26 Ways to Keep Your People Engaged Without Resorting to Shock Therapy

The word “engage” comes from the French engagier, which means, “to make a pledge.”

That’s the big question: Why do people pledge themselves to you?

IN SHORT: Why do people engage?

Last year, I shared a collection of answers to this question in a popular piece called, Twenty Secrets Smart Leaders Know About Engaging Their People.

The response was overwhelming. I received more emails, tweets and reprints than usual. Apparently that list struck a nerve with a lot of my readers. And as a result, knowing I’d merely scratched the surface, I’ve continued to research the topic of why people engage.

Here are my latest findings. Please feel free to add your ideas to the list:1. People engage when power decentralizes. Have you given them the ability to influence their work environment?

2. People engage when the babysitting stops. How are you allowing them to establish their own structures to maintain focus?

3. People engage when they’ve been given permission to flex the muscle of why. Do you give them room to express commitment in their own unique way?

4. People engage when your words speak directly to what’s important to them. Does their inbox need another boring, overextended piece of corporate communication that people delete immediately or – at best – peruse passively?

5. People engage when they can invest in things they truly admire. What if dollars aren’t the defining factor of your people’s commitment?

6. People engage when they’re treated according to their own unique values. Are you discerning and testing how each of your people want to be treated, or trying to save time by treating everybody the exact same way?

7. People engage when they experience a real and regular connection between the duty of today and the dream of tomorrow. Are you telling people what your demands are or asking people what their dreams are?

8. People engage when they view their role as a stepping-stone, not a sinking ship. How long ago did your team give up on the possibly of meaningful work?

9. People engage when gratitude is palpable and recurrent. Are you trying to make recognition a corporate initiative or a constitutional ingredient?

10. People engage when they’re given permission to pursue their dreams. Are you still operating from the old paradigm that people come to work to make money?

11. People engage when they can express themselves without resorting to code. At your organization, do ideas flow in an open and unrestricted environment?

12. People engage when you stop asking them to edit themselves. What system can you install to remove the restriction of individual expression?

13. People engage when their internal compasses are honored. How will you liberate them from being in conflict with their own values?

14. People engage when they’re allowed to lead the kind of life they want. Do people view your company an economic mechanism and little more?

15. People engage when they don’t need to ask permission to let their personal brand shine. Do you work for a human organization or an indoctrination center that strips people of their individuality on a daily basis?

16. People engage when the feeling of formality doesn’t keep them from communicating freely. Do your employees come to work every day because they love it, or because you’ve degraded them into obedient soul dead conformist worker bees?

17. People engage when they don’t have to meet compliance just to take a piss. Are you empowering people to execute with all their might or restricting people to make excuse with all your policies?

18. People engage when they’re not bullied into to delivering impersonal, emotionless non-service. Is your work experience mechanical and transactional or emotional and transformational?

19. People engage when they’re not forced to adhere to rigid plans created through manipulation, punishment and coercion. Are your people innately committed or fearfully complying?

20. People engage when individual expression isn’t restricted. How are you petitioning people to inject their personality into everything they do?

21. People engage when they can dress how they want. Why is your organization still using dress code to convey class, hierarchy and status?

22. People engage when their leaders end the lip service. How are you making your mission more than a statement?

23. People engage when their big ideas aren’t jailed. How is your corporate veil of bigness and anonymity thwarting creativity?

24. People engage when they’re given wide discretion to spend company resources on the people who matter. Where is your organization sacrificing customer experience for corporate expense?

25. People engage when they’re given a safe place where individity creativity can shine. Who are you trying to make just like you?

26. People engage when they’re motivated intrinsically. How can you enable them to activate their own internal generators?

How will you avoid bombing your next employee engagement survey?

For the list called, “35 Things You Simply Can’t Do,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

If I Ever Had to Get a Real Job (Which I Won’t) This Is the Kind of Company I’d Want to Work For

Since I started my publishing company eight years ago, I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with some of the finest organizations around the world:

Like Sendouts.
They say, “Today is the day,” to their corporate recruiters.

Like Brains on Fire.
They say, “I love you” to their clients.

Like Optimists International.
They say, “Yes” to their members.

Like Million Dollar Roundtable.
They say, “Kamsahamnida,” to their buyers.

Like Australian Institute of Management.
They say, “No worries” to their followers.

THE REALITY IS: If I ever had to get a real job – which I won’t – these organizations are the types of companies I’d want to work for.

It’s time to learn from the masters. Today we’re going to explore a collection of ideas to help you make your organization more human, more approachable and more engaged:1. Create an atmosphere of approachability. Too many organizations are trapped in outdated hierarchical patterns of mistrust. Their leaders ignore people’s words, shrug off their suggestions or, worse yet, hijack the conversation and turn it into a one-way update.

Ultimately, this leaves people hesitant to speak up for fear of being labeled as a squeaky wheel. Not exactly an approachable environment. If you want to inspire deeper commitment, try this:

When people walk in the room, create a loving space where they feel comfortable sharing.

When people are gathered around, ask them to contribute if they see something you don’t see.

When people ask for feedback, you reflect their thoughts back to them in a way that makes them feel understood, not mindlessly repeated.

And when people bring you their ideas, respond with a fundamentally affirmative attitude by looking them in the eye and telling them how great their ideas are – no matter how big or small.

That’s how to make people feel heard. And the cool part is, when trust and belonging become the very oxygen your people breathe, the communication process shifts. For better and for always. How will you create a workplace that encourages the generation and execution of its best ideas?

2. Gratitude is the great gravitator. Gratitude isn’t a thing you do – it’s a virtue you embody. And it’s not something you do once a year. You shouldn’t need a calendar to tell you when to care. The goal is to make gratitude a non-negotiable. Like exercise or meditation, it needs to be something you just do, everyday.

However, because recognition is an emotional release humans crave, you can’t bastardize gratitude into to some empty, contrived corporate initiative. It has to be a constitutional. It has to be a way of life at your organization. Otherwise you’re just kissing ass.

The reality is: People engage when they’re applauded for their strengths and not berated for their weaknesses. And people engage when they’re allowed to publicly display their successes.

My suggestion: Stop trying to make them fall in love with you – start helping them fall in love with themselves. Stop trying to be life of the party – start bringing other people to life at the party. That’s how you make people feel essential. Not valued. Not important. Not special. Essential.

As in: “Janet, your role has a direct impact on something that matters. The value of your contribution is calculable. You’re more than just a helpful addition to our organization – you’re a vital component. Thank you, thank you.” How does your organization make gratitude and recognition a palpable, recurrent practice?

3. Tap into the reservoir of whypower. People who see their job as a grind, a sinking ship, quickly give up on the possibility of meaningful work. On the other hand, when people who see work as a gateway to something bigger, their jobs become stepping-stones to personal fulfillment.

The secret is to give people permission to flex their why muscle. To offer them room to express their commitment in their own unique way. And then, once you’ve found out what fuels them – you embed that passion into the organizational pavement. That’s what gives people the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment they seek, as opposed to feeling like they’re being used.

