12 Engagement Keys with Eleisha Stevens

Reading Time: 15 Minutes

Are you ready to maximize employee engagement at your company? 

In this interview, Eleisha Stevens and Allison Dunn share the 12 keys to boosting employee engagement.

After the Interview

About Eleisha Stevens 

Eleisha Stevens is the owner of InspireWorx and an engagement specialist with Engage & Grow. She spent 14 years helping large corporations increase employee engagement.

Eleisha Stevens is the owner of InspireWorx and an engagement specialist with Engage & Grow.

Read the Transcript

This transcript was auto-generated from the original video recording using Otter Voice Meeting Notes. While the transcript has not been human edited, we hope it will still help you to quickly find or reference useful information from the interview.


Hi, welcome to Deliberate Directions Podcast. I am Allison Dunn, your business and executive coach and I am super excited to bring our guest today who is not only a special friend, but she’s a fellow expert of mine. And so today we’re going to switch it up a bit. We’re talking about a topic we’re both very passionate about. So let me quickly introduce I have Eleisha Stevens. She is the owner of Inspire Works. And she is an engagement specialist just like me with Engage and Grow. So, Eleisha, welcome. It’s so great to have you here.


Thank you, Allison. It’s always great to see you and I’m excited just to collaborate with you today.


I’m happy to have you here. So I want to make sure because I just teed us up as both experts and I just want to give you a chance like you have an impressive resume in big business. And so please take just a moment to share like what your background is for our listeners.


Absolutely. So I spent probably roughly 14 years in the corporate world, working with some pretty large progressive organizations around this topic of employee engagement. I work with leadership teams and employees literally on the front lines. And it’s really quite incredible to watch organizations grow. And I think it’s the CEOs of organizations that really understand the value of engagement. And their people first are the ones that are really, really growing your business today. So that’s, that’s my background. And now I’m working with my own organization and Engage and Grow. And I’m just having so much fun.


That’s fantastic. So for our listeners, Eleisha and I are both part of an organization that I consider to be like innovative cutting edge on how to transform organizations that have disengagement which is such a huge issue. Globally worldwide, which we’re going to touch on that in a bit, but my passion for an employee engagement came from working in a number of different industries. And understanding that at every point in time an employee does eventually get disengaged. And I think I mean, hands down, I could raise my hand and say, I’ve been there. And I understand what happens to make that happen. So the founder of Engage and Grow created an amazing program, which both Eleisha and I are comrades in, in this area Eleisha is based out of Canada, and I’m here in the United States. So we connected and we agreed that our topic would be innovation shifting industries through engagement. And so I think that that’s the topic we’d like to dive into today. So when we talk about engagement as an issue, like let’s dive into some of this stuff, Test sticks, which are not very pretty. So, worldwide, Eleisha, what’s the level of disengagement?


It’s pretty high. It’s 87%, globally.


Okay. And I know that when you break down to the US and other continents like, you know what I mean, that is varying. But from a engagement standpoint, the reverse of that means that 13% of employees are engaged. And that’s a crazy number to me that when you think about highly engagement, and that’s only 13%.


Exactly, and Allison to what is also really, really important to consider, especially as a business owner, is the cost of that disengagement. 34% of an annual person’s salary for a person who’s slightly disengaged or highly engaged, disengaged, and taking clients through that process that like that the challenge of coming up with that calculation, it blows their mind every single time.


I would agree.


Yeah, I think one of the things that I want to make sure that I offer in this podcast is we have a workbook for employers to try to figure out what that calculation might be for themselves. So there’ll be a link with a area where you can request that at the end of this podcast. So from a leadership and engagement standpoint, I think it would be super helpful just on a super high level to talk about what it is that we’re doing when we talk about employee engagement.


Yeah, absolutely. So from a high level, I think we really start with working with organizations to find out what do you need to do to be number one in the industry, right or to have that competitive advantage. So we really take a look at the heart and the brain side of the business. And when we you know, when we really take a look at what’s the most important to your people, your customers. It’s really about getting into the heart of the business again, So that I believe is what an organization should first look at. And then once the organization is well oiled in terms of high levels of engagement, and trust and communication and great customer service, the process side of the business really takes care of itself. Right, the processes, the services, the governance, and the compliance of the business really, really takes after itself. So I think with engaging in the work that we do, it really is just focusing on people first. Because if you don’t have an engaged workforce, you really don’t have a business. And so it really is an opportunity to have everyone in the organization become aspiring leaders. And the way to do that is through connection. And it’s really having that voice of the employee, working together collaboratively getting to know each other. On a personal level. It’s not always about what you do, but it’s who you are. Once we have that type of relationship. dynamics growing and people understand their seat at the table with an opportunity for feedback, you know, from a leadership standpoint and vice versa. You’ve got a great connection there.


