Experience is the New Engagement

I’m a late starter.

I began drinking coffee at age 50, mainly because my experience to date had been delivering countless cups of home-brewed Nescafé and toasted sandwiches over many years to my parents on the front porch and, quite frankly, it didn’t look all that appealing.

In recent years I had become known for drinking Green Tea (with dark chocolate on the side – see my GREEN TEA AND DARK CHOCOLATE blog). I began drinking Green Tea because the experience of sitting with friends in a coffee shop and drinking water was no longer doing it for me, and because my naturopath told me it was full of anti-oxidants and apparently that’s good.

I was privileged to have my first coffee delivered to me in the Di Bella Boardroom, by my colleague, friend and great coach, Gian Di Bella. It blew my head off so I’ve toned my preferred brew down.  I now order a ‘Michelleuccino’ – skinny cappuccino in a mug, extra chocolate on top. This special combination does a couple of things: satisfies my chocolate addiction; controls the calories (yes it does!); tells me something about the person/establishment serving me – do they listen and are they flexible and accommodating; and it often enhances the experience for me – I get my coffee delivered with a smile and a comment like ‘skinny cap for the lady with EXTRA CHOC on top!’

I love it. I feel special. I go back for more.

Great experience seems to be sadly lacking. Having said that, a great experience not only stays with me, I talk about it, pay it forward, and develop loyalties through it. All things being equal (or not) ie, the quality of the coffee, I will frequent the coffee shop with the better experience.

We buy, and buy-in to great experience and that includes the experience that organisations provide their clients, and for you as a leader, it must also include the people who provide the experience for the client, your people.

We’ve spent decades mastering the collection and analysis of data and information. That’s great but it’s no longer enough.

The challenges of employee engagement are distraction, elevated expectations, personal goals and desires, and wanting to feel part of something of value and that they respect.  Particularly for the younger generations, it is not uncommon for them to leave your employ ‘because I didn’t like working there’. They seek alignment with values and great experiences.


How do your colleagues/team experience you?

Do you make them feel valued and respected? Do you give them dedicated time, and more importantly during that time are you totally present and focusing 100% on them?

What is the experience of a conversation with you?

Are you a teller? Is your opinion and expertise the most valuable input to the discussion, or do you ask great questions to help them think things through and experience the joy of resolving issues on their own?  Perhaps you have to admit that you like the sound of your own voice and you’re addicted to being right?*

What are meetings with you like?

Are they productive or stagnant wastes of time? Do you provide the agenda, or do you check in on the needs of each individual and dig to make sure that what they say is really what they need? Do they truly feel heard and gain value from attending – or is it just you? Are they giving lip service to your perceived needs because you are the boss?

How do you experience others?

Do you seek to elevate them, to dig deep to find and facilitate their ‘awesome’?  Do you accept them for the unique combination of strengths and weaknesses that they are, and work to help them be successful? Are you open to being challenged or disagreed with, even if they are not elegant in that endeavour?

And most importantly…how do you know the answers to these questions?  Have you ever asked?

What is your next question?

(*’Addicted to Being Right’ – wonderful words from Judith Glaser – Author of Conversational Intelligence)


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