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The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If
They're Real People

Stephan Vincent and Rodd Wagner Talk About the Employee Experience


What’s wrong with calling employees a company’s greatest asset? How is reciprocity at the heart of the contract between employers and employees? What are the 12 aspects most important to unleashing employee performance? And what is the future of happiness on the job?

I recently joined eX Podcast host Stephan Vincent to talk about these topics. Stephan and I met when we both spoke last fall at the eX Summit in the Twin Cities. The conversation continued during a group dinner that evening and continued further during our interview, which is now available here:

Our conversation was wide-ranging, from companies getting the engagement they deserve to the symbolism of Maine lobster. Among the cool aspects of Stephan’s podcast is that he takes the tools and perspectives traditionally used for keeping customers connected and imagines them deployed for the benefit of employees. In these days when too many leaders blame the employees if they’re not sufficiently “engaged,” an “employee experience” view is fresh air.

I recommend you not only catch this latest episode, but subscribe to the whole podcast.

Index to Articles by Rodd Wagner


The response since Widgets was published has been overwhelming, with coverage or guest columns in many of the major business media. The stories, columns, radio interviews, and podcasts have multiplied to the point that we decided it’s time for an index, which will be kept here in the second position on the blog and updated as new items appear.

Behavioral Economics

The Doughnut Dilemma: What the Office Pastry Teaches About Behavioral Economics – Forbes; June 2, 2017.

Want A Great Meeting? First, Get ‘More Bananas’ – Forbes; October 31, 2016

“Best friend at work” questions

Best Friends At Work? With Or Without Benefits, It’s None Of The Company’s Business – Forbes; February 14, 2017.

Stop Using Employee Friendships to Measure EngagementHarvard Business Review; August 7, 2015.

CEO effect on employee motivation

What To Do If Your Company Has A Chief Predatory Officer – Forbes; October 14, 2016.

The 10 Warped Lessons From Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – Forbes; September 8, 2016.

The Seven Lessons Of Marissa Mayer’s Loss of Command at Yahoo – Forbes; March 8, 2016.

Finally, Evidence That CEO Character Hits The Bottom LineForbes; September 23, 2015.

It’s Not Just the Manager Who’s Responsible for Employee Motivation; It’s Also the CEOChief Executive; July 10, 2015.

Civility and sportsmanship

The Powerful Example Of A Young Hockey Player’s Handshake – Forbes, March 23, 2017.


Your Pay Is No One’s Business – Or Perhaps It’s Everyone’s – Forbes; August 24, 2016.

Why Meaningful Work Trumps MoneyFast Company; November 12, 2015.

The Science Behind How Pay Affects ProductivityFast Company; November 10, 2015.


Plummeting Sheep And The Tortoise Mind: John Cleese On ‘Liberating’ CreativityForbes; February 16, 2016.

“Crowdsourcing” performance reviews

The Crowd-Scorched Performance Review – BI WORLDWIDE white paper; February 25, 2014.

Customer experiences

Happy Employees Equal Happy Customers? Well, Yes, But It’s Complicated – Forbes; February 27, 2017.

Dogs at work

Who Let’s The Dogs In?Forbes; June 26, 2015.

Donald Trump

What To Do If Your Company Has A Chief Predatory Officer – Forbes; October 14, 2016.

Let’s Fire Him: Trump Is A Bad Poster Child For ExecutivesForbes; July 27, 2015.

Employee engagement

There Is No Employee Engagement ‘Crisis’ – Forbes; April 28, 2017.

‘Tell Me Lies’ – The Song One-Third Of Employees Now Hear – Forbes; June 27, 2016.

The Beatings Continue And Morale Fails To ImproveForbes; December 8, 2015.

Management Has to Start Playing By New Rules in Order to Engage Employees – Human Capital Institute podcast; December 8, 2015.

The End of ‘Employee Engagement?’Forbes; May 11, 2015.

“Mark Five to Survive!” Why Your Old-School Engagement Program Is Destroying Engagement –; April 8, 2015.

Get Me Out of This Bucket” –; January 9, 2015.

10 Reasons Not to Do an Employee Survey –; January 7, 2015.

Employee happiness

The Case for Happiness at Work Is Self-Evident; But There’s Also Evidence –; November 13, 2016

WorkHappier Explained in One Minute –; September 14, 2016.

Four Myths Most Bosses Believe About Employee Engagement – Fast Company; May 4, 2016.

The 12 Ingredients Of Working Happier (And Better)Forbes; January 28, 2016.

The Consultants’ Crusade Against HappinessForbes; May 22, 2015.

There’s no reason employees can’t be both engaged and happySmart Blog on Leadership; July 1, 2015.

How to Create the Ultimate Employee Experience – 33voices podcast; May 1, 2015.

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Your Own Engagement –; January 13, 2015.

Employee value proposition

Stephan Vincent and Rodd Wagner Talk About the Employee Experience – eX Podcast; January 1, 2018.

