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Episode 57:

Love as a Change Management Strategy

In today's episode, we get to pick the brain of an organizational change management expert, Harlan Hammack. We discuss what it really takes to have a successful culture change initiative inside of your organization. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Speakers

Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

JeffProfile

Jeff Ma

Host

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Harlan Hammack

Harlan Hammack

Host of "The Courage to Lead" Podcast

MohProfile

Mohammad Anwar

President

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Frank Danna

Director

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Transcript

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Jeff Ma
In today's episode, we get to pick the brain of an expert in organizational change management Harlan Hammack. Watch as he effortlessly addresses our endless barrage of questions. Resulting in great conversation and understanding what it takes to be truly successful in changing culture in an organization. We learned a lot, and I think you will to enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome to love as a business strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We are here to talk about business. We want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from we believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma. I'm a director at Softway and we're a technology company that helps transform company cultures from software. I'm also joined by my colleagues, President CEO, Mohammad Anwar. Hi Moh how's it going today?

Mohammad Anwar
Hey, Jeff, good.

Jeff Ma
And Frank Danna director. Hey, Frank, how's it going?

Frank Danna
Hey, Jeff.

Jeff Ma
As we know each episode, we dive into an element of business or strategy and we'd like to test our theory of love against it. And, of course, we like to bring in guests join in that discussion. And we have a good one today. Today we are joined by Harlan Hammack executive coach, organizational change management expert and hosts of the courage to lead podcast Harlan are as you can see, if you're watching the video, his title says coach Harlan has decades of experience working alongside and guiding top leaders within corporate America. And his goal is to ditch the chaos in order to simplify their business. We're excited to dive into a conversation with Coach Harlan today, surrounding the topic of cultural change within an organization and change management around that and how that can be successful coach Harlan, thank you for joining us. How are you doing today?

Harlan Hammack
I'm doing great and it's good to be here. Thanks for the invite it's nice.

Jeff Ma
I'm gonna call you coach for the whole show if you don't mind me to coach because that just feels good. Really. We do we do a ever so awkward tradition of icebreakers with guests here. So I'm not one to break that tradition. But I will start with Mohammad and Frank so that you have the benefit of some time to prepare the same for the same question. Okay. Alright, so Frank, we'll start with you, Frank. Oh, come on. Today's question is, you know, Mohammad needs that extra time to prepare. So, oh my gosh, okay. Let's just give it to him. Frank, what's your favorite thing about the city you live in?

Frank Danna
The food. I think Houston is one of the most unbelievably, just the food scene here is incredible. Mohammad is very upset because he has to think of something else to say, Well, he

Jeff Ma
doesn't. I believe he doesn't technically lead lives instance. You see what he says?

Frank Danna
Somewhere near Sugarland, so I think that Houston is the most culturally diverse city in the world. Is that accurate? My accurate with saying that? I've read that somewhere. Let's just say the food scene is the food scene is and I my kids, two days ago, we had fun. Yesterday, we had Thai food, like, like, like they just are growing up with this incredible, incredibly diverse my favorite food is Indian food. Like I don't know, the food scene in India in Houston is incredible. And it allows me to just indulge, so I think that's my favorite thing.

Jeff Ma
Good answer. Mohammad, completely

Mohammad Anwar
Stole my thunder.

Jeff Ma
Same question, but I need a completely unique and original answer. What's your favorite thing?

Frank Danna
football team?

Jeff Ma
What's your favorite thing about the city that you live in?

Mohammad Anwar
Weather I believe it or not, I think the fact that yeah, I mean, you didn't give me the choice of food. So I gotta go with same thing. So just FYI, I was I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, which is a desert, and it's extremely hot, right? So I find Houston weather is not that hot. But it's also hot enough to where we don't get snow or ice or have to deal with all of the snow cities. And so it gives you an all year round of activities that you can do because of the weather in Houston. And so I think I, I enjoy that about Houston, we can do we can do a lot more outdoor type things because we don't have those weather changes and climate stuff.

Jeff Ma
All right, Coach Harlan. Hey, what is your favorite thing about the city that you live in?

Harlan Hammack
So I'm a transplant to Atlanta. I don't know too many people who are natives. here in Atlanta. I grew up in Southern California. But like Frank, I like the diversity here in Atlanta. The food scene is pretty good. It's it's up and coming the music and art scene. Here. Just the everything you have everything to do from Savannah up to the mountains in North Georgia to Oh, just just everything I just I just really enjoy it down here.

Jeff Ma
That's a great like, like pitch for visit visit Atlanta have sold. Yeah, come on, I

Frank Danna
actually didn't know that Georgia had mountains. But also I don't think I've ever been to Georgia before. So yeah,

Harlan Hammack
yeah. North Georgia mountains are great. That's Yeah, camping up there and everything like, yeah, just love it love the outdoors.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. So let's, let's kick it into gear. I'm obviously going to start with you, coach, I want to hear, you know, high level or wherever you'd like to start, really. But I want to hear about your basic starting point approach to philosophy. When it comes to really change management, I'm really curious in where you are, how you approach organizational change management, where you start.

