Employee Engagement And Your Pie Hole

Leaders everywhere are jumping on board with the employee engagement movement. They have different tactics, go-to blogs and conferences to help them with this mission that is supposed to increase productivity, slash turnover rates and build that stellar employer brand that employers need working for them more than ever.

A lot of employers are trying the latest in employee engagement surveys, rewards programs and competitive compensation practices…and then they open their open their big, fat pie hole and ruin it all. Put simply, a program or initiative isn’t going to cut it where employee engagement is concerned; it takes a cultural overhaul that starts with a genuine dialogue.

There are several ways that your mouth can completely wipe out any real work that the organization has accomplished in the name of employee engagement.


If your neck is now bobbing to the musical stylings of Aretha Franklin, my job is done here, but read on anyhow. I don’t know one person for whom respect is not important, especially in the workplace. We’re on the very basic level of common sense here, yet respectful dialogue seems to escape many of us. Take a stab at genuine, respectful dialogue.

Listen carefully when your coworkers speak. Allow them to fully flesh out their statement or idea, while remaining quiet. This does not mean that you can use your yap-shut time to formulate your debate; listen.

Remember that your face isn’t some invisible thing on the front of your head. We can say just as much with facial expressions and body language as we can with words.

When it’s your turn in the discussion, concentrate on non-combative, open language. Communication expert, Scott McDowell suggests, instead of saying, “no” or “but”, try “yes, and…” Starting the sentence off with aggressive language puts others on the defense automatically, stifling any chance at a productive conversation.

Everyone has a fake-o-meter; we can all tell when someone is “dealing” with us, or being disingenuous. How is it that we so quickly forget that when we’re the offenders? Say what you mean, but say it in a way that is aimed at showing respect and achieving something.

Honesty and constructive criticism are not synonymous. Ah, the co-worker who believes that their outright rude remarks are seen as “honesty”; that’s not what it is. It’s no wonder that the people who say something like, “I’m sorry, I’m just a very honest person.” are the ones you secretly hope will lose a finger in the paper shredder.

Building Blocks

Workplace leadership expert, Megan M. Biro outlines some words and phrases that she believe should be at the foundation of a vocabulary that inspires employee engagement:

  • Please
  • Thank You
  • Do you have a moment?
  • I understand.
  • Well done.

Simple, effective building blocks for workplace communication that also fosters engagement. Each conversation, or interaction is an opportunity to build engagement, or knock it down. It’s up totally up to each of us which direction we wish to take our own communications.

While the bottom line, productivity and talent attraction and retention might be at the core of this employee engagement movement, I think we can all agree that there is something to be said for simply having a better environment to go to work in. If for no other reason than improving the culture that you spend 40-50 hours per week in, try to reflect daily on how your words and attitude affect those around you. The workplace is a very cyclical environment, what you put in, is what you will get back.

(About the Author: Melissa, a marketing professional with over a decade of leadership, has led marketing teams in companies ranging from travel to fundraising to small business apps, always multiplying results with her contagious ambition. And while the pressure of being the marketing mastermind would be more than enough for most pros, Melissa is also VP of Talent Management of Herd Wisdom.)

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photo credit: Sakurako Kitsa via photopin cc

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