Infographic: 13 Terms Every HR Manager Should Know

Download the PDF of this infographic

Whether you are new to the world of Human Resources or a seasoned veteran, here are 13 terms every HR Manager should add to their tool belt.

  1. Culture: a set of values, norms, beliefs, and understandings that is shared by members of an organization and is taught to new members as the way to feel, think, and behave.
  2. Tool/Lever: A technique, activity, or approach within a model to achieve a desired result.
  3. Artifact: An object that explains or provides information about a culture.
  4. Model: An approach, framework, or methodology for understanding or changing culture in order to improve the experience (Organizational Development), which then leads to employee engagement.
  5. Survey/Listening Device: A research activity designed to measure or ascertain an aspect of the experience.
  6. Survey item/question: the most granular level of listening; a query to measure a small segment of the experience.
  7. Behaviors: Observable actions/activities that demonstrate (or signify) a person’s or an organization’s level of attainment within a Competency.
  8. Employee Engagement: The employee’s emotional response to their employee experience.
  9. Leadership: Individual or organization-wide decision-making that addresses VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity)
  10. Competency: Mastery of a concept (theme or leadership area) by the effective application and use of KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities).
  11. Structural Devices: A defined and preconceived organizational process or system that helps develop or maintain an organization-based competency or individual competency within the larger culture.
  12. Theme: A codified abstraction that describes a particular area within a culture that can be understood from person to person and from organization to organization.
  13. Analytics: The application of data science principles to enhance our understanding of the experience and to reduce noise, complexity, and ambiguity.
  • Key metrics are combined data points to provide greater clarity
  • An Index is a composite metric (compound measure – multiple metrics added together).
  • AI/Machine Learning/Statistical methods are advanced tools used in analytics.
Employee Engagement Survey

Leverage Your Circle of Influence to Improve Employee Engagement

Cross-department collaboration

The concept of the Circle of Influence was made popular in Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, released in 1989. In the chapter describing the first habit, Be Proactive, he explains how people respond differently to factors that are in their Circle of Concern, Influence, and Control.

Many people tend to think of factors that are either within or outside their control. The Circle of Influence provides a third important alternative to help expand our impact, especially as it relates to employee engagement.

Your circle of influence
  • Circle of Concern: Reactive people tend to get distracted by things that are outside their direct control, or Circle of Concern. These are things like the weather, a pandemic, or the economy.
  • Circle of Influence: Proactive people focus their efforts on things they can potentially impact in their Circle of Influence. These are things like work procedures, perceptions of others, and the foods their children eat.
  • Circle of Control: These are things that can be controlled directly like personal work performance, how managers schedule their employees, and the food we eat.

The idea is to spend more time focused on things in the Circles of Control and Influence and less time worried about the Circle of Concern. Additionally, by pulling some items over from the Circle of Concern into the Circle of Influence, we are likely to have a greater impact.

Locus of Control

Covey’s ideas expand on the concept of Locus of Control developed by American psychologist, Julian Rotter, in 1954. Rotter argued that those with an internal locus of control believe they have more power over the outcomes in their lives based on their decisions and actions. They view getting an A on a test a result of their hard work and study. People that have a strong sense of internal locus of control tend to be more proactive and focused on their circles of Control and Influence.

Those with an external locus of control feel that they are at the mercy of outside factors. They attribute failing a test to poor instruction from the teacher or bad test design. People with an external locus of control are more reactive and focused on their Circle of Concern (external factors).

Team Exercise to Reduce Stress and Increase Confidence

Managers can use this model of Control, Influence, and Concern with their teams to problem-solve and prioritize work. For example, if the team is experiencing high workload or navigating a complicated change, sorting their concerns into the three circles helps to reduce stress and increase confidence. The exercise involves having each team member write their ideas and concerns on separate sticky notes. After discussing each idea, the team decides together where to place the notes in each of the three circles: Control, Influence, and Concern.

This exercise’s purpose is to empower the team by helping them realize they have more control or influence over their concerns than previously thought. Maybe a concern is outside their control, but they discover new ways to influence it. Those on the team with a stronger internal locus of control can help those with an external locus of control see more possibilities. The act of identifying team concerns, describing them, and organizing them helps to decrease the stress these concerns cause and creates an actionable path forward.

A Manager’s Circle of Influence on Employee Engagement

DecisionWise research shows that managers have a strong influence, maybe the most important external influence, on their team’s engagement. In the largest study of its kind, we reviewed employee survey results from 22 companies comparing the engagement levels of 2,300 managers to the their team’s engagement (18,913 rank-and-file employees).

