41 - Be A Goldfish (& Other Leadership Lessons from Ted Lasso)

Updated: Jun 18


Release Date: April 13, 2022

[00:00:00] Speaker: Warning. This podcast is about the realities of working in People Operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here and we assume no responsibility.

[00:00:17] Elizabeth Meagher: And we had a strict no-alcohol policy and everybody was like, "Oh, don't drink HR is here," meanwhile, I'm like mid-crack the beer. If they're that disengaged before they're gonna be that disengaged at the office, just be sitting at their desk looking at Facebook. And they were going sideways.

[00:00:31] Speaker: This is the People Problems Podcast with Alexa Boggio and Tyson McKenzie.

[00:00:39] Alexa: All right, all right, all right. Well, welcome, everybody. We are live at PERKSCon Boston. This is the People Problems Podcast, anybody in the audience actually already a listener of this? One of our four listeners. There we go, all right.

[00:00:49] Elizabeth: [laughs]

[00:00:51] Alexa: I figured you'd say that.

[00:00:52] Elizabeth: Available everywhere you get your podcasts,.

[00:00:54] Alexa: Yes, available and all the things. Uh, so I'm solo today. I normally have, uh, uh, a host named Tyson McKenzie, but I am privileged to be joined today by my guests and co-host, Elizabeth Meagher. Elizabeth is the Global Head of people and culture at Aktiia.

[00:01:07] Elizabeth: Yes. Aktiia, good job.

[00:01:08] Alexa: Yes, I got it. All right. Previously at Spartan Race toes and some other notable Boston brands. Elizabeth has focused for the past 10 years on specializing in people apps for startups and early-stage high-growth organizations to help them scale culture, careers, and executive growth. She is also an advisor and founding member of the People Op Society and a superhuman mom to two wonderful kids. Uh, she is here to teach us and me mostly all about, uh, Ted Lasso, and leadership learnings that we can take away from everybody's new favorite show. So please give it up for Elizabeth Meagher.

[applause]

[00:01:38] Elizabeth: Thank you all.

[00:01:39] Alexa: Welcome, welcome. Okay, so I have to make a really early admission here, Elizabeth. Uh, and-and hopefully this is helpful to the audience. I've never seen Ted Lasso.

[00:01:47] Elizabeth: Okay.

[00:01:48] Alexa: And I intentionally didn't watch it.

[00:01:51] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:01:51] Alexa: Even though everyone was like, "You got to do some homework." I was like, "No, because I wanna check that what you tell me actually pans out-

[00:01:57] Elizabeth: Okay.

[00:01:58] Alexa: -from these lessons." So you're gonna have to do a little bit of setup for me.

[00:02:00] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:02:01] Alexa: Uh, and then obviously explain the T-shirts at some point.

[00:02:03] Elizabeth: Oh, yeah-yeah-yeah. If you are a Ted Lasso a watcher, we have the Be a Goldfish, um, T-shirts on which we will also talk about.

[00:02:08] Alexa: Be a Goldfish. Which I don't understand.

[00:02:10] Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:02:11] Alexa: Completely clueless.

[00:02:12] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:02:13] Alexa: All right. So what do I need to know?

[00:02:14] Elizabeth: Okay, all right. So Ted Lasso, spoiler alert, um, but the premise of Ted Lasso is a, um, a football team.

[00:02:24] Alexa: I got that much.

[00:02:25] Elizabeth: Um, [laughs] the Richmond Football Club-

[00:02:26] Alexa: Okay.

[00:02:27] Elizabeth: -in, uh, in England. And the owner, the new owner, um, of the team brings in a new coach who is an American football coach from Kansas.

[00:02:36] Alexa: Okay. And that's Ted?

[00:02:37] Elizabeth: And that's Ted Lasso.

[00:02:38] Alexa: Cool, adjacent to Vegas. Got it.

[00:02:40] Elizabeth: Yeah, [chuckles] adjacent to Vegas, exactly.

[00:02:42] Alexa: Following.

[00:02:43] Elizabeth: Um, so what we learned very early on in the- in the show is that she's actually brought him in to help, um, spoil the organization. Like, she wants them to fail.

[00:02:53] Alexa: Oh.

[00:02:54] Elizabeth: She has-she has received the team as part of a divorce settlement in, like, a very messy divorce from her older husband who has brought in a new younger partner.

[00:03:03] Alexa: Oh, okay. Sabotage.

[00:03:04] Elizabeth: And so she- he loves this club and she wants to bring it down. So she thinks the way to do this is bringing in an inept coach, right?

[00:03:11] Alexa: Gotcha.

[00:03:11] Elizabeth: It does not work.

[00:03:12] Alexa: Okay.

[00:03:13] Elizabeth: He actually ends up doing great.

[00:03:14] Alexa: Okay, got it.

[00:03:14] Elizabeth: So that's what we're gonna talk about today. Um.

[00:03:16] Alexa: Wonderful, and-and before we go too far into the lessons, I'm very curious to hear from you-

[00:03:21] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:03:21] Alexa: -because this is your idea. This is her framework.

[00:03:23] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:03:23] Alexa: Super fun. Um, why-why you like the show and sort of why-

[00:03:28] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:03:28] Alexa: -uh, you-you leaned into this topic?

[00:03:29] Elizabeth: Okay. So, um, I'm very lucky to have a friend who has a podcast that lets me come in and talk about things that I'm interested in. Um, which my two favorite topics are pop culture and leadership.

[00:03:40] Alexa: There we go.

[00:03:40] Elizabeth: So, um, so, um, if this goes well-

[00:03:43] Alexa: Yeah. It's almost like exactly we have a podcast about it.

[00:03:44] Elizabeth -[laughs] you can interview me. Exactly. Like we have a podcast about it. So as I was watching the show, I was like, wow, there's a lot here that actually correlates to my other passion, which is leadership and how we do that in-in companies. And so as I started to think about it more and more, and then I-I-I Googled it, and a lot of people are having this conversation too about the cool things that Ted Lasso does. Um, but yeah, that's sort of where it came from.

[00:04:08] Alexa: Okay.

[00:04:08] Elizabeth: And the same thing like I watch-- um, I don't know if anyone else is a Succession washer. Spoiler alert. And we need to do, like, session two on that.

[00:04:16] Alexa: Okay, all right.

[00:04:16] Elizabeth: But like super different, right? Like-

[00:04:18] Alexa: Yes.

[00:04:18] Elizabeth: -how can leadership go really, really wrong?

[00:04:20] Alexa: Yes.

[00:04:20] Elizabeth: And how is that demonstrated in our topic here, so?

[00:04:21] Alexa: The dark sides of leadership?

[00:04:22] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:04:23] Alexa: Yeah, all right.

[00:04:23] Elizabeth: But the other thing about Ted Lasso too is that it's, like, [chuckles] one of his things is kindness matters.

[00:04:28] Alexa: Mm-hmm.

[00:04:29] Elizabeth: And he's just, like, very nice, but also, like, super effective.

[00:04:33] Alexa: That's a very Gary V thing to say.

[00:04:35] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:04:35] Alexa: Gary [unintelligible 00:04:35] checks off on LinkedIn telling everybody to be- lead with kindness and-- yeah.

[00:04:39] Elizabeth: Lead with kindness. So really interesting. I was, um, saw a clip of Mark Cuban, um, talking about, like, what he would do differently. And even though he's wildly successful, he thinks that if he was nicer and kinder that he- that actually would have benefited him more in business.

[00:04:54] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:04:54] Elizabeth: Yeah, so.

[00:04:55] Alexa: All right, everybody be a little nicer today. That's your takeaway. Nothing else.

[00:04:57] Elizabeth: [laughs] Exactly.

[00:04:59] Alexa: All right, do you wanna jump in?

[00:05:00] Elizabeth: All right.

[00:05:00] Alexa: How many lessons we're gonna get?

[00:05:01] Elizabeth: So we're gonna do three.

[00:05:03] Alexa: Okay. Take it away.

[00:05:04] Elizabeth: So our first lesson is, um, build a team that can execute the ultimate goal. And--

[00:05:08] Alexa: Okay and why is that from Ted Lasso? Give us a little context.

[00:05:10] Elizabeth: Okay. So he is, as I mentioned an American football coach, right, he's coming from Kansas. He's going to this, um, English football club.

[00:05:18] Alexa: Okay.

[00:05:19] Elizabeth: Um, he is super self-aware about what he's good at, but then also does not have an ego about the things that he doesn't know.

