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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-056: Fostering high-performing joyful, workplace cultures where everyone wins

With Joy Meserve

ET-056: A conversation with Ms. Joy Meserve

and your host Wayne Brown on July 18, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Ms. Joy Meserve

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET.

Today we find ourselves cutting down on our travel costs by engaging with yet another guest in the same location as our previous episode that’s in Seattle Washington State USA. This time we’re very happy to welcome Mr. Eric Girard to the show.
It seems we’ve really become super budget conscious lately as this week we’re still on the West Coast of the USA, albeit further south near Los Angeles in Burbank, California. And we’re here to visit our guest, Ms. Joy Meserve. Joy is a business and leadership consultant and the former COO of iD Tech.
With 22 years of executive experience in scaling operations from start up to international, with expansions culminating in a $200 million acquisition and delivering service to 50,000 students a year.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…I’ve started my own consulting company called Leading With Joy, and so I’m very excited about that. I’ve been doing that for about six months now, so it’s very new to me. And I think I’m excited to talk about the benefits of remote work. It’s something that I’ve been doing for virtually my whole career, is working remotely, and I’ve always been an evangelist of the benefits, and manage remote teams. And then the pandemic hit and we saw a lot of companies going remote and I was like, “Great, finally, hallelujah.” You can see what I’ve been talking about. And now it seems that we are entering a new phase of companies sort of backlashing and taking away that trust and ownership of people. Even though it’s what their employees want, it feels as though a lot of our big companies, Google, Amazon, Salesforce are now stripping that away from employees. And personally, I think that’s the wrong thing to do….”

Today’s Guest: MS. JOY MESERVE
Joy found that supporting the growth of her employees was inextricably linked to both the company’s award winning culture, as well as their financial success. Today, she’s on a mission to help other executives develop leaders that foster high performing and joyful workplace cultures where it’s a win-win for everybody. Together, Joy assists her clients create more leaders in workplaces that focus on building, trusting, authentic, collaborative, aligned and accountable growth cultures where people are intrinsically motivated and achieve success on behalf of the business.

We have a great conversation on a wide range of topics, which includes working with diverse multicultural virtual teams, as well as how to create an inclusive environment. This is the episode that you wanna listen to if you’re feeling unsure about how to alter your own leadership style while embracing a forward thinking culture for your organization.

Final words from Joy:
“They need to transition into a healthier culture, building… And this is like a CEO or a COO or is this just someone on the team trying to do that with their own team? Well, if they’re in a position of power, I would say get a sound leadership philosophy that you train your entire company in all the way down to your individual contributors and your frontline employees from the executive suite.
And if they can, I would look to find ways to highlight individuals in the organization who are doing well. I think one of the things that is a pitfall is we sometimes say, “Oh my gosh, this person’s fantastic. I’m so grateful for them,” and we tell another employee, but we don’t tell them. And then all of a sudden they start to worry and they start to change a little bit.
You can definitely lose the benefits of a really good employee if you’re not positively reinforcing them. They have the power to really lift your entire culture up with you. So pay attention to your good performers. And let’s see, what is another piece of advice I would say? Read all you can on how employees are motivated. Learn all you can on that front because motivation is the key to engagement, which is the key to productivity, which then is the key to your profitability…”

0:00:04.6 Wayne Brown: Hello. I’m your host Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. It seems we’ve really become super budget conscious lately as this week we’re still on the West Coast of the USA, albeit further south near Los Angeles in Burbank, California. And we’re here to visit our guest, Ms. Joy Meserve. Joy is a business and leadership consultant and the former COO of iD Tech. With 22 years of executive experience in scaling operations from start up to international, with expansions culminating in a $200 million acquisition and delivering service to 50,000 students a year.

0:00:51.3 WB: Joy found that supporting the growth of her employees was inextricably linked to both the company’s award winning culture, as well as their financial success. Today, she’s on a mission to help other executives develop leaders that foster high performing and joyful workplace cultures where it’s a win-win for everybody. Together, Joy assists her clients create more leaders in workplaces that focus on building, trusting, authentic, collaborative, aligned and accountable growth cultures where people are intrinsically motivated and achieve success on behalf of the business.

