5 Ways to Engage Employees

Engaged EmployeeThe most important component in building an engaged workplace – the engaged employee! How do we ensure our employees come prepared and motivated to demonstrate high levels of engagement, and to inspire their peers to do the same?

Here are five ways in which we can work to ensure this is the case:


  • Selection of skilled and motivated candidates for employment
  • Development to increase their chances of success
  • Recognition of accomplishment in meaningful ways
  • Celebration as a team for milestones on the journey together
  • Connections to mentors, leaders, customers and others

Selection of engaged and prepared employees is the product of a well-planned recruitment and on-boarding process. The process should be designed to determine that candidates have the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in the role, and also to create an environment as close as possible to the one the candidate will experience as an employee.

It is important to allow the candidate to express themselves freely, ask questions, and to provide information that will allow you to assess their ability to respond to the types of challenges they will face on your team.  You will want them to be able to assess the organization and determine if it is a good match for them.

You will want to specifically address their level of engagement, and their feelings about a highly engaged work environment. Once selected, the integration of the candidate into the work environment should not only include specifics about their role, the organization, policies and procedures, but an introduction to the engagement culture of your organization, behaviors associated with it, and individuals who will support the new employee in this environment.

Development of the new employee should include not only technical and business skills, but abilities directly related to the engagement culture and process. These might include: facilitation, mentoring, negotiation, critical thinking ability, and presentation skills.

Special attention should be paid to the performance review process to ensure it is consistent with engagement goals, meaningful, and performed with a focus on the employee’s long term success. It should be timely, so it can benefit performance, and not just occur as a requirement to justify compensation. It is also important in the review process to capture contributions the employee is making beyond their job description, and to note talents and abilities not used in their current position, that may benefit the organization in the future.

Recognition of accomplishment should be conducted in a way that is meaningful to the employee and not “status quo.” It should reflect the employee’s accomplishment and highlight behaviors associated with engagement. Other individuals involved in the accomplishments being recognized should be allowed to contribute.

Considerations in deciding upon recognition should include:

  • what motivates the employee
  • who should be involved in the recognition
  • who the recognition should come from
  • who should be present
  • how there recognition reflects the employee’s skills, personality and interests
  • how the recognition will help the employee to be successful in the future

Celebration of success supports engagement and should involve the groups involved, or possibly the entire company. It is important to set, meet and celebrate milestones together. As appropriate, celebrations may include family members, customers, and other groups involved with, or who benefit from, the accomplishments being highlighted.

As in the home environment, connections play an important part in the success of employees and their level of engagement. These connections should be formed from the time the employee arrives, and may include:

  • leaders, mentors, colleagues, customers, community partners, industry members, representatives of professional or trade organizations, and others who enhance the employee’s work experience.

Connections provide balance, advice, and a positive sounding board for employees seeking to develop their level of engagement. Who are the individuals who have helped you to be successful at work? In what ways have they inspired you? In what ways have they been present in your professional development and recognition experiences?

Do we have the strength to be lead?

FollowersAs the New Year begins, I would like to wish you a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2013!

For those of you who are clients, I would also like to thank you for your continued engagement with Performancepoint! I believe you will find some exciting new things waiting for you this year in our experience together.

In that spirit, I would like to share with you some thoughts adapted from Missy Park, Founder of TitleNine, a women’s sports apparel company.

EVERYTHING I know I’ve learned from coaching others. For today’s competitive world, I thought I’d share their criteria for a good team captain (leader).

    • A captain should really WANT to be captain.
    • (S)he does not have to be the best player, but she does have to be a REALLY HARD WORKER.
    • (S)he should LISTEN CLOSELY, but she does not necessarily have to act on everything she hears.
    • (S)he should be “up” even when, ESPECIALLY when, others are down.
    • (S)he has to be able to say the things we MIGHT NOT WANT TO HEAR.
    • But most importantly, the team must recognized that in order for a leader to be successful, (S)HE ALSO HAS TO HAVE REALLY GOOD FOLLOWERS.

That is the tricky part for all of us, isn’t it? How do we support our leaders, even ones we did not vote for, we do not get to choose, even when we disagree?

