Does Your Talent Strategy Match Your Business Strategy?

Can you list what is wrong with your team? If so, have you also asked “what am I doing to create that?”

0:00:03.9 S1: In business and life relationships are everything. Welcome to the People Catalyst podcast, where we interview top business leaders and learn how they build relationships with their teams, clients and those that promote and refer them. Here’s your host, business trainer and leader of the people catalyst team, Karla Nelson.

0:00:25.5 S2: And welcome to the People Catalyst podcast, Jen Thornton. Thanks for having me. I know it’s gonna be a fun time with you today… Yes, maam. Well thanks for being on the show. And you’ve got such a really interesting background, I love the organizational development, meets HR and then leadership just kind of squashed in the middle; so, Jen, can you share a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey? I know you’ve worked in many different aspects of corporate America and now are working with your own consulting and coaching business. So I had kind of an interesting journey. At least, I think everyone’s journey is interesting, and… I actually wanted to work in the mall. When I was a kid, I wanted to work in the mall. I love to shop, I love fashion, and by God, dreams come true. And I actually started my career were running stores at a very young age, in retail at the mall. Obviously, I won’t date myself, that was a few years ago when malls were much better and much cooler back then, but what was interesting as I was making hiring decisions and leadership decisions at a really, really young age, and I also was recognizing that I did not get my results, like my peers, most of my peers were highly competitive, it’s an industry where you wake up every morning to your score card, what were your KPIS or your payroll percentages, all of this high pressure number environment, but I wasn’t competitive, I’m just not…

0:01:57.8 S2: But I was still always in the top, and what I slowly started to recognize is because I love to build strong teams, and when my team did amazing, I was so happy, and it was really about making sure that the teams were doing well, and of course, over years, I did many different things on the operations side of the business, and then I moved over to HR because again, that’s the talent strategy was where I got my success and I leaned into that, and it was something that I had a passionate about, and I love to do so, off to the HR side of the business, I went… But because I grew up in operations at a very different approach than it was about talent strategies, and how does that match up to our business strategy, and how do we make the business actually come to life and meet our objectives, and then with all three different parts of that, and when I ended my corporate career, I was a head of international HR for a large global retailer, and that is really where I kind of found my entrepreneur spirit, you get dropped off in a foreign country and there…

0:03:04.9 S2: And so, yeah, and someone says, We’re gonna open stores in a corporate office and a distribution center in China… Go figure that out. You’re like, I was a plane ticket. Yeah, sure, I’ll go figure that out. But it really, I guess, gave me that confidence and if I could be dropped off in a foreign country and figure out how to build a business, really I could do it on my own here in the US, and it was just an incredible time in my life I did that for five years. I have traveled all over the world and had incredible teams all over the world, and I will never forget, I think we all have that moment where you remember the sounds and the smells and everything around you, and you’re like, I looked it veto new executive. He walked in the room, and I was actually in Hong Kong in the board room, and he walked in and I was like, Oh, I’m done. Every bit of me said, This is time to start your own business and do what you love every day, and that’s help organizations with talent strategy. So I flew home and started figuring it out, and that was several years ago, and today at three or four, that’s what we do, we do talent strategies with organizations, and our goal is to make sure that whatever your business strategy is, your talent matches that.

0:04:18.9 S2: I love that. And in the work we do, at least our assessment and a part of the infrastructure is based off the law of diffusion of innovations, 1010 years of marketing research about how people adopt new ideas, and I’m sure in marketing, you always hear about this, but we look at it from the aspect of the customer or consumer, and you think about it, it’s like, Wait a second, how are you expecting some… Your team is the extension to that customer and consumer, and so with that, you have to get those ideas adopted within the team as well and get them working together, and I think that’s really interesting how on corporate America, you see that so frequently, or they’re so quick to jump over the team and Okay, you guys just deal with it, and yet with the consumer, they’re doing everything to have them adopt their product, to purchase their product, they’re forgetting, their team has gotta adopt the strategy, you talked about having the business plan come to life the only way you can do that is through the extension of yourself, because you’re only one person, so what are some of the strategies that you use to get those ideas adopted and then moving them out to the customer, because there’s only really…