One of the one of the things that I really love about this particular program is you can accomplish that type of connection in the short program, which is only 12 weeks. Right? And, and the cohort that gets connected in that way, like some of the feedback that I’ve gotten when working with the leadership team is I learned more about the other participants that I’ve worked with for the last 24 years, in the last 12 weeks, then, you know, in all the years that we’ve worked together, so there is tremendous power in working together as a team to identify what that one thing is. When you talk about like, what’s the one thing that will make us the best, and it’s funny, I also find that organizations don’t when you bring everyone together They’re not even sure what their one thing is. So to even cohesively get on the same page on that alone


100%, there are so many organizations that have these beautiful values on the wall. If you actually ask the executive team, what does that value mean to you? What are the behaviors that you would like to see from your employees based on these values? Every single one of the leaders in the room generally have a different answer there is they really understand what they would like to see in the organization, how do we effectively communicate that down to our people? Right. So it really starts there, doesn’t it?


So one of the questions I often get to know like, how do you know if your team is engaged or not? And so I love the tool that we use for that. And I just want you know, do you want to talk about the survey tool?


Absolutely. So I think with every organization you need to survey and sort of gauge where your people are today, because it really creates that baseline. A lot of organizations are few Philips Bang, they don’t want to know where they’re at. or they’re fearful that once we do the survey, that means we have to do something after, right. And it really is about how that’s communicated to the to the employees, you know, your valued employees or organization, it’s important that we hear back from you so that we can do the things that we’re doing well continue to do that and improve the things that you need to. But I think organizations today don’t realize that it could just be one small step, and another small step the following month, and it’s just how it’s communicated. So this is a fantastic tool that we’re using with engaging grow. And it is based on the Gallup model, which is, you know, translated all across the world, and it’s very effective.


I particularly like the survey as like a first step to understand like, what is your baseline, right, where are you starting? And interestingly enough in the programs and organizations that I’ve worked with It’s not that they had a really terrible score on their engagement factor. But they knew that there was an opportunity to be better. And they knew the cost of just, you know, even if it wasn’t bad. When you multiply out the salary wage equation of through the workbook process, you realize you can’t afford not to do something. Right.


Exactly, yeah.


So there’s a ton of different engagement factors that we use inside of our 12 week program. I think it would be really helpful for our listeners to understand kind of the like high level what the structure of this program is, and what makes up the 12 engagement keys. And so I’m just going to I’m going to suggest if you could just tip the first four engagement keys and then I’ll share a few so kind of a little back and forth. So what is the first investment key?


Absolutely. So the first engagement key is collective buy in and accountability. And I think that is really probably the most fundamental beginning points that an organization needs to do. And it really goes back to what I’ve mentioned before, is ever having a leadership team or everyone in the organization sitting down and looking at what do we represent? How do we want to be number one in the industry and have that competitive advantage and we really take a look at the heart side of the business. But we also have individuals taking a look at both sides. So you know, literally sitting down and discussing what are the top five things that we need to focus on as an organization from our side of the business, top five on the on the brain, seven business, and it’s really just ensuring that everybody is on the same page, and we are all creating levels of accountability that each of us can take to help start chipping away at some of those important things that the organization needs to work on. So the next thing each main key is behavioral benchmarking. And this goes back to the values and the mission of the organization, when we talk about values, values are great. However, we really need to understand what do we what kind of behaviors do we want to see that stemmed out of those values. So for instance, accountability, accountability seems to be a behavior that comes up quite often. So what do we need to do as an organization and recognize other people for that specific behavior? So john smith is, you know, is been demonstrating high levels accountability within his team. So I think we should recognize Tom Smith for that. So that’s really important. The next engagement key is peer reward and recognition. This is really passionate for me. I was actually in the recognition industry. I worked for one of the top three recognition firms for several years. And an organization that does not recognize people for doing Great work is really missing the boat. And so this is an engagement key that is used within the group that’s meeting on a weekly basis. But it’s also really important that we’re recognizing great work and just even innovation or initiative of creating the creating an impact, perhaps it’s a project that someone’s working on. And, you know, let’s, let’s reward and recognize even just steps that they’re making in terms of getting that done. that’s a that’s a big one. Every organization needs to be doing that. Well. The fourth engagement key is in presenting best practices. What organization is really established, or I’m sorry, the team is really established in the work that we’re doing together on a weekly basis. We generally like to have them speak about or present, something that is really important to them. Perhaps it’s you know, Some kind of a podcast that they listen to that they think is very relevant for the team. Maybe it’s sharing a little bit about what they actually do for the organization giving a presentation, a fantastic book that might be very relative to what the organization is going through today. And it gives them the opportunity to really showcase themselves and to get outside of their comfort zone to again, kind of contribute to the group. So that is my top four of the engagement keys. So Allison will pass it back to you to cover the rest.