0:01:28.6 WB: We have a great conversation on a wide range of topics, which includes working with diverse multicultural virtual teams, as well as how to create an inclusive environment. This is the episode that you wanna listen to if you’re feeling unsure about how to alter your own leadership style while embracing a forward thinking culture for your organization. So, team ET, with that, brace yourself for this conversation with our guest, Ms Joy Meserve and this episode titled Fostering High Performing Joyful Workplace Cultures Where Everybody Wins.

0:02:06.8 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:24.6 WB: Alright. Good morning ET. Welcome again to another week. Great to have you here as always. And as I say, every week we have a fantastic guest joining us. Joy Meserve, welcome to the ET Project. Wonderful to have you join us, and I’m really looking forward to our conversation. We’re gonna spend a lot of time talking about what it takes to create a workplace environment where people are happy and engaged. So, I look forward to this conversation, Joy, welcome.

0:02:54.8 Ms. Joy Meserve: Yeah, thank you. Thank you for the introduction and welcome, Wayne. I’m excited too. So I guess let’s jump in. Where do you wanna start?

0:03:03.7 WB: Well, why don’t you share a little bit about your backstory to give us some insight to who you are and what you’ve done, and we’ll go from there.

0:03:11.6 MM: Sure, sure. Well, I spent the last 22 years at a startup. It’s a long time to be at a startup, [chuckle] and grew up with the organization, worked my way up to the chief operating officer, which I was for the last eight years. And it was a summer technology camp for kids. When I started, we had 400 students that we had served. And by the time I left, 50,000 students a summer is what we were serving. So a lot of growth, it was over a longer period of time, but I think that allowed a lot of us at the organization to really foster a really great culture. And so, I sort of have those keys now of how to build a really fantastic workplace culture, ’cause I’ve seen it, I’ve done it. I’ve seen other things too, that are maybe, what to stay away from and learned a lot along the way. And now I want to bring that… Share that wisdom and those learnings with others because I think there are very simple keys that people need just to unlock engagement and motivation in people so that they are working at work and feeling fulfilled and feeling like they wanna come every day, they wanna work, they wanna be loyal, they wanna build a family at a company.

0:04:36.8 WB: It’s extremely important topic today, particularly in the world that we live, where a lot of the workforce is now virtual. So, I look forward to getting into that conversation. Before we do that, is there anything in your world, in your life at the moment that’s got you excited?

0:04:56.5 MM: Yeah. Well, I’ve started my own consulting company called Leading With Joy, and so I’m very excited about that. I’ve been doing that for about six months now, so it’s very new to me. And I think I’m excited to talk about the benefits of remote work. It’s something that I’ve been doing for virtually my whole career, is working remotely, and I’ve always been an evangelist of the benefits, and manage remote teams. And then the pandemic hit and we saw a lot of companies going remote and I was like, “Great, finally, hallelujah.” You can see what I’ve been talking about. And now it seems that we are entering a new phase of companies sort of backlashing and taking away that trust and ownership of people. Even though it’s what their employees want, it feels as though a lot of our big companies, Google, Amazon, Salesforce are now stripping that away from employees. And personally, I think that’s the wrong thing to do.

0:06:02.3 WB: Yeah, it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out. Your business is called Leading with Joy. And I’m wondering, do you have a definition for the word joy? What does joy mean to you?

0:06:16.8 MM: I think at its base, joy at a workplace is when you find flow.

0:06:23.4 WB: Okay.

0:06:24.9 MM: And you find fulfillment, and it’s those moments where you’re working on something that’s challenging, yet sort of exciting, you’re exercising those muscles, it feels good, and at the end of that project, whatever you’re working on, you’re recognized for it. And somebody slows down and intentionally takes the time to say, “Here’s what I loved about it, here’s the things that you did, and here’s why that was important to us.” And I’m also… Somebody… You’re also typically working with other people and collaborating, but it’s wherever you find this sort of internal drive, if you will, this motivation to want to do the work, that is fulfillment is and equals part of contentness and joy in ourselves.

