We dive into why throwing payroll at a problem does not get to the root of solving the issue and what the future of work-place communication will look like.
0:00:02.9 S1: Thank you for joining us today on Positively Charged Biz. We are here to motivate, inspire and support our listeners as they write their life stories. We are a proud founding member of the real disrupt podcast collaborative, and you can check out more awesome podcast at realdisrupt.com.
0:00:27.6 S2: Hey everyone, I hope you are having a positive and productive day. On today’s show, we are going to hear how we can build an innovative workforce as we build strategies to ensure exponential and positive growth. We have with us the wonderful Jennifer Thornton. She has developed her expertise in talent strategy and leadership professional development over her exciting 20-plus year career as an HR professional. She has led international teams across Greater China, Mexico, the UK and the US to expand into new markets, managing franchise retailers and developing key strategic partnerships or by exceeding business objectives and financial results.
0:01:16.6 S2: The rapid growth of our consulting firm, 304 Coaching has been largely due to Jennifer’s unconventional approach to building innovative workforce development solutions for companies who are facing right through growth and accelerating hiring patterns. Jennifer, we are thrilled to have you here with us today, and on positively charged is we like to start at the beginning, so please tell us why did you decide to focus your career on building a workforce and developing teams? Well, thank you so much for having me. And
0:01:54.9 S1: You know, I think it was an evolution. And through my career, I grew up in the retail industry in a very young age, you learned how to lead in a retail industry, and I always got my results in kind of a different way. I knew I was different. My peers were very competitive and they wanted to win to beat other people, and I was like, No, I just wanna be really good and I wanna build great teams, and any house over time, I realize I led in a different and unique way. And I think that as you grow in your career experiences and different things present themselves in the world leaves you clues and you have to follow them, and I think that last clue, I’ll never forget those moments where you remember the sound and what it felt like, and everything is so visual, and I remember that moment, I was actually in Hong Kong and a board room, and I looked around and thought, This is not what I’m supposed to be doing. What I’m supposed to be doing is going out there and helping teams think about How do I look at my business plan and get excited about where I’m going, but then figure out how to do it through my people.
0:03:03.2 S1: And I think that’s what we’re missing. And that was what was missing in that room that day, is that we weren’t focused on really thinking about how to make our objectives come to life through our people, and I was like, You know what, I gotta go out and change this, and… So that’s what I did, I
0:03:19.1 S2: Love it. And when was that pivotal moment… How long ago was that? Oh, it’s been probably four or four and a half years at this point.
0:03:26.3 S1: Wow.
0:03:26.7 S2: That’s awesome. And I love that and Azure saying that, I’m thinking to myself, That is definitely coming from the feminine energy side of you, because that is such a valuable connection to have that servant leadership mindset that is for sure. Okay, so here I am in the mortgage industry, and I wanna kinda give you a peek into what is happening in our world at this moment, in our world, the interest rates are the lowest they’ve ever been in history, literally the lowest, which has done a wonderful thing of providing families with a couple of great options, one, they can certainly reduce their interest rates and be able to save money on their current work age, and it’s also allowed a lot of first time home buyers to be able to purchase their first home. So a lot more in power now, what it also has done, and this is where you come in, is it has made us realize that we have not done as an industry, have not been very good at bringing in fresh talent into our industry. So I’m actually curious from your perspective, how do we get… And I’m not specific to the mortgage industry, but as a whole, how do we come to the mindset of the importance of continuing to bring in that talent and lift up and put them on programs and…
0:04:56.7 S2: Speak a little bit about that.
0:04:58.7 S1: Oh, I just love that you brought that topic up because I do agree with you, it happens across all industries, and as leaders, we have to create a path and a journey for that next generation, and I always ask CEOS and executives to look at their organization as generational leadership. And so you look at your team you have today and they’re doing great, or you’re where you wanna be. But you have to look forward and say, But what’s that next generation? And where am I finding these people and how am I sponsoring them? And what happens is we get super busy and we want things to be done right, and when you hire someone out of college or you hire someone was just as a couple of years of experience, you have to invest, and we don’t always look at investing and talent as a pay off down the road, but it absolutely will pay off, and that’s what I have to stress to people is it’s fine if everyone is there today, but what are you doing to think about that next generation and who follows that generation, and if you can set up your company where every kind of generation of leadership is sponsoring that person behind them, or going out to great networking events or going to campus as a meeting really smart people that are interested in your industry, if everyone was doing that across your organization, you would always have people ready to come in, and you would also be creating an environment where learning is something someone respects, ’cause we don’t always expect or respect learning in the workplace, because if you’re learning, you’re probably making some mistakes, and that’s not always great.