0:05:33.7 S2: I would say there’s probably three main parts of business, you need money, you need marketing and you need innovation, and if you don’t have any one of those three legs of the stool where you’re… Especially now with innovation. And you have to be able to sell something. Right, and so what do you do? And when you’re working with a team to get them really focused and working together, so that you can get them to adopt those ideas and then make that business plan come to life. So one of the concepts that we use here at 304 Coaching is called Conversation Intelligence, and it’s really about understanding the neuroscience of the mind and how does it take in language in the workplace, and what are those chemical reactions? And so when we are in fear, that means our pre-front for primitive brain takes over and as soon as that happens, and believe me, our way we’ve been taught to lead is actually very fear-inducing a and when we… You talked about it with retail, that is your last score card, so you’re just freaking out, and it’s not about strategy, it’s just about survival at that point…

0:06:40.8 S2: Yeah, and if you are one hour over in payroll, the whole world crashed at down, let alone that you were up 10% to your last year numbers, and so when you bring fear into the mind of your team, how the brain works is that the permanent brain kicks in and wants to keep you safe, it’s like, Don’t go out a cave, don’t get judged, they really quiet, sat at your desk, don’t ask questions, don’t tell the truth, and your prefrontal cortex closes down, it’s it… You’re Permian, it’s there to keep you alive. So it closes everything down, which that’s the problem, ’cause your prefrontal cortex is where you learn, it’s where new ideas come from, it’s where innovation starts to happen in collaboration, and so really understanding how we lead in a way that creates trust, and I think a lot of people call it psychological safety, but Conversation Intelligence is kinda around before that buzzword showed up, but it really is that psychological safety and understanding how our language and actions create the output and the results of our team. And one of my favorite things to ask a leader, it’s like, Tell me what’s wrong with your team, and they go crazy, they wanna tell me about the million things, and then I’m always say, Great, tell me what you’re doing to create that.

0:07:59.2 S2: And then they’re like, what that means? Because we have to… Yeah, whatever our team is doing, it’s the environment that we created as a leader that made that come to trace to reality. And so what are some of the examples of that? ’cause I could tell you a million that I see in a leadership position where it really is driven by fear, but what are some of the things that you can do you could give him know a lot about leading with fears. And it’s just the way we’ve always done it. I mean, if you hit rewind, when I first started in corporate America, it was like, you do exactly what you’re told to do when you’re told to do it and… And that’s why I’m an entrepreneur, ’cause I was like, I’m not gonna listen to the Athos telling me exactly what I need to do when I know my space and I know that I can affect really great change. And so what are some of the things that you can either use as either tools or even just our words, so many times, you can just put a sentence in a different way of communicating it or consistently asking questions versus telling…

0:09:03.8 S2: Like What are some of the things that you work with leaders so that they can be empowered to be better leaders, because often times they’re just not given the tools, they’re just not given the training, and a lot of people like, Oh, just great leaders are born not… They have to practice, you have to really own your craft and care about other individuals and have your tools in your tool box that you pull out. So what are some of the things that you teach in that space… There’s so many interesting different things that we do teach, one of the things that I think is really important as we first start to think about how often we’re willing to hear the truth, and so when I’m working with… If we go back to the example of the person who tells me everything that’s wrong with their team, and then I say, What are you doing to create it? They usually say Nothing. And I’m like, absolutely, right? Sure. And so we do some little experiments, we say that… Well, a lot of times people will say, No, they just don’t… You know, people these days are… They blame it on millennials.

0:10:02.9 S2: I’m like, Why? Because they’re brilliant, don’t blame it on them, they always have a reason why it’s not their fault that their team is in executing, and I’m always like, Well, you hire them, you onboard them, you lead them, so somewhere along the way, you made a decision that wasn’t right, now, there were some ties in there, you got a tonight, that’s alright. But we really start to figure out how willing are you to hear the truth, and that’s incredibly important when it comes to creating safety and also driving your business. And what happens is a lot of leaders are not willing to hear the truth, and they’re only willing to hear what they wanna hear, and there are some research that shows we actually get addicted to our own thoughts and addicted to being right, and that happens a lot with leaders, ’cause when we’re right, we get a dopamine hit, and that’s how addiction start, right, you just need more and more of that hit that dopamine hit to get that same level of high. And so as leaders, if we’re not willing to hear the truth and accept that as that person’s reality or experience, and we’re not willing to move our business forward, and so the kind of one of the first experiments we do is we’re like, What’s a really difficult question you could ask the team…

