The WOW Factor: Increasing Employee Engagement

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If you read my blogs you know that I have been spending too much time watching baseball lately. However, while watching the Blue Jays and Royals play yesterday I observed a leadership lesson which easily justified my sports-infused afternoon. Perhaps the most amazing part of the lesson was its simplicity and the ease by which it can be duplicated. Allow me to set the stage of what occurred.

The Toronto Blue Jays were down three games to one in a best of seven series. They must win or their playoff run would be over. The Jays pitcher for game 5, Marco Estrada, has pitched very well in the playoffs. However, as a young and inexperienced pitcher, you are never sure what will occur in a high pressure situation. So what happened?

In short, Estrada pitched brilliantly for seven innings before he was replaced with relievers. When the somber faced  Blue Jays Manager, John Gibbons, walked to the pitcher mound to tell him his work was done, the camera zoomed in on Gibbons face. While you could not hear what was said, the picture was so clear that you could easily read his lips as he greeted Estrada. So what did he say?

He uttered one simple three-letter expression: “Wow!“. ‘Wow’ was an incredibly smart thing to say! ‘Wow’ was an incredibly powerful thing to say. ‘Wow’ was also an incredibly easy thing to say!

I can think of few things I would rather hear from my boss (and I suspect I am not alone).

  • I just read your report – Wow!
  • I saw how you just handled that difficult customer – Wow!
  • I know that you put in long hours for our company – Wow!
  • I never have to be concerned about your ethics at work – Wow!

We spend a lot of time looking for ways to increase the engagement level of our employees. This week Gibbons taught us that engagement can be facilitated with only one word. Who are the people in your life that need to hear you say Wow!?

Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a professor, consultant and pracademic who serves in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman



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