When companies miss their targets, lose momentum, and begin to struggle often it’s because they fail to build the right teams, have the right people running the right plays, and haven’t moved the C Suite conversations to the staff from a place of fear that triggers our built-in flight or fight response to one of truly open and productive communication.
Today we talk with Jen Thornton Founder and CEO of 304 Coaching about closing the talent gap. It all centers around “Developing Employee Talent and Stronger Teams for Sustained Results”
00:00 S1: I’d love to tell people, based on where we are in the society today is, don’t fall into the crisis management habits, when there’s a crisis, fall into crisis management, the buildings on fire, you have to get people out, but immediately go back to leading to who you are. Hi
00:21 S2: Everybody, thanks for listening to bow ties. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe, you tell your friend, I’m your host to ACIS always, you can find us on the socials at Otis and business on Facebook and Instagram, and bowtie and bid, or on Twitter, along with you on your favorite podcast services and have protein business dot com. They were talking to Jennifer for Jim FERS developed expertise on talent strategy in professional development over her exciting 20 year career as an HR professional. She’s led international teams across Greater China, Mexico, the UK and the US, to expand in new markets, managing franchise retailers and developing key strategic partnerships, all while exceeding business objectives and financial results, she will share with us both an operational and an HR viewpoint. So we get some real insight. Her consulting company, 3-04 coaching, has been growing rapidly, largely due their unconventional approach in building innovative workforce development solutions for companies that are facing breakthrough growth and accelerated hiring patterns, she believes in building teams and accelerating business success through the strength of the people you add to the organization she sought after as a business strategist, she in start-ups and large value-based organizations, and it’s just are clients in building their talent strategies that complement their business strategies and ensure their exponential growth.
01:53 S1: Jen, thanks for being here and welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. So it’s a pleasure, I’m very excited. We’re gonna have a great conversation today about building leaders and helping leaders really develop their teams. So can you give us a little bit about your background, how you got into this space? Yeah, absolutely. So I started out actually as a retailer, and I still have a retailer’s heart, and I started out in the operation side of retail, working directly with our customers and the front lines, and fell in love with leading teams at a very young age and… What are you soon learned as my results were not necessarily driven because I’m naturally competitive or I don’t have kind of that I have to be number one, streak and me, but what I do love is to have incredible teams, and I learned very on that, that’s what I love to do is to build teams and build them up and help them develop, and so that’s kind of how I got my results here after year and really discovered myself through that and then went through the operation side of my career, and then I moved over to HR, because again, I love to think about talent strategies and teams, and how do we ensure that we have the right team to successfully deliver on the results, and so I spend the back half of my corporate career in HR, and I think all departments and both here in the US.
03:21 S1: And also globally around the world. And so I think when I went globally and I started to recognize how hard it was to get executive alignment when everyone speaks the same language and is from the same culture, the limits difficult… So you add in different languages, different cultures, different time zones, and it’s really difficult, and that became my newest passion, is really executive alignment, and how do we get that to get the results that we needed, and over time, that led to me wanting to do a full time and led to our conversation today and owning my own business. That’s
03:54 S2: Fantastic. So I’ve got a global business background, I gotta ask, how in the retail space do you deal with the labor law differences is you’re doing business internationally? I know it was tough in technology, I can only imagine at that level…
04:08 S1: Yeah, it was really interesting, and I am fascinated by how cultures make decisions around how they wanna treat their employees, and there’s both the law that we have to follow, but then there’s the culture and then there’s kind of the heart of the business. And so what I found is that if you are going into a country, no matter what country you go into, and you think about their labor laws and you’re starting to learn them, number one is you can’t judge them. Number one, and that’s it. You just have to go in and say, Alright, these are the laws, and I have to accept those, because if you get up, get into that mindset of, Well, I don’t like it, or This is weird, or this is different than… It trips you up. And the second thing is, if you are a organization that really wants to treat their employees well and have the developing teams and manage your retention through great leadership, everything else kinda falls into place, labor laws aren’t as scary because that’s really what… Labor laws are there to do to make sure corporations are good faith treating their employees.
05:06 S2: That’s a great point. I’m kind of chuckling ’cause as I was driving on Saturday, I was reading with my partner about German labor law, so… This is ironic timing.
05:15 S1: We can’t judge it. It’s theirs, not ours.
05:17 S2: Exactly, and neither of us are Jarman, so I’m just like, Yeah, no, I’m not opening an operating company there, you can’t pay me too. Coming from retail, you work with a lot of different clients, so talk a little bit about your coaching and consulting business, if you would…
05:34 S1: Yeah, so what we do today as an organization, as we focus on fast growing organizations in any industry, because many industries have that growth period right now, and the reason why I am really excited about fast-growing companies is they have some unique challenges. And one of their unique challenges are really hyper-focused on business results and business plans because they’re a new organization, they may be in their first five to eight years, and what I am finding over and over again as these fast-growing companies have incredible business plans and they are ticked and tied and they are detailed and they are coming to fruition and they’re coming true, and all the dreams are coming to life, but where it starts to get a little rocky for them as they don’t put talent strategies the tent inside the business plan. And so without that talent strategy, we hit walls, we hit road blocks, and then the fun starts to be sucked out, the life starts to get sucked out of the business, because we don’t have the right people in the right places doing the right work and a way in which matches the culture.
