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Called to Coach
Q12 for Coaches: Updates and Changes for 2022
Called to Coach

Q12 for Coaches: Updates and Changes for 2022

Webcast Details

  • What's changed since 2018 in Gallup's engagement resources and how you access them?
  • How has employee engagement changed worldwide and in the U.S. during that time?
  • How can organizations, managers and teams move toward greater engagement in the workplace?

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 10, Episode 35.

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.


To say "the workplace has changed" since 2018 -- when Called to Coach released its Q12® for Coaches series -- would be one of the understatements of the year. But how has it changed? What does employee engagement look like today in the U.S. and worldwide? And what resources does Gallup offer to organizations, leaders, managers and coaches to help them move the engagement needle in a positive direction? Join Mike McDonald, Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup, as he brings us up to date on the current state of the workplace and gives us tools to tackle the current challenges.


Right now, planet Earth is at 20% engagement. U.S. workforce at large is at 32% engagement. Both of those have slid back by 2%.

Mike McDonald, 27:56

What are you doing better this year than you did last year? ... The challenge, obstacles, change, transition, disruption could be some of the most powerful developmental opportunities that we've ever seen.

Mike McDonald, 43:37

Recognition and praise should be the lagging indicator of "doing good work."

Mike McDonald, 17:42

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on August 31, 2022.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:19
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live and you don't see the chat room, there should be a link right above me there. Click into that. Join us in YouTube chat for your questions. If you're listening after the fact, you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app or right there on YouTube -- it's just right over there -- so you never miss an episode. Dr. Mike McDonald is our host today. He works as a Senior Workplace Consultant with Gallup here on the Riverfront, although neither one of us have really been at the Riverfront very much lately. Mike, it's great to see you. Welcome back!

Mike McDonald 1:02
It's a great place to be, regardless of whether the, we're there or not, Jim. Maybe we say that it's even better, though, if we are. So we should probably make that happen sometime.

Jim Collison 1:10
I've been trying to get back at least 3 days a week into the office and spend some time there. Today started at 7 -- this is the beauty hybrid, right? -- is today started at 7 a.m. for me, and I just didn't want to get up an extra half hour to get in. And so, you know, pulled the audible card and, and stayed home for the good chunk of the day; starts at 7, ends at 5; it was just nice to stay in the seat here. Three of these today. That's the beauty of hybrid. And I think hopefully, that affects my engagement. We're going to talk a little bit about that today. But --

Mike McDonald 1:42
I was gonna say, your instincts are uncanny. Here we are, diving on into one of our topics today just with your own testimony. So good call, Jim.

Jim Collison 1:49
Yeah, no, no, but good. Today, we're spending some time updating on the 2018 Q12 for Coaches series that Mike and I recorded -- 14 sessions. Holly, congratulations. Holly took a group of people through that, all 14 of those. I'm not sure anybody else has done it. Holly, I'm still working on the certificates to give to you guys for getting through those. I'll have Mike sign them. I think they're just waiting --

Mike McDonald 2:16
Certificates/Apologies. But yeah, that's great, Holly. Hopefully that was useful to you.

The Engagement Champions Course

Jim Collison 2:21
So we have, on YouTube, we have a playlist called "Q12 for Coaches." Our original intent was to give you enough information to really work through the Q12 with, with individuals and organizations. We now have an Engagement Champions course. And Mike, I think a lot of folks always ask me -- I get this question all the time -- like, Do I need to take the Engagement Champions course to be able to do Q12? And I used to say no, but today I kind of go, you know, it'd be a good, it'd be a really good idea and something to go through. From what you know on that, what, what would they expect? What would somebody expect if they were thinking of using this and they joined us for that course?

Mike McDonald 2:58
Yeah, it's a great -- well, I'll just, Hey, friends, great to have you. I'm just gonna lead with bias. I think, for those of you who know me, I'm just gonna put it on the table. I personally get inside that course as, with as much value as I can, because it's so, it's so extended. It's, you know, yes, it's a learning solution. But really what it's doing is it's creating agents of engagement through, through a lot of different frameworks to move engagement forward, particularly as you work through managers. And I know a lot of our coaching, right, we're spending time coaching through managers, understanding the impact they have on their team and their organization. And Engagement Champions really helps equip you, me to be effective in coaching engagement through managers, consulting engagement through managers, and also supplying them with the credibility -- through our coaching and our consulting -- with the credibility they need to continue to lead their teams, specifically through the framework of engagement.

Mike McDonald 3:59
One of the things, Jim, that it gets into is obviously, and I guess, as we think about ourselves as coaches, I think, arguably the, I think it'd be interesting for those of you who have been through Champions and GGSC or ASC, compare, I'd like to have you do a side-by-side comparison of the resources next to each other. So think about all of the resources, for those of us who are Certified Coaches, that we were using and have continued to use to take strengths forward. Just parallel that with Engagement Champions. It is almost inexhaustive.

Mike McDonald 4:33
And I hear a lot of people -- these are just unsolicited responses. I've heard people leave Engagement Champions, Jim, and they'll say things like, "I can't believe Gallup gave this much away!" Like, you know, and not that they're, not that they're indicting Gallup, but, but more so, they're just, like they're seeing the potential to have this infinite number of resource-driven options to go move engagement -- and through a series of team-level coaching questions, individual-level coaching questions and questions that we can coach and equip our managers to be at their best. So it's a very profound experience. It architects engagement, you know, so literally, if you think about it, we're actually coaching in an organiz- -- an organization, through the role of being an Engagement Champion.

Jim Collison 5:15
Around engagement, the second-most question I get: Is there a certification for that? And that's not like, unlike GGSC, that does not lead to, we do not have an engagement certification. But certainly, it leads to great knowledge, great understanding and, like you said, great resources and materials around that -- kind of sets you up to get you ready to go. Not that we even, this didn't even, this wasn't even in our notes, not an intention to do a gigantic sales pitch. But it just got me thinking, when we put the 2018 series together, that didn't really, that infrastructure didn't really exist. And that's kind of something new that has come up. And so the, if you're watching this video, the first one in the, you know, in the series, which we're going to put it in the first, in its first place, and you're looking at the other 14 that are there, just remember, we recorded those in 2018, when some of these things didn't exist.

