Is your company heading towards the talent cliff? What talent do you need?
0:00:00.0 S1: An executive group to really give up their own needs and effort to think about the organization. Organizations just thrive. It’s incredible, but it’s not easy to get there, and you have to have some really tough conversations around that. Welcome, this is the Lady Leadership Podcast. Sam’s goal is clear. Helping as many women as you can make their full potential in business and in life. Hi, this is Sam McIntyre And in this season of the Lady Leadership Podcast, I’m gonna be talking to you about how to get the most out of your career, whether you have your own business, whether you’re working corporate or whether you’re just starting out, maybe you’re finishing university. I look forward to sharing all my tips and hints on how to fast track your career.
0:00:48.9 S2: Hi everyone, and welcome to Lady Leadership. I’m super excited today to have on the show Jen Thornton.
0:00:59.6 S1: Now, Jen Thornton describes herself on LinkedIn as helping global brands build roster teams to support rapid sustainable growth, and Jens worked around the world and… Hi Jen. How are you? I’m good, thanks for having me today.
0:01:18.9 S2: No problem, so good to have you. Now, Jen, we’re gonna talk teams, we’re gonna talk leadership, and we’re gonna talk all those with things, tell me a little bit about your journey and how you’ve got to… I did mention you’ve also got a coaching business as well, talk to me about how this is all panned out for you, so let’s see, my entire career has actually been in the retail industry up until owning my own business, and I won’t date myself, but when I was younger, it was really cool to hang out in the mall, and I always wanted to work in the mall, and that’s what I did very early in my career, and I worked in the operations side of retail for half of my career, and then I went into the HR side and floated around and worked in all the different departments into different things, I always believe that results came from talent, and so my approach to HR was always really unique, it was really more strategy-driven because I’d always been on the operations side, and I knew you couldn’t get the business results you needed without great teams, and so since I wasn’t a classically trained HR person, I just had a different approach.
0:02:28.0 S2: And towards the end of my career in the last several years, I was the head of International HR for a large global retailer, and
0:02:36.4 S1: That was fantastic, I loved it, it looked really amazing on Instagram and Facebook, traveling around the world, but I got to a point where I just knew I needed to do something for myself. I had helped so many companies get started, new brands and new countries, and I thought, Why couldn’t I do this for myself? And so I woke up one day and decided I was gonna launch my own business, and that’s what I do today. And today, here at 304 Coaching, we help organizations with talent strategies, because I know that our business will not deliver our business results will not come true without great talent strategies.
0:03:16.0 S2: Look, I love that, Jen. And I think working around the world gives you so much experience, so much experience with different cultures, different ways of working, different people, etcetera.
0:03:28.6 S1: Yeah, it definitely did. And I remember when I was working domestically in the US, I would always get frustrated or try to get our executives to align so that we could move forward, and I thought that was hard, but I didn’t really realize what hard look like until I went international and I tried to get an international group of executives to align when they had different time zones and cultures and language and just ways of work, but that’s really actually where I became incredibly fascinated by working with executive groups and helping them understand how their actions really do impact the business. So I’m glad that that challenge fell into my plate because it helped me grow to be able to do what I do today. Look, I love that. And
0:04:14.2 S2: So talk to me then about… You talk about a couple of topics, and one of them is kind of avoiding the talent clip, and so how can fast developing companies grow and develop their talent to support that? Yeah.
0:04:31.2 S1: So the talent Cliff is when our business out piece is our skill set of our organization, of our leadership skills or our talent skills, and you see that a lot happened, people started the business because they have a great idea for a service, a product, a new piece of technology, no one wakes up and says, I’m really good at assembling teams, I’m just gonna assemble a team and see what happens. No one does that. You have an idea, then you have to assemble a team around it, and in the beginning, the business typically starts to take take off, if you have a really great idea and you start chasing the business, you start thinking about your business plan for the future, you start thinking about investors, you start thinking about product and how are you gonna scalability, all this stuff, but most people never start or stop and say, Well, the people like the talent has to make this happen, and how do we do that? And so they’re so focused on that business result that oftentimes the business out grows their skill because the people aren’t growing with the business, and then you kinda go off that what I call the talent cliff where your top talent starts to struggle, so they lead in a way in which is more command and direct because they’re in fear, your good people start to leave your other people who stayed or kind of in that…
0:05:49.8 S1: Well, yes or no, ma’am. Because they’re scared of being in trouble ’cause the way we’re leading, and then we go off that cliff and then our business is right behind it.
