Executive Hunger Games

What HR issues are keeping you up at night? Jen Thornton talks with Jada Willis about the executive Hunger Games we play that keep organization from seeing their full potential.


00:04 S2: So you are experiencing HR after dark, solving the people problems that he do up at night, we exist to make the people part of business easier for leaders, entrees CEOS and business owners of all kismayo for Jones. For HR though, dark, my name is Jade Willis, and I’ll be your host. I’m the CEO of Willis HR. I am so excited about our guest today. We’re gonna be talking about some really cool stuff, we have Jennifer or… Welcome to hear. Thanks for having me. We’re so excited to talk to you a little bit more. I know that you are an expert, having at least as an expert in talent strategy and leadership development, but just for our listeners, say, tell us a little bit more about who you are and in some of the clients that you support.

00:56 S1: So I am the CEO and Founder of 304 coaching. And what we do at 3-04 is we really focus on creating talent strategies that match organization’s business strategies, so oftentimes we spend a ton of time building a business strategy and all of the stuff that’s gonna happen, and the rois and the profits and the shipping and all this good stuff, and then we forget to think, Well, who’s gonna do that, and how is it actually gonna get done… That’s

01:24 S2: Right.

01:25 S1: Isn’t that funny how that always kind of forgets, and then we struggle with our business plan because we don’t have a talent strategy attached to it, and so that’s what we focus on, and we help bringing tools to an organization to make sure that their talent strategy is effective and efficient.

01:41 S2: I think that everyone can agree that this is definitely a service that’s needed, and there’s so much that we can learn today, but I know we’re talking a little bit more about… And you’ve introduced this term or this… Praise me. Executive Hunger Games. When I saw this, I was like, Wow, what is it? But I know it’s true. So just tell us a little bit more about this concept.

02:03 S1: So when I think about the executive Hunger Games, we have to really start with, that’s where we kind of end up, but how do we get there, and how do we get there is around really the neuroscience of the mind, what’s interesting is, when we are in conversations or words in our actions either pre-fear in the mind or create collaboration when it creates fear or using our permanent brain and its only job, and a R brain’s only job and any piece of it is to keep us alive. And what happens is we create fear in our employees, and it’s not fear like you would think like, Oh, I might lose my job, it’s fear of judgment. Fear a failure. I’ve spoken up before and I got in trouble because my boss didn’t like my idea, and when you think about how we were taught to lead in the 20th century where you had to be the expert as if you are the leader, you’re supposed to know it all and if you’re the leader, you should be telling everyone everything, well, that actually is a fear-based mentality, and when we speak in those terms and we create fear, it closes down the prefrontal cortex and the pre-friend…

03:13 S1: So cortex is where all the good stuff happens, so that’s where new ideas and collaboration and actually where we learn. And so if you are frustrated with an employee and you’re yelling at them and thinking you’re teaching them, you’re not… You’re actually closed down the part of their brain that learns and takes in information because they are sitting in fear, it’s not a choice, it’s a chemical reaction. We all have…

03:37 S2: This is fascinating, but I think it’s also very relevant in the midst of covid 19, the pandemic, because a lot of the trainings that I’m doing is talking to leaders about creating more the fostering a supportive work environment, making sure they’re doing touch base one-on-ones and really even doing more check-ins, right, but it’s not just about the emotional check-in, but it’s actually like, what are your reactions if they do make a mistake and are we taking into account everything that’s going on around us, I guess, what tips would you give leaders and executives, right now in this really turbulent time.

04:14 S1: So we should be checking in more, things are tough, but what happens is we’re very busy, ’cause also our work has changed, and so our check-in may be like, Hey, everything good. You seem good. You’re good. Okay, great. And then off you go. Right, and we’ve checked the box. We checked in, but what we need to do is think about how do we use our language to get someone to open up and share, and so one of the best tips that we can do is say to someone, Hey, a lot happen this year, when you look back on this… Want this last year. What is one thing that you’re proud of that you did? And it’s super important to stop and say, What’s one thing? Because that says, Oh, I have to give my boss a answer, and so you give an answer, but then when you give an answer and then your boss says, Well, I’m proud of that too, tell me more. You’ve kind of broken that ice, and so that person will tell you more… Same thing happens is, Hey, are you good? You understand my directions, right? You’ve got this project.