0:07:11.7 WB: Yeah. It’s a nice definition. I have visions of people imagining… When we talk about joyous, joyful, happy places to work, a lot of people visualize managers running around slapping people on the back, congratulating, but it’s so much deeper than that. And it’s really that culture and that environment, as you said. And you mentioned intrinsic motivation, or that you talk about intrinsic motivation.

0:07:46.0 MM: Yes.

0:07:46.1 WB: Really where we as individuals find that inner desire, that inner drive to do the task or the challenge well, without really looking for the reward at the end. I’m wondering, how do you go about trying to establish that? It’s, we probably, as leaders, have this big picture and we know what we should have, but how do we get there? Like how do you establish that at the beginning?

0:08:14.9 MM: Yeah, how do you drive intrinsic motivation in individuals? Well, I think that the first key is understanding what motivates humans. And you asked me, when we spoke last, what one of my favorite books is, and that’s Drive by Daniel Pink.

0:08:32.0 WB: Love it.

0:08:32.5 MM: So if you wanna understand motivation, please read that book. But at its core, humans want to become masters at something. We want to… Like, at the end of the day, we want somebody saying really something really great about us at our funeral, not just like, “Yeah. They were mediocre at everything. Unremarkable. I don’t have much to say.” We want people to really say like what we were good at, and it could be a multitude of things, because people are more than their identities at work. We’re so much more than that. But, yeah, so we want mastery and we want autonomy in getting there. It’s opposite of micromanagement, right? But we also crave somebody to be in our team, in our corner, in our side. We want a mentor, we want somebody who’s going to partner with us, to help us get there. And that’s one of the things that I think is really important, is being a partner to your people. And that can look like a lot of different things. It could be removing obstacles for somebody, it could be, “Hey, I wanna give you this project where you’re gonna have this opportunity to shine, but I’m gonna be there the whole way, every step of the way. If you need help, I’m here. I’m gonna be a thought partner for you. I’m gonna give you some guidance, but I’m not doing it for you. That’s something you are doing.” And so that is one way I think when leaders can really see, step back and observe their team, and find the strengths in their team, that’s part of the key.

0:10:12.0 WB: Right.

0:10:13.3 MM: Because when we’re in flow, it’s because we’re doing really well, we’re doing something we love to do. We’re passionate about it, we’re excited about it. We might be a little challenged, but that’s okay. And so good leaders are going to take notice of their employees and say, “I see this power in this person. I see this strength in this person. I love the way they do this. So I’m gonna lean into that and really try to harness that in them.”

0:10:45.2 WB: You talk about Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, or Motivation 3.0 and is, you’ve mentioned autonomy and mastery, and the third point was about purpose. It’s coincidental because we haven’t spoken about that before, but in my prior life leading a group across Asia Pacific, we spent 18 months introducing essentially Drive into our organization. We started with autonomy, and we moved through then to mastery and then purpose and a number of different interventions, if you like, in each step. The biggest challenge I personally found was sustaining that push. I can imagine how powerful it would be once it becomes culture, but I’m also conscious of the fact that it takes a lot of effort to get through it.

0:11:41.8 MM: It does.

0:11:42.8 WB: Right. I’m always cautious when we talk like this, that it’s never as simple as it may appear in the conversation. There is a lot of work that needs to happen in the background to make this something that is sustainable. Have you had similar experience or what’s your feeling?

0:12:03.5 MM: Yeah, I think there’s a couple of things that can help increase sustainability. And that’s part of what I bring in my programs, but so it’s really important, I think, that when leaders see that someone is in that flow state and doing a fantastic job, that they intentionally slow down to recognize that individual. And I said slow down. So that’s where it takes extra time on that leader’s behalf. I think so much of the time we can be like in our heads, sort of like what I call nexting as leaders. What’s next? What’s next? Okay, yeah, thanks for doing that, thanks for doing that. And what you end up with is a bunch of empty praise for people. They’re like, No, no, no, I said thank you. I was appreciative, I said thank you. But thank you is not enough. It’s empty. Because it can come across as very patronizing. If that’s all you’re going to say about this months of work, it’s… Somebody doesn’t have anything tangible to take away from that. They don’t truly feel appreciated. And at our core, we all wanna be seen, and heard, and valued, right? So, leaders do need to slow down and take the time to intentionally pinpoint what it is that they’re appreciative of and why.

