A Leader Can Build a Real Team

A few weeks ago, I published a blog about “Finding My Solid Ground.”  The article struck a chord with my readers, many of whom followed up with questions and comments.

One person asked, “Do you have any ideas on how I, as a leader, can help establish solid ground for the members of my team?”  As I sat with the question, I replayed sessions with clients and conversations with colleagues where that very idea had been raised – indeed on how a leader can build a real team.

Contextually, of course, the most effective time and place to establish solid ground for your team is at the very beginning of your leadership journey with them.  “Well begun is half done,” is an aphorism to remember for any of us embarking on a new endeavor and most especially when we take on the mantle of leadership within an organization or business.

For those leaders who might have already been in a role for a period of time, though, it is never too late to begin to “reset” your approach with those you serve.

 Here are some ways a leader can set the foundation of solid ground for their people and in the process build a real team:

  1. Model Servant LeadershipKnow that your job as a leader is to serve your team members by providing a listening ear, communication, collaboration and accountability – for yourself and everyone on the team. Remind yourself of that every day – great leaders live and breathe this philosophy. 
  2. Bring out the intellect of others – no need to display your own! Recognize that although you have well-developed sides, appreciate that you need not be the smartest person in the room – remember that the intellectual capacities of any two people on your team are inevitably more capable and imaginative than just one of you!  Your job is to encourage ideas and help the team integrate them into innovative solutions – bring your own brain and just add it to the problem-solving sessions rather than feeling that you have to own all the answers.
  3. Don’t sugarcoat the challenges – embrace them! This is certain – issues and problems always exist.  And another thing is equally certain – you as a leader need to transmit your very real belief that your team, working together, is equal to any challenge they face.  Teams are not created to walk away from problems – they were designed to solve them!
  4. Be willing to be vulnerable – Oftentimes that means admitting that you can’t do it all alone and that you need support from others. It is counterintuitive to some that by being vulnerable you will inspire confidence in your leadership.  But it is true.  That includes accepting your imperfections and those of your colleagues and team – and realizing that the team as a system can only expand its range and grow through learning from errors and mistakes.  My colleague Lisa McNeill eloquently addresses the empathy, compassion, and understanding that serves a leader and their team in that development
  5. Never forget to celebrate your team members – Remember – it is not a leader’s job to just set out goals and expect them to be achieved. Rather, it is your job to help everyone appreciate the challenges they face, celebrate the capabilities the team members possess and help them grow even more. As my colleague Allison Iantosca noted in a recent blog, our teams are made up of grown-up employees and if we treat them that way it helps build their capabilities even more.  And don’t be afraid to tell those you serve how much they mean to you – it doesn’t hurt to say the words out loud that a wise person once told me, “We’re better because of our people,” because indeed we are!

Each person is unique and yet each of us have common needs, beliefs and values embodied in the concepts included above.  Those who seek to grow – as leaders and as fellow travelers on the planet – can best use these ideas not as a checklist of things to do, but instead as a way of being.  For that is our essential essence as human “beings,” isn’t it?

This article originally appeared on www.bostonexecutivecoaches.com

Podcast: Values and Organizational Justice at Work

In this episode, Kate Gerasimova talks with Conrad Moore, Owner of Maius Learning, about values and organizational justice in organizations. They discuss the impact of values pushed down from top leadership to the workforce and whether those values are reflected in employees’ daily work and personal lives. They also talk about how to spot an alignment or a disconnect between the lived and existing values and things leaders can do to close that gap. Moore emphasizes the importance of having an ongoing, cross-organizational discussion around what it is like to work at the company and how it connects to daily work.

Moore defines organizational justice as feeling like you are treated fairly and are valued in the organization. He says that decision-making is a big part of organizational justice and warns that there could be trouble if decisions are made by leaders in a vacuum and are imposed on the organization without context. One suggestion to remedy this is to include individuals in the decision-making process early on, even when onboarding. Also, provide resources to employees to help them express their experience at work.

Released: September 3, 2021

Chris Cancialosi:
Welcome to the gothamCulture Podcast where we talk about any topic you’d like so long as those topics are organizational culture, leadership or people strategy. Each week we talk with industry leaders and discuss cultural opportunities and challenges in the workplace, providing you with actionable tips and strategies that you can implement in your organizations.

Kate Gerasimova:
Hi, my name is Kate Gerasimova. I’m a senior associate at Gotham culture and I have a pleasure today, Conrad Moore is joining us. Hi, Conrad.

Conrad Moore:
Nice to see you and hear you.

Kate Gerasimova:
Nice to see you too. Conrad Moore, he’s an owner of Maius Learning and he had a career that exposed him to different workplaces’ styles and structures and beginning first as educator in San Francisco before cofounding a nonprofit and eventually moving to adult learning organizational development. He worked with a variety of organizations from nonprofit to governmental agencies and Fortune 500 companies with very different places and industries. He’s focusing on enhancing community connection and culture at work. So I have a pleasure speaking with you today, and I’m very curious to learn more about your work. And can you tell me in our listeners what excites you the most about the work you do?

Conrad Moore:
Thank you for that lovely introduction. I think the thing that excites me about the work that I do is connecting with people. The story you told about my career is very winding. So I’ve been in a lot of different workplaces, work environments and taken on a lot of different roles. I’ve been a frontline worker. I’ve had some VP roles. I’ve started a couple companies by now. And so it’s really interesting to hear the different stories and where people are at work with culture, with connection with community and then to reach into my grab bag and think about, “Which of these experiences that I’ve had helps me relate to where they’re at and do I have anything in my grab bag that might help them move beyond any places that they’re stuck?”

But also, it’s a great way for me to connect to them and take learnings from them. Every client that I’ve worked with gives me a story that I can then learn from and tell to future folks that I work with. So I think the people in the end really make the work, fun and exciting and always new and interesting.

Kate Gerasimova:
That’s great. Absolutely. I can relate to that as well. And I know when we met and we were talking about some of the work that you do, specifically two topics were brought to my attention, were the values, the work that you do around the values and organizational justice. I thought it would be really great to talk more about both.

Conrad Moore:
Please.

Kate Gerasimova:
Well, let’s start with values and I think it ties in back into organizational justice. Starting thinking about the work, do organizational values define what’s really important in the organization?

Conrad Moore:
Yeah, and I’ve experienced that in a few different ways and I think a lot of places … You can feel the values in a work environment come through one way or another and sometimes you’ll see them on the wall. These are maybe top down values that were bestowed upon the people. And they may or may not be reflected in the work that people do. So there’s that value set that I think, especially in enterprise-size organizations and agencies, there is these marching orders that are values. And then there’s the lived values that we express every day. It’s the personal values that people bring to work, how those interact and overlap with other values and value systems that people have.

And so the workplaces that I’ve seen where values are really core to the identity of that place, that really shows up positively everywhere in the relationships, of course, in the ways that people communicate and connect to each other, but also the bottom line. When people really see a part of themselves in the work that they’re doing, I think it’s a lot easier for them to commit and really give their all towards producing. And so I think that that’s always to me when I think about doing values work like, “What am I dealing with? Is it a gap between the expressed values of the organization and the live values of the people working there or is there a more harmonious connection between the two?” And so I’m always looking for that first. It’s like, “What do you say you do and how are you actually feeling that?”

Kate Gerasimova:
What happens if you see a disconnect?

Conrad Moore:
Then we have to talk and those conversations are tough. The place says where I see, so I can even tell a story from my own personal working experience. I used to work for an organization where we did this whole month-long exercise as an organization that involves both facilitated conversations between leadership and frontline staff and then also a leadership retreat where we were really trying to focus on, “What are the values of this organization?” So it was fun. We did a trip to Vegas and Zappos was there and they’re very famous for their culture and how they think about their core values and that was supposed to inspire us.

And so we went in toward Zappos and learned about their culture and how they produced their core values and the way that they did that was they talked to everybody there and said, “Well, what do you think it’s like to work here? What are the best parts of what we do?” And that informed ultimately what became their core values. And so we were supposed to be taking a page out of that book, but what I experienced in my own story with this was there were folks on the leadership team, in frontline staff who were really committed and really inspired by that thought like, “Well, can we cocreate our values together and really create an identity together as an organization?”

And then there was a certain layer in the leadership team that it seemed like was just maybe checking some boxes here like, “Well, if we give them the chance to write the values, then maybe things will be okay,” but there wasn’t really any buy in from them. So that’s what I mean by hard conversations because I think that what they were really hearing were values that they didn’t feel represented their own. And so that’s where and that created a huge disconnect. In that moment. And ongoing in that company was there was one set of values that the top brass lived and worked by and those seem to cascade down from the top in ways that the folks who were living and breathing the rest of the work couldn’t identify with, didn’t understand and seemed to be in competition with the values they all cocreated together.

And so to me, when you have that disconnect, we need to have a cross organization discussion about, “What does it really like to work here and what do we want it to be like? And the values shouldn’t just be things that we put on the wall. It should be ways that we connect to the work and find it to be important to us.” Usually, those conversations can be a little prickly, but also if people come in with good intentions and openness and vulnerability, then you really can create values that are meaningful and actually impact the work, I think.

Kate Gerasimova:
Absolutely. There’s definitely evolution of values as well. So sometimes what I’ve seen in the work that we do, companies started long, long time ago was a certain set of values and then grow, evolve from a small startup to large corporations. And sometimes when you see the values that the founder created, let’s say 10, 15, 30 years ago no longer work because it’s a different work environment. And the follow-up question would be like, “At what point would you recommend them refreshing those values or what point do you know that they’re no longer working what they have?

Conrad Moore:
That’s an excellent question. I personally feel, and this is something I’ve practiced in my own organizations, that that needs to be just an ongoing conversation. That doesn’t even mean we need to every month come up with a new set of core values necessarily, but we do need to have an ongoing discussion about the work experience, “What is it like here? What are the stress points that people run into and where do those come from? And are we doing the work the way that we say that we’re doing it or we intend to do it? And if we’re living out of alignment with those values, what’s causing that?” To your point, it could just be, “We’re bigger now. Those don’t apply,” or it could be that those were never real. I just recently worked with a small startup business unit in a larger organization and so that larger organization had its values. They’ve been around since the ’90s.