Harlan Hammack
Where to start? organizational changes, like you said, one of those things that a lot of managers shy away from, they don't really understand what's going on. They know things are happening in their business. But how do you get that outcome that you're looking for the positive, the thing that we try to do with organizational change is help the leadership team understand the change the impacts of that change. And then help them communicate the change to their employees to bring them through that change successfully, right. So they're as productive after the change as they were before. We've worked with companies, mergers, acquisitions, process, reengineering, restructurings, big software implementations, like SAP, Oracle, things like that, just helping the executive team kind of lead their people through that change. Going through a merger acquisition, a lot of companies will spend money, a lot of money on the legal aspects of it, right. But they don't always pay that much attention to the employees. And you're merging two businesses, two cultures, basically two families. It's like the Brady Bunch, right. So here's how we used to do things in our family, oh, here's how we do things, our family, you have to make sure that you're merging those and taking the best of each, and then merging into that one new family. If you come in and just try to overlay, you know, one culture on another, you'll lose a lot of your top employees and things like that. And that's one thing that we've run into a couple times, where one of the managers just says, you know, they'll, they'll do what I tell them or else, and he ends up losing all of his his top employees. So working with the executive team, to help them understand the impacts of that change what it's going to mean to their people, how to see how that changes, impact their people, and then guide them through that change.

Jeff Ma
We're obviously a very culture focused, show and group. What what percentage are like, how much of your work in larger change management is culture? Like, is it you know, where does it sit, positionally and proportionally

Harlan Hammack
an actual percentage? I don't know. But I, almost everything has to do with the culture, right? Because the any little change can send a culture down a different path. The culture is nothing more than the amalgamation of all the people, their work habits, their beliefs, right. So any change that comes in and impacts that it's going to have an impact, it can't not have an impact on the employee. So what we try to do is look at what does that culture like now? Is that the culture the business wants? And if so, how do we maintain that throughout that particular project that change initiatives is coming in. And a lot of times, you'll find that, you know, the a lot of the executives look at their culture and say, well, that's not exactly what we wanted, you know, we used to have a culture of this and slowly changed over the time, you can trace it back to where maybe a new executive has come in to the mix, and changed things brought in, you know, certain things into the the culture, try to look at that and see what they want to keep, make sure we maintain that see what they want to change and see if we can kind of guide that in the right direction, nothing, nothing happens quickly. In cultural change, right? You have to allow time for it and stuff. But you have to be consistent too. And people are looking at the executive team to decide what that culture is like and where they fit in. So we want to make sure that we're getting that message out to everybody.

Mohammad Anwar
I was gonna ask Coach, with respect to like, making changes in systems and so forth. Have you seen impacts on the culture as a result of a system decision or a change in systems and processes.

Harlan Hammack
And it's more the way that change was implemented a couple different stories. I was working with one company, and we were in a big bullpen area with smaller cubicles around and as a project team was in the bullpen area. We're talking about what we're doing how we're doing it. And we had one guy on the other side of the wall for me, he kind of yell over the wall, everyone's Wow, that's a load of, it's like, What's your problem? And he goes, we guys haven't taken this or this or this into consideration. And I stopped and I looked at the rest of team I said Did you guys talk to him? And they go? No, we never asked him a question. You know, a lot of the the long term employees, they know the business inside out, if you don't talk to them and get their input, engage them, when it comes time to make these changes, a lot of times, you may miss something, and then you're gonna get that resistance, you know, if they don't feel that, that their value that they have worth with the company, you haven't even engaged them in a conversation about the change, a lot of times, they'll they'll dig their heels in. And if they've got a group of followers, then you start getting this little, you know, immovable object in the middle of the road. So yeah, we've seen that, but it's mainly been with the way the change was implemented. They didn't talk to the employees, engage the employees, and kind of guide them through education programs, to let them know what's coming and why it's coming. Make sure they're all on board, and then the transition, you know, if they try to force it into fast, it never works.

Mohammad Anwar
Would you say sometimes that maybe culture has an influence? And how change gets rolled out as well?

Harlan Hammack
Yeah, it probably does, it probably does. But again, a lot of it, I think, has to do with the leadership team. Sometimes they're so removed from things that are going on, they're making decisions based on finances, they're making decisions, because my wife is working with a company right now that may be undergoing an acquisition. So they're trying to prepare the company for the acquisition. So that acquisition team is making decisions that nobody else on the floor really understands why these things are going, why are these people walking through? Why are they you know, firing this person bringing this person in? Things like that? So a lot of it has to do with the communication? I think that's a big, big part of it.

