Janeen Sonsie Employee Advocacy Expert

Meet Janeen Sonsie, founder of Get Real Communication. With several years of experience consulting to technology companies from Cisco and HP, all over Asia-Pacific, to even smaller companies in the midst of scaling their business – she is a truly original and highly sought after speaker in the space of employee advocacy.  She has even taken all of that insight and authored a book titled “Get the B.A.L.L.S to Get Real.”

“Get the B.A.L.L.S to Get Real.” is a great title. Let’s just say she likes to get to the point. Quickly. 🙂

What makes Janeen such a phenomenal coach in matters of employee engagement though is her dashes of humor and empathy. She uses these well considering she is often presenting to a company who might have brewing tensions or mounting stresses, related to communication, behind closed doors.  It’s her special way of getting fragmented thinking and teams on the same page, that inspires the human factor back into the picture for companies who might have lost it somewhere way back when.

Janeen offers riveting keynote speaking with pragmatic workshops and coaching  packages that help you target the root of your employee engagement problems; from sales, to leadership, to emotional intelligence.  So, now, without further adieu let’s dive into the interview!

What is one huge hurdle, problem or area that you help your clients with?

Helping them communicate in a way that is authentic to them and helps them engage with others positively. I help them understand how communication occurs and what affects it and the message we send and also receive. So the problem they are experiencing is they are not getting the right message across and their teams are not motivated and engaged, therefore productivity is lower than it should be.

Since you focus on helping companies harness the power of engaged employees, how does one know if we are leading a disengaged team? What are some tell-tale signs that an employee is disengaged?

It seems obvious but they stop engaging – in positive discussions, ideas generation, team cooperation and participation, in anything work related. They do the minimum possible as far as work goes and are easily distracted from work with socializing and personal activity. Taking increased numbers of unverified sick days (sickies as we call them in Australia) is a tell tale sign. They will often participate in negative discussions of complaining or rumor making. It is all about their energy and attitude and you will feel if it is positive, high and engaged or negative, low and disengaged.

What is it like knowing you are about to walk on stage or stand before a group of disengaged employees….? I can imagine there might be some resistance to start, sort of something you have to do to get them to wake-up and feel that something is going to dramatically change in the future….what’s it like in the first 5-10 minutes?

I do feel a little bit of nerves at the challenge of opening their minds to the possibility of what they can achieve for themselves and their teams when engaged and my first task is to engage with them myself by building rapport. The best way to do that is to illustrate my understanding of where they are at and what their challenges are. It’s about my own empathy, respect and lack of judgement of them.

So I ask questions, listen and share empathetic responses. That is critical for building any relationship. Those are the qualities a good leader needs to create engagement with their teams for themselves.

Usually I find that the employees aren’t disengaged by choice and, as long as they haven’t gone too far and need to leave, they still want to be engaged. I mean, who really wants to feel unhappy and unfulfilled every day at work? Life is too short to feel like that 5 days a week. Usually I find that the disengagement is a result of the poor quality of leadership, the culture created by the leaders and difficult systems and processes the teams have to use. The core issue is almost always poor communication or miscommunication coming down from the top.

They say that disengagement can be caused for a myriad of reasons, which do you notice are the top 3 reasons that employee’s disengage. *I’m thinking payment, poor leadership, micro-management, boredom, lack of access to experiences that allow them to evolve such as continued learning.

I think I have answered that question above in broad terms – poor communication creating a stressful culture. It is sometimes about being bored with what they are doing because they are not getting enough challenges and opportunities to grow, develop and progress themselves. They are not being communicated with to find out what motivates them to have an appropriate path provided for them and that is the source of the problem.

It is not usually the money that is the real issue, but recognition and feeling appreciated and valued as a team member. That is more important to people than money. Again, that requires good communication skills. People want to feel needed, appreciated and valued for what they have to offer and deliver. They also want a growth path that is aligned with the values and objectives of the company i.e. to know they play an important role in the team. To achieve this, the leaders need to be effective and authentic communicators. So lack of, poor and miscommunication are the top 3 reasons.

Is your product only for companies struggling or is it also beneficial for companies in a good place….?

It is for any company and team who wants to increase productivity, improve relationships and have more fun at work and who doesn’t want to do that? We can always improve how we work by communicating more authentically and ramping up our energy. It helps us improve all relationships, both business and personal, so great communication helps at home as well. As a result, I work with leaders and organisations who want to improve the culture and increase productivity, although, there are usually some problems they want to fix that drives the need and value in such an investment into their people.

Are there any tax write-offs for training budgets? Is your product considered a training product? ( This can be off the record, but you might know what I mean – the employees can write off the expense of having your workshop or something like that.)

That depends on the local tax system but usually all training and coaching is a business expense that is tax deductible, even if you are the only person in your organisation. Their investment in working with me is a formal business expense. Even individual employees can engage a business coach or attend a workshop as professional development training and claim it as a tax deduction when they pay for it themselves.

Though you can’t say exactly whom you have worked with, what is the average company size that you have worked with?

