Interview with David Zinger: On Engaging to Make a Difference

david-800Vera: How do you define Employee Engagement (EE) and what does the Zinger Model bring to it?

David: Employee engagement is good work done well with others every day. The Zinger model and pyramid brings simplicity and actions to make a daily difference with engagement.

Vera: EE arguably should sit right at the heart organizational priorities; why is it seemingly such a sensitive/difficult subject with so much lip service paid to it?

David: I think we have so many imperatives, about 25 for an average organization that most managers and leaders are swamped and have their attention split in 25 ways. We need to end something before we make engagement the end we have in mind.

Vera: You’ve been studying EE for years and spent I believe 15,000 hours on it; what would you say are the ‘’rules’’ that should guide its successful practice?

David: I think it should be more behavioral and active than attitudinal. Less of conducting surveys and more practical actions including helping employees own their engagement.

Vera: What does the evidence show as the real tangible benefits/impact of EE and what would you say is the biggest cost to an organization that does not do enough to foster staff engagement?

David: Far better minds and organizations have answered this question. I encourage readers to see the report out of the Engagement For Success movement from the UK on nailing the evidence.

Vera: As some say, there cannot be a successful organization with miserable employees. From your experience, what would say engages employees the most and what is the proactive role/responsibility of employees in furthering EE?

David: We need to focus on results and relationships. I focus on 10 variables: results, performance, progress, relationships, recognition, moments, strengths, meaning, wellbeing, and energy. An organization can choose 3 and commit.

Vera: Energy not time, you indicate is the vital resource for engaged working; how does an organization harness and nurture this energy at workplaces that may be overworked and overwhelmed?

David: Stop things. End things. Energy comes in moments of interaction so connect.

Vera: The EE network which you founded has quite an active and engaged membership. What are the key themes people want to connect/learn from others on?

David: The Network has morphed from a community to more of a resource center. It is very inclusive and allows people to select and interact where they see fit. I hope it lives up to its slogan: employee engagement for all.”

Vera: One of your innovative concepts is that of ‘’people artists’’ – what’s the big idea here and how does expressing the best in oneself draw out the best in others?

David: We need to draw out the best in others. I believe this is an art that requires daily practice. We do this daily by seeing people, caring for people, listening. Expressing our connections and giving of ourselves is key to building connections and relationships.

Vera: You are clearly an authority and thought leader in this area; where do you see the conversation headed on this? How do you see EE evolving?

David: Engagement will die. There are two possible endings. It dies because it was a fad that failed to live up to the promise because leaders, managers, and employees had too much on their plates to be nourished by the best engagement has to offer. Of it dies because it get integrated into how we lead, manage, and work. I hope it goes through the second death!

Vera: How do you stay engaged with things that are important to you and what tips would you give on how to hone the power to engage in a way that matters?

David: There is no way to engagement, engagement is the way. I work in 15 minute intervals and I can engage with just about anything for 15 minutes. Sometimes I string a lot of these intervals together. I look for progress, I manage setbacks, and I strive to find meaning in what I want from work.

David’s profile

David Zinger is a global expert and speaker on employee engagement. He has spent over 15,000 hours on the topic. He wrote 4 books on work and he founded and hosts the 6800 member Employee Engagement Network, the leading free and independent resource on the topic. David simply defines employee engagement as “good work done well with others every day.” He uses the 10 block pyramid of engagement to help organizations and individuals determine the 3 daily actions to make a difference in engagement. Visit David at

For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.

One Response

  1. David Zinger
    David Zinger at |

    Vera. Nice job with the interview. Carry on being engaged and being engaging. All the best with all you do. David

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