The best part is: Constancy of purpose can’t be penetrated by distraction. When work is rooted in passion and fire, productivity is a non-issue. And that’s when you realize that hard work isn’t the problem – it’s meaningless work that kills people. Do your employees feel like they’re being used for something pointless, or prepared for something purposeful?

4. Give people permission to pursue their dreams. Your organization needs to be a place where people can lead fulfilling lives. Working for you needs to help people get where they want to go. Otherwise you team is destined for mediocrity.

My suggestion: Your people need to experience a real (and regular) connection between the duty of today and the dream of tomorrow. Otherwise it’s just a job. It’s just a paycheck. And your organization is viewed as an economic mechanism and little more.

On the other hand, when people start to see the connection between their dream and their work, loyalty skyrockets. After all, people are grateful to whoever helps them achieve their dream. And don’t get me started on their spouses. Can you imagine how good it feels to wake up next to someone who has dreams to chase?

Maybe it’s time to stop telling employees what your demands are and start asking employees what their dreams are. As long as you remember: Your job is to be the spark. Because you can give people permission to pursue their dream – but you can’t take responsibility for them achieving it. How long ago did your people stop dreaming?

5. Identify the real currency. Too many organizations are operating from the obsolete paradigm that people come to work to make money. Nice try, Gordon Gecko. But throwing more money at people isn’t the answer – throwing more meaning at them is.

Truth is, people care less about the check and more about signed card the check came in. They hunger for the validation of being known, seen and heard. And they crave a work environment that allows them to express their creativity as loudly as possible.

Now, make no mistake: Money motivates. But dollars aren’t the only defining factor of human engagement. People invest themselves in things they truly admire. People commit when they’re allowed to lead the kind of life they want.

Your challenge is to figure out what each employee’s personal currency is, and then pay them with that every week. Because “equality,” while nice in theory, isn’t always the best polity. Sure, treating everybody the exact same way saves times – but it costs commitment. The reality is: People engage when they’re treated according to their own unique values. Are you discerning and testing how each of your people wants to be treated?

6. Stop asking people to edit themselves. Most organizational structures are designed to restrict individual expression, mitigate dissent and preserve the status quo. Which is great for the leaders, but makes the employees want to shoot themselves with a staple gun.

Instead, leave the policing to the cops. You don’t need more procedures – you need more philosophy. And note the distinction: Policies are restrictive devices that keep people from doing something; philosophies are enabling devices that empower people to do something.

Trust people to establish their own structures to maintain focus. Give people free reign design their own workplace nirvana. By enabling people’s ability to influence their work environment – and by being vulnerable and trusting enough to decentralize some of the power – they will work better, harder and smarter.

Remember: It’s awfully hard to engage in work that conflicts with your internal compass. Can your people express themselves without have to meet code?

REMEMBER: Your employees will always get what they want – it just might not be from you.

To make sure your organization stays human, approachable and engaged, reconsider the above suggestions. Keep them in mind. Take them to heart. Put them to practice.

Your people will stick around.

If they can’t come up to you, how will they ever get behind you?

For the list called, “205 States of Being That Matter Most,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

You Can Laugh at Your Employee Engagement Worries if You Execute These Six Strategies

I recently read an article in The Onion that painted a frighteningly accurate picture of employee disengagement and dissatisfaction.

The headline was, No Machine Can Do My Job As Resentfully As I Can.

It portrayed an embittered office employee who spent most of his days despising and bemoaning his miserable lot.

“I seethe with the unbearable knowledge that this will be my sole livelihood until the day I die. Struggling to suppress the repulsion and loathing within, I drink before his morning shift just to get through the day, as I am the living, breathing sum of life’s screw-ups, heartbreaks, and regrets.

I am a deeply self-hating man who loathes every second of his working life. And after working at this unventilated shit-prison twelve hours a day for nearly twenty-five years, I have developed no skills other than that of silently counting down the minutes of each workday while cursing my misfortune.”

Extreme? Yes.

Relatable by the majority of the workforce? Big yes.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: Work doesn’t have to be legalized torture.

Contrary to popular conditioning, it is possible to create an environment where approachability, creativity and engagement can flourish. Here’s how:1. Appeal to the heard mentality. All human beings want to feel: Valued. Needed. Wanted. Affirmed. Appreciated. Accepted. Respected. Recognized. Remembered. Taken seriously. Given a chance. Part of something that matters.

In short: They want to be heard.

Not just listened to – but also heard. Huge difference: One comes through the ears – the other comes through the heart. And if you want to strike a cord with that mentality, here’s my suggestion: Give your people the freedom to express themselves. Allow them the dignity of self-definition by creating a safe place where individual personality can shine.

You’ll find that by provide opportunities for constant individual expression; the overall culture of your organization becomes more human and more approachable.

Remember: Creativity is the ultimate expression of freedom. People who have permission to practice that engage. How do you assure that your people know their voice matters?

2. Humanize your doctrine. Most internal communication is a joke. It’s unreadable, unapproachable and usually a waste of paper. And every additional message people receive from their organization becomes another boring, overextended piece of uninspiring drivel they delete immediately or, at best, peruse passively.

If you want to deliver messages that cut through the internal clutter and arrest your people’s attention, you have to meet them where they are – but refuse to leave them where they are. It doesn’t have to be mind blowing – it just has to be heart flowing. After all, honesty trumps brilliance any day of the week.

Next time you send out some form of internal communications, ask yourself, “Is this beautifully readable or dreadfully uninspiring?” And it can’t just be what you think is interesting. Nice to know information isn’t always nice to engage information. As Kurt Vonnegut said, you have to be a great date for your reader. Is this message actually important to your people, or does it just makes the leadership team feel better?

3. Retain a strong emotional connection. Marketshare is useless. Mindshare is overrated. Heartshare – that is, the level of emotional responsiveness your work commands – is what matters. And your goal is to give people an emotion, a handle, to latch onto. That’s what enables their work to come to life.

My suggestion: Actually consider your people’s lives when you make decisions. Don’t start with the customer in mind – just start with the customer. As I learned from the aforementioned Jeanne Bliss, “We become emotionally attached to companies who consider our lives when they make decisions.”

Ultimately, companies that uphold the human spirit in all they do are more engageable, more approachable and more profitable. And organizations that create what their people will love – not just want – are the ones that stay alive. Just remember: People can get your knowledge anywhere. What you’re competing on is your sensibility. What you’re differentiating through is your humanity. What emotion are you selling?

4. Choose being real over being right. Your people would much rather have leaders who are real all the time – not right all the time. What’s more, if they know you’re willing to admit your ignorance, perhaps they’d be more willing to volunteer information about what’s really going on in the organization.

I’m reminded of what Southwest Airlines president Herb Keller once said: “If you create an environment where people truly participate, you don’t need control.” My suggestion: Instead of asking people to answer questions, invite them to question answers. Don’t worry. Developing a predisposition to compromise doesn’t make you weak or small – it makes you human and malleable.

