Creating a Culture of Peak-Performance

Listen to Jen Thornton share her perspective on the future of work-place communication, why psychological safety is becoming an important part of company cultures, and how to create trust and safety in your company.

0:00:05.1 S1: Welcome to the How to Build a Team podcast for business owners, entrepreneurs and coaches who want to learn how to build, manage a team and master the art of delegating to be the CEO of your own business. Who you truly are. Here is your host, Pam and David. Hi everyone, we’re live… So guys, welcome to how to build a team podcast live show. We have a very special guest today tonight, wherever you are, guys, and we are so happy to bring on an amazing guest to understand the culture of a company, so this is very… An interesting topic for us. Why don’t we introduce our guest, Jennifer has developed her expertise in talent strategy and leadership professional development over her exciting 20 plus year career as an HR professional. She led international teams across Greater China, Mexico, the UK and the US to expand into new markets, managing franchise retailers and developing key strategic partnerships all while exceeding business objectives and financial results. She lives in Texas with her family and rescues in her time, she enjoys reading historic reservation, remodeling her Lake home and spending time with friends. I got excited about that lake home.

0:01:51.9 S1: Alright, why don’t we bring on Jen. Thank you for being here on our show. How are you? I’m good, thank you so much for having me. Alright. Jen, I know I’ve said who you are, but lets hear it from you, what are doing… Where are you from? And we’re gonna talk about later about this lake home. Alright, sounds good. Well, so I’m based here in the US, grew up in the US, grew up in a really small town in middle America. And started my career very early on in retail, and I’ve always loved retail to tell, I won’t give away my age, but back before e-commerce when we all still hung out the mall and that was my favorite thing to do, and so I was gonna… That’s what I was gonna do. I was gonna hang out at the mall and sell clothes, and I did. And so the first half of my career was in operations, and the second half of my career was in HR. I knew I got my results different than everyone else. Most people were highly competitive and they wanted to be number one because they wanted to be on top, and I wasn’t that way, I wanted to have great results, but I really enjoyed it, I really enjoyed assembling teams and developing teams and getting teams going, and…

0:03:14.2 S1: So that’s why I made the move into Human Resources, so my take on talent is always very different because I come from an operation background, and so it’s all about how do we deploy people and create great teams to create great results. And the last part of my career before I went on my own, I worked internationally, which was incredible, I got to work all around the world and meet so many great people… It’s just so fun to watch, especially holidays, I love watching all the different holidays around the world pop up and see my friends from around the world celebrating him. And then several years ago, I thought, you know, I just wanna do what I wanna do full-time, and that’s helping companies really think about their talent strategy and how that support surface and strategy. So that’s how we got here today. Yeah, it’s so amazing because when I saw you and I read about out, I’m like, this is… Jen is the perfect guest on our show because obviously the title of our show is how to build the team, and you have the expertise on how to do that, but what do you think is the future of workplace communication now that we are in a crisis? Everything is at home, doing business online, so how do you see that future…

0:04:35.6 S1: Workplace communication. So I think there’s a lot to that. I think one of the things I look at where it’s going. I also look at current trends, and so where our current trends, I’m a little nervous about that it’s not gonna support where we’re going, and what I’m seeing is that at the beginning of 2020, we had to do a lot of crisis management, and rightfully so, you know crisis management is very… There’s no conversation, it’s highly direct Do, as I say, and it’s like the buildings on fire, leave the building. It’s simple, easy, and we had to do that at the beginning of 2020, we had to shut down our business is we had to work from home, we had to make really fast pivot decisions, but what I’m seeing is that we are continuing to crisis manage outside of the building being on fire outside of a true crisis because we’ve got into that habit, and that is really hard on our team because our teams are not engaged in conversations, our teams are not participating in the outcome or the road map, and when the team stop participating in the conversation, the leaders don’t have enough information to make really good decisions, and that’s what we need in the future, we need our teams highly engaged in the conversation, so that business leaders have all the facts they need to make great decisions because as leaders, you have to make decisions all day, every day, and you need that support of your team, so where we are and were we going…