[00:05:27] Alexa: Okay.

[00:05:27] Elizabeth: And so he builds a team around him that can actually help him to execute the things that he needs to do.

[00:05:32] Alexa: Okay.

[00:05:32] Elizabeth: So he knows that he's the visionary leader, but he has, um, his, uh, counterpart, Beard who is-

[00:05:42] Alexa: [laughs] The guy's name is Beard?

[00:05:43] Elizabeth: Beard, yeah. [laughs] And in the first, um, actually, like, in the first episode, as they're flying to England, he's like-- he's really digging deep into like, all the America-- uh, all the European football, like rules and everything like that. So Ted knows that, like, he's gonna be able to bring the team together, he's gonna be able to motivate them, but he actually needs people who can help him to execute.

[00:06:04] Alexa: Gotcha.

[00:06:04] Elizabeth: Um, and execute what that goal is.

[00:06:05] Alexa: And why do you think that that is an important thing for people to take away? Is that something that you have seen people not do?

[00:06:12] Elizabeth: Well, it can be, right? So it's bringing in the- it's bringing in the right people that can help you execute, but then also giving them that space to be able to do it?

[00:06:21] Alexa: Yes.

[00:06:21] Elizabeth: So I have seen founders who have failed, when they are doing things like being too worried about the font that's on the website, right?

[00:06:30] Alexa: Yes.

[00:06:31] Elizabeth: [laughs] And leaders who--

[00:06:33] Alexa: Not a good use of your CEO's time. Yes.

[00:06:34] Elizabeth: Not a good use of your CEO's time, right, or leaders who come in and they say, like, um, you know, I'm gonna hire you, because you're the expert in this area, but they're not giving you enough room to grow-

[00:06:43] Alexa: Right.

[00:06:44] Elizabeth: -and-and to actually be able to do those things.

[00:06:45] Alexa: And what do you think are some key ways that people can actually do that? I think-

[00:06:48] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:06:48] Alexa: -I think that all sounds wonderful but humans are hard to manage and delegation is harder than it sounds.

[00:06:53] Elizabeth: Totally.

[00:06:54] Alexa: So how do you work with leadership?

[00:06:56] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:06:56] Alexa: And in this previously, when you've done this, to do that?

[00:06:58] Elizabeth: Exactly. So there needs to be alignment, right? You have to look at, like what your goals are, and what are the things that you want to accomplish. And then making sure that you have the right pieces that are underneath that and being able to, um, to take that talent and give them direction, but then letting them execute like how that direction happens.

[00:07:15] Alexa: Right.

[00:07:15] Elizabeth: So you know, that you need to build-- like, let's think about the people ops world, right? Like you might bring on your, um, your employment branding person, and just say, like, "We need to create a super-strong employment brand. We need to be able to attract the right talent, bring all those people in," but how that happens, you need to leave up to the expert. Right.

[00:07:31] Alexa: Yeah. So the what, you need to strategically iron on.

[00:07:34] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:07:34] Alexa: The how you need to trust your people to do.

[00:07:36] Elizabeth: Yeah, trust your-- and-and-and your job as a leader is to be there to block and tackle. Right?

[00:07:41] Alexa: Yeah, I always say give them enough rope to hang themselves.

[00:07:43] Elizabeth: Yeah, [laughs] exactly.

[00:07:44] Alexa: You're either gonna do this well, or we're gonna know that you couldn't do it and then there was no point in trying to micromanage this anyway.

[00:07:48] Elizabeth: Totally. Yeah, yeah.

[00:07:51] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:07:52] Elizabeth: The other thing that Ted does, too, is that he really identifies talent in a different way.

[00:07:57] Alexa: How so?

[00:07:57] Elizabeth: So there is one character in the show, and his name's Nate, and he's the kit man which is the kind of, like--

[00:08:01] Alexa: The kit mum?

[00:08:02] Elizabeth: The kit man.

[00:08:03] Alexa: Oh, kit man. Okay.

[00:08:03] Elizabeth: K-I-T, kit man.

[00:08:04] Alexa: Okay.

[00:08:05] Elizabeth: So he's basically like the team manager.

[00:08:06] Alexa: Yeah, water bottles and stuff.

[00:08:06] Elizabeth: So he's like doing laundry, making sure-- Yeah.

[00:08:09] Alexa: Got it.

[00:08:09] Elizabeth: Setting up the water. And at one point had actually given them a ton of recognition at the beginning of the show. And he's like, this water is incredible, like, it's the right temperature and like, [laughs] really recognized him for doing a good job. But then figures out quickly that Nate is actually, like, really brilliant as strategy and plays.

[00:08:24] Alexa: Uh-huh.

[00:08:24] Elizabeth: And is su-- knows a ton about this. So he sort of takes this person who's like been doing the team's laundry, and then gives him an opportunity to actually like, create strategy and plays that help the team to be successful.

[00:08:35] Alexa: Got you.

[00:08:36] Elizabeth: And he promotes him to the rest of the team. So for people who are looking at this guy as someone who was just, like, doing their laundry up until this point, like, now they're listening to him and running the plays that he's interested in.

[00:08:47] Alexa: Okay, so I could imagine that this is actually-- and in fact, I know for a fact that this is a very common happening in the workplace.

[00:08:52] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:08:53] Alexa: Where you get someone that you hired for a role-

[00:08:56] Elizabeth: Totally.

[00:08:56] Alexa: -may have a significantly bigger, um, capacity than either the role-

[00:09:00] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:09:00] Alexa: -or their skill set allows them to do more.

[00:09:03] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:09:03] Alexa: Um, one of the things I have seen, uh, organizations struggle with is the person is in the role.

[00:09:09] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:09:10] Alexa: And the person either-either the person wants more than the role, and there just isn't a bigger role right now. Or the organization struggles to give additional responsibility because they don't wanna be seen as like, you know, sort of favoriting or creating roles that don't exist, uh, and setting precedent. So how-

[00:09:26] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:09:26] Alexa: -how do you sort of coach organizations on doing this, like teasing this out of people without like, blowing up your org structure?

[00:09:31] Elizabeth: Yeah. Right-right? So-so-so the way that I found success with that in the past is you give people what you know they can accomplish, right?

[00:09:40] Alexa: Right.

[00:09:40] Elizabeth: Like the things that need to be accomplished. But then what is like their one stretch thing that they're working on? And again, like you said, give them enough rope to kind of hang themselves with, right? Give them some space, support them along the way, but help them to demonstrate and maybe a very public way that they're actually able to doing more, taking on more.

[00:09:55] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:09:56] Elizabeth: And that's gonna keep them motivated, right. And this time where we're all struggling with retention, um, on our employees, people have-- there's more opportunity than we have people to actually come and fill.

[00:10:06] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:10:06] Elizabeth: It's like giving people this opportunity to-to demonstrate that they actually can do more and supporting them through that is going to help them with the attention of our team members, too.

[00:10:16] Alexa: Yeah. I think the-the core- the core component of that that I've seen people struggle with is they still have- you still have to do your core job.

[00:10:23] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:10:24] Alexa: You don't just get to go do all the other fun stuff that you might be better at and might wanna do. You have to be able to do both and-and giving people enough space to do that. I think you can, sort of, find the hidden mates-

[00:10:34] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:10:35] Alexa: -on the team, yeah.

[00:10:35] Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah, yeah, which that actually brings me to my next point around-- but you also have to hold them accountable, right? And so, to--

[00:10:42] Alexa: Tell me more.

[00:10:42] Elizabeth: -the be a goldfish.

[00:10:44] Alexa: Oh.

[00:10:45] Elizabeth: So, [laughs] a very young player on the show, Sam, um, he messes up. Like, he makes a really big mistake in the game and, though, when, um, Ted comes back to him, he's like, "You have to be goldfish." Meaning, that goldfish are- supposedly have like a very short memory. So, [chuckles] it's like you have to get over it, but learn from it and do better in- the next time, um-

[00:11:07] Alexa: Gotcha.

[00:11:08] Elizabeth: -that you have to do this and, but then, he held Sam accountable. Like, he lets him make the mistake to help to coach him through that mistake, but then held him accountable to better performance, sort of, in the future. And then, when you flash forward, sorry, spoiler alert to, like, the end of the second season, Sam actually has an opportunity to go play for a-a club that was in, like, a higher tier and make more money and actually go back to his home country and he-- So, turn-- and he turns down that opportunity even though so many of those things might be, like, you know, that he could see some benefit to being able to go and do that. Make more money, be closer to his family, because he had built so much loyalty with Ted.