It also makes you more likable and less of a pain in the ass to work with. As I learned in The Closing of the American Mind, “True openness means closedness to all the charms that make us comfortable with the present.” Learn to be less right and live to be more engaged. Will terminal certainty eat your organization alive?

5. Approach ideas with deep democracy. In the bestselling book on employee engagement, The Carrot Principle, authors Elton and Gostick explain that most employees don’t feel: (a) they have the right to share ideas, (b) that their ideas are valued, and (c) that sharing their ideas is even allowed.

Wow. There mere thought of this intellectual tragedy makes my stomach hurt. If I were running an organization, I’d make sure that good ideas had the chance to prosper, regardless of their origination. As a result, people wouldn’t have to assume that if they brought their idea to the top, it would die.

Come on. This story is sick of being told. Instead of command and control, try participate and surrender. Challenge your leaders to set up mechanisms for soliciting input from the people who matter most. This will help them see their own fingerprint on the plan and, let them know their words have weight and, as a result, allows them to take ownership of the idea. What are you afraid to listen to?

6. Uncover preexisting engagement tendencies. I once read in A Course In Miracles that inner peace is not something that we create, but something that already exists within us as a part of our true identity.

Human engagement is the same way: It’s not something you create – it’s something you excavate. It’s something you unearth. And if you want to do so with your people, you have to challenge them to matter. You have to help them get in touch with the personal why behind their work. Nothing is more engaging.

And, once you help people embed their flaming sense of purpose into everything they do, their daily work will be more engaged than Larry King on a Las Vegas vacation.

Look: People don’t need another schema to conform to – they need permission to bring their uniqueness to the table. They need you to give them a voice that says, “It’s okay and here’s why…” Is your engagement strategy a rigid methodology that demands homogeneity of beliefs, or a playground that gives people the freedom to develop in their own unique way?

REMEMBER: Nobody wants to dread going into work.

But disengagement is a product of organizational structure.

And if you don’t recognize, remedy and revisit these issues on a regular basis, nothing will ever get upgraded.

Your organization has the potential to become an environment where approachability, creativity and engagement can flourish.

Let it.

How will you avoid bombing your next employee engagement survey?

For the list called, “35 Things You Simply Can’t Do,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Lloyd Dobler Guide to Courting Inspiration

To court is “to woo and pay homage.”

Which means it’s more than just holding boom-box outside of a girl’s window.

No offense, Lloyd Dobler.

Courting means inviting openly.
Courting means pursuing proactively.
Courting means honoring consistently.
Courting means acknowledging publicly.

AND THE COOL PART IS: Courting isn’t limited to your dating life – it’s also an essential element of your thought life.

Because when it comes to the creative process, treating inspiration with respect and love is the only way to make it lay itself at your feet.

Here’s a collection of strategies to help you court inspiration:1. Greet life with openness. When readers and audience members ask what inspires me, I respond with one word: Everything.

Movies. Interviews. Nature. People. Books. Graffiti. Abandoned parking lots. Everything. All you have to do is pay attention. That’s all creativity is anyway: Active listening.

You don’t have writer’s block – you have hearing damage.

To court inspiration, salute all you encounter with a posture of deep democracy. That means say yes to all of it. That means reject nothing and take in everything. And that means choose to treat everything you experience with unconditional positive regard. What’s more, developing a deep love of do. Refusing to stand for the idle moment.

That way, interesting things don’t happen to you – you happen to them. You have to be approachable to the world. And you have to allow the world to be approachable to you. Because if you harbor a hardened heart, inspiration won’t think twice about returning your calls.

Remember: Feared, creativity atrophies. Saluted, creativity blooms. What will you have to change about your attitude to become inspired by everything in site?

2. Seek out the inherent novelty in all you perceive. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, founder of the flow movement, has written volumes on courting inspiration. In his book, Creativity, he suggests the following:

“Participate as fully as possibly in the world around you. Fascinate yourself with the ordinary. Evaluate critically every novelty you encounter and study ordinary things intently.”

It’s a beautiful thing. Like when you’re so engrossed in flow that you don’t realize you’ve spilled hot tea down your leg or spattered blood all over the fret board. That’s when you know inspiration is close.

And the good news is: Each of us has our own personal and emotional response to existence. We simply have to make the conscious choice to tap into – and create a personal dialogue with – our immediate environment. What’s more, we have to constantly look for recurring cycles of activities or repetitive patterns in our surroundings.

As philosopher Ferris Bueller once observed, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” How much time are you spending becoming more interesting?

3. Stay in touch with your aesthetic sensibility. Beauty is always relevant to something. And when you surround yourself with things that bring peace to your visual eye, inspiration isn’t far behind.

My girlfriend, for example, reminds me that the environment is the world’s biggest art museum. Do you have a lifetime pass? If not, get out of the house immediately. And as you experience what nature has to offer, look past what you see. Don’t just notice it – not why it exists. Don’t just think it – think about why you think it’s beautiful.

The goal is to enter into an engaging relationship with the world around you. To sit with studious attention and become an audience to the symphony of life. Nature, after all, is an endless source of novelty. A glowing source of inspiration wait to infect you with its beauty. Are you human enough to let it inspire you?

4. Accept divine timing. If you’re good, you can be creative anywhere. For example, nothing bad ever happens to a writer – it’s all just material. Having your heart broken by someone you thought you loved? Missing your flight and getting stuck at a shitty airport hotel? Spending a week in the hospital with a tube in your chest?

Sounds like the perfect experience to activate a creative awakening to me.

The secret is, you have to let it. You have to make yourself vulnerable enough to life a life wholly surrendered. Because it’s that brand of humility grants you an all access pass to where your ideas might take you.

My suggestion: Merge with the energy that urges you forward. Choose to gently move toward what scares you. You’ll discover that the capacity to be delighted and diverted – and the ability to put yourself at the mercy of the moment – is what lets life sing through you. Are you willing to ache with it all?

5. Practice cognitive receptivity. According to Dr. Susan Nash, this is a state of mental preparedness. It is a combination of cognitive readiness – the learner’s levels of development – and of psychological openness – how the learner views the environment.

For example, Keith Richards sleeps with his guitar. Has since the sixties. According to his autobiography, he wants his instrument to be readily available to him. That way, he’s prepared to harvest inspiration when it wakes him up in the middle of the night.

Take the song, Satisfaction. The main riff was something Richards sang to himself in a dream. But instead of rolling over, he woke up, wrote it down, called his friend Mick and made history.

Your challenge is to organize your creative impulse into a systematic approach that fertilizes your mindfield. A unique process turns anywhere into a starting place. That’s the prerequisite of originality: Being a better parent to your brainchildren.

Without that kind of preparing and receptivity, it’s extremely hard to absorb the whispered suggestions life sends to you. Is your brain ready?

6. Welcome the unusual. Aussie novelist and playwright Morris West is famous for the following observation: “One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing.”

To incorporate this practice into your thought life – not just your life, but your thought life – try this: Experience something that completely takes you out of who you are. Be an mental omnivore. Cease never from exploration. View things from as many angles as possible by engaging every sense and fully taking in ideas with their whole being.