This new unit was comprised of new employees who bring their own experiences in automatically just by virtue of being new or creating a new shared value system and so I came in to do a team building exercise. And that was largely the discussion that we had, “You have a parent organization here that has all these values. Is that how you feel your work is and what it shouldn’t be like for you?” There are some values like there was one that stood out to me which was urgency. That’s, to me, I don’t want to say a scary value, but a very particular value.

Kate Gerasimova:
A lot of pressure comes to that, when you-

Conrad Moore:
Exactly, and to have them be a startup entity within a larger context, there’s already pressure to begin with, to succeed, to grow, to prove that you should have been an investment, this company made in the first place. And then to feel like … They had that startup vibe. So there’s already urgency going on anyway. And so we talked about that. And so what we ended up doing was creating a team mission statement and a set of core values, and laid them next to the larger company’s mission statement and core values, but find a way for you to have your own identity that reflects who you are and what you do and complements the work that the larger company is doing and in a way that doesn’t set up a competition between what you’re doing, acknowledges where your starting point is which is them, but also really leans into who you are and what you want to build.

And so I think I’m still working with them, so we’ll see how that evolves over time. But I think that it was really interesting way to try to intervene in values that weren’t really applicable for them.
Kate Gerasimova:
So interesting, especially it’s always a question, “Where do you start? Do you start with the bigger values and you tried to figure out what you have as a subculture fits in that or is it the other way around?” I don’t know if this is the right way to do this. What’s your point of view?

I am very much interested in the idea of giving folks as much autonomy and self-governance as we can. I think you can stray too far in one direction or the other, right? If you’re too top down, then people have no freedom of expression and creativity. I think that hinders innovation and you can go too far in the other direction where like, “Okay, you guys are doing really cool things over there, but how does that connect to what the main company is doing?” And that’s a delicate balance, but I do think, especially from a leadership perspective, it’s helpful to have an ongoing, I think, like even just a mental exercise, but really a discussion of, “How can we delegate our decision making power and ownership further down the org chart?”

It takes great amounts of stress off of you because you’re not really responsible for everything anymore. It also lets people know that you trust them, that you’re willing to invest and have faith in what they can do. And so, I think having that be an ongoing discussion and working towards letting people control or have input on as much of their work experience as you can, so that their values come through and your values mean something. That’s not just words on the wall. You’re living values, you value your people, you value diversity, etcetera and then you express that by having trust and faith in your people.

Kate Gerasimova:
Also the question comes to mind is, for example, you’ve been in an organization, but you know that your values are not completely aligned, well, one, can you find an organization that completely aligns to your value? And two, what do you do if you feel like you’re not aligned?

Conrad Moore:
Well, to your point, first of all, I’ve never met that organization, big or small. To me, it’s a global thought process starting from hiring, right? You want to hire, of course, that talk about cognitive diversity, right? Diversity of thought. So you don’t want everybody to have the exact same values and everybody went to the same school or came from the previous company because you’re not really getting that diversity of thought that you want. But if there’s a misalignment within an individual or a team, I think there’s a couple ways you can approach that. You could explore like we’ve been talking about. Do we need to reboot their core values? Are they no longer relevant or add some nuance to them?

You could also do what I think some of the more innovative companies do is highlight those differences and try to celebrate and integrate them into the larger system. So rather than creating an environment that says, “We have seven core values. If you aren’t living into those, then you don’t belong here. We have these seven core values. We tried to embody them as much as we can and we have an openness to new ideas. We accept that this isn’t actually the way that it’s always going to work. And so I think a company that famously does this really well is Google where they’ll actually, because they have the money, fund projects where the people seem to have ideas that are out of the mainstream, but they might be a good idea if you just let it evolve and grow a little bit. And I don’t know that we all have the resources that Google has to let everybody run away with their competing values.

But I do think there is … If people seem committed to the work, but they see it from a different angle, I think there can be beauty and innovation in that. So I think the question is just, “What am I looking at here? Are we out of alignment because these values just don’t work for us or is there something of value in this difference? And how can we work with that to really build a more diverse and interesting workplace?

Kate Gerasimova:
That’s very beautifully said and it was a very hard question to answer.

Conrad Moore:
I got there.

Kate Gerasimova:
I think also one of the biggest value that they bring to the company is promoting the desired behavior. So me as a leader, I would know if there is a set of values created. They’re basically created for the purpose of promoting those behaviors. What’s your view on that? How do companies usually use those values to promote desired behaviors?

Conrad Moore:
Well, the short answer is I don’t know if they do. That’s how I feel so often when I do values work with folks. More often, I feel like, that’s probably why they come to me, more often I’m running into, “Oh, yeah, we just talking about these things. We haven’t really checked to see if people are behaving in this way.” And so a lot of that, again I think you can start with the hiring process and make sure that you’re trying to recruit and hire people who come in predisposed to behave in that way, but something I’ve also done comes through in the development of job descriptions. So if we’re looking at all of these different duties, I would sit with groups like I had to one of the companies I used to work at, where I was VP of operations. I had to restructure the whole sales and operations team.

And part of that process, well, actually, most of that process was not me coming in and saying, “Here’s how things ought to be.” It was talking to everyone and asked them what they thought things ought to be because they were doing the work. I think that from there, you can say, all right, so then a new job or this job has these duties to it, “What does it look like to be performed in accordance with our values? What behaviors would we see? So let’s say we value open communication.” So we started to go down all the different bullet points of each job role that we were building and looking at all the different duties and saying, “Okay, these are the systems that people interact with. These are the soft skills that they’re going to need to have, the communication skills, the customer service skills, say, the relationship building skills.”

And then if we were to see somebody performing this job and living up to our values, what would that look like? How would they perform this particular duty according to our values? And then, we turn that in interview questions where we would pose different problems that either we had already encountered and solved in one way and wanted to see if they agreed with that or just hypotheticals to see if we could hear like, “Oh, are we hearing that same value that we’re looking for in a way that they are theorizing performing the work?” So we’re really trying to look at the job duties themselves and then the associated behaviors and value connection that we would want to see and then have conversations about that with folks.

Kate Gerasimova:
So that helped to see specifically like what behaviors that the company have right now or what people are seeing and are they’re aligned with the desired behaviors that originally thought up?

Conrad Moore:
Yeah, precisely.

Kate Gerasimova:
And how would you measure those behaviors as a company? So some of the things you mentioned like during maybe performance management process or starting all the way from the hiring process?

Conrad Moore:
Yeah. So I think again part of behavior analyzing is just having these values be present in all of our conversations from the hiring and interviewing and training and onboarding when we talk about like, “Hey, this is how you do this thing, but also this is why you do it and why we think it’s important to do it this way.” And so then you have those ongoing performance check ins and you have the formal review at the end of the year. Some organizations are dropping that now, but have that really be woven into all of the “official conversations” that we have. We talked about it in meetings, right? If these are really values that we truly care about, then we should be referring to them often and trying to connect with them.

It’s like the way that mission-driven organizations, I hope, are connecting with the mission when they do the work like, “Those doing this work fulfill our mission.” And it might be the same way that we talk about core values like, “How can we do this work in a way that really represents who we say we aspire to be?” Because we’re not living out our values all day, every day. I always think of it as a horizon that we’re sailing towards. And if we take our eyes off the horizon, then we’re not going to ever get there. So as we do this work ongoing, we should keep talking about, “Is this the way that we feel about how we’re supposed to be doing this work?”

Kate Gerasimova:
Absolutely. That’s a great point. And some of the things that you mentioned is always bringing it up and having that conversation about it.

Conrad Moore:
That’s how you can see to like, “Oh, that value is not here anymore. We keep saying it, but we don’t really see it represented anywhere in the work, so we can’t measure that.

Kate Gerasimova:
Is it an extensive period of time? Have you ever put a timeline to that or is it, “We’re not seeing it for a while, let’s-“

Conrad Moore:
That’s a great question. Usually, when I’m talking to people, it’s been out of alignment for a while. That stuff shows up to me and like what we’re seeing right now, I think, is a gap in a lot of the expressed values of organizations and the lived experiences of the people working there with this whole great resignation and everybody’s either quitting or thinking about quitting and employers are having a harder time bringing people back. I think some of that is just fundamentally our employees feeling valued in the first place, but it shows up in those types of places like turnover, retention, engagement surveys and those things where you can just tell like, “Do people really want to be here?” because that’s some measurement or expression of either displaces at least out of alignment with the employees values, but probably even out of alignment with their own expressed values.

Kate Gerasimova:
That makes sense. We’re going to take a very quick break and we’ll be right back.

Chris Cancialosi:
This episode of the gothamCulture Podcast is produced and sponsored by our partners at Blue Sky Podcasting. Communicating with your customers, stakeholders and employees can be challenging at times. The team at Blue Sky Podcasting provides high-end production and postproduction support to organizations looking to leverage podcasting as a tool to increase transparency and engagement with their customers and employees. If you’re interested in learning how podcasting can provide your organization with a highly engaging communication tool that’s easy to scale, you should check out our partners at Blue Sky Podcasting at www.blueskypodcasting.com.

Kate Gerasimova:
We’re back and we were discussing values with Conrad and talking about values, and especially now in this day and age and then last year, companies specifically started to express more deeper value towards diversity, equity and inclusion. Conrad, in your opinion, how do values connect to organizational justice and diversity, equity and inclusion topic?

Conrad Moore:
I think this is such an important question to ask. I’m really excited first and foremost to see those types of conversations enter into the workplace more consistently and I think that the world is replete with examples of those conversations going poorly of large organizations, especially paying lip service to diversity, equity, inclusion and then not really living that. And some of that is I think we’re at the beginning of a cultural shift, just in general, but then also at work and then you add on to that, a pandemic and now this move towards hybrid work.

So there’s all this stuff happening that’s shifting conversations around and I think we’re far past the time … We can’t ignore this stuff. and so if companies are going to say, “These are our values,” then we really have to see where the rubber meets the road and that’s what organizational justice is about. It sounds a little bit like social justice and there’s actually, I think, a spirit in there that is similar. Organizational justice at its core, and this is a topic that started out in the ’90s even before I was in the workforce, frankly, but I think now it’s starting to become more relevant again. It’s just the perception of how fairly I’m treated and valued at work.