0:11:14.1 S2: And so whatever that is, maybe, why have we lost business in this area? Why are cells struggling? I’m like, Okay. Let’s pull them together. Let’s ask that question. And once you ask it, I want you to just sit back and observe. And so a couple of things always happen, One is someone will either blame it on what else outside things you can’t control because then they’re not in trouble, which is the market or the pricing, or… There’s about 10 of them that pop out the… Absolutely. The weather, any of those things. And then often times what you’ll see is the room goes quiet and everyone looks at each other and then looks at the leader, it’s ’cause they’re waiting to be told how to answer that question, and so you start to really see how your language has created… Either honesty in the environment or the lack of honesty, it is such an important piece, so that’s one of the first things we do is we get really honest about truth-telling, because conversation intelligence is about psychological safety and respect and creating collaboration and trust, and it’s also about being incredibly honest, and I don’t think we’re honest enough in the workplace these days, or given the…

0:12:30.4 S2: To be honest, one of the things is, in what we teach, there’s four corn natures of work, and there’s one 25% of the population later adopters and their thinkers, and we always call these people or Debbie down or why do you have to always be a pessimist even though they’re so amazing at poking all the holes before you ever do anything, and then all of a sudden you start looking at something else like an assessment, like disc, right. Think about somebody who is a sea that ends up being in that percentage of the population that’s a later a doctor and a thinker, yet their entire brilliance is poking all the holes and telling you everything that’s gonna go wrong, but you’re not thinking of… And not embracing that simply because you haven’t embraced that space where they can do what they do best, where they’re not looked negatively for, and that’s part of their magnificence on top of it, so understanding who everybody is on your team and that people are different, and I think that that’s a big part of trolling, it’s one of the reasons why we call a mover shaker, rovers and makers, because everybody looks at the movers and shakers of the world, guess what, if you don’t have the later adopters that are going to take that poke all the holes in and repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, you can’t get anywhere, ’cause all you’re gonna do is continually come up with new ideas and new plans that aren’t gonna get executed, and so I think everybody leads, they just leave in different ways, and so when you’re working with a team, how do you identify? So many times leadership is a title instead of…

0:14:06.6 S2: There’s so many different ways to lead. I actually think we’re teaching the Air Command and Staff College, and I learned the Military teachers like seven different ways you’ve got power because you’re in a position of power, you’ve got influence, you’ve got all these different layers of the type of leadership that people take on, what are you utilize so that they can become not only with truth telling me aware, but just the style that they’re adopting of leadership, because I think leadership turns into a word like marketing, like a marketing. That’s a bad word because I can probably write down 150 ways that you could market it, so we got a… Shove it all into one bucket. I think that happens with leadership a lot, so how do you divvy through the A group and identify maybe somebody that would be a great leader, but that has not been put in a leadership position, and then somebody who has been given the title, but is the last person that really should be in that position, so we do… We use an assessment of OAD, it’s organization analysts and design, and it allows us to find our natural work traits, it also helps define how people make decisions, and that’s really where the gold is, because if you are a person who leans towards analytical decisions versus emotional decisions, that shows up in the workplace.

0:15:27.3 S2: It also measures creativity, not like If you’re gonna decorate a room, but creativity in… Do you like to do a pragmatic the way it’s been, or do you like to break what works, just to see if you can build about our will. And so what part of this assessment is also shows us how you’re adapting, and the goal is, is to get people to a place where they’re being themselves, but the best version of themselves, and that they are situational managing those things that aren’t necessarily always positive in the workplace, so I regen. It’s not always positive. So that’s why gal at the last 30 years has done a survey and 70% of it people in the United States take their job, and that’s capital age, that’s a… Don’t like it, that’s like they feel like they’re trading their soul for a paycheck, you go internet, yet internationally is 89% of people wake up every day selling their soul and… How sad is that? Because it doesn’t have to be that way. If we would just change the way we meet our team members to be effective and efficient, it’s just that we fall so short on giving them the ability to be successful, and then we always say, everyone knows you don’t put a square peg in a round hole, but yet, well, instead of making the work for the people, we make the people fit the work, and so we meet whatever it is out of them because that’s what the title said, that’s what the job is, hantesa, and there’s no innovation around taking that and not…

0:17:01.0 S2: No, but it’s very common that they don’t happen that out of the box thinking, and I really don’t like that, I just mean innovative ways of solving and making that business plan come to life. Because it’s not one-size-fits-all, you have to make… The work that the people, you have to look at it and go, Okay, these are all the pieces that I have. How can I put them in the appropriate place so that we can get to the end result instead of just saying, Okay, pick up, you pick you… And it’s almost like how… They always said The United States have always done so well in the Olympics, simply because in Russia, they will… You will be born and they will say You are going to be a gymnast, and that’s what you do because you were told and you were born, and that’s what you’re supposed to do, but in the States, it was very different, whereas if that’s what you wanted to do that’s what you did. And I’m not sure if it’s the same way, but I remember learning it in school and identifying that the reason why we were always dominate in Olympics is not because we have the best athletes, it was because whoever wanted to do it, did it, and then the best were picked from that particular sport and really corporate America could learn a bit from that.

