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Employee Engagement: Making Your Staff Rock Stars is Critical to Client Care & Bottom Line!


burn out 1 - Copy

No doubt it’s been a few tough years for many.  Organizations are asking staffs to do more with less.  It is also a tall order to steadfastly recognize, measure and uphold employee engagement.  Hard working professionals are especially vulnerable to burnout and disengagement, making it difficult to improve client satisfaction and care quality.  In fact daily stress, compassion fatigue, overachiever personality types, long hours, and lots of changes are hallmarks of industry standards today.

Based on HR Solutions’ International Normative Database, only 27 percent of employees are ‘Actively Engaged.’  The remaining 73 percent is divided between ‘Ambivalent’ employees (60 percent) and ‘Actively Disengaged’ employees (13 percent).

Benefits of engagement far outweigh the downsides when you take into account tangible results reported. If you are not yet a devotee to the Employee Engagement movement, I hope you will consider the wonderful benefits ramping up your EE factors can do for your organization and clients.

Let’s jump in and answer a few of the most popular EE questions:

What exactly is Employee Engagement?

Although there is not one agreed-upon definition, a few Employee Engagement Network authors described it on their terms:

Encourage open, honest conversations in which staff feel heard and also feel they are an important part of the organization.  Susan J. Meyerott, M.S.

When the heart, mind, spirit and desire to do is synergized and in harmony with the vision and mission.  Rudolf Peter Lanc

Employers need to get creative to create and promote a culture where employees feel valued, believe they are making a difference and are having fun.  Jason M. Beauford

Build a sense of achievement by linking head (strategy and outcomes) to heart (authentic communication). Jo Manchester

S. Max Brown’s take simply summed it up by saying, “Engagement is caring about how you show up.”  Consider how you define engagement for your organization. Is it a blend of some of the above?

Are we already doing it? As they say…if you have to ask…you may not be doing an effective dose of it.  If so, are we doing it right?  Are we doing it enough?

One thing is clear: assessing your employees is not the same as engaging them.  A common malady happens when we put an engagement survey out there, let our employees fill them out and then not do anything differently…or worse, engage them all with a cookie
cutter mold.

Years ago—before EE was a buzz word–I used to suspect my management did not read any of our Suggestion Box ideas.  Even worse, I secretly suspected the slot we fed our suggestions into led right into a paper shredder.  Not only was I disengaged, I didn’t think anyone really cared what we thought about improving the organization.  Even though I was their top salesperson, I left shortly thereafter. The moral of the story: we want to be heard and valued for our ideas—that’s what drives us.

What if we’re not doing it at all?

In a Human Resource Executive magazine survey, two huge concerns for HR professionals were Employee Engagement and Retention.  In fact, legendary GE leader Jack Welch said “If you’re running a business, though, whether it’s a corner store or a multi-product multinational, we would say there are three key indicators that really work: employee engagement, (end user) satisfaction, and cash flow.”

He goes on to say, “Employee engagement first.  It goes without saying that no organization, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.  That’s why you need to take the measure of employee engagement at least once a year through anonymous surveys in which people feel completely…safe to speak their minds.”

If you have not yet done so, now would be a good time to embrace and enhance the EE wave.

How on earth do you measure EE? I mean how do we see tangible signs of it doing any good?

The votes are in:  Employee engagement is scientifically linked to improved business performance in the following areas:

Increased End User Satisfaction, Increased Employee Retention, Increased Operating Margin Increased Profitability, Reduction in Safety incidents, Reduction in Absenteeism

These areas can be your barometers to gauge your EE effectiveness.
When I think of EE, “Kaisen” comes to mind; it is the Japanese word for “continuous improvement.”  I also am reminded of the bonsai tree:  you may water and prune it for many years before you see what appear to be sudden blossoming branches.  In truth, constant and small changes lead big impacts; such can be true with on-going employee engagement programs.

What exactly can we do to get on the EE Train?

Communicate – Clarify and let them know what’s going on, so they can innovate and create solutions that make sense.  Trust them to have all the information they need to make informed decisions and solutions.  Do annual surveys and candid focus groups.

Involve – Clarify & update to help employees understand what’s going on.  Knowledge is power only when we use it.

Benefit – Help them connect the dots by asking first before telling.  Let them tell you what the benefit is to them for engaging while serving up the organization’s vision/mission.

Enable Career – Developing Opportunities  -prepare them for cross training and a thorough understanding of all the working parts of “how we make money here.”

Individualize – Connection makes room for correction.  You must treat each employee as an individual and learn what makes him/her tick and what ticks him/her off.   This customized appreciation will prove a huge ROI on your time and energy invested.