Thank you. So the fifth engagement key in the program is shared stories. And as we both know, storytelling is the universal language, right? So in this segment, we have each participant come in share a story about a very impactful time in their life and what they learned from it, and the hearts warming,

the ability of the group to just listen to someone’s story, that part of it is an incredibly powerful part of the program. So one listening to someone’s story and to what you get to learn about what, what types of things have happened in someone’s life and openly sharing it. I’ve those that’s kind of the one segment where sometimes it’s super emotional, right? And other times, it’s just hilarious and fun, and the group gets to laugh. So shared stories, I think, is a very powerful engagement key to the program. And I think it’s, it’s a pivot point for a lot of the connections that you have at the table. Also. The sixth engagement key is the opportunity to give feedback to each other. So, again, often in organizations, we don’t get enough feedback about what we’re doing well, and maybe an area that are holding us back. And when we position this up, it’s really, we treat it as giving gifts to the other person. So everyone in the program will get a chance to get the feedback from all the other participants in addition to themselves. And with that, often comes an opportunity for each individual to do the seventh engagement key, which is a coaching session. So based on the feedback that one is given, what is the roadmap, what improvements do I choose to own to make and move forward. And so that’s done in a one to one coaching session. The eight key is the Emerging Leaders pipeline. And what that is, is there’s a fixed cohort that’s working together in the group, but not but and at a point. In the agenda. We open the opportunity to invite other emerging leaders from the organization to come and have a seat at the table and they participate in all of the activities of the program for that session, and the emerging leaders get an opportunity to experience and see other leaders in action. So and also contribute to the ideas that are being generated. So that’s engagement, key number eight. And I’m going to ask you to share engagement key number nine, Eleisha.


Oh, absolutely. So that would be creative thinking and innovation, which really goes back to, I think, our big idea that we had today, how organizations really need to innovate in order to survive and thrive. And so we talked about some best practices, it really gives everyone in the in the team on the team, the ability to start sharing ideas around products and services, maybe the innovation is with their within their customers, some things that they can do differently to improve traffic into their to the units depending on their business. So that that’s it that’s a big one and you know, everyone in the organization wants to be heard. We all want a voice. It really comes down to that. So I think this is such a great one to close with.


Absolutely. So I’m going to wrap up the last three. So engagement key 10 is when, when all of the participants in a program, really evaluate their personal relationship with others inside of the organization. And it could be department wide, or it can be organization wide. But, you know, I’m going to go back to the example I use for my clients, and they’ve been working to in some cases, folks have been working together for decades. But when you do this staff and client engagement strategy session, and they realize that of the folks that they know that they’ve worked with people forever and still didn’t know them very well. So we asked them to rank their relationship and then then we send them out to go focus on how to improve that. That happens on an internal level. And then there’s a certain point in the program where We actually then turn it to an external level where we really look at our clients, our vendors, our other key strategic partners that we have in our community that we don’t yet have a strong heart to heart connection with. So it’s a it’s a fun process to watch people go through the 11th engagement key is the social responsibility and community outreach component. And every cohort gets the opportunity to do an outreach and they get to choose whatever it is so it’s identifying a way to be able to bring the broader community together so hopefully its customers vendors partners, as well as the team itself and do something. So I’ve seen companies do conferences, picnics, appreciation lunches, and what one of my clients raised a, a flag in their community so that you could see the company and dedicated it to the community. So they It was a gigantic black and pole which was It was monumental in a lot of ways. The last engagement key and I think one that often makes some of the participants the most uncomfortable is we facilitate it over all those 12 weeks, but there’s a chance where we actually hand over the facilitation to some of the leaders who need to practice that type of facilitation style. And so it’s called share the chair. And they run the session with the backup of the facilitator for that particular week. And it really gives them an opportunity to exercise their voice, their leadership muscles, their facilitation and moderating how the session goes. So that was a fairly quick high level overview of the 12 engagement keys. And what I thought would be helpful today is to share a couple of stories of success like how did it impact an organization What type of transformation Did it have, especially when we chose the topic of shifting industries because we both have an example of how it’s made a significant difference in it from an industry perspective. So, I would love to open up to you sharing first and then I’ll happy to share my story.


