for the future. I think we are in good hands with GenZ!

DisruptHR Lansing! March 19th – Call for Speakers is Open!

Lansing, MI is about to get all Disrupted and Stuff!

Everyone already knows I’m a big believer in DisruptHR events. I’ve spoken at many, I’ve been on the team running DisruptHR Detroit from the beginning, and I decided to start DisruptHR Lansing in my own backyard!

Our first event, DisruptHR Lansing 1.0 will take place in Downtown Lansing on March 19th in the evening (more details to follow) at The Exchange. Great speakers, free food and drinks, and disruptive HR talks throughout the night!

What is DisruptHR?

  • 5-minute hr-based micro-talks. Might be HR, talent, employee experience, leadership, rap music, who knows!
  • Each talk has a very specific format – 20 slides and each slide moves automatically every 15 seconds.
  • The goal is to be fast and challenge the status quo of the people side of the business!

CALL for SPEAKERS is NOW OPEN! 

We’ll be selecting a great group of speakers. I encourage HR pros and Leaders from the Mid-Michigan area to throw your names into the hat for speaking spots!!! It’s a great way to get yourself on stage with a group of fellow HR peers who’ll support you and laugh at our bad HR jokes!

Speakers also get a professionally recorded version of your talk. This is an awesome parting gift for your own development, and to show other conferences, etc. if you decide you want to speak in a longer format in the future. Almost every conference I know now asks for some proof of your ability to speak, as such, this becomes a very valuable piece of content!

Why Speak at DisruptHR Lansing 1.0? 

1. Well, I’ll be there!

2. Lansing, MI is the capital of Michigan. The epicenter of all things people in our state. It’s also might be the one place in Michigan that needs the most HR disruption!

3. HR pros need a network. We need to support each other. This is a great event to make that happen!

4. Cocktails & Hugs! (which ironically is the name of one of my upcoming future books!)

5. I’ll owe you!

Let’s face it. It’s March 19, 2020. We’ve just spent the last 120 days in pure grayness. We need to get out and do something! The event space will be intimate, the energy will be high, and we’re going to have some fun! Come join us! Tickets will go on sale after the holidays. We wanted to open up the Call for Speakers first!

If you want to get an email when tickets go on sale, leave your email on the comments below and I”ll make sure you’re the first to know!

Corporate Gigs aren’t All that Bad!

Have you noticed it’s become super fashionable to dump on corporate jobs? The ‘super cool’ thing today is to be an entrepreneur or work for a start-up, get a solo gig, etc. The last thing that is cool is to work a large, stable, profitable corporation. I mean, the humanity of it all!

Inc. online recently had an article from a GenXer, corporate leader-type, Scott Mautz, who decided to step away from the corporate world and become a “Life Coach” and “Professional Speaker”, so basically unemployed. But he does have advice on why we also should step away from corporate America and go out on your own:

– Two things will be the death of us: Death and Meetings. (Okay, I hate meetings, this is mostly true)

– I miss the people, but none of the processes. (Yeah, that’s because “processes” are the actual work!)

– It’s less about being impressive, and more about making an imprint. (An imprint to whom? Your cat?)

– All the little stuff is really little stuff. (Gawd, I love Life Coaches!)

– Flexibility is intoxicating. (Yep, and so is a regular paycheck you can count on!)

– My presence is more of a present. (I just threw up in my mouth a little.)

– There’s no greater pick me up than feeling challenged and growing again. (You couldn’t do that in your job a Proctor & Gamble? Sounds like a “you problem”.)

– Your health belongs on a pedestal. Period. (Life Coach advice 101, use “Period” at the end of a sentence to show it’s really, really important!)

I don’t know Scott, I’m just having fun. I’m sure he’s super nice and is loving his life. Good for him!

I don’t like that he believes the best advice to reach all of his points is to walk away from working at a corporation. I think there are two types of people: ‘corporate’ employee types, and there are people who are unemployable in the real world. By the way, I fit much closer to the later, and Scott sounds like he probably struggled in corporate America as well.

I’ve got very close friends who love working for giant corporations and brands. Doing so comes with some cachet for sure! Plus, the pay and benefits are usually really great. You also have to high on the political savvy side of things, and you probably hold your tongue more often than you wish to. But, the perks are pretty freaking good!