0:13:22.5 MM: And that helps sustain that culture. And once you teach everybody to speak that language, which is fairly simple to grasp, easy to practice, but once you teach everybody to speak that language, it’s self-fulfilling. Everybody starts to do it with one another. And so peers are recognizing peers, and managers are managing up, and managers are managing across and down and all around. And so this sort of… Then you sort of have this culture that says, We appreciate everybody who works here. And that is part of that fulfilling environment and culture. Will help you. Even though, yes, it is hard to keep drive and motivation going, it will help that.

0:14:12.1 WB: Yeah.

0:14:12.6 MM: That’s sort of like the basis, like the foundation that has to be underneath before you start really saying, okay, now I wanna sort of level up the leaders to the next level, which is we are giving people ownership and trust, and this is what it looks like and this is how we do that, because that… When somebody gives you ownership, it’s an automatic like, Oh wow, I feel like I’m trusted with this. I feel good about this, I feel like I’m gonna be working toward mastery. This is something I can put on my resume. This is something I can tell… It’s for me.

0:14:48.0 WB: Right.

0:14:48.0 MM: Even though, yes, it’s for the organization, it’s also for me, the employee, to be given this autonomy and trust and ownership over something.

0:14:56.0 WB: Hmm.

0:14:56.6 MM: And over the course of that process, hopefully it’s a fulfilling project. If it’s not, then I think you hit the wrong… You gave them the wrong thing to do, or they’re in the wrong role. Something is off.

0:15:10.7 WB: And as you said at the beginning, it’s very important that you stay true to your character in that regard, and every time you come under new pressure, that you don’t shift gear and shift focus, and then all of a sudden forget that intention. That also becomes challenging. I’d like to circle back to something you said during the introduction of yourself there about working with virtual teams. So if I look at my own experience, it was very much working in operational environments where there was a white collar and a blue collar, and a lot of our staff worked in the field, they worked on factory floors. So they weren’t in that office environment. Now…

0:15:57.9 MM: Right.

0:15:58.2 WB: A lot of the stuff we talk about, of course, fits nicely within that office environment, where you have the opportunity as the leader to engage with people day in, day out. I often wonder how easy it is to become disconnected with those blue-collar workers, or people that work in the field that we don’t see every day, that are out there doing their thing, but doing it in almost isolation to the rest of the team. How do you create that environment for them? Do you have any secrets around that?

0:16:33.0 MM: Yeah. I think that’s… I mean, I, as you say this, I’m reflecting on our programs. You know, we were a summer camp company, so we had a corporate team and then we had our summer camp staff, and they were spread across 190 different university locations. And so there is that… There can be that disconnect with what corporate is doing, and it can feed into an us-versus-them mindset, and sort of lead to gossip and venting and that kind of thing, if you’re not careful. What needs to happen, from whoever’s in charge, somebody’s in charge of those people on the frontlines.

0:17:17.1 WB: Right.

0:17:17.2 MM: Somebody is a manager, somebody is a leader, connecting corporate to the frontlines. And that person needs to show that team on the frontlines, I am here for you. I’m your partner, I’m your thought partner. They need to be keeping that team in the loop of like, Ah, we just changed this process, we just changed the system, and let me tell you why. I think what I see happens a lot with that us-versus-them mentality is it comes from people not understanding why a decision was made. And if you’re not transparent with them about some of those important details that they need to really grasp the big picture of the company, then they’re gonna make up their own stories. And those stories are typically, Well, they’re doing it just to save money. They’re just doing it to cut costs. They’re just doing it to stuff their own pockets. Right? Because in the absence of details, we create our own stories.

0:18:19.3 WB: Hmm.