Engagement Resources Are Now Available on Gallup Access

Jim Collison 6:06
And so, two other corrections, Mike, as we think, you know, time has changed. I sometimes get emails from coaches who say, Hey, back in 2016, you said ..." I'm like, Well, OK, that was 6 years ago, and some things have changed -- like that, a few things have changed. The Gallup Business Center that we talked about -- all the resources available, reporting stuff -- has now been converted to Gallup Access. So if you've been around any length of time, you know we're moving everything into the Access infrastructure. And so you can, anytime we say the Business Center -- that's particularly important at the last, last video in the series, we talk about resources available out there -- those have now moved into Gallup Access, as well as the resources. If you go to the Resources tab in Gallup Access, you can find a lot of the resources. In fact, we might have more engagement resources in Gallup Access than we have strengths resources, Mike, don't you think? We've got a lot of stuff in there, right?

Mike McDonald 7:01
It's, it's packed. In fact, I think maybe there's as much sense-making trying to convert the resources in that course as there is, you know, any, any other aspect of it, which is really central to this. Jennifer, I, you know, I love your testimony in the chat. Al Winseman, hard to, I don't know if you can get better than that. So I'm just going to leave that statement on its own. But yeah, it's, it's, gosh, you know, I think, you know, Jim, the resources that are available in that specific course -- Engagement Champions -- it's just a, it's a useful framework. And probably the two highlight-reel features that come out of that, that, that really extends, and I think helps us build out even our coaching business from that entrepreneurial standpoint. One feature that's really the star of the show, and I'll use some language that maybe some of us are familiar with; some of us may not be, but we call it the state of the team.

Mike McDonald 7:53
And so imagine a well-intended team leader who wants to have a team engagement discussion. How do they sit down with confidence, with full effect, and authentically create a great feedback experience for their team, a great action-planning experience for their team? And most importantly, is the central theme the, one of the predominant predictors of future engagement is, Are we making progress on goals? So moving past that event, Jim, where we just measure it and stop, talk about it and stop, but actually, how do we extend it and, authentically through our team, not for our team, do better work because of the focus and intentionality and engagement? So you can see, I hope we hear the echo or the possibility, the placement of our coaching up front to help managers do that effectively.

Mike McDonald 8:39
The other thing I'll throw in, Jim, it's a train-the-trainer model. So if I go through Engagement Champions, I walk away with two PowerPoint decks, just like with ASC and GGSC, we walk away with content that we can construct and aim at different audiences. So we have organizations integrate new associates with the presentation of what this deck and our facilitation would look like. We influence managers as we help them come up to speed to how do they drive engagement for their team? So when I think about this audience being right at the center of being able to facilitate those types of conversations, literally leading half-day workshops, or 45- to 50-minute webinars, I love the scalability and choices that we have about how we place ourselves to add value to so many organizations.

Jim Collison 9:25
No, that's, that's great. And I think it's always good to hear, I mean, we just released on Gallup Access, so this is August 31, 2022, some brand new reporting for, some, you know, we have updated the color schema there to match across the board -- especially for those who have visual impairment; that has gone in. We have some, you know, some different reporting that's available out there as, as well in Gallup Access. So some great things have changed since 2018, and, and some great things have stayed the same. They're still -- the questions are still the same, right? This is why we can kind of create this video, put it on top of the other 14, give you a few caveats going in and then say, You know what, what, what Mike said -- not what I said, but what Mike said -- in 2018, still probably applicable. My stuff might be a little bit questionable, but it's a good opportunity for some continued learning. So if you're watching this as part of the series up front, just remember, there are a few things. One last change: We sunsetted the 10 codes that were available; there were 10 free seats available for Q12 in the Business Center. When we made that jump to Gallup Access, that technology didn't translate. And to get the, to get that deployment out faster, we just dropped those 10 free codes that are available in the book.

The 12 Items of Engagement

Jim Collison 10:45
So if you have a copy of that book, and the codes are still in there, you can still reach out to our customer assistance for a certain amount of time. That eventually will sunset as well, to use those codes. They'll give you a new code, but you need to reach our customer assistance. Everything being sold now doesn't have those codes in there. So Mike and I are going to refer to that in every single one of the episodes coming forward. And yeah, about once a month, I get somebody who says, "Hey, where do I get that book?" And, and that book has been sunsetted. And so still, you can still purchase it -- a great book and a foundation for, for engagement. If you're wondering what all this engagement work is and does and what it means, Mike, you got to say, that's the very first book you read, right? First, Break All the Rules is the right book to read right out of the chute, right?

Mike McDonald 11:29
It has been an unwavering, and I think being in the cornerstone, quite frankly, I hear the reference point: It's the seminal book on employee engagement. And I still go back to it. And it's, well, I guess, if I was to help us just understand the value that it brings, it does take us into the deep underpinnings of the 12 items of engagement. But there's some really great, like, I think, storytelling that comes out of it that, at least for me -- and I would encourage all of you, as you think about it -- that helps you position engagement through metaphors, examples and storytelling that I think helps connect your audience in a way where they can receive and actually feel engagement through the description of those items.

Jim Collison 12:10
No, that's great. A great, a great place to get started. And a great place to -- good, a great book to have. I have an old version here; I have the newest version in the office. And it really kind of changed, when I first read First, Break All the Rules, it actually changed the way -- and I think I say this in the videos before -- it changed the way I parented. And I started thinking, you know, parenting is managing, in a lot of ways, and, and it re- kind of made me think through all those like, Man, I should start to parent this way, you know.