Almost everything Scott said above is controllable no matter what size organization you work for. Do you want more flexibility? Be a great performer. Turns out, great performance gets flexibility. Want to be more healthy? Okay, then focus on your health and find balance. I find most giant companies do a much better job focusing on the health of their employees than small companies. Good health costs a lot!

Want to be challenged and grow? Take some freaking initiative and do some stretch assignments. I’ve never been told not to challenge myself in an enterprise corporate environment. In fact, it was the one thing that propelled my career in a large company.

The problem isn’t corporate America. Corporate America is great for millions of people. The problem is probably you just don’t fit in that environment, because the reality is corporate gigs can be pretty awesome!

 

 

The 12 Steps to Recovery for Being a Passionate Asshole!

I wrote a post titled, “The 5 Things HR Leaders Need to Know About Developing Employees“. In that post I had a paragraph:

When I was young in my career, I was very ‘passionate’. That’s what I liked calling it – passionate.  I think the leaders I worked with called it, “career derailer”.  It took a lot for me to understand what I thought was a strength, was really a major weakness.  Some people never will gain this insight.  They’ll continue to believe they’re just passionate when in reality they’re really just an asshole.

I then had a reader send me a message and basically said, “This is me!” And I was like, “That was me too!” And then we kissed. Okay, we didn’t kiss, but it’s great to find another like yourself in the wild!

The reality is, I’m a recovering Passionate Asshole.

What’s a “Passionate Asshole” are asking yourself? Here’s my definition –

“A passionate asshole is a person who feels like they are more about the success of the company than anyone else. I mean everyone else. They care more than everyone! And because we care so much, we treat people poorly who we feel don’t care as much as us!”

Passionate assholes truly believe in every part of their being they’re great employees. You will not be able to tell us any differently. They are usually high performing in their jobs, which also justifies even more that they care more. But, in all of this, they leave a wake of bad feelings and come across like your everyday basic asshole.

You know at least one of these people. They’re usually younger in the 24-35-year-old range. Too early in their career to have had some major setbacks and high confidence in their abilities.

Here are the 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate Assholes:

Step 1: Realization that your an Asshole, not the best employee ever hired in the history of the universe. This realization doesn’t actually fix the passionate asshole, but without it, you have no chance.

Step 2: You understand that while being a passionate asshole feels great, this isn’t going to further your career and get you to your ultimate goal.

Step 3: Professionally they have knocked down in a major way. I was fired. Not because I was doing the job, but because I was leaving a wake of bodies and destruction in the path of doing my job. You don’t have to be fired, demotion might also work, but usually, it’s getting canned.

Step 4: Some you truly respect needs to tell you you’re not a good employee, but an asshole, during a time you’re actually listening.

Step 5: Find a leader and organization that will embrace you for who you’re trying to become, knowing who you truly are. You don’t go from Passionate Asshole to model employee overnight! It’s not a light switch.

Step 6: Time. This is a progression. You begin to realize some of your passionate asshole triggers. You begin to use your powers for good and not to blow people up who you feel aren’t worthy of oxygen. Baby steps. One day at a time.

Step 7: You stop making bad career moves based on the passionate asshole beast inside of you, telling you moving to the ‘next’ role is really the solution to what you’re feeling.

Step 8: We make a list of people we’ve destroyed while being passionate assholes. Yes, even the people you don’t like!

Step 9: Reach out to the people you’ve destroyed and make amends. Many of these people have ended up being my best professional contacts now late in life. Turns out, adults are actually pretty good a forgiving and want to establish relationships with people who are honest and have self-insight.

Step 10: We are able to tell people we’re sorry for being a passionate asshole when find ourselves being a passionate asshole, and not also seeing the passion within them and what they also bring to the organization is a value to not only us but to the organization as a whole.

Step 11: You begin to reflect, instead of reacting as a first response. Passionate assholes love to react quickly! We’re passionate, we’re ready at all times, so our initial thought is not to think, but react decisively. You’ve reached step 11 when your first thought is to no longer react like a crazy person!

Step 12: You begin to reach out to other passionate assholes and help them realize how they’re destroying their careers and don’t even know it. You begin mentoring.

