Keys to Employee Engagement: 5. Caring

We’re currently focusing on four factors that can really motivate people to perform their best.

The fifth question in the Q12 is “Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?”

When you work for a large organization with many employees it can be easy to feel insignificant, but most employees want to feel valued by their employers and it’s hard to feel that way when you perceive yourself as just another cog inthe wheel.

There’s nothing more demoralizing than working for a boss who doesn’t seem to consider the feelings of his employees.  You get asked to work extra hours at the worst possible times – like when your daughter has a music recital.  Your boss yells at you when you complain about something, or she chews you out in front of other employees over a tiny mistake. When you have a manager who lacks any sense of caring for their employees, you usually see turnover as employees leave the company to distance themselves from these “managers”Caring and Reassurance.

Something Gallup identified as a success factor in achieving employee engagement was that managers recognized their employees as unique individuals.  Techniques to motivate people would vary from person to person because what might work for one might be ineffective on another employee.

It doesn’t mean a manager has to be friends with his employees.  There is a need for some professional distance between manager and employee. But a manager needs to get to know her people well enough to understand what drives them, to be aware of what’s important to them to be able to tailor development activities or motivational techniques that match the employee’s personality and needs. Asking how a spouse or child is doing, talking about a favorite sport or activity – these are ways of asking open ended questions or having discussions that demonstrate an interest in the employee on the part of the manager.

I usually talk to people about music, pets and sports.  My tastes in music are eclectic, so I find it easy to relate to each individual’s tastes and to talk about bands or composers the employee likes. People are usually passionate about pets, so asking about breed, behaviours and things like that draw people out in a way similar to how mothers talk about their children. With sports, knowing a favorite team or player can serve as a focal point for engaging in conversation with employees.

If knowing your employees as individuals is difficult for you, try this exercise.  Create an Excel worksheet with  the names of your employees in the first column. Head up the other columns with topics like “Spouse”, “Children’s names”, “Favorite baseball team”, “ Favorite music genre”, “Favorite band” etc.  Now go out and talk with your employees so you can gradually fill in all the cells in your worksheet.  If you’re able to add one or two items to the sheet each week for each employee, you’ll make a lot of progress – and watch how your employees respond.

A Tale of Two First Days – Part 2

Our last post described Gus Morrow’s first day at Lee Enterprises.  For Gus, it was a very long day.

This time, let’s look at a company who does a better job of preparing for a new employee as we follow Chad Spencer through his first day at Amalgamated Industries.


Chad Spencer found the exit for Amalgamated Industries without any trouble and pulled up to the security gate at 8:25 on the dot.

As he rolled down his window, the guard said, “You must be the new fellow, Chad Spencer, is it?”

You’ve been assigned to spot number 423 – it’s in the fourth row and down to your left. Here’s your parking tag, just place it on your rearview mirror.

You’ll find the main entrance in Building 2 on the east side of the parking lot”

When Chad entered the reception area, the receptionist said to him, “Hi, I’m Betty Forbis. I’m the receptionist here.  You must be Chad Spencer. Shelly in HR told me to expect you this morning.  How are you?”

Betty gave Shelly a call, and, as she walked over to greet Chad she said, “Hi, Chad!  Nice to see you again!  Welcome to Amalgamated Industries! Did you have any difficulties finding your way here?”

Over a cup of coffee, Shelly suggested they start the day in HR, looking after the forms and other things to get him entered into the SAP system as a new employee.

“It’s not exciting”, Shelly said, “but it needs to get done so you can get paid and get enrolled in the benefits programs” They also went into a small room where Shelly to Chad’s photo and prepared his passcard so he could have access throughout the office.

Chad Spencer, new Director of MarketingWe’ve lined up several meetings for you today. At 10, I’ll take you over to the sales department so you can spend some time with Dave Woods, the VP sales. At 11, Jimmy from IT will come to work with you on setting up your computer, accessing the network, setting up tour voice mail and so on.

Dave and a couple of other execs will come by at noon to take you out for lunch, so you can get to know each other more socially.

Shelly and Chad walked over to the sales department and knocked on Dave Woods’ door.

Shelly said, “Your new Director of Sales is ready to go”

Dave came over, shook Chad’s hand and said, “Good to see you again! Welcome aboard! How are things going so far?”

“So far, so good”, Chad replied. “Glad to be here.  I’m looking forward to diving in.”

Dave led Chad over to an office, which had a tag beside the door saying, “Chad Spencer, Director of Sales”

“By the way,” Dave said, I’d like to introduce you to Amanda Lightfoot, she’ll be your executive assistant.”

Amanda led them into Chad’s office and said, “I’ve tried to get the room organized for you.  Hope you like how the furniture’s arranged.  If not, we can have maintenance change things for you.  Your business cards are here.  Your laptop’s on the desk and Jimmy from IT will be over at 11 to help you set up.”

“I wanted to suggest that you and I sit down tomorrow at 9:30 so we can go through files and project lists together to ensure you can find everything you need.”

“Wow”, said Chad, “That’d be really helpful.  Thanks!”

 Chad and Dave spent the next 45 minutes going over the organizational chart, an overview of the department’s key personnel and discussing projects.

Just after 11, there was a knock on the door, and someone poked their head in and said, “Hi. I’m Jimmy from IT.  Welcome to Amalgamated Industries.  Are you ready to spend some time getting your computer and system access set up?”