Now More Than Ever, Employees Want to Know: Is There a Second Marshmallow? – Forbes; June 7, 2017.

The Doughnut Dilemma: What the Office Pastry Teaches About Behavioral Economics – Forbes; June 2, 2017.

The Most Important Question About Your Employer Goes To Its Heart – Forbes; January 30, 2017.

An ‘Employee Value Proposition’ Mindset Just Might Fix Employee Engagement – Forbes; January 23, 2017.

Employer branding

Would You Have Socks With Your Company?Forbes; November 17, 2016.


How To Make Friday The Most Productive Day Of The WeekFast Company; April 17, 2015.


The Injustice of Making Someone a ‘Ghost’ – Forbes; March 8, 2017.


Seven Steps For Gathering Job Intelligence Through Opaque GlassdoorForbes; December 19, 2015.

Great Managers

A Bad Luau, Good Lobster, and Leadership Lessons from Maine – Forbes; June 29, 2016.


From Chiat To Hsieh: Pulling The Little Red Wagon Of The CEO’s Goofy IdeaForbes; June 1, 2015.


Why Do Employees Think They’re Special? Blame Your SelfieForbes; October 8, 2015.

Ice Cream And Individualism: Leadership Lessons From A U.S. Navy SubmarineForbes; June 8, 2015.


‘Thank You For Laying Me Off,’ Said Almost No OneForbes; May 18, 2016.

Management By Walking Around

The 17 Pokémonagement Characters In Every OfficeForbes; July 22, 2016.

Mergers and Employee Happiness

Doing a Merger? It’s Going to Hurt—a Lot! – SHRM HR People and Strategy blog, September 20, 2016.

Non-competition agreements

Changing Jobs ‘Freaky Fast': Seven Ways Companies Need To Learn To Let Go – Forbes; June 13, 2016.

Overtime and paid leave

Don’t Kid Yourself; All Leave Is LimitedForbes; August 13, 2015.

The 41st Hour Should Be ExpensiveForbes; July 21, 2015.

Predictive analytics

Your boss may be spying on you (and you might welcome it)USA Today; January 20, 2016.


The Injustice of Making Someone a ‘Ghost’ – Forbes; March 8, 2017.

The Junk Science Of Recognition By Ratio – Forbes; July 13, 2016.

The High Cost of Cash Rewards – HRM Canada; July 13, 2016.

Why You May Need An ‘Employee Of The Month’ – Forbes; March 30, 2016.

How To Paste A Professor To The Wall: A Lesson In RecognitionForbes; February 24, 2016.

Why Your Caveman Boss Struggles To Say ‘Thank You’Forbes; November 21, 2015.

Praise And Trout: What I Learned Fly-Fishing With CharlieForbes; October 24, 2015.

Quiet Praise to Keep Employees Captive –; January 8, 2015.


What Your New Rules Index Says About Whether Your Should Quit –; January 26, 2015.

Safety in the Workplace

The Last Slice of ‘Swiss Cheese': How Company Culture Saves Lives or Gets People Killed – Forbes; May 25, 2017.


The Not-So-Sweet 16 Reasons College Athletes Are Really Employees – Forbes; March 24, 2016.

Treating people as widgets

Rodd Wagner interviewed on “Getting to Yes, And . . .” – WGN Radio, April 18, 2017.

‘Undead’ Circuit City Won’t Rise If It Forgets What Killed It – Forbes; November 22, 2016.

Was Dan Lyons a ‘Widget’ at HubSpotForbes; April 27, 2016.

Twelve ways to treat your employees as humansThe Globe and Mail; May 24, 2015.

The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees Like Real PeopleInc.; May 5, 2015.

Feel like a widget? Blame “human resources”The Globe and Mail; May 4, 2015.

We Must Regain Our Humanity at Work –; April 15, 2015.

Driving Home the Wrong Point –; January 6, 2015.


We Are Leaving Too Many People Behind – Forbes; December 31, 2016.

Wellness programs

‘Cough Up Another Dollar, Chubby': The ‘Loss Aversion’ Mind Game Your Firm May Be Tempted To TryForbes; February 20, 2016.

Work-life balance

More Proof Work-Life Balance Can Be a Life-or-Death Issue – Forbes; July 26, 2017.

Drawing the Line in Your Notes Might Draw the Line in Your Life – Forbes; June 30, 2017.

Follow These Rules And You, Too, Can Collapse Like A President – Forbes; September 18, 2016.

The Optics and Reality of ‘Empathetic’ AmazonForbes; August 18, 2015.

Why Managers And Employees Have Wildly Different Ideas About Work-Life BalanceFast Company; February 5, 2015.

It’s Madness to Agonize Over “Productivity Lost” to the NCAA Tournament –; March 20, 2015.

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Widgets the Book

Widgets the Book

A leader’s blueprint. A manager’s guide. An employee’s benchmark.