By broadening and sharpening your sensitivity to alternative types of aesthetic value, you’ll make yourself available to new types of inspiration you would have otherwise missed. Remember: When you look with all of your eyes, love cannot be far behind. Good ideas are waiting. Are you willing to let them sneak up on you?

7. Embrace the virtue of volume. The amount of ideas I have swirling around in my head – at any given moment – would frighten the average person. As such, inspiration is unavoidable by virtue of my enormous input and constant stream of stimulation.

It’s simply a matter of probability. You don’t write seven hours a day and read five books a week without getting a few ideas. And the best part is: It doesn’t require a heavy workload or significant stressful activity to accomplish this.

Creativity is a highly relaxed, incremental process. And if you want to get there, here’s my suggestion: Start your idea factory. Practice freezing what happens to you, extracting the inspiration from your life and documenting your experience along with your reactions to that experience.

Soon, inspiration will form a line around the block just to get five minutes of your time. If you deleted one hour of television from your life, how would your creative volume change?

REMEMBER: A life without inspiration is existentially dangerous.

Court it. Woo it. Pay homage to it respectfully and lovingly.

Who knows? Maybe you won’t even need that boombox after all.

How many ideas did you execute yesterday?

For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

The world’s FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

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What to Do When You Can’t Get No (Employee) Satisfaction

Satisfaction is useless and loyalty is overrated.

Your people need to be insistent. Otherwise they’re out the door.

But don’t let the buzzwords sting you.

It’s not about communicating an employee value proposition.
It’s not about encompassing a comprehensive set of change management tools.
It’s not about sweetening people up so they don’t run away after the recession is over.

If you want insistence – that is, people who bleed your company colors – you’re going to need daily, consistent actions of approachability.

Whether you’re the leader of a large company, director of a volunteer base, manager of a sales team or a high school teacher educating the faces of the future, consider these five truths about engagement. Mick Jagger, this one’s for you:1. Allow people the dignity of self-definition. When Random House decided to publish their best selling title of all time, Atlas Shrugged, the president of the company wrote a letter to Any Rand reading: “If we publish you, Miss Rand, nobody is going to try to censor you. You write anything you darn well please and we’ll publish it.”

No wonder she stayed in engaged. That’s what happens when you provide a safe haven for self-definition. On the other hand, people disengage when they’re asked to edit themselves. In business and in life.

Take hospitals, for example. In Social Interaction and Patient Care, I learned that the loss of self-identity is one of the most difficult aspects of being a patient. “Role deprivation means loss of identity,” says the book, “especially when people are reduced to the anonymity of a horizontal figure between the white sheets. They become deprived of their most significant symbols that reinforce that identity.”

Whose identity are you editing? Which of your policies and rules are suppressing the passion of your people? Find small ways to rise above standard operating procedure. Otherwise, every time your people say, “Terrific. More items to submit for approval,” they disengage just a little more. Is your organization a safe haven or an editing booth?

2. Give their truth a megaphone. People want leaders who enable their spirit. They want organizations that enable their passions. Focus on this, and it’s amazing how many other things fall into place.

Especially engagement. Because when people are never forced to restrict their interests, their passion goes from spark to flame to inferno. And it explodes through the company walls, providing warmth to everyone in its path.

If I ever had to get a real job – which I won’t – that’s the kind of place I’d want to go everyday.

Unfortunately, most organizations have been stripped of their humanness. They treat people as cogs in the assembly line – not individuals in the game called life. And their people become easily intimidated and silenced by the walls of formality, preventing them from expressing themselves freely.

And as a result, their culture, service and bottom line suffer. Don’t let this happen to your organization. Because the bloodiest crime committed in the corporate world is the subjugation of the human spirit. Is there enough evidence to find you guilty?

3. Make loving you easy. In the book I Love You More Than My Dog, Jeanne Bliss explores the power of telling people that you believe in them.

“With those three words, we honor the recipient. We give up control and return it back to the sender. And there is an energy that comes from being believed, from being trusted, and from sending that trust back to people.”

That’s how you earn the right to a continued relationship. That’s how you earn the right to have employees not just telling your story – but also convincing others to become characters in it. You love them. You believe in them. And you remind them that you do everyday. Every single day. Otherwise they’re gone.

Think of it this way: If your spouse only said she loved you once a month, you’d be divorced quicker than a contestant on Millionaire Matchmaker. Don’t let your organization become another statistic. How often are you gushing over your people?

4. People want to be treated – not handled. To treat is to respect. To love. To attend to. And to leave people feeling known, seen and heard. To handle is to manage. To manipulate. And to leave people feeling tolerated, dealt with and circumvented. Which approach do you think people prefer?

Odds are, the latter. And I bet they can tell the difference, too. Especially customers. They know exactly what it feels like to interact with someone who, five minutes before dragging his apathetic ass out on the sales floor, got a phone call from a coworker who said, “Hey, can you go handle this lady on line three?”

My suggestion is: Declare a moratorium on handling. Post signs around your office that read, “Treated, not handled.” And tell employees that anytime they use the word “handle,” they have to donate twenty bucks to the curse jar. The money will add up quickly. Hell, you could even throw a party for your customers. Maybe they’ll feel treated for once.

Remember: Handling is what you do to raw meat – treating is what you do to a work of art. Can you imagine how your organization would change if your people transformed from a gathering to a gallery?

5. Envision a more ambitious platform. Ideally, one that allows users to collaborate and resolve issues on their own. Otherwise you end up micromanaging every minor conversation. And nothing scares the engagement out of people faster than knowing they’re being constantly monitored.

The cool part is, when you give your people a forum to connect, they naturally start to convince others of your value. And you can’t beat that kind of marketing. Whether you use online boards, blogs, forums or other chat functions, the key is remembering to back off.

Sure, you can moderate. But true engagement isn’t about control – it’s about letting go. It’s not about managing the process – it’s about starting a conversation and then getting the hell out of the way.

Don’t worry: If they need you, they’ll holler. Other than that, stop hovering and let them do their thing. Are you willing to surrender the reins and show your people that you trust them enough to interact on their own?

REMEMBER: If you want your people to stick around – and stay engaged while they’re around – forget about satisfaction.

Aim for insistence.

They’ll forget the door is even there.

Are you people satisfied or insistent?

For the list called, “27 Things to Do First,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

8 Engagement Strategies to Keep Your People from Walking Out the Door

If you don’t want people quitting you, you’ve got to figure out how to make love stay.

That was the central idea of Tom Robbins’ book, Still Life With Woodpecker.

“One day you wake up and find that the magic is gone. You hustle to get it back, but by then it’s usually too late, you’ve used it up. What you have to do is work like hell at making additional magic right from the start.

To make love stay, wake love up in the middle of the night and tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.”

That’s all engagement is: Making love stay.

Here’s a list of daily practices to keep your people from walking out the door.1. Engagement is the new marketing. Brand perception hinges on the interactions between customers and employees. It’s got nothing to do with your logo. Or your clever direct mail campaign. Or your crummy commercial that aired during halftime of the Superbowl.