[00:11:44] Alexa: They-- Ted retained him?

[00:11:46] Elizabeth: Ted retained him.

[00:11:46] Alexa: Oh, I love that.

[00:11:48] Elizabeth: Um, but then there's another character on the show, Jamie Tartt, who is a superstar, but he's super abusive, and he-

[00:11:56] Alexa: Hmm.

[00:11:56] Elizabeth: -is a, um, he is not a really good team player. He actually, like, you know, he tries to be the superstar and doesn't pass and it doesn't help other people shine, and so during a really critical moment in the- in the season, um, Ted actually makes the decision to sit him and-

[00:12:14] Alexa: Ooh.

[00:12:14] Elizabeth: -uh, keeps him on the bench because, like, he--

[00:12:16] Alexa: Benched.

[00:12:17] Elizabeth: Even though he's really talented and has the right skill set to help them win, he's not playing along-

[00:12:22] Alexa: Okay.

[00:12:22] Elizabeth: -with what the rest of the class, yes.

[00:12:23] Alexa: So, we talk about this a lot on this podcast, uh, and-and that is like what the fuck do you do with the really good people who are, sort of, toxic for the culture?

[00:12:30] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:12:32] Alexa: And the blog post will tell you like fire, just fire that person.

[00:12:35] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:12:35] Alexa: And it's like, okay, well, that's always a little easier said than done.

[00:12:37] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:12:38] Alexa: Um, so, I guess, my question for you would be there is no corporate equivalent of benching someone.

[00:12:43] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:12:43] Alexa: So, what do you do?

[00:12:44] Elizabeth: Right, exactly.

[00:12:44] Alexa: Or, like, where do you fall on the spectrum of, like, get him out as fast as possible or like find a way to work with these people 'cause this one comes up a lot?

[00:12:50] Elizabeth: Totally. Mm-hmm. So, um-- so, right, there isn't an equivalent benching them, but there is maybe an equivalent of, like, the opportunities that you give them. Right?

[00:13:02] Alexa: Hmm.

[00:13:02] Elizabeth: So, there's not an opportunity that--

[00:13:04] Alexa: Put baby in a corner? [laughs]

[00:13:05] Elizabeth: Yeah. Put baby in a corner, right? I'm not gonna promote that person, right? I'm not gonna give them more influence in the organization.

[00:13:12] Alexa: What happens when they already have a lot of influence?

[00:13:13] Elizabeth: Because, well--

[00:13:13] Alexa: Like, they're your lead sales guy or your--

[00:13:15] Elizabeth: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

[00:13:16] Alexa: -COO.

[00:13:17] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:13:17] Alexa: Or your-- yeah.

[00:13:18] Elizabeth: Yup. So, um, so, similar to what Ted did with Jamie Tartt in the show. He gave him an expectation around what his behavior needed to be.

[00:13:26] Alexa: Yeah, give me an example.

[00:13:28] Elizabeth: And so, um, so for example, he was like-- so Jamie is really like, he was really cruel to the other members of the team. Like, made a lot of fun of them, teased them, especially the younger ones, Nate the kit man. He was horrible to him, um, and so it was kind of, like, he actually-- Ted relies on his captain to help get his, um, his behavior in line. So, how can you utilize maybe some peer pressure also around that too? So, if your head of sales has a really good relationship with your head of marketing, theoretically, right?

[00:13:56] Alexa: Right.

[00:13:57] Elizabeth: How can you maybe leverage your head of marketing to help to bring your, kind of, sales talent in?

[00:14:01] Alexa: It's fascinating.

[00:14:03] Elizabeth: But there also does need to come to the point where you're like, "I get that you're super talented, but if all this other havoc is happening around you, you've chosen not to change your behavior, then that's the point."

[00:14:09] Alexa: Right, it's-- Right.

[00:14:13] Elizabeth: But, you do need to invest in coach.

[00:14:16] Alexa: Yes.

[00:14:16] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:14:17] Alexa: And I-I think you bring up two important points which we also talk about- a lot about on this podcast is, one is that a lot of this comes to managers and you need to coach the managers to have some of these conversations. It's not just like, "Oh, let me dump this on the people team."

[00:14:30] Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah.

[00:14:31] Alexa: Um, the other thing is that, uh, you know, peer support, I think, is probably something that's wildly underutilized.

[00:14:37] Elizabeth: Hmm.

[00:14:38] Alexa: Um, because effectively, if you have someone who cannot take feedback from a peer, you just have a behavioral tyrant.

[00:14:45] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:14:45] Alexa: Uh, and you don't maybe necessarily want someone in the organization who doesn't have ties they respect-

[00:14:51] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:14:51] Alexa: -uh, in general. That's, kind of, a flag-

[00:14:52] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:14:53] Alexa: -uh, where you have someone who's kind of a rogue player.

[00:14:55] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:14:56] Alexa: Um, pun intended, I guess. [chuckles]

[00:14:58] Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:14:59] Alexa: Um, so that's awesome. That's something to be mindful of. Okay, so we can't bench- we can't bench toxic people, but-

[00:15:04] Elizabeth: [laughs]

[00:15:05] Alexa: -um, we're coaching towards our goal. Do we have a second principle?

[00:15:09] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:15:09] Alexa: A leadership lesson?

[00:15:10] Elizabeth: So, when Ted first arrives at the, um, at Richmond, one of the things he does in the first episode is he puts a sign up that says believe.

[00:15:18] Alexa: Oh, I almost bought those shirts for us-

[00:15:19] Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah. [laughs]

[00:15:20] Alexa: -but I went with the goldfish.

[00:15:22] Elizabeth: So, our second lesson is like what's your focus in your alignment, right? So, what you believe in influences your actions right? And, what you believe in is gonna guide your decisions and your behaviors. And so, for Ted, he has a ton of hope and optimism, right? This club is not doing great. He's never coached before. He has, sort of, this team that isn't getting along, and they, he needs to, like, bring them all together. So, he has, like, all this hope and optimism, but then backs it up with his actions. So, he has guiding principles that then bring that help to form what they're gonna be like as an organization.

[00:15:58] Alexa: Right.

[00:15:59] Elizabeth: Right, um, so-- and he also doesn't waiver from what that is. So, if you think about in organizations, you have your values. Right?

[00:16:06] Alexa: Right, mission, values. Yup.

[00:16:07] Elizabeth: Hopefully, you have your values. Hopefully, you have your mission. You have the things that you're all aligned underneath and having the, you know, having the fortitude to be able to, like, stay true to those, and have those guide your decisions.

[00:16:18] Alexa: Right.

[00:16:18] Elizabeth: So, the-- in the first episode, because, Rebecca, the owner of the club, is trying to get him to fail, she-- he basically, like, gets off a plane, gets to the club totally jet-lagged, and she pushes him in front of a, um, a big press conference and [chuckles] all these people are, like, challenging him. This is like a super big deal, right? Everyone's passionate about this football club and this team and they haven't been doing well. So like, and now, they're bringing in someone from Kansas in the US to like come and coach it, right?

So, um, he-he-- and he does terrible, like, in this press conference. He has bubble water that he, makes him choke, and [laughs] he- [laughs] he doesn't know how to answer questions. He was like, "Yup, at the halftime." And they're like, "No, we played three periods." Like, he doesn't know anything, and then he's like, "Win or lose." And they're like, "Or, tie." And he's like, "Oh, right. You can tie in soccer, right?" So, like, he doesn't even know the basics of the game, really-

[00:17:10] Alexa: Right.

[00:17:10] Elizabeth: -when he's, like, talking to this whole thing. And so, he gets labeled, like, a wanker, and [crosstalk] when he's walking down the street, he's, like, walking to work from his apartment, and everyone's like, "Good morning, wanker." So-- and as he continues on in the show, he-he continues to get roasted, and they, sometimes they do well. A lot of times they don't do well, um, in the performance of the game, but, like, he never, he never loses sight of, like, this idea of, like, that he has hope and optimism, that his tactics are the right ones and that he's going to, that they're gonna prevail.

[00:17:41] Alexa: Right.

[00:17:42] Elizabeth: -like, based on it, and he surrounded himself with the team that he believes can help this skill.

