How does a rockstar compare to a rock?
Human capital is the number one resource in many companies. Employee retention and having the right person in the right seat is one of the categories within sustainable investing that has both an intuitive and straight forward and measurable impact on the bottom line. I am joined by Dawn Shuler from The Shuler Group to talk about this fascinating topic.
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When it comes to sustainable investing, it is sometimes hard to quantify the various data points that aggregate into determining your potential investment lineup, and see what impact they have on the business. One that makes more intuitive sense, at least in my opinion, is employee wellness and retention. Human capital is probably the most valuable resource in companies and it is very expensive to find and train the right people. Most of us, at some point had a job where we didn't feel like it was a good fit for various reasons. And our performance reflected that. On the other hand, if you have a job you care about and where you feel well treated, you put more effort into it. All of this can show up more or less directly on the bottom line of the company. With a tight job market, attracting and retaining the right talent is paramount to long term success, and needed in building a solid and profitable business.
Today, I'm joined by an expert in the field, Dawn Shuler from the Shuler group. I first met Dawn right at the beginning of the pandemic through a new online networking group. And I have always been impressed by her composure and the insights she has shared, something that has greatly influenced my views and curiosity when it comes to this interesting topic. Welcome to the podcast Dawn.Dawn Shuler:
Thank you, Frank, for having me. I'm so honored to be on your podcast,Frank Byskov:
I think this will be an interesting conversation. And one of the things that I'm just going to start with - a thing I've heard you say often is, you should find rock stars, not rocks. And I just find it's both funny and like very to the point. But what lies in that terminology?Dawn Shuler:
So the rock star, well, let me back up, I think of it people, employees, and this applies to every situation, not just the workplace, if you think of them in A, B, and C categories. So the A employee is the one who is jazzed to be there, comes to you as the manager, the leader, with ideas. "Hey, I did this, I see this needs to be done. Should I take initiative and, and do this?" They do, they take initiative, they're passionate, they're positive, they truly bring something to the organization. Those are your rock stars.
Then you have your C players and these are your rocks, where you know, good lord, you can't find them to get something done, they will complain, they will take three times as long to get something done and make it sound like they are put upon to get it done. And those are your rocks. So when I say build your team with rock stars, not rocks, you're really looking at those A players, those ones who truly bring something to the organization and are a delight to be around.
Then you have your B players, and they're competent. They don't necessarily take that initiative. And they will happily do what you tell them to do. But you have to go to them and say, do this, do that, they will be in their lane, and they will stay in their lane. So they're sort of neutral.Frank Byskov:
That's a great way to put it, I think all based on personal experience, I know some all across the spectrum. Now what is your ideal client? What are some issues they are facing?Dawn Shuler:
So our ideal client are organizations of 50 to 200 or so employees and the issues they face are issues that most organizations regardless of size, face, things like concern with bottom line, every organization, even nonprofits, they want to be profitable, they want to bring in more money than is going out. And they would like to see that getting bigger. Again, even with nonprofits, because then they can invest it more into whatever their purpose is of the nonprofit. So every organization is concerned with, am I profitable? How can I be more profitable? Next, how can I keep my best employees? There's a problem with employee retention, we've been talking about the great resignation for months. And, you know, big companies are laying off employees. So there's this interesting thing going on in the world right now, where employees and the best employees is a true concern. It probably always has been. But now it's really in the forefront and it's more mainstream and in the media. And then of course, there is, how do we reduce our expenses? Again, going back to that bottom line, so those are the issues that every organization faces. And we primarily come in, at the Shuler group with a concentration and a focus on the people. Do you have the right people in the right seats, doing the right things at their top performance.Frank Byskov:
It is crazy expensive to find and train new people. So, if you can do whatever it takes to keep your people, at least the good ones, that translates directly, in my view, to the bottom line, giving you more resources to do everything else, because there's only so much time, money and energy to go around.Dawn Shuler:
So what are what are some of the aspects of job environment or benefits or something else that a company should offer to succeed in this competition for talent, both retaining and attracting?Dawn Shuler:
So that's a really good question. And it's something that we deal with our clients. And our clients struggle with a little bit. There's been a lot of research, especially recently about what do millennials and Gen Z'ers want? You know, is it that they want more money is it that they want better benefits? What are the top drivers to the the best jobs that that they're going after. Salary and benefits isn't necessarily at the top, although benefits - and it doesn't have to mean the traditional health care medical benefits - that allow them to take care of themselves. Right now there is a more of a focus on self care and wellness and holistic living, that it's this work life balance in a way that there hasn't been before. So if you can have benefits that help with that. Because again, it's not just the numbers, I want a higher salary, I want health benefits, but it's my work life balance is really important. And my personal life is just as important, if not more so than my work life. So is this organization offering me the benefits? So there can be some very creative ways to do that, you know, for example, if you're hybrid, or you have an in, in person office, can you offer some sort of travel benefit. $25, you know, gift card for gas every month or free parking, if there's a commercial parking lot, whatever it might be. Those things, those are everyday things that actually can mean a lot to an employee. So I hope that answered your question. Because there's so much to talk about, just with regard to the benefits, and what the employer can set up to truly make the employee feel as if they're cared for and that they matter.Frank Byskov:
I think that that's a great point. I don't think this sort of one size fits all. Because you also attract a certain person that hopefully is aligned with your mission. One thing I've seen a lot of companies do is, you get a day off for volunteering or something else, especially if you're in a mission driven organization, where you attract the people that care about the mission. And this is a way to do even more so, while respecting their personal choice and freedom and respecting them as individuals. So think that's another interesting way to do it.