I know I’ll never stop being a Passionate Asshole. It’s a personality flaw, and even when you change, you never fully change. But, I now understand when I’m being that person, can usually stop myself mid-passionate asshole blow up, and realize there are better ways to communicate and act.

 

 

Do you believe your HR leadership style is that of a “coach”?

I read an article in The New Yorker on the importance of “Coaching” by Atul Gawande.  Atul is a writer and a surgeon, smart and creative and I should hate him, but he’s so freaking brilliant! From the article:

The concept of a coach is slippery. Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport. The famous Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi couldn’t do a split if his life depended on it. Mainly, they observe, they judge, and they guide.

As an HR leader, I’ve always believed that HR has the ability to act as “coaches” across all vestiges of our organizations.  The problem we run into is this mentality, “You can’t coach me! You don’t know the first thing about Marketing, or Operations, or Accounting.” You’re right, good thing I’m not “teaching” you that! That’s why we hired you. Having a coaching culture in your organization starts during the selection process. Are you hiring people who are open to being coached? 

More from The New Yorker –

Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components. In sports, coaches focus on mechanics, conditioning, and strategy, and have ways to break each of those down, in turn. The U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden, at the first squad meeting each season, even had his players practice putting their socks on. He demonstrated just how to do it: he carefully rolled each sock over his toes, up his foot, around the heel, and pulled it up snug, then went back to his toes and smoothed out the material along the sock’s length, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases. He had two purposes in doing this. First, wrinkles cause blisters. Blisters cost games. Second, he wanted his players to learn how crucial seemingly trivial details could be. “Details create success” was the creed of a coach who won ten N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championships.

I think this is critical in working with adult professionals. Coaches aren’t trying to “teach” them new concepts, but helping them self-analyze and make improvements to what they already do well. We/HR can make our workforces better, not by focusing on weaknesses/opportunity areas, which we spend way too much time on, but by making our employees’ strengths even stronger.

Coaching has become a fad in recent years. There are leadership coaches, executive coaches, life coaches, and college-application coaches. Search the Internet, and you’ll find that there’s even Twitter coaching. Self-improvement has always found a ready market, and most of what’s on offer is simply one-on-one instruction to get amateurs through the essentials. It’s teaching with a trendier name. Coaching aimed at improving the performance of people who are already professionals is less usual.

I’m talking about turning HR into “Life” coaches or “Executive” coacheS. Those types of “coaches” are way different and fall more into the “therapists” categories, than what I see HR acting as “professional” coaches. Professional coaches work alongside their Pros day-to-day and see them in action, and work with them to specifically improve on those things that impact the business. They don’t care that you’re not “feeling” as “challenged” as you once were, and need to find yourself.

I think the biggest struggle HR Pros will have in a role as “coach” is our ability to understand most employees have low self-awareness (including ourselves!). Being a great coach is measured on your ability to get someone to see something in themselves, they don’t already see, and make them truly believe it. If we can get there in our organizations, oh boy, watch out!

The #1 Employee Recognition Tool of All-Time!

At the Michigan Recruiter’s Conference last week I got into a side conversation with a TA leader who had her team at the event. She was talking about motivating and recognizing her team, and that it seemed to be more difficult with younger generations versus the Gen Xers she has managed in the past. I told her I wasn’t sure it was generational, but I had a couple of examples of recognition I thought might work for her.

The first example happened when I was working in my first HR manager position.  One of the executives I supported had a good, young, enthusiastic worker, a top-notch kid who had a great work ethic.  I sat down with this executive and the employee to do their annual performance review. Everything went perfect, as it usually does with that type of employee.  It was what happened afterward that blew me away.  The executive asked me to get him the address of this employee’s parents.  We knew he thought highly of his folks, and he mentioned them when we gave the employee praise for his performance.

I went back and found the address, the executive drafted a short letter, handwritten to these employee’s parents.  He didn’t tell the employee he was doing this, he just did it.  The executive basically told the parents you should be extremely proud of your child, our organization is lucky to have them, and our organization wants to thank you for raising such a fine person.  End of letter. Send.

