Guest Post: “Don’t Confuse Motivation With Engagement” by Susan Fowler


Spromo_02usan Fowler is the author of “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … and What Does:  The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging.”  In connection with the launch this week, she has provided some background thinking on an important aspect of her work:  The difference between motivation and engagement and why it matters.  

This post originally published on 9/4/2014 at



Don’t Confuse Motivation with Engagement

There are tons of data supporting the value of having an engaged workforce. However, researchers have only recently explored how people come to be engaged. How do you improve engagement if you don’t understand the internal appraisal process individuals go through to become engaged in the first place?

share_11The appraisal process is at the heart of how employee engagement—and disengagement—is formed. Every day, people are appraising their experience in the workplace and coming to both cognitive and emotional conclusions: I feel threatened, safe, unsure, positive, frightened, fearful, optimistic, etc. When appraisals are negative over time, people end up disengaged or actively disengaged. When people have positive appraisals over time they are engaged or go beyond engagement to what is called employee work passion.

Engagement is the long-term, accumulative result of people’s persistent and positive appraisals of their workday experience. What if managers could help people manage their appraisal process? They can. But better yet, individuals can learn to manage their own appraisal process daily so they are more likely to experience employee work passion over time. How? This bold assertion is key to improving engagement over time: Motivation is a skill. People can learn to choose and create optimal motivational experiences anytime and anywhere. Optimal Motivation is experiencing the fulfillment of psychological needs while in the pursuit and achievement of meaningful goals.*

share_10Motivation is the day-to-day, moment-to-moment experience that ultimately leads to active disengagement, disengagement, engagement, or employee work passion.

Managing people’s appraisal process by understanding the true nature of human motivation and helping people shift to an optimal motivational outlook day-to-day is the key to having a positive effect on long-term engagement.

Engagement efforts have suffered as organizations mistakenly focus on creating metrics out of their survey results instead of the appraisal process that leads to the results. People have suffered from actions designed to improve engagement that actually undermine day-to-day motivation. Despite compelling research on the undermining effects of traditional carrot and stick approaches to motivation, organizations try to incentivize people to improve engagement.

Stop using carrots to bribe people to be engaged. Stop using the stick to pressure them to improve engagement scores. These traditional tactics only thwart day-to-day optimal motivation, destroying long-term engagement. Remember, the quality of a person’s engagement is the result of the quality of their day-to-day motivation.

*Optimal Motivation definition by Susan Fowler, David Facer, and Drea Zigarmi



clip_image002Susan Fowler has 30 years’ experience as a researcher, consultant, and coach in over 30 countries around the globe in the field of leadership. As an expert in the field of personal empowerment, she is the lead developer of The Ken Blanchard Company’s Optimal Motivation product line, as well as Situational Self Leadership, their best-of-class self leadership and personal empowerment program.

Susan is the bestselling co-author of three books with Ken Blanchard: Self Leadership And The One-Minute Manager, Leading At A Higher Level, and Empowerment. A catalyst for growth, Susan also authored the audio programs Overcoming Procrastination and Mentoring. She is a Senior Consulting Partner at The Ken Blanchard Companies, and a professor in the Master of Science Leadership Program at the University of San Diego.


Strategic Learning Group LLC announces relocation of world headquarters …

In order to more fully use corporate resources, maintain our high level of employee engagement and motivation, and create the most effective corporate image, our organization has decided to move operations to a more conducive environment.  Here’s the view from my new officeSmile.


Patio Shot

This move has already proved successful in improving work productivity and creating a renewed sense of energy among our employees.  

On the other hand, we did not feel like fixing the above photo to recreate the beautiful blue sky that we can see from the corporate headquarters.  If you want to see what we see, you need to come to Missouri.

Working hard and enjoying the day in the Heartland ….


International Coffee Day …

coffeeI almost missed this important occasion, until I ran across this fascinating infographic …

I blame the lapse on not having had my fourth cup of coffee yet this morning …

Enjoy your education, and if you already know all this stuff, just pour yourself another cup of hot liquid heaven and sit back with a contented smileSmile.

Drinking large amounts of “fuel” while I greet the workweek, after a full weekend, in the Heartland ….



Source:  The Daily Infographic at

Guest Post: “Contented Workers” by Chris Edmonds


Today’s guest post is by S. Chris Edmonds, whose new book The Culture Engine:  A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace is available beginning this week.  Originally published on April 7, 2014 at

Contented Workers

How happy are your company’s employees?   The Gallup organization recently revealed the results of their research on the US communities with the most contented workers.

The Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index measures respondents’ perceptions in six areas:


· Life Evaluation: Present life situation and anticipated life situation

· Emotional Health: Daily feelings and mental state

· Work Environment: Job satisfaction and workplace interactions

· Physical Health: Physical ability to live a full life

· Healthy Behavior: Engaging in behaviors that affect physical health

· Basic Access: Feeling safe, satisfied, and optimistic within a community


Gallup and Healthways survey 500 Americans each day. They’ve conducted the Well Being Index since January 2008. The Well-Being Index is being updated in 2014 to assess respondents’ perceptions in five areas that analysis showed would be better measures of well-being. We’ll see these new focus areas in results issued next year.

The community with the most contented workers was Provo-Orem, Utah, with an overall well-being score of 71.4 on a 100-point scale. Rounding out the top three communities are Boulder, CO (with a score of 71.3) and Ft. Collins-Loveland, CO (71.1).