Mohammad Anwar
Got it? Got it. You know, another point, I'm more curious, I'm asking these questions to learn. So I hope you don't mind. You know, can, like have you witnessed in any of your engagements where there's certain processes or systems that are instituted, say, like a performance management system, or ranking system of how people get evaluated, and they're changing that process, or how they give raises and how they promote people, and so forth. So there are obviously processes or systems that are in place, and are instituted. How, how can you attribute or not attribute how a process can inform people's behaviors or culture, right? Because that like, one of the scenarios I'll share with you very, very openly is, a lot of the times when we go to engage our customers to change and transform culture, it's very hard sometimes to change the culture of an organization, if the policies and procedures and systems expect a certain type of behavior that is not aligned to the culture you're trying to build. So for example, a lot of the performance management systems, our promotional velocity, you know, approaches that organization follow is based on individual performance. But the culture we're trying to build a times is on team. And you know, working as a team, and the team over itself, is what the culture values indicate. But then the processes and systems are contradictory to the cultural values that the organization aspires for. So have you witnessed those type of situations? And how have you handled change in those type of environments?

Harlan Hammack
Yeah, you have the competing initiatives, right? We work with one company up in the Boston area years ago. And they had, they did fire alarms, smoke alarms in big companies. So they would have a sales engineer go out, walk the property, determine how many panels they needed, how many lights how many sirens, how many, you know, sensor areas, they would submit that to the client, say, here's what the cost of your system is going to be? Well, that order went then to a quality control area. And the manager called the people in the quality control, review this, and if there's anything, any changes that need to be made, find that change, and there's a bonus in it for you. Well, here the sales guys were out selling. And then they'd submit their order, and somebody in the quality would change the order, because he knew is going to get a bonus, he would increase the amounts of things in that order, or reduce it, whatever, just to get that bonus. So now this engineer has to go back out resell it to the client, explain why things are wrong and everything like that. And so now you have the two departments kind of butting heads. That happens a lot. Like you said, the culture is trying to be one thing, but all the policies and procedures are taking people down in a different way. You're rewarding one behavior and expecting a different, right. And we're all animals. When we train, animals, training dogs, you train by reporting the behavior you want to see, people are the same way. If you reward that behavior, that's what I'm going to do. Even if it's against the culture, if that's where I'm going to get my money, my bonus, you know, the pat on the head, that's where I'm going. And that'll happen a lot with project teams, too, you know, where we'll pull people from the business into the project team, right to represent the company. But we don't give them a lot of authority, their department head doesn't give them the authority to make a lot of decisions, you're just there because we need you over there, we need somebody over there. when push comes to shove, they know that they're actually getting paid and bonused on the real work, not the project work they're doing. So they'll just drop everything and go back to their desk and do their their other job, their their real job, if you will. So yeah, that happens a lot, where you just have those competing initiatives here. And that's one thing we try to do going in, is make sure that everybody's on the same page, we are here, this is our goal, this is the plan on how we're going to get there and make sure that everybody's kind of on the same page.

Mohammad Anwar
Got it? Because you have questions. Um,

Frank Danna
I'm wondering, in your experience, have, how have leadership behaviors impacted culture change, either being held back from adopt being adopted or being a catalyst, I want to talk a little bit about what you've seen in regards to leadership behavior and change.

Harlan Hammack
The behavior of leaders is key, you know, kids growing up, there's a big storm outside, they look to their parents, if the parents are sitting there watching TV and reading, not really paying much attention to what the kids find, because they figure Okay, everything is okay. If they see the parent panicking. They'll panic too. When things are going on in a business, we look to our leadership team, if our leaders are confident in what they're doing, if they're making, you know, good, solid decisions, if they're running businesses normal, then we feel they got everything under control. If they don't, then that sense of panic down, right, we there are gaps in our knowledge, we start filling those gaps with whatever fear we have, is usually what happens. I'm working on a big implementation a couple years back, one of the senior executives that was on the leadership team, he would sit in the meeting nodding yes, yes, yes, we're going to do this, then he turned around, and have a departmental meeting with his department and tell them they don't know what they're doing. This is all a bunch of BS. And, you know, it just you can't have that. Right. Everybody has to be aligned that executive alignment is key. As long as the executives are aligned, and the messages are the same and consistent. I think the employees will go along with it, they have to see what that vision is see what that goal is and know that they are following people that really have the confidence and the competence to get there. And if you if you don't, it all falls apart.