0:05:57.9 S2: Yeah, got. Yeah, absolutely. And so, what do you think companies can do that? So how do they never get this place… Yeah.
0:06:08.4 S1: So the first thing we have to think about is not our current pain, and I get phone calls all the time and they wanna talk to me about what’s wrong today, and today is already history… You’re on a different day than I even have. We’re a day apart because of our time zone differences, so it… Listed is history. And so I always wanted to stop companies and start thinking about, No, where are you going and what will you need once you get there, is that… Do you expect three in five years, and then when we know where we’re going, we start projecting out the skills we need, the competencies we need, maybe the new positions we need, then we start to look at our current team and think, How do we get this team ready for where we’re going, and how do they grow as the business grows, and so we do all types of different things inside that to help that town strategy come together, we do… We have a pre-employment assessment to make sure we get the right people in the right positions, and then we can use that as a development tool and a life cycle journey tool.
0:07:14.6 S1: We do leadership academies that we custom design for organizations based on what skills and competencies and that culture of that company, because you can train the same concept in three different companies, but you have to train it to that company’s culture. So we have leadership academies, and then we also are a true believer and making sure that we take care of… Our leaders are highest up because if executives are growing and they are going through coaching and they are growing, they set the pace for the team, so if I know as a director, I see my VPs focused on their development, than growing as a leader becomes super cool it becomes what we do, and it helps the entire team start to grow, but you have to get really deliberate about where you’re going and what does that mean for your team? Yeah.
0:08:02.1 S2: And I think we’ve all kind of saying Tentative leadership, where you have someone in a Sanyal who’s not robot developing, not asking different questions, not performing. Yeah, just kind of like I said, I call it like leadership, do you tackle that?
0:08:27.8 S1: I was such a good question. I think it depends on that person. You have to think about the culture. And sometimes we’ve led in a way that tells people that if you speak up, if you stand out, if you admit that you’re struggling, that you’re in trouble, and so I always want to really think about What have we put in place in the environment to cause this person… Maybe what we say is lazy leadership, but is there an environmental cause first, because if there’s an environmental cause, we need to attack that because we can’t have that anywhere in the organization, and then if it’s someone who truly isn’t interested in development, and those are conversations and really discovering why… And I also think that sometimes people don’t see the good stuff on the other side of the work, and so if I know that on the… If I work with a coach and I really put a lot of effort into growing as a leader, then the other side of that could be a promotion, it could be additional responsibility, there could be some really great things on the other side of it, then I think people are more likely to do the work, but we don’t always talk about what’s on the other side of it…
0:09:42.0 S2: Yeah, that’s interesting, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s kind of a looking to how you can actually move and grow, so they talk to me about the, I suppose, power pies and competition, those types of things in leadership teams and teams.
0:10:02.1 S1: And so when we are a leading, we actually lead with a lot of fear, and we may not understand it or identify it that way, but especially at the executive level, there’s a lot of pressure, there is once you… It’s lonely at the top. You don’t have necessarily peers that you can bounce ideas off of any more you’re focused on protecting your team, and I think that the power plays that I see often happen is the executives all walk to the table with their interest… Their own interest or the interest of their team, and they’re so busy protecting their own ideas so that they look smart at the table that they are, they’re not focused on the company objectives, and that when you can switch the mindset of an executive group to really give up their own needs and effort to think about the organization, you see organizations just thrive, it’s incredible, but it’s not easy to get there, and you have to have some really tough conversations around that.
