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Observe to Learn About the Employee Engagement Problem


To understand current state so you can identify a specific problem to address first.

Primary Questions:

What is actually happening?

What are employees experiencing that leads to the problem?

Key Points:

Prepare to observe by identifying what to look and listen for

Reflect on the observation afterward to identify a specific problem to address first

Go and see what is actually happening. Observation creates first-hand knowledge and leads to insights you might not otherwise have.

For observation to be effective:

  • Know beforehand what to look and listen for. Identify the questions you need answered, and the phrases, behaviors, visuals, etc. that will help answer those questions about the problem.
  • Talk with the group of employees before the observation so they know why you are observing and how you will use the information to problem-solve.
  • Collect both quantitative and qualitative (or hard and soft) data, and note any standards or expectations you find in the workplace.

After observing, reflect on what you saw and heard. Compare reality to the standards or expectations to identify gaps.

  • Pinpoint a specific gap or problem that you want to address first.

When you've clarified a specific, measurable gap based on direct observation, you are ready to Analyze the gap to identify the root cause(s).


  • Avoid drawing any conclusions during the observation. Stay objective.
  • It may be difficult to observe your own workgroup unless the dynamics are right. Consider how you might gather observations from a third party to inform your problem-solving

Tools and Resources:

Back to Employee Engagement Problem Solving Guide overview and tools page

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