Print Icon

Your Weekly Leadership HVA (High Value Activity)

CORE Bites 34

Hello Lifelong Learner ...

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions) to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites #34: During a recent management training session, I assigned a breakout exercise and asked the participants to brainstorm activities that would enhance employee engagement. During the debrief, one creative individual suggested becoming an “Undercover Boss.” Having not seen the Primetime Emmy award-winning reality TV show, I was intrigued by his response and, more importantly, how this idea would positively influence employee engagement. For those of you who are, also, unfamiliar with this TV show, the basic premise is the CEO of a company — masquerading as a brand-new employee (frequently disguised) — spends time working incognito alongside front-line employees. One of the primary learning lessons for the CEO is being able to perceive his or her organization through the eyes of the employees.

Now, I can't comment on how much 'reality' is contained in this TV show, but I can comment on how much value can be derived if our people trusted us enough to have candid conversations (yes, even complaints) about systems, procedures, and/or policies that get in the way of productivity — without fear of retribution. Leadership trust and understanding employee perspectives is really what this is all about. So how can leaders do this authentically?

Most of us manage small enough groups that it would be impossible for us — even with a disguise (grin) — to work alongside our people incognito to understand all the views and perspectives that exist. But that shouldn't stop you from trying to understand your employee's views better. Here are a few steps that will help you 'walk in the shoes' of your employees to better appreciate what it takes to do their jobs.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps: This week (starting today), look for ways to incorporate the following HVAs into your workflow:

  • Get Down on the Floor (No ... Not Literally!): Regularly schedule informal chat sessions to find out what's happening at all levels of the organization (especially at the front-line). Ask about what works and why; ask about ways the organization can improve process and procedures; ask about what would improve working conditions. Ask, ask, ask. The trust connection begins with your willingness to learn so never allow yourself to become disassociated with the work being done by employees.
  • Get Rid of the 'Bog Monster': Think of how much more effective you could be if you really understood where unclear channels of communication, lack of resources, or inefficient/ineffective procedures are BOGGING things down. The best way to eradicate the Bog Monster is to listen and then act. Don't just assume because you're asking questions that people will give you complete trust and tell you the truth. Typically they'll grant you 'sound-bite' trust — they'll extend a little bit in your direction to see what you do with it. If they raise a minor problem don't ignore it because it's minor. Build trust by acting on it and you'll see the trust bond grow.
  • Be Real ... Be Authentic... Be YOU!: No one will respond (favorably) to fake empathy. I'm giving you permission to take off the super-hero cape for a minute and be human (yes, while it's important to be a credible role model, none of us are perfect — we all have foibles and idiosyncrasies). It's only when you show your true personality and your true self that employees will trust you enough to provide you candid feedback (the real information you're needing to hear).
  • [Bonus HVA] Take a Walk in Your New Employee’s Shoes: One of your more powerful learning lessons may come by participating in the new hire process. You'll hear what they hear about your culture, about serving internal and external customers’ needs, about continuous learning processes and how to succeed in their roles. Participating in the new hire process is a great way to understand how new employees come to learn your organization's values and the importance of their work.

Lifelong Learner, managing employees today is more complex than in the past. More and more, it's about managing each individual personality — in essence, managing a person rather than just managing the team. When you take the time to walk in their shoes, you'll better understand their world and how you can help support them.

I'd love to hear how this HVA works for you!

Have a brilliant day ... and enjoy the journey!


Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA

RESULTant and Behavioral Engineer

"People follow leaders by choice.

Without trust, the best you will get is compliance."

Jesse Lyn Stoner 

Looking for previous issues of CORE Bites HVAs? Go to our Archives Repository.

An online version of this CORE Bites HVA (current issue) can be viewed here.


GDPR Authenticity Information (the legal stuff):

Clearview Performance Systems, Inc.

24573 N 119th Pl, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 USA

Authorized Representative: Neil Dempster

Email Address:  


This leadership tip was sent by to

To unsubscribe from the CORE Bites weekly leadership HVA: Unsubscribe