Okay, now about quiet quitting, it's a pretty new term. And I know some people have worked for a company for several years and never met the boss in person. So they just kind of disappear. Because without a desk being empty also. What's your take on the quiet quitting? And what's a way to flush out the issues before they are enough for someone to find another venture to pursue?Dawn Shuler:
So what's so honestly amusing about that term, quiet quitting is it's this very pretty term, right? It's this, you know, you've got the alliteration, quiet quitting. And it just seems like it's this whole new thing. Quit quitting has been around for a very long time, it's just now we have this cute little label for it. And what it is, is when you have disengaged employees. Gallup has been doing research for over three decades, on engaged employees, not engaged employees, and actively disengaged employees. And this also kind of goes to the A, B, and C player, the rock stars and the rocks. Their research consistently shows that there's only about a third of employees in organizations who are actively engaged. Those are the rock stars, right? Those are the ones who, you know, they care, there's an alignment with the mission, vision and purpose of the organization. They take great pride in their work, they've got this sense of responsibility, they're two and a half times more likely to work overtime or to help another team member with their work. It's only a third, right.Dawn Shuler:
And then you have those who are not engaged. They are not necessarily actively disengaged, but it's that the player, it's just, I've got a job, right, they'll do it. And they may do it competently. But they're really there to get the paycheck. And then you've got those actively disengaged, wh, they're negative, they don't have anything good to say about the organization, they may even be toxic to the organization. And that's those B and C players are part of that whole quiet quitting. They're not engaged. They're, you know, they're on the lookout for the next best thing, the grass is greener. And maybe there truly is not a fit. They're not the right people or they're not in the right seat, whatever. But this is not new, this whole quiet quitting, it's a new label. But it's not a new phenomenon.Frank Byskov:
It is a pretty label, gotta give it that. But no, I think it's a good point make, that even rock stars quit. Because they are amazing. And they find new opportunities. But usually they give a heads up, or they're willing to like work more on the handoff. I've seen a couple of recently from some of the groups I work with where one of the main players leaves and they will do whatever to help find the replacement and do something else because they are that Rockstar. And I think you can't help it, they just get an amazing opportunity they have to pursue and you're happy for him. Now, you offer a Company Climate Inventory, and that tries to address some of these potential issues. Can you go into more detail on that?Dawn Shuler:
Absolutely. The Company Climate Inventory is our baby. It's our proprietary diagnostic tool that we've been using since 2014. And what it does is it assesses the overall health of the organization. So it's a survey that everyone in the organization takes anonymously. And it covers things like job satisfaction, job engagement, but also the perception of leadership and the alignment of the organization with the values and ethics of the organization. Communication, does it work does it not. Collaboration, cross departmental, teamwork, all sorts of things. And so then, in our analysis, we deliver a report that talks about the strengths of the organization, its challenges and our recommended areas of focus in priority order. And it's just it's fascinating work, at least for us. I mean, I would never think of myself as a data nerd, but I love digging into the data because it tells stories. And you can really see what's going on in the organization. Leaders think they know what's going on, because it's their organization. They know it. But it's those foot soldiers that are on the ground doing the work that really can tell you. Oh, yeah, yeah, here's what's really going on. And this is what leadership thinks. But here's what's really going on. And that's one of the big benefits that the Company Climate Inventory brings to an organization.Frank Byskov:
Now, I will take it that would require a pretty confident leader to embark on this journey, because fingers may be pointing at them -is that right?Dawn Shuler:
Yeah, that's a really good point. Because to me, if you go to the doctor every year to get an annual physical, why wouldn't you do that for your organization? Hey, let's do a checkup. How are things, what are the potential issues but once again, another benefit is we also say, here are the strengths of the organization, here's what you got going well for you, here's what you want to double down on. So I always try to say it's not just let's uncover all the problems and all the dirty little secrets, it's, let's look at what's working well, so we can maximize that.