That is a hard question, because I have worked with coaching individuals, with solo entrepreneurs and companies all the way through to large multi-nationals like Cisco and HP all over Asia-Pacific. These days the companies I work with most are medium sized service based organisations where I can work with the leader as well as the teams to help them improve their communication and change the culture to increase motivation and engagement. I also find that very often the leader of an organisation can feel quite lonely and unsupported. As they say, it’s lonely at the top. I work with these leaders one-on-one personally, providing the support they need to help overcome the challenges, as sort of a people mentor.

At what size of a company do you notice the most disengagement? Is there a trend?

The trend I see is the management of organisations feeling very stressed and pressured to achieve increasing objectives with less resources, and forgetting that it is the people in their team who will help them do that. Unfortunately, they treat the employees like commodities that aren’t valued. These managers get so caught up in their own stuff that they forget the people factor.

As our business world gets more and more pressured, this is occurring on a frighteningly increasing basis  too. It is not so much about the size of company, but more about the character and attitude of the leader, although I do find, the larger a company grows the more this loss of the people factor seems to occur. The problem then also plays out in the customer relationships because customers are people too, and how employees relate on the inside directly affects how they relate externally.

Internal relationship problems result in external relationship issues with customers in customer service.

Do you ever stay in touch or feel that some companies need to have you come in on a regular basis to continue to work through issues…so for instance, the first time you come in it’s deep. Then 3 months of chaos could go by for a company and all the ideas / feelings of stress are back… perhaps there is a program that you have that ensures that you come in on multiple occasions to jazz everyone up.

Within 2 weeks of a training session/workshop, 80% of what was learned will be forgotten unless there is ongoing behavior change reinforcement. So, I always recommend that training is followed up with group coaching and individual coaching for the leaders. We are talking cultural change in the organisation and that doesn’t happen overnight or after 1 workshop. Also, the problems are usually varied and the learning required covers a broad spectrum and going deep into what is occurring within the organisation. An ongoing program with at least 6 half day workshops and monthly reinforcement over 6 – 12 months is usually what has the greatest impact in delivering positive transformation in organisations to noticeably increase productivity and produce higher profits. I spend time with the leaders and teams, researching the issues and then compile a program that meets their specific needs the best.

What’s your favorite social media channel and why?

Well I do love Facebook … maybe a bit too much. I could be addicted to it and possibly spend a bit too much time on it. I love it for the people interaction, seeing what is going on in people’s lives, sharing positive messages and networking and getting to know people. That’s how I got to know you Corinne through Facebook by just watching what each other was up to and now we are working together. So it is more socially-oriented but business certainly comes out of it. For networking with businesses, I like LinkedIn to get my message out to my target audiences.

What is your favorite part about managing your business?

Flexibility with timing to work when I want and take time out when I feel like it. Also, being able to choose who I work with, including my clients. I like to work with clients I like.

What gets you out of bed every day?

Feeling like I make a difference in people’s lives and how they work. Also the buzz I get when people really value what I have delivered to them and get some life changing Aha’s. For me that feeds to my sense of purpose and fulfillment. When I feel that sense of purpose and value delivery, I am motivated and engaged to do whatever needs to be done.

What is your mantra or power word?

Wow, so many I use on a regular basis. The key one is accept where you are and what has happened, surrender to the flow of what is happening moving forward and let go of your expectations that it should be any different … whilst still taking actions towards your goals.

Also be true to yourself so that you feel in alignment with you.

How do you get into a good mood? Or what do you like to do in your spare time?

I think of really exciting things I have done or want to do and then go and do something like that. If I am feeling challenged and my energy is low, talking it out with good friends who will listen and provide support and feedback works for me. It helps me release the negative energy from feeling bad, and I do like talking. Exercising also helps that too. Dancing makes me feel good, listening to happy music, or eating gourmet food with good wine 😉 although the rich food and wine is not so good for my body though. Just sharing laughs with friends works a treat. And lastly, cuddles from my cat make me feel really good.


Through Get Real Communication, Janeen offers workshops, coaching and riveting public speaking packages that can help you target the root of your problems from sales, leadership to emotional intelligence. Or you can have her bring in workshops to energize teams to start moving in the right direction.

You can find Janeen Sonsie on Facebook (her favorite), Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

About the Authors:

This blog has been co-authored by Corinne Meier and Rohit Srivastava.

About Rohit Srivastava: Hello there! I am the Rohit Srivastava, founder of Guru Transfer.  Guru Transfer is the best place to transfer large files securely in one click. No registration needed. I’m usually found helping companies uncover huge cost-savings associated with cloud storage for businesses or exploring various new technology online.


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About Corinne Meier: Nice to e-meet you. My name is Corinne Meier. I am the CEO of MMG: Meier Marketing Global and I can always be found deep in the abyss of trends for all things digital, government, culture, and economy. I am hot on how micro-shifts in thinking lead to macro-shifts in behavior. I apply this collective wisdom when I counsel startups to Fortune 500 on how to stay relevant via MMG: Meier Marketing Global. If you prefer Twitter, please follow me there. I really look forward to connecting, please feel free to tag me in any items that you think are cool including #Writing, #ContentMarketing, #Communications, #Tech, or #GrowthHacking. Thank you so much for listening to my thoughts, please don’t forget to share your thoughts with me in the comments section below! ;0

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