Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Category: Trust Building

Trust in the Sand

My colleagues in Romania just sent me an email about one of their blog posts on leadership that had this image within it:

Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled

I thought it was pretty neat, and it reminded me of my friend and colleague Frank Navran’s quote that:

“Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled”

and how easy it is to simply wipe it away with some foolish behavior…

All it takes is a gust of wind to change things and we need to be reminded that trust is something we need to maintain, not just do once in a while.

Now Vio’s blog is written in Romanian, and even with translation services, I am not going to spend much time going through his key comments around the elements of trust; I simply reacted to his email and sent him the following:

“Trust is not just about writing in the sand. It is also about having perspective, moving about to see what is really happening around you and being willing to move about to potentially see things from other positions rather than from where you are standing. It is also about involving people with shared goals and acting collectively. I think it can also look like this:”

Footprints in the Sand and perspective on surroundings, by scott simmerman

We should also be reminded and mindful about the diversity of people within our organizations and about the reality that all of us know more than any of us when it comes to generating ideas and engagement for improving workplace performance.

Here at Performance Management Company, we sell simple tools for impacting teamwork (Vio at HumanInvest has our Lost Dutchman game in English and Romanian) as well as impacting innovation and motivation. We suggest that leaders work to actively involve their people in generating ideas for improvement and facilitating creative problem solving as well as generating alignment and collaboration.

We also have a simple online facilitation skills training course and toolkit (really cheap and highly effective!) at The Square Wheels Project.

Square Wheels - How organizations really work Metaphor organizational improvement

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

Trust is Revealed by implementing Round Wheels

Dan Rockwell had a really great blog this morning, one that I wanted to reframe and reanchor and repurpose into a short piece on engagement and motivation. I will excerpt some of the key points I saw but I refer you to his complete blog that you can see here:


As Dan said, handled well, problem solving can have the following benefits to the organization:

  1. Strengthen connections.
  2. Intensify focus.
  3. Enhance vulnerability.
  4. Fuel urgency.
  5. Clarify responsibility.
  6. Increase opportunity.
  7. Instigate growth.
  8. Disrupt status quo.
  9. Extend skills.
  10. Develop character.
  11. Amplify self-reflection.
  12. Grow capacity.

Poorly handled, problems distract, defeat, and, eventually destroy. And a lot of the result is influenced by the history of the previous transactions between people and management. If the manager has a history of acting trustworthy and being honest and open and dependable, the reactions can be much different that if a low level of trust exists.

My Poster on this looks like this:

LEGO SWs One POSTER Trust is Revealed

How do your people react to the “What” question? Do they see you honestly involved and engaged in discussing their ideas or do they simply see you reacting as if you are being bothered?

Trust is revealed in the way that you handle problems. And remember that today is yesterday tomorrow, so you can always choose to start the process of building trust and rapport with your teams. See Dan’s article for some additional ideas about dealing with the issues. My work here is done! (grin)

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group


Two LEGO Square Wheels Posters on Trust

Barbara Kimmel and I are discussing the placement of some simple “Poster Training Illustrations” into a new magazine that will be published by her organization, Trust Across America. So, I am playing with some ideas and looking for feedback and inspiration.

Here are the first three of a series of images and quotes that I am developing around the theme of building trust and engaging and aligning people for workplace improvement. We need to do this, simply because we should be doing this.

LEGO POSTER - TRUST You Have to Believe

and then there is this one:


The most recent one is something developed from my friend Frank Navran’s great quote,

Trust is the residue of promised fulfilled.

It looks like this:


With this third one, I generated my first bit of “Poster Training,” some text to accompany the illustration in Barbara’s magazine and a format to follow as this moves forward. The text might look like this:

An idea for engagement and trust building:

A key issue in most organizations is the simple idea of communications. In many, as shown in the illustration, there is a functional distance between the wagon pushers and the wagon puller that makes building trust somewhat difficult.

Use the illustration in the poster as a printed handout and have a conversation with your wagon pushers about what might be considered a Square Wheel and what some Round Wheel ideas might be.

You can find the image at, courtesy of Scott Simmerman at Performance Management Company.

My thought was to keep this really straightforward and simple. I think most of your readers are capable of having such conversations without a lot of facilitation skills or brainstorming training…  The anchor point of the cartoon should make the discussion straightforward.