Mike McDonald 12:42
Yeah, I agree, Jim, you know, and especially -- and I don't know if it's, if it was the case for you, but for those of you familiar with engagement, or, you know, as we kind of trans-, translate this to an audience that may or may not be as familiar with it -- we have these core questions, right. We'll talk about those with more detail. But I think, Jim, where it really helps humans organize their interactions with each other is the framework that wrap, that we found wraps around those 12 questions. We're all familiar with Maslow's hierarchy. But I think the uniformity of that type of perspective, as it wraps around the placement of these 12 questions, really helps us understand, Where does our confidence come from? You know, and so we've, whether we're a parent, whether we're a partner, whether we're a coworker, whether we're a manager or a coach, whatever, we get to really consume the placement of that experience in a way that builds up our progression of confidence. So if we think about, and so I'll just kind of talk us through it real quickly. But there's two, there's 12 questions. The first two questions are foundational: expectations and resources. Do I have clarity of the expectations? And do I have the resources to meet those expectations? Not so surprisingly, if they're established, I have a real strong sense of confidence and a desire to make a meaningful contribution -- more so as an individual, but I want to be known for my output; I want to be known for my performance. And I want my team to kind of know that if Mike's not here today, they have to work harder; they'll miss his contribution.

Mike McDonald 14:08
And then if we move past that, though, those, that explains the next 4 questions. So now we have 6 questions accounted for, essentially, basic foundational needs for the first 2; individual contribution for the next 4. That level of performance contribution doesn't satisfy us forever. Eventually -- we are human beings; we want to be known as a human being. We want to be known as a person, not just for our performance. We want to be part of a team that has an identity, and we commit to each other and we stand for something. And the next 4 questions are really explained by how do we, how do I feel as part of a team? And the last 2 questions really are about this notion of growth. You know, some points of reference might say that's where we're actualized. But I think it's useful to think about the final 2 questions at the top of that hierarchy being really representative of a career commitment or a career perspective. I really appreciate my career past tense and where it's brought me, and I am even more excited with expectation about career growth looking forward. And I'm not tempted to go anywhere; I'm gonna stay right here. And I'm going to see and continue to see these 12 items work together to the benefit of myself and the contribution I could make to our organization.

The 3 Most Important Q04 Words: Doing Good Work

Jim Collison 15:20
I think it's a great, it's been a great framework, even since our 2018 recording of this. So, you know, we think that's 4 years ago. I think, for me, one of the fundamental understandings, as we think about those first 3 questions, and I, in all onboarding and all the work I've done in the community, you know, Do I know what's expected of me? Do I have the right materials and equipment? And, and do I get the opportunity to do what I do best every day? has become a foundational thought for me every day in what I do, right, and every day in who I manage. Do the coaches know what's expected of them? Do the coaches have the materials and equipment? Are the coaches getting an opportunity what they do best every day? Mike, in the last 6 months, one of the things that I totally missed that has really kicked in is Q04, Praise and Recognition. And, and recognition is the fuel that if you get the first 3 right, it's the accelerant that creates engagement. Right? And it's one of those things, I think, if you're missing this, if you're missing recognition, you're missing the point on this, right. And so that's, for me, that has been the new, you know, I've been around this for 15 years. It's not, you know, a little slow sometimes.

Mike McDonald 16:31
Well, I think welcome to the club, Jim. I am almost on -- so, manage me here, Jim -- but I'm almost on a rant this year on Q04. Like, it's become my flag-waving theme. So if you all would indulge me, here's what I want. I'm gonna break this question down. So, Jim, hopefully this aligns with our conversation, but the literal language of the question, as we ask it and measure it, is, "In the past 7 days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work." So Jim, a lot of times, as I help us really tease that out and understand it, I'm trying to make a point here. I'll ask an audience, "What are the 3 most important words? What are the 3 most important words in that statement? "Doing good work." And the deception about that one question -- thank you for this cathartic moment -- the deception about that question is that we lead to it, we have our leading indicator and lagging indicator out of order.

Mike McDonald 17:26
So what we do, Jim, I think what, and I, I'm coaching myself right now, but I think where it's tricked us for 15 years or more is we've led to it as, is, as if it's the celebratory moment that's important -- the "recognition and praise." Well, the recognition and praise should be the lagging indicator of "doing good work," doing good work. So as we coach, all we have to do is really help managers think about setting the right goals, giving feedback, and holding their individuals on their team accountable to doing something better -- to some degree, large or small -- every 7 days. Then the, then the recognition is really intuitive. It's organic. It's appropriate to whatever degree it's earned. But if we can recommit, recognition is about the study of generated success so that we can produce more, consistent with strengths, then everything's easy.

Mike McDonald 18:24
But sometimes I think what we do, Jim is we're like, Well, every Friday, we need to get together at 3:00 and eat cake. And I just hope when we get there, we did something that deserves some attention. But either way, we're going to consume calories, and we're going to throw some confetti on the ground. So we've got everything mixed around. And it doesn't work. And I think that's where it's challenged us, because that doesn't feel authentic; that doesn't feel real. And so, and certainly that wouldn't drive performance. So I think we have to go back to each one of these items of engagement. How do we coach and lead to it in a way that we do know people would want to do better work on the other side, and not fall short? So that's kind of my thank-you, Jim, from my flag-waving moment there, but --

Jim Collison 19:00
No, I love it, I love it. Well, and you just, I mean, you just taught me thinking through those first 3 are really that foundation for good work, right? You don't have those 3? The odds are low; it's not something that can't happen; it's just the odds are extremely low that good work is going to be happening during, you know, in those, in that space. Cover each one of those, and your odds go way up, that, hey, you know, all of a sudden, the "doing good work" sign comes on, you know, just like an "Open" sign, and, Hey, we're doing good work here. And I love that emphasis then on the, the recognition as a result of good work, not the other way around. And so, to your point, I mean, how many, how many recognition events have you gone to that, that are like, Hey, we're, you know, like, we're gonna have a party today and we're gonna recognize. Instead of, Man, we've had a great quarter or we've had a great month or we you've wrapped up this project, and this time together is going to be, you know, it's going to be to celebrate that. And so I don't think, in this case, one doesn't come without the other. I think the good work is the genesis for this recognition. And that's -- thanks for, I mean, that's continuing to clarify for me, as I do this talk track and teach people this. It's great, Mike. So thanks for, for -- and great job on saying it. Thank you!