[00:17:45] Alexa: Right. He's-he's following principle number one. So--

[00:17:47] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:17:47] Alexa: Something that's-- so people talk a lot about mission and values.

[00:17:51] Elizabeth: Mm-Hmm.

[00:17:51] Alexa: It's a very hot topic and I-I find that it usually comes up when an organization has hired a new people person-

[00:17:57] Elizabeth: [laughs]

[00:17:57] Alexa: -and they haven't done this yet, uh, and the person comes in and goes, "Oh, shit. I guess we need to put these together."

[00:18:02] Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah.

[00:18:03] Alexa: Um, and God bless all of you that do that for the first time for an organization, uh, 'cause I know how hard that can be. Um, but the reason I think that's really important is what, and we-we talk about a lot of it on the podcast. In-in other terms, it's like what are you solving for, right?

[00:18:16] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:18:17] Alexa: And you can't be all things to all people.

[00:18:19] Elizabeth: Mm-Hmm.

[00:18:19] Alexa: Uh, we talk about this a lot when we work with organizations to-to, like, structure perks and benefits programs. Like, you have to have a lens and your mission, your value should be your lens and then you can back into, like, okay. What are you solving for?

[00:18:29] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:18:29] Alexa: 'Cause you can't do everything. You have to be able to make cuts.

[00:18:32] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:18:32] Alexa: You have to be able to make hard decisions.

[00:18:34] Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:18:34] Alexa: You have to be able to pivot. You have to be able to-to do new things and you need a guiding star to do that.

[00:18:41] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:18:41] Alexa: Um, you need something that says, okay, well, I have the option between, you know, this hire and this hire. They're both exactly the same on paper. What are- what's the difference is, like, this person is more aligned with our values as an organization and what we're doing.

[00:18:53] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:18:54] Alexa: Or, I have the budget to offer this benefit and this benefit. Which one do we pick? It's like, well, what are- what is your-- what are- what is your value?

[00:19:00] Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:19:00] Alexa: What are your values as an organization? And what that equates to is actually, like, what is the experience you're trying to design.

[00:19:06] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:19:06] Alexa: Um, that's a lot of what values and mission actually are.

[00:19:09] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:19:09] Alexa: It's like what are we trying to create here and then it actually is much easier to make those decisions over time. I guess, my question for you would be like, what are some of the pitfalls you've seen groups do, uh, either in using them or not using them?

[00:19:21] Elizabeth: Yeah. Diversity inclusion, right? Being like a huge topic. So, I'll see organizations that stand out and say, like, you know, we-we believe in diversity. We believe in inclusion, um, and then they have--

[00:19:33] Alexa: Believe. [laughs]

[00:19:35] Elizabeth: Exactly, believe. Um, and then they give their dads two weeks of parental leave. Right? And they--

[00:19:41] Alexa: Or, no parental.

[00:19:42] Elizabeth: Or, no parental leave.

[00:19:43] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:19:43] Elizabeth: Or, you know, they have no, um, you-you know, you can go take your 12 weeks of FMLA, but it's unpaid. And so, they're not necessarily great, like, aligning what their, what their policies are and what their culture is to what they're saying that they believe in. Right?

[00:19:58] Alexa: Right, right.

[00:19:59] Elizabeth: Um, it would be-- if Ted--

[00:20:00] Alexa: Do you think organizations can still get away with that?

[00:20:02] Elizabeth: Um, it's people are holding them accountable.

[00:20:05] Alexa: I feel like, "Here, one glass or review away from like these guys have shitty parental leave, don't go here and--"

[00:20:09] Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:20:10] Alexa: It's too competitive to-to-to have that happen.

[00:20:13] Elizabeth: Totally. Or I'll see organizations that say like-- 'cause I work in startups, they'll be like, "Well, none of our people are having kids yet." And I'm like, "But why don't you have people here that have kids?" Like-

[00:20:22] Alexa: Also that.

[00:20:23] Elizabeth: [laughs] Yeah.

[00:20:24] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:20:24] Elizabeth: -well, like we're not doing the right things to attract like that talent that we can need.

[00:20:27] Alexa: Right. Yeah.

[00:20:28] Elizabeth: So, um, so that's where I see it go wrong where it's like, you have to be willing to like really look at yourself in the mirror and say like, "Who are we?"

[00:20:36] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:20:36] Elizabeth: And-and if you're not gonna be those things, like you need to say that you're-

[00:20:39] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:20:39] Elizabeth: -you know, you can't say that you are them.

[00:20:41] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:20:41] Elizabeth: Yeah, those are some of the problems.

[00:20:41] Alexa: And it's-- I find-- and 'cause we talk a lot about employer branding, that's basically what we do around here. What you say no to is as important as what you say yes to, right?

[00:20:48] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:20:49] Alexa: Um, like oftentimes I'll work with organizations and they'll be like, "We offer, you know, all these benefits. We have the best-best in class benefits," and I'm like, "No, you just have a lot of stuff."

[laughter]

[00:20:57] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:20:58] Alexa: Um, that's different than, you know, like what are you trying to accomplish? Right.

[00:21:01] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:21:01] Alexa: I know-- You know, I work- I worked with someone who, uh, is, uh, head of benefits for a large like fitness chain. Right.

[00:21:07] Elizabeth: Yep.

[00:21:07] Alexa: She's like, "I don't understand. Like we, you know, we don't have great utilization. We don't, you know-- we don't use these right in our branding and our onboarding and all that, that's a different conversation." She said, "But I'm so frustrated by the fact that I can't- I can't seem to get the perfect combination of what people want." And I said,-

[00:21:19] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:21:19] Alexa: -"You're never gonna get the perfect combination of what people want. There's too many people. You'll always make somebody unhappy, but what are you as a brand solving for?"

[00:21:26] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:21:26] Alexa: "What are you trying to do?" And I said, "You're a global fitness company, let's look at your wellness plan."

[00:21:31] Elizabeth: Yeah. [laughs]

[00:21:32] Alexa: Let's look at your-- what your healthcare covers for health and wellness and for fitness. And-

[00:21:36] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:21:36] Alexa: -you know, they own a large gym chain and, you know, they're not offering personal training credits. They're not-

[00:21:42] Elizabeth: Oh, yeah.

[00:21:42] Alexa: -they're just giving like a standard discount on the gym membership. I'm like, "You-

[00:21:46] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:21:46] Alexa: -you have to create evangelists of your own brand.

[00:21:49] Elizabeth: Exactly, [crosstalk].

[00:21:50] Alexa: And the only way you can do that is to apply this lens to this problem, which is like, okay, what are we trying to accomplish as a brand? What are our values as a company? If creating the healthiest, you know, population in the United States is one of your values or your mission, then you need to start with your own employees.

[00:22:03] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:22:04] Alexa: And you need to give them free gym memberships. You need to cover their personal trainer. You probably need to get some nutrition in your benefits. Like-

[00:22:10] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:22:10] Alexa: -it completely takes away from-- and makes sure their families have similar benefits and all these things, like it-it's complete-- a completely different lens than just like, "I don't know, we offer so much stuff," and it's like, "Well, but you don't have the lens." People feel like it's narrowing them, and I actually-

[00:22:24] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:22:24] Alexa: -don't think it narrows your brand at all, I think it makes it significantly stronger.

[00:22:28] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:22:29] Alexa: Uh, and people can't evangelize what they don't understand and what's too broad.

[00:22:33] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:22:33] Alexa: So if you're trying to create evangelists, you have to have a mission and like people will follow believe. Right? It's very easy.

[00:22:39] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:22:39] Alexa: It's-it's like people can get behind very simple statements like that.

[00:22:42] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:22:43] Alexa: Um, and then they also can't fault you for something you don't offer. Right? 'Cause you're like, "It's-- I-- We appreciate that, but that's not part of our values or our brand."

[00:22:50] Elizabeth: Right. Totally.

[00:22:51] Alexa: Um, that's how you gotta rally people.

[00:22:53] Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah.

[00:22:53] Alexa: You got to focus on. Yeah.

[00:22:54] Elizabeth: Um, and that actually-- like, it ties in really well with like my next point, which is like, what is your why?

[00:22:59] Alexa: Hmm. [crosstalk], yeah.

[00:22:59] Elizabeth: Right? Like, why are you doing things that you do? So there's a point in, um-- in the show. I forget if this is in the first or second season, but Roy Kent, who's my favorite player. He is, um, my favorite character on the show. He's like on the decline in his career. Right.

[00:23:13] Alexa: Uh-huh.