06:43 S1: And so that’s what we do today, is we really focus on talent strategy, and we do that through assessments and leadership academies, and executive coaching and consulting, but if you have a fast growing business and you haven’t thought about your talent strategy, you’re gonna hit the wall.
06:59 S2: So for people that are used to working with, I’m going to get funding, I’m doing this, I’m doing that. Where do you even begin to develop your talent strategy, ’cause one of the things I think is what you need when you’re in your seed round is very different than what you need when you’re in your C and D round or…
07:18 S1: Yeah, you’re so right, and a lot of it is projections, just like funding is projections, and so we look at how we are projecting the organization and then we’re projecting the work that matches that, there’s some work that no matter where you are in your business, you need two people to do it, no matter how small or big, there’s other pieces of your business that starts to scale and the employee count has to scale, and so how do you start to project that, and if you have a top player that works for you here too, and you feel like they have a runway and a year five, you need, let’s say, a chief marketing officer, and this person is a Director of Marketing, and you really see their value, and then we start to talk with them about their future, we start to line out what they’ll need to learn over that time period, so that when you get there, you have that person ready to go.
08:12 S2: What happens when you can’t develop that person?
08:15 S1: Yeah, great question, and I get asked that question all the time. Either there are people that are not interested in development, but I think a lot of them can open up to it, and a lot of it is understanding conversation, intelligence and IQ is the understanding of the neuroscience of the mind and how chemicals control our mind control Our thoughts control those stories in our head, and often time individuals who we assume are not developed, we can’t develop them or aren’t interested in development, we have to change our approach with them to get a different story inside of their head and to get their chemicals in their brain working in a way that’s productive for the business. And for their personal growth. So is that changing your narrative to them, is it changing their own internal narrative or some mixture of both? It’s a mixture of both, but it has to start within us, we have to change our narrative, and so it’s interesting, the language we use in the workplace oftentimes creates fear, and that’s because it talks to our primitive brain, and once our primitive brain kicks in, it’s only job is to keep us alive.
09:25 S1: And so back in our early evolution days, it kept us alive by making sure that we stayed inside the tribe, because getting voted out of the tribe, man, that you couldn’t provide food and housing and water and warmth and all these things. You needed to stay alive. And so our primitive brain actually still acts with those functions today and in the workplace, that is making sure that our bosses are happy, making sure that we’re on the team, because if we get voted out of the tribe at work, we might not be able to pay our bills, which means we can’t provide housing and all those types of things, and so we have to change our language to move people from fear and move them to trust, and that’s when our prefrontal cortex turns on, and that’s where creativity happens and collaboration and new ideas and excitement and enthusiasm, all the things we actually want is there, but our typical language keeps people in fear, so we’re in a time of great fear. Every week I’m dealing with… And I think all of us are changing business conditions and everything, how much has that accelerated what you do with your clients and brought new clients in for you…
10:36 S1: You know, it’s really accelerated the work around fear-based management, and one of the things that we find in times of difficulty as leaders tend to go into crisis management, and there is an important time for crisis management, and so crisis management is the building’s on fire. We have to make a quick decision. There’s not a lot of discussion, do what I tell you to do, and that’s the right time, and we do have to lead that way sometimes, but over this last year with so many crisis happening, what I’m seeing as leaders are staying in crisis management, and so they’re becoming very much a Do as I say, and don’t think leader out of habits, and that’s creating more fear, we already have the fear of our jobs of fear of a pandemic, of fear of global change, and so then when we’re being led in a way that we’re being told what to do, and if we don’t do it, we’re in trouble as leaders where we think we’re making it easy, we think we’re giving them the answers to the test, so it would be easier for to do them do their job, that we’re actually creating even more fear and losing that trust with our employees…
11:46 S2: It’s interesting you say that because I’ve seen a lot of people that are fairly senior changing companies and changing roles now, not by force, but by opportunity, is that part of looking for a cultural fix, is that maybe a risk you have if people don’t move from a place of fear.
12:04 S1: Yeah, you definitely will see turnover when you have high fear leadership styles. A couple of things will happen. One, those that are in fear of finding a new job will stay, but those who stay in a high fear environment, they will start to say, Yes sir, no ma’am, they’re gonna get very much in that place where they just are doing what they’re told and we don’t want that, we want them to have minds, we want them to think, we want them to progress the company, those who are very aggressive around their career and definitely wanna use their mind and their voice when they’re setting in a situation where the leader is only crisis management and only telling them what to do… Yeah, you’re gonna see them leave, and really, I project over the next 18 to 24 months, I think all organizations are gonna see just a massive change, people are gonna go from one job to another because crisis that we’ve been dealing with will change us as humans. It will change how we look at things and we’ll start to make different career decisions based on that…
13:08 S2: Interesting point, so not anything we discussed beforehand, but as I’ve been doing some reading in recent weeks, one of the things that companies are starting to articulate is that they’re concerned that employees have become accustomed to working from home and may never wanna go back in office from a quality of life perspective, is that something you’ve heard anywhere within your client set?
13:32 S1: Yeah, I have heard that and people are asking more often, Can I work from home one or two days a week, and a lot of it is around quality of life, because what everyone’s been through has reminded them, Hey, I wanna spend more time with my family or I wanna take care of my health or I want to do more… Life is short, I wanna get more done. And it’s actually a really good thing when people come to you and say, Hey, let me look at how can I be incredibly productive, but also take care of my own mental goals in my own mental health, because you’re actually gonna get a better employee because they are happier and when they’re happier and they are in a job that allows them to excel that yet meet their personal needs, they’re just gonna do a better job and it’ll be interesting, every company is gonna handle it in their own way and what’s right for them. But I think employers should listen and should say, You know what, how can I make this opportunity the best so that I retain the best employees, and they are doing the best work they can do.