About a week later, I got a call from the front desk. It was the employee’s father, asking the front desk to talk to the executive and telling them they were the father of this employee.  The front desk person called me (HR), believing something bad must have happened, so I took the call.  I spoke with a man in his mid-50’s who had a hard time holding back tears of pride, thanking me (and our executive) for sharing such a wonderful story and how proud they were of their son.

Later, the employee also came into my office to thank me for doing this, believing I must have put the executive up to it (it’s an HR touchy-feely thing).  The employee said that they could never imagine a better place to work.  A 3-minute handwritten letter = powerful recognition and engagement.

The other example I have is of an experience that happened to me a few years ago. I was working as a director in a large health system, and my mom was in town and came to my office to meet me for lunch.  Being a hospital, she came into the building and walked into the HR office.

I introduced her to some of my team and we were walking out when the head of HR came walking in.  I introduced him, and he shook her hand and said: “I want to thank you for sharing Tim with us, he’s an extraordinary individual, and I’m sure you are responsible for that.”  Bam!  My mom talked about that moment all the time!  I felt pride and respect, and most of all, loyalty to my supervisor for such a gesture.

Employee recognition doesn’t have to be hard, or take a long time, or be a part of a process.  It has to be genuine, in the moment and meaningful.  Too many times we forget this on the organizational front.

Let’s Play Two!

Baseball great Ernie Banks coined the phrase, “Let’s play two!” When a doubleheader was coming up he would say something like, “It’s a great day for a ballgame, let’s play two!”

Ernie obviously loved playing the game of baseball.

It’s a great attitude to have with anything you do in life as well. It’s all about attitude, right? I mean, how often do you think about something you have to do in life and you want to double it, as your first thought!?!

“Oh boy, a file audit, let’s do it twice!”

“Teeth cleaning!? You bet, let’s clean them twice!”

“Mowing the lawn? Love it! I’m cutting that baby two times today!”

For me, it’s a great measure of whether you actually love what you’re doing. You can silently look at any aspect of your day, your job, etc. and think, not, ‘do I want to do this twice”, but “I get to do this twice, yes!”

I love recruiting, but do I want to recruit for the same position twice!?! Well, depends on why I’m recruiting for the position twice. If I lost a candidate who was supposed to fill it, that never feels great, but if it’s to fill a second position, then heck yeah!

This is all about the attitude you take to your craft. Ernie loved what he did so much, he thought it was a good idea to “play two”. Of course, Ernie was playing a game, but we know plenty of folks who play a game for money, who end up hating to play that game. We know plenty of people who work and love their jobs, and plenty who work and hate their jobs. Same jobs. Very different attitudes.

Often the real difference between a great performer and a weak performer is simply their attitude towards the work they have chosen to do.

Advice We Need, but It’s Super Hard to Take! #wdayrising @Lin_Manuel

I’m out at Workday Rising this week in Orlando and yesterday I got the pleasure of listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda speak for the morning keynote. For those who follow me socially, I’ve seen Hamilton the musical four times (almost a 5th, but I got swindled!). So, I’m a bit of a super fan! Hamilton tickets aren’t cheap, it’s an investment to be a fan!

Miranda’s first big break was one he created himself when he wrote his first musical called “In the Heights“. Lin-Manuel is a Puerto Rican-American and in musical theater, there were basically almost zero rolls, so if he wanted to do musical theater he felt he needed to write his own role, so he did.  It was successful, which led to other opportunities and to him being able to develop Hamilton.

The advice so many of us need, but it’s super hard to accept is that many times to be successful, or chance your dreams, you have to create your own opportunities to make that happen.

Especially, if you don’t have the same privilege as others trying to do what you’re doing. My mom started her own company because she was sick of outperforming dudes in the same company and not getting the recognition. Miranda wrote his own roles, not thinking it would be ‘broadway’ successful, but that it was something he could perform locally and show people his abilities and that would lead him on his path.

It would be easy to say he was lucky with In the Heights, but it’s not really luck, he’s truly a genius when it comes to musical theater. He created his own luck by putting in years of work creating something that was perfect for him. It’s a great reminder for any of us who are feeling that there just isn’t the ‘perfect’ opportunity for you in the world.