0:06:45.7 S1: And so we have to also get really excited about watching someone learn and helping them grow. Wow, that’s great. And totally agree with you. So do you recommend that regardless of the industry, everyone should be looking at that as part of the foundation of their company and who… Cold that, like I’m curious, would that be… Okay, the executive team says, We’re going to make sure that we have this in place. Would it be a separate department, do you recommend that is handled where one department does it or is it an offshoot of another department or what… Your ideas on that? Yeah, it has to come from the executives… Executive set the tone of the culture. And if an executive is out there willing to mentor or talk about and ask who’s coming up behind you, who have you been meeting out in the workplace, what do you see as an avenue for recruiting that’s people that are gonna be working for us as people that will be managers for us in five years. As executives, you may not be obviously mentoring all of these people, whether they work for you or it’s through associations, but if you’re doing one or two things and you’re talking about it, then your people will do it and talk about it too.
0:08:05.4 S1: It’s not something that has to cost, you know, millions of dollars and be these elaborate plans, and sometimes I think we over-complicate a lot and that keeps us from actually doing anything, you know, creating generational is about respecting someone and providing them a journey in a path in celebrating that.
0:08:26.1 S2: I love that. And you are correct, that is part of the culture, and it’s not one of these components where you say, check, we did it, it is making sure that the entire company understands why you’re doing it, and everyone is participating in mentoring that next generation, not just one department or one team.
0:08:52.5 S1: I love that, I love that. Now, Jennifer, right before we went live, you actually mention something, and I wanna dive into this about this, how to communicate when you’re in fear, I find that rather interesting and I wanna hear a little bit about that. Yeah, so this year there’s been some fear around town
0:09:13.8 S2: To just a little… A lot of fear. And when we’re in fear, we crisis manage, and that’s okay at that moment, if the building’s on fire, you don’t need to have a meeting about what to do about it, you get out of the building.
0:09:27.2 S1: But what happens is when we are in fear and we start to crisis management, and we stay in fear, and over this year, with everything going on, there’s been long-term fear periods of our business or how we’re gonna work, and we go to the office, not the office, all the stuff. So what happens is we stay in fear and we communicate in fear over long periods of time, crisis management only works in one situation of crisis, and so what happens is when we are go into crisis management and fear, we’re using our permanent brain and it’s the fight or flight. And if you’re a leader, you can’t fly away, you have to fight, and so what happens is that fit mechanism kicks in and we start communicating a way that’s aggressive or very much tell and yell versus working in partnerships and inquiring and getting curious and all the things we need to do… And so when we are leading with our fear, part of our brain, we are installing now fear and everyone around us, and so it’s a really dangerous cycle to get into… Now again, there are times where you have to crisis-manage and say the building’s on fire, Move, get out, but you have to come back down off of that really quickly, or you will start to create a culture where that’s the way you were and that’s not ever productive.
0:10:48.2 S1: Yeah, that’s not healthy. You certainly can’t do that for long.
0:10:51.6 S2: So… Let’s continue on that road. Where do you see… Now listen, we’ve obviously seen many changes in business communications over the years, but especially this year, when you saw people go remote, you’re no longer able to get up and walk next to someone and have a conversation, you no longer can come into the conference room and all be together. So we’ve all had to adapt. Some things have gone to the better, some things you have to make do, but where do you see and what are some of the tips to make sure that we are effectively communicating with our team members?