Your thoughts?

And if you want high resolution images of these to play with, email me and let’s discuss.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman, Surprised Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group


Innovation and Fear of Failure – a blog by Russ Linden

Every so often, I get a blog post that merits a re-posting and Russ Linden is often the author. I simply like the way he thinks and he writes well about issues of government and management, things we should all find of interest since we are all paying for it.

In this particular post, he talks about governmental fear of failure, something that stops innovation and improvement and which is something behind the progress of every community, county, state and regional governmental agency that impact all of us in so many ways.

russ lindenYou can read the whole blog by clicking on Russ’ image at left or going to:


Here are the key learning points he makes:

What to do? How can public-sector leaders overcome risk aversion and gain support for their innovative projects? Here are some strategies to consider:

  • “Sell” the problem. “The cost is high, other (traditional) approaches fell short. Avoiding the problem is irresponsible.”
  • Manage expectations. Don’t promise the world. Call it a pilot, start small, focus on learning.
  • Be realistic about risk. Describe where this approach has been tried, and the results.
  • Partner wisely. If working with a private firm is appropriate to the task, find a respected company that has experience with the approach.
  • Develop a constituency. Seek backing from well-respected individuals in the community who have no self-interest in the program and believe it’s a legitimate role for government.
  • Compare what you want to do with other programs: The U.S. government, for example, has been funding cancer research since the late 1960s. We haven’t found the cure, but the need is huge and the public supports ongoing research.
  • Play to pride: “This is America. We don’t back away from the tough ones. We’re a can-do people.”

And perhaps the most important strategy is patience. Take the long view. It may take years to get the needed support to launch an initiative, guide it through the inevitable failures and setbacks, and finally see results. That’s a cost innovators learn to pay. And it’s often well worth it.

Yeah, I think Patience and also Trust are key elements to innovation and change of all kinds. We need to trust that people are working for us / with us — and I do see this as a big issue as people with specific agendas are elected into government positions of power to push certain key elements and not do what is right for society.

And fear stops things, as from the Dune books of Frank Herbert:

Fear is the mindkiller

Fear. I see the Vote Restriction Laws being passed by so many states under the guise of “fraud prevention” because of people being afraid of a changing demographic in our society, and I see States choosing not to open expanded Medicaid to its citizens simply because the governors and legislatures do not like President Obama or the Democratic Party and fear that these health care improvements will cause political problems for them long-term.

Take a look at Russ’s article on his blog, since he takes a pretty distinguished view on these things. And I am reminded of this poster image below
(source unknown but I will attribute if someone can identify the copyright – I cannot read the top info):

(source unknown)

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, creator of the Square Wheels images and toolsDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.


Square Wheels go Thump. Round Wheels already exist.

Some recent conversations convinced me to do one more post about the basic theme  of Square Wheels and how the whole situation can be improved. It is not rocket science and the solutions are pretty straightforward. This seems to be a common reality:

Square Wheels One How Things Work ©

Things thumping and bumping. Nobody talking. Leader looking ahead from an isolated position. Pushers cannot see what is happening nor where the are going. Lots of issues including one of trust.

Square wheels image Trust Bubble Front

And my simple solution would look something like this:

Square Wheels One - Things I need to do more celebrate 100

It is not really rocket science as it is truly amazing how many wagon pushers immediately understand how this would look in the workplace and what their managers could choose to do differently.

Square Wheels images of how things work

Can I make this any more simple? Can you think of why direct communications, involvement and engagement would not work?

We sell these simple tools for involvement, innovation, change and invite you to look at our products:

Square Wheels are simply great tools

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Moron the Issue of Trust – The Residue of Promises

Interesting conversations, we can have online and even occasionally on the telephone (Yes, I still have one of those things that other people seem to only use for texting these days!)

On talking on the phone about my Square Wheels Puppies Cartoon with an associate, the cute little puppies totally distracted her from the issue at hand, and that was the main thought about people and performance and about things that do not work smoothly.

Square Wheels One Puppies Cartoon about people and performance

She likes puppies so much she missed my key point, which I will spell out since probably more than half of the people who see this cartoon will also miss it!

