A catalyst for conversations that matter, relationships that work and results that inspire, Susan Mazza serves leaders and their organizations as a Leadership Coach, Change Agent, and Motivational Speaker.

Here is the interview she kindly took the time to answer for Tap My Back:

TMB: Do you remember when did you start to get passionate about employee engagement and leadership? Was there a defining moment?

Susan: From my very first job I could see clearly the difference leadership made in the environment and effectiveness in an organization. Also, as someone who led projects where the team members did not report to me, I had to learn to enroll, engage and lead people entirely through influence rather than authority. To meet that challenge I quickly became a student of leadership.

TMB: Some people say engagement is not that important as it treats employees only as mere tools for productivity and not as human beings. What do you have to say about that?

Susan: People in leadership positions can attempt to manipulate people to get results in the name of engagement, but they are not leading and what they are doing is not engagement. Engagement is a natural outcome of effective leadership and is immensely important. Someone who is engaged experiences greater personal satisfaction and typically contributes significantly more than someone who isn’t engaged. Engagement is a win-win for employees and the organizations in which they work.

TMB: A study says that 64% of all employees who quit their jobs didn’t feel recognized for their work. Should we worry?

Susan: This isn’t surprising. It simply reinforces the importance of engagement when it comes to retention. What is alarming are the statistics that indicate 2/3 of people in their current jobs are disengaged. We need to be careful not to blame the “big bad organizations” for this though. Individuals need to take responsibility for their own engagement in their work. Could it be the 64% in the study you reference are actually people taking responsibility for their own engagement?

TMB: Can you give me five simple ideas any leader of any company can use to can motivate his/her staff?

1. Talk to people about why they matter and why their work matters.
2. Give assignments that cause people to stretch and grow.
3. Engage people in meaningful conversations about your vision/your organizations vision for the future.
4. Run great meetings – the kind people would say made a difference and contributed to meaningful progress.
5. Get to know who people are, not just what they do.

TMB: Traditional annual performance reviews vs continuous feedback? Who wins your heart?

Susan: I think both are important. Annual performance reviews, when done well, are an opportunity to honorably complete the past year, and set the stage for the year to come. Feedback along the way is also essential to growth, development, and progress, as well as creates the foundation for trust in your relationship. Provide continuous feedback and an annual performance appraisal will be a conversation that matters, not to mention easy to write/prepare for, rather than a painful, necessary evil that makes no difference.

TMB: Is public recognition really so much better than money when it comes to staff motivation? And in the long run?

Susan: I don’t think one is better than the other. The point of recognition is to create an experience of being appreciated. To accomplish that you need to first understand what matters to the individual. It’s never just one thing that creates an experience of appreciation. And whatever strategies you use for appreciating people, make sure the reward or acknowledgement is delivered in a way that leaves the individual experiencing being known and appreciated for who they are and what they contribute.

TMB: If I ask you what’s the worst approach to motivating and rewarding employees you’ve ever heard or seen (even if the intentions were good), what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?

Susan: Firing people and using it to instill fear in those remaining so they do what is asked and don’t “make waves” especially when there are legitimate concerns. The worst part in the situation that came to mind was the person in charge believed this was how you motivated people because to them motivation equaled control. Unfortunately bullying is still used by some as a motivational strategy.

Our many thanks to Susan for her time and awesome insights. You can find her here: 

If you want to know more about Tap My Back, an employee engagement software, you can visit us and try it for free here.