Mike McDonald 20:25
No, it, you know, it just deserves more attention. And you'll hear this from Jim Harter, our Chief Workplace Scientist. I just read an article this morning. I think the world still misses the mark with recognition. I think everybody would agree: Recognition as a driver of performance and fulfilling jobs still has the most untapped potential of any feature, maybe that we have available to us inside a great culture of performance. So we should, we, it shouldn't be the case. Right? It just shouldn't be the case. We can do better than that. One little caveat I'll throw, just to kind of get us excited. We know about the scandalous and controversial Best Friend at Work question, right. Great Recognition -- Question No. 04, that Recognition and Praise item has the strongest correlation to having a Best Friend at Work. And so, Jim, I think about the cycle: If we do this well, great relationships, you and I recognize each other better, great relationships recognize better; better recognition creates great relationships. And I think we can get a virtuous cycle that really propels those two forward in a reality, right? We're not talking, we're not making things up; that's just the way people work together.

Jim Collison 21:35
I love it -- an upward, an upward spiral.

Mike McDonald 21:37
Hey, it really is. Ease right on into itself.

Jim Collison 21:40
Yeah, no, that's great. Brooks says, Great insights! From that, I'd like to ask my employees what their definition of good work looks/feels like and see if that aligns with my own. I think that's a great, you know, we asked that question, "What's the best recognition you've ever received?" And you almost feel like saying, well, for the, for the, what was the work that you did? Like, what led to that recognition? As opposed to the, the, the action of the recognition, what was the work that you did that prompted that recognition? Right?

Mike McDonald 22:13
Yeah, without a doubt. I still like some of the positioning of that, you know, that intentionality about doing good work. So kind of a quick conversion. Some of you, I think, do this, but I'll put it on the table again. I think coaching to that Q04, I still like asking, you know, people on my team, "So what do you want to be recognized for in the next 6 months? And who do you want to be recognized in front of?" And then creating an alignment. As long as that aligns with their role with the contribution to the team and the organization, let's make that happen. And it's interesting, because it doesn't rob, it doesn't rob the equity or the effect of what was accomplished. You know, I think sometimes we think, Well, there won't be any Wow! factor, because it was so methodical and steady. No, that actually adds weight and credibility to the moment, because we did it on purpose. Jim didn't just happen to catch me in the act of doing something well every 7 days; he didn't spring himself on me by surprise -- we did it together. So there's an additional value, I think, that shows up inside of that. I think, too, so those two questions, and I love -- this might be, I'll just, you know, I should probably pace myself and --

Jim Collison 23:19
We might have to do another version of this.

How Do Teams Drive Great Engagement?

Mike McDonald 23:21
Yeah. But honestly, I, we did a series of best-practice interviews with some of our best team leaders inside our client database. And one of them that I interviewed, you know, we're just asking them, what do they do that drives such great engagement with their team? And she said that she leads her team primarily by asking one question with her team, every single week. So every Friday they get together, it's the same question. Unapologetically, it's the same question, because their responses -- we all know this as coaches -- the responses are so dynamic around it, and they do something with the responses. So this is her question, and I stole it. Like it's a, it's, arguably, I think it contends for maybe the best engagement question we could ever ask or coach through. She just simply asks her team: "Where did we see the best of our team this week?" And then they just crowdsource it. And it's great, because it's a habit and it's a default. So they show up, and they have lots of content to contribute to that conversation.

Mike McDonald 24:19
And it's, so think about this, Jim, right? They start off, it's performance, it's best practices, it's discoveries, everything that engagement represents. Inevitably, that takes us to a collective sense of recognition. What did we do better? And then inevitably, it gets down to an individual exchange. Jim's gonna say, You know what, team? I think we were great on Thursday, but I got to be honest, Mike, if you wouldn't have done what you did on Tuesday, we don't have that chance. Your, your unique contribution made a difference there. And then I'm like, Rats! Jim, Jim said something really good about me. I don't have anything in my back pocket to say back, but I'm gonna catch him next week. And then when we get together for that conversation, I'm not gonna miss the mark. And maybe -- and this is what this team leader shared; she goes -- They don't wait till next Friday. Mike doesn't wait till next Friday. He's gonna say it next Friday in front of the group. But when he catches Jim in real time, he's gonna say, "Jim, that was great. That was awesome. Keep doing that." And you can see, again, where that cycle Jim, you and I get a little bit closer, real-time, reality-driven recognition. And the, she said her team has just welded together over the course of asking that one question over the course of weeks.

Jim Collison 25:28
People begin to look, right. It's the accountability --

Mike McDonald 25:31
Eyes are open wide; ears are open wide. We have a bandwidth to see each other at our best that just was never in existence before.

Jim Collison 25:37
Yeah, no. And it creates a culture of expectation. And so you're beginning, every week, it's not, "Oh, it's another week." It's like, "Oh, what can I, what can I do for someone else?" You know, what, what can I do in that moment to change somebody's trajectory for the week? Or you start saying, "Who can I look for where my trajectory was changed or my engagement was affected? And remember that so I can say it on Friday?" Because that's important too.

Mike McDonald 26:06
Exactly right. Exactly right. Yeah.

An Engagement Database of Nearly 50 Million

Jim Collison 26:07
No, right on. Well, lots, lots of great stuff. You know what's awesome is, over the last 4 years, the questions haven't changed. They're exactly the same; same 12 questions. What has changed, though, Mike, I think, is I mean, I asked Ken about the current state of employ -- of engagement. But I think we've done, oh, I, tens of millions of more engagement surveys since 2018. Do you know what our total is now? I was trying to look that up earlier. Go ahead. Where are we at?

Mike McDonald 26:35
Our last, our last count for number of participants in our Q12 database, it's north of 46 million people have been able to respond to those 12 questions.

What Is the Current State of Engagement in the Global Workplace?