Frank Danna
Yes, it sounds sounds a lot like trust, right? Like there's no trust between the executive team, there's no trust from that senior executive in that position. How do you help leaders instill a better sense of trust for each other that can then be communicated as alignment? Yeah,

Harlan Hammack
working well. Yeah, working individually. with them, we we look at their messages, some of the messages that they've they've sent out and kind of go through those and pick them apart and say, well, the words matter, words absolutely matter. And this word may mean this to you. But it could mean something different to the employees that they hear it. So walking through their message and making sure those messages are consistent. A lot of times on projects like that, we'll go in and put together almost a talking book, you've seen them at the White House, they have the big notebook, when somebody asks a question, they flip to that page, and here's our stock answer. Not to that extreme, but you do want to make sure that the message is coming out is consistent all the way around. If this question comes up in, in your departmental meeting, here's how was handled. And a lot of times, if the executive team there, they're going through the change to you know, we say be careful, you know, cautious with the employees make sure they are taken care of, you have to take care of your executive team to you know, because they're afraid of what's happening, they don't know exactly where they're, they're going to come out on the other end. So you need to make sure that they're being taken care of and they're getting the right messages and and yeah, just kind of guide them.

Frank Danna
How do you how do you feel about the level of transparency that needs to be displayed in regards to a change management initiative or something that's happening because you know, an executive is looking at data points and looking at information that they're most likely not going to immediately one to one communicate to a team or to an organization but there still needs to be a level of transparency that allows people to not feel like the wool is being pulled over their eyes or this is I'm we're being fluffed are the essentially what I like to call the BS meter, like, if you're not telling someone to the level of which my bs meter is going off, and saying like, this isn't real, this isn't true. How do you how do you help leaders understand the value and transparency but also kind of walk that line between over being overly transparent and creating panic and being under transparent and making the BS meter go off?

Harlan Hammack
Yeah, yeah, Bs meters are important to have absolutely It's a trickle down effect, you know, because you have the executive team, they're making decisions at their level, they communicate to their next level down, those people then need to take that message and kind of bring it into context for their department, their groups. And then those departments need to bring it into context for the individual teams, what is going to mean to them? It's a consistent message, but it's at a different level of detail. Right? Growing up, your parents made decisions about money and finances, everything like that. They didn't talk to you about the banks, they used in the finances and everything like that. But they came up said, Hey, we're going to do X, instead of y, we're gonna buy this instead of that, at a level that was okay for you, right. And I think executives need to kind of do the same thing. Now I'm all about transparency, I think you should open up your books to your employees, I think they should know. You know, they should see the profit and loss statements, balance sheets, everything like that they should know everything about the business, I don't think you should hide things. But as far as decision making, I think that needs to be done at this level. And then how that impacts all the different levels within context, I think is the best way to go.

Mohammad Anwar
Thank you, how do you? Yeah, thank you, coach, how do you as a consultant walking into like an organization? What is your experience have been like with good engagements versus bad engagements? What have you seen in patterns of organizations that are able to embrace change more easily versus organization that aren't able to do it? Because I'd imagine you're going in there with the best intent to help them? What are some of the key patterns or things you've observed that organization that able to adapt faster versus not? What are those key things that you've seen? Like, okay, an organization that has had this is this great a chain organization that does not have this horrible change? Can you give us some insights?

Harlan Hammack
Yeah, a lot of it has to do with whoever is leading that initiative, whoever's in the top seat. The communication is huge. I worked for Unilever, years go on a big project, they're doing two projects back to back, the executive that was leading that that changed, he was visible, he was there with the people talking with them, asking questions about it, to show that he was engaged, and that what they were doing was valuable, at least in his mind. That was good. It kept the team engaged and kept them, you know, working hard and everything like that. He was very open about things. If things were working, he came out and you know, high fived, everybody, if we needed, you know, to make a change of some kind, he was the first one out there talking about it. So it's a very different culture. I've been into other areas where I said, the executives say, this is what we're doing, and they don't talk to anybody, you come in Monday morning, everything is different. And nobody knows what to do or what not to do. Right? It's all about number one, the alignment with your executive team and the communication, if you don't have a good communication channel with your team. That's, I think one of the biggest impacts.

Mohammad Anwar
Got it? And how do you deal with, you know, like, something like what Frank mentioned, except the difference is, say there is communication from leader to the rest of the organization or it trickles down, right. But any point in the chain, or in the trickle down effect. Trust is not existing between, like the leaders to their subordinates or their team members. How do you overcome lack of trust versus transparent communication? Because that seems like it no matter what you say, it might not be perceived the way it needs to be.