14:38 S2: So you talk about that conversation a IQ, if you’re the old school, what management by walking around or shopkeeper looking over everybody’s shoulder manager, how do you begin to adjust to this when your staff is scattered in five suburbs and all up to an hour away?
14:55 S1: Yeah, so everything in life is about our conversations or words create our world, and so I think for that leader who’s having to lead in a new way, they have to get crystal clear on what they want from their employees, and so for many years, we were praised on how many hours we sat in our desk, and the person who sat at the desk longest obviously was the hardest worker and did the best work, and that’s not true, you can find people, they’re incredibly efficient and do the job in 35 hours, and the other person takes 55 hours to do the same job that they’re getting accolades because they’ve been at the desk 55 hours, and so I think the first thing for our leaders, especially when you think about the 21st century… Remove the challenges we’ve had of 2020. This is really where the future of work is going, decide what’s important, what results do you want, and then get okay with people getting results for you in a way that makes sense for them. And when we put a lot of guard rails around results and what we want, we actually don’t get the best work, and so it’s about opening ourselves up and say, Okay, it’s not about the hours in the chair, it’s about the results delivered, and when you start to make that mindset switch, you start to opening your open yourself up to new conversations.
16:17 S2: So for those of you that are geeky, there is a series on Netflix called a high score. Have you happened to see a Jen?
16:24 S1: I have been off to check it out.
16:26 S2: So there’s a talk in there about a tarry back in the 70s, and one of the recruiting tactics was, We don’t care when you work or how you work, just do the job, and essentially, we’re in that same kind of place outside of Silicon Valley now, is that.
16:43 S1: Yeah, we are… And people want to have flexibility. Now they’re obviously… There are set times that we all need to be available to answer our co-workers questions, that we can’t make scheduling meetings so difficult because everyone’s just doing whatever they want when they want, but if we could have 75% set and 25% flexible, What could that do for the mindset of employees and how could that improve efficiencies, and I have no doubt that efficiencies would go up and your top performers… Will you have a couple of bottom performers who take advantage of that probably, but would it be worth it to have five great employees become greater and then have a performance conversation with a one person who took advantage of it? Because what I see today is we’re punishing those top performers ’cause we’re worried about that one person… It’s
17:35 S2: Funny ’cause in the sales coaching business, every time I start a conversation with a new client, they wanna bring you to see players… You know, I’ve got my bottom 20%, I need to get them to do more. No, you actually don’t. You need your eight players and you be in your blues to raise their game and then frankly the cold hard facts you may need to replace receipt layers.
17:56 S1: Yeah, I could not agree with you more. What do you see organizations doing time and time again is they invest dollars into those people that are struggling, they’re struggling for a reason, and find out why they’re struggling and manage that, but spend your dollars with your top performers because they’re only gonna get better, they’re only gonna stick around and they’re only gonna make your clients happier, and when you reward people with education, they stick around, people talk all the time where people just want more money, they want this and well, what if part of your annual appraisal process was a budget for continuous education, if you’re in the top 10%, then you get 2000 a year at your discretion to use for additional education, that’s worth a lot of people and people are gonna take advantage and get excited about that.
18:48 S2: And I think that’s the kind of thing that people really will stay over… Right, ’cause it’s not just… Not everybody, and it’s not everybody is purely money motivated, a lot of people see value in other parts of it beyond the paycheck, and I think that’s something people often overlook.
19:09 S1: Yeah, compensations, one of the least… When you look at the reasons why people leave compensations actually kind of in the middle of the road…
19:17 S2: That’s interesting that it’s dead smack in the middle because I… Again, numbers guy, right? But I could see that outside, once you move away from that certain part of the organization that I’ve loved and died in, yeah, other people find value and find reward in additional things.
19:36 S1: And I think a way of work is going in the 21st century, people are looking more at packages versus just flat salary, and so if I’m at a company and I’m making a salary that I live comfortably on, and because I’m a top performer, I get invested in, so I get to sit at the table and share my ideas, I get to make an impact on the business. I get to go to training courses or conferences where I’m growing my knowledge and someone else comes along and offers me a dollar more an hour or just a few pennies. Back in the day, people would have jumped because the money was all we had in a package, we didn’t have all these different things that could be added to it, but in today’s world, you can compensate people with education and financials, we all do have bills to pay, but people aren’t going to jump for pennies on the dollar if you’re investing in them and you’ll be able to have better employees that stay with you longer.
20:39 S2: When you talk about package, do you see healthcare, 401k or retirement savings matches and things as being substantial that either attract or retain employees?
20:51 S1: Absolutely. Some of the key things I’m seeing in packages that are important to me, we all have bills, so we have compensation, but the cost of insurance for our US listeners is a big deal, and how… That affects the bottom line. The other thing and people are looking at is quality of life, and quality of life is going to become as… As benefits and compensation and quality of life could mean 25% flexible schedule, it could mean working from home one or two days a week so that you’re not wasting time on a commute, it could be additional education hours, it could be experiential, it could be… The ability to have access to key leaders to use your voice and share information packages can look very different than our typical, here’s your salary, here’s your start date, and through and 65 days from now, we’ll review you and you’ll get a percentage increase. That’s how it used to be, and it doesn’t have to be that way tomorrow. Let’s
21:55 S2: Go and take that a little bit further, how do people now that have that work-from-home environment, how do they draw a line so they’re not on from 7 in the morning to Labatt and feeling that they have to be seen. Just like they were… When they sat at their desk. Yeah.
