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

Tag: managers as motivators

Some simple thoughts on improving performance

I read a Zig Ziglar quote

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.
Capitalize on what comes.” 

and it got me thinking that I can do something similar with my Square Wheels cartoons, as they illustrate a lot of themes around people, perceptions and organizational reality.

So, I thought about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to anchor and illustrate it to my way of thinking about leading organizational improvement:

That seems to sum things up pretty nicely.

Square Wheels image UNDERSTAND the basic reality

The reality is thumping and bumping along on the things that do not work smoothly. There are LOTS of Square Wheels operating out there.

As inspirational and effective leaders of people and performance, we generally have an involving and engaging vision of where we are going and its attractiveness. The View from the Front is what generally keeps us moving forward. (If you do NOT have a view from the front, then your view might look more like the one in red!)

But effective leaders understand that not everyone shares in that View at the Front and that the view from the back of the wagon is not really motivational and inspirational — that many people do not feel engaged, involved and empowered. (There are lots of data out there on un-engagement and worse, you realize! See THIS and THIS.)

So, understanding that we need to all engage in some initiatives to make improvements, and recognizing that continuous improvement is continuous and that the future will operate differently than it does today, we get that final illustration in green:

Celebration color green train

Pretty good food for thought, eh?

We motivate people by getting them actively involved and engaged in implementing their own solutions to the issues they face in daily life and work.

Motivate Me poem

Some frameworks are just more elegant! And our Square Wheels tools are simple to use, bombproof to implement, and pretty magic when it comes to effective ways of involving and engaging people to generate solutions for organizational improvement.

For the FUN of It!

Elegant Solutions

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.


See our powerful $20 Toolkit to improve communications and collaboration:

Square Wheels Icebreaker is simple to use

Employee Engagement for Everyone – a book by Kevin Kruse

Until Friday, the 28th of June, 2013 (thus this timely post!), you can download Kevin’s new book on engagement for free off of Amazon. It is a Kindle book and Amazon also offers a free reader for your computer or phones or whatever. I just downloaded it, scanned it, clicked to his links, etc.

Kevin focuses on personal engagement and choices we make. Funny thing, but I spent much of last night working and re-working my “Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly” article and poem, which I will upload to here this week. That is also about personal choices:


Two caterpillars are rolling along and a beautiful butterfly floats by.

The one caterpillar says to the other,
“You’ll never get ME up in one of those things…”

Well, sometimes change IS inevitable and sometimes we do not understand that we have are involved in that process. Engagement is one of those things that is essential for organizational success and those of us who are working in better working environments are more likely to personally prosper.

Kevin’s focus on choices and personal growth is one component of the overall engagement picture, in my beliefs. You can grab his book at this spot on Amazon.

Kevin also shares a pretty broad base of stats on the issues around engagement and the impacts it has on organizational performance. You can find those statistics on his website here.

My take is that the people at the back of the wagon do not have as many choices and opportunities as they might and that the leadership of the team needs to step back and look for opportunities to involve and engage people. I think that the leaders have a whole lot more influence over the kinds of things that can be changed to make the workplace a better one for people and processes.

Perception of how things work SWs One

We can do things to improve the workplace. And I think that a LOT of it has to do with how leaders involve and engage their people.I think the supervisors can do more to help people implement more of the best practices and fix more of the inefficient processes and systems that impact so much of the workday. I think that it is this leadership team that has the impact on team building and the growth of the people in the workplace. Coaching, mentoring, supporting, encouraging, and allowing people to improve themselves.

I see supervisors and managers improving their involvement and engagement skills and doing more to influence the work environment in positive ways. That is the leverage point for most workplaces; depending on the individuals to choose to be more involved might make sense, but it will not happen on its own. Those self-developing people are already self-developed, in my opinion. The key is generating supervisory change, as I see how things really work.

Butterflies make good wagon pullers

And, like Kevin,  I really do think that there are different choices that can be made.

Caterpillars can fly lighten up round

We use our Square Wheels cartoons and tools and our team building games as simple debriefing frameworks for involving and engaging people. The goal is to help them identify the things they can choose to improve and to build peer support for that continuous improvement.

Choosing to be involved and that working in teams for shared goals in intrinsically motivating and it also what Kevin is discussing.

For the FUN of It!

Discuss what you might do differently

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:

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Improving Leadership Effectiveness = Dis-Un-Engagement

I got involved and engaged in a LinkedIn thread this morning, one that I had actually been trying NOT to be involved in! But they wore me down so I posted this up around the theme that some leaders actually make things worse by being involved.

I will just post up what I thought about the situation and what I wrote:

My focus for many years has been on the issues of organizational performance, individual motivation, involvement and engagement, and issues of teamwork and alignment. Toward that end, I have presented on a wide variety of topics in 38 countries thus far and I sell my toolkits inexpensively and globally. All that is simply meant to anchor the following thesis:

Most managers are un-engaging their people.

If we look at any of a very wide range of data, it is clearly evident that most people in most workplaces are dis-engaged and uninvolved. I share some viewpoints and data and other people’s ideas in two blogs referenced at the end of this.

With all that data supporting un-engagement, like Sirota Research saying that 85% of new hires regress to “average” motivational levels within 6 months, it all begs the question as to whether managers and supervisors might simply CHOOSE to do some things differently. Might they look to focus on something I will call Dis-Un-Engagement.

Simply put, why can’t / won’t they focus on removing the roadblocks that their people face in doing their daily jobs. People report that no one listens to their ideas (and have been doing that for the past 70 years, it seems) and that feeling more of a part of things is a powerful motivational tool.

Most people are not REALLY roadblocked, as most coaches will tell you; they are simply perceiving that they are, or they are somehow choosing to be. They could do things differently and will often do so when involved in some problem-solving team situation. Peer pressure / support is a powerful tool for generating change.

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world (John Le Carre)

Yet most decisions seem to emanate from that desk rather than the hands of the workers who try to push the wagon forward every day. If all they see are boards and hands, no wonder they don’t show up motivated and engaged.

Dis-Un-Engagement — a corollary of “Ask and Ye Shall Receive,” methinks.

You can see some writings here:

I think that ANY one leading any group in any organization can IMPROVE their overall leadership effectiveness. There will still be that average curve of skills ranging from low to high because that is just a statistical reality of any population of people. What we CAN do is move that median score upwards to improve overall effectiveness of the population…

Dis-Un-Engagement. It does not even sound that hard…

Have fun out there! Elegant Solutions

I think that this is just another example of a simple, elegant solution!

Scott small pic

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:

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