Monthly Archives: December 2013

Employee Engagement


Robust Organizational Health maximizes profit.  Organizational health can be measured by how engaged employees are in the workplace.  An engaged employee is one who is actively and effectively performing on the job.  Since it is common knowledge that most employees join organizations and leave managers, it is imperative that a yearly examination be taken of how healthy the organization is.  One way to determine Organizational Health is to conduct a survey of its total population talent base.


The Gallup Q12 (which stands for the Gallup organization’s 12 “questions”) is one tool that serves as an appropriate intervention for gauging organizational health.  Naturally, no intervention is serviceable if action-planning steps and strategies are not devised and placed into effect upon having reviewed the aggregate data (i.e. results).

If employees are given simply the 12 statements without explanation, then the survey can be completed in roughly five minutes.  However, it may be wiser to supply a brief description on each statement for those employees who desire more specificity, &/or to prevent misinterpretation.  Therefore, to render this intervention adequately, this would lengthen the total survey time to <15 minutes.

Here are the statements as they stand alone, followed by a brief description:

Q1.  I know what is expected of me at work.

Description:  Clarity of expectation is evident when a team understands from its coach how to pivot, jump, and turn, regardless of the changes.  This clarity produces commitment to the work objectives.  Lack of clarity can stem from little/no managerial guidance, lack of proper on-boarding, cancelled/unscheduled one-on-one’s, and/or failure of the supervisor to provide a detailed overview of how each team member’s work is connected to another.

Hard data:  The average idea from the most committed employees saves companies $11,000; from its less engaged workers, $4,000.

Q2.  I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.

Description:   The most engaged employees report that their managers actively listen, willingly accommodate minor requests, readily argue the business case for securing tools/resources for the team, and frequently make the team’s effectiveness a top priority – usually, by pre-empting any complaints.

Hard data:  Managers with high scores here save an average of 20-40% on attrition costs.

Q3.  At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

Description:  Managers can maximize the most productivity out of their employees if they invest the time to understand what really drives and motivates their employees.  Just because an employee does something well does not mean that is what they believe they do best!  Also, those who are single-focus &/or processors may not be able to perform their best if they are in a high-traffic area or are specifically requested to not wear earbuds to prevent noise distractions.

Q4.  In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

Description:   Many managers tend to lack appreciation and fail to offer guidance; instead, they point out how the employee “failed to do <xyz>” or “didn’t do <xyz> right.” For every one of those comments, it takes roughly 17 positive comments to counterbalance it.  Honest recognition based on measurable outcomes will render higher employee engagement if offered at least once every seven business days.

Q5.  My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

Description:  Feeling disconnected or detached, from your work group leads to poor organizational health.  Silos form.  Outsiders are not a part of the group if they are consistently not invited to lunches or are not privy to information; thereby creating factions.  If there is at least someone, especially a manager, who exhibits a personal interest in the employee, then trust and shared understandings can result.

Q6.  There is someone at work who encourages my development.

Description:  This does not necessarily mean a promotion.  This means the employee has found a sponsor who understands the unique set of skills, knowledge, and talents they have and assists in helping with a role or position that fits that combination.

Q7.  At work, my opinions seem to count.

Description:  Team members who cite that they feel heard, valued, and included for their insights score high here.  They perceive that they have access to different levels or divisions across the organization, and that their managers work to keep those channels open.

Q8.  The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

Description:  Employees are typically drawn towards and are retained by organizations which have a clear mission and purpose.  If an organization espouses a universal mission and operates differently, then the employee will likely feel out of alignment.  For example, Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.  If it were to place parentheses at the end and add “if you have money,” then the employees may not feel committed to the mission.

Q9.  My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

Description:  The best managers foster a team spirit that is collaborative and authentic.  Competition, sabotage, and vying for a team member’s position destroy the team spirit and productivity.  Managers must prevent triangulation, whereby direct reports run to the supervisor to be “saved.”

Q10.  I have a best friend at work.

Description:  The word “best” throws people off.  Essentially, is there someone at work whom you completely trust and to whom you are emotionally loyal?  As social animals, we all feel supported by alliances.  The presence of friends creates a safe environment – one is free to openly make suggestions, offer opinions, and to dissent.

Q11.  In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

Description:  For managers who regularly maintain a discussion of an employee’s progress, 9 out of 10 employees usually consider the review fair.  Development plans are on-going, and are best focused on concentrating on how to match the talent with the task(s) where s/he excels.

Q12.  This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Description:   The only constant is change.  Smart managers mix it up for their employees as part of their planned developed.  Examples: Rotational programs, formal training, a mentor or coach (internal/external), conferences, retreats, etc.


To your health!

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator. 


Gallup Consulting





Chief Storyteller


Ancient civilizations used storytelling as a way to pass down legends to younger generations, reinforce beliefs, offer cautionary tales, amuse and entertain, and share dreams.  Many times this was done around a fire, which would illuminate the environment, add physical warmth to the psychological intimacy, and hopefully keep wild animals at bay.  The fire provided a focus for listeners and speakers to intensely visualize what was shared.  This ritual created trust and credibility.

Storytelling is a powerful way for leaders to share a vision, as stories usually combine the elements of pathos (emotion), logos (logic), and ethos (credibility) – these were the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s means of audience persuasion.  Tales of lore are also easier to re-tell than data and statistics – consider it qualitative data (i.e. descriptive, yet non-numerical information) rather than quantitative data (i.e. the hard numbers).

