Employee Engagement Leads to Strong Teams: Thomas Massie, President/CEO of Bridgeline Digital and Shirley Davis, President/CEO of SDS Global Enterprises, LLC

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – Talent Talk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  Talent Talk connects professionals who have creative thoughts about employee engagement and care about talent-related issues. 

Today’s guests are Thomas Massie, President/CEO of Bridgeline Digital; and Shirley Davis, President/CEO of SDS Global Enterprises, LLC.  To hear the entire show, click here

 THOMAS MASSIEemployee engagement

Massie is an ardent entrepreneur since the late 1980s, having founded a series of successful companies. He started Bridgeline Digital 14 years ago as a Web-based digital engagement company. Bridgeline delivers strong websites or webstores for their clients as well as relevant digital engagement platforms.

For first eight years of the business, they were implementing other people’s technology but realized that it wasn’t scalable, however successful it became. “We really felt that we needed to create a differentiator and something that can really help us scale,” recalls Massie.

Intellectual Athletes

Massie refers to his team as intellectual athletes, imparting a winning attitude among people who “enjoy taking action, enjoy executing, and enjoy winning.”

Massie also believes strongly in transparency as an employee engagement tool when it comes to the workforce.  “The more people know the better…Everyone wants to help, everyone wants to be a part of it. The more you share with them of your success and your failures…it creates a phenomenal culture of awareness and can-do attitude.”

Support What They Create

“A business plan is just a roadmap,” advises Massie, especially because markets change so fast and you learn a lot along the way. “You’ve got to fail fast. You have to continue to recalibrate.”

Success truly stems from the execution, which has  everything to do with the talent you have. To that end, Massie can often be heard saying about his employee engagement: “People help support what they help create.” He encourages others to create an organization that allows people to help create the direction and be a part of that plan. At Bridgeline, they even have a figurative customer “buy-in” process to their plans.

Scaling Strong Culture

Massie believes you have to work harder to manage others and maintain culture when there is a people-intensive model such as Bridgeline’s – not to mention ten different offices across the country. With smaller offices nationally, it makes it challenging to create a culture and feel like one common company, he acknowledges. “The larger you get in scale,…it can be very challenging. That’s probably the biggest complaint I get from those outside of the company headquarters in Boston.”

What are You Reading?

Massie is reading Joel Olsteen’s “Breakoutand Take The Stairsby Rory Vaden, a book they give to each new employee.

How Can I Connect with You? Via www.bridgeline.com (which is hiring at the time of this show) or via LinkedIn.

SHIRLEY DAVIS employee engagement

After spending years in corporate management, Davis later transitioned to SHRM within the past decade. Today, Davis is a full-time thought leader at STS Global Enterprises, where her focus is on helping organizations build strategies to attract and retain great talent globally — and to leverage that talent as their competitive advantage. She greatly enjoys the opportunities to work with companies across industries and geographies, and to do it on her own terms.

Interviewing Yourself

Questions she encourages companies to ask when it comes to hiring include:

  • Are my hiring practices such that I am attracting the right kind of candidate?
  • Am I hiring for the right skills that can adapt to my current and future needs?
  • Am I hiring for potential?

When it comes to leadership, she feels strongly that leaders today require a very different skill set than in previous years, especially because there is so much more diversity in the workforce and because we live in an era of unprecedented complexity.  Employee engagement becomes a key factor in the overall success in leading others.

Cultural Downturns

Leaders also need to be responsible for culture and employee engagement. “Strong culture is going to flourish when you have a clear set of value and norms, and that they are actively lived out,” says Davis. She cites three primary triggers to failing cultures:

  • Inertia – when companies are not always willing to change or take risk
  • Inflexibility – whether in policies or processes
  • Ineffective leadership – culture needs to be shaped and re-enforced by the leadership at the top

Engagement at All-Time Low

Not only domestically but across the globe, there is more focus on employee engagement than ever before. Yet, in stark contrast, employee engagement is at an all-time low. Davis cites a recent study revealing that among the U.S. workforce:

  • Only 29% of employees are actively engaged,
  • 54% are disengaged, and
  • 17% are actively disengaged.

To combat this, Davis offers five drivers of employee engagement that today’s workforce desires:

  1. Leaders who walk the talk, have integrity and are competent
  2. Flexibility in terms of work/life integration
  3. Challenging work and opportunities to grow, as well as knowing that what they are doing is meaningful to their company’s goals
  4. Good direct supervisors, since people don’t generally leave organizations, but they leave bad bosses and toxic cultures
  5. Compensation, a newer factor in the top five engagement factors, according to recent research from SHRM

What are You Reading?

Davis is reading “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim on how to create a market and make your competition irrelevant. She is also reading Van Moody’s The People Factoron how to build great relationships and end bad ones. Other books on her roster are Speaking Globally as she herself addresses global audiences — and last but not least — her own book, “Reinvent Yourself,” which she recently published.

How Can I Connect with You?  Via www.drshirleydavis.com or via LinkedIn.

Tune into the show next week, and remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Date: July 22, 2014