We first measured the overall level of engagement for each individual using a set of research-based anchor questions from their annual employee survey. We then grouped managers and employees according to their level of engagement into four categories: Fully Engaged, Key Contributors, Opportunity Group, and Fully Disengaged. Then we compared the engagement level of managers to the employees they lead.

a graph of how your circle of influence leads to engagement in the workplace
  • The first group shows the team profile for 808 Fully Engaged managers. We found that 36% of their employees were also Fully Engaged, 48% were Key Contributors, 12% were in the Opportunity Group, and only 3% were Fully Disengaged.
  • For the second group of 1,154 Key Contributor managers, the level of fully engaged employees drops to 24%. That’s a 33% difference compared to the fully engaged managers.
  • For the last two categories of Opportunity Group and Fully Disengaged managers, only 14% of their employees were fully engaged.

The research shows that fully engaged managers are more likely to lead more engaged employees. More importantly, the percentage of fully engaged employees decreases 61% from Fully Engaged managers to managers in the Opportunity Group and Fully Disengaged categories.

Several questions arise from our research, including the following. Do more engaged managers put off a more positive vibe that is contagious to their employees? Or do more engaged managers practice more engaging behaviors that influence their teams? Our data set does not provide direct answers to these questions, but it shows that the personal engagement of managers does not solely reside in the Circle of Control. It indicates that a manager’s personal engagement expands into the Circle of Influence, even if they are not aware of it.

Engagement MAGIC Elements and the Circles of Influence

Now let us take this a few steps further. DecisionWise research shows that there are five related elements of employee engagement. These elements are: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection. We can think of these as cultural nutrients. When we see high levels of engagement, we find these nutrients to be present, helping to promote strong employee experiences.

Managers have an influence on these nutrients more than others. Let us examine the amount of influence managers have in each of these areas and the behaviors they can promote and use to expand their influence.

Where the MAGIC elements fit into your circle of influence


Employees experience meaning when their work has purpose beyond the job itself. Since meaning is determined personally, managers do not have direct control over how it is experienced by their employees. Yet, managers can help employees see how their work is meaningful. For that reason, we place Meaning on the edge of a manager’s Circle of Influence.

Here are some things a manager can do to help employees find meaning:

  • Include company values in team discussions.
  • Help to align personal values of employees with the mission of the organization.
  • Share the vision of the company in a way that is accessible to all.
  • Set goals and objectives that challenge and excite the team.


When employees have the power to shape their work and environment in ways that allow them to perform their best, they experience the autonomy element. Managers have direct control over how much autonomy employees have in their work. To increase autonomy, managers should:

  • Delegate both routine and critical tasks.
  • Allow subordinates to own and complete their work.
  • Hold people accountable for results.
  • Empower others with the resources and authority they need to succeed.


Employees grow when they are stretched and challenged in ways that result in personal and professional progress. This nutrient straddles the circles of Control and Influence. For example, if an employee is not proficient in their role, a manager might require they attend training to develop the needed skills (Circle of Control). Other employees may be happy at their current skill level and have no desire to increase their capacity. Managers can then use their influence to promote strong behaviors.

Growth promoting leadership behaviors include:  

  • Provide candid feedback to others in a way that facilitates improvement.
  • Hold frequent development conversations with direct reports.
  • Seek to understand the career development goals of team members.
  • Provide challenging tasks and stretch assignments to team members.


Employees feel that they have an impact when they see positive and worthwhile results from the work they do. Managers play a role in the amount of impact employees feel from their work. Managers can increase the sense of impact for their employees in several ways:

  • Regularly recognize and show appreciation for the contributions of others.
  • Use accurate and consistent measures for success.
  • Set high standards of excellence for serving customers.
  • Help others understand how their work contributes to the organization’s success.


When employees feel a sense of belonging to something beyond themselves at work, they feel more connected to their teammates, boss, and the organization. Managers can cultivate a stronger sense of connection for their employees by focusing on these behaviors:

  • Understand and show sensitivity to the feelings of others.
  • Show concern for the well-being of team members.
  • Facilitate activities that create openness and cooperation.
  • Promote a culture where all team members feel safe to contribute.

Challenge: Expand Your Circle of Influence

People tend to view their world in binary terms- things are within or outside their control. They create a small Circle of Control and become discouraged by the mountain of things they place in their large Circle of Concern. This lessens their influence and creates a sense of helplessness.

Managers can use the Circle of Influence model to help themselves and their employees uncover ways to relieve stress, take more ownership, and have a more positive impact in their relationships and organizations. The next time someone expresses frustration due to factors outside their control, listen to their concerns and then try helping them think of the many areas they can influence.