Dave excused himself, saying he’d be back at noon to pick up Chad for lunch. Jimmy gave Chad a tour of his new laptop and its capabilities.  It was pre-loaded with Microsoft OFFICE, and the first thing they looked at was Outlook.

“We’ve set up your username with a temporary password, you should find some emails waiting for you after you log in. We’ve also set up accounts for you with SalesForce.com and Hootsuite so you can get going as soon as this afternoon, if you’d like.  However, I thought you were probably already familiar with those, so I want to spend the rest of the morning showing you how to use our SAP system.”

By noon, Jimmy had Chad logged into SalesForce and helped  him design a couple of reports.  Jimmy also set up Chad’s phone and voicemail.

About quarter past 12, Dave stopped by and asked, “Are you ready for lunch?  Grab your jacket and come along with me.”

Down in the lobby a couple of other people joined the group.  Dave introduced Chad to Bob Fishman, the Eastern Region VP of sales and to Ed Hauptmann, one of the key account managers.

They drove off to Cedar Springs Golf and Country Club, which wasn’t too far away but had great food.

Over lunch, Dave explained that he wanted Chad to spend a couple of days with Ed so Ed could introduce him to their top 5 accounts and so Chad could get first-hand feedback from the customers on issues that were important to them.

When they got back to the office, Dave asked if he could spend an hour or so with Chad to explain the plan they had for him.

Sending you out with Ed Hauptmann gets you introduced to some of our key customers, but you’ll need to learn more about our sales process.

“I’d like you to head up a small task force to improve our order entry system. It’s something the sales staff have been complaining about, but we’ve never done anything about it.  I know you’re new and not familiar with our systems or processes, but you bring fresh eyes to assessing the order entry process and it’ll give you a chance to work with and get to know more of the people here and I think, because you’re new, you’ll be asking more of the tough questions without be perceived as bossy. We think you’ll be able to pinpoint the key issues within a week and to present findings in two weeks.  If we can get this project knocked off  within 6 weeks, it’ll be a huge step forward for us.

“Something else we’ll do in two weeks’ time is assign you a couple of accounts of your own to manage.  It’ll help you see how things work here, so you may identify other things that need to be changed.  Some will be small ones, but we’ve asked each sales person to donate one account to you, and they’ll be sharing the commission for the first year to help ensure a good hand-off.

I’d like you to follow all your orders through the system, from receipt to delivery.  Not only will you get to know the people who help make things happen, it’ll introduce you to our manufacturing process.

 At the end of two months, we’re going to assign you to the plant to help you learn how our products are made.  Go out and buy a pair of safety shoes because we’re going to have you work right on the line.  It’ll help you get to know some of the people on the floor.  See if you can get them to articulate their ideas for changes in the manufacturing process because that will be good feedback for both Operations and Marketing.

 “Each Friday morning, we’ll meet in my office to review what you’ve learned during the week and to agree on plans and goals for the following week.

 “Sound like a plan?”

“Sure does!” said Chad.  “I can’t wait to get started”

Welcoming your new employees

This is our first guest-post on our blog, and we are honoured to have Leona Wilson of Armillary Business Group contribute this article on welcoming new employees.


Have you ever gone to a social event, walked in and then realized you didn’t know anyone? Are you at the right place? Will anyone speak to you? Will you be left alone with a drink in your hand looking for someone….anyone to connect with? You start to second guess yourself. Why am I here?

That is the welcoming experience many people receive when they start their new job. All the time you spent finding this person to help you build your business just went poof!

So why does orientation matter? It helps  your team member validate the decision they made to come and join you. Starting a new position is a risk for both of you but more so for them. They left another position or they are just happy to have this opportunity to work with you. Keep in mind they have been out looking for a great opportunity. Flight risk if a better…friendlier offer comes along is really, really high at this time.

Welcoming handshakeAn effective orientation is a welcome they will not forget. It will help keep the anticipation and excitement high. Have you heard the quote: “Begin as you mean to go on?”

If the person reports to you then you be there on the first day to show them around and help them get to work. Show them how organized and well run your operations are by being fully prepared for them.

Set up a list of all the things they need to know, people they need to meet and tools they need to get busy. Talk to them about how long it will take to get fully up and running. They know what they are doing but they don’t know your way of doing things. This is what orientation is all about.

Generally the process will take at least a week if not longer. It really depends on how complex the position is.

How to make a bad impression:

  • Not being there when person arrives
  • Desk, phone, and laptop not ready.
  • Forgetting to tell staff ahead of time.
  • Not showing the person around the office. The coffee is here and the bathroom is there.
  • Not introducing them to the team.
  • Leaving the person alone on their first day for lunch.
  • Not explaining when pay day is.
  • Not showing where the Health & Safety bulletin board is or the First Aid kit.

We haven’t even touched on your legal obligations to provide training. There are a minimum of three!

Planning for a warm and effective start to the working relationship is easier than you think. Plan to protect your investment in staff. Give them a welcome they will never forget.


Leona Wilson, CHRP, CEBS, CMS is President of Armillary Business Group Corp., an HR consultancy that focuses on helping entrepreneurs build their business with effective human resources practices. She can be reached at 905.609.5273 or leona@armillarybusinessgroup.com


This is the first in a series of posts on an often-overlooked business process: onboarding new employees.  If you think taking a new employee around the office introducing them to other employees is onboarding, you’re missing out on an opportunity to get rapid payback on your investment in your new employee.  Stay tuned and we’ll show you how.