0:11:07.0 S2: Yeah, look on… And I’ve had a similar background up, wait, in retail and started on the check out installs and then worked in IT for many years, and then worked in the same suite in it and… Yeah, I used to say, so as a kind of service provider, I’d say to people I couldn’t decide the highest priority work for the organization, I needed to get them together to decide that, and I would facilitate that and get them to vote to supply chain marketing, each of the different groups. And the amount of work… So once we decided the priorities, and I used to like a febrile method, customer value, risk or opportunity, and then kind of competitive market value, the amount of work that I was then able to deliver off the back of that because that is… Those executives needed to bring it to that group, to get that group to vote, so as an organization, this is the highest priority work for us, and then get them each working together to agree to at the amount of work I was in able to deliver off the back of that in a really short time was phenomenal, but it’s very hard to get…
0:12:19.8 S2: Like I said, it’s very hard to kind of get that place and you need… You need that to be so facilitated by the CEO or… I’ve often seen HR as well, step into that role to kind of facilitate that group, to agree, like you said, off the back of the company objectives, and I think also… I would say, You know, I think sometimes, ’cause I wasn’t a service-providing role, people would think he worked for them and their team rather than we all work for the organization, we all work for the one place, and I can see you smiling. And so therefore, I’m not delivering to you, I’m delivering to the organization, and then I need your help with that as well.
0:13:01.8 S1: Yeah, and I think that’s such a great example because oftentimes, one department will think another department is there to serve them, and we’re there to serve the organizational goals, and HR sometimes can be that way, they could be looked at as just the policy police or that they’re not looked at as true business partners, it, I think can be that… A lot of times too, it’s like, Oh, they’re just a people we call when something breaks, you’re like, No, those are the people who parapet the company because they’re running security 24 hours a day. There’s so much that that part of the organization does that people don’t see, and when we start to look at departments as service providers and not a contributing member of the team, then I think it can be really dangerous. Yeah.
0:13:51.7 S2: And I’ve also, I’ve always just liked people thinking their customer was an internal person, and it’s no customers actually external to the organization, you’re not my customer, I provide a service to this organization, like you do, but yeah, it’s interesting, elora Nisa tins that the power always seems to sit with the P and L loaders, which are fascinating, but I also find not that many organizations, so wanting to kind of change that… Or not having an awareness.
0:14:24.9 S1: Yeah, and I think that oftentimes, we don’t change until the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of change, and that’s why we say I wish people would call me before the pain of where we’re at is so bad that we have to re-write all of it. What if every organization thought about their culture and their way of work before they grew, how well could they do, but yeah, that they’re not service providers or our customers were business partners and all departments, if they looked at each other as true business partners, those lines of communication would open up, I think, in any way.
0:15:03.8 S2: Well, I mean, I use the word service provider as well, and so then really kind of leading real change, how do you think you get change in organizations… Does it have to be a disaster? ’cause often you get changed from a disaster ’cause it’s kind of like everyone Spoleto, but… Yeah, how do you think you can get change in organizations with that they’re necessarily being a disaster?
0:15:33.4 S1: Yeah, so I think there’s always… All levels. I think that there’s a few things. I think that one of the most important things is you have to align on values and what is important for the organization and get all of our leaders aligned just like you did, and you align them from an aspect of what’s important from this IT project and what’s our priorities really aligning on how we work and what’s the rules of work and the play that we do, and that’s a big piece of it, because in… Once you get the alignment, then you can start to work towards that change. I think the other thing is, often times we walk in and we’re like, Oh well, this person is struggling, or this team’s not doing so great, so we ship them off for a three-day workshop and we think they’re gonna come out, these new people and these new leaders and they don’t, because adults don’t learn that way, and so I think that we have to really think about how do you create behavior change, and there’s pieces of that, and all of our trainings built… Basically, I made a list of everything I knew didn’t work.
0:16:43.7 S1: I hated about leadership training, and then I just reverse engineered it, and so I’ll do the opposite ’cause what’s out there isn’t working, no one’s changing their personalities overnight, and so you have to look at how the adult learner takes in information and if they take it in and drip content, you can’t get someone in a room for three days, I think you’re gonna come out a new person, it has to be over time, you have to understand the competencies, they’re gonna learn the skill sets, we are really big on either coaching or providing self-coaching, teaching people how to coach themselves, giving them really big questions to say, Hey, if I do this work, what’s on the other side of it, because you have to do the mindset to change, you have to do the mindset work too. And then the very last piece, if you wanna create behavior changes, you have to implement, and so giving an adult learner and you want a competency, a new skill, getting their mindset there, and then giving them actual activities to then put that into play because if not, then we don’t learn it. We don’t practice it.