Here’s to hoping that we all have the strength to be good followers.

Conflict Can Run Deep

I was recently mediating a situation between two individuals.  It was a very difficult situation because the problem had been going on for a long time, approximately fourteen months.  These two individuals were fairly senior in the organization.  However, their relationship was in turmoil.  These two executives were acting like children and it became such an issue that the Human Resource group asked for help.  Unfortunately, they waited a little too late.  I am not exaggerating when I say that it would have been difficult for the situation to have been worse.  The only thing these two people had not done is hit each other, although some threatening language had been used.  One of the executives actually oriented one of their new employees by sharing negative information about the other executive, coaching them about what to look for, and then asking the employee to sit in on meetings as a witness. 

There were two reasons why this effort was going to be a challenge at best.  The first reason was a lack of trust.  So much time had passed, with conflicts occurring without resolution or even understanding.  Each of these individuals needed answers about what was going on.  And true to form, both of the individuals made sense of these conflicts from their own point of view.  To create meaning, they had to make many assumptions and fill in the blanks that existed.  They chose this path, rather than listening to each other and trying to see things from the other person’s perspective.  Amazingly, human nature generally shows that under stress and in ambiguous situations, we fill in the blanks incorrectly or exaggerate; usually toward the negative.  In every situation, these individuals infused negative motives on the other person and provided opinions as facts to support their perspective.  They also saw themselves as innocent, and did not seem to take responsibility. After fourteen months of this self-indulgent behavior, it is easy to see how they could not trust each other.  Each saw the other person as a caricature, a villain if you will.  And they saw themselves as saints.  Their own self-interest was a barrier to building a relationship with the other person. 

Self-interest was not the only reason why this was such a difficult situation.  We should ask why they had never worked through these issues.  Why did they let this go so far?  Why did the organization as a whole allow this to keep festering?  What prompted these problems in the first place? 

 A number of factors had an impact.  Politics, reporting structure, geographic distance, dissimilar professional perspectives, personality and differences in communication style all played a role.  But they created a bigger issue…Fear.  Yes, the four letter word.  Both of these individuals were fearful of something.  One of them was new to the company and their role.  They had a lot riding on their entrance into the company and wanted everything to go perfectly as planned.  The other individual, who had just been told they were now reporting the first individual, felt as though they were losing freedom, and their relationship with the president of the company was being impacted by this new player.  He saw his career being impacted by a new player and wanted to be viewed as he was previously.  Both individuals acted out of fear or risk rather than opportunity. 

 The further down the road they went, more was at stake, especially when they painted the other individual as the villain and themselves as a saint.  If they were to resolve this conflict, both of them would have to acknowledge their own challenges and faults.  Fear can became a larger obstacle when trying to resolve a problem.  This was added to the concerns that already existed; because this had gone on so long and had become very public, they knew people were watching, including the president.  While we would like to believe that this would create the proper pressure to work through the issues, it actually creates the need for some people to protect themselves. 

 Unfortunately, that is what occurred in this situation.  One of the individuals rose to the occasion and the other individual engaged in self protection, negative attacks, and breaking agreements.  The irony is that this individual was afraid of looking bad, and in the end they lost the respect of a number of people because of their behavior.  If they had resolved the conflict, they would have improved their image in the organization, their relationship with the president, and positively impacted their career and organization. 

Adapted from Employee Engagement: A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance, and Increasing Loyalty

Let’s Start an Employee Engagement Revolution!

I am writing this to you as a friend, colleague, and peer.  Our methods for “doing” employee engagement are captured in our new book published last fall that many are starting to call THE book on Employee Engagement because of its straight forward and practical approach.  Sales of my new book “Employee Engagement:  A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance and Increasing Loyalty” have been rock solid.  I have so far exceeded the publisher’s expectations.  But that is not good enough.  I believe in this book.  I know it can help organizations and people as it has already with many of our clients.  I want to start an engagement revolution

That is why I am asking for your help and support.  Here are a few ways you can support the cause.