22:15 S1: That’s a really great question. And back in my corporate life, I actually work from home. And so that was a challenge. I had my computer was there, I managed a global organization, so someone on my team was working at any time, 24 hours a day, I had someone on my team working because of the time zone differences, and so for those people working at home, you have to look at the time you’re working is incredibly efficient, you have to sit down, you have to go in and not be distracted, and you have to get the work done, and you have to map out your week, so for example, if you have 25% flexibility and going to yoga, the 5 o’clock class makes sense than on your schedule, you need to have it blocked out, but then schedule time back in from 700 to 830, I’m going to finish these reports, I’m going to return emails, whatever that may be, that you need to do. That you’ve got to be really good at scheduling and being efficient, but the mind likes to schedule, the mind likes predictability, and so you’ll be much more productive and you’ll reduce anxiety and stress
23:22 S2: And… Did you talk to my old boss, Simon, about when I used to go to yoga.
23:26 S1: I did not, but I can have a conversation and give you some coaching from it if you need
23:31 S2: To. I worked for a Brit for five years, and I love him to death to this day, but it was hysterical six in the morning, I had to be up and online, but I could do the 1230 yoga class when I wasn’t traveling because he was transitioning that I could come back and finish the rest of my day and be there when a launched… So yeah, I’m laughing ’cause literally that’s what I did for years.
23:54 S1: Yeah, and you were very productive because of it, you were a top performer because of it, ’cause you got in what was important to you, but here’s the beauty in the story you just told, the business got what it needed, it had you live… Throughout different time zones when you were needed, and because they were flexible with your schedule, you still got what you needed, so everyone want in that story, because you had flexibility.
24:17 S2: And I think that’s a thing a lot of traditional companies miss, is that flexibility really is the most important factor, and I look at… I’m old enough that I used to have to call in at the end of my day from sales calls early in my career, from a pay phone, now nobody has pay phones and everybody has cell phones… Right, but that was as much flexibility as you got now they never knew where you called in from, you could be at the one down the street or one outside your last point, but there was that flexibility, just for those kind of rules, now you really have it for everybody who’s not essential in a facility…
24:56 S1: Yeah, and it makes such a difference for people ’cause you’re getting the right work from them now, even things that… Let’s look at something that’s kind of repetitive payroll, so you have a payroll team and he… Does it matter what time of day they’re processing their reports, if it works for them, you know, no one knows what time it was processed, as long as it gets done and done correctly and on time. I think the other thing that I’m seeing is companies are going two ways with meetings, either they’re over meetings, they’re taking… They’re doing way too many because everyone’s remote, I gotta make sure you’re working, so I’m gonna sit and talk to you all day and make sure you don’t leave your desk, which is not productive, or because they’re a virtual… They’re figuring out how to be really productive without as many meetings, and again, that type of mindset, letting people be productive without the meeting about the meeting. It increases your productivity and you’re gonna get more out of your team, and so people also have to start to get really open about how do we communicate, the really efficient in our communication and take down the meeting count so that people can be flexible.
26:03 S2: So you talk about meeting count in the meeting, about the meeting, which probably had three meetings before that, for those of us that live in the corporate world. Right. How do you break that cycle?
26:14 S1: Yeah, you get… And the reason we have three meetings before the meeting, before the meeting is because that is where everyone does the prep work about how are we actually gonna tell the truth in the final meeting. I can’t tell you how many times I had meetings around what not to say what to say, Well, don’t tell him or her that because that’s gonna set off a button, you know? They’re tired of hearing that, Well, it’s the truth. I don’t know what else to tell you. And so a lot of those meetings about meetings is really because people aren’t open to being honest and the actual meeting, and so there’s a lot of work to do around being open to honest feedback from your team, being open to hearing other people’s opinions and being honest at the onset, and then you don’t have to have all these… You know meetings, I always like the meeting after the meeting too, ’cause if you had three meetings before, you probably had four after, so that you can diffuse people, someone got upset and you’re damage control, and so this one meeting that could have just been honest and factual becomes hours and hours of your team’s work.
27:22 S2: Yeah, I also believe that people feel that if they don’t have their time blocked under calendars, that they’re not being productive. I had nine meetings today, and it took 12 hours. Great. When did you actually do your job? Right.
27:42 S1: Yeah, I find that a lot. The other thing that I’m finding as I’m working with the executives is because again, they’re putting results to meeting hours and not actual results, they’re not spending any time then visionary and thinking, and as an executive, you’ve got to spend time thinking… And you can’t do that when you’re in nine meetings for 12 hours a day. And I think that’s one of the big pieces I’m seeing people fall short in, is really spending time using their mind and putting value to processing, thinking, coming up with new ideas, doing strategies, thinking about how they wanna handle situations, and those types of things keep us in a place of proactive leadership versus reactive leadership.
28:30 S2: So in a world filled with so much information, how do you start to filter that through and apply it to your thinking?