0:17:50.4 S1: And so I think combining those four things and your education allows you to actually create behavior change.
0:17:57.3 S2: So really that learning by doing… Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, so good. And so what would you recommend that and say for anyone that’s working somewhere that’s kind of struggling that team, same disjointed the… Maybe the strategy is not clear… Yeah.
0:18:16.5 S1: Oh gosh, just… They’re so much there. I think that one of the first things you wanna do is get brave and ask some questions, and oftentimes, we get into the habit of complaining about leadership or complaining about our boss, and here’s the facts, and we all know them, that does nothing… All it tells your brain that things are bad, and the odd thing about our brain as it believes whatever we tell it, and so as long as you’re telling it, it’s bad and there’s no direction than your right, that there’s not… But if you’re struggling with direction or you’re struggling with your supervisor, be brave, go in and have a conversation and say, Hey, this quarter we have a lot to deliver, and I just wanna go over from you and hear from you again your priorities and make sure that I’m crystal clear, so I’m able to deliver those. And most bosses are not gonna say, Yeah, I’m not really the mood for that today, most will say, Oh well, let me sit you down and talk to you, but we tend to hide behind the story we tell ourselves, and we’re not the brave one who goes in and ask the questions.
0:19:22.9 S2: Yeah, gotcha. Yeah, and I think sometimes as well, you can sit there and think something’s going on all… No one’s doing… I’ve often said to team members who have been complaining about something like you don’t know what they might be doing in the background, just sold that out and these things take time. And so I think as a leader then it’s being able to be visible about what you are and aren’t working on and being kind of clean with your priorities as well.
0:19:52.6 S1: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And just being on this, I don’t know what direction we’re taking and you’ll have to give us some time to figure that out, and I know that’s gonna feel really uncomfortable for a little bit, but I’m gonna need you to hang in there with me while we figure this out…
0:20:06.1 S2: Yeah, yeah, and just the communication and generally kind of checking in with people as well, and so how do you think covid change things or what can people kind of do through covid? Now.
0:20:19.0 S1: Covid has been a great equalizer, there is not a human honest planet who is not impacted in some way, and I think that it’s somewhat of a reset where every human is like, Oh, I don’t know, and that doesn’t happen often, especially in leadership, a lot of leaders like to pretend they know all the answers, whether they know them or not, so covid is kind of been that great equalizer. So what I think is important to recognize, and some of the things I’ve been seeing is that at the beginning of covid, it was crisis, and it should be buildings on fire, get out, we had to make really fast and just decisions or wasn’t discussion… There wasn’t bringing people along, it was highly directive, but what I’m finding is there some leaders who have gotten into that habit, and now that we’re all learning to live with it and flexing into whatever it is, they’re still crisis-managing, they’ve stopped, they haven’t stopped to slow down and say, Wow, I have to go back to the leadership style that works for me. And so I think that my advice would be, is really check in with yourself and are you being the leader, you were the leader you wanna be, or are you kind of stuck in this fear crisis management that we were all thrown into a few months ago…
0:21:34.9 S2: Yeah, I think that’s interesting. Am I the later that I wanna be… A mind still kind of been reactive money
0:21:42.3 S1: Because we’re not reacting anymore, we’re living in it, and
0:21:46.4 S2: I think originally it was like, We don’t know. So it’s difficult to plan. And I think sometimes people don’t do any climbing when planning becomes a little bit harder, but it’s like, Okay, what do we think we’re gonna do the next city… Does listen to guys.
0:22:01.8 S1: Yeah, and sometimes that plan may only be 24 hours if you’re in a critical area, but I think things are starting to… People are just finding ways to work inside of it, and then people are having to figure out how to ramp their business back up, I have a client that I’m working with right now that did a phenomenal job, keep being it together through covid, but now man, it’s like a fire hose, they’re trying to ramp back up really quickly and having to keep their standards of hire, having to make sure that they’re onboarding people properly and not just hiring people and throwing them in, ’cause it would be easy to do that because there’s a demand for their business over night to come back, and we’re having to be really honest with each other to make sure that we’re bringing people back in a way that’s gonna set them up for success so that they don’t fail over the next few months after surviving covid, if you survived it, don’t mess up and fell on the end.