And so I think that’s the easiest and quickest way to describe this is, “How fairly am I treated and how valued do I feel?” There’s some more academic definitions we can get into, but I think at its core organizational justice, it’s just that.

Kate Gerasimova:
And what could be a couple examples would you see in organizational contexts?

Conrad Moore:
So this came up pretty extensively for me with a recent client. We were doing a leadership program. They’re a medium-size nonprofit and they were in year two of their DEI journey. They had a DEI steering committee and brought me in to complement the work that they were doing. Extensively, I was just doing a leadership program. And usually, the way I work is all broadly outlined based on our conversations like, “Here’s what I’m hearing. Here’s what I think we ought to do and let’s build in some space because we’re going to hear things that tend to only come out when a stranger is in the room and they think management’s not around and they can say stuff.”

That’s always been my experience is you hear things in trainings and facilitations that might be new to managers and leaders. And so I said, “We’re going to leave some space in this program for what comes up and we’ll generate content around that.” And a lot of the stuff that came up was around organizational justice topics like decision making. So in this particular organization as well as media organizations, I’m sure you’ve run into this also, there was a propensity for big impactful decisions to be made at the C-suite level, unbeknownst to everyone else and then leaders would come from on high and say, “Here’s the decision we have made that we didn’t tell you we were making and now you all have to follow this order.”

And you can imagine that really wrinkled people. And it was big stuff like hiring and firing staff where actually in some instances, there were like, privacy and legality reasons for why leadership wasn’t being 100% transparent about what they were doing, but still the feeling of the average employee in that organization is that they have no input on these decisions, that their opinions aren’t valued, that their knowledge and expertise isn’t valued. And so it just comes off as though you are not trusted or respected by the folks who mean to lead you. So that was an expression of a part of organizational justice which is basically called procedural justice and then it’s like, “How are decisions made? How are people given input into those processes?”

And again, you can’t always give people input, but then there has to be a followup outside of that where you say, “Hey, we made this decision,” like for example, “We had to let this person go. We know this person was well liked. There were some activities that just for fundamental reasons, we could not allow it to continue. We have spoken to this person several times. And while we can’t give you full view into how and why that decision was made, just understand that there were legal implications for why we did that.” And that’s what they could have said afterwards, so people go, “Oh, I understand now. I wish I had known about that, but I see why you can’t tell me,” and that never happened. It was just, “Wow, we fired that person. Everybody liked her. Why?” and that was it.

And then there’s this distrust that builds because it feels like there’s an unfairness that has happened. And again, it’s the perception of fairness. Sometimes we are actually being treated fairly, we just don’t have the full viewpoint, but it is the perception that’s going to drive the morale of everybody.

Kate Gerasimova:
Absolutely and there is a people perception of what actually happened. And then this particular situation that you’re describing, what are some things that leaders could have done or could do now to improve the situation and could rebuild the trust because the trust is broken?

Conrad Moore:
Those revelations started to come to me. This was a six-month program and that stuff came out in month two. They came through so strongly like the emotions. I think we were talking about some of these was like new manager training or training for managers who never had manager training and we were just talking extensively just about decision making, but those conversations became so charged so fast that I turned around to my point of contact and said, “Hey, I think we should start talking about organizational justice here,” and we should start having an open … I’ve explained the topic to them and all the things that entails, but actually what I did with them was help facilitate their solutions to these problems and acted as guardrails like in the example that I just gave to help them understand like, “You can’t have full transparency into every decision for a number of reasons. And so with that, what are the reasons, right?”

So we started to talk about who makes what decisions and we use this tool called the decision tree. It’s just not like the tool that you see in project management with all the splintering off of different nodes and that sort of thing. It’s actually just a metaphor, a visual metaphor for different types of decisions that are made and who has the authority to make what decision. And the idea was they would keep this and I’ll explain it in a second, but they would keep a running log of different decisions that were being made and then categorize them. And so a leaf decision is a very small, low impact decision that you as an individual, you don’t need to tell your manager like, “Hey, I’m going to go take a bio break. I don’t need to check in with anybody about stuff like that, right?”

But then you might have a branch decision, which is something a little more important where I still get to make my decision, but I do need to notify my manager that it happened. And so this might be, I don’t know, like closing down a particular customer complaint. That’s part of my job. I’m supposed to do that anyway, but this particular customer complaint was pretty serious. And so even though it’s within my authority to handle all of it, I’m going to still let my manager know what happened, what I did, so that there’s some record. And if the organization ever needs to do more with it, I’ve communicated that.

Then you have trunk decisions and that’s where I have the power to come up with a solution, but I really need to run that solution by my manager before I actually execute on it. And then you have root decisions which actually need to be escalated up the ladder. And so the idea there was to have them start logging down all the different types of decisions that were being made in different parts of the organizations and then look at those and go, “Okay, could we do anything with a higher level decision that would allow us to essentially delegate or offload it.” Right now, I might have the authority to make a route decision because I’m senior, but is that in the best interest of transparency, collaboration and inclusion? Maybe not. Maybe what I should be doing is making this decision, but also exposing the decision making process to people underneath me, so they understand how it works, and then over time, they can actually start taking part in those decisions.

And so that became a tool that a lot of different managers and leaders started to use and it’s just an ongoing. There’s like the decisions that that are named for us to make in our job descriptions and then there’s all the stuff we’re doing all day long that we’re not really tracking. And that was an opportunity for them to see like, “Oh, these are the different decisions that we’re making. Right now, we’re making them this way. How else can we make them so that we can include more people in that process?”

Kate Gerasimova:
What a great solution.

Conrad Moore:
I thought it was fun.

Kate Gerasimova:
It is. Can anybody in the organization see that tree or is it also visibility defined by the level?

Conrad Moore:
It would depend on … So the way that I set it up with them was just between managers and direct reports, but then it’s like now where everyone has that awareness. And so we didn’t get into that with them because the nature of their work in the populations that they were serving, there were medical things. There were things that I didn’t feel confident in advising them on. In terms of best practice, I would say the more open and accessible you have, like if you have, say like an intranet like SharePoint site and you can showcase that process decision making and how it’s made and how it evolves, I think that’s great because that helps everybody understand things better, but also there’s some stuff, like I said, you can’t share all of that with everyone for legal reasons and other stuff.

Kate Gerasimova:
That’s tough. And one thing that came to mind while you were describing this is sometimes there are different pockets of organization and then they are very different pockets, so there could be different subcultures or the work that they’re doing or some of the work that they’re doing could be disclosed from other sections of organization just because the confidentiality of that work. And then the decisions being pushed from top down and I understand they’re all made was being as fair and equal as possible, but at the same time, what is the best way for organization, and I know it’s tough, to make the differences?

So not everything will be fair and equal, but at the same time, there are differences that needs to be addressed because the differences between departments, the work they do, they’re not going to be all the same. So how do you draw the line between being fair and equal and allow for that innovation or difference to happen?

Conrad Moore:
Well, something, stay on that one client for a minute, that I thought they did really well and that really resonated with me because since you can’t always be fair and transparent, what then do you do when you can’t be? And they had a practice of circling up when somebody felt like a serious harm had been perpetrated against them. And so that was helpful for me as a facilitator because they already had these practices where, “Oh, we have to have a tough conversation. We’ve already got these ground rules for how we do that.” So that would be my recommendation for any organization, especially when you make that and I shouldn’t say when you make bad decisions, when you make unpopular decisions. Just to be ready-

Kate Gerasimova:
[crosstalk 00:35:11]

Conrad Moore:
Yeah, right, that’s diplomatic, is to be communicative about those. We understand that this was a hard decision for us to make. We knew that not everybody would feel happy or served by this decision and we want to talk about that. We know that even though the decision has been made, the experience isn’t over and we want to find our way to heal the culture as best we can, so that we can all move forward together and we can actually execute this unpopular decisioning. Because that’s the other thing is when you come out from on high and bestow upon the people, this new direction that you’ve decided on unilaterally without their input, it’s also a lot harder for people to execute that decisioning because they don’t understand the context in which it was made. So if you come in afterwards and say, “All right, we know how you feel. Here’s as much of the process as we can share with you in our reasoning, and we want to hear from you your feedback so that maybe in the future we’ll both consider that when we make this type of decision.”

Kate Gerasimova:
That’s a great process that you just described. I wish I’ve seen those more circle or in place. What do would you call them?

Conrad Moore:
Well, so they were following a particular restorative justice. I don’t know how familiar folks are outside of education and nonprofit that work with that, but restorative justice is a particular field of work that tries to look at harm that was that has occurred, bring the parties together who committed and experienced the harm and to have the party who is responsible for that harm find a solution that restores the relationship that brings trust back into the relationship that acknowledges that, “You’ve been hurt and the person who unwittingly or no cause that hurt and try to find a way for me to make it right with you.” And so the classic example they use in a lot of restorative justice circles is, “I hit a baseball over the fence and it broke your window and I help pay for the window, right? Because I understand I’ve damaged your home and I’m going to do my best to make it right for you.”

Kate Gerasimova:
That is a good example and a very simple one, but going back to the example that you provided, there is a lot to do with trust and rebuilding trust which takes time.

Conrad Moore:
It does.

Kate Gerasimova:
And then just thinking about organizational justice overall, what are some criteria given to organizations or if there is any that helped them decide whether this organizational justice is assured or if there’s anything individuals can do to raise their concern?

Conrad Moore:
Yeah, well, so I feel like we spent so much time on the part of that work which is procedural justice and decision making. And it is not all decision making. That’s a huge part of it, but the other dimensions of it are the feeling I get of being valued and heard and seen and appreciated. So that’s like a soft skill cultural professional skill element, right? So some of that, for example, is like, “How do we onboard people? Do we just give them a checklist and they run through the checklist and take a bunch of eLearning and now they’re on boarded or are we actually really taking very personal steps to welcome them, to introduce them to people, to integrate their voices and views and meetings and even decisions early on if that’s appropriate or possible?” So there’s kind of an energy of inclusion and belonging that is a part of organizational justice as well that really comes out in business processes like hiring and meetings and things like that.