From human beings. From your people. Which means every interaction your employees have with the customer either adds to – or subtracts from – the overall perception of your brand. And since this principle colors every component of your organization’s engagement style, consider asking your team two questions:

*How do customers experience your people?
*How do customers experience themselves in relation to your people?

That’s the only thing the world can form an impression on: How interacting with your people makes them feel. That’s why engagement is so essential. Otherwise your engagement is a joke and your organization is the punch line. If your customers could give your company a hug, would they open their arms?

2. Know what emotion you’re selling. Because feelings determine actions, you’ve got to emotionally involve people. You’ve got to determine what experience you deliver, and how you can guarantee its consistent delivery.

One way to do so is by becoming an expert in memory creation. Practice planting moments in your daily interactions that give people something they’ll never forget. In fact: The smaller, the better. When you go out of your way to make the mundane memorable, you convert rare into remarkable. And that’s when you create a significant emotional event that tugs people by the heart.

Remember: Businesses that retain a strong emotional connection with their customers don’t go out of business. Leaving emotional memories to chance is too dangerous. How will you remind yourself to create a significant emotional event?

3. Consider people’s unique definitions of engagement. You don’t need to read another book on employee engagement – you need to get your ass out of the office and ask people what engagement feels like to them.

Not what they think engagement is – but what engagement feels like. Huge difference.

The secret is to use every listening post you can find. From offline to offline, from electronic to human, from walking the floors to monitoring tweet streams, whatever gives you insight into how your employees operate is a worthwhile endeavor.

Second, listen deeply. That means listening the facts along with what the facts point to. Third, listen for the right reasons. Not just enough to flip the answers for your own uses. Not just to boost your ego. And not just to confirm what you already think. Listen to learn how your people truly engage.

Remember: The longer you allow organizational fears to prevent you from pursuing the truth about the people who work there, the more shocked you’re going to be when they suddenly jet out the door. Are you listening to the sound of your own voice or the music of your employee’s voice?

4. Put a little blood into it. As a writer, I invest myself very personally in everything I publish. This is very risky – but that’s the whole point. The more naked my words are, the more engaged my readers become.

That’s the lesson: Self-disclosure earns trust. And people engage when they operate from a place of trust because they’re not wasting their energy protecting themselves. Your goal is to find a way to ship a small piece of who you are with everything that goes out the door, as my new crush Jeanne Bliss suggests.

That’s what earns you the right to be engaged with. That’s what earns your organization the right to have its story told. Because it’s not just how well you know your customer – it’s how well your customers know you.

It’s about how clear they are about what you’re committed to. Otherwise, hiding the true picture of who you are is a form of reputational risk you can’t afford to take. What are you using to make your identity more knowable?

5. Preserve freedom of mind. Nothing disengages a human being faster than the annihilation of independent thought. That’s how you activate someone’s built in pushback mechanism: By demanding homogeneity of beliefs.

Sadly, too many organizations turn mental settling into a silent epidemic. And as a result, their people become stripped of their humanness. Organizational consultant Dave Snowden addressed this issue in a recent article on Cognitive Edge:

“Forcing people to accept a common culture increases the tension between the way that people naturally behave and the way they now feel they have to. That means increasing alienation and inevitably suppressed conflict and increasingly levels of conflict.”

Instead, Snowden suggests creating boundaries around compatible but different cultures – even if a little healthy conflict arises. The point is: You have to make certain that people’s dearly held sense of individualism is honored. That their work unites with their own sense of life. And that they’re treated like individuals on the frontline – not integers on the company report.

Otherwise they’ll be out the door faster than you can say, “Tuesday is Soylent Green Day.” When does the feeling of formality keep your people from communicating freely?

6. Contribution can’t be mere blip on their radar screen. It has to become a legitimate, long-term trend. That’s what makes people engage: When their job makes use of their talent.

The challenge is, not everybody is comfortable being smart. Some people need permission to bring their brilliance to the table. And as their leader, your mission is to create a safe place where individual personality and creativity can shine.

To do so, ask each person the following question: What personal skills are you currently not using in your job?

Their answers might surprise you. Look: Nobody wants to spend their life at a second-hand task. And nothing shackles the human spirit more than a work life that’s prosaic and unmusical. If you want people to engage, the work they do has make a significant contribution to something they value. Do you provide opportunities to do meaningful work that helps others?

7. Don’t just get over yourself – stay over yourself. Here’s the reality: Your organization is one part of your people’s total life experience – not the sole focus.

Accept this. Stop operating out of the old school model that loyalty is an entitlement. It’s not.

You have to earn it and re-earn it daily. Instead, start adjusting your company to the rhythm of its constituents. And understand that work isn’t the only determining factor in how your people live their lives.

Especially younger generations. If you want them to engage, you have to show them that you respect their commitments outside of the organization. That’s part of the process of staying over yourself: Focusing less on getting people to join you and focusing more on trying to join them first.

Who knows? Maybe your people would engage more if they felt their lives were participated in too. Are you fitting them into your nice little plan or celebrating how you fit into their lives?

8. Be a value-adding machine. As much as I loathe reality television with all of my being, the sheer number of makeover shows on a typical evening of programming does indicate something reassuring: Most people want to get better.

Not all, but most.

And I’m not just talking about those grease balls on Jersey Shores who want calf implants. I’m talking about your employees, who would relish the possibility to become more valuable. Not just in the organization – but in all areas of their lives.

Why make it so hard for people to grow? Afraid they’ll get too successful and steal your job or find a better job? Come on. They’re going to be gone in four years anyway. May as well show them you support their development. Rise above standard operating procedure and create room for people to become something different. Odds are, they’re eager to reinvent their work experience anyway.

Try asking what it will take to build something that they recognize themselves in. Try treating them as the people they want to become in order for them to know who they really are. Maybe then they’ll stop watching reality television and actually work a few nights a week. Does your organization move its people closer to, or farther away from where they want to be?

REMEMBER: It’s hard work to keep your people from walking out the door.

And odds are, you won’t retain everybody.

But if you make a conscious effort to engage people in the most human, most approachable and most respectful manner, your organization will greatly improve its chances of making love stay.

How will you keep people from walking out the door?

For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

6 Ways to Avoid Bombing Your Next Employee Engagement Survey

Three hundred billion dollars.

Within the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates that this is the cost in lost productivity alone, according to their thirty-year Employee Engagement Index.

How much of that money is your company responsible for?

ANSWER: Too much.

Today we’re going to explore six strategies to make sure your organization doesn’t bomb its next employee engagement survey:1. Participation isn’t the same as engagement. On a breakfast table, the chicken participated – but the pig was engaged. Which category do you people fit in? Here’s the distinction:

To participate is to take – to engage is to pledge.
To participate is to take a look around – to engage is to take purposeful action.
To participate is to show up for you – to engage is to share with others.

This makes participation more of a one-way street, and engagement more of a give and take exchange.

To assure you have more of the latter, try this: Don’t conclude your blog posts and social media updates with a thank you – conclude with a call to action. Solicit engagement with a question, a challenge or a fill in the blank exercise. Give people ample space to express themselves on your platform.