Absolutely. When I think you know, innovation, first of all is the lifeline to every organization. The word innovations always been a buzzword for a while, but I really believe that it is the future and the sustainability of any business. If you’re not innovating, you’re going to be left behind. So I actually did a white paper on the innovative employee and I think it’s really, really important that that we really get our employees involved in the innovative process. And one organization that I worked with, called snap media, so they’re a newspaper media organization with 3.5 million readers. We know today that the newspaper industry is is slowly dying. So they needed to really, you know, innovate. They have all these readers in these fantastic customers that are trusting in them. So they knew they needed to innovate in order to stay afloat. And it was the CEOs that decided that in order to do this, we need to ensure that we have all of our team members on board. So we did an engagement survey, and we did find out that there were some disengagement. And people weren’t really clear of the direction of the organization. And they weren’t sure if they had a voice to be able to share their ideas and collaborate around this innovative process. We worked with them for 12 weeks, and the results were phenomenal silos in the organization started to break down and, you know, sales improved by 6.9%. Just in one month. Innovation and ideas were really starting to grow. So that was a fantastic for me, and my clients snap. That was great. representation of innovation and trusting your employees. I love that.


I would say in sharing a similar story, like there’s some themes that do consistently come up in organized in organizations. And so I’ll share from my side. Again, my client also was in an industry that is shifting and this is Telecom, right? We don’t have landlines in the home necessarily anymore. And so how do you re innovate if that’s been the lifeblood of your business? So this particular company was 110 year old company run by a family so a privately held telecommunications company. And the challenge that they were faced with was one, how do they innovate and to one of the ways that they decided to innovate was to become employee owned, which was really building in a business ownership elements to the organization have a very seasoned senior staff that didn’t look at themselves as owners. So when they became an employee owned organization, there became some significant contentions about decision making and who’s leading and too many cooks in the kitchen and my ownership of my technical area of expertise, and not really training beyond leadership, knowing that everyone is an owner, essentially. So we had a mind shift that we needed to make pretty quickly. And so my client committed to training every single member of their organization. So at the time, it was about 55 people. We did it in four cohorts over a year, which was amazing. And things that happened was we broke down silos. We did cross functional training and the expertise on some of these seasoned senior folks, was going to be the stopping challenge of their growth in the future. So they needed to start training there. And emerging leaders. And so we mixed our cohorts with senior folks as well as emerging leaders, and the rapport and innovation when you take inspiration energy, and like anything’s possible with this is the way we’ve always done it. And they developed brand new processes. And it really did break down the silos and created a level of ownership that I don’t know that they could have achieved without a program such as this. So it was pretty phenomenal.


That’s incredible. And it sounds, you know, similar in a way that I think when you go through this process, the levels of trust and accountability just go way up, don’t they when they’re being a part of the process?


Absolutely. I am.


I guess in closing and thinking about kind of how to wrap this up. One of the things that I would love to share is we talked about these engagement keys Is there one particular engagement key that we can talk about on our next one that you would just like, that you rave about? Because you think it’s so transformational?


Absolutely, not only do I write about it, but my clients do. And the feedback has been amazing, which is on the topic of our I think it’s our third or fourth engagement key that we that we speak about. And it is called feedback, the importance of having feedback often with your employees and vice versa employees with their with their managers. So we would love to speak to that in our next session.


I think that is, I think one of the most powerful engagement keys and my favorite one, which maybe will do for podcast three is shared stories and what that does, for the heart, our connection with employees, so I’m excited. So we’ve got at least two or three more episodes coming your way. That’s awesome. I’m excited to fantastic Alicia. I hope You enjoy your weekend whether they’re a so appreciate the time that you’ve spent with us this morning and let’s get the next one scheduled.


I can’t wait. Always My pleasure, Alison. Okay. Thank you. Take care. Bye.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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