0:06:06.1 S1: I’m a little concerned. There’s somewhat of a disconnect there. Yeah. What is it? I noticed because we are building a team, and we do have a remote team, we call it a removing because we’ve got people here in the Philippines, we’ve got people here overseas, other part of Europe and some other part in Asia, and there is a disconnect when you don’t have that solid communication with your team, and it’s very important with what you said, you have to be transparent and you kind of like… You have to bring them all together so that they know and understand your goal or your clients go… This is awesome. What is the psychological behind behind this… In my previous episode, I talked about how would you make your team members feel safe in your company, so why psychological safety becoming an important part of a company culture. So I’m so glad you asked that question. And right now, psychological safety has never been more important, and the way we were taught to lead or maybe some older generations of leadership, the way we have been spoken to instantly creates fear, and fear is just a chemical reaction in the mind that’s all it is to warn us that’s dangerous in like if you walk up to a ledge and you look over in your belly kind of flip flops, that’s a chemical reaction saying, Oh, don’t get so close, you could fall and get hurt.

0:07:55.5 S1: So fear at work is the same thing, it’s just a chemical reaction, but when we tell someone, Hey, you’re not meeting expectations, and I’m gonna get on to you until you get it right, well, you’re using… You’re putting someone in fear and their primitive brain takes over, and when our primitive brain is activated, our pre-frontal cortex closes down, and that’s where all the good stuff happens, that’s where new ideas happen, and that’s where we learn, and that’s where we collaborate and get innovative, and so our language alone creates fear and takes us away from what we’re actually asking for, and so when you think about creating psychological safety, there’s a lot of talk around emotional intelligence and being there for people, but really it’s about… And what I study is Conversation Intelligence, it’s about understanding the neuroscience of the mind, the chemical reaction of conversations, and how does that impact our results, and how does that impact our… How we work together, and that’s a big piece of it, but really it’s about rewriting a lot of the language we use when we build teams.

0:09:05.6 S2: Yeah, language is so important in… Especially, you are under no full times right now that people have gone from working face-to-face, not hanging around the water cooler, the casual office conversation, to being a lot of voice conversations, some video, and every time, every step you take away from the human interactions to face interaction to lose, and so much in that noise, a bit of my language, and when you go to this great voice calls, you lose all of the facial reactions and everything, and the choice of words is so important when you’re dealing with people, especially as a leader, as a manager, as a boss that has a… A company owner, people tend to be more concerned and listen to the words because they’re losing out on all about other Eduard cues, and I’ve spent a lot of my career working on the phones and you got no clue at all on body language and the fail reactions so you’re really trying to listen to what’s being said, and a lot of time listening to what’s not being an hour wire, people not reacting, when people who normally in face-to-face interaction are animated and happy and open, they’re shutting down, you’ve gotta figure out and realize it as happening and go back and try and find out what’s happened to change that person, why are they not behaving in their normal senses, it’s something that’s happened, are they not getting the support they need? So it’s new ground for a lot of people were…

0:10:49.2 S2: Ewe have employees all over the planet, different time zones, which adds to the complexity and talking to people when we’re wide away middle of our day and it’s LA LA initially. Morning when we’re trying to deal with some of our team, and we have to keep that in mind. That just because it’s 11 AM and I’ve had three kinds of coffee doesn’t mean in the person that is as alert in a week and engage as I am. So I really think that there needs to be a lot of attention to how people are feeling with all of the change that’s going on, not being able to have that easy interaction with people who are talking or head over the tuco or having oil water cooler. It’s much more challenging. Expanded.

0:11:36.8 S1: It’s interesting, I have… In my entire career, I’ve never managed a team locally, I’ve always had remote teams, and so I grew up through my leadership skills only dealing with remote team, so I think that when I had a remote team, when covid hit and I sell the remote team, but it is interesting to think about leading from afar because it is a really different skill set than just saying, Oh well, hey, jump in here and leaders, they get complacent when your team is all right there because you don’t have to think about, Oh, well, how am I gonna organize my day, how am I looking at how I’m fitting into someone else’s organization, their day, ’cause you’re just there, and then going remote as causing leaders to be a lot more intentional with that when they’re communication honestly, but two, how do they organize their time and how do they evaluate results? Because if everyone’s in their chairs, you’re evaluating results by how long someone sat in the chair… Well, that isn’t me. They’re productive. So remote, you have to get really clear on the work and how you reward people, there’s a lot of pieces that are really different when you work right now, Eaton, what it’s…