0:18:15.9 S2: Yeah, and here’s one of my other favorite actions is we love someone because of who they are, and then we promote them and then we’re like, Oh yeah, everything you used to do is wrong. We don’t want that anymore, and I’m like, What you promote them because they were so good at all of this, and now you don’t want them to do it anymore, and I think especially when directors go to vice president level, you know, I always say managers, managers, directors track what the world vice presidents do. You know, no one knows. And so I was working with a client recently, and she was fantastic because she was… Had a high sense of detail, very process-oriented, delivered day in and day out, I mean a total rock star. They promoted her device President and then said, Everything, you’re great at. We don’t really do that as Vice President, so I don’t do that anymore. We know she’s in deeper son to promote to that position. Yeah, but what we found… ’cause she’s in an IT environment, and so what we’re doing is she had been told she was so wrong that it was emotional…

0:19:17.5 S2: Right, you’re failing. But then we turned it around and we said, No, no, no, you’re all 100% right, but how do you use what you’re great at and the way that’s appropriate for your role, and how do you use your detail in a way that’s situational and because they need her, they need someone, like you said, that person who will poke holes in it, who will dig down and ask the question, they need that MIS-team, but now you have to think, how does she do it? But then package it and verbalize it in a way that’s still acceptable at the vice president level, ’cause the tree, she’s a rock star, gets promoted and then everything you got promoted for being a rock or… No, we don’t want you to do that. Exactly, we can… Can you imagine them feeling like what you feel when you’re rock or everybody wants to be a winner, everybody wants to be a part of a winning team, and then being put in a position that then you’re not… You’re seen as not being good at… You know, I’ve seen this several times in sales, where you’ve got the top sales professional and then they make that person in the sales manager…

0:20:23.1 S2: I’m like, You guys realize you wanna make them a trainer or something, but you basically took everything that they’re good at, and as I pretty much… To be exactly the opposite. Yeah, and I see that so often. I know you do in your work, and that’s why you’re working… The work we all do is so important around what’s the actual work and getting really clear and having a ton of clarity on what does it take to do this job, and then finding the person who has those natural skills, but again, we oftentimes create positions around people like, Well, we’ve got this great person and we really don’t need this job, but we’re just gonna make it up, but this is a really nice person and they’ve been here a long time, we should promote them, and so people just don’t stay true to what the work is and what the job is in matching the right person, and every time we take someone and we put them in the wrong job, we are changing the course of their life and not in a good way, they go to work and they’re upset, they go home and that carries home to their family…

0:21:28.0 S2: Absolutely, Jim, think about it. We spend more time working than any other thing we do, how does that affect our health, our financial life, our relationships… It literally bleeds. Can you imagine 70% of the people hate their jobs, what is that doing to our economy when you actually think of it, what is it doing to our health, what is it doing to the children… I know you’ve… You have a bad day at work and you go home and you have dinner with your kids, your kids know that they feel that, and you may think you’re dialing in or you’re faking it, but your kids know, and I always tell leaders now, yes, at the end of the day that person goes home, but your leadership carries into them and it carries into their families, and how when you’ve had a great day and you’re confident and you go home and everyone celebrating that feels really different to children, and I just think it’s a moot have to appreciate that. Yeah, and you make a good point there. And one, you could look and feel down and lose energy, but one of the most powerful things in making a business plan or strategic plan, whatever it is that you’re focusing on, getting accomplished is momentum, and the biggest part of momentum is to build and build and build and when you’re constantly pulling the carpet out from underneath your team, and everybody knows the highest cost to any business is turnover, and so we know that’s the truth, but yeah, what are we doing to ensure that turnover doesn’t happen now that’s hitting the bottom line, so it is hitting your broad line, but what is it doing your momentum to…

