Permission to Speak – Leadership Blog – Kelly Vandever Interviews Dr. Philip Kim on Employee Engagement

Permission to Speak

Leadership Video Blog & Podcast

Hosted by Leadership Communications Expert Kelly Vandever

Permission to Speak is the video blog and podcast that loiters at the intersections of leaders who want their people to speak up, technology that facilitates connections, and results that serve an organization’s higher purpose.

Our guest for this episode:  Dr. Philip Kim

Dr. Philip Kim is an educator, speaker, consultant, author, and business professor at Walsh University.

We’ll be talking today about his latest book, Zebras & Ostriches: 5 Simple Rules to Engage and Retain Your Best People.  Phil is also the author of two more books, Big Business Problems: Small Business Solutions, and Chase One Rabbit: 10 Habits that Move You from Failure to Success and he’s been published in over 20 academic journals.

Phil is the son of first-generation Korean immigrants.  He grew up working in his family businesses.  After overcoming some academic hurdles, Phil also went on to became the vice president of information security for a multi-billion dollar financial services organization.

Topics Discussed:

  • Phil’s book Zebras & Ostriches: 5 Simple Rules to Engage and Retain Your Best People
  • Phil explains zebras and ostriches and symbiotic relationship in the wild and a draws the similarity to today’s modern work environment, each of us bringing our strengths to help the organization.
  • Delegating to staff projects and problems that have real significance to the organization is an import way that we create employee engagement
  • People want to have a meaningful contribution
  • Align individual goals to organizational success
  • The opposite of engagement is the employee saying, “that’s not my job”
  • Engagement is a two-way street. The leader also needs to listen and engage with employees.
  • CARE about your employees: C – Complete, see people as a Complete person; A – Awareness, be aware of what’s going on with the employee at work, at home; R – Real, be real yourself, be OK without being perfect; E – Experiences, pay attention to what people are good at so you can harness their strengths
  • If all you talk about at work is work, people will be disengaged
  • If we show that we care about a person beyond what they can produce, it makes it easier to handle things when issues come up
  • Be willing to share yourself as a leader with things you struggle with or have struggled with in the past
  • The value of humor for leaders, humor makes a great connection
  • Life is an opportunity to cry or to laugh. We prefer laughter!
  • Minds are wired toward a negativity bias. As humans, we’re 4 times more likely to remember a negative event than a positive event in our lives
  • As leaders, we need to remember that negativity bias when giving feedback to employees
  • Harvard research suggests that you should to give 4-5 positive, confirming statements to an employee for each negative/constructive feedback given to an employee to counteract the negativity bias effect
  • Whatever you do, don’t end on a negative
  • Even worse than giving negative feedback is giving NO feedback
  • When you give positive feedback, the number of engaged employees can go up to 64%
  • When you give negative/constructive feedback, engagement goes to 45%
  • When you don’t give any feedback at all, engagement drops to 1%!
  • When you don’t give feedback, it communicates that I don’t care about you
  • Employees who are engaged will choose an organization that provides training over an organization that doesn’t provide training (all else being equal)
  • Training budgets are going up
  • If you don’t have a robust training program or the budget for one, do things in house such as lunch-and-learns, accountability groups, purchase books for everyone, start a book club, find ways to help employees grow
  • Encourage employees to speak up by involving them in workplace committees, ask for volunteers
  • People want to help us solve problems but leaders need to ask for the help
  • Form learning communities for people interested in learning about a subject
  • Provide a platform where you ask them to help and provide an incentive to provide beyond what we’ve asked of them
  • Do one thing a little better today than you did yesterday
  • These challenges plague everyone, regardless of industry
  • People genuinely want to do a good job, they want to make a contribution that matters
  • When that’s couple with leaders who want to engage their people, that’s the beginning of a great work environment
  • There’s a resiliency in employees, one bad experience won’t necessarily end up in an employee leaving, but a continuous bad experiences lead to bad results all around

Questions Answered:

  • How can I engage my employees at work?
  • What are the best ways to give my employees feedback?
  • Why should I share personal information about myself to my employees?
  • Why should I care about my employee’s personal life?
  • How can I delegate in a way that increases employee engagement?
  • What’s a leaders role in employee engagement?
  • What are some ways that I can develop my employees when I have a limited training budget?

Books Recommended:

Zebras & Ostriches: 5 Simple Rules to Engage and Retain Your Best People

Big Business Problems: Small Business Solutions

Chase One Rabbit: 10 Habits that Move You from Failure to Success


Find more Permission to Speak Leaderships Podcast Here!


Kelly Vandever is a leadership and communications expert who helps leaders and organizations thrive in today’s attention-deficit, entertain-me-now, wait-while-I-post-that-on-Facebook world.   Connect with Kelly and discover how being professionally human can bring you better business results. 

Contact Kelly by phone at 770-597-1108, email her or tweet her @KellyVandever.

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