Then, keep the loop open to allow other people in your tribe to contribute to the ongoing discussion. That’s the kind of engagement involves risk taking, spontaneity, socially supported co-creation.

Remember: People who participate are helpful additions; people who engage are vital components. Which one would you rather have at your organization?

2. Make yourself more bounceable. Getting people to volunteer information and open up to you is a big challenge – in business and in life. After all, people don’t want to say something stupid, rock the boat, get eaten alive or risk getting canned.

They need reassurance that their ideas will be greeted with a welcoming heart in a safe, honest, question-friendly environment.

The secret is to lay a foundation of affirmation. To instantly reassure people that you appreciate their ideas, regardless of their value. A few Phrases That Payses include, “I’m glad you spoke up,” “Thank you for letting me know,” “I had no idea – thanks for telling me,” and “I’m so glad we had this conversation.”

Think of it this way: Buddhists monks never ring bells – the invite the bells to sound. If your people are disengaged, maybe it’s time to stop ringing and start inviting. Maybe it’s time to stop listening and start leaving people heard. And maybe it’s time to stop asking questions and start questioning answers. Are you encouraging people to save their opinion for later or allow them say the essential thing that is within them?

3. Inspire people with a vision of what they can contribute. There’s a great Counting Crows song that says, “All love wants – is to be believed in.” In the same vain, all your people need – is to feel needed. And your mission is to show them that you’re conscious of their capability to contribute.

More importantly, how that contribution ripples back into their lives – not just the life of the organization. Because without that sense of reciprocity, people labor in vain. And they don’t engage because they’re too busy wondering if the work they’re doing will disappear into the corporate ether.

On the other hand, when you stop looking over people’s shoulders – and when you make it safe for them to experiment – you demonstrate trust in their abilities. And that’s when brilliance gets unlocked. That’s when you evoke people’s capacity to dream. And that’s when they taste the sweet liberation of what’s possible. All because you believed in their untapped potential for growth.

Ultimately, when people view their work as a gateway to something bigger – not just the daily grind – they actually want to come in every day. And they engage because they’re treated as unique individuals, not as a means to organizational ends. Are you actually building people, or just building your own dream and using people as bricks?

4. Create a setting in which everyone’s gifts can flourish. Followable leaders are the ones who are confident enough to surround themselves by strong teammates and not be intimidated by their strengths.

On the other hand, when you disable people from exercising their gifts, they stop operating out of their core. And the work they do becomes stale, mediocre and unengaging.

The challenge is to listen for greatness to show up in each person. Then, to attend to whatever surfaces with deep democracy. Ultimately, by digesting each other’s differences, and acknowledging the diversity of consciousness, you inspire them to remain engaged.

That’s what my mentor taught me: Your have to give people permission to be. You have to allow them to publicly display their successes. And you have to let go of being the life of the party so you can start bringing other people to life at the party. How are you meeting the most critical needs of your people?

5. Reinforce social belongingness. Kalamazoo College conducted a study a few years ago that examined feelings of belongingness as a predictor of engagement of student leaders. Thousands of students surveyed proved that the likelihood of their willingness to engage was directly correlated to their perceived sense of belonging.

How are you reinforcing that with your people?

Because the simplest way to make someone feel like they belong is to actually make them belong. Take Metallica, for example. A few years ago, they began searching for a new bass player. And after weeks of auditions, they finally decided on a guy named Robert Trujillo.

But the cool part was, instead of just throwing him a welcome party; Metallica offered him a one million dollar advance for joining the band.

Think he was engaged? Think he felt like he belonged? You better believe it.

They put their money where their mouth was, affirmed the value he brought to the table and said, “This is how much it means to us that you become part of our family.” Will you let your world open up and lovingly swallow the people who matter most, or will their efforts be another silent symphony?

6. Reinforce people’s sense of thee. In a worldwide survey to test employee engagement, Towers Perrin found that an organization’s symbol or logo was a key indicator, as it they are visible manifestations of pride.

Not unlike the first-round draft pick who holds up his shiny new uniform in front of all the cameras and says, “I’m proud to wear the Tiger Jersey,” when people’s work invokes a sense of gratification, they engage.

Take Anheuser Busch, for example. People who work there don’t brag to their friends that they work for “some” beer company, or even “a” beer company. They work for thee beer company. The big mama. The grand daddy. The King of Beers.

Your challenge is to pinpoint the vehicle of your superiority. To repeatedly articulate your “est.” As in:

Craziest. Dizziest. Fanciest. Gutsiest. Heaviest. Juiciest. Knottiest. Laziest. Purest. Quietest. Rarest.

Think about the one thing your organization does that nobody else can touch – and reinforce it daily. Your people will want to attach themselves with that. What are you the world heavyweight champion of?

ULTIMATELY: Engagement isn’t something you just decide to implement into your organization.

It isn’t a process.
It isn’t a strategic initiative.
It isn’t a tool for driving profits.
It isn’t a method for growing membership.

Engagement needs to be a living, breathing component of your organization’s constitution.

How will you avoid bombing your next employee engagement survey?

For the list called, “27 Affirmations to Prepare Yourself to Listen,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

What Every Organization Should Know About Engaging the People Who Matter Most

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s a fine idea to assume your people will engage if they know their work makes a difference to the organization.

But don’t fool yourself.

People don’t care about your organization as much as your organization thinks they do.

They care about themselves, their career, their bank account, their families and their future.

That’s why much of the existing material on engagement, while nice in principle, is myopic in practice.

It fails to address the issue of self-interest.
It refuses to stay sensitive to the needs of the human spirit.
It doesn’t focus on building people, rather, on building the organizational dream and exploiting people to do it.

As Scott Adams said it best a recent Dilbert cartoon: “We need more of what management calls ‘Employee Engagement.’ I don’t know the details, but it has something to do with you idiots working harder for the same pay.”

The reality is:

People engage when the fruits of their engagement become transportable assets.

People engage when they know they’ll become better in all areas of their life – not just beef up the bottom line.

People engage when their work isn’t a set of tasks, but an opportunity to build a platform that pushes them to something bigger.

People engage when they know that they can recoup their discretionary effort when they leave, as opposed to surrendering years of emotional labor to the organization.

Today we’re going explore a collection of practices to help you engage the people who matter most:

1. Making people feel important is overrated. If you truly want people to engage, you need to make them feel essential. That word derives from the Latin essentia, which means, “essence.”

That’s what being an approachable leader is all about: Honoring, loving and acknowledging the essence of another person. And showing them how quickly the place would fall apart without their contribution.

Sure, telling a person how cute her shoes look makes her feel nice; but telling her how inspiring her energy is makes her feel essential. Try this: Before you start bootlicking, ask yourself:

What attributes of her core self do I admire?
What facets of his personhood are most attractive?
What could I say to honor this person’s uniqueness?

Pay compliments that matter – not just flatter. And if concerned that your comment will “go to their head,” don’t worry – it won’t. It will go to their heart. It will remain there forever. And they will be more engaged than a Midwestern farm girl on graduation day.