Kelli V’s COOL Bonus Tool!
Simplify Individualized Engagement by finding out what drives them. As my Greek grandfather used to say, “You gotta know what makes them tick and what ticks them off!” Here’s my handy Team Engagement Blueprint Kelli V’s Team Engagement Blueprint to use as your blueprint for Engagement Excellence.

Brian Tracy, Personal Development Expert, says this individualized motivation is all about the A’s: appreciation, approval, admiration, and attention.  As he suggests, “Imagine that every person in your organization is wearing a sign around his or her neck all day long that says ‘Make me feel important.’”

“Listen to your employees and understand what gets them excited about coming to work.“ Kathy Fitzpatrick

Observe the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert, and don’t be him.  Rev. James Rosselli

What are some TOP FUTURE EE Trends to Watch for?

1.)  Since the recession helped increase disengagement levels, there’s work to be done to recapture engagement ground.  Organizations will use the most Actively Engaged employees to mentor, motivate and re-energize the disengaged.

2.)  The good news is that the economy is on the upswing. Corporations will capitalize on this with Employee Engagement Surveys, department meetings and focus groups.

3.)  HR professionals will invest more money and time developing strategic retention plans and learning what key retention elements are within their respective organizations.

4.)  Social media will be used more and more to engage and recruit employees.

One final quote sums it all up nicely by Deb Holton, EE Network Author, “Engagement empowers every employee to maximize his or her connectedness, contribution, collaboration, creativity, and celebration of success.”

It’s up to you now to enlist an Engagement Culture of Staff Rock Stars with your actions, not platitudes. This strategy can help your organization truly have them after “Hello.”

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Have a Windex-Fixes-All Kinda New Year!



If you saw Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know that Windex plays heavily in the  Greek home to fix all ills.  I do recall a lot of it at my grandparents house, so maybe they got a huge case of  it when they arrived dockside at Ellis Island back in 1906: “Hi, welcome to America: here’s your case of Windex–it fixes everything! ”

Wish I could fix all with one neat sweep!  Here are a few Quick Tips to tackle your New Year Resolutions /challenges in bite-sized pieces: 

1. CLARIFY your goals for the year. Make a bucket list of things important to you–not necessarily to everyone else. You will be more motivated when you’re passionately connected with your authentic goals.

2. COMMIT: GET A WITNESS!   Pick someone you consider a dream supporter, NOT a dream squasher! Ask them to ask you if you did that one task  by a certain deadline. Tell them your reward/consequence if you did or didn’t.  They can be on the celebration side if you did. Ask them to come up with a negative consequence if you don’t do the step.

3. CANCEL  clutter, things, activities…yes, even toxic people from your world. Renew your relationship with your “Delete” key and go on a ‘Delete Fest” with spam emails, unsubscribe to mailing lists, clear out duplicate files (digital and paper), stop going to those boring parties, meetings, events, and just say “no” to the vampire life-sucking people who hang on because you allow it.

4. CREATE the energy-building connections you crave. Be proactive. Stop waiting for opportunities to ride up on that white horse; make them happen-one step at a time.

5.  CONCENTRATE and REINFORCE your goals with obvious visual cues: signage on your desk,  PC, mirror, near your clock, etc.

6. CELEBRATE and ACCELERATE! Have your own Prize Closet. Stock it with things and outings to reward your diligence. Indulge yourself in  . something you’ve always wanted to do.  Some people have a guilty pleasure of just hiding away for a few precious minutes and reading.  You’d be surprised how a simple pleasure can really recharge your spirits.

Alright, now, go out there and use that WINDEX! You have at least 6 different squirts to choose from.  OPA!  2005-09-10 08.30.58

Enjoy the journey!

Kelli V.

Happy ReNew Year!


We're all just one Etch-a-Sketch shake from resetting our New Year!

“Less is More”

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”- Hans Hoffman

Welcome to the New Year, a time for new beginnings, fresh starts. I like to look at it as the lucky moment we all have to shake that giant Etch-a-Sketch tablet and reset our slates to a clean, fresh palette.

Consider rethinking how you interact with your world, your work, your relationships.
Love this quote by Willam Channing—it seems to help put it all into perspective for me:

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common – this is my symphony.” – William Emery Channing

It’s a great time to take stock of what’s working and what needs work in our lives.
Some areas need fine tuning and some need complete overhauls. Remember habits take a while to undo and redo. Go easy on yourself in the growing transition.

Declutter the corners that crave the most attention (in the way of negative, frustrating destractive energy zapping).
As Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify, Simplify!”

Rethink all things that you allow to steal precious time, effort and energy from positive, productive directions. (This includes people, things, and activities)

Absorb a few ideas on how to rethink, renew, recharge….rinse, repeat! Choose a simple path and get started. Test drive it and see how it works. Fine tune and keep moving on the path. Don’t be afraid to discard the things that no longer serve your positive, productive purpose. Just get it started…and press on.

