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Aug 12, 2011

David Zinger w/ Michael Kroth: Employee Engagement on the Go

For those of you unable to attend the recent Webinar hosted by David Zinger’s Employee Engagement Network on July 19th with Michael Kroth, co-author of the timely and serendipitous book: Managing the Mobile Workforce. Please have a read-through of my quick run-down of some highlights.

The Webinar provided key insights on perspective and practices, plus practical suggestions on how to engage and manage a mobile workforce = of which there are +1B worldwide as of 2011, with the numbers of tele-workers exploding each & every year.

Keys to managing an engaged mobile workforce in “survival times” (such as we’re in these days), are:

  • Creating “meaningful work”, and
  • “Passionate” work environments, plus
  • Utilizing “high-touch/high-tech” tools effectively

In his book, Mr. Kroth interviewed 39 “thought leaders” – where he discovered that a lot of managers feared a loss of productivity if they allowed their employees to work mobiley; but in fact, the opposite was more true: People tend to work 24/7 if they are engaged with their work in loyal relationships with their managers – so the real fear becomes managing “burn-out” of a mobile workforce that can be reached anytime/anywhere.

Paradigm Busters:

  1. Mobile Technology is changing not just where people work, but how work gets done, e.g. “corridor workers”
  2. Work and the “worker” don’t have to be in the same location, e.g. “tele-medical surgery”

HOW-TO Best Tips for Managing a Mobile Workforce:

  • Simultaneously inform employees of all important organizational notices;
  • Keep them in engaged in team communications;
  • Provide best possible tools/training in their area &/or online;
  • Set-up parameters (i.e. boundaries) to permit mobile workers to be responsive and responsible, without making people feel they are on-call 24/7
  • Everything takes “more” – i.e. more touching-base via direct contact; more leadership; more direction
  • Great leaders must fundamentally understand their employees – for example, some people like more autonomy; some need more hand-holding; figure out the productivity motivator of each employee
  • Managers need to find balance within “virtual encounters” – not just to stay connected; but to be in touch “more fully”

Keys to Effective Mobile Leadership:

  1. PRESENCE – David Zinger defines Engagement = Connection, therefore, where does your organization fit:

    • Geographic Distance + Different language/culture/experience + Non-user friendly technology = Increased misunderstanding; lack of loyalty; increased self-interest; OR
    • Geographic Distance + Positive Communications + Clear procedures/protocols + Relationship Building via User-friendly technology = Increased Trust/loyalty/alignment with ease of communications & mutual support?
  2. MOTIVATION requires:

    • Understanding people;
    • Enjoyable work;
    • Mutual caring, trust, support;
    • Commitment
    • Proper training, tools, technology
  3. “CLOSING THE RUBICON” requires:

    • Attainable Goal Setting (both for the individual and the organization)
    • Managing Expectations in pursuit of Goals
  4. The PROGRESS PRINCIPLE is vital to help engage Knowledge/Mobile Workers:

    • Technology matters, but Trust matters more;
    • Know your people;
    • The Caring Principle is contagious;
    • Meaningful work Motivates people;
    • Manage Expectations/Develop Commitment;
    • Set challenging, yet achievable, Goals;
    • Build Willpower, i.e. Volition via a passionate work environment


I’m a mobile worker myself, proud to be one of the +1Billion-club, and this is my ideal: I want to be cognitively motivated by the work I do, within a trust-based environment that appreciates my work. Nothing is worse than second-guessing the motives of others, especially if you can’t see them or meet with them in person.  However, if communication channels remain open and transparent, people can simply focus on their work instead of trying to figure out ‘office politics’ or whatever. Obviously, we @KudosNow believe that our easy-to-use communication and motivation tool will help teams stay engaged across borders and time-zones; even within departments in the same building, in a way that is caring, effective and of course, engaging! People like to interact more, but more fully. Great leaders know how to build these relationships, and Kudos can help!

Finally, there is one chapter in the book (which I have yet to read, but is now on my reading list!), which sounds especially intriguing: “Virtual You,”where Mr. Kroth & his co-author David Clemons, describe how are online personalities, although most likely different than our real-world persona, nonetheless matter beyond personal branding. We want to hang out with people online that we find interesting, polite, knowledgeable, fun – so make your online personality reflect these traits as much as possible, but be careful not to sound fake – people online can smell a fake. Authenticity matters too.

This was a most excellent Webinar, and I recommend every manager take 45 mins and have a listen, then join David Zinger on Twitter (@davidzinger) and his Employee Engagement Network online. Thanks for hosting David!

Tom Short

Tom Short is the President and Co-Founder of Kudos Inc, where he is pioneering his vision for an industry leading recognition and engagement SaaS solution. Tom’s expertise in branding, marketing strategy and cloud-based SaaS development allows him to chase his passion of changing the world one thank you at a time. When he’s not showing the world that recognition matters, Tom enjoys coaching football, the Black Keys and a steaming vanilla latte to start his day.

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Tom Short

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