Harlan Hammack
We do like a heat map. So we'd have surveys every so often, to kind of take the temperature of the team, here's what's going on. And we'd ask the same basic questions every single time, and then map them out. Each question was weighted with the number so we could, you know, put all information into a database and come out with a form. Everybody who start off kind of read, they don't understand what's happening slowly, you'd see that transition into a yellow amber color, and they would transition over to green. If there were still pockets of red or yellow, we knew that there was something wrong in those areas. So then we could go to that department and talk to that department. A lot of times the questions we asked was, do you have confidence in the leadership team? Do you have no? Or do you feel that they have the capability to do this or pull it off? But we found a lot of times as the executives would start a change program and they go, Oh, you know what? abandon this go back to what we were doing before they'd start something else abandon this. So it got to be almost a running gag in in the departments, you know, oh, here's another management objective or, you know, initiative that we're, we're gonna have to put up with. So that's a lot of where the trust is broken. You know, maybe things have been tried and failed so many times that they just don't feel they can they can trust the leadership team, or they're told one thing and something else happens. So when we see these pockets of resistance, I guess if you want to call it that, We would then have one to one discussions with the employees, right? Just one, we just sit down and talk about what's going on, what do you what do you like or not like about this, what's concerning you. And then we'd filter that information and take it back up to the the executive, the manager, or director, whoever it was, and talk to them, Hey, your employees, it's almost like a vote of no confidence, you know, they don't feel that you have their best interests at heart, they don't feel that you've been open with them, they don't feel that you've been transparent with them. I will talk to them and see if we can clarify their message a little bit, get them on board. A lot of times they don't understand what they're doing, because they're bringing their fears into the conversations with their employees. So we try to talk to them get them, you know, kind of aligned. But yeah, having having the communication and them having the confidence in their leadership team is important. Yeah.

Mohammad Anwar
Got it. Thank you.

Jeff Ma
Earlier, you, you made a great analogy, I think you talked about kids looking to their parents, during a storm that really resonated with me, I have a I guess, just a kind of a devil's advocate angle on there, just so you can just talk to me about it a little bit. Because I feel like that mindset does exist for a lot of leaders. And what it translates to for them is that they feel like they need to be perfect. Like, I think when when you feel like all your kids are watching and kind of doting on every move you make, you cannot show that anything is wrong, you cannot show that you are struggling. And I personally I feel like that that angle leads to, you know, a lack of a leader to actually be able to show any kind of vulnerability and you know, be able to own up to mistakes and you know, leaders are human as well. And so that's that's what I struggle with with that analogy. what's what's your perspective, I guess, on on that angle of things I.

Harlan Hammack
So on my podcast, The Courage to Lead, that's one of the things we talked about the different types of courage that leaders need to tap into, right on a regular basis. One of those is intellectual courage, the courage to set aside the long held beliefs that you have to make room for new knowledge, because there's always new things going on always new ways to do things. empathetic courage, to be able to say, I know you're struggling with this, you know, I struggle with it, too. And you're right, a lot of leaders feel that they have to be perfect. They can't show that they're nervous, too. They can't show that they're upset, right. I'm hoping that that's transitioning now, you know, yeah, you're right, a lot of old school. That's the way it was, I am perfect. My decision stands regardless. And I'm hoping that that we get away from that. I think employees know. And it's okay for you to be scared. If you're scared, that's fine. You shows that you're human to be let's work together to do this. I worked at Lockheed aircraft years ago in the skunkworks, right, the top secret development stuff, don't tell anybody. And we had we were on a project where we had, you know, funding coming in, we're trying to put together a prototype, to test out this new functionality. And then we were hoping to get this contract or would have been a multimillion dollar contract. We failed, somebody else got the contract from us. And they called us all into this one big area. And the project team lead was up on the mezzanine talking to all of us. And right in the middle of it. He broke down into tears. He goes I failed you guys. He goes I this is all on me. I failed. And he goes, you know, you guys have been terrific for this. And I'm sorry, you know that I wasn't able to pull this through for you. And I it took us a while to really understand what we just witnessed, right? But we felt closer to this project manager after that, that he didn't point at us and say you guys let me down. He said, Guys, I let you down. And that is huge. It's huge. And yeah, I think more more managers, directors, executives need to say, you know, I don't know what's going to happen. I'm as concerned as you are, you know, but we'll get through this together.

Mohammad Anwar
Powerful. Yep. I think what you just defined was vulnerable trust, you know? Yeah, from from a standpoint of vulnerability. Yeah. Agreed. So, say you're doing a change initiative. And it does fail for whatever I'm reason, what is your management of change in that scenario, like how do you how do you coach your clients to deal with failures and how is that communicated with the rest of the population?

Harlan Hammack
We always try to look at the risks, you know. So change management is kind of a misnomer, you change happens, change is going to happen, whether you want it to or not, what you're trying to do is guide the outcome of that change. Right, the initiative is rolling, what you're trying to do is make sure that the outcome is what you want it to be. So we look at all the risks, where could this go wrong? Where could we get off track? If this doesn't happen, are we prepared for for this, you know, reality. And it does every once in a while it does happen, you think this is gonna go through without a hitch. And, and something messes up, they have to know, if that happens, here's how we're going to get back to where we need to be. A lot of times they'll run software in in tandem, just until we see that everything is working exactly the way it is. And then we take the other one down, there's always backups and stuff like that. Fortunately, I haven't been on any projects that really failed that bad. There were some things where we had to take a step back, kind of regroup, and then extend the project out a little bit to meet the objectives. But I haven't had any that really, really failed. And I think part of that if it does fail that badly, things weren't taken into account. It's usually it's not the the big things you miss, if some of the little tiny things that kind of slip under the radar that you don't realize, and I think that's what trips everybody up. So it's really having a good handle on exactly what the goal the objective is. And thinking it through, you know, they say that, you know, 70% of your time should be on designing. And then you build implement, if that time isn't taken to really, really design and really understand all the impacts and everything like that. I think that's where things often go wrong. But yeah, I've been I've been fortunate I haven't been on a project. And it's not because of me, I'm not that great. I just think the projects that I've been on have been that good that they haven't really gone sour.