  • Purchase the Book:  If you have not purchased a copy of the book please do so now – you can purchase it on Amazon  or at a discount directly from my company, Performancepoint
  • Read the Book:  If you have purchased the book but have not yet read it, start it today
  •  Write a Book Review:  If you have read the book please write a review about it on a blog, review site, your LinkedIn profile or on Amazon
  •  Refer the Book of Give it as a Gift:  If you know someone who would benefit from reading the book then tell them about it or give it to them as a gift 

If you are not familiar with Employee Engagement:  A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance and Increasing Loyalty and would like to sample the first chapter, email me at bfederman@performancepointllc.com and I will personally send it to you.  

Help people find out why:

  • Homewood Suites by Hilton purchases copies for every new GM
  • Macy’s bought copies for their top HR Vice Presidents and Directors
  • Mosaic provided copies for their entire leadership team

If you have an office library, place a copy in there.  Buy it for your team. 

Find out why people are saying things like…

“The ideas expressed in this book explode off the page. They are so relevant and meaningful for employees and managers, especially during these hard economic times, when most employees are made to feel that they should simply be happy to have a job. Employers should read this book and start maximizing their productivity by developing engaged employees. Excellent resource – with practical, real life examples of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of employee engagement.”

“Federman has positioned himself as the lightning rod for this topic by really landing the “plane” with this book. He uses the science “behind the curtain” in order to help us understand the “art” of building employee engagement. Easy to read, easy to understand graphs, and great real life stories made this an important read for my business. I appreciate the time, effort and energy it took to take this subject and make it meaningful.”

This is it!  The time is now!  Help me take the ideas in this book to a whole new level.  Small actions create major waves.  Thanks in advance.

2010, The Year of the Recovery

Will the Hospitality Industry Be Ready?

The hospitality industry has been buffeted by the collateral damage of the economic crisis.  The fall in consumer confidence and plummeting business travel has resulted in record low hotel occupancy rates. 

Yet most hospitality industry experts are predicting trends to turn positive by mid-2010. The question for many properties and franchise managers is — are you ready for the coming recovery?  Being ready means the difference between success and failure—whether your market share increases or decreases, or whether you’ll realize stronger Revenue per Available Room (REVPAR).

With voluntary employee exits at an all-time low, you may have the right headcount, but how much of your employees’ spirit has left the building?  Making the most out of any recovery means every team member in your property or location has to be committed and focused on the guest. 

Sincere interest in the guest is what drives guest loyalty.  Unfortunately, many team members right now are frustrated with their brand, management company or ownership.  They feel overworked and underappreciated.  What will those team members  do when the economy gets better? 

Some workers will leave for another job.  Worse, other team members will stay and be disgruntled, which will only serve to hinder property performance.  For example, one customer had a bad experience with a travel company and he shared his complaint with over 10,000 people in a matter of three months.  Hospitality industry sources estimate that as a result of personal blogs and travel advice internet sites, one negative guest experience can reach as many as 30 million people within a matter of hours.  As a result, good staff morale is more pivotal than ever.  Your business depends on them providing the best service possible.

Is it possible to re-engage those employees that stay?  And how can your hiring practices be improved to select and quickly onboard motivated employees to replace those who have left? Proactive companies and property owners are addressing these issues now.   

Assess Systems is a consulting firm of organizational psychologists focused on talent selection and people development.  In the course of their extensive work in the hospitality industry, a number of their clients have reported efficiencies and guest score improvements since they implemented a pre-hire assessment that helps focus their hiring practices.  The assessments save time by clearly identifying candidates to avoid during the selection process.  In addition, follow-up studies prove that the test correctly identified those candidates who were star service providers and were rated higher in guest satisfaction surveys.  Using these types of assessments directly impacts turnover by predicting which workers are most qualified and suitable for the job.  Some customers estimate they’re saving, on average, $4,000-$5,000 per hire when they calculate retraining and other costs resulting when a bad hire is made. With a minor investment up front, an improved selection process can give you an edge over competing properties and place you ahead of the recovery curve. 

“Selecting the right talent for your individual business is the most important thing you can do.  There is nothing more important in our guest-focused industry,” said Randy Goldberg, Vice President of Recruiting for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, North America Operations. 