0:11:36.3 S1: So I think that… And we’ll probably in the future, stay in somewhat of a blended working approach, a lot of people learn that they could have smaller offices, there’s a lot of benefits to having… Some are more people and more people in the office or however the business work, so what I would say is that in that situation, the conversations need to be very exploratory and they have to be high quality because it’s very easy to walk by someone’s desk and like Oh, can you do that? Can you do that? And you kinda build a report and you build a dance that’s how you communicate with someone, but when you’re remote, the quality of that conversation becomes incredibly important because you’re not going to have as many random ones, and if you do, they’re probably on Instant Message and the tone is lost as you write, and so what I would say is really think about those quality conversations, we’re told ask questions or do that, but not the way we’ve done it in the past. I think that if you’re gonna have some really quality conversations, you need to ask questions, like when you look at what’s coming up in your week, tell me one thing that you need my support…
0:12:44.2 S1: Went
0:12:44.4 S2: Right to that. That’s a great example. That really is a very good example, ’cause I think you’re right. You have to have an idea what you’re reaching out for and be very pointed because you’re correct in not having that casual as you’re walking by someone, so you have to kinda have that thought, but it’s extremely important, we all know when you’re out on an island, by yourself, it’s lonely. You know, so even though you could work in a company with thousands of people, but if you’re out there by yourself, it definitely gets lonely and you kind of feel like you’re out there floating. So it is extremely important, and I know a lot of people, I actually… The call I just left, we were speaking about what are some other ideas of how to get all the teams on a zoom call and what can we do to keep them engaged? And we were speaking about games, we were literally having conversations of what games can we come up with to be able to get just a moment of having that break. Now, do you find that that’s something that is important for companies right now, I think that it is important to find a way to connect, but I would also say use that time wisely.
0:14:05.3 S1: So if I’ve got a to-do list of 50 million things and I’m trying to maybe homeschool my children at a time.
0:14:12.2 S2: And my team’s like, We’re gonna get on and play a game, I’ll be like, you… I don’t have time for a game. Right.
0:14:20.0 S1: And so I think we have to be really careful ’cause we think we need to create engagement, and we do, but get really purposeful about it is because when that person gives up that time, they’ve invested their time, what is the return on their investment?
0:14:38.2 S2: I like it. Great advice. Okay, so now we were also speaking about the addiction of being… Right, so let’s dive into that one.
0:14:49.2 S1: Yeah, so here’s what’s incredibly interesting, if you are right, you get a nice little dopamine hit and who doesn’t love that… Right, and makes you feel good. You’re all happy like this brand, but you also get that same type of dopamine head if you’re addicted to sugar or substance or any kind of addiction, and we know about addiction that every time you get a dopamine hit, you gotta have a little bit more of your favorite substance. To get it up there, if you looked at the brain and you gave someone there whatever substance they’re addicted to, and if their addiction is to being right, and you gave them their drug of choice, you will fire off exactly the same… It is a true addiction, just like sugar or substance, and people don’t realize that, they don’t realize that they’re being… That they’re trying to be right and that the next time you have to be more right, and your ideas are the only way, and I think we’ve all had that conversation with an executive, and it’s almost like they’re trying to convince you the sky is purple and you’re like, I know it is blue, and
0:15:50.8 S2: What happens when we get addicted to being right, we cannot see the truth.
0:15:55.8 S1: We cannot hear feedback, and our team will shut down because our team will just be waiting to be told how to think what decisions to make. All of that type of stuff. And if you get an executive who becomes highly addicted to their opinions and their viewpoints, it really is one of those first steps to failure, so what do you do if you are not the person being aware of the addiction, but you work for a team where that is, who’s the leader of that group?
0:16:32.8 S2: So how do you handle that from being on the other side.
0:16:37.4 S1: You know what, it’s tricky, but there are ways to handle it, and a lot of times what will help is changing your language, and so we respond based on our expectations of how a conversation will flow with someone you’ve talked to a lot of times, but what if you have a boss so you think maybe have a little bit of this addiction, but you have something really important to tell him or her and it will change the business, you know, if you tell this hard news that you will increase your business, then go into your regular meeting and instead of being like, Oh, I gotta tell you, ’cause they’ll smell that fear. Walk in and say, I’m excited to talk to you today because I have something I think can change. Can raise our profits by 2% with this product, are you willing to hear my idea today? Okay.
0:17:23.5 S2: And that changes that language and it’s like, Well, yeah, I’m totally willing to hear an idea or two… Yeah.
