Employee Engagement at the DMV

June 1, 2015 by

Morgan with Driver's PermitThe other day my 15-year old daughter Morgan asked me excitedly, “Dad, can you take me to the DMV to get my driver’s permit?” On the way there, I told her that, without a doubt, this would be her most exciting visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and that it would “all go downhill from here.” I shared my impression of the DMV, which consisted of waiting in long lines, following bureaucratic rules, and experiencing a fair amount of confusion in what you need to do or bring to get the documents you need. This was certainly what I expected to experience that day.

Was I ever wrong and in for a surprise! Four central signs of engagement stood out the most at the facility.

1. They were well-managed. As all best-in-class organizations know, the manager is the lynchpin to employee engagement. At this particular DMV, we were actually met at the door by a smiling, positive, manager who immediately asked how she could help us. While we were waiting, I watched her interactions with the employees she managed, and was impressed to see her use of two of the most effective means of driving engagement: 1. She recognized employees’ efforts and a job well done, saying “nice job!” and “keep up the good work!” and 2. She played her part in keeping things “fun,” sprinkling smiles and laughter throughout the facility.
2. They were well-organized. Almost like a hospital emergency room department, there was a clear triage or pathway at the entrance, making it easy for the customer to find the correct line and/ or “window,” thereby making the visit as short as possible.
3. They clearly communicated. I was amazed at how clear the signage was in the facility compared to what I had experienced in the past, again, making it easy and efficient for its customers.
4. They acted on feedback. Long the butt of many jokes on late night talk shows, for years the DMV has had a sordid and negative reputation. Based upon my experience during this visit, I can tell that the people managing this DMV were not only open to receiving feedback, but most importantly, acted on it. Great organizations do just that, regularly inviting employee and customer feedback through surveys and focus groups.

I am sure many of you thought the title of this blog was an oxymoron. Before you pre-judge your next visit to the DMV, be careful not to “judge a book by its cover” or solely by your past experiences. While you still may doubt whether most DMV employees are passionate about what they do, and prideful about where they work (what I have always called the two Ps of engagement), you might be pleasantly surprised at the changing and improved culture during your next visit to the DMV.



Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Email: kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com