05:19 S1: You’re good. If you need anything, just let me know. Well, no one’s gonna say, Hey, I don’t understand. Help me, but after you deploy or you give directions to deploy a team, the question should be, what’s one thing that you want more clarification on because it forms… Start talking.

05:37 S2: That is such a good point. At one thing, and I come see, you’re telling us that there’s something that also happens from our brain reaction standpoint, it helps us to even focus on providing that one thing, but it also maybe takes our defenses down and eliminate the fear factor, which is absolutely needed right. Now, because I know that you probably have heard about decision fatigue and pandemic meltdown and everything that everyone’s going through, well, that’s a feed back though, into the executive mindset and even leadership. Do you agree with that? Yeah.

06:16 S1: Absolutely. You know what’s interesting is that as leaders, we set in fear a lot, and we may be making a decision, but we can predict what we think the outcome is, but we’re not 100% sure, and just like our team has fears, we have fears. Our fear might be, if I make the wrong decision, I might have to do a reduction in staff, and that would be just horrible. The fear could be, I have built this great team, but now I have to give them bad news, and I hope that my team now doesn’t change their mind or their opinions about me, ’cause I’ve worked really hard to build a strong team, so all that fear in all that chemical reaction, that cortisol that pops up when we’re in fear, it plays into all of us, and then when we communicate in fear, it typically sounds very different than when we communicate from a place of a stable mind and without fear in a place… When our prefrontal cortex is being creative and thinking about innovation and collaboration, that fear communication sounds a lot different, it’s very much directive and do this, not that little discussion because you’re in fear, so your mind is an open to taking in new information when it needs to, take it in the most.

07:36 S1: That

07:37 S2: Completely makes sense. And this is… It’s nice whenever you’re in these interviews and you even hear something, it’s a good reminder for yourself as a leader, as a business owner, something that I saw even on your website is leadership starts at the top though. And I completely hear what you’re saying, but you have to be that example, you have to be on… I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this, but I’ve heard the phrase of HR can never have a bad day. Do you find that to be true? Is that not advice we should be sharing with our leaders and HR community…

08:12 S1: We all are going to have a bad day. I think if we say HR can never have a bad day, we’re setting ourselves up forfar… And we’re setting ourselves up for this assumption that I can’t be honest when I’m struggling, and if you can’t be honest when you’re struggling, then your struggle even more, and so, can we flip that to… HR always has to think with a lens of people of mine first, maybe change it to a new lens versus you can never have a bad day because that’s not capable from a human standpoint.

08:49 S2: You’re completely right. I love your positioning. So this is, uh, so just knowing you a short time, This is what’s really cool, so you’re taking that seemingly or potentially negative statement, and you’re switching your mindset, you’re switching that perspective, and really that’s the best practice that as executives that we should be doing or practicing on our data basis for our teams… Correct.

9:14 S1: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s where the hunger gain start to come in when we have a room full of executives that are stressed, that are in fear, they’re in protection mode because that’s what happens, and when they come to the table, they’re protecting their own interests, they’re protecting the interest of their team… And there’s some value to that. Always protect your team. But what happens is then when they show up to the table, they’re so concerned about their own needs to be smart at the table, to be looked at as a contributor, to make sure people think they have the best team that they’re focused on their needs, and they’re not focused on the needs of everyone at that table, and so then the inviting starts, right, your team didn’t do this, so my team fell, well, my team fall because that guy over there, his team didn’t do that, and then that team says, Well, her team didn’t do that… And then it starts this finding, but what we need to say is what’s the right decision for the organization, and then as an executive, how do you take that back down to your team and make it work within your team? But almost every team I start working with, when I start working with team executive coaching, they start blaming each other instead of getting really clear on what the organization needs and what’s their part in that, and protecting the whole versus them as apart.

10:37 S2: I think they’ve gotten a glimpse of it, but you talk about executive Hunger Games and really what that is in my mind, when I kinda saw that, I was like, Are you inviting them to the Hunger Games? But I wanna learn more, and I think I pray our listeners wanna know more about how do you work with clients, I guess, to even walk them through or help them through this… Well, executive longer games. What does that look like?