My favorite quotes and ideas from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s keynote:

  • He came out on stage at a giant technology conference and said, “I feel like I’m launching Windows 95!” which drew huge laughter from the crowd.
  • When asked if he accepted the offer to do the Mary Poppins movie immediately he said, “NO! I had to go ask my wife!” And explained when you have a partnership you have to discuss these types of things because it has a huge impact on the other person, on your life, even if it’s a dream come true. (he seems super grounded!)
  • Hamilton musical stuff:
    • Burr came from a privileged background, a famous grandfather, father was the president of Princeton, he had so much to lose by saying or doing the wrong thing, and this shaped his decision making. Hamilton came from nothing and had nothing to lose. This clearly shaped his behavior and decisions and gave his enemies much to use against him, but he had nothing to lose, in the beginning. Imagine if we all went through life as if we had nothing to lose? What could we accomplish?
    • When you get criticism, and Lin-Manuel as an artist gets a lot of it, it’s important to understand the point of view from where it’s coming. Then, you can make the decision, do I accept that and change, or do I go back and try to change them.
    • “The best idea always wins” – Miranda talking about his writing and production process with his team.
    • “The teller changes the story” – Each person who tells a story will change it slightly based on their perspective. In HR we see this all the time as we get multiple sides of issues in our environments.
    • The interview asked Hamilton how he decided to use all minorities in the cast of Hamilton. He said if I made a hip hop founding father story and used all white dudes, you would have thought I messed up! We do Shakespeare and we constantly change the characters to whatever and it’s accepted, why can’t we do that with the founding fathers? It doesn’t change the story.
    • How did he come up with doing a Hip Hop version of the founding fathers? Hamilton’s story is a perfect hip hop/rap story. He came from nothing. Had huge bravado. Rose up to be powerful and wealthy. Got into a gun battle. Sounds like hip hop!

More to come tomorrow on my breakdown of Workday Rising specifically! But I had to write about Lin-Manual Miranda!

What is the biggest driver of Employee Engagement?

I got to see Marcus Buckingham speak at the HR Technology Conference in Vegas a couple of weeks ago. I think it’s the 2319th time I’ve seen him speak. I’m not sure if I’ve seen Marcus or Josh Bersin speak more, it’s probably almost a tie. Basically, if you go to HR conferences, you get to see those two dudes speak, a lot!

That’s not a bad thing. Both bring great data and are strong presenters, Marcus has the English accent which all American’s love. Marcus and ADP’s Reseach Institute released some new data on Engagement and that was the main focus of the talk. The research shows that 85% of employees are just showing up to work, because only 15% are ‘fully’ engaged, and if you’re not fully engaged, you’re basically showing up to collect a check.

That was pretty shocking, but the most shocking piece the research showed was the number one driver of engagement in any organization had to do with one simple thing: Are you a part of a team.

The research shows that being a part of a team is the strongest predictor of full engagement. There are others, like being new to an organization is fairly strong and makes sense. When we first start working at a new job, we are usually more engaged. Do you trust your team leader is another strong predictor, but first you better be on a team!

Being a member of a team.

It seems fairly simple, but for those of us who are constantly working on teams, we know it’s not. You could simply just throw everyone who works for you on teams and think, “okay, I just fixed engagement!” It’s really more about the dynamic of being on a team where you feel you belong and have a role that is valuable to that team.

Belonging is a big part of being on a team and being fully engaged. There are plenty of people who are on teams but don’t feel like the team they’re on needs them or wants them. Or you are on a team that isn’t successful. Turns out, failure is a big deterrent to engagement as well.

Once you are on a team, it then becomes critical that you trust the team leader. Lack of trust of the team leader is another negative driver to engagement. This then becomes more about the leader themselves establishing trust, and having team members who are open enough to first assume trust. Too often we get on teams and immediately believe the team leader is keeping things from us, probably because many times they are.

In any team, in the beginning, or when new team members come in, they should do a transition meeting. A meeting designed to establish trust from the beginning. It’s a time to get everything out in the open, at the beginning (or when it’s new for someone else) and do things like ask all the questions that usually go un-asked but then become issues down the road, establish communication likes and dislikes, share items that you should know, but might not, etc. I always have this facilitated by someone outside the team, so the leader doesn’t try and control the outcomes.

Go download the research paper, there’s great information about how to drive higher engagement in your organization and more information about the importance of the team dynamic.