0:12:53.3 S1: When you had to have a remote team, and for those are friends who are listening right now and still on defense of whether am I… Is this effective if I hire somebody from across the world, will it be effective with the work still get done? Well, here we are, we telling you that it’s gonna work, it’s just a matter of how well you can communicate and how… And type of culture you wanna install in your company… I remember we were chatting offline, I shared with you in that I started 2009 in digital marketing and Project Management, back then in 2009, video thing isn’t as huge as now, I’m gonna have a meeting with a client over a Skype, there’s no zone, there’s no stream are yet, and we would jump on a call on Skype, and it’s just always audio voice call, and sometimes when Skype isn’t available, it’s always email or chat, I can’t remember if we used a chat platform or an app, there’s nothing yet, I think back then, it’s a project management tool and email and all of that, there’s no slack yet. What we already have now, and when you read an email, there’s no tone, you don’t see the facial reaction and you would sometimes you would assume that the client is mad because of the choice of words, and then I will polite and get nervous and I’ll be like, Did I do something wrong? Why does his email sound mag at me or something like that.

0:14:49.0 S1: And when I do get that feeling, I would instantly immediately call, reply and say, Hey, can we jump on a call so that we can I earn out? Or what are your expectation? Because I’m under the impression that this and that… So again, bottom line is, if there is some misunderstanding, there is frustration, there’s disappointment, the bottom line is always, have you communicated your goal or the instruction for whatever task or project well enough for the other person or for your VA to understand that. Alright, I’m not just gonna do this task, but because I do understand the goal… So here’s my suggestion, this is how I’m gonna do it. Will it be okay to you? So it’s really important for US business owners as a leader of your company, to really focus on how are you gonna motivate your team members, how will you be able to communicate to your team members your goal, the plan, the strategy, and all of that, so that you will get the outcome that you like or the outcome that you desire for whatever project you guys are working on, so that is very important. Thank you for that, gen.

0:16:22.4 S1: But how do you create trust? And safety in work, I think that is tough. It’s challenging when you have a remote team. You don’t get to meet them in person, or you can’t invite them to have coffee or team building into our resort, and a resort and go to a beach or something like that, to build that trust and engagement and really know each of your team members, but for you do, what do you think? How do you create this? So there’s a lot of pieces to it. If you think about remote specifically, I think that one of the things you wanna think about is what do you want that culture to be, and how do you define the word trust, because the three of us could all define it in a different way, so I think as a leader, you first have to define what trust means to you, and then that allows you to give language to that word, and then that language gives you the ability to create action on it. And so I think sometimes we just were like, we have to build trust, and how do I do that? And it’s really overwhelming.

0:17:34.0 S1: And so for me, what trust looks like is trust looks like honesty, I give my team the permission to say, I think that’s a really bad idea, and that’s okay for them to say that to me, and I’m like, Tell me more, and I’m really respectful that they are experts in their field and wanna hear their expertise, so that’s a piece of it. Then if part of your definition of trust is also allowing people to partner without your involvement, then you have to lead in that way, so that’s one of my things around what trust looks like, I trust the team to go and deal with things without involving me, and that they are going to make good decisions, and so what happens is if someone calls and says, Oh, you know, you know, I don’t know about this, I don’t know about that. Then I could fix it, or I could say, Well, me over here, she’s the one on that project, so why don’t you call me and the two of you think about it and work it out, and then let me know if you have any additional questions. But as leaders, we step in and we try to fix it and we try to take it on, but we don’t…

0:18:42.8 S1: Then what happens is you create this middle man and middle man doesn’t create trust, so I’m going to this person and back to that person, and so that’s the biggest key, is really defining what trust looks like for you in your organization, and then equating that to action so that you can lead in that way… Yeah, what is that saying? We always use this higher trust to you higher and along the line, Help me out a hippie EEE Eurostat as a leader, you have to create that transparency because basing my experience when a client just give a project and trust that I am the expert in that field, and that I can do the job well, the word is just amazing, the outcome is just amazing because you can feel… The client’s trust in you as a leader of your business. You also have to take part into that, how are you gonna be transparent, Hariri, so that your team member will perform well? Yeah, I know. Sometimes the team will come to me and they’ll say, Well, what do you think about this? And I always say, I don’t know, I’m not an expert in marketing, I’m not an expert in building the inflectional design, the actual design of our materials, I’m a content creator, I think about how to teach it, but then they make it come to life on paper through an visual design.