Enjoy the journey—it’s the only one we have!
Best wishes for your ReNewal Year! Kelli V.

Nothing is Something

Zen Zone "Ahhhhhh"

Breathe in , breathe out...repeat

Zen Zone Japanese Gardens


Go ahead...go on through the door...Overload. Overwhelm. Overboard. Sometimes it’s good to just sit or take a walk to debrief the information overload we get each day. This is hard for us Type A’s, as many of us feel like we need to do, do, do something to accomplish our goals. An integral part of getting your stuff done involves the ability to step back and check your systems. Ask “What’s working?” and “What needs work?” or “What do I need to Stop/ Start/ or Continue to keep on track. Silence is golden. I took a peaceful lingering walk through a zen sculpture garden this past weekend. Usually it takes me awhile to come down from my high level of intensity to really enjoy my surroundings. The sun was warm, the breeze was cool…birds chirping…fountains gurgling…eventually, I found my peaceful zone. I was able to really think about some of the systems I have in place and make some mental notes on how to enhance them. Consider this a necessary maintenance routine…imagine trying to change the oil on your car while it’s still moving. You will have to pull over every once in while for a pit stop for progress.

Challenge Question: Ask “When can I schedule my zen zone this week? Can I put that on my weekly calendar from now on?”
Give it a try and pass it on!
Remember to enjoy the journey, Kelli V.

New Year’s Non-Resolutions!


Greetings! So how are the New Year’s resolutions going so far?
Sometimes we find our resolutions (or lack of fulfilling them) pack on more stress.
Here’s an example of my resolutions over the last 3 years:
2 Years Ago: I resolve to join a gym and work out every single day!
Last Year (revised): I resolve to join a gym and work out 3x a week.
This Year : I resolve to drive by my gym at least 3x a week.
Don’t let the stress of new habits get to you. Give yourself a break and take credit for trying to
create a new habit. Remember, it takes at least 21 days to change a habit. That means in order to
start or stop doing something, it will take time before it feels comfortable.
Work through the discomfort by knowing you’re being positive and proactive. The discomfort
is actually a good sign of your growing pains.
Stay focused on your new habits. Print them on a large sheet of paper and hang them on your
desk at work or on your mirror at home–somewhere you will see them often.
Don’t overload yourself with new things. If you have a long list of improvements (or selfremodeling,
as I like to call it) then only tackle one or two before moving on.
Changing habits should feel like tweaking tune-ups, not major overhauls.
Soon the newer habits will replace old ones with more productive ways to do things.
Remember, you’re either moving toward your goal or away from it. You can only inhale or
exhale at once–you cannot do both at the same time. Focus on the end result of what you’re new
habits will accomplish. Stay light!
Training Tip: Move motivational posters around your staff’s office area. This helps achieve a
“new” look and keeps them from becoming part of the wallpaper. Consider rotating them on a
regular basis.
This has been another quick look at STRESS-RELIEF from the folks at
Have a super week, and pass the lightness on! Take care, Kelli V.

Motion vs Progress


 “Nothing is easier than being busy, and nothing more difficult than being effective.”  -Alex MacKenzie

 Busy, busy, busy—flying round and round, but what do you have to SHOW for it?

  Know the difference between MOTION and PROGRESS by first deciding what metric or RESULT means you’re moving forward. Ask an AM (Before) and PM (After) question to keep you on track. Example: (Before) “What exactly must I accomplish on this phone call to move this transaction forward?” (After) “What exactly did I accomplish on the call, etc” 

   Be alert to tangible, measurable moves in the positive direction. Stay focused with posted reminders in highly visible areas of your office: “Go for PROGRESS!” “What’s the TANGIBLE RESULT of this task?”  “Is this the BEST USE of MY TIME RIGHT NOW??” You will stay more on task and on target for bigger and  better ROTI (Return on Time Invested)!

You just cain’t fix stupid…


Ask yourself right now: “How can I think before I engage in a frustrating encounter with one of my ‘SAI’ people? How can I remind myself to be more amused than mad?”

Dealing with the “severely aware impaired” (SAI) can be a daily frustrating challenge. Decide to be amused with people who just don’t get it. Your other futile option is to get increasingly upset when they continue not to get it.

“Where’s my surprise face?” If you continue to be surprised when they don’t get it, perhaps you’re becoming “severely aware impaired.” Resist the urge to give FREE SEMINARS to people who did NOT sign up! Stop wasting precious time and energy explaining the whole enchilada, when the chips and salsa are all they can handle.