And then the other part, again, it’s like the perception of fairness, “So how are rewards distributed in distributive justice?” It’s like this other pillar. And so looking at things like, “How are we promoting people? Who’s getting promoted? Does it appear?” Sometimes, for example, we’re promoting the right person who also happens to have really strong relationships with the layer that they’re getting promoted into. And so that can give the perception that they got the job because they’ve got the right friends and so, “How are we talking about promotion and what is the criteria that we’re using to promote people so that we can talk about that messaging and what people’s perceptions of fairness are? What about raises? Are there other particular perks that come with working at this organization and does everybody get those or do only certain people get those and then why?”

The one thing about organizational justice that’s hard is its perception. And so you might actually objectively be engaging in fair decision making and processes, but someone else can perceive it. From where they sit in the organization is unjust. So like I was saying about values, I think that organizational justice is a horizon that we’re sailing towards, that we’re always trying to aim to reach and we understand that we’re going to fail sometimes. We’re going to miss something. We’re going to make mistakes and then it always has to come back to, “How do we talk about that? Do we acknowledge it? Especially this is so hard for leaders, a lot of leaders sometimes, but do you admit mistakes in attempt to atone and change your behavior or do you just soldier on and pretend like it didn’t happen?” And I think a lot of people do that.

Kate Gerasimova:
For sure. And one last question for you is what can I, as individual in a corporation, organization or startup or whatever company I am in, do to help the company see or be better aligned with organizational justice?

Conrad Moore:
Especially if you’re new, I think that can be a really intimidating pursuit, right? Because you really just want to blend in and hope that everybody likes you and that you can keep this job and succeed in it, but the first thing I would start looking for is what resources do employees have like employee resource groups or affinity groups. Are there places where, I don’t know that I want to paint this fully as like a power struggle between the top of the org chart and the bottom of the org chart, but what avenues do employees at any level have to express their experience at work?

Oftentimes, it’s like an HR survey or something or maybe to a manager, but I would just try to identify first like, “What are those channels, frankly, for a dissent? If I have an opinion that might ruffle some feathers, is there a place for me to channel and express that opinion? If there’s not, this is going to be a tough place to work.” Most places have something somehow and then some places are really well resourced. Like I was saying, they have employee resource groups or affinity groups, groups of people with particular social identities or particular interests where you can go into a community of people within an organization that are like you, that have similar experiences and you can commiserate about the bad stuff and you can celebrate the wins.

And so as an individual, I would look for those things first, and then over time, you’ll know it based on how everyone’s talking and how you experience it. You can tell that grumbling around the watercooler is probably some dimension of organizational justice, “I don’t like how that decision was made. I disagree with it. Nobody values my opinion,” that sort of thing. So you can see it in the ways that people behave. I don’t know that I’m aware of, if you walk into an unjust organization and you’re the one person blowing the whistle, I’m not aware of anybody succeeding at that. That’s an unhealthy toxic work environment. And then fortunately, there’s a lot of those out there, but I do think you can just ask yourself the question like, “Do I feel valued? Do I feel important? Does it feel fair to me? And if it doesn’t, why not?”

Kate Gerasimova:
Thank you, Conrad and thank you for those resources. And thank you for the time today. It’s been a great conversation. I think I can continue talking to you for a while on both topics.

Conrad Moore:
Thanks, Kate. It’s been such a pleasure chatting with you. And I’m sure we’ll do this again sometime.

Kate Gerasimova:
And one last thing is how can our listeners find you?

Conrad Moore:
Sure. Well, you can find me at Maius Learning which is M-A-I-U-S, learning, dot-com and see all the fun trainings and other activities that we have going on there.

Kate Gerasimova:
That’s great. I hope to stay connected and enjoy your weekend.

Conrad Moore:
All right, you too. Thank you.

Kate Gerasimova:
Thank you.

Chris Cancialosi:
Thanks for joining us this week on the gothamCulture Podcast. Make sure you visit our website gothamculture.com where you can subscribe to the show, find show notes or contact us for support regarding your organizational culture challenges. Special thanks to Blue Sky Podcasting for producing and sponsoring this episode. To learn more about producing custom podcasts for your organization, check out the folks at Blue Sky at www.blueskypodcasting.com. Until next time, this is your host, Chris Cancialosi and I look forward to our next discussion.

How Do I Become a Servant Leader?

I was fortunate to work on the senior team of an airline president who epitomized servant leadership.

If he was carrying a pen with the corporate logo on it and an employee complimented it, he gave it as a present. He would lend his car to those of us who commuted by subway when we needed to get around the New York City metro area. He was invariably the first in the office and usually the last to leave.

When we were at a company-sponsored event, he never ate until everyone had their food. And he absolutely never missed a company orientation for new hires. Perhaps the most telling thing about him was his lack of pretension in any situation. He helped to clean airplanes when we arrived at our destination, and I recall times when vans would pick us up and he would sit in the “way back” with the luggage because the vehicle was too full.

Most importantly, he was always “present” in the moment when he was talking with you. He wasn’t looking beyond you to see who might be walking by; he was engaged in you as a person and you never had any question that his focus and interest was on you. He modeled a behavior I always wanted to emulate and still do today.

Juxtapose that with another senior manager with whom I worked. While ostensibly a kind and decent man, his actions were virtually opposite that of the other leader I described. When you traveled with him on an airplane, you would sit down next to him and ask him about his family. He would quickly respond and briefly ask about yours.

Then he would open up the Wall Street Journal or New York Times and not speak with you for the duration of the flight. I did not feel he was fully “present,” and did not experience curiosity in him related to you as a person. When food was served at a meeting, he did not wait for the others in the room to eat first. And, in the midst of darkening economic storm clouds at the company, I can still distinctly remember him selecting a foreign luxury car as his company vehicle, as he disliked driving a domestic one.

Such actions can make or break a leader.

Can Executive Coaching change such behaviors? The answer is not easy, as so many of our actions are driven by our innate styles and beliefs. But it is likely that the second company manager never stopped to realize how others perceived him. He had such confidence in his own abilities that he may not have realized that the perceptions of others can damage a leader’s reputation.

Focused executive coaching can facilitate tools for awareness through 360 evaluations and confidential interviews with colleagues, thus educating clients about who how they are seen. The emperor was never told he had no clothes, and so it is with many executives, who rise to positions of prominence and, in their mind, well-deserved importance, without realizing that they need to stay grounded and never stop being servants to their people.

David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue and himself a servant leader, often said regarding pilots, support staff and other “behind the scenes” people at the company, “We serve them, so they can serve our customers.” Neeleman understood that the essence of “Servant Leadership” is about service to everyone in our companies, and most especially those who pay our salaries by purchasing our goods and services.
A fundamental part of coaching is a relationship of trust between the client and coach, where you can learn about yourself through a number of tools and then to explore them in a confidential setting. Awareness of who you are and an understanding of how you want to change is a first step, followed by action planning and execution related to your own behaviors and style.

We can better change when we become curious about how others see us and seek data and perceptions about our own developmental opportunities. That’s a critical part of the value of coaching.

This article originally appeared on bostonexecutivecoaches.com.

How Do You Fly Through Turbulence?

Turbulence

“This is your captain speaking.  We’re experiencing some turbulence right now.  My first officer and I are working with air traffic control to find a smoother altitude for you.  In the meantime, please keep your seat belts securely fastened.”

How many times have you heard language like this? And have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes on the flight deck and contemplated using that as an example of how we all can lead our organizations in times of turbulence?

As a coach, I often use metaphors to help clients build their awareness. And as a former professional pilot, I have to admit that I very often use metaphors that are aviation-related.

Turbulence. We’ve all experienced it in flight and no doubt we’ve also felt metaphorical turbulence in our personal and professional lives. And we have each reacted to it in a multitude of ways.

A captain of an airliner has a role, not unlike a corporate leader. Even more than in a company, though, the captain is literally strapped to the airplane and controlling its every movement. What does a captain do that a corporate leader can emulate? Read More…

Podcast: Return to Work Anxiety? You’re Not Alone

As COVID vaccines become increasingly available, the work world is beginning to think about the future. Most of that thinking revolves around questions rather than definitive answers at this point. What will work look like in the coming months? When might I need to go back to an office? What expectations will my employer have of me? What flexibility might exist?

Chris Cancialosi discusses these questions and tips for navigating the associated anxiety with guests Tracy Nathanson, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, relationship issues, life transitions, low self-esteem, career challenges, and stress management, Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who works at Columbia University’s counseling center and maintains a private practice in NYC, and Dr. Michael J. Provitera, an executive leadership trainer and Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Barry University in Florida.

Released: April 2, 2021

Return to Work Anxiety? You’re Not Alone – gothamCulture Podcast Transcript

Chris Cancialosi:

Welcome to season 2 of the gothamCulture podcast. This season, we’ll be exploring a variety of interesting topics. But there’s one topic that seems to be top of mind for many folks nowadays, and that is the return to work. As COVID vaccines are making their way into arms, and as employers attempt to figure out what work looks like in the months to come, many people are feeling anxious about what that means for them. Now that they’ve completely adapted their lives for remote work, what if I can’t go back to the office full time? What if I don’t want to? Will my career growth be stymied as my colleagues who do go back to the office secure all the promotional opportunities? These are all legitimate questions, and many employers simply don’t have the answers at the moment. So now what?

Today I’m joined by three very special guests who are going to share their perspective on this important topic. Tracy Nathanson is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in depression, anxiety, relationship issues and stress management. She provides fresh ways to engage and talk therapy by taking your clients out of the office and getting them into fresh air, providing psychotherapy with the known health benefits and wellness benefits of being in the great outdoors, and Tracy is the founder of Pace of Mind Therapy.

Also, joining us today is Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, he is a licensed clinical psychologist from New York City who works at Columbia University’s Counseling Center and maintains a private practice in the city as well. He also serves as a consultant to businesses and organizations looking to strengthen diversity initiatives and working to improve mental health and well being of their employees. Finally, Dr. Michael Provitera, he’s an executive leadership trainer. He is also president of Motivational Leadership Training, where his focus is on improving organizational effectiveness and enhancing individual success.

During his career, he’s worked with over 1000 executives, and his executive leadership certification runs 18 hours and covers six factors of leadership. Thank you all for joining us. Tracy, why don’t we start with you? Tell me from your perspective, I mean, what is at the root of a lot of the anxiety that’s floating around for people in terms of what return to work might look like?