[00:23:13] Elizabeth: So he's like gotten older. He had been like a super, superstar.

[00:23:15] Alexa: It's like a little washed up.

[00:23:17] Elizabeth: Yeah, he was getting washed up and he was the captain of the team.

[00:23:19] Alexa: Okay.

[00:23:19] Elizabeth: And it kind of gets to this point where like he just can't play anymore. Like his body's like really broken down and um-

[00:23:24] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:23:25] Elizabeth: -and he has to make this really-- and he's not playing well. And so, um, I'll talk in a minute about having uncomfortable conversations, so that's like an uncomfortable conversation that had to happen with him, which is like, now there's- needs to be a new--

[00:23:35] Alexa: Your past, your prime.

[00:23:36] Elizabeth: Your past, your prime. So, and he does actually become a coach and-and great things happen with him, but he takes the new captain, Isaac, who has a really terrible, like, game or a couple of games. He's playing horribly and brings him to his old neighborhood and has him play soccer with just like the people in the neighborhood.

[00:23:55] Alexa: Oh, fun.

[00:23:55] Elizabeth: And so it was like totally low-stakes. Like let's get back to remembering why we loved this game.

[00:24:00] Alexa: Why we do this. I love that.

[00:24:01] Elizabeth: And like why we do it. And then that helped to, like, energize him. He became a much better captain going forward, like started playing, like, a lot better.

[00:24:08] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:24:08] Elizabeth: So as you think about too, like in your organization, it's like, how do you create those moments where you go back to the why of what it is that you're doing? So one thing that we're doing in our, um-- in our organization is like, we-we have a weekly meeting and we start that weekly meeting with like a customer testimonial. Like why are people using our product? We're trying to change the world of hypertension. And so we look at it and say like, how-how has this actually helped us? And that's how we start our Monday, which is like-

[00:24:34] Alexa: Right.

[00:24:34] Elizabeth: -remembering the why, behind-

[00:24:36] Alexa: The bigger vision.

[00:24:36] Elizabeth: -why we're doing things. Yeah.

[00:24:37] Alexa: Yeah. Also puts things in perspective.

[00:24:39] Elizabeth: Right?

[00:24:39] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:24:40] Elizabeth: So then when you're sitting in these like super frustrating meetings and you're like, "Oh my God, we can't get this thing to work," kind of like this-

[00:24:44] Alexa: This guy annoys me so much.

[00:24:45] Elizabeth: Yeah. Like all these things are happening, it's like, "All right, we have to remember the why behind why we're- why we're all in this vision.

[00:24:50] Alexa: Yeah. That's actually-- it's something they teach. I mean, I've-I've been through eight million management trainings and leadership trainings at this point, uh, in this space, but one of the things that people come back to, every version of it I-I've ever heard is like successful team meetings and-

[00:25:02] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:25:02] Alexa: -um, successful group structures always start with a purpose.

[00:25:05] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:25:05] Alexa: Like, why-- Just not-not even like, why are we here? But like specifically, why are you in this meeting?

[00:25:09] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:25:10] Alexa: Like why did I ask you to be here?

[00:25:11] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:25:12] Alexa: Um, so that people feel sort of connected to the larger vision.

[00:25:14] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:25:15] Alexa: Um, I mean, everyone has their reasons, right? Like-

[00:25:17] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:25:17] Alexa: -some people are for money, some people are for stability, some people are for, you know, because they like the kid that sits next to them. Like, you just never know why people are in it, and they'll always look out for number one, but I always tell people, "You can't manage if you don't understand someone's why."

[00:25:30] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:25:30] Alexa: Right? I've had employees where the only- the only thing they wanna do is like do a decent job and, you know, be able to be home for their kids' soccer game on Tuesdays.

[00:25:37] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:25:37] Alexa: And, you know, it's a lifestyle thing for them. And then I've had other employees where it's like purely about, you know, sort of climbing the ranks and, you know, dollars and just, like, totally different paths.

[00:25:47] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:25:47] Alexa: And I couldn't-- You can absolutely not manage those two people the same way.

[00:25:50] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:25:51] Alexa: Um, you can bring them together over a single vision-

[00:25:53] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:25:53] Alexa: -uh, but then you also have to understand their individual why. 'Cause I'm-I'm not gonna get the guy who wants to be home on Tuesday for his daughter's soccer game to burn the midnight oil every week on Tuesday.

[00:26:02] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:26:03] Alexa: It just isn't gonna happen.

[00:26:03] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:26:04] Alexa: Um, it's a futile effort to try. So, um, yeah. I-I-I think mission and values, I think gets talked a lot about-

[00:26:11] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:26:11] Alexa: -it gets a lot of lip service, but it doesn't necessarily get a lot of like airtime throughout the year-

[00:26:17] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:26:17] Alexa: -uh, which I think is a big missed opportunity for people.

[00:26:20] Elizabeth: Yeah. And so from a leadership perspective, you like, as you're making these decisions and there's always, uh, multiple different paths you can take, right?

[00:26:28] Alexa: A million ways to skin a cat.

[00:26:29] Elizabeth: A million ways to skin a cat. In Ted Lasso, like there could be, uh, so many different lineups that could happen, so many different plays that could happen, but it's like re-reminding yourself, like, why are you doing these things and what are your values? And-and using that to help to inform them. But then you also have to do it, like you have to hire to them. And so if, um, you know-- if one of your values is like kindness matters, like in Ted Lasso as you're-- [laughs]

[00:26:51] Alexa: What would you say to people who are like, "Yeah, but I-- it's so competitive, I'm struggling to hire it all right now."

[00:26:55] Elizabeth: I'm struggling to hire it all right now. Right?

[00:26:56] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:26:57] Elizabeth: Um-

[00:26:57] Alexa: What-what are people do in this situation?

[00:26:58] Elizabeth: I know. I know it's really, really tough. Um.

[00:27:01] Alexa: [laughs] Not to put you on the spot or anything.

[00:27:03] Elizabeth: [laughs] But, you know, is it- is it better to maybe look a little bit longer and find someone that better aligns to your culture and your values, even though there might be some things that are left undone? And at work right now, we're struggling a little bit with someone who, um, it seems to be like looting their-- losing their motivation around, like what it is that they're doing. And we're thinking about like how we coach to that and we're setting the expectation like we're doing all the right things, but then sort of counter to that, we're also like, "All right, we need a backup plan here." Like we need to make sure that like--

[00:27:30] Alexa: Are you gonna take this person play soccer in the neighborhood?

[00:27:32] Elizabeth: Yeah. Are you gonna take him to go play soccer in the neighborhood, remind them why they're doing what they do? But, um- but we're also as leaders trying to say like, "Okay, we're going down this one path and trying to commit to like this person and getting them back sort of inline," but then also running a parallel plan to that to be like, "All right, we need to make sure that we also are like taking care of things."

[00:27:51] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:27:51] Elizabeth: So how do we make sure that like knowledge isn't lost or whatever?

[00:27:54] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:27:54] Elizabeth: Um-

[00:27:55] Alexa: I will say the one positive side of this, not to bring up the dreaded R and retention word and the- and the struggle for talent, excuse me, the war on talent right now.

[00:28:01] Elizabeth: [laughs]

[00:28:01] Alexa: There are all the buzzwords out there. Is candidates are being equally as scrupulous. So they're-

[00:28:07] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:28:07] Alexa: -saying like, uh, it's very clear to me in this process that maybe I don't fit your values.

[00:28:12] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:28:12] Alexa: And so it's- it's a two-way street. Right? I mean, I know-

[00:28:15] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:28:15] Alexa: -you know, you recently went through a process and were just like amazed by some of the things that you saw, heard, you know, thought about as you went through the process, and I think it's really important to remember, like, are you-- you're-- you wanna hire to these things, but you also wanna make sure that you're getting the-the same out of the person.

[00:28:31] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:28:32] Alexa: Um, 'cause odds are like, you're-- you may not be aligned with a lot of the candidate market right now and you should know that-

[00:28:37] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:28:38] Alexa: -uh, upfront. So I think sometimes people forget like you're-you're both interviewing each other, um-

[00:28:42] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:28:43] Alexa: -and so yeah, you might- you might think you have someone on the line, and then actually your values don't align with theirs.

[00:28:48] Elizabeth: Totally.