0:18:20.4 MM: So it really takes a leader slowing down again. Again, slowing down, it’s something I say a lot. Taking the time and saying, You know what? My team’s on the frontline, they need to know this. And I’m gonna sit them all down, we’re gonna have a call, we’re gonna have a Zoom, we’re gonna… I’m gonna go in person, whatever methodology you’re using. I’m sending an email and I’m… Whatever. You gotta do more than just send an email, by the way. That is not enough. You at least need to talk to the person in charge, the director on site, or however your structure works. But somebody needs to be cascading this information all the way down the line.

0:19:01.2 WB: There’s so many tangents. My mind is racing down different thought processes now based on what you just said, but our mind definitely doesn’t like having a gap. And we will fill that gap with our own thought process, our own beliefs, our own biases.

0:19:14.2 MM: Yes.

0:19:14.7 WB: So the better you can communicate and explain and really help others to fully understand then less chance for that misconception. It really highlights an area that I personally haven’t put a lot of focus on. But for those, I would call them frontline leaders, the people that are out there leading those remote teams, they really need to be great communicators. They need…

0:19:43.2 MM: They do.

0:19:43.7 WB: They need to have that ability to disseminate or cascade the corporate message. How much is technology at the moment interfering or playing a positive role in this ability to transfer that information?

0:20:04.9 MM: Yeah, on the positive side, it can be almost immediate. It can be like, okay, I just learned this. Now, I’m gonna call this meeting and I’m just gonna make sure everybody attends. And it’s the person from New York, it’s the person from California, the one from Oregon, the one that’s out of the country. All of those people can come together quickly, which is a beautiful thing. And I think the more that we use Zoom and platforms like that, the more we understand we are communicating, we are in the same room. It’s just a virtual room. And I can… I think if your team understands and you’ve created a psychologically safe environment, meaning if somebody has a question, I’m not gonna shoot them down. I’m not gonna stop them from asking. They’re allowed to ask these questions, and they’re gonna get an honest, authentic response from me. As long as there’s trust from whoever’s at the helm over those meetings, there’s gonna be a culture of psychological safety where people feel they have the ability to be seen and heard. Even if they’re quiet during a whole meeting, as long as they know I could have spoken up, I could have said something, or I can call her after the meeting and she’ll explain to me one-on-one what I need to know. There really has to be that trust. So it’s not just about cascading the communication. There has to be this trust. And how do leaders earn trust? They earn trust by doing what they say they’re gonna do.

0:21:44.2 WB: In one of the documents I was reading in preparation for our conversation, there’s a quote, I think it’s on your website where you say, “Invest in your people and profits will multiply.” And then you quote Gallup who says from their surveys that “Engaged employees create 23% more profit.”

0:22:05.7 MM: Right.

0:22:06.2 WB: Is that also your experience? Have you personally witnessed this in your journey?

0:22:13.4 MM: Yeah. I’ve witnessed the fallout of not… Of doing the opposite of engaging your employees in a healthy way. It’s interesting that I was at the company for many years. So I saw a lot of things, and it just so happened at one point I was bringing in a consultant about performance management, which is some of the basis of some of my work. And on the other side of the company somebody else was bringing in a consultant to help with engineering productivity, to drive productivity for engineering more output, right? At this same period of time, one consultant could not have been completely different, more different than the other. So the engineering consultant was using threats, performance improvement plans, rigorous strict adherence to policy and procedure and really calling people out if they didn’t do those things. And on the other hand, under my umbrella and my teams, and even got the executive team bought into all of this, was learning about how to drive productivity in a positive way and how do you create and manage people in a direct way, in a positive way, and how do you empower them? And so, it was night and day.

0:23:31.9 MM: I had people… Since I’m a trusted leader and a trusted ear, I had people coming to me from that other side of the company saying, “Joy, this is awful. I feel like quitting.” I’m so nervous and worried for my team. I have to do these pips and I don’t believe in them. I’m just, the culture was becoming toxic on that side. And on the other side, people are over here going, we, yay. We’re learning something really cool. I love it. I’m empowered by it. I value it. I can now see how I can better coach my people. And so it was really an interesting, in real time A/B test. Now, I can’t say I had data to back up, productivity became higher on this side or profitability. But what I do think is there are so many mechanisms that companies use to drive profitability, and why not first have a very engaged employee base that is trusted and works really well together and is feeling fulfilled before you invest in all of those processes and new products and new brand campaigns and all of those things, before you do that? So that when you do invest in those, you actually uptick your profitability of those endeavors by 23%.