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

Well, first of all, I think it’s helpful to go and look at what the past year has been like for everyone. Everyone has had different experiences around COVID and quarantining. As we know, maybe 30 to 40% of adults in our country have experienced stress, anxiety, depression. So we’re starting with that baseline. People, in addition, this past year have had to adjust their schedules, their routines, there’s been a lot of unknowns, and they’re kind of been getting used to that and trying to have as much control of the routines and schedules as possible.

Now we’re throwing into this a return to work and a new transition, what is that going to look like for them? I’m hearing a lot of people feeling anxious about vaccine, no vaccine, what is the workplace going to require? Am I going to have agency and power to decide? Or is that going to be decided for me? So that alone is creating a lot of stress right now for people, what is that going to look like?

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. Thanks, Tracy. Ernesto, from your perspective, what do you have to add to that? Because I imagine that everyone’s unique, I mean, there’s a lot of different situations and people are grappling with this in different ways.

Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa:

Yeah, I think as Tracy was saying, there is the sense of a collective trauma we all have experienced as a result of this pandemic, and we’re still experiencing, and things may be getting back to normal. But there is a lot of this anxiety and fear of what this normal is going to look like or new normal. Again, anxiety is just something that is an emotion that we all experience, and it’s a normal response to something that is a trauma. So, a lot of the things that I’m also seeing with clients or talking to people is about what will this look like in terms of just workplace setting, in terms of physical safety? If people still have to social distance, they have to wear masks. Is the vaccine going to be required or not?

I think a lot of these fears and anxieties can really have an impact on our physical health as well, and a lot of people may be coming back to work physically but may not feel grounded or centered. Because they may be worried about what is going to happen in the workplace, what kind of policies are going to be put in place, and if it’s going to be a uniform or universal policy. So there is a lot of fear and anxiety still, but also particularly for those people that maybe did contract COVID-19, and we still don’t know a lot of the effects of what this can have on people’s physical well-being and also emotional well-being.

So, what is that going to look like for people that maybe have contracted the virus and are experiencing some residual effects? If someone does get COVID-19 while they’re back at work, what does that mean for the rest of the people that are in place with their coworkers? So there is a lot of this anxiety that is normal. However, it does look differently for everyone and can have physical effects, physiological effects, and also impacts our mental health well-being.

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. Yeah, thank you for your perspective on that. Mike, you take this from a little bit of a different angle professionally as somebody who works with leaders and executives, what are your thoughts on that?

Dr. Michael J. Provitera:

That’s an excellent question. We’re looking at people that are apprehensive about going back to work, while they were always worried about how they’re going to even keep their jobs. That was the first … the first objective was, “Can I keep my job?” So they all rushed to the computer and learned how to use Zoom and became on camera shy like this, and then what happened was, everybody started to realize that they weren’t going to lose that job, and this remote setting’s not bad. Then we invented the hallway highway. So within 15 minutes, you could be showered and sitting in front of a screen like this.

Then people started to say this isn’t so bad, people are still worried about their job stuff. Many corporations and organizations are not making any drastic moves right now, they’re putting their arms around people, telling them that they love them, and that they’re not talking about letting go people even though before the pre pandemic, there was people on the chopping block, but it’s kind of reverse now. So, some people are actually having work that they’re going to continue staying home. They just say, “Your job is a remote type job.” So when people get back to the office, how are they going to feel? And that’s where the anxiety comes from, which is what we’re talking about now, people are saying, “Am I going to be able to go back to Manhattan? Is there going to be internet?”

Then when I say … for people say like on college campuses, you have to make this a unique approach where people want to go back, they feel they’re going to have beach volleyball, they’re going to be able to rub elbows with others. That’s the thing, because this thing that we’re doing right now, this electronic communication has been enhanced, because people were isolated. So we feel more intended to want to be online right now and talk. So we want to rub elbows, but we’re rubbing elbows electronically. We like it, it works, but we really want to be in front of somebody again, and in the near future we will be.

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. What I’m hearing from you all is that there are so many compounding stressors, and that it’s a chronic situation. Right? It’s not a stressor that happened in one point in time, it’s gone for a year. Ernesto, you brought this up, which I think is really interesting. It’s a collective trauma. Everyone has a frame of reference about this topic, and there’s very few things in life where everyone has a frame of reference, or a similar experience, although each person’s experience is unique. We’ve all gone through this in some form or fashion.

So, knowing that there are people in various phases of trying to move through this process in trauma, and in terms of their work life, which inevitably impacts their home life, what should people be thinking about or doing in order to help manage that anxiety? Mike, why don’t we start with you on this one?

Dr. Michael J. Provitera:

Thank you. Yes, that’s really a great question, because our whole mindset changed. In other words, for me to drive 40 minutes to the beach, all of a sudden now, do I really want to go? Do I want to spend the gas? Do I want to pay the tolls? I go out, I come back, we become accustomed to our lifestyle. The key is, a lot of us couldn’t go to gyms. I have an executive that built a gym in his garage, and I helped him. I work out at home. I can’t go to the gym, I have to make an appointment. So we have to get up, we have to walk around. It’s the intention that drives us.

So you have to say, “I intend to exercise today.” Not I’m going to exercise because you’ll find every ice cream in the refrigerator and every cookie in the cupboard. So you just say, “I intend to work out today.” And you just do it, just get up and go. It’s like the Asian mentality, is that, we intend to do something? We do it. So people are trying to break out of this new normal, which you can’t really say that anymore because it’s almost over. I’m writing about post pandemic recovery. We’re almost there. If you look at, like say a milestone, look at the cruise lines. If the cruise line jumps in June, we’re pretty much almost back to normal. If it doesn’t, then we’re still back into the remote thinking of when is it [inaudible 00:10:14] So, Disney opened. Now, is Disney going to open the cruise line?

So, these things that we’re thinking about, people taking off masks, masks not being mandatory. All of these things are psychologically making us change. So that physical ability that everyone’s talking about here, and being able to exercise and exercise our mind, think about mindfulness, meditate, we can’t stop doing what we always did just because of a pandemic, we have to reinvent ourselves and find new ways, novel ways of approaching life. I don’t want to promote myself, but I’ll just say, “I wrote a book with my daughters because it was about the pandemic, because they were feeling so much stress. That book has help them deal with their own stress.” Thanks for giving me the opportunity to go first on that one. That’s a tough one.

Chris Cancialosi:

Yeah, I mean, these are really complex issues, and everyone’s got their own unique reality and experience here. I know that the question I’m asking is very broad. Ernesto, from your perspective, what should people be thinking about, and how might they help manage this anxiety that they might be feeling?

Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa:

Yeah, I think a really wonderful question and important topic to consider. One of the pieces that I tend to think about when talking to people that are having these anxieties and worries is, increasing the awareness around just what anxiety is, and how it can manifest differently for everyone, knowing more about how it comes up for you, and also finding some practical skills to be able to manage the anxiety, whether it be mindfulness skills, like Mike had mentioned, but also rebuilding these new cognitive connections to work, having time to reflect on what has changed in the last year, getting organized, creating to do lists when you’re out work, to be able to help you stay organized as on track, setting up priorities, setting up different weekly goals.

But I think there needs to be a sense of reflecting on what has happened and what has changed, and also just looking at how we can come back and ease our way into the workforce, into the workplace, and also keeping it in mind, being mindful of our anxiety and how it’s manifesting within each of us so that we can find things that can help us reduce that anxiety or the intensity of it.

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. Tracy, I want to get your input on this, but something you said, Ernesto struck me, question for all of you to consider is, is it appropriate for people to position this reality as “back to normal,” or is it healthier, perhaps for us to acknowledge that what was in the past will no longer be necessarily and to begin to framing our mental process around the possibility of the new? So Tracy, I know I’m hitting you with two questions here, but I’d love your perspective on that.

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

Well, thank you, I think that’s a really good active reframe. Return to a new normal, this is going to be different, just like working during the pandemic was different. This is going to be a transition, it’s not going to happen overnight. Each workplace is going to be very different, some may be hybrid, some may be remote, some may require you to go in full time. So each one is going to be very different. I think healthy communication in the workplace is going to be incredibly and being transparent, and normalizing this level of anxiety and stress that everyone may be feeling. So that it’s okay if you’re not feeling well, talk to your boss, talk to your supervisor, to really be transparent and know that it is okay and that everyone’s going to be experiencing that at a different level.

Because I think that’s going to look different than before, and that type of communication of what’s going to work in the workplace. So I think that is going to be incredibly important. And as Ernesto said also, there are going to be people that have had COVID, we’re seeing some research now that may be one in every three people may have long lasting neurological or psychological effects that may be invisible, we may not see. So they may be going back to work, and then those who haven’t had COVID may have had a family loss, so they may be mourning or grieving. They may have experienced job uncertainty, they may have been isolated, feeling really lonely.

So there are going to be many kind of stresses and experiences that they have had that may be invisible, so to speak, that they are going to be bringing into the workplace, and we really do want to normalize that experience for them and really create an opportunity in this new workplace, I mean, environment for people to be able to talk about it, share these concerns with each other, with their supervisors, and feel okay with that.

Chris Cancialosi:

Yeah, thank you for that perspective. What’s striking me as I’m listening to the three of you is, there are things that people can do in terms of reframing, in terms of actual tactics that they can use to help kind of, in my words, not yours, take some control of the situation. I’m curious, from your perspective, at what point should someone say, “Jeez, I’m really not dealing with this in a healthy way, I really need to go out and get some external support.” What are the warning signs that someone should really be tuned to? Ernesto, why don’t we ask you to kick this one off?

Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa:

Yeah. Some of the warning signs could be just looking at our sleep and appetite. Those are usually some of the places that we begin to see some changes in our well being when we’re under a lot of stress or anxiety or not feeling well. Additionally, there’s also the sense of looking at how you’re feeling in terms of, are you feeling happy? Are you feeling anxious? Are you doing things you enjoy doing? Are you losing interest and motivation? When you begin to notice maybe a decline in some of these things that did bring you happiness, pleasure, or excitement, and they’re not there anymore, and you’re spending a lot more time just worrying, thinking about things that have happened, I think those could be considered warning signs that maybe it could be helpful to talk with a professional or seek outside support.