The wagon leader is isolated by the rope. The wagon pushers cannot see where they are going. The wagon is thumping and bumping along, just like usual. I mean, can’t we make some changes to improve how things work?

This all started with a discussion around Frank Navran’s quote,

Trust is the residue
of promises fulfilled.

My same puppy-loving friend also thought that maybe the word residue might be kinda bad and that maybe the word results might be substituted.

Trust is the result
of promises fulfilled.

Really? Result? Nah. That is just too bland, too vanilla. I think cotton candy and merry-go-rounds. I think “Barney.” I think soap bubbles. Nah, I don’t want some softball association between trust and promises and behavior — it is just too darn critically important. We want Charles Bronson or Dirty Harry impact here — not some Teletubby character:

teletubvy characters

We want Guns ‘N Roses, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly and Bruce Springsteen, not Lawrence Welk or John Denver. We want IMPACT — we want to anchor people’s attention and focus. We want Heavy Metal, not casual listening…

So, I think residue is a great word. It’s got emotion and character, like an old bathtub. It’s got visual kinesthetic association to something real and tangible:


Trust is easily wiped away; and workplace trust is probably far easier to dissolve than the ring on a tub.

It doesn’t take a lot of special cleanser or elbow grease — all it takes is a careless moment when behavior misaligns with the expectations. Poof!

Trust has huge impacts on the results of organizations. Results are dramatically affected by trust and behavior. You can see some of those statistics on The Hard Costs of Low Trust or even this blog on organizational sabotage and some of its causes and solutions.

What do you think? Results or Residue?

And it is also good to remember that it IS about behavior. Remember that we judge ourselves by our intentions but we can only judge others by the behavior we observe.

I also thought that this one was cute:

Beware of Dog and Cat

Anyway, DO what you can.
And have FUN out there and get things DONE!

Santa ScottDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Trust. Promises. Innovation. Some thoughts on improving performance results.

I just blogged about three cartoons in my other blog, my poems on performance one. But I thought the issue was important enough to build on a bit more as I continue to play with the ideas for the new team building game on issues of planning, collaboration and trust building. It is fun to be in this creative mode of operation for a while.

SWs Both TRUST Navran viewpoints

The thought is that both the wagon puller and the wagon pushers have viewpoints and histories and experiences with the issues around trust and promises. The idea is that we cannot change the past, but we can do some things to build on the trust that already exists and that this will help improve performance results, impact motivation, and increase creativity, engagement and innovation. There is no downside to building trust other than it raising expectations for the future.

Lots of people have lots of experiences behind them to which workplace expectations can be anchored. Not all of those experiences and memories are good ones:

SWs Yellow Experience


and all sorts of possibilities might come to mind:

SWs Yellow Possibilities

But there are also some good possibilities, some alternatives to consider and things we could choose to try to accomplish that would help improve motivation, alignment and collaboration. The issue of engagement and involvement is important and some activities could look like this:

Square Wheels Images Trust Good Possibilities Green

It is about the choices we make and how we wish to address our people in the ongoing and future performance initiatives. They have plenty of ideas that can help address the issues they see. But they need to have some connection to these themes of trust and expectations.

For the FUN of It!

scott tiny casual

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.


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Dominoes and Dutchman and some thinking on Trust Building

In a Teambuilding group on LinkedIn, I posted up some questions around what activities existed for games focused on the issues of building trust and being trustworthy. The literature seems to have three main things, the “Trust Walk” kinds of activities, the “Red / Black” or prisoner’s dilemma exercise (also called Win as Much as You Can) exercise framework and then the various “Trust Card” kinds of self-disclosure / conversational kinds of things.

Trust walks are okay and often memorable, because there is some perceived physical risk and also the kinesthetic aspects of them that make for memorable events. But many people comment that walking around or falling backwards is not all that similar to what happens at work, that the links are okay but not really good. (I guess I can liken it to doing paintball or go-kart racing to business process improvement…)

Red / Black is a classic prisoner’s dilemma game — you can find it a lot of places as a freebie (or here) or sold as some packaged program. The literature on this comes from the 1970s, when I was first exposed to it. Individuals or teams vote and decisions influence the results — it has to do with trust and a lot of people know about the exercise, so they tend to skew results or make the framework unpredictable when one uses it in a training program.