Remember: The interpersonal impact of a compliment is directly proportionate to the level of thought required to deliver it. Do your words make people feel important or essential?

2. Make no restrictions on people’s testimony. Engaged organizations don’t need to spend millions on marketing – their people do it for them. They don’t need to sell the world on the quality of the springs; they just give others the chance to jump on the trampoline with them.

That’s what happens when people are fully engaged: They’re not just committed – they’re contagious. They’re living brochures of the organization’s awesomeness. And they voluntarily infect others with their experience in the hopes that those people will jump ship and join them.

Pastor Rob Bell wrote about this in his book, Velvet Elvis:

“I am far more interested in jumping than I am in arguing about whose trampoline is better. You rarely defend the things you love. You enjoy them and tell others about them and invite others to enjoy them with you.”

My suggestion is to put a system in place that removes the restriction of their expression. From blogs to message boards to meetup groups to online communities, the available tools – both online and offline – are endless.

The whole point is to give their river a voice, then give their voice a platform. And if you make it easy to spread the word, your most engaged people will make sure that everybody knows it. How are you letting your own people do your marketing for you?

3. Stop asking people to edit themselves. It’s one thing to edit a paper – it’s another to edit a person. Be very careful with this. Editing means correcting the core of something. And the moment you allow that to happen – to the work or to the person who authors it – is the moment of betrayal.

What’s more, editing renders creativity timid and impotent, and it’s not fair to people to let that happen.

My suggestion: Assure that people’s true identity is allowed to emerge. Enable regular expressions of eccentricity. And petition people to inject their personality into everything they do.

Otherwise their truth will feel jailed. And nothing disengages people quicker than interfering with the expression of their individuality. Ultimately, it’s about allowing them to walk their truth, breath their brand and stay loyal to themselves.

And while it’s probably safer to edit, for those who seek to turn their lives into remarkable portraits of brilliant creative expression, safe is a very dangerous place to be. Maybe it’s time to retire that big red pen you’ve been carrying around the office for five years. Whom are you asking to edit themselves?

4. Embed their passion into the pavement that leads the way. People engage when they’re consistently given the opportunity to do what they do best. When their work is united with their sense of life. And when what they do becomes a vehicle for living what is important to them.

The secret is to find out what’s under people’s fingernails. To identify the labor that stays with them wherever they go, becomes part of their language and merges with their very being.

This information is priceless. And it’s not something you create a field for in your customer database. It’s something you learn by listening to people’s hearts. It’s something yon learn by asking people passion finding questions like: “If you were the last human on Earth, what would you still do every day?”

The point is: Knowing what’s under people’s fingernails doesn’t just give you their hot button – it gives you their entire motherboard. Not to manipulate them – but to inspire them to motivate themselves. How quickly do you introduce passion into the engagement equation?

5. Help them develop a deeper sense of why. Knowing how is the path to education – but knowing why is the conduit to inspiration. If you want your people to be engaged every single day, you need to tap into (and reinforce) their why.

Otherwise, what the hell are they even doing there? Your mission is to help them see their work as more than just a job. Here’s how:

First, ask people to answer the question, “Why do you do what you do?” one hundred times. This exercise is hard, but it forces them to calculate their personal currency. (Don’t forget to have them send you a copy!)

Second: Invite them to plaster their workspace with tangible representations of the items on that list. This surrounds them with a monument to their why.

Finally: Encourage them to revisit both their list and their wall decorations any time the creeping feeling of disengagement enters their mindspace. In so doing, you’ll provide them with ongoing opportunities to inspire the hell out of themselves.

Remember: People want to live the dream – their dream. Are you helping them create a go-to space for self-motivation?

6. Accept that people aren’t bound to you. Peter Drucker famously suggested that all organizations treat their people as volunteers. This is a smart, strategic – and realistic approach. And it completely recolors the timbre of your encounters with people.

Volunteers, after all, do what they do because they want to – not because they need to. And if they don’t like the direction things are moving in, they’re gone. As I learned from Incentive Intelligence:

“Managing volunteers isn’t about directing effort as much as it is about allowing effort to find it’s best path. You have to ask yourself what you would do differently if all your staff could just walk out tomorrow.”

This is especially applicable to the top producers and high achiever of your organization. Think about it: Recruiters are probably hounding them on a daily basis. And if you haven’t confronted the fact that people are loaning their talents to you until something better comes along, you’re in for one hell of a wake up call.

Considering the culture and economic shifts to a more entrepreneurial marketplace – and the fact that the median time a person stays in one job is four years – you should be grateful they’ve people have given up their most valuable resource to become part of your organization.

Never rest on your engagement laurels. Golden handcuffs notwithstanding, most people they can leave anytime they want. In the words of Chris Rock, “People are only as loyal as their options.” What are you pretending not to know?

REMEMBER: Nobody shows up disengaged.

If they did, you never would have hired them in the first place.

People become disengaged over time.

Which means, at some point between the day they started – and the day you caught them taking a nap under their desk in the middle of the day – something broke.

Go fix it.

Why do you think people engage?

For the list called, “46 Types of Marketing,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Satisfaction not enough?
Customers not telling their friends about you?
Want to learn how to deliver unforgettable service?

Buy Scott’s book and learn how to get your frontline in line!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

How to Look Good Naked

Dishonesty has a limited shelf life.

According to a recent study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, eighty percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating:

“Flirty messages and photographs found on Facebook are increasingly being cited as proof of unreasonable behavior or irreconcilable differences.”

Unfortunately, the study forgot to mention one thing:

This problem isn’t the computer – the problem is the character of the person using it.

People don’t get divorced because of Facebook – they get divorced because dishonesty is written all over their face. Employees don’t get fired for blogging – they get fired for being stupid. And organizational leaders don’t go to jail because some intern squealed – they go to jail because they’re morally bankrupt cracker-honkeys. THE REALITY IS: If you choose to live a dishonest life offline – there’s going to be a huge echo online. And your digital footprint will slip on the technological banana peel and destroy the things that matter most in your life.

How are you branding your honesty?

That’s the key question.

Because I’m not saying you need to get naked – I’m saying you already are naked, and if you don’t consider the implications of your truth, you lose.

Here’s a list of strategies to help you undress for success:

1. Offer unprecedented access to information. Privacy is so last century. Even if you don’t lay your cards out on the table. People are still going to learn what they need to know about you on their own. May as show ‘em your goods.

Besides, opacity breeds mistrust. Just ask blogger and online marketing Chris Brogan. On the bio page of his website, there’s a disclosure list of every single relationship he maintains: Affiliations, partnerships, board positions, advertising commitments and product endorsements.

His clients love this. Hell, his non-clients love this. And people all around the web are talking about Brogan’s informational undressing. My question is: When was the last time somebody blogged about your contact page?

Lesson learned: Be unusually honest, radically transparent and highly respectful to the organizations and individuals with which you connect. Prove to people that to live the brand is to leave no doubt in their minds about whom, what and why and you. How could you magnify what you can’t hide anyway?

2. Be uncompromisingly public with your thoughts. While blogging is not the answer for everyone, it’s still the smartest strategy for making your organization more approachable and transparent.