That could also come in the way of just making sure you’re talking to people in your life, friends and family. Social support is really important. I think perceived social support is particularly important, that we may receive support, but if we don’t perceive it as helpful, then it’s not really support. So I think in some ways, making sure that we’re reaching out to people, when we’re noticing that we’re just not feeling ourselves. Again, that could be more of these day to day things like sleep and appetite. Just kind of, if our minds are preoccupied, and not being able to stay in the present moment, or just a reduction in our happiness, in our mood, can be some warning signs.

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. Thank you for that, Ernesto. Mike, again, from your perspective, you come at this from a little bit of a different lens, working with executives, what are your thoughts on that?

Dr. Michael J. Provitera:

Well, there’s one way to think about this from my perspective, and that is, following what Tracy and Ernesto are mentioning, it’s like an emotional intelligence. So, people have to be self aware, and then there’s the psychological component, what’s their attitude? What’s their moods like? Are they staying up late? Are they sleeping less, because of this pandemic, watching movie? Whatever it is, entertainment, what are their beliefs and underlying beliefs of the recovery. You had mentioned about the new normal, there really is no new normal, it’s the future, it’s whatever happens.

Organizations maybe little bouncing balls and couches, and people may only go to the office in teams, and they may stay home, and they’re taking desks out of offices now, they’re changing real estate. Then there’s that self-regulation component. We talked about the psychological and then the physical components of the exercise, people are becoming more sedentary, or some people are getting into a regimen of exercise. Those things are very important. I do certain things every day, it’s like a COVID habit. But if I was going to challenge myself, they are not much. Running around the block is nothing, but my brother in law could run 12 miles in one time. Right? So everyone’s going to look at the world differently.

Then there’s that regulation, looking at how are you regulating yourself, are you exercising? Are you eating well? Then we have empathy, right? So once we get through emotional times, once we control our own empathy, then we could look at how we’re controlling our own emotional intelligence. Then that social skills comes into play. Being in this kind of environment, we’re at level playing fields. I have all the respect in the world for you, Chris, Tracy, and Ernesto, but think about if we’re in a meeting of 250, and the CEO has a little box just like I do. I respect him. I have respect for authority figures, but when I get to talk, I may be on the screen just like he is. Or she is.

So, we have this whole new way of thinking. This way of trying to break away from our own internal thoughts that are holding us back, what are we oppressing ourselves with? I have friends that say, “Well, you have your two daughters, I’m alone.” There’s other people that are saying, “I’m alone with somebody, I don’t want to be alone with.” Or there’s somebody who would say, “It’s hard for me to meet people. I just turned 21, and I can go out to the bars but there’s no bars to go to.” It’s just relaxing with yourself and understanding that this is a time for you to reflect, improve whatever you want to work on, and then channeling that energy into writing or taking up a guitar or whatever you wanted to do, art, channeling those energies into things that are productive.

So when the pandemic is over, you’ll come out with new muscles and new ways of thinking, and you could now look at the world in a new perspective, looking at what did you do during the pandemic, did you create anything? Well, this is what I created. I was talking a little bit about people taking a year off before going to graduate school. Well, then what are you doing? Are you volunteering? Are you helping others so that … that empathy to help. Coming from Tracy and Ernesto, and they’re in the business of helping, and you’re helping right now by running this podcast.

So, imagine the people that we help that help others and the trickling down effect, you try to help those above you, help those below you, and then hope that people want help. Because some people do not want help. Ask an 18 year old, if they want help, they’re going to say no, but when they come to you, you better roll up your sleeves and help. Thanks, thanks for giving me the chance [crosstalk 00:21:14]

Chris Cancialosi:

Yeah, thank you for that perspective, I can say that, personally, I tried to make the most of my COVID experience, but I’m a really fortunate person that’d be privileged to live in an area where I’m not in a very densely populated area, I can go outside, but I did master the art of smoking a barbecue brisket over COVID. So I feel like I put that time to good use. Tracy, from your perspective, you’re working with clients all the time, and undoubtedly, COVID is a part of your work, because it’s such a part of everyone’s experience. What point should somebody really be saying, “Hey, I think I really need to reach out for some professional support here?”

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

That’s a really good question. Are we talking about that in terms of working, what the work life looks like, and trying to balance it and feeling that stress? Or the anticipation of going into the office? Or just in general? When you ask that question, I’m curious.

Chris Cancialosi:

That’s a really good follow up question. When I had asked it, I was originally thinking in general, kind of what are the signs that someone could say, “Hey, I really need to think about this.” But if there’s a different way to approach that, I’m certainly open.

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

Well, so there are people and individuals who have been living alone, working remotely, feeling incredibly isolated. This has been a very challenging time for them. So when I work with them, we really do talk, as Ernesto spoke about assessing the quality of life. They’re eating, they’re sleeping, ruminating thoughts, what they’re thinking about, are they able to reach out to friends and family and talk to them, because that is very, very important. I keep going back to isolation and feeling lonely, because there are young adults who live alone, and then there are plenty that are living with their families too, and that is very stressful.

So this has been a very interesting time for us. But I think for those, as Ernesto had spoken about before, if they’re really seeing a change in their eating, and they’re sleeping, and enjoying pleasurable activities, they’re ruminating a lot, they’re really worrying, then that’s time, you talk to a professional to reach out to a family member or a friend, to share your concerns, to feel validated, to feel that you’re not alone, because it really isn’t a singular experience, it’s really is a collective trauma. It’s a collective loss, we have all experienced some type of loss, loss of our freedom, loss of our routines, of our schedules, of predictability.

I think moving forward in transitions, people can be very vulnerable. I think we’re going to still be grappling with that transition and what that looks like in terms of that predictability and not knowing for a while, that’s going to be very, very challenging for many people.

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you for that perspective. We’re going to take a quick break right now, when we come back, we’re going to flip the script a little bit. We’ve been focused on employees experience and people in general, I’d like to flip the script when we come back and talk about employers, and how our employers, number one, working through this, and number two, how can employers think about supporting and proactively supporting their employees through this transition? So we’ll be right back.

This episode of the gothamCulture podcast is produced and sponsored by our partners at Blue Sky Podcasting. Communicating with your customers, stakeholders and employees can be challenging at times. The team at Blue Sky Podcasting provides high end production and post production support organizations looking to leverage podcasting as a tool to increase transparency and engagement with their customers and employees. If you’re interested in learning how podcasting can provide your organization with a highly engaging communication tool that’s easy to scale, you should check out our partners at Blue Sky Podcasting at www.blueskypodcasting.com.

Chris Cancialosi:

Welcome back everybody, this is Chris Cancialosi, and I’m joined today by three fantastic panelists, Tracy Nathanson, Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa and Dr. Michael Provitera, we’ve been talking about the anxiety and the collective trauma that people have been going through over the last year with this COVID pandemic. As we’re getting shots in arms and people are beginning to look forward to what the future may hold, there is some level of anxiety beginning to creep into people’s realities around, what does work look like in the future? And what is my life going to be like, now that I’ve completely up ended my existence and recalibrated to the pandemic reality?

So, what I’d like to do at this point everyone is, flip the script just a bit and talk about employers and organizations, because employers are not immune to this reality. They are at some point in their journey, trying to figure out what will the future hold for work? Are they going to go back to an office full time? Are they going to … as some organizations are doing just say, “Hey, we are fully remote from here on out?” Or is there something in between?

All of these decisions or lack of decisions impact the people that work in their organizations, which can obviously lead to anxiety and stress. So, from an organizational perspective, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on what should employers be mindful of as they are, A, developing their plans, and B, communicating and interacting with their workforces? Ernesto, why don’t we start with you?

Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa:

I think in terms of the employer side, it is a difficult challenge right now to think about what we’re going to be expecting or anticipating. But it can be helpful to just consider the effects that the pandemic has had on all of us and their employees. So thinking about the individual worker circumstances as they come back, thinking about flexibility in terms of schedules, in terms of mental health benefits, or other access to health services, even childcare services, just because we’re all returning back to work, does not mean that other things are open, like schools, hopefully they do stay open.

But I think considering individual needs for their employees, and making sure that their employees are feeling supported, that the employees also know what are the policies, who can they go to if the policy maybe does not apply uniformly to all of them? I think individual supervisors can be very helpful in this regard, in being go to individuals, of understanding policy and being able to advocate for their employees as well. But I think in some ways, it’s just making sure that employers are considering how best to support their employees and thinking about not only the productivity with work, but also the well-being of their employees that are back in the office.

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you for that. Tracy, from your perspective, what are your thoughts on that, and what can employers be doing, or what should they be thinking about?

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

I was also thinking about what that workday schedule is going to look like, and how important it will be to be able to take mental health breaks, to walk around a little bit, get outside, get some water, because adjusting to that work environment, again, in those hours, when had more flexibility working from home or remote locations, that may be very emotionally and physically exhausting. I think that’s going to be important to discuss that in the workplace and what that break is going to look like to be able to-

Chris Cancialosi:

Yeah, so giving people the space and kind of permission to readapt because now going back to an office is abnormal for people in their life experience

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

Exactly, and we haven’t even talked about the commuting and what that transportation looks like, whether they’re taking public transportation, and the stress that goes with that and being around other people, or if you’re driving and again commuting. So that’s a whole other level, putting that into your day, and what is that going to look like? [crosstalk 00:30:09]

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. Yeah, and I certainly want to circle back on that. Mike, I want to hear your perspective on this before we jump to that, though. So, what should employers be keeping top of mind as they’re trying to figure this out?

Dr. Michael J. Provitera:

Well, executives in the C suite, they changed, they’re actually more authentic now. It used be, they start a meeting and everybody has their information, and they just thought, “Boom, here’s the meeting.” Now, they open up the meeting and say, “How is everybody doing? Are you feeling okay?” They hear dogs in the background, they hear people. When the pandemic first came, I was cooking, I showed a video, so they came into my kitchen, right? So, people are actually seeing things happening that they never had before. The corporations and the executives are accepting that, and they really care.

So, you’re looking at building better relationships with your bosses, with your colleagues, even though we’re remote. And how this is going to be in the future is what we’re thinking about, modeling this new communication, we may still have Zoom, we may still have work, we may have reduced work weeks, we may have people not going back like I mentioned, but they may want to go back and there’s people that do not want to go back, but they have to go back. So, we’re looking at this, treating each person the way they would like to be treated. So the golden rule is, I treat people the way I want to be treated. Well now, I think it was Tony Alexander, some pop psychologist said, “Treat people the way they want to be treated, the way they want to be treated is the Platinum Rule.”