Jim Collison 26:46
So we're coming up on 50 million. That's a lot of data and, and a lot. So I think as folks are thinking about the reporting that we get in there, and we compare, depending upon the version that you purchase, you get compared to a global database. And I think that's a 3-year rolling average still. So the more data that's in there, the better, from a comparison standpoint. Where are we today, Mike? As you think about the current state of engagement, and man, we have been through a lot, right? I mean, 2018, we weren't even -- the "p" word wasn't even on anybody's radar. Totally different. Bring us up to date a little bit.

Mike McDonald 27:24
Yeah, well, it's not great, Jim. So let's just pour some, some water, some nice, cold water on the conversation here. We spiked on recognition, and we'll bring ourselves back down to planters. Yeah, it's moving backwards. That's the grim reality here. So if I was to spur us on or encourage all of us as coaches, we are necessary; our coaching to engagement directly or through managers is vital right now, and I think for all the obvious reasons, Jim. So here's what we're seeing is, is right now, planet Earth is at 20% engagement. U.S. workforce at large is at 32% engagement. Both of those have slid back by 2%. So that that -- it's interesting, and you used, you talked about the "p" word. I guess what I would position for this crowd and for us to all be thinking about is just a couple of data points that hold us accountable. Is I don't, I guess I'm concerned, I wonder if maybe we're taking our foot off the gas.

Mike McDonald 28:25
And one of the things that I'm just -- I'm thinking out loud -- but I wonder if because the physical threat of the pandemic has seemed to subside, that maybe we're kind of easing off of the intentionality. Because we saw strong spiked reactions because of the intentionality around engagement, around wellbeing; great, strong responses to dire circumstances, our own leadership moments responded. And now they're subsiding back on the other side. And I guess, you know, if you think about this, it's cliche, but you know, if we don't want to waste that; if we don't want to waste you know, those lessons, I think we have an accountability in our coaching and to managers and organizations who need us -- we need to make sure we redeem those lessons. They were hard-fought; they were hard-earned. I'd hate for us to give those away. And I think our coaching probably needs to help us make sense of current circumstances.

Mike McDonald 29:16
I think to, then, to be fair, I think the dust is far from settled with where and how people are working, Jim. You and I were joking, you know, right at the beginning, neither of us are in the office right now. And that used to be completely flipped; you and I would absolutely be in the office, almost hearing the echo of each other's voices in our offices as we had this conversation. And there's, there's some transitional experience; there's some in-group, out-group experience. Why do some people maybe get to be given the choice of remote or hybrid? Why do I have to show, and, you know, there's a lot of sensitivity about how fair some of those circumstances feel, and I think that's part of what's pushing back on the, the engagement story.

Changes in Engagement Because of Remote/Hybrid Work Arrangements

Jim Collison 29:57
Mike, do we know, you know, the "hybrid" word had been thrown around before the pandemic. Nobody, I don't think that many people really took it seriously, like it could be done. Of course, the pandemic forced that to happen for, in a lot of places. Do we know now, from an engagement standpoint, and when we think about the hybrid workplace, and again, let me acknowledge -- not everyone gets the opportunity to work hybrid. I think, when we talk about this, especially early in the pandemic, the feedback I got was, "Well, I didn't. I'm still going to, I'm still going in to the office," or "I'm still driving," or "I'm still delivering," or "I'm still picking up" -- those kinds of things, right. So I want to, I want to be really, really clear about that. Right? I think sometimes in our white-collar world, in our office world that we live in, certainly these tools that we use get used a lot in those kinds of settings. And we kind of, at least I felt like everybody, like, oh, yeah, everybody got, you know, everybody went home. No. Not true. A lot of people actually didn't, right. And so I want to acknowledge that. But as we think about the hybrid space, has that changed anything from an engagement perspective? Are we seeing anything in the numbers there?

Mike McDonald 31:13
Yeah, well, that's part of the accountability, Jim, that, you know, when we think about that, the different dynamics of where now people are working, regardless of where people are starting to find themselves, everything is, is moving backwards. So a couple of different points of comparison. And again, that story of where we had a nice appropriate response, a response in a positive direction, especially in 2021, we're starting to see that, again, subside now. So just a couple of quick examples. The group that exclusively works remote, never shows up on site, their engagement has actually moved back 5 percentage points. Those who do work hybrid, their engagement has moved back -- and we're talking about categorical engagement -- has moved backwards 3%. And similar to those who only work on site, that group has moved back 3, back 3%.

Mike McDonald 32:04
And I think a little bit of a story. So beyond the fact that engagement is moving backwards, regardless of wherever, a couple things for us to be mindful of as we have our eyes wide open to what's working for and against those situations. The exclusively remote and the hybrid currently are exactly eyeball to eyeball: 37% categorical engagement. The group that has to and still shows up on site is only at 29% categorical engagement. And I think that's where we're seeing kind of the friction, Jim, show up is that I think we could accommodate some of the, the swirl and, because nothing had become normalized or started to become stable to the degree that we could see it. So if I still had to show up on site, there was just enough chaos around me that I don't think I noticed that, hey, Jim's not here every day, where I seem to notice that Jim is now getting a choice or an option that's not made available to me. And I don't know if I'd call it in-group out-group, but the comparison of that isn't feeling great, and I think it's working against, and I think it's challenging, and I think a lot of managers, to translate that explanation effectively.

Mike McDonald 33:11
And I'll just make one more point here, Jim; I'd love your reaction. But I think we have to be very graphic. Regardless of the circumstances, like I, well I say this -- reality wins. Like reality wins, and that's fine. But are we coaching and leading effectively within whatever reality is presenting us to absolutely take advantages, to seize opportunities? So we can't, I can't, you know, completely eliminate a global pandemic. But I can lead more effectively. And we're going to take those situations into account. And we're still going to create ownership, we're going to create opportunity, we're going to convert. And then when situations come back and do start to favor us again, we're totally ready. We're totally ready and prepared for it. So I think that could be part of that pressure point for some of our managers to find themselves in, if they're trying to make sense of those circumstances.