28:38 S1: Yeah, great question. You know, I think one of the things that’s important is to know where your threshold of detailed knowledge needs to be, assign an imaginary number to decision, so is this an A A plus decision, like a massive, big decisions. They’ll have huge impact. Or is this a D decision? It’s just like, What color of coffee cups… And when you think about the amount of information you need to make each of those decisions, get clear on that, I’m not gonna worry about what color the coffee cup is, if it does… If it doesn’t impact the business, this is an AA, this could have years, decades of impact. So I’m going to allow myself that time to dig in and do my research, but because we kind of have this imperfection mindset that every decision has to be perfect, we apply the same amount of research to all of those scenarios, and that doesn’t make sense. It just isn’t productive or efficient.
29:37 S2: So if somebody’s out there and they’re hearing you talk, where do they start… How do they find you? Where do you typically start an engagement with someone…
29:47 S1: You know, I start engagements talking about what’s the problem that we’re dealing with, and whatever the problem is, isn’t the real problem, but you have to start somewhere. And so we start what they think is the problem, and then we spend a ton of time talking to the team, and we then find out what the real problem is, because your team knows the real problem if the product isn’t selling and you can’t figure out Why… Talk to your team, talk to the person who’s the closest to the customer, they know they have all the answers you need, you just have to be willing to hear and listen to them. And so we start with just a lot of conversations and exploratory and getting super honest.
30:29 S2: Do you find having global experience, some cultures are more direct in their conversations about what’s going on in the business than Americans…
30:37 S1: Absolutely, every culture has their own way of handling difficult situations and whatever is culturally right for them, and so in today’s world, we’re working with cultures or across culture across time zones, and so you do have to take the time to really think and get some understanding of the cultures that you’re working at, but back to our earlier conversation, you have to set outside of judgments, because as when we look at someone that we’re working with from a different country, we say things like, Well, that’s weird. Why would they do that? Why would they say that? That you shouldn’t think that way. That was offensive. Well, I can promise from a flip side, you are equally as offensive and annoying, if not more so… Absolutely, and you know, I’ve stepped on some cultural line lines in our land mines and my career not knowing, you know that something I was doing was offensive to a culture, and by no means that I mean to do it, but because I was open to feedback and open to researching and being open to… When I arrive in someone’s culture, I arrive in their culture, I wasn’t forcing them to bend to my American thinking, and so I did step on stuff and I learned my lesson, but I’m just thankful I had so many honest people around me to tell me…
31:57 S2: And that’s key, right? As a leader, to be able to take that feedback from those that are in the theater, in that area of the business even, and apply it, so how can a good leader solicit that type of feedback actively?
32:15 S1: Yeah, and so I think if you’re looking at how to work cross-culturally in different cultures, I think one of the best things to do is to sit down with someone and say, You know what, this is a project we’re gonna work on, say it’s a pro a new project, and there’s five people in different countries, before you start talking about the objectives of the project, start talking about way of work, and how can I… When I need to be honest with you, how do I approach you? Do you want a direct… Do you want it verbally, do you want it on an email, what kind of analytics do you want to be associated with it and start getting a way of work clarified and be open to it and be honest about what you need, ’cause often times someone will say, Well, then what do you need? And we’re like, Oh whatever, but that’s not true. You do need something specific, and so to get specific information from others, you have to be willing to self-aware enough to give specific information out.
33:14 S2: That’s really good advice. How do you bring analytical and creative types together peacefully…
33:21 S1: Oh, I love that question. That’s fantastic. Oh gosh, so many different things you could do in ways to do that, but I think you have to first start understanding everything you gain in life, you give up on the other side and someone’s got that. So if you’re highly creative and you’re making decisions based on this visionary view of something that’s never been made before, there’s no analytics to it, because it’s never been made before, but there’s other persons wanting to force it to IT, or for some analytics to it, or projections or some modeling, so get excited about the fact that someone is doing something that you just aren’t good at, because none of us are good at everything, and so I think the first thing when you’re bringing different minds together is helping them understand everything you gain… You just gave up on the other side of it, and this person over here got it. And that’s pretty awesome.
34:14 S2: What about… You talked about words having power, is there a difference in what words you should use and how you should communicate in a written sense versus a… Maybe an informal sense and Messenger or what have you, versus when you’re speaking.
34:31 S1: Yeah, I think a lot of the relationships in the world is created when we’re having verbal conversations, which make the emails much easier because everyone gets in our minds how our brains work as we create stories. So you read it, someone can say, I went to the park today, and our mind can be like, Oh wow, they went to the park today, or it could be like, Oh, they’re so mad because they had to do that, the sentence is the same. But our mind creates a story, and so our verbal conversations are important so that people understand, our thoughts, we create relationships, and it’s changing our language from if the projects had a wall and the leader is like, you’ve gotta figure this out, get it done now. If you don’t do this, we’re gonna lose this deal, which is how we typically handle things, changing it to… Alright, none of us have an answer, and so let’s put all of our chips on the table. I need an honest, this is what you think went wrong. Don’t offend me or you can’t offend me, tell me now, go around the room what is what’s wrong? And really start to open up conversations because you’re in a people to figure it out, is it gonna figure out the problem, but getting honest.
35:41 S1: Well.