Get into the flow, get in sync with people, find out where they are, and what they’re doing. I mean, people very rarely care. Now they have to, they have to care. Some people are working from home but their children are home, so they have to cook meals and be there with their children, but still work. So now they’re developing this new work style, where they’re opening up this emotional contact with people as, if you need help, if you want us to adjust something … we used to talk about the four day week, now we’re talking about the two day week, the no day week. Right? Then people that are home, it’s so funny, organization to seeing people work 12-hour days, you get up at nine o’clock, you might be working till 9:00 PM, maybe you took a four hour lunch, and organizations are accepting all of this.

This is the interesting point that we’re looking at going into the future, organizations are accepting you as you are, not as they would want you to be. That’s that flow, and security. As Tracy mentioned, security is so important. If I know I’m going to keep my job, I’m going to work 10 times harder, if I feel that I might lose my job, I may work 20 times harder, because I don’t want to lose it. But that’s the stress Dr. Ernesto is talking about, that Tracy is talking about. We’re feeling so much pressure on our back. We need to have convertible cause, put the convertible back and let all the monkeys fly off our back.

Chris Cancialosi:

Thank you for that. So what I’m hearing from all of you is, it sounds like there is no one size fits all solution for employers, we as employers need to be taking into account individual needs and differences, which sounds like a great leadership challenge for direct supervisors, as opposed to a CEO trying to make a sheep dip solution for everyone-

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

Can I interject a second?

Chris Cancialosi:

Please do.

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

I was just going to ask a question about the boundaries and the roles that have been blurred during this time, and how do we reestablish that. If you see me and I’m working, and I’ve got the dog in the background, and this, how do we go back to the workplace now? People got to know us better, boundaries have been blurred, how do we reestablish that or we don’t or there’s a new kind of normal? I’m just curious about that.

Chris Cancialosi:

Yeah, perspectives?

Dr. Michael J. Provitera:

Well, I would say that, you have to develop a high self esteem. I hate to look at movies, but I do it all the time. Look at the Godfather. When the cat came across, Marlon Brando grabbed him and went like this, “Everybody got the cat was part of the scene, but it wasn’t.” All of a sudden a dog comes by, we pick up a dog. “Hey, meet Buddy.” So we have to have a higher self esteem, feel good about ourselves on the screen. The way we look, the way we feel, the way we communicate. This is all changed now.

Before pre pandemic, I wouldn’t want to go on the screen. I don’t know, now you have to. So, what Tracy’s talking about is, we’re accepting people, we’re getting to know people more. There’s positive things that are coming out of this pandemic, really positive. People are saying, “I love you.” I could say, “Chris, I love you for doing this.” There’s nothing wrong with that. Pre pandemic, people might say, “We shouldn’t be talking about love at work.” That’s an interesting perspective that we’re taking here.

Chris Cancialosi:

It sounds like everyone’s going to need to do a little learning and a little realignment, because everything has been shaken up. Ernesto, what are your thoughts on that?

Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa:

Yes, I do definitely think about all the distractions that we all may have and have maybe adapted to, and how they may feel strange. I’ve gone back into an office, just to work and it just feels so different, even though I’m not with anyone, just myself. Just getting up and doing the routine that I was used to doing feels so different and strange, and that’s going to take some adjustment in terms of that piece, but also the boundaries.

Something else that was coming to mind about employers and organizations is considering, again, the pandemic, but also what has happened in the last year, and how there’s a lot of health disparities and the pandemic has shed some light into health disparities for Black and Brown individuals, and also for people in the LGBTQ community, how they have been disproportionately impacted by either job loss, coming sick with COVID, or maybe working in jobs where they’re considered essential workers.

I think that’s something that is important to consider for employers, especially as they bring back employees of diverse identities, and one, making sure that they are accounting for how these disparities and these impacts in the pandemic may also be impacting their employees, what are the messages being conveyed about the well being of employees that maybe are of color, or are part of the LGBTQ community, making sure that they are also being considered and that it may be different for some of these individuals, the stress may be higher for some of these communities.

Chris Cancialosi:

Thank you for bringing that up, and that really leads to my next question around inclusion and equity. Everyone’s coming from a different background. Some people are already historically before COVID, dealing with stressors based on their personal situation that others are not dealing with, COVID only adds on top of that, stacks on that, from my perspective. I’m curious, how can employers be intentional about not only understanding that and acknowledging it, but really being able to proactively address some of that. I mean, there’s so many individuals situations. As an employer, what do we do? Ernesto, why don’t you kick us off since you brought that up?

Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa:

Yeah, no problem. I think in some ways, it comes down to the organizational culture, and looking at just, what does diversity look like in the workplace in terms of people that are in managerial positions, supervisor positions? And seeing if there are opportunities for people that are not part of the majority to make it more diverse, additionally, making sure that there are benefits that are extended to individuals that may have different health care needs, and making sure that these are in insurance benefits, things like that.

I think there also could be some more emphasis on providing more workshops or presentations or other resources for individuals in the company to know more about, what are some of the unique stressors that some of these communities may be experiencing and how it translates into their identity at work, there is a professional identity and also personal identity. One of the unique things about, I think, stress is, there is a minority stress theory that just states that, “On top of everyday general stressors, people with minority identity experience additional and unique stressors to their minority identities.” So in some ways, it’s like a double whammy.

So just being aware that sometimes these things are different for individuals that are having minority identity can be useful for employers, and just thinking about how does that actually translate into our organizational culture? How are employees impacted similarly, but also differently, and what can we do to make sure we’re meeting their needs as well?

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely.

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

I think we want to destigmatize … I’m sorry. I think we want to destigmatize mental health and getting those resources and that access as well for that.

Chris Cancialosi:

It feels like if there was ever a time for employers to be intentional and be thoughtful of the differences that people are bringing to the workplace with them, it feels like now is that time, with all of the social awareness and work going on in our communities over the last couple of years, on top of it COVID. Mike, you alluded to this earlier, it feels like the general culture in the United States, and it’s a huge sweeping overgeneralization is one of trying to be intentional and learn about the differences that people are bringing into work, and I’m sure some will be better positioned to actually serve as allies to their employees than others. But Mike, what’s your perspective on that?

Dr. Michael J. Provitera:

Well, I think it was Al Pacino that said in Any Given Sunday, “If we can’t work together as a team, we fail as individuals.” What organizations are doing for people of all different types of walks of life and making sure that they’re promoting them, that they’re accepting them, that they’re acknowledging them, we never want to disparage any kind of benefit or anything. So, whenever I talk to somebody, I’m always saying, “Your husband or your wife, or your significant other, or your partner, you throw them all in.” Because if I’m sitting somewhere and someone says something like that, I don’t want to get offended, and I don’t want to offend anyone.

So the executives in the world have been very careful of what they say, and they’re being very careful with what they do. So, they’re joining Big Brothers, and they’re going out to the community. Each one of us, every executive, every business manager, every business woman, everyone is trying their best to make sure and ensure that they’re giving back to the community in some way. We try to tell people not to carry any excess pressure on your back. There’s a story about a frog and a scorpion that came to the river at the same time, the scorpion said to the frog, “Listen, I see you’re about to cross the river, can I jump on your back and you deposit me on the other side?” The frog said, “No, you’re going to sting me.” Then scorpion says, “No, if I sting you, then I’ll drown, and you’ll drown, and I’ll die.”

So according to the story, the frog says, “Jump on.” They hop on, halfway across the pond that, the frog gets stung. He turns to the scorpion and says, “Wait a minute, why would you do this? Why would you sting me and die, we’re both going to drown and die.” After they came back the third time, scorpion says, “Because I’m a scorpion, and it’s my nature to sting frogs and kill them.” We have to get rid of anybody that’s negative in the workplace. It’s like a cancer. If somebody is a scorpion in the workplace, we have to not tolerate that behavior. Organizations and executives are now saying, “We’re not tolerating that.”

So we need to accept all diversity, accept everyone where they are, where they’re coming from, whatever zip code, whatever type of nationality, no more stigmatized ways of thinking, we have to eliminate that. That’s where the organizations are going in the future. The ones that are not, are going to fall short, and they’re going to lose people. I write about the no jerk policy. A lot of organizations say, “If you’re a jerk, we don’t want you anymore.” When did they ever say that? Well, they’re saying it now. So they hire people and they have a no jerk policy. Then if they find you’re a jerk, they get rid of you. They can literally say, “You failed, I know jerk policy, you’re a jerk, you’re gone.”

Chris Cancialosi:

That’s one approach. On this topic, what comes to mind for me is, wow, this is really going to be a challenge for employers, because, A, many of them are not used to thinking about individual needs as much as their organizational needs, and number two, even if at their best, there are bound to making mistakes. So, what’s the secret to success here? What is the secret element that’s going to get us all through this in a productive and healthy way? Tracy.

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

I was just thinking about community, Mike, when you were talking about before, and people who live in communities, where they look after each other, care about each other, have each other’s backs, their sense of well-being, they feel really good. So, I think feeling in your work community that it really is community, and again, normalizing our feelings, really de stigmatizing mental health needs, sometimes we’re in a culture where people don’t want to reach out for help, but letting people know that that’s okay offering those resources, because there may be organizations now that really don’t have access to even to online behavioral health resources that are there, letting people know, making sure multi language that it’s available for diverse communities, and that that is available and that it is really …

So, having those conversations, but I like the feeling of community because during this time when I was working from home I was looking for whether it was through yoga or other things I did, that sense of community not feeling alone, feeling that we could share our issues and problems. I think when we go back into the workplace, that community is going to look different, and there is going to be that emotional mental health well-being, that’s going to be very important.

Chris Cancialosi:

Ernesto, I’d like to give you the last word on this one. I mean, employers are going to be having challenging time, they’re going to make mistakes. What’s it going to take to get us through this?

Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa:

Yeah, I think this is really an opportunity to be able to take all of these things, and while they may be challenging, there’s also opportunity for growth here. Reenvisioning, reimagining the way that we can all maybe come back and do things a little differently. I tend to look at this more from the perspective of, there’s a lot of opportunities here. It may be difficult and challenging, but we can all get through this together, and maybe try some things that are different, taking into account that this pandemic has really forced us into considering things that maybe we weren’t thinking about before in the workplace.