This is apt advice for property owners or franchisees trying to recover from a recession, according to Sarah Glass, who works with Hyatt and Goldberg.  Glass is an I/O Psychology consultant and director at Assess Systems.

“We conducted several follow-up studies with some of our guest service employees that compared assessment results to performance data.  The assessment was right on target,” said Glass.  “If the assessment indicated avoiding a certain applicant, yet they were hired anyhow, their guest satisfaction and performance ratings never reached the higher levels achieved by those employees the assessment identified as better potential hires.  These are the results Hyatt was looking for when they selected us for this project.”

Joe Kaplan, managing director of Performancepoint, LLC, a management consulting firm focused on employee engagement practices and an Assess Systems partner, also sees the value of using assessments to improve hiring for his clients. 

“Having the right talent interact with your guests is critical in the hospitality industry. Without the right tools and methods to better understand who you are interviewing, all your hiring decisions are a virtual shot in the dark,” said Kaplan. “A number of our hospitality clients have seen the same type of results.  Most agree that past hiring and development practices were at best, guesses without the information and guidance provided by a professionally developed assessment and selection process targeted toward their industry.”

As important as hiring is the culture that exists at each property.  The tone set by a general manager and the rest of the management team is paramount.  Homewood Suites by Hilton spent a great deal of time promoting this idea, and developed the Service Suitcase with the assistance of Performancepoint.  This all-in-one program develops the management team of a property and promotes an engaged, service-minded culture with the associates at the property.  The best part about the training process is that it does not require trainers and is built into the normal day-to-day meeting structures that exist at all Homewood Suites properties. 

“The Service Suitcase has been an integral element in supporting our culture at all of our properties,” said Frank Saitta, Homewood Suite’s Senior Director, Brand Performance Support.  “Even more importantly, we have seen significant strides in service scores, occupancy and REVPAR when our hotels have applied the tools in the Service Suitcase.  One property saw a REVPAR increase of over $10.00 and a 77 percent increase in customer loyalty rankings within three months.”

With a recovery at the door, now is the time to invest.  Hotels that invest in events or one-shot promotions receive, at best, a short–term benefit. However, when a hotel chooses to invest in their workforce, the impact is much more long-lasting.  Now is the time to re-engage the passion at your property using focused development and selection tools.

Brad Federman is the president of Performancepoint, LLC, a client-driven management consulting firm specializing in employee engagement and the author of Employee Engagement: A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance, and Increasing Loyalty. Having spent over 20 years focusing on the human impact in organizations, Federman has become a recognized leader in the corporate world and the performance improvement industry.   He has traveled the globe consulting in North America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, working with organizations of various industries and types.


Jeffrey Bilich is a Business Development Manager with Assess Systems.  Assess Systems has over 25 years of experience and is comprised of organizational psychologists and HR management consultants.  Assess Systems delivers a variety of custom and off the shelf HR solutions for competency modeling, selection process design, entry-level assessments, competency-based professional and managerial assessments, sales assessments, leadership development, 360 feedback, succession planning, performance appraisal and executive assessment and coaching.

The Way We Think – Scale Error

What is Scale Error?

A developmental psychology term used to describe is a genuine attempt to perform a task that is certainly impossible due to the significant differences in the size of the objects involved. The term is associated with children.  Examples of scale error include trying to enter a miniature car or house.  See the video for an example.  It is cute, entertaining and surprising. 

Why is this important?

Scale error implications are significant, because it sheds light on how we develop our thinking and learning. We, as individuals, do not always see things as they are.  We are not always rational.  We learn what is inappropriate over time and we learn due to trial and error.  When we first encounter new territory it is our nature to assign properties to things including people unconnected or independent of material properties.

We do not start off as rational and cogent, but disconnected and illogical.  We ascribe ourselves as thoughtful and intellectual, but that is not our origin.  Watching children engage in these types of behaviors is cute.  However, I wonder how this phenomena may play out with adults.  While we do not make these same mistakes as we get older; we do run into new situations and objects.  We have all had colleagues that have made some very illogical choices as if they had not seen what was right in front of their eyes. 

Maybe we must fight our very own nature at times.  Maybe we should challenge what we think we see.  I just wonder.