Mohammad Anwar
Got it.

Frank Danna
I wanted to ask, I know that, you know, you've been you've been doing this for a while. And and I wanted to ask you just in, from my curiosity, from a macro perspective, looking out? What are some of those major management style pivots that you've seen over the course of your career? And what do you think is coming in the future? For what you're going to be working towards, with with leaders and managers?

Mohammad Anwar
Hmm.

Harlan Hammack
I think, you know, a lot of people point to millennials and point fingers, oh, they they don't know they want so much they expect so much. I think we all expect things, you know, we have a lot more information available to us now. And we know what other companies are doing across the country across the world, we see things that are available to us, we say, hey, why can't I have that too? I think a lot of managers are realizing that they can't keep the curtain pulled. Right? They have to open up the curtain and be more honest with people. I think they're finally starting to understand. You know, when I worked at Lockheed aircraft, we had a manager that during a meeting, he would crawl across the conference table and grab somebody by the lapel and shake them and scream at him. It's like, that's not management, you know, that's just really shaking.

Frank Danna
Seriously, physically, physically shaking,

Harlan Hammack
like grabbing by the lapels and screaming his face, just read, you know, veins popping and everything. And it's like, that's not, that's not management, that's certainly not the management style I want. I want the manager who can come out, talk to people as humans, right? and say, Hey, I understand what you're trying to do. Let's try it this way. Next time, right? Understand that people want to feel like they're valuable, that they want to feel like they're contributing to something that they, they have a growth path. A lot of times, I was interviewing somebody for the podcast the other day, and she talked about the talent cliff, where people look at the projection, where can I go in this company and realize there's really nowhere else for me to go, I'm at the absolute pinnacle here. They just leave right there, they're going on to bigger and better things. I think managers need to take all of this stuff into account and be a lot more open with their employees, talk to them a lot more and realize that the value that they have, and I talked about this a lot the discretionary effort, right? When you're if you don't engage your employees, if they don't feel engaged, if they don't feel valued, they have that discretionary effort, the knowledge that they brought in when they came from wherever they, whatever their background is, they could choose to share that with you. But if they don't feel like they're valued, then you start hearing things like well, it's not my job. That's not what they pay me for. Right? Yeah, I could help them out. But, you know, you want them to bring all of that discretionary effort to the table. And the only way they're going to do that is if they feel they're valued. If they feel they're trusted, that they feel like they're, they're contributing. And so that's I'm hoping I'm starting to see a lot more of that with managers now who are really opening up with your employees and showing you know that they can be vulnerable and it's not a bad thing. I'm starting to see that and I'm hoping that's the trend. I'm hoping that's where we're going.

Frank Danna
That's discretionary effort. I've actually never heard that term before. That's very, I love that, to be honest with you, I'm gonna start using that in our team conversations now. So thank you for that code. But for us, I'm trying to translate that through what the the way we kind of think about high performing teams and high performing individuals. And, to me, that sounds a lot like bringing your full self to work, which means not sort of hiding your capability and skill sets behind your boredom, or not being appreciated or not being cared for, but actively seeing yourself as a valuable member of a team. And when you feel like you can actively contribute, that discretionary effort just comes naturally, right? Because you want to bring your full self to it.

Harlan Hammack
Absolutely. Yeah. Tony Robbins talks about six basic human needs that everybody has. One of those is significance, right, we want to feel important to someone or something. Part of that is growth, we want to feel like, we can get better, we can improve, we can move on from where we are in contribution, giving back, we want to be able to contribute to something, if you can get people to feel like they are significant that they do have a path for growth. And, you know, they are contributing to this greater good, whether it's a like when I was working in Lockheed, on the top secret stuff, we had meetings weekly, to talk about all the work you're doing, it's helping us, you know, avoid threats or you know, protect the country, things like that. It gave you a sense of something larger than us. And that was powerful. So we would work a lot overtime and do things and think even at home, I'd be there, you know, sketching things out, what do I need to do to get this fixed? those type of things, and it only comes when people really feel like they can bring their whole self. You know, the the thing you want to look at in companies is do you have a lot of tardiness, you have people ducking out early for lunch or coming back late for lunch leaving early. That's kind of a an indicator that Oh, they're only here for that paycheck. They're not feeling like part of the team. They're not feeling, you know, part of the the overall goal of the company, right? Those are the things you want to start looking for and talk to your employees. A lot of times managers will wait until the year and and and have their conversations with employees, they should be talking to them all the time. How is this for you? How was that you just, you know, did this new thing you just learn this new skill? How is that for you like doing that? What else? Can we get you in involved in? Show them that you're taking some interest in them and they'll reciprocate them? They'll take interest in you. It's a great point.

