Employee Engagement

I just read "This CEO learned 3 essential lessons about being a great leader from one trip" on FastCompany.com. Author Barry Rosen tells the story of taking a road trip to meet with all 25 of his remote employees who worked from their home offices throughout the United States. He planned to spend at least eight hours with each employee. Half the time would be social — doing something fun and interesting together. The other half would focus on the company and the employee's role in it.

Rosen highlights three of the many lessons he learned from those meetings. I believe these lessons learned can help not only CEOs, but those in management positions. Here are excerpts from the article:


On my travels, each employee interaction became an opportunity for people to give me input on the company’s mission, strategy, tactical execution, and their ambitions without the distractions or perceived pressure of a formal workplace meeting. 

I’d ask several questions, including:  

  • What is your mission at our company? 
  • What is your vision of success for the company? 
  • What is your vision of personal success as an associate? 
  • How can we support each other to realize our respective visions and aspirations? 

I also took the opportunity to ask for feedback on my performance. (I’ve learned that asking for feedback is a valuable and effective way to get an honest assessment of what I’m doing well and what I can do better.) 

As CEO, I want every employee to have the tools they need to perform now and the experience they need to realize their career aspirations. Our conversations helped to clarify those needs and to reinforce our commitment to each other’s success. 


Many executives operate with a false dichotomy about being a great leader: To have your desired impact on an employee’s behavior, they must either love or fear you. 

Some leaders choose fear, believing that a regular diet of criticism and “burning platform” messages will propel employees to work harder and smarter. Other leaders think an employee’s affection will translate into greater loyalty and discretionary effort. 

Both options separate leaders from their team members; leaders on the balcony and team members in the crowd. This dynamic also creates an unhealthy dependency on the leader to maintain the business narrative. It doesn’t meet several important needs for either player, for example: to be seen and understood, shared responsibility for performance, and genuine recognition.  

One Gallup survey revealed that just 30% of employees said they “received recognition or praise for doing good work” in the past week. At the same time, a separate analysis found that more than half of employees don’t feel valued by their employer.  

Employees want recognition for meeting or exceeding expectations. When they don’t meet expectations, they want to be held accountable in a straightforward, non-judgemental way. They also want to learn how they can do better. 

When I visited associates’  homes, I told their spouses, children, and parents about the contributions their loved ones were making to our company. The associates, in turn, expressed their appreciation for my support.  We demonstrated what bonds leaders and team members: mutual respect and appreciation. 


Many studies and surveys have been conducted and op-eds have been written about the effectiveness of geographically distributed teams, working from home, and the relative importance of in-person connections. This trip reminded me that desk location, for people in my company, isn’t a critical success factor for productivity and team performance.    

My trip across the country to visit employees was, in retrospect, a team project. It contained goal setting, planning and problem-solving, evaluating progress, exchanging feedback, acknowledging everyone’s contributions, and documenting our insights. There were some long days and unexpected detours. It was also very productive and enjoyable for all of us. 

We found out what we each care about as workers. We want the company to be successful. We aim to make useful contributions. We aspire to be the best we can be. We depend on each other every day. 

You can read the full article HERE.

Thanks for reading!



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