A study conducted at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania found that leaders who are able to connect in a personal way are indeed more effective.  Those leaders who share a personal experience relevant to the situation at hand typically establish meaningful connections.  For example, instead of didactically managing someone as incorrectly taking action on the job, s/he could say, “Well, I remember when I was in the same difficult situation…” and share wisdom, empathy, and understanding.  This makes the power of storytelling a management tool.  Your story is your impact.


The “Story of Me”

Everybody has a story.  Who were your parents?  What inspired you about them?  From where did you come?  How many siblings did you have?  What were your family dynamics like?*  What were the peaks and valleys of your adolescence?  What have you learned about those successes and challenges?  How have they contributed to being who you are today as a leader?  These questions are important to first address in a journal, or with a coach, just to see and hear a thread of how one’s journey created the strength of character that makes you uniquely you – your competitive advantage.

Many people may argue: How is that relevant?  Isn’t all that information on the verge of psychobabble?  Personal understanding and overcoming triggers that take “power away” makes leaders perform more effectively.  Once grasped, timing for delivery is critical and is situationally ascribed.

Many of today’s professionals in the USA shy away from sharing too much personal background at work (e.g. the résumé vs the CV), yet sharing relevant pieces of information (at appropriate times) keeps leaders better connected in their spheres of influence.  Naturally, if triggers from unresolved issues produce effects that surface dysfunctional behavior in the workplace (e.g. Mommy Dearest issues and an estranged sister may lead a male manager to subconsciously practice misogyny and seek out only docile female direct reports who serve as acolytes to his power needs)*, then this requires the help of a therapist and HR should render him/her as an Independent Contributor – free of direct reports.  Father of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Daniel Goleman says, “…people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought.” In other words, conquer whatever emotional struggles are holding you back by focusing on which aspects from the ordeal have made you stronger.


Drawing from Inspiration

People who inspire us have typically overcome challenges that are similar to our own.  Historical figures, or fictional heroes, who we admire typically have traits to which we aspire to have for ourselves.  They are analogous examples which, through our admiration, communicate to ourselves and to others who we are and what is relevant to us.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.  Coelho is a Chief Storyteller whose book is used as required reading at some business schools.  In this story (SPOILER ALERT), he relates how the main character sought a treasure that ended up being right from where he began his journey, and yet he wouldn’t have recognized it and become the man he became, if he hadn’t had the courage to seek it in the first place.  Leaders exemplify courage, curiosity, determination, et al, which lead to growth and success.  It’s like Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” (Although early 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said this about 150 years earlier, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”).  Treasures are found with effort.

 “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Develop your own storytelling ability.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, Leadership & Organization Development Practitioner, dog-lover, proud parent, quasi-cook, runner, people-watcher, prankster, egalitarian, and confessed chocoholic.  She was raised on Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Pippi Longstocking, and by her mom.

* Who you were in your original home may very well be how you show up at work.


Casady, Karen. Communications Plus.

Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publisher. 1988.

Goleman, Daniel.  Emotional Intelligence.  New York, NY: Bantam Books.  1995.

Jobs, Steve.  Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005.

The 21st Century Leader


The 21st Century leader is one who will be unable to hide behind a marketing faςade, thanks to social media.  This means that today’s leaders must be able to master the art of comprehending cultural preferences while practicing “interpretive ambivalence” – the ability to see an issue as both a challenge to overcome and an opportunity to seize.

The 21st Century leader’s challenge is to lead with integrity.  Integrity is where Beliefs, Words, & Actions overlap.  It creates a positive social & work dynamic, thereby increasing morale, productivity, and revenue in a work environment.

Here are six quotes of leaders who demonstrate integrity in their words:

Bill Swanson, Raytheon CEO/Chairman: 

A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person. (This rule never fails).  Watch out for people who have a situational value system, who can turn the charm on and off depending on the status of the person they are interacting with.  Be especially wary of those who are rude to people perceived to be in subordinate roles.

Jamie Sprayregen, Kirkland & Ellis Bankruptcy Lawyer:

We sell people and that’s what we need to be successful—people who are happy, respectful, and want to do the job every day.  That’s what we nurture.  It’s a never-ending balance in a competitive atmosphere.  I tell young associates what goes around comes around, and keeping that in mind is not a bad way to conduct yourself.  I am a fan of treating people right.

Sam Palmisano, President/CEO of IBM, 2002-2011:

I learned to listen by having only one objective: comprehension.  I was only trying to understand what the person was trying to convey to me.  I wasn’t listening to critique or object or convince.

Kenneth Chenault, CEO/Chairman of AmEx:

The key is to balance decisiveness with compassion.

Jonathan Citrin, founder/CEO of Citrin Group: 

We have a value statement not for marketing purposes, but that means something for employees, and that is “the courage not to conform.”

Kim Jeffery, Chairman and former President/CEO Nestlé Waters North America Inc.: 

You can’t get the best out of people if your corporate values do not match the way they would live at home.  I want people to feel comfortable to speak their minds if they think something isn’t right.

Observation is one form of active listening.  Actions sometimes speak louder than words.  Keep your eyes and ears open.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, cultural analyst, coach, and facilitator.



Kelly, Karen; Peter Shankman. Nice Companies Finish First.  New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press LLC, 2013.

King, W.J.  Unwritten Laws of Engineering (Bill Swanson. Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management).

©Rossina Gil, 2013