But especially think around just all these changes that, this is the time where we get to make some changes and bring in more people into the fold and making these decisions to build that community, that these decisions will not only impact the individual, but also the organization as a whole. So, it has benefits for everyone involved, and taking into account these individual differences, that actually will have very significant impact, positive impact on these workplaces and organizations overall.

Chris Cancialosi:

Thank you for that. Thank you for that. I have one final question for you all, and it’s a question I ask all of my guests, regardless of topic. Mike, I’d love to kick this one off with you. What have I not asked you today that I should have?

Dr. Michael J. Provitera:

Well, I think that the one thing that we could have talked about more is this resistance to change. People do not want to change, they’re failing to embrace new ideas and new changes that will help them, help the community, help the society, help their organizations. When organizations are trying to develop this tacit knowledge that people have that they don’t want to talk about, or they don’t even know subconsciously they have it but they want to talk about. Then there’s that turf war where someone brings something up, they say, “Don’t bring that up.” Or they say something to the executives, and they think the executives do not act on it, but the executives did act on it, but they didn’t tell the people.

So there’s all these different issues that we face. The one thing that we have is that, people are always worried about their next career, instead of focusing on the career that they have now, we cannot create the future and worry about what’s going to happen until we cross that bridge when we get to it. We have to say hello to the goats until we get across the bridge. So, let’s not worry about our next career, let’s worry about a current career and our current organization, and how we could all get back to working to promote our organizations to be successful, so we all keep our jobs.

Then as we make these decisions that impact not only us, but everyone, then we make the right decisions. Because as executives, we’re making decisions not only for the corporation, or our employees, but the customer, the stakeholders, the grandma, whoever it is, their children, we have to make the right decisions, and we have to really think about that. Then the emotional component? Yes, we have to make sure we’re letting people know that we’re here to help you if you have a concern. Almost every organization has some way of getting help, and now it’s second nature to say, “My therapist gave me the advice that I should.” Which we wouldn’t say that in the past. It’s okay.

We’ve to think, if you need a tax advisor, you go to a tax expert. If you need stress reduction, you go to an expert, like Ernesto or Tracy, and you talk to them about it. And you say, “Look, I’m feeling a lot of anxiety right now.” Then people will know, they say, “We know you’re feeling anxiety, so is the rest of the world. We have to cope, we have to look at what we’re doing, how can we help ourselves and others and the people around us.”

Chris Cancialosi:

Thank you, Mike. Tracy, what are your thoughts? What should I have asked you that we didn’t talk about today?

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

I’m thinking maybe about the vaccine and what that looks like for people and going back to work, and how stress-inducing that is for people. What the workplace requirements are going to look like, are they going to mandate it? Are they not going to mandate it, and if they don’t, am I going to be working next to someone who has it, who doesn’t have it? And the inequity in terms of the access to it, some people aren’t able to get it. Some people because of their beliefs, they don’t want to get it.

So there’s a lot going on around the vaccine and the return to workplace. So that’s maybe something that … as I think as the days and months go by, maybe we’ll get some more clarification, or wherever you work, that policy, you’ll have a better understanding. But everyone has a different relationship to the vaccine. So I think that’s really very stress-inducing for people and also their power of agency and being able to make that choice, and will that be taken away from them if their workplace requires them to do that?

Chris Cancialosi:

Sure.

Tracy Nathanson, LCSW:

How are they going to feel about that?

Chris Cancialosi:

Yeah, no, thank you. I think that’s a really important point. Ernesto, final word, what should I have asked you that I didn’t?

Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa:

Yeah, I think in some way we were talking about this, maybe that is directly but the rule I think of mental health in the future of work place [inaudible 00:50:00] organizations. I think particularly, we as clinicians have seen an increase in people reaching out for help during the pandemic, and how many of us are also feeling overwhelmed, because we’re also going through this in addition to everyone else, but also just the usefulness and making sure that we are including mental health professionals in these conversations and discussions, particularly as organizations are thinking about revamping and reworking and making changes, that there could be such an added benefit of just having me think of individuals to consult with or have these conversations with someone.

Just best practices or just throwing around ideas of what could be helpful for everyone, but just acknowledging that a lot of us in the mental health field are actively also working through this ourselves and trying to figure out how do we continue to have conversations around mental health, because it is important, and it is something that is impacting all of us.

Chris Cancialosi:

Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks to all of you for your perspectives. This has been a fantastic discussion. I feel like we’ve just begun to scratch the surface, and there’s a lot of depth that we could dive into, and a lot of these different areas around equity and inclusion and around vaccine, and this is a moving target. So, Tracy, Ernesto, Michael, I really appreciate you spending time with us today. Thank you so much for sharing your perspectives.

If you’d like to learn more about our guests from today’s episode, be sure to check out the episode notes. If you enjoyed today’s episode, we welcome you to check out some of our other content, and be sure to take a moment to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the great conversations we have slated for season two.

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CLIP

Perhaps the most important skill a leader can have is to engage in timely, appropriate, and ultimately successful conversations with others.

So often things get in the way.  It might be that we are uncomfortable with the other person or the subject is something that we have been avoiding. Sometimes it is just our own reluctance or what we project to be the resistance of the other individual. And it could well be that we have spent so much time coming up with our own script and arguments prior to engaging in conversation that we forget the goal of any interaction is connecting with another.

Whether it’s a coaching moment, a periodic review, or a status check on a project, the best approach for a leader is to create a container of communication and trust with another. We achieve that by focusing our effort on understanding the person and working to appreciate their viewpoint. We can do that by forfeiting our innate desire to respond to the other person with our own perspective or argument.

In other words, the best approach is to have the planned outcome to be that of merely learning about the other. That intent helps us join with someone. Initially, the vehicle to achieve that is completely one-sided, with a commitment on our part of not using that time to present our own thoughts or opinions. It may seem counterintuitive, perhaps because it is not commonly used in today’s conversations. Read More…

Return To Work Anxiety? You’re Not Alone.

Return to work anxiety

There are very few experiences in the world that everyone shares. What makes these situations so powerful is a shared experience that everyone can relate to. Although our individual experiences in these situations are unique, we share a powerful commonality centered around a key event.

These experiences are powerful for us both as individuals and as a community. They can reshape the way we look at the world and our place in it. They can make us rethink the way we get work done or the way we live our lives. And they can create quite a bit of uncertainty and even anxiety around what the future will look like.

As we have collectively adapted to the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all had to evolve our behaviors in life and at work to adapt and thrive. For those fortunate enough to have not lost their jobs, or worse, they undoubtedly had to make significant changes to the way they accomplished their work in order to stay productive and competitive in this new operating environment. It was tough. It took a lot to figure out how to be successful in this new work scenario. It made us learn to flex new muscles. But, in the end, we did it. And now this “new” way of working has even, dare I say, become comfortable. Read More…

How Do I Meet My Goals? Hitting a Moving Target

When I served in an Army tank battalion we were taught marksmanship; first at stationary targets, and later, at moving ones. In the classroom, we learned that if the target was moving left or right you had to aim a bit ahead in the direction it was traveling in order to hit it. As we transitioned to ranges with actual moving targets, we had to compensate for vehicles that might be maneuvering at what then seemed like incredible speeds, sometimes as high as 30 mph.

The best marksmen and tank gunners were those who fired an appropriate distance ahead of the vehicle. We called it “Leading the Target.”  The finest gunners would apply mental feedback loops to compensate for windage and smoke.  Initially coached by experienced tank gunners, they asked themselves a hundred questions and later developed shortcuts for answering them. Today we call those shortcuts heuristics. Others call them intuition.  Either way, all are based on gathering information and awareness about one’s environment and then making meaning of it.

Targeting and marksmanship are metaphors often associated with leadership and business. “Right on target,” “Straight-shooter,” or “Bull’s eye” are not uncommon terms thrown about in corporate settings.  But “Leading the Target,” has often drawn blank stares from my colleagues. It shouldn’t. Business is moving at a speed considerably faster than 30 mph.  And, unlike modern tanks with computers and predictive gun sighting technology, it still takes leaders and teams working together in an organization to effectively stay ahead of the speed of change.  Leaders and teams, not unlike marksmen and tank gunners, must determine which organizational challenge or target to concentrate on and how to effectively “hit” it. Read More…

2020 is Almost Over – What Did We Learn? The gothamCulture Team Weighs In

gothamCulture Team Photo Zoom

Reflecting back on this year, it’s hard to put into words what we’ve all experienced. Things that once seemed unimaginable are now a part of everyday life. 2020 has affected both our personal and professional lives in profound ways. In closing out the year, the gothamCulture team wanted to share some lessons we are learning about life during a pandemic, some silver linings resulting from the disruption, and what we plan to do differently going forward. We wish you a safe and happy holiday season. ~ Andrea Bennett, Marketing Manager

Chris Cancialosi, Managing Partner & Founder: Remote Work Works

This is not the first time where the many long-held assumptions about how work should be done were completely and immediately disrupted. The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations that had previously pushed against the idea of remote work to quickly adapt in order to remain in operation.

The pandemic created a situation where resistance to change was decimated by the situation at hand. This disruption showed many leaders that the assumptions they held about degradations in performance due to remote work did not hold water. After an understandable lull in productivity as employees learned to operate in the new remote environment, leaders found that, in fact, their organizations were ready, willing, and able to perform in this new environment.

This forced disruption will, no doubt, change the way work is done moving forward for many organizations. Read More…

Why Can’t People Just Stop and Listen? “The Power in Pause”

stop and listen

I remember hearing a joke about a young man on a blind date. Over dinner, he spent hours providing his date with non-stop detail about his life, his thoughts, and his feelings.

At some point, though, in a rare moment of introspection, he must have recognized that perhaps he had talked too much and had not asked questions or, for that matter, even stopped to think or listen.  So, he quickly asked, “Well, that’s enough of me talking – tell me what you think of me!”

Few leaders suffer from such communication issues, but many fall into the trap of failing to take the time to listen, to be attentive, and to give space so that the other person or team members can feel themselves invited into the conversation.

Such leaders are thus limited in their ability to be attentive to others.  In order to provide that opening, they need to stop for a moment, to allow the other person to collect their thoughts and formulate an answer.  I call it  “the power in pause.” Read More…