Jeff Ma
Can you talk a little bit about what has changed in your world in coaching and change management over the last year and a half? Since remote work and things like that? Can you talk a little bit about what you've seen?

Harlan Hammack
Yeah, having been a consultant for 25-27 years, we did a lot of remote work, we had teams all around the world that we would get together with. So I'm used to doing zoom type meetings or team meetings. So that wasn't too big of a change for me. But I've seen a lot of other companies that that's been a struggle, you know, they can't go into work, they have to work remotely? How do you keep the engagement going with your employees? How do you know, you know, like, we have some that you must be on camera all the time, I must see you all the time, or else I don't feel like you're actually working and stuff. And I think that's starting to ease up a little bit. Now. My wife is on our remote project team, every team meeting they have every day, it starts off with an icebreaker type question, right? If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower that type thing, just to keep everybody engaged and get that that laughing? involved, right? Because you miss that you miss hanging around the coffee machine or something like that talking with people. So it's nice to, you know, to get out there and do things like that. But I think the struggles have been number one, I've got some clients that are struggling to find employees right now. Whether the kids haven't been in school, so the parents can't go into work, they have to work remotely, and then they end up just leaving the job and not coming back. A lot of businesses are deciding, hey, we can save a lot of money if we get rid of our brick and mortar. So does everybody work remotely? Well, now it's changing policies and things like that exactly how we're going to do some of the stuff remotely. So I think this is going to be a learning curve for the next year or two, while we kind of get settled in. But I think on the whole I think we've handled it pretty well. As far as the remote working. I think we've done pretty good.

Jeff Ma
I really, really feel strongly about your statement you've made multiple times now about needing to constantly talk to your employees constantly engage. And I think that this remote workplace has created that as the biggest gap for me. Because you know that not just water cooler talk, but just that presence, we used to have created opportunities inadvertently And naturally, to check in and know, even if you don't even talk, you can see them stressing at the desk or facial expressions, or you can see them leaving for lunch earlier, whatever, you know, whatever it is. And now, you know, when you say we need to constantly be talking to our employees, I'm just hearing, you know, 51 on ones on my calendar, back to back, and I have no time for anything else, like, what do you What's your perspective on that and how to solve that problem?

Harlan Hammack
Yeah, we used to do what we call the drive by, right I go and get a cup of coffee and just kind of walk down the hall and I see a executive in his office and pop in, Hey, how you doing chitchat for a minute, those type of things were invaluable, because you could engage them right then see how they were doing with the, you know, on the project or thing they had on their plate, whatever it is, you do lose a little bit of that remotely, you can check in with people, even if it's just a quick text, you know, Hey, how you doing? ping them, send them a little email, send a little joke or a little, you know, morning funny typing, to try to engage, I don't know if you'd necessarily have to do a lot of one on ones. But every once in a while just pinging somebody and saying, hey, thinking about you, Hey, how's it going over there and give them the opportunity to, to talk because you're right. And I think it's been tougher on people that are really extroverts, you know, that really get their energy from being around a lot of people. And now suddenly we say, sit in this room, sit in your chair and go boop. That's, that's been tough. That's been really tough. But I think you can I think if you, if you do it, right, texting people, calling people every once in a while, you know, ping them online, open up just a quick zoom session to say, Hey, how you doing? You know, make a funny face. Show me your kid. They do a pet Friday, I think everybody brings their pet into the office on Friday, and you know, they're on camera with stuff. So there's things you can do to kind of keep that going. But, yeah, it's definitely been a struggle.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, good advice.

When it comes to, I kind of want to actually go back to because there's obviously a lot of every one of our episodes here have a lot to do with leadership behaviors and things like that. And we talked about, you've already made very clear that, you know, you know, leadership is key in this. But I guess I just want to dig more about, you know, when we talk about culture, and we opened with culture, and then I think we've kind of segmented into conversations more about tactical things, like when you're out there, coaching or working with groups, like what is it that you tack, tactically do with leaders, that, that move the culture? needle, I guess, like, when you identify those problems, or you identify, there's red flags? You know, I'm curious how you actually, you know, roll up sleeves and get to results.

Harlan Hammack
One of the things I've tried to look at is, you know, a lot of times people will have their written values, right, our people are number one. But then you look at some of the observable behaviors, how they treat their people, how they communicate with their people, or not. The if they enforce a real strict, you know, differentiation between the executive team and the employees. And so you can see that those words are there for outward, they're not really there for the team. So I'll go in and look at all that, and then look at the culture and then sit with the executive team and say, explain this to me, you say your employees are important, and yet A, B, and C, how does that work? A lot of times, maybe that the the values were set years ago by a different team, and maybe that's the way things were, they've never revisited those values. You know, so the the executive team has moved off a little bit, the the employees have moved off almost a different direction. And there's just, it's in congruent. So I'll try to sit there and talk to them about that. This is what you say, is that really what it is? And if so, then why aren't your behaviors you know, matching that.