35:43 S2: When you talk about honesty, one of the hardest thing to do is to stand up and tell people who change in directions, right. We’re not making X anymore. X was great for 20 years, but we now need to make Z. Is there a way to just have that conversation? Do you edge into it, or do you just simply say, Look, X is dad, we used to sell 1000, now we sell 50, or customers used to want… Whatever… Is there a best way to go about that?
36:15 S1: Yeah, I think when you start that conversation, it’s the facts up front and then the story afterwards, so the facts up front are, we used to sell a 1000 of these, we sell 50, now, we wanna invest in other revenue stream, so they make sure this company is viable long-term, and then you start to tell kind of some details that are appropriate around that, what happens, because of the way our brain works is we start to tell the whole story in the beginning because we’re scared, to be honest, we’re scared it for the punch line. And so while we’re messing around waiting for the punch line, people in the room or creating a story in their head, and you don’t want them to do that, so you wanna give the punch line first, here’s what we’re going to do, and then here is why, because then the first thing they’re hearing is the why, they’re not creating a story, and then you’re having to re-write it with the facts, so we’re
37:11 S2: At a time where a lot of companies are making acquisitions, both for strategic as well as economic reasons, if you’re on the acquiring side, how should you be approaching the folks that you’re picking up and bringing into the family and vice versa.
37:29 S1: Yeah, so if you’re acquiring a new company and you’ve got this group that you have to bring in as a leader, you wanna talk to the employees, you want them to have a voice and to have… To allow them to have a voice, you have to be there with your ears to hear it, and so I think a lot of it is coming in and saying, Here is why we want you part of our family or part of our organization, here’s the value that you bring… When I look at our current company, what you gain, you give up, there’s all these gains, so what we don’t have is this, and you guys have that, and you’re creating this well-oiled machine, here’s why… We think you’re gonna be great at it. Now tell us where the hiccups are, where is it gonna go wrong, because we can’t project where it’s gonna go wrong everywhere, but if we can get 50% of what’s going wrong figured out in the beginning, then the transition is going to go a lot better. And then for the flipside, get honest, tell people, Here’s what we’re bringing to the table, Here’s what we’re gonna learn from the the big machine, ’cause they’re gonna help us with stuff, and then where do we project wins and where do we project roadblocks and let’s start working on those…
38:46 S2: You have an ops and an HR background, what did you learn in ops that it made you better in the HR function…
38:54 S1: Oh, I’m so glad you asked me that question. I learned that HR is… They can be two different types, there is the policy police HR world, and we’ve all worked in those companies, and there are HR organizations that our talent strategist and their number one goal is to deliver the business results. And that is what I learned when I was in operations, I learned how to work through people to get business results, and so when I went to HR, I just thought, that’s what we were supposed to do. I wasn’t a classically trained HR person, and so my assumption was, Hey, this is people… That’s a business, let’s make the business happen for people, and so I think that has really positively skewed my views on human resources, it’s really talent strategy, and really understanding how to create an incredible team and deploy them to make sure that the business results are hit at the end.
39:51 S2: So how do you do that? If you’re expanding, we’ll go back to your earlier example of rapidly growing companies, how do they create their talent strategy?
40:02 S1: Yeah, it starts with knowing what work needs to be done, I think that’s one of the biggest places that people get kind of caught if they don’t slow down, they know people overwhelmed, they know they need to hire someone and they throw payroll at the problem, and so it’s like that team over there, their hair’s on fire and it’s fried, so just hire them someone, and then all of a sudden, two years later, we wake up with all this head count and we’re like… Where did all these people come from? And it’s ’cause we were throwing payroll at the problem and we weren’t getting honest with skill set, we weren’t getting honest with work, and so the first things get really honest with the work, and part of that also is coming to terms with what work is required for the business… What work is good for the business? What work is fun for the business, what work we’re doing at a habit that doesn’t make a difference, and the biggest piece that I see in companies all the time is there’s a ton of vanity work, it doesn’t impact the business, but there’s someone on the executive team that has to have a report that looks just like it did 10 years ago and doesn’t wanna learn the new system, or has to have it done this way, because that’s just the way it’s always been.
41:03 S1: And it makes them happy. So first, we have to get really clear on the work that’s required, and that’s really the first step and really the fun est, ’cause that’s when you start to learn how your company works and think about how could it be more efficient?
41:16 S2: I can think of 12 executives that need new pants after that statement.
41:22 S1: So you talk about the change in reports and change systems, it’s inevitable outright. Yeah, and we have to get really open to change, and we’ve always known that, we’ve always said that, but the world is moving in a piece that’s never felt or moved before and there’s no signs of it slowing down, and so we can resist and get mad and cross our arms and resist it and say that we’re right, the world is wrong, the world is changing, and they’re all wrong, everyone should do it just like I do. But that’s not gonna take our businesses anywhere, getting really open and accepting where the world is going, and accepting it as fact and not trying to place our… Allows us to see it in a clarity is not to see it with clarity and see it in a different way, which then we can do something with that, but we can’t do anything with… You’re wrong, and I’m right.
42:16 S2: So you talk about the talent Cliff, how do people know? They’ve hit that.