11:06 S1: So when we start working with clients and we are broad end to either create culture if they’re a new start-up and they may be new and their process, so it’s important to make a point to make sure that culture doesn’t grow organically, we need to say what it is, and we need to live it and make it come true, or sometimes we come in and we’re there to fix a culture and to re-write one is easier than the other, I’ll let everyone gets… Which one’s easier than the other? But when we come in, the first thing we do is we get really honest about our position, so each person in the room, what is your fear and how does your fear start to verbally translate with each other, and then we start to look at, Alright, that’s our new reality, what do we want our reality to be, and then we have to start connecting those two, and it starts at the top, because if the executives talk to each other differently than they’re creating collaboration, and that voice of collaboration starts to go down to the different levels. So if you are an executive and you’re fighting and not getting along with anyone else at the table, when you go back to your team, that message, that voice, whether you mean it to or not, will come down to your team and their teams like, Well, my boss thinks that group over there doesn’t know what they’re doing anyhow, so I don’t think they know what they’re doing, and so then it just starts this culture of protection and where we just don’t trust each other, and when we’re in protection, that permanent brain is on fire and nothing else is happening, but…

12:43 S1: It’s making sure we stay alive.

12:45 S2: Perfect. Well, do you ever incorporate personality assessments or any assessment as well, and if not, then… Why is that?

12:54 S1: So we do… So the assessment that we use at 3-04 coaching is OAD, organization analyst and design, and it’s an incredible tool, it’s EEOC compliance, you can use it to make sure that you’re hiring the right people with the right traits for that job. So do they have the right level of detail? Assertiveness, creativity, then once they’re on board, how do you use that information to build strong communication, strong relationships, if you have two people that aren’t getting along and I can throw down those ads and one may have… And when they make decisions, they lean towards thinking about people’s feelings, but the other one makes decisions on analytics, so clearly they’re gonna see each other making very wrong decisions, but they both have the same goal, so how do they start to know each other to work towards that medal and appreciate what each person brings the table, so that’s the assessment we use… It’s fantastic, and we sell it to large organizations, small organizations, organizations, they can use it for a full life cycle of that employee. Fantastic.

13:59 S2: It does seem like we have plenty of tools and tools, if you’re told about, but also the strategies in mind to really help leaders and executives, and I didn’t realize that it’s also not just United States interact E as well that you’re helping clients and I’m so thinking for that, because we have international listeners that really could benefit from someone like you and your team, so I guess anything else that you wanna give our listeners any last commits of advice or feedback?

14:30 S1: So one of the things that I love to do is help teams come up with innovative ideas, and it sounds really easy, you just tell everyone to go to the board room and bring their best ideas, well, the mind doesn’t do so well with those directions, so if you call people in for a brainstorming meeting, fear instantly comes in, what if my ideas are too far out there, what… We’ve tried this before, but it didn’t work, but I can’t tell the truth because this is someone’s pet project and they’ll get mad, so you’re never gonna get the truth, but if you have what I love to call a crazy idea meeting and you know the neuroscience of the brain, you can say things like, Hey, we’re gonna have a crazy idea meeting and I want you to bring the most ridiculous ideas you could ever think of to promote products, sparkle, and in fact, I’m gonna give awards out for the most ridiculous idea because that tells the brain, the expectation is to push big, and that’s where you start to find really amazing ideas, and if you wanna do one of those meetings… I have all the instructions, you can download it from 304 coaching, but I tell you how to set up the meeting, how to run the meeting and then how to follow up after the meeting to start creating…

15:42 S1: To start, create innovation within your team.

15:45 S2: I’m Sonali HRA, I can’t wait, we’re definitely having a crazy idea meeting in an pumped about it, and there’s actually structure that you’re providing. Perfect, Okay, so if our audience wants to get in touch with you… How do they do that?

16:01 S1: So I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn, you can find me at Gen Thornton-ACC, we can continue the conversation there. Also love to invite you to three or four coaching dot com, and you can go through the website and schedule a time to talk with me about strategies you may need for your organization.

16:18 S2: Thank you so much, and I think that this is so fascinating. I could talk to you probably for hours and I probably plan to, so I recommend if you wanna learn more, please make sure you get in touch with Jennifer Thornton and we appreciate you following a hacker dark visit Willis hr dot com, if you wanna take that free HR risk assessment to make sure that you are being legally compliant and that your culture is going in the right direction, or where you are headed as an organization, and we wish you the very…

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