Engaged, Not Engaged, Actively Disengaged

Jim Collison 34:06
Like we've gone through a, you know, in the 4 years, we've gone through these, maybe I'll call them movements, where we think about the social unrest that began in 2020, the Great Resignation that began to pick up momentum in 2021. And now this idea -- and you and I were joking about it, this, a little bit -- of this, of "quiet quitting" that has, has kind of caught at least our attention. Not necessarily, it's not like, it's not like quitting on the job had been something that was new. I was joking with you -- when I was in the military 30 years ago, those kinds of things, but we've begun to identify it. All of those, the last two that I mentioned, have big, have big implications in engagement, right. And, and they are directly tied to and related to the state of engagement in that. Do we, as we think about the future here with that then, and, and we think about these global movements, what kind of advice would you give to leaders and managers today, looking ahead for the next year or two, to say, Hey, here's what we know about these things. And we can't just act like it's 2019 or 2018 again; there's gonna be some changes that are gonna have to be made. What, what would you say to that?

Mike McDonald 35:30
Yeah, it is, it is interesting. And I think for those of you familiar with our engagement work, I'll kind of peel back the broad three reference points, Jim, that we use when we describe the three kind of states of engagement. And then I think that will help us make sense out of quietly quitting as a point of reference. But when we talk about engagement, we talk about categorical engagement, right? But, but the, the way I would be found guilty, if you were, if I was to be tried for being "engaged," the evidence that you would see in my behavior would be that I'm involved, I'm enthusiastic and I'm committed. Right? That behaviorally, I'm extending discretionary effort. I have an emotional charge about the work that I do, and then my follow-through is really intact. So that's somebody who's "engaged." Like, and unapologetically, Jim, when I summarize that, I see somebody who's "engaged" literally -- and I'm using this word with intentionality -- loves the work they do every day, and they love the people they work with every day, and that kind of emotional core to how they feel, right? So I think we can all kind of have faces and names, you know, run through our mind, as we think about that experience of engagement.

Mike McDonald 36:37
Then we have our group who are categorically "not engaged" -- different than the "actively disengaged." I think I've said this before, Jim, but I think it's funny when I do, so I'll say it again. But I say, the "not engaged," like, they can, all 5 of their senses are keenly in tune to 5:00. So Jim, they can smell 5:00; they can taste 5:00; they can hear 5:00 from a mile away. And then the second it's 5:00, it's the greatest magic trick you've ever seen: I just disappear before your very eyes. And so I've got that strong line in the sand. So I'm not, I'm not coming up short of fulfilling my job. But it is clearly a paycheck. And in many cases, maybe it's just as minimal as, "What do I need to do so that I don't get fired?" could be the mindset there. So we hear kind of that passive detachment to the role.

Mike McDonald 37:28
And then we have the "actively disengaged," who, you know, I would say, are passively or aggressively actually trying to get in the way of the work that the team is trying to accomplish or the organization -- by choice like, essentially acting out. But in their defense, they would say that they have a workplace need; that they brought up perception of reality in a positive, productive way, and it went unmet or ignored or incomplete. And just like the rest of us, we're not going to be ignored. We're going to do something increasingly negatively to call attention to, to that gap. So you can tell by the descriptions, I think, then, Jim, it's the "not engaged" that we would typically align to that reference point of quietly quitting. And I do think, again, I, everybody wants to be engaged -- let's just be really clear about that. Everybody wants to be engaged. Are we coaching well enough to extend the right invitation for someone to become engaged, with relevance, with authenticity to their role? But if anybody wants to be engaged now, what do we do to convert that? It's the "not engaged" that are aligned with that mindset of quiet quitting.

Mike McDonald 38:29
And in many cases, what they're running up against, Jim, because we see wellbeing has been part of that regression backwards; wellbeing is now back to where it was about 13 years ago. It's very unremarkable -- about 24% can strongly agree right now that their organization cares about their overall wellbeing. And so what you're seeing is people are just finally hit, they just, there's, they're putting a cocoon or a kind of a protective barrier, where they know that they're, they've reached that threshold of burnout or compromise in their physical wellbeing, and they're just drawing some boundaries about how much they can actually extend themselves out. It's more out of a protective mode, I think, in terms of a purpose mode is kind of the shift there.

Jim Collison 39:10
Well, "burnout" and "resiliency" have been two words that have appeared during this time. We spent a lot of time talking about it, so much so, doing a series with Jaclynn Robinson right now on just that. We just spent some time on burnout; we have inclusion coming and, in the next one, is then thinking about some resiliency. In that, there are challenges that exist, and the, the rules changed on us in some ways, right? The, the, the things that had worked before -- and I think this is probably why we're seeing some backup in numbers -- the magic tricks that had worked before are maybe no longer working in, in the management space. Mike, as we, as we kind of wrap this in the next few minutes, I want to ask you -- you, in the notes, have 4 things to help team members move past this. And, and we started with this, with, you know, this idea of quietly quitting. But I want to just say more disengaged, because that's really what "not engaged," disengaged, right, as we think about that. And I think these are just kind of, these are 4 great tips to think about, regardless of where we're at or what year it is. I think these will apply to today as they will 10 years from now. Can you walk us through that structure?

Mike McDonald 40:25
Yeah, I'd love to. And let me just put another data point out there, just to sharpen the approach here. But, you know, we know this. But I want to make sure that, that we always have data in our back pocket to confirm what we know to be true. But think about the proximity that's created when we coach well, when managers coach well, when we help managers -- I call it performance proximity, Jim. But it's like when you ask me questions, meaningful questions that, out of performance development as an approach, draws me closer to you, because of your coaching, your feedback, the accountability you provide me with, there's just a trust factor that shows up. And the data is really explicit here. The employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are 70% less likely to experience burnout. And that's just, you know, the resiliency of our relationship, Jim -- that you're my team leader, and I am comfortable with you in every aspect of my world and my life, right, certainly inside and outside the workplace. But, but managers have to coach and earn their way into that, that space and proximity to the people on their team. And I think, Jim, if I was to walk through these, you'll hear a lot of, I think, the usual suspects for what does challenge and has certainly been in evidence of challenging current circumstances, how we can coach our way past what I hope is a fad of quietly quitting into a movement that helps us recapture and start to generate engagement moving in the right direction.