42:23 S1: So when you hit the talent Cliff, what that looks like is your business has been going amazing, it’s on fire, you’ve never been happier and prouder of your team, you’re exceeding all your calls all your while the streams have come true, and then you think, Oh, but we’re fine, I don’t need to invest my people businesses, great, everything’s good. And there’s this little moment, this little pivot where the business out-arcs the skill of our teams, because we didn’t invest in our team, we were too busy investing in just the business strategy without a talent strategy. Then what happens is the business takes off because we are good at what we do and we’re not prepared to handle it, so then we go into crisis management, we’ve got more orders than we can handle, we have more sales calls than we can handle, and so instead of staying calm and thinking about how to manage that, we go into crisis management, and as soon as we hit crisis management, telling people what to do, what to think, what to say, how to do their job, then your top performers are gonna start to leave your bottom performers are not gonna be as efficient or productive, and you hit that cliff and your talent starts to…
43:31 S1: Your talent capabilities start to go down and right behind that your business will crash and your cells will crash.
43:39 S2: Have you teach those employees that are on that edge to have a real conversation with customers.
43:45 S1: Oh, good. So I think what they have to start understanding is the customer’s mind, and so a customer has the same chemicals going off as we do in a conversation with our boss, and so when you think about making that sales call… And the person you’re talking to is gonna buy 20 million product, there’s some fear in that, Am I making the right decision? Am I looking at this? All the angles. Did I ask all the right questions? And so starting to understand, just like you would with co-workers moving your language to create trust with your sales teams or with your sales clients, you have to help your clients move from fear in the buying process to trust, and do that through language and saying things like, I’m sure you have a ton of questions. How much time do you need from me? I’m here for you all day long. Just ask me any question. Or you can say things like, What wakes you up at night? When we think about going live with this, what’s the one thing you’re worried about and how can we talk through that, so you’ve got to get into their mind and move them into trust over fear.
44:54 S2: You talk about the world is changing, you can’t do, I’m right, and everybody else is wrong. But we live in an age where business is truly or trying to come up and disrupt the incumbents, we saw in the runic versus the Uber and Lyft world, pre-covid, right now, we’re seeing it with Zoom versus the airlines. How do you set a tone and a culture in a company that you know you’re gonna get disrupted, but you have to persevere…
45:26 S1: Oh, one of my favorite things to do with established companies and even new companies, but when you need fresh ideas and when you need to get honest about where something’s going, I love to do what I call the crazy idea meeting, and so we set the tone upfront and so say it’s airline, and we know that there’s gonna be disruption, so you get a cross-group, as many people from all levels, and you let them know we’re going to have this meeting, and this purpose of this meeting is to project where we’re going, in the future… And what I want you to do is I want you to come to the table with the most insane ideas you can think of things that don’t even exist today, but you thought would be cool if they did exist, and we’re actually gonna give rewards out for the most insane, crazy idea. Because what that does is that tells the mind, it’s okay to have a bad idea, it’s okay to think something that no one’s ever thought, so you’re going to get those ideas brought to the table that you would not have gotten if you said, Well, we’re gonna go to the meeting room at 4 o’clock and we’re gonna brainstorm on how to beat zoom over the airlines.
46:37 S1: Okay, nothing’s happening out of that meeting, that’s miserable, and that’s what we tell people, but what if we told people, I want you and I’m gonna reward you for the most ridiculous idea you can come up with, that is where new ideas come from.
46:51 S2: Nice new ideas. You’ve started your own company. What led you to that?
46:57 S1: Yeah, I think it’s a lot of things, but at the end of the day, what led me to it is I love the results of high-functioning teams, nothing gets me out of bed looking at what a company needs to deliver and figure out how to get there, and through my own experience working in companies, every time we missed was a talent, it was the people… That was only thing. And when teams really got crystal clear and honest and high-functioning, and there was a lot of trust in, you could just see those teams and we’ve all known those teams that you look at and think, how can they do so much? How are they number one? Every year, how are they always ahead of the curve? Well, there’s some characteristics to that, and for myself, I thought, Wouldn’t it be great to help companies achieve their goals and do in a way that feels good? And then the other side of that is, I wanted to make a difference in the world. And when we’re happier at work and we’re providing for our families and we’re coming home and were confident because we had a good day at work and our voices are being heard, were better to our family, and when we’re better to our family were better to the world and I was just wanting to make a difference, but yeah, also loving the fact of hitting results, it’s just fun.
48:09 S1: I love to hit the numbers.
48:13 S2: Companies that you work with, if I’m listening to the show, is IT companies with 20000 employees? Is that companies with 20 employees somewhere in between, when do people really need to start thinking about the talent…
48:26 S1: You know, any time you recognize you’re on growth Ejector in your business and jump the last year by 10-15%, and you’re like, Holy heck, where did that come front, that’s the time we gotta get… Because you’re already up that Cliff and to stay going up that clip, you gotta get honest about your talent strategy, and so when a company is starting to see fast results or have seen fast results in the past and hit some road blocks and are realizing through this conversation that it could be talent, those are the types of companies that need to give me a call and we’ll have just so much fun, unraveling it and allowing the business to be fun and still receive… Still get the results in.
49:05 S2: Who’s typically in the room? When you work with a company, is it C levels is at EVP, is it Supervisors?
49:13 S1: The conversation always has to start with the sea level, the executives have to sign up for change and they have to be okay with that, and they have to get vulnerable. And so for me to do my best work, the C-suite has to be involved, and honestly, I don’t work with organizations that… The C-suites like, Well, we got a box here to check, someone said to work on culture, so we just hire a consultant and off they go, I’m not gonna work with that kind of company ’cause you’re not gonna see any results, they might as well throw open the window and throw their money right out of it. The C-Suites got to get on board. They have to wanna be a better organization and yeah, they have to be in the room, and from there, we work with other people, but it starts at the top.