Card Decks and Disclosure exercises — There are different card decks out there and a variety of frameworks where people and groups can sit and talk about trust and trusting and their personal perspectives on why trust is given or taken away. They share personal disclosures, though, and often people are uncomfortable with those kinds of activities, There can be different ramifications to disclosing personal information in workplace situations, also.

Trust is a real, as well as common organizational culture issue:

Trust - pushing or pulling bubble

What I am looking for is something new and different, something anchored into behavior that has business implications and applications, something that senior managers can use for framing up organizational cultural issues or that trainers and consultants can use to link to organizational change and performance improvement.

Frank NavranMy basic anchor point is my old friend Frank Navran’s quote:

Trust is the residue of promised fulfilled.

He shared that with me 20 years ago and it still rings true. Trust is behaviorally-anchored and it builds up over time. The residue of trust can also be quickly washed away by a single act.

Sharon Quarrington and I have been engaging in filling out a LinkedIn discussion thread on the subject of behavior and trust and games. And I see her thoughts as really right on target in how she thinks about these issues and how she frames up some behavioral activities. So, I thought to publish parts of our most recent exchange, with my comments in blue, hers in black and my highlights in red:

I read and reread your post and had a few comments and thoughts. Your reactions to those would also be appreciated, as this conversation IS stimulating my overall thinking around this issue. I will insert some thoughts into your text.

(in a game where not all of the rules were given to the participants):
None of the clients “guessed” the solution, they all thought it was a strategy game and when the reveal happened, they “got” that collaboration would have helped them all achieve their goal – but only intellectually. During the break the conversation focused on how if they had understood the rules they would have won the game – so the real learning was about probing to ensure the rules were understood. 

This was day 1 of a 3 day event (remember those?) and for the rest of the event every time a new exercise was introduced the group followed up every set of instructions with detailed questioning of the facilitator in order to identify further tricks…

So they learned not to trust the facilitator – oops. 

Yeah, the good old days of multi-day sessions. Now, they want you to compress a full day’s training into an hour and expect something to actually change. There was a question about designing a “training flag” in one of the groups and people were sharing ideas for flag design. My thought was that it should be a black flag, like the old poison logo of that name, with a dead bug with its legs in the air and little fume markings, since that is how most senior executives seem to view “training and development” these days.

It will be interesting to see if that flag generates any dialog — I actually chose NOT to get responses to that thread and will pop back in there in a day or two…

I used to do something similar in our program – left out some details and all I got was push back from the group to say that if they knew all the rules they would have responded differently. So I started giving them all the rules and to my surprise found that as long as I also give them a time restricted task they almost always focus so much on the time goal that anything else is forgotten. (sometimes they say they could have planned better if they had more time but that is easy to counter as in real life we never have time to fully plan so you do your best, learn from it ant move on).

My thought is to never intentionally leave out any details, but to offer the players choices.

In Lost Dutchman, teams can choose to get one or two “videos” that have information that, “teams find useful” but they have to give up one or two of their 20 days in order to get it. They can also choose to team up with another team and get one each or they could choose to share the information with other teams after they acquire it.

They contain strategic planning and best practice information that IS useful to that team and useful for optimizing the GROUP’s performance — the goal is to mine as much gold as WE can but they tend to miss the issue that “we” means something other than “My Team.”

I want my facilitators to be able to act impeccably in their leadership of the exercise. Leaders should always be there to help and teams need to ask for help in order to optimize real-world results.

Teams seldom ask for help.

In this case you could try telling them that there are no restrictions on the conversations they can have and that the overall goal is to maximize the resources – then tell them they only have 3 min to plan and 1 min to bid and likely they will spend all their time in their own group. In the end the debrief can be around why we stick in our silos, how the time goal overshadowed all other goals and reduced creativity and collaboration, how easy it is to forget the big picture – overall goal of the organization when you focus on the small – maximizing team effectiveness.

My thought on the Silent Auction is to label it as silent and tell teams that the “rule” is that they cannot talk. But the reality is that there is no enforcement of any punishment or reaction if they DO talk, and they could always ask if they can. The issue is that silence might be better for facilitating the excise and keeping things under control, but it sure is NOT better for impacting the performance of the group. 