0:17:28.7 S1: Sign me up. But the question was very specifically worded, Are you willing to hear an idea, and that starts the brain to kind of like… It kinda shakes it a little bit and let you kind of let that person open up in a new way…
0:17:44.8 S2: Love that. And that is a great approach. It definitely changes the dynamic to have them be open for whatever it is you’re going to offer them, so I love that. That’s great advice. Alright, and it’s interesting, the whole… I will tell you, why did I start a podcast? I wanna actually share this because it ties into kind of what you’re speaking about, for me, when I got to the executive level, when I started to rise through the ranks, you realize that sometimes you turn off certain things that you were aware of as a team member, that once you get to another level, it’s not deliberate, it’s not even intentional, no one’s thinking about it, but it happens over time, and it’s interest that the reason why I started the podcast as I decided I needed to listen to people outside of my industry because it forced me to listen because I wasn’t aware of your industry or what you’re an expert in, and also you didn’t know me. Now, what advice do you give to executives, because again, you know it happens not overnight, you don’t change your thinking from going from team member to executive, and all of the sudden you stop listening to people and all of a sudden you are right all the time.
0:19:16.2 S2: It doesn’t happen like that, but it does happen. It absolutely happens. So what do you recommend to that leader in multiple facets, we heard about the being… Right, and I think that’s great advice. So what about as a whole, because as for anyone that’s rising up, you think, Oh, the utopia is to get here, and then you don’t have to know… So give us the overview of what you… How you train leaders and executives to make sure that number one, of course, put in your team first and taking care of them, so let’s dive into that, but also to make sure that your perspective always remains a certain way. Yeah, you know, one of the first things I do with the executives is we get really clear on where our false priorities might be.
0:20:08.3 S1: Because what happens is, a lot of times as an executive, you think you want something, but you really don’t, you want something else, and
0:20:17.4 S2: So a false priority could be, I wanna be, I wanna close 10% more mortgages than anyone in my sector… Well.
0:20:27.9 S1: That’s fantastic. If that’s what you want, but then, what do you really want? Do you want to do that without profit, do you wanna do that burned out on how do you want… What is your real priority in your business, and so that’s an important piece because we have to get clear when we have false priorities, then when we think about what we truly… What success truly looks like, then we look at how do we stay open to that, and how do we look at that and how could that come in to us and what are we learning every day. So one of the things that when I work with the executives and do have an addiction, one of the exercises we go through as they journal what they discovered every day, because if they’re not learning, then they’re pushing off only their view, and so we get them used to learning, and we get them excited, we almost get them addicted to learning it, we kinda try to move that addiction over a little bit, we would get them addicted to being curious, and then we start to look at where did we win with that curiosity and so four months ago, you learned about this new organization that someone in your company got involved with and that brought in 20 new leads, which got 10 more prospects close, then we chase that back and we said, Oh great, you got curious.
0:21:45.4 S1: And we are open to hearing about something new, and here’s what it led to this business, and so we start to show them how curiosity does create business.
0:21:56.7 S2: Love it. Great, great advice. Okay, so tell me about your leadership academy and what you do with your leadership academy. And then also, I wanna know about the OAD assessment. Those are the two things.
0:22:09.1 S1: Alright, so what our leadership academies that are very much specifically, they’re modular and they’re driven to the company’s needs, you go and someone does like a training, but you’re like, that’s kind of what I need, but kind of not… We actually sat down and we work with organizations to learn about what competencies and skills do those… Does that team me to take the business into the future, again, creating generational talent, and then the academies are built to the adult learner and over time, and so it’s not like we’re gonna lock you in a room for three days and try to change your mind, it doesn’t… Adults don’t learn that way. It’s a drip content and it’s really specifically built to change behaviors over time so that they actually change and not just for a week. And so that’s the piece with that academy, it’s fantastic, it’s so much fun, it’s incredible to watch people learn, and it’s incredible for them to… I see them using those tools that they get and they go use those tools with their teams and you start to see it come to life. And then with our AD assessment, it is a pre-employment assessment and it allows you to start to look at what traits are important for a job, so we know about skills and we know about education, but why someone fails is because they don’t do the job the way in which the company wants it done, and that’s why we make bad hires is ’cause we don’t match our traits to the job.
0:23:25.6 S1: So for example, if you want someone to come and really mix things up and be highly creative and turn your department inside out, you need a highly creative person, if you want someone to come in and keep it the way it is, don’t hire a highly creative person they’ll be disruptive.
0:23:42.3 S2: I don’t know. Again, get clear on what you want. And
0:23:45.3 S1: So the ODS estimates, EEOC compliant, we can make hiring decisions on, it allows us to get the right people on board at the right time, and then we use that tool over the journey to make sure that we’re coaching people in a way in which they hear it and is specific to them and their traits, ’cause we coach people or give feedback based on what we want, not what that person wants, and this helps us speak to that person and to them and who they truly are, and then we all get excited about who we are, and we get to show up with that energy. Yeah.