0:24:58.0 WB: Did your company do many employee surveys? Was it one of those organizations? What was your experience with that?

0:25:07.2 MM: Yeah, so my experience, we did surveys once a… Was it quarter or twice a year? I believe it was once a quarter. And what I found was that the remote teams, which were under the operations umbrella were some of the happiest individuals, most motivated individuals. Not to toot my own horn there, but it was just how the surveys came back. So we were told that on many occasions, and I could see it in my team. And one of the things that I think remote companies need to invest in is not just the leadership training and whatnot, but they do need to create times, periods of time where their teams come together for say, a week or a really important product. So Google right now is saying, hey, there’s no replacement for being in person.

0:25:56.2 MM: Okay, great. You have a big project you wanna do, then explain to your employees for the next two months, this is where we’re gonna push. This is where I need you trading ideas and bouncing ideas off one another. So you’re gonna be in the office for that period of time so that we can really make this happen. ‘Cause this is that drive. But the rest of the time, let’s just continue to do what we’re doing and you have flexibility to come in or not. But what they’ve said is, hey, we’re going to now monitor that you actually badge in three times a week. We’re gonna big brother you and make sure that you’re coming in. And once you do that, what’s the employee thinking? They don’t trust me. They think that I’m less productive at home, that I’m goofing off. But what I think they really intend is, there are these moments in time where there’s this beautiful collaboration that happens in person. And so what I recommend is if you’ve got a big project, that great, that’s a good excuse to get together. And if you don’t, get together for at least a week or so, four times a year if you can afford it.

0:27:09.5 WB: Right.

0:27:11.2 MM: Come together, have meals together, you’ll see people hanging out after work together and building rapport with one another. And don’t just do it on a team basis. Make it like these three teams are gonna be together and those three teams are getting together in this locale and spread it around. And so you have some mixing between teams too.

0:27:30.3 WB: Yeah, there’s a lot of psychology that’s at play in the background here, right, in what’s the best approach. Some people will cope better or worse with either scenario. And [0:27:44.3] ____ most of the folks at Disney, they’ve gone down this path as well where they expect people to be back in the office now three or four times a week. And we went through such an extended period where we work from home. That transition actually, for people with families, they had to adjust in the beginning and now all of a sudden there’s an expectation that they adjust back to the way it was. Well, it’s no longer the way it was. They’ve made those adjustments and it feels to me like that’s an oversight. People, leaders, companies are not realizing that the individual employee went through a lot of adjustment at the front end to make that work from home or remote work possible. And now just to suddenly about base on that seems like there’s a breach somewhere in the trust community with that organization.

0:28:42.5 MM: Right? Yeah. And I think what they’re ignoring is they’re ignoring some really substantial research now. I can’t name it off the top of my head. We could Google it. But that productivity actually did increase when people went remote. There’s a lot less distraction. I used to go to our main office, we had a main office in San Jose, and I would be there for a couple of days, and I would look around. And I don’t know how you all get anything done. I mean, it is a constant stream of interruption and, hey, can I get your opinion on this? And you’re… I was just sitting down to work on this. I need an hour of focused work. It’s hard to find even one hour of time to concentrate on something because people see you and they wanna grab your opinion or something like that. Or just say, hey, how are you doing? I haven’t seen you in a while.

0:29:31.1 WB: Absolutely. What do you think are some of the greatest challenges that you’re seeing with leaders today in ensuring that they maintain this environment, this culture, based on where they are? What are the challenges you’re seeing?