My other thought is that the exemplary performers pretty much always bend or break the stupid rules that constrain results and it is something that I try to blend into my games. CJ allows some rule-bending and I&I is all about bending the rules to improve play and results.

If you only do the exercise once the experience is one of not achieving the goal – and the learning (collaboration works better) doesn’t stick If you debrief and redo the exercise they get to experience how success works and feels.

In both Collaboration Journey and Innovate & Implement, they can be played again since a detailed explanation of the rules of play is not required.

An alternative – the challenge would be to make the longest and most complicated domino run – 5 min to plan 5 min to build- their assumption would be that the teams are competing rather than collaborating. First round debrief could include congratulations to the leading teams – and then tell them that you want to take it to the next level and work together – so no “gotcha” but instead a challenge. I prefer to avoid exercises that are designed for participants to fail and then learn comes from failure – why not set them up for success in the first round and even more success the second – so they can see incremental learning and improved results. No one likes to fail and the emotional response, particularly in high competitive types can negate learning.

In Dutchman, every team is somewhat successful, and some are much more successful than others because of planning and information and better resource management.

In the debriefing, I do not focus on the low performing teams but on the high performing teams, basically asking about why they CHOSE to not share information or resources with the others since I, as Expedition Leader, am trying to optimize the overall results of my organization and not one team over another.

Competition is an issue of balancing it with collaboration, when it comes to organizational performance results.

I allow a LOT of time for discussion and tabletop work. We do NOT lecture much at all, simply trying to connect the dots from the play and choices in the game to the play and choices in the workplace.

Both rounds would still be done in teams but the second round adds the need to collaborate and be proactive around problem solving (so they don’t bump into each other… – the trick is to leave a gap between sets that only gets filled at the last second).

One of the guys who facilitated the exercise used to stop play in the middle and have lunch, using the lunch time to challenge the tabletop teams to rethink the choices they were making and to identify ideas for things they could do differently when play resumed. I actually built a resource management toolkit of forms for summary of resources and stuff like that. I have never personally done things that way, though.

They can experience how the collaborative domino run is more spectacular. You might get 3 rounds if the larger domino failed the first time – it doesn’t really matter as long as they succeed in the long run – let them problem solve each time it doesn’t work.

The final debrief could focus on the difference between working in silos and working together – what helps, what hinders, what extra challenges their are, what extra rewards…

So, I thank Sharon for sharing some interesting thoughts on how she addresses issues of trust in her training programs. Sharon also works with horses in her team building and leadership training. Horses are just so sensitive to issues of trust and leadership and give instant feedback about good things being done with them.

And, the development of the new PMC Trust exercise continues…

square wheels author

For the FUN of It!



Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools focused on people and performance. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is a globally experienced presenter and consultant.


You can reach Scott at

Read Scott’s blogging on people and performance improvement


Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.


Engage-Ability: Some thoughts on people and performance

There has been a lot of things being asked about engagement and involvement as well as issues around employee motivation in my various LinkedIn groups, with many of the posts proposing some pretty complicated stuff. For some people, the process of engagement is not a simple one in that there are lots of process steps and details to attend to and all that.

Sometimes, or maybe that should be “often”, a consultant or company will develop a specific process and flow to how the situation works based on their personal experiences. I think the motivation for this tendency to increase the detail and embellish the model is to have something that is recognized and rewarded by the learning community as unique, as well as something that can be sold to prospects. So, simple things tend to become more complicated and complex.

For me, I guess that would be my Square Wheels illustration tools and our team building games built around those cartoons as well as our team building games such as Lost Dutchman. Yeah, I have built those things to support organizational improvement initiatives and they are things we sell. One has to make a living somehow… And the products do tend to aggregate complexity and details.

At the same time, though, I recognize that there are a LOT of tools and approaches that work to impact people and performance. And it is often the simple and elegant that have the most impact. Keeping it simple keeps it useful and bombproof.

If you look out at the world, you will see really bad statistics about engagement and morale and individual motivation and wonder about what the problems really are. But is engagement really that difficult? I think that most people are engagable and that this is not rocket science.