4 Questions to Move Engagement in the Right Direction

Mike McDonald 41:51
But here's 4 questions that I would just nominate for your consideration and certainly like the reaction from the group and anything that you would polish these up with, Jim. But I think if we were to meet the needs of our teams, that the challenges here were unclear expectations are providing a lot of resistance. Lack of opportunities to learn and grow, a lot of challenges there. Simply not feeling cared about, right, we're losing that emotional, relational connection. And then, not just relationally with the people we work with, but we're, we're experiencing a disconnect to the purpose of the organization. Why does our organization exist? And are we necessary or vital to help fulfill that purpose? And I think we can address those points of resistance if we coach well. And here's what I would love to have all of you consider: I think these are key questions that managers could ask their team to push back.

Mike McDonald 42:39
First one is, How can our team be more clear in our expectations of each other when times are hectic? And I think what we see, that functionally, Jim, I don't know if we struggle tremendously to meet the bare requirements of our job or the output we're supposed to be generating. I think there's a lot of challenge for us, Jim, for you and I to still know what are our expectations of each other? Or I know what I'm expected to do. Do I really know what you're expected to do? Or am I just operating out of a misalignment and maybe getting a little bit cranky because I think you're coming up short, when in reality, you're meeting the expectations of your job purposely -- perfectly; I just didn't know what those were. So we need to coach and move past that. And you could hear in the language of that question, the manager doesn't have to be the answer, but they need to orchestrate and facilitate the team's response to that so we come together.

Mike McDonald 43:34
The second question I think would be useful, then, is, What are you doing better this year than you did last year? You know, where are you faster and smarter in your role? And I do love that learning-growth mindset out of that question. Because it's such a great conversion -- the challenge, obstacles, change, transition, disruption could be some of the most powerful developmental opportunities that we've ever seen. And it can happen within the space of reality and us doing our job. It doesn't have to be as training or a certification or something that's outside that space. And there's a redemption, I think, to just, again, change, transition, struggle, etcetera. But I think it also helps us capture those key learning moments and not forget and not give those away, and claim how much real life and the work we do can provide us with such developmental opportunity.

Mike McDonald 44:22
The third question: Who are the partners and collaborators who bring out the best of you? So Jim, we can hear Recognition start to fold into that. We can hear Somebody at work cares about me folds into that; Best Friend at Work folds into that. But who are the partners and collaborators who bring out the best into you? But let's make it actionable. The follow-up we would want to ask is How? How do they bring out the best in you? But let's flip the script around: How do you actually bring out the best in them? Now it's a conversion to not just an assessment, but to a point of action, and we can go out and do this; we can be the answer to this for other people.

Mike McDonald 45:01
The fourth question, then, that I think we can coach through is just, What causes you to take pride in the work that you do here? So we see that connection to purpose, right? It doesn't mean, when we think about Mission and purpose, it doesn't necessarily mean that I recite the Gallup mission statement every day when I start up, you know. But it does mean that I have a clear, direct line and an understanding and a conviction about what Gallup or any fill-in-the-blank organization stands for and the value they represent to some external stakeholder, and that I understand clearly, I'm vital and necessary. And so that sense of pride really helps translate and tap into the experience and understanding of what that contribution could be. So those are the 4 questions, Jim, that I think if we can get tread and traction underneath them, we can completely change the trajectory of these workplace trends.

Jim Collison 45:47
Love that. I put those in the chat, so they're available for you there if you want to grab them or write them down out of, on the audio. If you're driving, of course, don't, don't do that. Just save the spot. Come back to it; it'll be, it'll be available for you there. Mike, but I think some great, I think some great wisdom, some new tools as we kind of think through. It's an age-old problem. It's not like disengagement or actively, being actively disengaged just snuck up on us, right. It's, it's been there; it's been a part of it. We have some new ways of thinking about it and some, certainly some unique situations. And culture might be changing a little bit. And that's not, you know, I'm, yeah, I come at that from a very Western kind of culture thought. But as I've worked with folks around the globe now, you know, we do podcasts in 7 different languages now, which is super cool, right? And I hear from them, I'm hearing similar things. Not exactly the same, but I'm hearing very similar things. Let's, let's end it on this. Andrea had a question for you, and if, you could maybe sneak in another question if you had one. But -- Speaking of fads, I'd love Mike's opinion on setting personal boundaries to avoid burnout and the rise of worker productive score.

Mike McDonald 46:58
Yeah, it's a, it's a great question. I think I'll stay true to our strengths0based approach. So I think -- I'm gonna use a really lazy sports metaphor, so just indulge me here. But I think it's more, I think what we want to do -- and you all do this as coaches -- it's, it's not, what are we reacting to? It's what are we initiating? Right? So coaching moves things forward. We all know this about strengths. Don Clifton always talked about, Strengths always have a forward lean to them. I think our coaching should always have a forward lean. And, and so, to your question, let's think about burnout.

Mike McDonald 47:31
So there's, there's three lessons here that I think we can unpack. So I'll tell a quick story, and then we can pull it back from there. We studied the likelihood for people to experience burnout relative to their engagement. And so the data would say that if I'm actively disengaged, I'm more than 4 times likely to struggle or suffer from burnout than someone who's engaged. If I'm "not engaged," if I'm in that "quietly quitting" kind of mind space, I'm more than twice as likely to struggle or suffer from burnout than somebody who's categorically engaged. Least surprising data points -- I think we would all be like, Oh, that makes perfect sense. Here's where there's a twist at the end of the story that I think is really interesting for all of us that gets inside our coaching: The engaged population works more hours than the actively disengaged, than the "not engaged." So I think, to the, to the question, then -- Andrea, I think that was you that asked -- Andrea, I think we have to think about, How do we consume our workplace? We are consumers of our workplace. And do we get energy out of the work we do? Because we should, if it's right. Or is the day taking a toll on us? Right?