49:54 S2: And do you see a particular silo that’s more apt to drive change to another… Inside of business.
50:02 S1: I think that unfortunately, pain is really one of the biggest things that starts to change, to cause people to wanna change, or as humans, we don’t change naturally unless there’s a little bit of pain involved, so I think some failure is usually when I get the phone call, it’s rare that I get a phone call and someone’s like, Hey, our business is on fire and our team is awesome, and just come and be awesome with us. That’s rare. Typically it’s, Hey, we’ve had a great three years, we hit a wall, we don’t know what happened, let’s help us figure it out. So that’s kind of like when the change starts to occur.
50:39 S2: How often are you brought in when it’s totally falling apart?
50:43 S1: I’ve been brought in on one occasion, and a client I can remember quite well, and we were about 80% done, and there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, a lot of tears and a lot of honesty, but it turned their business back around. They look at it, they’ve never looked at it. We reorganized all of the work, there’s so much duplication and so much vanity work and so much frustration from leaders, and they were just yelling, and it was just your typical situation when the company gets out of control and leaders try to get it back in control through… High directive leadership, and it just spirals, but we did it, not everyone stayed on the team, some left, but you know what, they didn’t wanna lead in the way that we were gonna lead in the future, and quite honestly, it was better for them if you don’t wanna lead in the way, we’re gonna leave the future, go find some place, and I’ll let you play the way you like… You know, it wasn’t gonna be there.
51:43 S2: That’s one of the things that I had to learn. I learned about myself is I am not a high supervision kind of guy. I believe you employ people to do the job and they should do their job, and you support them and you help them grow and develop, I don’t wanna be looking at every single quote transaction, etcetera. At certain levels. So it was interesting ’cause I wanted to find myself in a role where they’re like, Well, you need to be approving all these… There’s 600, I’m running a 400 million business. What do you mean? I need to look at those. Yeah, and knowing yourself as a leader is a hard thing, and sometimes you find yourself in a situation you didn’t realize… Oh, jeez. People actually care about that.
52:25 S1: Right, yeah, it happens all the time, and we have to know who we are as leaders. One of the things I do with people as value exercise, when I talk to someone, they’re like, I’m just not feeling work… It’s just off, I don’t know why. I’m like, Let’s work on your values, and typically there’s a value that’s being offended or not being used, or you’re having to go against your values and decisions, just like it was frustrating for you to improve something for 600, it seems so minute because it went against who you were as a leader, and that’s a trust-based leader, and so it just didn’t feel right to you because it wasn’t aligned to who you are.
53:01 S2: Yeah, how often do you see people that are completely burn out a
53:06 S1: Lot more than I like.
53:08 S2: And how often can they be resuscitated, so to speak…
53:13 S1: It’s interesting, organizations kind of think it’s the employee’s job to resuscitate and to get over themselves, but typically someone’s burned out because of the relationship, and for the relationship from a company to employ to get better, both people have to do something to make the change. And I think that’s one of the hardest things to come to terms with.
53:39 S2: So we’re talking a little bit in an advance of your new website, but can you kinda give us a preview by the time this comes out, your side will be done, what people can find there and where to find it.
53:48 S1: Yeah, so you’ll be able to find it at 304 coaching dot com, and we’re gonna have a lot of resources and tools for you, we’re gonna have a full resource section that has materials that you can download to start having conversations with your team to really figure out what you need and why you need it, because the why you need it is the most important piece of it. And so we’re really excited over the last few years, created a ton of resources and we’re looking forward to sharing them with the world.
54:14 S2: And you get a great LinkedIn page as well. Right, I’ve seen it. So definitely, and you get some downloadable and some thoughts there as well, so if you haven’t checked them out and do that… Where’s the 304 come from?
54:26 S1: My lucky number, when you sat down, you started business, everyone, it’s a lot of thought and I’m in a very efficient person, I was like, Hmm… What do I call it? Well, the 04s, my lucky number, it’s a combination of lucky dates, I’ll just go with that, and it’s been a fantastic conversation starter.
4:42 S2: That’s a good one, ’cause I have a number of my LLC, and it was my home area code, so I was dying to know how you got your…
54:49 S1: That was a combination of important dates. Nice, I like that. Anything I should have asked you that I didn’t? I think the one thing that I’d love to tell people, based on where we are in the society today is don’t fall into the crisis management habits, when there’s a crisis, fall into crisis management. The buildings on fire, you have to get people out, but immediately go back to leading to who you are, and just really make sure that you do not get stuck in the crisis management habit when things are difficult, and I’m seeing it right now, and I just… It hurts my heart for so many reasons, but that’s not who so many of these leaders are, but they’re just getting into it. I have it.
55:33 S2: So give them a tip to get out of that…
55:36 S1: Oh, good, so a tip to get out of that is when you look at what’s going on today, tell yourself, are there any crisis today? No, there’s not. Okay, but that I’m gonna be who I am as a leader. And before you start to go into that of like, Oh, I gotta tell them on and before you hit that frustration, pause yourself and say, I’m feeling frustrated, Why? And who do I need to be to make sure that my frustration does not continue?
56:01 S2: That’s beautiful. Jen, thanks so much for being here today.
56:04 S1: Oh, thank you. It was such a great conversation, I appreciate it.