The three communities with the least contented workers are Huntington-Ashland, KY/WV/OH (this metropolitan area spans portions of three states) with a score of 59.5, Charleston, WV (60.0), and Redding, CA (62.0).

Numerous studies of well being and employee engagement prove that employees with high engagement and well being produce more, innovate more, and serve customers better.

What can leaders do to boost employee well being in these six areas?

Company leaders can influence communities to enact policies that inspire residents to engage in healthy activities. Getting communities to enact policies might take awhile.

Company and team leaders can certainly work to ensure job satisfaction and healthy workplace interactions. Check out my free Change This manifesto to learn how.

Team leaders don’t need a formal mandate. They can enact informal approaches that inspire team members to embrace healthy activities. Arranging lunchtime or mid-afternoon walks with interested team members can inspire physical activity. Enrolling a team in a charity walk can inspire bonding, service, and physical health.

Bringing in a yoga teacher and providing space for interested team members to do a class before or after work is increasing in popularity.

Learning new and interesting things can be as simple as bringing in outside experts for lunchtime presentations. A nutrition expert can demonstrate simple, healthy meal preparation or inform about the season’s freshest produce.

Team leaders are only limited by their own assumed constraints. If they think healthy living is something team members must do on their own, they won’t try some of these approaches. If they believe that everyone (including themselves) can benefit from exposure to healthier practices, they’ll be creative with some of these approaches.

You want to create a variety of healthy approaches for team members. Don’t mandate these activities – simply make them available, easy, and interesting.

By arranging participation in these and similar activities, your own well being – and that of team members – will grow, right before your eyes.

What do you think? How contented are you? How contented are your work peers, today? How can leaders inspire healthier opportunities daily to boost well being and engagement?




clip_image002Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams. Since 1995, he has also served as a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies.

Chris has delivered over 100 keynote speeches to audiences as large as 5,000, and guided his clients to consistently boost customer satisfaction and employee engagement by 40+% and profits by 30+%.

He is the author or co-author of six books, including “Leading At A Higher Level” with Ken Blanchard.

His next book, “The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace” will be published by John Wiley & Sons in September 2014.


The Problem With “ A World Gone Social” . . .


I have this really great problem … I cannot decide what I like most about A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive by Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt.

This book has so many helpful and well-written sections that I cannot decide which is the most important or useful to us.   Should I emphasize that …

… the authors “get” the impact of social on our society and on business in so many ways, large and small?

… the ongoing and detailed focus on real engagement (top down and personal)?

… the the wide variety of real-world examples of how we are living into a social world, whether we recognize the ongoing transformation or not?

… this is a well-researched and organized summation of how the business and social landscapes have changed over the past few decades and years?

… the inclusion of well-defined concepts, such as the rules for social engagement listed on page 60 and referenced throughout the book, provide extra value?

… the tools, such as rules for community engagement in the social era (pages 68-72) or the diagnostic question list for organization readiness to be Social (page 147), either of which would easily and quickly return value to the organization way beyond the price of the book?

… that they talk not just about the business applications of social for recruiting, customer service, and engagement, among other functions, but also talk about the strong potential for doing good in the world?

… that the authors eschew the terms “Social Media” and “Social Networking” by using the more widely applicable term “Social” to describe this world change?

… that they include some of my favorite horror stories about customer service nightmares, such as the United (Airlines) Breaks Guitars on YouTube  fiasco and Target’s Very Black Friday (actually the Thanksgiving Thursday they “asked” employees to work) to illustrate the power of online communication for customers and employees who feel mistreated?

… that they are even-handed enough to point out the dangers of Social, including an excellent dissection of “trolls” and an emphasis on the need to verify online information (think critical thinking skills)?


share_13No, my favorite thing about A World Gone Social is that I could continue to list important points raised in this book until the cows come home … 


If you already feel the change and understand the reality of our increasingly social world, you will find your head nodding often in agreement with what Ted and Mark have to say. 

If you are not yet convinced of the impact that technology is having in the areas of recruiting, marketing, selling, customer service, and engagement, you will find ample information that will help you understand better. 

Bottom Line:  Wherever you are in the knowledge curve around the impact of social on business, this book will better equip you to roll on down the road to our future.

For a little more, here’s a short video about A World Gone Social:

In the meanwhile, I plan to kick back and finish reading this book … I sense more learning lurking in its pages.

Enjoying a book that is making converts while it preaches to this choir in the Heartland ….




Ted Coiné is co-founder of Switch and Shift, a leadership community that believes organizations – in order to thrive in the Social Age – must build trust-based relationships, lead with purpose, and enable employees to do work that matters.

A noted blogger and speaker, Ted was recently named a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer.

Ted lives with his wife and two daughters in Naples, Florida.



Mark Babbitt is CEO and Founder of YouTern, a social community for college students, recent graduates and young professionals that Mashable calls a Top 5 Online Community for Starting Your Career.

A prolific blogger and speaker, he is also President of Switch and Shift and a co-founder of

Mark is the father of five and a grandfather; he and his wife call Seattle home.


Disclaimer:  Yet another book received to review as part of a book launch.  I continue to do a little happy dance every time I receive another title and this one is no exception.  The value of this title and its reinforcement of what I deeply believe as the future of business and leadership make me smile.  I was under no obligation to make positive comments or even like the darned thing … but I do.