[00:28:48] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:28:49] Elizabeth: I-I was talking to an opportunity recently where, um, the-the company was amazing, the compensation was incredible, the opportunity and the growth was there, but the person that I would've been working for, like we would have-

[00:29:02] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:29:02] Elizabeth: -we would've left every meeting frustrated with each other.

[00:29:04] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:29:05] Elizabeth: And I could tell that and it-

[00:29:06] Alexa: [unintelligible 00:29:06].

[00:29:07] Elizabeth: -which was fine. Like, it was just like, we're not gonna be the right match for each other, and we would have to have worked so closely together that I ultimately had to say like, "Well, we also have the luxury right now of kind of being like, here is my [laughs] plethora of things to pick from."

[00:29:20] Alexa: Yes.

[00:29:21] Elizabeth: But, um, yeah. Being honest with each other-

[00:29:23] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:29:24] Elizabeth: -um, is-- which is actually like one of my next points. [laughs]

[00:29:27] Alexa: Oh, all right. Well, let's move on to our third leadership.

[00:29:30] Elizabeth: Um, which is like, tell the truth to the people who you lead. Right? And-and some of that has to do with, like, feedback. And so if you talk to me for 30 seconds about how I feel about workplace feedback, I think is the most important thing. Right?

[00:29:42] Alexa: Can I talk to you for more than 30 seconds about it-

[00:29:43] Elizabeth: Yeah, totally. [laughs]

[00:29:44] Alexa: -while we record this?

[00:29:45] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:29:45] Alexa: Okay, cool. Please tell me all your thoughts on workplace feedback.

[00:29:48] Elizabeth: Yeah. Feedback. So not only are we making sure that we're soliciting feedback from the people who are working for us, right, that are working our organizations, making sure that like we're responding to any issues or concerns that they have, making sure that we're paying attention to the things that are important to them and knowing what's happening in our organizations. Sometimes, especially as we scale, we get bigger, right, we start to lose track of what may be happening at the team level.

Um, and so I always say like my engagement survey that I do twice a year is what guides almost all of my work in organizations because it's like-- it's how I find out how people are feeling about communication. How are- are-are we as leaders living our values? Or do we need to take a look at the mirror and say like we're not-- We didn't do it in this situation or at this time, right. So, um, going back to Ted Lasso, he is such a nice person that having uncomfortable conversations is-

[00:30:38] Alexa: Hmm.

[00:30:38] Elizabeth: -really hard for him. But he does it because he understands that it helps to improve both the individual and the culture. So when going back to Jamie Tartt, who was kind of like our superstar, but of the horrible culture fit and terrible to all of his teammates. Like he had to have really tough conversation with him and be like, "Look, you need to get in line or else you can't play here anymore."

[00:30:59] Alexa: Right.

[00:31:00] Elizabeth: And then ultimately when he was like, "Well, I'm not gonna play here anymore." He was like, "All right, well, when you're ready to- when you're ready to be in line for what our vision is, like, you can come back."

[00:31:10] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:31:10] Elizabeth: That was a decision that was not well received in the press, not well received with the-with the-

[00:31:15] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:31:15] Elizabeth: -fans. And, you know, he was called a Winker for it again.

[laughter]

But having to like have those uncomfortable conversations for the betterment of like what your goals are-

[00:31:25] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:31:26] Elizabeth: -it's something that's also really important for us as leaders.

[00:31:28] Alexa: Yeah. People talk a lot about this. This is obviously not-not news, uh, in this space, but I think one thing that gets lost is tense conversations are not-- And-and uncomfortable conversations are not just for managers and managees.

[00:31:39] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:31:39] Alexa: Like, uh, they are for colleagues-

[00:31:42] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:31:42] Alexa: -they are for different parts of the organization. Um, I recently just had this where I just had some people that needed to talk it out.

[00:31:50] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:31:50] Alexa: Uh, not one does not manage the other and-

[00:31:53] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:31:53] Alexa: -you know, people have different personalities, different ways of doing things, different ways of communicating you-you have to-- I-I almost was like I'm just gonna put your guys in a room and let you work it out, uh, and sometimes you gotta do that.

[00:32:02] Elizabeth: Totally.

[00:32:03] Alexa: And I think people, um, worry a little bit about the perception of not being nice with the perception of-

[00:32:08] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:32:08] Alexa: -um, is this gonna, you know, tarnish my relationship with this person in the future. And the answer is like, no, it's actually most likely gonna make it stronger.

[00:32:14] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:32:14] Alexa: You know, and-and sometimes you need to put a chaperone in the room, uh-

[00:32:17] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:32:18] Alexa: -and that's highly [laughter] encouraged as well. Um, but yeah, I think people often think of these as like, you know, oh, I gotta do it 'cause it got to this point.

[00:32:25] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:32:26] Alexa: And it's like, actually you probably should be having like quasi tension kind of everywhere if you're-

[00:32:30] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:32:31] Alexa: -moving really quickly and you have a lot of people together. And if you're only encouraging those conversations from managers to managees you're gonna create a massive imbalance.

[00:32:38] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:32:38] Alexa: In the-in the Ted Lasso example, obviously it's a player and a coach, but--

[00:32:41] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:32:41] Alexa: Or the manager and the coach, excuse me, the player. Um, but I-I think oftentimes people do not encourage like, okay, let's put these two executives-

[00:32:51] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:32:51] Alexa: -in a room together. And 'cause marketing and sales are just not working together right now.

[00:32:55] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:32:55] Alexa: Um, I think that stuff's highly encouraged. Uh, and there's some really thoughtful ways that like people-people have schemes specifically can sit down with these groups and be like, okay, let's realign on our why, our purpose.

[00:33:05] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:33:06] Alexa: How we're trying to do this, whose style is what, uh, roles and responsibilities, lanes, all that stuff. Um, and it just doesn't get institutionalized-

[00:33:14] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:33:14] Alexa: -very often. So my question for you is-

[00:33:16] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:33:17] Alexa: Have you seen anyone institutionalize it other than feedback surveys and-and I think that's a one-way channel.

[00:33:22] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:33:22] Alexa: Have you seen it ever done sort of well or regularly in a way that you-

[00:33:25] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:33:25] Alexa: -commend?

[00:33:26] Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. So from a people ops perspective, you know, as you're talking about like the-- Especially the peer to peer conflict-

[00:33:31] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:33:31] Elizabeth: -that might come up, um, I feel like employees come to us all the time and they're like, can you fix this-

[00:33:37] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:33:38] Elizabeth: -for me. Like can you get this person-

[00:33:40] Alexa: Mom and dad are fighting again.

[00:33:40] Elizabeth: -to stop doing this.

[00:33:41] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:33:42] Elizabeth: Um, and I'm always like, no, but I'll help you figure out how to have that conversation.

[00:33:45] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:33:46] Elizabeth: So, um, in those situations I think that the most success you can find is when like you put it back on the individuals and enable them to solve their own problems-

[00:33:53] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:33:53] Elizabeth: -and empower them to do it.

[00:33:54] Alexa: Exactly.

[00:33:55] Elizabeth: And I'm always like we can think of this conversation's gonna go five different ways and I can help you come up with tact to explore it. But like have the-- Like let's establish that first, have that conversation then come back to me. If that didn't work like we'll figure out something else to do.

[00:34:06] Alexa: Right.

[00:34:07] Elizabeth: And I try not to sit in the room unless it's like it's really gotten to the point where something is not happening.

[00:34:13] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:34:13] Elizabeth: People aren't listening like they're not taking the feedback.

[00:34:16] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:34:16] Elizabeth: Um-

[00:34:17] Alexa: That's smart.

[00:34:17] Elizabeth: Yeah, actually something that, um, at one point in Ted Lasso. So, uh, Nate the kit man as he like progresses on and becomes more and more of a coach he, um, at one point goes to Ted and says, "I feel like you're ignoring me. You-you know you used to invest in me and now I feel like you don't anymore. Um, you're not like, you know, you're-you're not paying attention to me the way that used to." And he's very upset and he's crying and doing this whole thing. And as an observer of the show, you're kind of like, whoa, that I-- That actually I don't see that happening at all. And I think that that's probably the way that Ted felt too, but he was like, "All right, you're giving me feedback." Which feedback is a gift, right?

[00:34:55] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:34:55] Elizabeth: [laughs] Buzzwords.

[00:34:57] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:34:57] Elizabeth: [laughs] Um, like let me examine what maybe I'm doing in my behavior-

[00:35:02] Alexa: Right.

[00:35:02] Elizabeth: -that, um, that is making you feel this way.