0:23:07.4 S2: All those intangible things, we call it culture, but cultures truly doesn’t just happen, it’s what we do, it’s what our feet do every day, it’s what our mouths do every day, and so thinking about the intangible items that get affected, it’s way more than I think Shumway is… Our Sharm says 33% of whatever somebody’s salary is, that’s what turnover cost you, but that’s just on the bottom line, there’s just all these other intangibles that really get affected if you’re not managing this… It is, and there’s a lot that plays in… I did a 360 survey recently at an organization, and with the Vice President, I interviewed each of them confidentially, so I could really dig in and ask a lot of questions, and one of the things that we found that was impacting turnover was the Accounting Department was overwhelmed and invoices were not getting paid on time, and so there was a fear that the company had money issues and that wasn’t the truth, but the actions that were provided made that story, I think about how that one thing can lead that through the whole company. Number one, if you’re not asking them what’s going on, because also in that same study, 78% of turnover is preventable…

0:24:30.2 S2: Yes, absolutely. 780% is… ’cause we’re not asking the question, I’m not given the environment that they feel safe, how interesting, what a great story of this little thing that was just a department, it was overwhelmed that created this entire facade of what wasn’t going on, but because nobody was raising their hands saying, Hey, what’s going on here? Do we got money problems or what… They ended up dealing with turnover consistently… Yeah, and that was one of the things people were saying, and because they were calls from their vendors or… They like to get that call. They think it’s their fault. We did a podcast one time as people leave bosses, not companies, and the truth of matters, if you don’t have the ability to go to your boss and go, Hey, what’s up with this? And there’s not that comfort level, it’s not even… And even though it can affect the company as a whole, not giving them the leadership tools and the freedom, and as you call it… What did you call it? I love the name you used, conversational intelligence in creating that safe area instead of managing from a point of fear, so…

0:25:36.2 S2: Well, Gosh, Jen, this is awesome. I’m sure we could go on forever and ever and ever. In this space, I love this space, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all, so it is really a complex dynamic challenge, but it’s definitely one that is absolutely critical in any business, and I would venture to say even all the solo-prunus think it doesn’t have to do with them. I’m like, Hey, yeah, we were working with a really large multinational reales ate firm, and of course, everybody’s independent contractor, I was like, Okay, so who does your escrow? Who’s doing your financing? Who do you have on your insurance… I mean, I listed one list, everybody that you have in your network that you talk with consistently, and on average it was 20 different other professionals, I said There’s your team just let… You’re kind of actually paying their paycheck too, if you think about it, you’re referring them business, they’re taking care of your customers and back and forth, so you have a collaborative vested interest in each other’s business, so that’s your team. Yeah, you wanna do the same thing on the right. So would you manage if you were a real estate professional to your finance person from a point of fear and they do it all the time, and you want…

0:26:42.7 S2: You’re not getting the effects, a long-term effect of making your business plan come to life, just like you said, it’s like it doesn’t matter if you’re by yourself or if you’re in a 150000 person corporation. It’s necessary. Yeah, absolutely. It’s so interesting when you… You just sit back and watch, I just… I could set in a meeting and just watch people interact and watch their conversation and you can… You just see all of the history of those relationships play out in real life, because if our brain has had five bad experiences and then that person walks up to you, guess what your brain’s gonna be like, You know what, we haven’t ever had a good one, so I’m gonna not like this conversation either, and these neuro pathways that we’re creating with people through every conversation, it’s just… It’s fascinating, I could say to a teenage, it’s a lot easier than digging a ditch, it’s harder to fill that ditch back in and so… But normally, we get called in when it’s time to feel indigenous, so I know I want to call… Is it before you start digging the ditch there, some Olin calls when they’re like, You know what we’re doing fantastic, you should come in and make it more fantastic, even though that’s the best time to call…

0:27:54.2 S2: Right, for water. Well, Jen, this has been awesome. Where can our listeners and viewers get a hold of you, so you can go to 304 Coaching and you can connect with me through there, we have a lot of free resources you can download around conversation intelligence, or you can connect with me on LinkedIn at Jen Thornton. And we can continue the conversation and the messages… Fantastic, and we will make sure those links are in the show notes. Jen, thank you so much for being with us here today. Oh, thank you so much. I knew I would have a great time and I certainly do.

0:28:27.1 S1: Venous, thank you for listening to The People catalyst podcast and remember, it’s a good life.

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