Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Employee Engagement's Link to Leadership

It’s a fact that if one is active in social media, one can build an amazing and inspiring network. Recently, I “met” Shea Heaver through my activity on Instagram and Twitter because we share an interest in employee engagement, and I invited him to appear on my Blog. Highlights from our Q&A appear below Shea's introduction.

Shea Heaver grew up, was educated, and started his career in Northern Ireland before moving to South Florida in the mid-late 1990s. Drawing on his years of management experience in the global IT field, he became a passionate promoter of a people-centric culture to improve organizational performance. Through his work in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, etc., he increasingly realized that individuals who feel valued lead to teams that are motivated, innovative, and highly productive. Shea founded Satisfaction At Work, with a focus on helping organizations achieve higher Employee Engagement, improve Leadership, increase Job Satisfaction, and become a Better Place to Work. Connect with Shea on LinkedIn (, Instagram (@SheaHeaver), Twitter (@SheaHeaver), and on his websites ( and

QUESTION: Your pinned tweet on Twitter says "A person who feels appreciated will do more than is expected." Can you elaborate with some examples?
SHEA HEAVER: When significant people in our lives listen, value our contribution, and reward us appropriately, we feel valued. For example, we feel happy and smile when a family member or friend gives us a gift, invites us to dinner, sends us a greeting, or simply says something nice to us or about us. That feel good sensation is a result of our brains releasing four main chemicals - Endorphin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Serotonin. When these chemicals are present, our trust is heightened, we have more energy, and we feel valued.

This directly impacts on our senses of self-worth and confidence, allowing us to work to our full potential. At work, when employees feel highly regarded by their peers and management, their self-esteem rises, and they become happier, motivated, and much more productive.

TWEET THIS: A person who feels appreciated will do more than is expected. ~@SheaHeaver #EmployeeEngagement #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

QUESTION: How do you define onboarding? How do you define employee engagement? How can onboarding help with employee engagement?
SHEA HEAVER: Onboarding is a key element of introducing a new employee to their team and the overall organization – and should start prior to their first day on the job via ongoing communication soon after the employee has accepted a position.

Employee Engagement has a myriad of definitions and there’s a plethora of experts, authors, and consultants willing to bend your ear on the subject. My personal interpretation (that I’ve stuck to for a while) is that “Employee Engagement is the demonstrative passion, loyalty, and effort the workforce gives to their job, their team, and the organization.”

To assist with engagement, the onboarding process must go beyond HR forms and orientation by helping the new employee get to know the people they will be working with, encourage them to share expectations, and talk openly about the current culture (the good and not so good).

Their manager must take time to get to know the person beyond the resume and interviews they have already looked at. They need to make an early, personal connection with the individual and understand what is needed to get the best out of them.

QUESTION: What are a few ways to empower employees to build a culture that results in success?
SHEA HEAVER: First, we must take the burden of building a winning culture out of the hands of Human Resources and Management. A productive culture is built at the local level with the 3, 7, 9 or whatever smaller number of people we work with day in and day out. The idea of surveying employees once a year and then having others decide universally what to do is antiquated and irrelevant today.

A successful company culture is achieved when workplace relationships are strong, and to that end, the focus must be on items such as Openness, Motivation, and Feedback.

Openness is the ability to talk freely (yet respectively and constructively) about needs, feelings, and concerns. It is about a transparent dialogue with our peers where we neither hide nor sugar coat what we are thinking. It is also about being receptive to new ideas, questions, and feedback.

There is no universal source of Motivation, and financial reward may not be the big motivator that many think it is. Some people prefer the opportunity of bigger, newer tasks if they complete what they are currently working on while others don’t want change. It’s all about determining individual needs and wants.

Feedback is about sharing your reactions to another person’s ideas and/or behaviors. It is a way of letting them know to what extent he or she is furthering the objectives of the business. Feedback is not about assigning blame, criticism, or passing judgment. It is a conversation about your needs whilst respecting the needs of the other person. This leads to collaborative problem-solving on both sets of needs.

QUESTION: You share an Employee Engagement Calculator online. Can you explain it and why all leaders should take the time to use it? Here's the URL:
SHEA HEAVER: The Employee Engagement calculator lets the user update a few parameters such as number of employees, average salary, turnover percentage, time lost to conflict, etc., and it immediately shows how much THEY may be losing due to employee dysfunction, poor workplace relationships, and misguided leadership. Reading that the overall economy is losing $450 Billion (1) annually makes a nice headline - but realizing YOUR 500-employee company may be (needlessly) losing almost $4,000,000 from its bottom line each year due to disengagement is much more important to the CFO, CIO and other leaders.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization's number one brand ambassador?
SHEA HEAVER: While we look at Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and others as Brand Ambassadors at huge multinational companies, that’s not the norm. I think the best way for most CEO’s to be brand ambassadors is to believe in, trust, and empower their workforce to help build employee engagement and develop a culture that everyone is excited to be a part of. This in turn will boost motivation, productivity, and loyalty to the company. And when employees are delivering quality services/products while also openly talking positively about the organization, you then have a holistic approach to promoting the brand.

TWEET THIS: The best way for most CEO’s to be brand ambassadors is to believe in, trust, and empower their workforce to help build employee engagement and develop a culture that everyone is excited to be a part of. ~@SheaHeaver #BrandAmbassadors

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does that mean to you?
SHEA HEAVER: I believe leadership generally has two functions in any organization: (1) Advance and nurture the business and (2) Advance and nurture the people in the business. Advancing the people in the business is the more complex and important of the two, and in this context, it is about getting the best from your people by helping them be the best they can be.

A good leader realizes that they must empower the employee to do the best they can by giving them direction and ongoing feedback - and then letting them get on with it. When needed, the leader acts as a facilitator or mentor to help get things done while assisting in the navigation around barriers or obstacles that may crop up.

TWEET THIS: A good leader realizes that they must empower the employee to do the best they can by giving them direction and ongoing feedback - and then letting them get on with it. ~@SheaHeaver #EmployeeEngagement #LeadershipTip

My gratitude and appreciation to Shea for appearing on my Blog and for sharing his insights about employee engagement and its link to leadership.

Image Credit: Shea Heaver.

Source from question 4: (1)

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