[00:35:06] Alexa: Right.

[00:35:05] Elizabeth: So, and like also kind of recognize the fact that there's other stuff that's going on there that, um, that might be like driving that behavior. So encouraging both parties to be listening and to be expressing the way that they feel and sort of trying to come to a common understanding. Like you have to kind of like bring them all together, right?

[00:35:23] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:35:24] Elizabeth: Um, there's usually a little bit of give that needs to happen. That's what happens in successful teams.

[00:35:26] Alexa: I had- I had this conversation recently with my colleagues and-and you know, you put two people together, they talk about some stuff, and nobody ever comes out being like, "Oh, I won that round." Or it's-

[00:35:36] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:35:36] Alexa: -like, "Oh, I feel so much better." 'Cause like when you're in a situation where two people are not-

[00:35:40] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:35:40] Alexa: -vibing, it's for lack of a-a better term.

[00:35:42] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:35:43] Alexa: Like you're both gonna come back a little unfulfilled from that-that.

[00:35:46] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:35:46] Alexa: Like 'cause no-nobody gets a hundred percent of what they want-

[00:35:49] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:35:49] Alexa: -when they're talking about doing something better together.

[00:35:52] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:35:52] Alexa: Um, and reminding them that like it's not that your way is better and his way is wrong, or his way is wrong and your way is-- you know, his way right and your way is wrong. It's that you guys need to figure out a way together that's like, it's not A or B, it's C.

[00:36:03] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:36:03] Alexa: And you're both gonna feel a little unfulfilled in that.

[00:36:06] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:36:06] Alexa: But if you feel heard and you listen that maybe you actually see winds up being a much stronger situation. And I-I-- One of the things I think I'd love to get your thoughts on is people talk a lot about regular feedback-

[00:36:17] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:36:17] Alexa: -and like honest feedback.

[00:36:18] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:36:18] Alexa: Instead of like, you know, 360 reviews have been, you know, out for-

[00:36:21] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:36:22] Alexa: -years now. And, you know, the management review gets a lot of- a lot of beef.

[00:36:25] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:36:26] Alexa: Uh, which I agree with. Um, but what is your- what is your sort of go-to strategy for encouraging regular feedback-

[00:36:33] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:36:34] Alexa: -at all?

[00:36:34] Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So first of all, you have to make it super lightweight. So when--

[00:36:38] Alexa: For example.

[00:36:39] Elizabeth: Yeah. So for example, um, if you are asking your managers to, um, like highly document every one on one that they have in a system. And look at the goals that they have every single month and-and, um, and write all that down and-- Like there's-- That can be helpful, right. But is there a super lightweight way to do that? Like is there a system that you can put into place so that they're able to maybe just kind of make a quick couple notes and then like move on the next one, right?

[00:37:05] Alexa: Right.

[00:37:05] Elizabeth: So you have to enable them in a way that feels like--

[00:37:08] Alexa: It's not a burden.

[00:37:08] Elizabeth: Yeah. It's not a burden. Everyone hates the annual review process, right?

[00:37:11] Alexa: Oh my God. That's the worst.

[00:37:11] Elizabeth: Because you sit down with this blank piece of paper and you're like, um, where do I even start?

[00:37:17] Alexa: Right. And then I have to say criti-critical things about myself, but not too critical 'cause I still-

[00:37:21] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:37:21] Alexa: -wanna get a good review.

[laughter]

It is a nightmare.

[00:37:24] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:37:24] Alexa: It's a nightmare.

[00:37:25] Elizabeth: So anyway that you can make the process super lightweight and set the expectations like right at the beginning of employment with new employees or bring it in. So I always start my development, um, in organizations with growth mindset. And so we understand that feedback is important, but we use feedback just to get better.

[00:37:42] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:37:42] Elizabeth: And that we constantly have a growth mindset. And then that allows people to make mistakes without it being like, you know, they can be a goldfish-

[00:37:48] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:37:48] Elizabeth: -about it.

[00:37:48] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:37:49] Elizabeth: Um--

[00:37:49] Alexa: The other thing I've learned is we-we-we did a great episode on this podcast if you haven't heard about it, uh, sales tactics in HR and how they apply. It's fantastic with a guy named Steve Baker. But, uh, one of the things, as we talk about, is like the different phrases that you can use to engage someone in a conversation kind of in the-

[00:38:03] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:38:03] Alexa: -way that you-you create checkpoints.

[00:38:05] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:38:05] Alexa: And one of the checkpoints that I use quite frequently, I think it actually works really well is just, "Hey, can I give you a piece of feedback?"

[00:38:10] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:38:11] Alexa: And when you start with the can I- can I-- Am I allowed to give you feedback?

[00:38:14] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:38:14] Alexa: Are you open to it? I wanna let you know, this is feedback. It's not criticism. It's a very small tactic and it goes so far.

[00:38:21] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:38:22] Alexa: Because people go, oh, you're actually-- You-you're-you're giving me feedback. You've labeled it as feedback.

[00:38:25] Elizabeth: Uh-huh.

[00:38:26] Alexa: You-you've sort of, uh, categorized it as feedback and I've now opted into the feedback.

[00:38:31] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:38:31] Alexa: So I'm a willing participant in this feedback.

[00:38:34] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:38:34] Alexa: Um, and it disarms people on like a whole different level. That's such a small thing, right?

[00:38:39] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:38:39] Alexa: So when you're in one on one situations, you know, hey, I have some feedback for this person, like-

[00:38:43] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:38:43] Alexa: -literally write out the words like, can I give you some feedback?

[00:38:45] Elizabeth: Yes.

[00:38:46] Alexa: Because what you'll find and I've had this happen is sometimes you'll ask people like, "Hey, can I give you some feedback?" And before you even finish that question, someone will be like, "Can I just tell you how bad a day I'm having right now?"

[00:38:55] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:38:56] Alexa: And you're like, "You know what, I'll save the feedback for another time."

[00:38:57] Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:38:58] Alexa: Uh, you know, maybe not right now.

[00:39:00] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:39:00] Alexa: Uh, or let's talk about that before we talk about-

[00:39:02] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:39:02] Alexa: -the other things-

[00:39:03] Elizabeth: The other things.

[00:39:03] Alexa: -for the future. Um, so I think creating a way that you can- that you can do it regularly and frame it-

[00:39:09] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:39:09] Alexa: -as such so that it feels second nature, "Hey, can I give you some feedback?" Like something just happened, "Hey, can I give you some feedback?"

[00:39:14] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:39:15] Alexa: Um, I think is a-is a-a sort of minor tactic that actually goes really far.

[00:39:19] Elizabeth: Yeah. And then question asking, right?

[00:39:21] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:39:22] Elizabeth: So I'm gonna bring it back to Ted Lasso.

[00:39:23] Alexa: Yes.

[00:39:23] Elizabeth: Having not watched it, but you're like feeding me some amazing opportunities. [laughs]

[00:39:26] Alexa: Well, I was a soccer player so, um, uh, it might, whatever. I'll-I'll-I-- you've sold me on watching the show. I will get an Apple TV subscription.

[00:39:35] Elizabeth: At one point he says, um, he like quotes Walt Whitman where Walt Whitman had said like, be curious, not judgmental.

[00:39:41] Alexa: Yes.

[00:39:41] Elizabeth: And so I think-

[00:39:42] Alexa: It's a great quote.

[00:39:41] Elizabeth: And so I think too when you're giving feedback like s-saying like I noticed this like what went on there and asking a lot of questions. It could be like, you know what? It was the shittiest day-

[00:39:53] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:39:53] Elizabeth: -and like I understand I didn't handle that pa-part of the meeting really well, but I'm super annoyed-

[00:39:59] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:39:59] Elizabeth: -and [inaudible 00:40:00]

[00:40:00] Alexa: That actually just happened to me. I guess the person was-

[00:40:01] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:40:02] Alexa: -like- the person was like, "Well, I interpreted this-this way?" And that person was coming at me and this-this-

[00:40:06] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:40:06] Alexa: -this. And I was like, "I don't think anyone else interpreted it that-

[00:40:09] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:40:09] Alexa: -way." But like, "You're really upset." So let's talk about that first.

[00:40:12] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:40:13] Alexa: Um, let's unpack this, and then we can move on to other things.

[00:40:16] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:40:16] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:40:16] Elizabeth: I-I got a piece of feedback after a meeting, um, because I answered something super snarky.