“Leadership is influence. If people can increase their influence with others, they can lead more effectively.”

—John Maxwell

Webinar: 360 Feedback Coaching Best Practices in 2021

Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Time: 1:00 pm Eastern / 10:00 am Pacific

Presenters:  Dave Long, Christian Nielson

Cost: Complimentary, with free registration

During this webinar, we’ll share the best methods for debriefing and coaching from the results of a 360-degree feedback survey. HR professionals will learn how to coach individuals, interpret individual and group reports, and guide the development planning and follow-up with participants.

This webinar qualifies for SHRM and HRCI credit.

Podcast: Including Voice of the Employee in Returning to Work

In this insightful conversation, Dr. Tracy Maylett, and Matthew Wride discuss key employee experience concepts to consider when bringing your workforce back to the office. They touch on how to use employee feedback to give front-line managers the data insights they need to manage a successful transition.

As we are returning to work, there are several factors to consider:

  • What are your employees’ individual needs?
  • Have any moved to a different location that may require continued WFH?
  • What is the best way to communicate the changes?
  • How can you measure their response?

Learn about these topics and more in this week’s podcast!

DecisionWise Awarded Judge’s Choice 2021 Achievement in Customer Excellence Award

16th Annual ACE Awards Recognize Outstanding Customer Experience Programs and Performance

SPRINGVILLE, UTAH, USA — June 1, 2021 – DecisionWise, an employee experience firm, has been awarded a 2021 Judge’s Choice Confirmit ACE (Achievement in Customer Excellence) Award in the Employee Experience category. This award recognizes DecisionWise’s outstanding dedication and success in measuring, understanding, and acting on employee feedback to ensure employees feel connected to the organization and want to engage.

Confirmit, now a Forsta brand, has hosted the renowned ACE Awards since 2005 and every year recognizes some of its most innovative customers. The awards program honors clients dedicated to achieving universal customer excellence and who have demonstrated tangible business improvements as a result. As a recipient of an ACE Award, DecisionWise has proven its commitment to their customers by continually evolving its customer experience program to gather better insights and fuel smarter, faster action. DecisionWise earned the ACE Award based on its Employee Lifecycle Suite of products.

“Receiving a 2021 ACE Award is a real honor, and it acknowledges our mission to help our clients make data-driven decisions,” said Matthew Wride, President, DecisionWise. “By working with Confirmit, now part of the Forsta brand, we’ve been able to build a world-class set of tools that provide insights that help our clients make work better. This ACE Award serves as a recognition of our hard work and encouragement as we strive to help our clients.”

“We are thrilled to recognize DecisionWise as a 2021 ACE Award winner and to acknowledge their application of customer experience best practices that deliver outstanding business performance,” said Kyle Ferguson, CEO of Forsta. “DecisionWise’s program demonstrates their commitment to leveraging the power of understanding and transforming insights into action.”

In March 2021, leading research technology companies Confirmit and FocusVision merged and the company’s new brand, Forsta, was announced in April 2021.

For a full list of the 2021 ACE Award winners, please visit the ACE Awards website. For more information about DecisionWise and Employee Experience solutions please visit

About ACE Awards

The ACE (Achievement in Customer Excellence) Awards program was established in 2005 to recognize outstanding achievement in customer excellence. Receiving an ACE Award is a distinct honor that demonstrates both rigorous application of customer and employee experience processes and outstanding performance as measured by those processes. All Forsta customers are eligible for ACE Awards for their company, business units, or segments of a business. To be eligible for a 2021 ACE Award, organizations must have conducted one or more VoC or EX surveys between January 1 and December 31, 2020. For more information on awards criteria, visit

About DecisionWise

DecisionWise is an employee experience consulting firm specializing in leadership and organization development using assessments, feedback, coaching and training. DecisionWise services include employee engagement surveys, 360-degree feedback, employee life cycle (ELC) surveys, leadership coaching, and organization development. DecisionWise was founded in 1996 and is privately held. With area offices in the United States and Brazil, and associates in six other locations throughout the world, DecisionWise operates in over 70 countries and conducts surveys in over 30 languages. For more info, visit:

About Confirmit, a Forsta Brand

Confirmit’s solutions are built by insights professionals, for insights professionals. Market Research, customer experience and employee engagement consultants around the world rely on our solutions to turn insight into stories that fuel action. The heart of our business is the people behind our technology, and we work as a partner to deliver the flexibility and power you need to understand and manage experiences, emotions, and behaviors so you’re always one step ahead.