0:29:46.8 MM: Yeah. I think there are pressures. There’s definitely economic pressures, right? I’m sure companies are facing a lot of pressure from boards and things like that where people are saying, you gotta cut, you gotta go lean. Anytime you hear lean, it’s pretty much a recipe for layoffs and cut all the fun stuff and no more professional development and whatnot. So we’ve got now leaders saying, okay, I’ve gotta make do with less. My people have to do more in terms of roles, in terms of responsibilities. They’re taking on more for the same amount of pay or sometimes even less pay. And it’s really hard, I don’t envy people in corporations at the moment that are really trying to lead. But what you’re going to need is, is your people to trust that you’re on a road to getting back to some semblance of trust, autonomy, and reward. And if in the absence of financial award, you really have to ramp up the social awards, which are appreciation and recognition and letting people shine in front of the organization.

0:31:05.9 WB: And to your earlier point, it’s so much easier in my experience, so much easier when the whole group has that same mindset, that it’s not just the leaders actions that are driving it, it’s actually the whole environment that’s fulfilling, that’s sustaining that push. I know you also talk about, you like working with practical tools. I’ve heard you mention psychological safety, and I’m guessing dysfunctional teams and Patrick Lencioni, etcetera. Are there specific tools that you use, that you share?

0:31:42.8 MM: Yeah. I Mean, I think, the practical tools I preach are really a result of being trained on simple methodologies. Simple methodologies that you can grasp immediately.

0:31:55.5 WB: Right.

0:31:56.0 MM: And you’re not going to leave the training going, wait, I remember getting this in the moment, but I need to flip, where’s my flip chart?

[laughter]

0:32:05.0 MM: Where’s… I think it’s on page three of the flip chart, sub-bullet C. You know, you don’t… It’s so much more simple than that. And it really just all is around how do you approach people with feedback, constructive and positive feedback, and how do you do it in a way that sticks? How do you do it in a way that shapes and nurtures people and then how do you actually go about growing leaders and producing people who are going to make your life easier and take things off your plate. But also in the process, it’s a win for them as they learn new skills and further their mastery in things.

0:32:51.1 WB: So that also opens the door to another challenge that I experienced myself. I’m sure everyone leading in a global environment is struggling with to some degree. And that’s the cultural differences, the demographic differences of working in a regional, global environment and being able to maneuver properly within that environment. If you’ve had that experience, I know. So what’s your feeling about that? How do you deal with those cultural differences?

0:33:26.8 MM: Yeah. I think for… To start off, it takes a high EQ, right? You need people who can really pick up on and sense how others want to be treated and how they are treating you back and also just a little bit of knowledge too. And I don’t think it hurts to have a really honest conversation with what is your working style? What is the culture there? Why not? Just ask. You can look up things like, there’s a really helpful tool called Culture Maps, and you can map out different differences in culture, and they’re there, you can see ’em, but you might as well ask, how do you prefer to work? Are you more somebody who approaches things with organization and details first or are you big picture first? Because that can be one difference. Do you like direct feedback or, I don’t know if you could say, do you like indirect feedback? But there are cultures who really…

0:34:27.8 WB: Absolutely.

0:34:29.5 MM: Are more indirect with how they say things and could be… Could take offense to having some direct feedback. But I do think that the tools that I teach and the methodologies that I teach are pretty simple in that they should work across cultures because it’s just the facts.

0:34:51.6 WB: Do you have leaders or people that you look to for inspiration yourself?

0:34:57.7 MM: Yeah. I mean I think it’s a good question on actual leaders in companies. I love Arianna Huffington and what she’s doing with Thrive Global. I think it’s fantastic how she’s sort of addressing burnout in workplace cultures and how to help the individual through that. So that’s something that I believe in firmly. Other than that, it’s really… And you know, there’s your Simon Sineks and your quotable people, sure. But to see somebody who’s really strong at leading a company, I could use some help with that. So if you have any suggestions?

0:35:43.4 WB: Yeah, I think it’s almost situational in some circumstance. So, in this case, we’re talking about people that are really good at developing their culture and living that environment. Sometimes you have to be a little bit closer to the circumstance to really see whether it’s true or not, right? And so…

0:36:03.5 MM: Yeah. And I think that’s it. I think that’s absolutely it, is that it’s hard for me to pick a person and then somebody’s gonna write you a letter and say, actually, they did this horrible thing, and… [laughter] I didn’t know that. So yeah, being on the inside for sure would help.