0:24:15.0 S2: And that’s so important. People think that when you communicate with someone, they’re hearing it the way you would hear it, of course, you’re saying it in the right way, you think you’re saying it the way they wanna hear it, but we all interpret and communicate in different manners, so I guess what you’re saying is, once you understand that piece of it, then of course you know the proper way to communicate that will be interpreted the right way for them, and…
0:24:45.8 S1: I totally agree with you. I mean, I learned a long, long time ago that you can’t judge off just the resume, you can just look at, Oh, this person has this skill, or they went to this school, or they close this amount of loans in my business. There’s so much more to it, and it’s interesting, it’s almost like you mentioned that the reason why you wanted to start this company is because you look at teams in a little different manner, and that you want to teach others. And I think we all agree that the greatest assets any of our companies have are people
0:25:27.7 S2: More than inventory, more than the product, more than anything else, the all the furniture and everything else are people or asset in our value. And we have a responsibility to them because obviously we know they’re trusting to come to our companies and our teams to take care of them, and they want to follow what we want them to do, but sometimes we don’t do a great job of explaining or communicating or giving them the vision of what we need them to do.
0:26:02.6 S1: So what do you recommend in that aspect in terms of… So I guess I always went by people don’t quit jobs, people quit, managers or leaders or whoever… That’s why people leave generally.
0:26:17.0 S2: So what’s your recommendation in terms of having that mindset of taking care of your people and how to keep our people…
0:26:26.3 S1: I think the first thing we have to remember is that leadership has a ton of power, and another piece of my why is creating better communities, and when we are leaders and we on purpose or not, O, how we treat people, that person drives home to a family that night. And if I have created an environment where even when we’ve messed up, even when we failed, when we’ve taken risk in one, I still make sure that the dignity is intact, and that person goes home thinking, I had a pretty darn good day, you know, I did this I did that, they walk into that home and they treat their family better, and then those kids go off to school the next morning feeling better ’cause if this amazing dinner with her mom and dad, because their mom and dad were confident. And so the first thing I would say is, remember that how you treated someone goes home with them and be responsible to that, so I think that’s one of the biggest things we have to recognize to really kind of push us back and be… What am I willing to do? To create better communities.
0:27:36.1 S1: Well, that is very powerful, and you are 100% correct, because it doesn’t stop at 5 PM or whatever time someone shows that off it, it certainly doesn’t, and we do have such… Whether it’s positive or negative, such an effect on those communities.
0:27:55.2 S2: Alright, so Jennifer, this has been absolutely amazing. You have given such great advice, but I wanna know if there’s that one piece of advice that one thing that you wanna share with the community out there, what would it be…
0:28:10.4 S1: If we get curious, next time you are somewhere with your team around you, virtual or not virtual, I want you to stay to the team. Tell me the craziest idea you could ever think of to drive our business, and
0:28:26.1 S2: In fact, the person who has a craziest idea gets an award because
0:28:30.5 S1: Of what that will do, it will open up their brains in a whole new way, and you’re gonna have so much fun, creating new ideas for your company and you’re going to learn, but definitely go out there and ask people to get really just bonkers with their ideas, because in there there’s gonna be some gold. That is wonderful. And you know what else? It also shows that obviously, they’re part of the team, that you’re listening to their ideas and you’re doing it together, and it just like you said, it literally opens up their brains. It’s very powerful. Okay.
0:29:00.9 S2: Jennifer, how can people find you? How can they learn more about you? And everything you have to offer.
0:29:07.2 S1: Yeah, so you can go to our website at 304 Coaching. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn at Jen Thornton ACC. Wonderful, well.
0:29:16.0 S2: This has been a pleasure, thank you for everything you’re doing out there to build happy communities through your work. We truly appreciate it. And we wish you all the best. Thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure.
0:29:29.2 S1: Thank you for joining us for another episode of positively charged. Is Laura brand when we are here to motivate, inspire and support our listeners as they write their life stories, if you have an inspiring story, please email me at Laura at positively charged Doris and remember to subscribe to hear more great guests and connect to us on Facebook at positively charged and Instagram at positively charged podcast. Until next time, we wish you a positive day.