I’ve been playing with Dis-Un-Empowerment for a dozen years — it is basically the idea of working and asking people what things get in their way (generate a list of things that are roadblocks or that are un-empowering) and then working with that list to better understand the issues (as well as the individual beliefs and concerns) and then working with individuals (coaching) and teams to help manage them. It is really pretty simple when done as a facilitated process — Yelling and Telling will generate completely unsatisfactory results. (I discuss in detail in PMC Newsletter Four)

Our model for understanding and dealing with roadblocks to performance improvement

Dis-Un-Engagement is a similar concept. We can look at what workplace things are causing people to be un-engaged and simply work to remove them. The issues and factors are usually pretty clear and survey after survey gives you lists of the most common things that people say need to be done.

  • If people report that management does not seem to listen to them, what would your solution be?
  • If people report that they do not know what is happening in the company and that no one keeps them informed, what might be done?
  • If people say that the poor performers seem to not get any attention and that the bad performance is not corrected, might we come up with an action plan to deal with that perception?

Engage-Ability is a simple little framework about how engage-able ARE people in the workplace. And the answer is REALLY – they ARE really engage-able if we work at it. But we tend to make things so hard.

Consider the new employee and this simple factor: 85% of employee morale sharply decreases after their first 6 months on the job.
–Sirota Survey Intelligence, June 2006

That does not take a lot of analysis or conceptualistic cogitation. We DO things to people that generates “regression to the mean” and the new, enthusiastic employee is brought down to the average of everyone else. And a LOT of those people just do not seem to care, anymore…

For most employees, the Pin will eventually hit the Balloon.

According to a November analysis of its database of 5,700 companies representing 5,000,000 employees, Aon Hewitt reported that engagement levels indicate the workforce is by and large indifferent to organizational success or failure. That should concern us. A November report from SHRM showed that employees were only moderately engaged at work, with an average score of 3.6 on a five-point scale. And according to Corporate Executive Board’s Human Resources Practice, only one in 10 workers were putting in high levels of discretionary effort in third quarter 2011.

My take on things is that workers are making educated and calculated decisions about their workplace and how they are treated. They are trying to be like everyone else, in many cases. They are looking to see if the management cares for them and values their efforts.

But managements are somewhat unhooked as to the realities of these issues and can be blind to some simple things that they could do differently. I think this statistic tells a lot, based on the results of 19,700 interviews completed by the Saratoga Institute:

  • Employers who think their people leave for more money: 89%
  • Employees who actually do leave for more money: 12%

People ARE engage-able. People can get more involved and committed to accomplishing things. People DO like to work in teams, when risks are minimal and the potential (personal and team) rewards are good. That does NOT mean money compensation, but it does mean that the intrinsic motivators are present.

And Trust is the Residue of Promises Fulfilled.

Making improvements will happen on an individual basis and be connected to the interface of supervisors and workers. Managers need to ask more (based on a lot of data) and tell less.

According to an article by Kenneth Kovach in Employment Relations Today, when employees were asked what they valued most about their jobs in 1946, 1981 and again in 1995, the top three things they reported remained the same:

  1. Interesting work
  2. Full appreciation for the work they’ve done
  3. A feeling of being “in” on things

And from the WorkUSA 2000 survey of 7,500 workers conducted by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, reported in T&D 3/2000, the 7 Key Factors that drive employee commitment:

  • Trust in Senior Leadership
  • Chance to use their skills
  • Job Security
  • Competitive Compensation
  • Quality of Product/Services
  • Absence of Work-Related Stress
  • Honesty & Integrity of Company’s business conduct

This ain’t rocket science, folks. It is basically about treating people well, giving them respect, providing training and fair compensation for their efforts and doing what we say we will do as organizational leaders. People ARE engage-able!

What we need are more of the management team willing to take the time to ask and listen and involve. Caterpillars can fly, if they would just lighten up!

You can see some of our tools for managing and leading and involving and engaging at our website by clicking on the image below.

Square Wheels are simply great tools


For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC and collaborating with the team at PMC LLC, but also sort of retired…

Scott is developer of the incredible Square Wheels® tools and images
and the board game version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Scott has presented his concepts in 47 countries and collaborates with consultants and trainers worldwide.

You can reach him at and you can see his profile at LinkedIn



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