0:20:28.2 S1: And so I’m always… When they’re like, What do you… I don’t know, I don’t know. And I’m like, You’re the expert, if… What does your expert self say? Well, it says to do this, and I’m like, then that’s what we’re gonna do at. There’s fear, right? And so we’re in fear of making sure our boss that our boss likes it or our boss is happy with it, and if I don’t agree, then I can say that, and that’s fine, but probably 80% of the time, if I stop them and say, What is your expert, Brian, tell you is right. They know the right answer, but then I have to… But then then you get trust in themselves and the confidence in themselves, and then they start making better and older decisions, they get much bolder ’cause they recognize I’m going to trust

0:21:08.8 S2: That I’ve been… I don’t know if fortunate or unfortunate that I’ve worked for bosses or leaders, managers on both ends of the spectrum, I’ve had one that, this is your job, you’re responsible for all of this. Go and do it, but check in with me before you do anything, it’s like you’ve got all the responsibility but none of the authority in order to do it, and I’ve had other bosses, theater, true leaders, mentors who have said to me, You don’t… I hired you for a reason. Now, go and do what I hired you for. That whole trust thing. And he said, You’re going to make mistakes. And he said, I’ve got your back. He says, I will defend you to the end of the earth when you make a mistake, you said we might talk about it aswad and private about how you ended up at that decision or doing what you did, or not doing what you should have done. A says, we’ll talk about that, but he said, I will always defend you, and that was huge, that gave me the confidence to go out and make change and be prepared and willing, and not so afraid to make mistakes because I knew what my expectations were.

0:22:17.5 S2: I knew what better expectations were of me, and I could work free toward that without the fear of being micromanaged and having every little decision that I made question, because they knew that I was reaching for the overall goal and that’s the key. We try and do that in… And with our team is we hire experts in their fields, I have zero marketing background, I’m an operations behind the scene kind of person in my whole career, and we have a project manager that know how to put tags together, we have a regardless video advance, writers, all of this, We hire experts, and I have no choice but you trust them, but I think that makes me a client or a good leader for a lot of these teams is that I trust implicitly what they do because you can’t do it pays, they don’t need to check in with me every step along the way, they just need a layout with the expectations and wait for them to deliver that, and sometimes we have to have conversations about direction and how things went and why they want it that way, but it’s… I learned from that one mentor, he taught me to that confidence in what you do, because she as a leader was going to defend me and not tell me the task publicly for things that I made for me that’s gonna keep in careers ever since then is not it’s expected that you go forth and do it, and now you’re going to make the state.

0:23:48.2 S1: Failure is the opposite of innovation, and so often because fear, just some chemical reaction, it’s all it is, but that chemical reaction, fear of failure holds us back from innovation, and so as leaders, you have to find a way to release that fear, if you want someone to innovate, and so I talk about all the time, we have to get excited about our failures, now, if there are some failures that we’re not gonna get excited about, but in general, if you make a decision and you thought it was gonna go well and it falls on its face and fantastic, we now know what doesn’t work, right, and if it’d be like, What if you told someone how… But dare you get the marketing wrong in 2020, well, how would you have ever have known how to market 2020, right? When we were making our plans in 2019, none of that work this year, but when you get excited about failure and you get excited about learning from it, then what happens is your team is going to open up to more innovations, you’re gonna grow as a team, but then they’re also gonna get honest with you soon, or they’re gonna say, I don’t think this is going well, because they’re not in fear, they’re not trying to fix it behind the scenes, and you’ll also be able to guide their learning experience because they’re being open and honest and when it’s something celebrated and you’re talking about it collectively as a team, then they’re supporting that and other people are learning, another person might have a great idea, but as leaders, you need to get excited about failure, and I know it doesn’t sound quite right, but you really do, because it is releasing that break and allowing someone to fall actually creates innovation and actually creates growth in your organization.