Mike McDonald 48:40
And so I think there's a couple of questions that could be at least an entry point into that, and I'm gonna go back to the, maybe the most strengths-based engagement item of them all: Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day? It's unbelievable, right, Jim, how much of that question explains around wellbeing, resiliency, burnout. But that resistance-free approach to where we're at our best, to whatever degree reality gives us the opportunity, if we had that ease, excellence and enjoyment, we can leave the day with even more energy than we started off with. So I think that in the coaching, then, Andrea, if I was to get to the point, is, is that, that mindset of studying success, mass-producing more of it, and continuing to ask people, not just Where do they find their best contribution to their own role? But where are they starting to see major and best contributions to their team members being able to be better than they were before, and even to an organization or outside the team being better than it was before? And that's where I think we get a congruence of Q03, relative to strengths as a philosophy, relative to that pushback against, against burnout. So --

Going From "Me" to "We"

Jim Collison 49:51
I love that, Mike. I, it gets me thinking, you know, in Season 5 and 6 of Theme Thursday, Maika and I spent a ton of time looking at each of those themes. And the construct, the framework, was always going from the "me" to the "we." And it's OK when it's the "me," right? That's Level 1 of it, right? But Level 10 is when we make that shift in how am I using my themes? #useyourthemesjim came out of that. How am I using those themes to then push it to the "we"? How is that influencing and affecting others? How is that improving the life of someone else? How is that improving the production of another team? Right? All those things are in place.

Jim Collison 50:32
Listen, we're having this conversation -- you and I are having this conversation today -- because Gallup made a decision to let me do what I do best every day, at some point. It didn't happen -- nobody made that decision, and it didn't happen in one day. It was this gradual movement towards it. But it's a great representation of what can happen to productivity when someone gets the opportunity what they do, to do best every day. Ironically, coincidentally, how, whatever word I'm supposed to use there, I've done three of these today. Right? This is my third one. And you'd think, Oh, and it's, we're not even, it's not even 1:00 in the Central time zone, and I'm, I'm all pumped up, right. And so it's, I think it's a great example of, a lot of people ask me, "How'd you do that?" And I said, "I just kept trying. I kept trying new things. I kept trying to do what I thought I did best and give that away to somebody else." Right? Right? In this case, give it away to the coaching community. So --

Mike McDonald 51:28
Yeah, I love that.

Jim Collison 51:29
I love to see making that shift from "me" to "we," when I get to talk to college students. I say, "If you want to really be successful, figure this out. Go from 'me' -- what you're used to; you're a college student, you're used to just thinking about you -- change that to, from 'me' to 'we.' And, and we're all included in this. And I think that has a exponential change in and a direct impact on engagement. That's what I hear you saying. Would you agree?

Mike McDonald 51:54
Well, yeah, I would. And that's such a paradigm shift. So Jim, one, one of my favorites -- so I, you know, I just plagiarized you like it was my job. And one of the things that you said, and it's stuck with me throughout is, How do we give our strengths away? So as leaders, as key influencers -- and you all, as coaches, know this -- that we can't, you know, I can't, I have Ideation as my No. 1 strength. I can't directly make my team have that strength as a transfer. But I can absolutely, if I give that strength away as a commodity, as an effect, I can cause my team to be more ambiguity tolerant, more creative, think outside the box. So the effect of Ideation can absolutely be something that I give away. And, Jim, I think that's exactly right with engagement. And I think there's been a real effective shift here.

Mike McDonald 52:40
But as you all think about coaching to those 12 drivers of engagement, those questions we ask, is, is -- to create the mindset conversion -- don't sit back and wait for somebody to be your best friend at work. Don't sit back and wait to receive recognition in the past week; be the answer to that question for somebody else. Now we're active; now we're an agent of engagement. Now you've coached and put me in a span of influence to affect the culture of the team that I want to be part of. And so, to your point, Jim, now it's not a "me"; it is a plural "we." And that's really where engagement happens. It's not about our consumption; it's about our creation of that workplace experience for somebody else. And not so surprisingly, remarkable how it turns out that if I'm a best friend to somebody else, I get a lot of best friends in return. If I do a great job of acknowledging with detail the performance contribution of somebody else, remarkably, I get a lot of recognition back in return. So that reciprocity really does give itself back, but we have to start off getting outside of ourselves, I think, to be effective.

Jim Collison 53:44
Well, you can drop the mic on that -- literally, drop the mic -- on that one. And I think with that, we'll end it. We want to thank you for coming out today. Mike, thanks for, you are next to impossible to get time with, but I always appre- -- when I do get it, I always appreciate it. So thanks --

Mike McDonald 53:59
Likewise. Love it.

Jim Collison 53:59
For coming out and being part of it here. Hang tight for me one second. Just a couple reminders. We mentioned this earlier -- get, take advantage of all the resources we have available, especially around engagement, there in Gallup Access. Head out to You can log in there, all your strengths material, go to the menu -- upper left, drop that down. You might be surprised what's there, if you haven't checked it out in a while. For coaching, master coaching, you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach or you have questions about that Engagement Champions course we talked about in the very beginning, send us an email: We'll get somebody right back to you to talk to you about it. Stay up to date on all the webcasts that we're doing. We got a ton of really good ones coming up this -- well, fall in the Northern Hemisphere -- fall and winter that are coming up (Q3 and Q4 for those of you down south, or I don't know how that works). We, those are available at Jaclynn and I'll be recording a brand new Season 2 of the CliftonStrengths Podcast coming up in November. So get out there, get, get, follow us there so you get notifications on when we're doing those. And of course, you can join us on Facebook (just go to or on LinkedIn (search "CliftonStrengths"). Thanks for coming out today. Always great to be a part of this and, and a part of the community with you. Thanks for listening. And with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Mike McDonald's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Input, Learner, Achiever and Focus.

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