Jeff Ma
behaviors is what sets you very much aligned to that for sure. Coach, harlan, these are all really really insightful, like tips and really tactical things. I wanted to also give a chance before we close out for you to talk a little bit about the Courage to Lead podcast. I know you talk about you know what, what does it mean to ditch the chaos? I'm actually very curious when you say ditch the chaos like what does that mean?

Harlan Hammack
A lot of people feel Their lives, or if they're business owners, they feel their business is just chaotic. There's just so much going on, they come home, exhausted at the end of the week. And yet, they can't really think of anything that really accomplished. They worked a lot, you know, but it's like, just spinning your wheels running in place. That chaos, we bring it on ourselves a lot of work with some clients, you know, they have their, their core product or service, but then they see their competition is also doing this, oh, we should do that, too. And then they see something over here that's shiny and new. Oh, let's do that, too. Next thing, you know, they've got this offering that they can never really maintain, right? But they're they're trying to keep all that they put all these things in their warehouses. Now they've got this inventory that just sits there, because that's not really their their core purpose. So part of the chaos we bring on ourselves. So in the program, we look at simplifying, strategizing, and systematizing. So simplify, get back to the basics. Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? And why? Right focus on that. You've heard of the Pareto rule, right? The 8020 rule in business, 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your products and services, and 80% of your revenue come from 20% of your customers focus on that 20%, let the rest of it kind of drop off. Focus on that 20% of your top customers, your top products and services in your business will thrive, simplify, delegate, get things off your plate, not just to clear it off your plate, but use that as an opportunity to teach your employees to grow new leaders within your business. Right. As an executive, as a business owner, what I want is to have them have a business that runs for them, generates revenue and profit for them without them needing to be there. Right? run on autopilot. If they can do that, then I feel I've done my job. So that's what part of the ditching the chaos is. Get rid of those things, right? simplify, put in strategies, your talent strategy, you're employing acquisition strategy, profit strategy, customer strategy, you put those strategies together, and then follow that strategy. And then put in simple systems, processes that you need to follow. If you can follow the process. The end result is measurable, it's repeatable, sustainable, it's scalable. And that's what we try to do with that. So that's that's what that program is about.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. Love it. Last but not least, tell. Tell me about that. tell everyone about The Courage to Lead podcast. And we're where we can check it out. Yeah, Courage to Lead.

Harlan Hammack
I had a couple employees who are a couple of clients who were new at being bosses. And I kept telling him, you need to step up, you need to, you know, be stronger with this, you need to and they said, Well, what exactly does that look like? And so I started doing some research on what it looks, you know what it means to be a strong, courageous leader. And that's why I came up with the podcast. So during the podcast, I talked to business owners, entrepreneurs, civil leaders, people around the city, talk to them about what it means to be a leader. How did they get to their level of success? And where did they find the courage? You know, it's real comfortable to sit in that nine to five, comfort zone. But everything you've ever wanted to be in your life is just outside of that comfort zone? Right? So where did you find the courage to finally step out and do things on your own? had a lot of great conversations with people we talk a lot about different types of courage. Courage, that's easy for them. Courage is maybe a little bit more difficult for them. The goal hopefully is at some entrepreneur will say, you know, I'm struggling with things, but they were able to overcome it. And if they could do it, I can do it. That's what I'm able to get out of it. Yeah.

Frank Danna
Sounds amazing. I

Jeff Ma
love that. And people can check that out anywhere. podcasts are found anywhere and everywhere. Yeah,

Harlan Hammack
it's on Apple, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, it's on Google podcasts. I Heart Radio. Yeah, it's all over.

Jeff Ma
Perfect. I believe. I don't when when this airs, I believe there may be upcoming or already be an episode with our own Mohammad Anwar slowly joining you on it. So that's exciting. Can't wait to check that out. And so coach Harlan, thank you so much for your time, your expertise and having this conversation. It was really great. Be sure everybody to check out his podcast. Once again, the courage to lead podcast and thank you, coach for your time.

Harlan Hammack
I appreciate it. Thanks for thanks for having me on. It's been great.

Mohammad Anwar
Yep. Thank you, coach. definitely learned a lot today. Appreciate it. Absolutely.

Jeff Ma
Yeah. To our listeners, please be sure to check out our book. We'll never stop plugging the book ever. So it's out there love as a business strategy. Please check it out. And on the podcast, we are also posting every Wednesday. And if you enjoyed this episode, leave us a review. Subscribe at us, tell your friends all those good things you know, I'm talking about coach. Gotta keep the grind going. Alright. So with that, thank you everybody for your time. Thank you audience in this next week.

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