The cool part about blogging is: It’s directly related to profit. But only if you recognize both the intentionals and incidentals of the medium. For example: If your intention is to share your thinking – incidentally, you will become a better thinker. If your intention is to educate and build community with the people who matter most – incidentally, you will earn more loyalty.

Interestingly, HubSpot recently conducted a fascinating study on online marketing. They looked at data from fifteen hundred customers, mostly small and mid-sized businesses. According to their results, companies that blog have three advantages over those who don’t.

First, blogging companies have fifty-five percent more visitors – which means more people to convert.

Second, blogging companies have ninety-seven percent more inbounds links – which signals authority to search engines.

Third, blogging companies have four hundred and thirty-four percent more indexed pages – which boosts findability with search engines. What’s your excuse for not blogging yet?

Look: Statistics might lie – but Google doesn’t. The intentional commitment to make your organization more approachable results in the incidental consequence of greater profits. As long as you’re willing to go public with your thoughts. What did you write today?

3. Take it one step further. Twenty years ago, Progressive made insurance history: They started giving their customers access to the competition by offering comparison quotes from other providers. Brilliant.

Three years ago, General Motors made automotive history: They started asking Saturn dealers to provide one or more of the competing models in the showroom. That way, customers could look at it, sit in it, drive it and realize how much better it was that the other guys. Genius.

And last year, Patagonia made green history: They launched The Footprint Chronicles. It’s an interactive mini-site that allows customers to track the impact of five Patagonia products from design to delivery. Awesome.

I wonder what step your organization could take to knock the socks of the untrusting masses. And it’s not like it has to be a big step. All you have to do is quit something average. All you have to do is make the mundane memorable. All you have to do is turn rare into remarkable. Get gutsy or get gone. Are you allowing people to examine your organization’s life habits?

4. Befriend the current. Every organization has customers. Whether you call them users, clients, volunteers, members, or employees – you’re still serving somebody. And the reality is: They already know everything about you. They’re already stalking you. And they’re already sharing private, internal information to their friends and family.

Why not surf that wave? Why not leverage the trend by turning customers into partners? Consider creating an internal system to welcome complaints – and solicit solutions – from the people you serve. Burn your suggestion box. Replace it with a question box.

By remaining steadfast in your willingness to learn where you suck; your organization will only grow stronger. And instead of swimming against the current – at the risk of alienating the people who matter most – you respect the waters. You identify the unavoidable, unstoppable swell. And you allow the current to carry you where the market is going.

That way, you can spend less time swimming and more time listening. Gnarly dude. What are you pretending not to know?

5. Know when the cost of disclosure is too high. Like anything, transparency requires balance. And you don’t want to become a victim of your own approachability. Take it from a guy who’s been wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for over a decade: Personal privacy – what’s left of it, that is – is a beautiful thing.

And while I believe that anonymity is bankruptcy; I also believe that boundaries are saviors. Don’t be so transparent that you lose the magic. After all, that’s part of why people do business with you: Because you intrigue the hell out of them. And if you’re too transparent, you run the risk of disappearing completely.

You have to maintain some level of mystique. Otherwise your ability to fascinate will evaporate. The challenge is figuring out where you draw you line. Remember: If you don’t set boundaries for yourself – other people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And then they will tell all their little friends that it’s okay to do the same. All because you never set a precedent of no. Will your transparency degrade into invisibility?

ULTIMATELY: It’s only a matter of time.

Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance.

That’s the reality of the marketplace: Your audience is everywhere, and they’re growing more powerful by the day. Never underestimate them.

Because sooner or later, as Seth Godin says, they’re going to see the effects of your actions. And living as if this is certain makes it far more likely that you’ll find a happy ending.

A helpful question to reinforce this principle is: “Do I want to become known for what I’m about to do?”

Try posting that on your office wall.
Try asking that before your next holiday party.

Because if you run around expecting not to get caught, eventually, the world is going to bust you.

REMEMBER: The past always reincarnates in one of two forms – either to pat you on the back or kick you in the ass.

Look – you’re already naked anyway.

May as well look good.

How will you organization leverage transparency?

For the list called, “6 Ways to Out Position Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

The world’s FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott’s comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Twenty Secrets Smart Leaders Know About Engaging Their People

Let’s talk about your people.

Users. Customers. Clients. Employees. Staff. Volunteers. Members. Students. Followers. Congregants. Audience members. Participants. Listeners. Viewers. Subscribers.

What engages them?

CONSIDER THIS: The word “engage” comes from the French engagier, which means, “to make a pledge.”

Maybe that’s the real question:

Why do people pledge themselves?

To the leader. To the team. To the organization. To the mission.

Why do people engage?

Here’s my theory:People engage when they feel essential. Are you treating them like vestigial parts, helpful additions or vital components?

People engage when they feel unrestricted. Who are you asking to edit themselves?

People engage when they feel seen and heard. How does your organization stay sensitive to the needs of the human spirit?

People engage when they see themselves reflected. How are you giving them a front row seat to their own brilliance?

People engage when their lives are participated in. Are you fitting them into your nice little plan or celebrating how you fit into their lives?

People engage when they believe they can add value. How are you inspiring others with a vision of what they can contribute?

People engage when they have something to believe in. Are you giving them a compelling reason to follow you into the sunset?

People engage when they develop a deeper sense of why. How do you challenge them to calculate their personal currency?

People engage when they feel part of something that matters. Do yours see their work as a grind or gateway to something bigger?

People engage when they know their role has a direct impact. How are you helping them calculate the value of their contribution?

People engage when the work they do gets under their fingernails. How much of their labor has become part of their very being?

People engage when they’re allowed to publicly display their successes. Are you trying to be the life of the party or trying to bring people to life at the party?

People engage when they do work that unites with their sense of life. How does your organization serve as a mirror of your people’s core?

People engage when the fruits of their engagement become transportable assets. Can your people recoup their discretionary effort when they leave, or does all of their emotional energy become property of the organization?

People engage when they’re consistently given the opportunity to do what they do best. How are you embedding their passion into the pavement that leads the way to success?

People engage when they’re treated like human beings – not integers on the annual report. Are you approaching them as unique individuals, or as a means to your organizational ends?

People engage when they’re applauded for their strengths and not berated for their weaknesses. Are you trying to make them fall in love with you, or helping them fall in love with themselves?

People engage when the purpose of their engagement is to help them become better in all areas of their life. Are you building people, or building your dream and exploiting people to do it?

People engage when their work becomes a vehicle through which they are able to live what is important to them. Are you contracting them to erect a building, or commissioning them architect a vital index of their values?

People engage when their work isn’t a set of tasks, but an opportunity to build a platform that pushes them to something bigger. Have you confronted the fact that people are loaning their talents to you until something bet?

What about you?

Why do you think people engage?

For the list called, “46 Types of Marketing,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Satisfaction not enough?
Customers not telling their friends about you?
Want to learn how to deliver unforgettable service?

Buy Scott’s book and learn how to get your frontline in line!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

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