That being said, you're really right about that it takes a leader who is willing to change, is willing to adapt, understands that they don't have all the answers, that they might have to take some risks, and oh, my gosh, potentially be wrong, or make a mistake sometimes. And with some of my colleagues, especially one in particular, who has done a lot of research in this area, he says 92% of CEOs, leaders, presidents, owners of organizations, are in that category of they're afraid to take risks, they're afraid to be wrong, they're afraid of what that will look like. And so it's really 8% of those leaders who say, You know what, if this organization is going to thrive, not just survive, but thrive, we have to change, we have to adapt.Frank Byskov:
Yes, I listened to that. You have your own podcast, "When People Thrive, Companies Thrive". That's a really interesting discussion. Some of those personality traits you mentioned, tend to be more female, instead of the typical alpha male, is that correct? Or is that just me being ignorant?Dawn Shuler:
So you're right, and, I really hesitate. And maybe it's because I have two daughters, who are 23 and 26. And especially the 23 year old, just hammers into my head, about, you know, you can't be, you know, put things into these binary groups, you know, it's male, it's female. So I've kind of been, you know, lectured at for a few years about, don't just put it into these categories. That being said, there are some trends right there. There's a reason why we have stereotypes and it's because in general, there is a match to that stereotype. What I'd like to believe is that the world, and this is probably part of what you do in your work, is that the world is moving to kind of that kinder, gentler place where we are valuing more of those traditionally feminine qualities of collaboration. Yeah, there's a reason why a lot of feminine symbols are circles, right? It's it's let's encircle let's kind of protect whereas the males tend to be very penetrating because it's sharp, it's aggressive. But I'd like to think that there's this movement in the world, not just in the workforce, but just in the world in general, to honor all of that. And I am a woman, but I have traditionally male qualities. You know, my husband is a male, but he has some traditional female qualities. Everybody does. It's what gets squashed. As we're in our formative years, you know, men are told don't cry, don't be a sissy. You know, women are told don't be too aggressive. And we put all sorts of labels on some of these traits, depending on how they turn up. I'm sorry, I can talk all day... I will try to bring it back around to your question. Are some of these traits that we're talking about? Are they traditionally more feminine? Maybe? And maybe it's because those more male qualities, if they're just looked at in that box, and there's not the melding, the folding in recipe of those more feminine qualities, I think we all suffer. And so, do we need all the old fogies to, you know, kind of go on their way, and then let the the new generation come in and take things over? Perhaps?Frank Byskov:
I think from my point of view, I'm looking for balance. I think you get the better outcome. As part of the data I analyze, is there balance in the leadership, do you have different backgrounds? Do you have different genders or ethnicities, or, different age groups representative, because I do think you get, like different views, different opinions, and your risks tend to be better mitigated. It's not like you don't take risks, and sometimes they go wrong. But there tends to be more mitigation, because you've thought about it from more angles. And if you look at workforce, even for like a midsize company, not everyone will jive with any particular superior. Sometimes, you'd have to have different roles, like some look more for, like one aspect of leader, some will love to have a strong direction, and some like to have little softer path. But they both accomplish the same thing going about a different way. So I think balance is key, both within the person and as well as the leadership. I think that is the value creator.Dawn Shuler:
What you're talking to, Frank, is emotional intelligence, like you just mentioned, you can have two different people on your team. And the way that they want to be managed, or the way even that they want feedback can be very different. As a manager, you're going to be more successful, if you understand that these two people are different, and you treat them differently. It's the platinum rule versus the golden rule. The golden rule is treat everybody the way you would like to be treated? Well, the platinum rule is treat everybody the way they would like to be treated. Because not everybody is like you, not everybody is the same. And so emotional intelligence is first of all, being self aware. Then being able to manage yourself. So self management, and then social awareness, being aware of other people, and then what's called social management, which is again, adjusting your behavior to the differences of others. That's what emotional intelligence is, it's understanding others, and that they are different from yourselves and then acting accordingly. That right there, if a leader or just a human person worked on those skills, I think that there would be huge strides in communication, lessened miscommunication, and all those issues and all of that. But emotional intelligence is that ability to say, hey, these two people are different. I need to treat them differently as such.Frank Byskov:
I look at my own experience. I've had a variety of leaders. Good, not really any really bad, but some mediocre. Some were subject matter experts. They were amazing about the topic. They were getting into that leadership role. But one of the best guys I had, had no idea what I did, but he was great at managing people. He picked it up along the way. He was a smart guy, but he didn't know, he couldn't do it himself. But he was great at getting the feedback and managing people I think, he was a people person and could navigate that. That's a great experience because that was one of the first non technical leaders I had. And just it's a different skill set. But if you hire the right people that can do the work and you just manage them. I think that's a great way to build value over time for the company you work for.Dawn Shuler:
Absolutely. And I just want to say something to that about that whole managing, is what we see - and it's probably been a problem, you know, very few problems are brand new problems - some of them may have been brought to light because of the pandemic and all the stuff going on globally over the last couple of years. But very few of the problems we see are brand new. But one thing that we're seeing is that managers, people are being promoted to manager, sometimes for the wrong reason you see this in sales and technology a lot. Yeah, oh, this person is a great salesperson. let's promote them to manager. So they'll manage other salespeople, well, those are two very different skill sets, the fact that, you know, she can sell really well and close deals does not then translate equivocally that she can also manage other salespeople. Same thing with tech people, oh, they're a great engineer. And we need to move them up the ladder. Okay, so let's make them a manager of other engineers, not always, those skill sets don't always translate. And so that's where the right people in the right seat comes in. The right person is the one who aligns with the mission and values of the organization, is in alignment, that they're the right person, the right fit. What it means, do their roles and responsibilities fit, what they're good at what they're meant to do. So sometimes you can have the right person in the wrong seat. And sometimes you can have the person who's in the right seat, but they're not right for the company. So I just wanted to say that, that sometimes organizations need to they promote these managers, sometimes it's appropriate, sometimes it's not. But do they give a manager training? So we're seeing a lot of companies asking for manager training for these new young leaders, that they've put in these positions and have no foundation of skills necessarily to support them in this new role.Frank Byskov:
My sister has been involved in that mid level manager for a long period of time. And it tends to be that executive management, they have a lot of coaches and resources. But they don't deal with people, they deal with management at the top level. And then the mid level managers are the ones that are promoted, they don't get the resources of the training, but they're the ones that are in the fire, they have to relay messages from the top, that sometimes you have a consultant that comes up with some crazy new ideas. So relay those messages down without having the tools to do so. And I think that is where there is a big disconnect, and hope, as you say, applying those resources to that level as what the boots in the ground workers, that's what they interact with and who they are. What makes them feel appreciated as well.Dawn Shuler:
Exactly, exactly. All this stuff. And then they gotta get their jobs done to it's and so it's not a an insurmountable issue, or what are we gonna say? Is it leading people because we're all people, we're all humans, leading people is not a small thing, managing people is not a small thing. And we can get so caught up in the day to day this has to be done. And this report is due on Friday, and there's this board meeting on Wednesday night and all of this and, and at the same time, we're supposed to be emotionally intelligent, and think about how the other person is wired and how we might need to adjust our communication. I don't mean to make it sound like oh, you just have to learn this and then Dude, you're good. It's part of our evolution, in this particular plane of existence, I believe is that humans are meant to progress and be the best that we can be. And it's a lifelong journey.Frank Byskov:
One of the keys is to keep the people that are amazing. They're rock stars, but they're not management material and how to keep them happy and feel they're not being overlooked. And I'm glad I don't have to make those decisions at this point. Because that's definitely a tough spot to be in, and a tough conversation to have. But I think, if you're emotionally intelligent, you can have that conversation and make people feel they're appreciated, even though they are not getting the promotion, a new title, there are different ways to appreciate people and you have to find the one that works well. And getting promoted to a job you don't want is not a good thing, either.Dawn Shuler:
Yes, and that's something I wanted to speak to you because we deal with some organizations, especially in the nonprofit world, where they're fairly flat and horizontal. So there's, there's not a whole lot of room to move up the proverbial ladder. And so that's something that this organization has been struggling with for years. But it's very typical of nonprofits. And so one of the things that we've recommended to them is there are other ways for people to to progress in their career and professional development that doesn't look like that hierarchial, vertical moving up the ladder. Management, Vice President, whatever. And so sometimes that requires some thinking outside the box and having conversations. Some people don't want to be a manager, they don't want to be vice president. But they still want to feel like they're progressing in their career. What does that look like for them? And it comes down to having conversations, like actually talking to the person. What a concept.Frank Byskov:
That's a tough one. That's definitely new. And I think that it's all share, talk to your people. That's a pretty good way to do this. Well, thank you so much, Dawn, this has been amazing. Where can the listeners find out more information about you?Dawn Shuler:
Thank you, you can find us on the web at the www.TheShulerGroupLLC.com. And Shuler, it's spelled s h u l e r.Frank Byskov:
Perfect. I'll make sure to put a link in the show notes. But thank you so much Dawn, and I can't wait for next time our paths cross because you always bring tremendous insights. So thank you so much for that.Dawn Shuler:
Well, and thank you again for having me on your podcast. Frank. This has been a blast. I've had a lot of fun. So...Frank Byskov:
Me too. Thank you.