0:36:24.2 WB: And it’s a very touchy question. It’s like talking about religion or politics that you could go down the rabbit hole very quickly and get yourself into a lot of trouble. What about in terms of books? You’ve mentioned Drive. Any other books that you read…

0:36:42.8 MM: Sure.

0:36:43.1 WB: Or that you like and you think are a good guidance?

0:36:46.3 MM: Yeah. I’m just gonna glance at my bookshelf real quick, but I would recommend Bringing Out The Best In People by Aubrey Daniels, and so, that is… Goes back to how to motivate people, which is, I think honestly, I think is the key. I think for leaders, if you understand how people work and how to motivate them, you’ve got a lot. There’s 15 Commitments Of Conscious Leadership, which I think is wonderful. It’s a more present and mindful way to lead. And then we talked about The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. If your team has undergone an acquisition, might be time to sort of redefine your core values and come together with how you’re gonna navigate this big change. And he talks about cascading communication.

0:37:44.3 WB: Excellent. So we’ll put those on the list. And anything that we haven’t touched on in our conversation so far that you think is important for leaders to be aware of?

0:37:55.9 MM: I think so many times, as leaders, we find an individual contributor who is fantastic at what they do. They’re your star performer as an individual contributor. And we say, “Oh my gosh, great. Well, we need more of you. We’re hiring more, we’re expanding. So we’re gonna add two more people to do what you do. And since you’re the one who’s been here first, and since you do it pretty well, we like what you do, why don’t you just take on these two people and manage them, and we’ll give you a pay raise,” end of story, done. Right? And what’s missing for that individual contributor who’s fantastic, they need some keys. They need to understand what it takes to be a good leader and just some basic tools for management. And without that, you’re really leaving that person in the dark to struggle. And they’re gonna have a lot of fear and anxiety around being a manager. And if they don’t, either they have a natural ability for it or maybe they’re not open to feedback and you might be in trouble. So, [laughter] anyway, what I’m saying is get them some professional development and training just because they deserve that. And you did put them in that position for a reason.

0:39:18.2 WB: Yeah. Very sound advice. If I was to put you on the spot a little bit here, you may only come up with one, but if you had to give advice to a leader to help them make a transition towards finding that environment, building that culture within the team, if I said, what would be the top three suggestions you would have for a leader?

0:39:43.5 MM: They need to transition into a healthier culture, building… And this is like a CEO or a COO or is this just someone on the team trying to do that with their own team? Well, if they’re in a position of power, I would say get a sound leadership philosophy that you train your entire company in all the way down to your individual contributors and your frontline employees from the executive suite. And if they can, I would look to find ways to highlight individuals in the organization who are doing well. I think one of the things that is a pitfall is we sometimes say, “Oh my gosh, this person’s fantastic. I’m so grateful for them,” and we tell another employee, but we don’t tell them. And then all of a sudden they start to worry and they start to change a little bit. You can definitely lose the benefits of a really good employee if you’re not positively reinforcing them. They have the power to really lift your entire culture up with you. So pay attention to your good performers. And let’s see, what is another piece of advice I would say? Read all you can on how employees are motivated. Learn all you can on that front because motivation is the key to engagement, which is the key to productivity, which then is the key to your profitability.

0:41:20.4 WB: Where can people connect with you, Joy?

0:41:22.6 MM: They can connect… I have a website, it’s leadingwithjoy.com. I’m also on LinkedIn, so feel free to connect with me there. And…

0:41:33.8 WB: Are you working on anything at the moment? I know six months into a new business, you’re going to be extremely busy doing the doing.

0:41:42.3 MM: Potentially a new partnership. Potentially a partnership with another consultant where we team up and change the world.

[laughter]

0:41:51.2 WB: Well, good luck with that. Thank you very much for being on The ET Project. It’s been great. And I hope our listeners take away a lot of the insights that you’ve been able to share and it’s so useful.

0:42:05.7 MM: Thank you too. It was so nice chatting with you, Wayne, and your ET fans.

0:42:10.9 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on The ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at coaching4companies.com.

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