0:25:34.4 S1: Yeah, exactly. Very well said, Jen. I have to ask you this, because the show is How To Be A to… And when I got an email, it was not actually you, and you mentioned you’ve got your remote team, I’ve got somebody who reached out to me, and if I remember it correctly, I’m sorry to you to your assistant, but her name is also Janet. Yeah, so you’ve got… Jen reached out to me, and that’s awesome, but as a business owner, how does having a team help to grow… Oh gosh, so many ways. It keeps me on my toes, it keeps me honest. It keeps me consistent, and they bring great ideas to me, and if I kind of worked in a vacuum, I would never grow, I would never become a better person, and… Jen, who reached out to you? She does some really great work. She manages all of our leadership academies too, and she’s always coming to his ideas, in fact, the other day she came to me with an idea, she’s like, You’re always talking about articles or books while you’re training, and she’s like… And I can see everyone writing them down, why don’t we create a resource guide? And I’ll put it all together, and so she came up with this great idea and I’m like, That’s fantastic.

0:27:02.3 S1: I’d never thought of that. And so now our programs are better because she had this great idea and was willing to act on it, and I gave her the permission to give me feedback and make something that I created better through her own lens, and they pushed me every day, and I had a really great conversation with someone on my team this last weekend, and she wanted me to go in a direction with the marketing, and I didn’t want to go there, but my answer was, I don’t think it’s the right thing for the business, but tell me why you think it is, ultimately we didn’t… We made the decision not to, but I didn’t shut her down ’cause I needed to hear why she was passionate about it because she might have changed my mind, she might have given me information I didn’t have, so it’s not about always saying yes, but it’s about the conversation so that you learn and that person knows you wanna listen and you want to hear it, and I’m so proud of her ’cause she fought hard for this idea, and I love that, I was so proud of her to fight hard for it.

0:28:08.9 S1: Again, we can’t take every idea, but that’s okay, it was about the process because it is called confidence in her. Yeah, amazing, amazing topic.

0:28:18.2 S2: A so huge to

0:28:22.5 S1: Yeate thing here is, learn how to let go. And as a leader, you are… You’ve got this big responsibility for your company, not just for your company, but for your entire team, for your family, for their family, for your entire team, how are you gonna be effective leader, how will you gonna be an effective communicator so that you can keep on encouraging your team to perform well. And it’s not always about, I’m gonna give you an increase, sometimes it’s not about the money, sometimes it’s about the trust and the relationship and the culture that you build within your company. Last last thing on what advice can you give to our viewers and listeners who are on the fence of mine room, am I gonna hire a remote team, or how can I be a better leader and communicator so that I can grow with my team? If you’re nervous about a remote team, I would say no, don’t be because they’re fantastic, and it allows you to really get the right expert, if you say, I need to wanna do this really specific thing, and I’ve opened it up to the entire world to find this person, what benefit that has? Instead of saying, I can only find them in this little tiny area and the five mile radius, you’re limiting yourself, but from a communication standpoint, which I think is so important, and where we are and where we’re going, when you think about building teams, the thing I would challenge your listeners and the people in your group to think about is, how do you learn something new every day from your team? And so I always ask the form of this question that comes in a lot of forms, it could be, what is the one question I didn’t ask you that I should have asked about this topic, or what’s the one thing you should have said to me that you were nervous that you just…

0:30:25.0 S1: I want you to say it to me now, or, what’s the one thing I need to learn? That you look at me and go, grow, you have no idea. You need to learn this. Tell me what that is. So always like saying, What’s that one more thing I need from this conversation? And do it once a day. So once a day, you learn something new from your team, and after a year, you are going to have such a wealth of information and you’re gonna have such an incredible communication and trust with your team because you’ve listened to them and they know that you learn from them… And it’s just gonna allow them to bring more and more stuff to you, and it’s just gonna be a beautiful relationship. Thank you, Jen, very well said. Now, where can you find you in… So you can find me on our website at 304 Coaching, or you can connect with me on LinkedIn at Jen a-Thornton ACC. There we go, guys. I hope you find value in this episode, thank you so much, Jen, this state run. Stay on here and we will chat after this, guys very go another episode for how to build a team Podcast, and we hope to be doing this again more often.

0:31:44.7 S1: So there you have it, guys. We will catch you again next time. Attuned, you’ve been listening to how to build a team podcast with Pan and David Buell. Now at www great work online dot com, and start building your

0:32:06.1 S2: Team.

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