[00:40:21] Alexa: Mm.

[00:40:22] Elizabeth: Like someone said to me, um, like I-- You know, "I don't under-- I don't know if you understand, like verbal communication-- nonverbal communication." And I-- my answer was, "Well, that's kinda my job."

[00:40:30] Alexa: [chuckles]

[00:40:31] Elizabeth: Like, uh, and-- [laughs] And now after-- And then someone was like, "Wow, you got snarky like at that point, you know."-- And when I took a step back I was like, "Okay, well, I got offended for a minute."

[00:40:42] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:40:42] Elizabeth: And it felt like this person was like-

[00:40:44] Alexa: Coming at me.

[00:40:44] Elizabeth: -questioning me-

[00:40:45] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:40:45] Elizabeth: -as a professional. Right?

[00:40:46] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:40:46] Elizabeth: Even though for them it was just kind of like, um, they were trying to convince me that we needed to be in-person more often.

[00:40:52] Alexa: Ooh. Yeah.

[00:40:52] Elizabeth: [chuckles] Or, you know, have these things that I thought could be asynchronous.

[00:40:56] Alexa: Yes.

[00:40:56] Elizabeth: They wanted to like do in person. And so, like, they were making a point and I was trying to make a point. And, um- and we like started-

[00:41:02] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:41:02] Elizabeth: -to butt heads a little bit. Um, but it was like--

[00:41:04] Alexa: But it sounds like you addressed it?

[00:41:06] Elizabeth: We totally addressed it.

[00:41:06] Alexa: That's awesome.

[00:41:07] Elizabeth: And when I looked at why I answered that way, it was like, the- it was good that the person was asking me questions about like, why I responded that way, especially 'cause it seemed a little bit outta character.

[00:41:16] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:41:16] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:41:16] Alexa: Yeah. That's awesome.

[00:41:17] Elizabeth: Yeah. So getting curious, like, as-- And giving that feedback, like asking the why, like making it lightweight so that people are actually delivering feedback.

[00:41:23] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:41:24] Elizabeth: But then teaching them to be curious when, um-- in trying to deliver that feedback-

[00:41:29] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:41:29] Elizabeth: -is gonna be helpful. And then coming to solutions together.

[00:41:31] Alexa: Yeah. There's always way more going on than you think there is when you're pissed off about something.

[00:41:34] Elizabeth: Yeah, exactly.

[00:41:35] Alexa: Um, all right. Awesome. So let's-- Is that all three?

[00:41:38] Elizabeth: Um, yeah. So the only other one that I was gonna say is that like another thing that we learned from Ted Lasso and being a really good leader is around some areas of like apologizing when you're wrong.

[00:41:48] Alexa: Mm.

[00:41:48] Elizabeth: Which is something that I think is tough for organizations or leaders to do. Right?

[00:41:51] Alexa: I think it's tough for everybody.

[00:41:52] Elizabeth: Well, it's tough for everybody.

[00:41:54] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:41:54] Elizabeth: Um, actually-

[00:41:55] Alexa: E-

[00:41:55] Elizabeth: Like I-

[00:41:55] Alexa: -ego is a bitch.

[00:41:55] Elizabeth: -had since last night where like my son ca- came in, like said, sorry to me last night. And I actually used that as a moment to be like, "This is such a good, like, characteristic for you as a human.

[00:42:04] Alexa: [laughs]

[00:42:04] Elizabeth: I'm so glad that like you can do these things." Right? Um, because it is really tough.

[00:42:08] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:42:08] Elizabeth: But there's, not only being able to say sorry. So eventually in Ted Lasso, Rebecca who had brought on Ted to fail comes to him and says, "I-I'm gonna be-

[00:42:18] Alexa: I'm sorry.

[00:42:18] Elizabeth: -I'm gonna tell you that I did this on purpose. And I've been setting you up to fail sort of every step of the way.

[00:42:22] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:42:23] Elizabeth: But Ted sort of steadfast in who he is actually like thwarted that effort. So she apologizes to him and tells him everything and he forgives her and they, like, move on in their relationship. And I think that that's something that organizations don't do as often, which is say, like, "We realize we made a mistake with this." Like, "We rolled this out, and we didn't do it in the best way possible." Or, um, "We, you know, we-we sort of went down this path with this product and it wasn't the right move and we need to pivot now. Like, "We're sorry, but come along with us for this next."

[00:42:54] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:42:54] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:42:55] Alexa: I would like to see more-

[00:42:55] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:42:55] Alexa: -organizations do-

[00:42:56] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:42:56] Alexa: -that. Um, I feel like people set the expectation that like, especially, you know, a lot of the people ops teams that have to, uh, communicate half this crap.

[00:43:03] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:43:03] Alexa: Get set with this expectation that like they have to do it perfectly.

[00:43:06] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:43:06] Alexa: And it just sets everybody up for failure because you just can't always be perfect all the time.

[00:43:10] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:43:10] Alexa: And so if you fuck up, but don't communicate it then you just leave the resentment in everybody's head instead of everybody being like, "We know you fucked that up.

[00:43:18] Elizabeth: Right.

[00:43:19] Alexa: And now we know that you're aware of it and fixing it and-

[00:43:21] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:43:22] Alexa: -you get-- You actually get a lot more credit I think from people when you explain why things happen and what you learned-

[00:43:27] Elizabeth: Totally.

[00:43:27] Alexa: -um, versus just sort of coming down from the top.

[00:43:30] Elizabeth: Mm-hmm.

[00:43:30] Alexa: So- but I know lots of groups that try to work with their CEOs and their leadership on that and they get a lot of res-- a lot of pushback, so-

[00:43:35] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:43:36] Alexa: -easier said than done.

[00:43:37] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:43:37] Alexa: Um, but yeah, I-I-I think it's totally okay for organizations to screw up and admit it. And you should admit it with your employees first. I think-

[00:43:44] Elizabeth: Exactly.

[00:43:44] Alexa: -is-is the sort of rule of thumb. So-- All right. You wanna summarize these for us and-

[00:43:48] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:43:48] Alexa: -give us your favorite takeaway from Ted Lasso in summary.

[00:43:51] Elizabeth: All right. So builds a team that can execute the ultimate goal.

[00:43:54] Alexa: Yep.

[00:43:54] Elizabeth: Think differently about talent. Have focus and alignment around what you believe in.

[00:43:59] Alexa: [chuckles] Believe. Got it.

[00:43:59] Elizabeth: [laughs] And then making sure that you're having a two-way street of feedback, right?

[00:44:04] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:44:04] Elizabeth: And, um, and-and making sure that you're telling the truths to people that you're leading-

[00:44:08] Alexa: I love it.

[00:44:09] Elizabeth: -about what you know and what you don't know.

[00:44:10] Alexa: All right. I love it.

[00:44:11] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:44:11] Alexa: If you guys like what Elizabeth has to say, you can find Elizabeth Meagher on LinkedIn. If you like-

[00:44:14] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[00:44:15] Alexa: -the podcast and you wanna listen again you go to peopleproblemspod.com or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Thanks everybody for being here at Boston PERKSCon. Appreciate you listening. And, uh, Elizabeth will be here if you guys wanna hang out and chat.

[00:44:27] Elizabeth: Yeah. And I'll be at the-- Um, People ops booth too in the back corner there. If you'd like to learn more about the People Op Society.

[00:44:32] Alexa: And the puppies.

[00:44:32] Elizabeth: And we have puppies.

[00:44:34] Alexa: There are puppies.

[00:44:34] Elizabeth: And if you would like to-

[00:44:35] Alexa: Wild puppies.

[00:44:35] Elizabeth: -come and see us over there.

[00:44:36] Alexa: They're very cute.

[00:44:37] Elizabeth: [laughs]

[00:44:37] Alexa: Thanks guys.

[00:44:38] Elizabeth: All right. Thank you.

[applause]

[music]

[00:44:42] Speaker: Wait a minute. Before you leave take some time to leave us a five-star rating. We'd really love your feedback. Also if you'd like to see our lovely faces each week as we're recording these episodes, check us out on our new YouTube channel. Thanks.

[00:44:54] Alexa Boggio: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Boggio with audio production by LA Brigida of the Fair Harmonies. Original music was also done by the wonderful LA Brigida of the Fair Harmonies. You can find more information about us in future episodes at peopleproblemspod.com, or follow us @peopleproblem.

[00:45:08] [END OF AUDIO]


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