0:23:01.1 S2: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I think people probably didn’t hire or they don’t onboard people, they slowed it down, and then it was like, Well, actually, we can’t keep… You know, this is a new normal. So we don’t have to find some new ways of working… Yeah, and I think people are looking at different ways to do the work. Everyone got a lot leaner and really kind of looked at the work and what’s required and what’s not.
0:23:30.0 S1: And I think that’ll be helpful for organizations, and I think that leaders who had to pitch in and do more than their day job, I think they learned a lot about their own business. And that’s
0:23:40.2 S2: A Wisconsin. Absolutely, yeah. Putting yourself in the work. And thank you so much for your time. Now, if people wanna get in touch with you, what’s the best way?
0:23:53.1 S1: So you can find me on our website at 304 Coaching, or connect with me on LinkedIn, Jen Thornton-ACC. Beautiful.
0:24:02.1 S2: Thank you so much. I think that’s such great tips and advice for anyone out there who’s running a chain, wanting to scale the chain, leading a team or just entertain…
0:24:13.3 S1: Well, thank you so much for having me. With such a pleasure.
0:24:16.0 S2: Thank you, Dan. I really enjoyed that chat with Jen, and I really enjoyed her focus on looking at an organization as a whole, leaders looking at organizations as a whole, not just their area or their silos, so really that kind of total cross-company engagement of what’s the best thing for the organization and what are the best things that we need to be working on. And I really like that future focus, so yes, we’ve got to deal with the problems that we’ve got today, but what is the organization from a people perspective, what is it that we need in a year, what are the skills and the capabilities and how do we grow our, How do we grow our leaders to set them up for success for the future and really planning that out and having that people’s strategy that supports your overall company strategy, so I think they’re really good recommendations from Jen. So yeah, I hope you really enjoyed this week’s podcast, I’m certainly loving the different guests that I’m getting on the show, and I’m loving the learning that I’m exploring through this journey and yeah, I hope that you are certainly able to take some of these tips and hints and recommendations from the experts that I’ve had on the show and work that into either your own business or into your career, so…
0:25:51.8 S2: Yeah, I hope you’re really loving that now, if you wanted to reach out to me, if you’ve got some ideas for some shows, so you’ve got some questions… I do a 20-minute care review on my website, which is Lady dash leadership dot com, and so you can have a 20-minute career conversation with me, so just check that out and book that in. I also do one-on-one coaching and I’m taking on a couple of extra clients at the moment, so I’d love to have a chat to you about that, and I’ve got some great career hints and tips on my side, so you can download that, I’ve got 10 great tips that you can use in your career and now just really kind of change your career up, if you’re feeling like a little bit stack or you wanting some career inspiration, then by all means, have a look at that. I find a lot of my clients spend a lot of time working in their job and really doing a great job at that, but maybe not working on their career so much, so not necessarily having a plan, not knowing where they’re going to go next, not really having done like a skills audit, so not looking at what are the skills that I’ve developed to date, and what are the skills that I need to develop for the next stage of my career, and then also like who have I got around me that’s gonna support and help me make that kind of leap.
0:27:21.0 S2: Or that change that I wanna make. So yeah, look at them. I’d love to help you out if you’re interested and check those resources out and then next year… In the new year. So 2021, I’m gonna be kicking off my career lab, which is an online course to help you work through all these areas, so to help you define what your mission, your vision, your purpose, and your priorities are, what are the skills that you’re looking for to develop in that you need… So what are the core skills and also the leadership skills that you need to refine and then where are the gaps and that you need to do some work on. I often find people have gaps inside, they’re networking, or people have gaps inside planning out what the actual goals are, so then working through those goals to say, three, six, nine, 12 months to kind of move them on to that next step and that next stage of them… Where they’re wanting to hear. So that course is gonna be kicking off next year, I think it’s gonna be February, so you can register to find out information about
0:28:29.7 S1: That, and you’d love to see you there. I hope you’re doing well and have a good week.
0:28:37.0 S2: Cheese. And I OOo.