November 2010

I read an interesting review on a blog about employee engagement and five ways to influence it. I liked the fact that the author re-visited the meaning of the term employee engagement, as this helps us to comprehend other questions or challenges that arise in this field. Here is a summary of what I have learned from this blog post.

In order to accomplish the organizational objectives, it is essential that employees feel engaged in the organization; however, it is often a challenge. The author gives us five meanings of employee engagement which she has received from other HR and business colleagues.

–          When an employee feels valued for what she/he does

–          When a Supervisor shows that she/he is committed to the development of the employee

–          When an employee is appreciated for excellent work done for something that is not a part of her/her job

–          According to Lisa Rosendhal it meant, “people choosing to come to work and give it their best.”

–          According to Paul Hebert views it was, “the PROACTIVE application of the knowledge, skills, and abilities,” of the employees.”

Another blogger also commented on the importance of making employees feel that they are an integral part of the organization’s mission. This feeling would increase the importance of their work; spark passion for their job and thereby increase employee engagement. In addition to this, one of the comments also highlighted the relevance of ‘employee recognition programs’ that encourage employee engagement.

The five ways in which employee engagement can be encouraged are as follows:

–          An environment where innovation is encouraged

–          Challenging or stretch assignments are given to the employees

–          People are recognized for their work daily

–          Making employees feel connected to the mission of the organization

–          Being honest and interacting with integrity in the organization.

The author also tells us that employee engagement should not be reduced to an annual survey, but should be an ongoing cycle in the organization.




Blog Post:

Image Source: My Own

Free Clipart:


I came across The Iceberg Model of Workplace Dynamics while I was reading the ‘Unfolding Leadership’ blog by Dan Oestreich.   Here is a summary of my learning of the model.

The Iceberg Model of Workplace Dynamics which was developed by Stanley N. Herman of TRW Systems in 1970.












The model is divided into two halves and helps us understand workplace dynamics or organizational culture. The upper half represents the visible or formal aspects of an organization such as systems, structures, policies, technologies of an organization. The lower half below the water line represents the hidden or informal aspects of an organization such as attitudes, beliefs, values, and perceptions etc. which stand for the real world interactions from which an organization is also made of.

The author very much emphasizes on the importance of having a balance between these two aspects of organizational culture. In an over-managed organization where the upper half dominates the lower half there are problems of paper bureaucracies, systems, a policy for everything and a parent-child management.

In contrast, in an over led organization; people ignore the water-line and try to succeed solely on effective relationships, intelligence or entrepreneurial spirit. In doing so, they also overlook the systems and processes of the organization.  None of the two scenarios in their extremes are effective for an organization.

In an organization the formal and the informal aspects both need each other.  And as the author so well wrote it, “Order and opportunism, policy and good judgment, goals and passions, strategic plans and a sense of belonging – head to heart”.

In conclusion, he says that when the alignment between the two halves is there, people in an organization perform. I encourage you to read this post and explore the blog, as the author highlights an example from his personal experience.



2. Image:

The two models are namely; The Iceberg Model of Culture and The Iceberg Model of Workplace Dynamics.

The more I hear and read about diversity issues; the more I realize how essential it is to know and understand the basics of culture. Moreover, I have had the opportunity to work & have friends from different cultures and our mutual exploration of ideas, thoughts & feelings have enriched me with new perspectives in life, new talents and increased empathy.

Here are some of the basic concepts of Culture that are important to understand:

A. Definition Culture

1. What is Culture?

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another.” – Geert Hofstede

“Culture is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society. Culture refers to the total way of life for a particular group of people. It includes everything that a group of people thinks, says, does and makes its customs, language, material artifacts and shared systems of attitudes and feelings.  Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation.” – Robert Kohls

B. The Iceberg Model of Culture by

2. The Iceberg Model of Culture

There are some elements of culture that are more easily spotted and some elements which need time to understand and realize. The Iceberg Model of culture helps us understand these visible and invisible elements of culture.

Visible elements at the tip of the iceberg represent behaviors or aspects of a society which are apparent when we first get into a new culture.  Examples: dress, art, law, language, cooking etc.

Invisible elements (also known as the foundation) represent the beliefs, values, thought patterns and norms of a culture. These help us better understand the visible elements of a culture. Hence it is advised that you should spend more time with people from the new culture. This shall enable you to understand their values and belief systems and thus, better comprehend the behavior of the society.

The author also cautions us not to judge the society/ culture based explicitly on what you see when you first enter it. As mentioned earlier, you should interact with people & understand their value and behavior systems (invisible elements) to get a clear picture of all that is seen.

Let us take a look at our second model in our next post:




3. Image: