In this episode of “Bring Out The Talent,” we speak with Anne Bonney, an international keynote speaker, trainer, best-selling author of “GET OVER IT!”, podcast host of “Ignite Your Influence,” and an experienced leadership workshop facilitator. Anne will discuss the important (yet sometimes daunting) aspect of how to manage change. Anne shares ways to get buy-in from the top down, how to handle resistance to change, how to make lasting change, and how to address change management in an unstable time. Anne’s vibrant and energetic personality will captivate you as she fires up listeners and inspires you to communicate better, charge up your EQ, and embrace the challenges that transition brings.
Maria Melfa: [00:00:04] Welcome and thank you for joining us today for Bring Out The Talent. My name is Maria Melfa and I am the president and CEO of the Training Associates, otherwise known as TTA.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:00:15] And my name is Jocelyn Allen. I’m a talent recruitment manager here at TTA and we’re thrilled to have you join us.
Maria Melfa: [00:00:22] We’re so excited to have Anne Bonney join us today and is an energetic international motivational keynote speaker and trainer. After moving twenty-seven times, attending 13 different schools from K through master’s, living on four continents, and having six distinct and successful careers, change has become and’s a comfort zone, and embracing the discomfort that comes with it has helped her lead a fun and fulfilling life and is also an authority on change management. Best selling author of Get Over It, a podcast host of Ignite Your Influence, and an Experienced Leadership Workshop facilitator after 20 years and highly successful corporate and nonprofit leadership positions and now uses her experience, education, and expertise to ignite her audience’s courage and empowerment skills to embrace the challenges that transition brings.
Anne Bonney: [00:01:19] Welcome and thank you so much. Yay!
Jocelyn Allen: [00:01:23] I’m so excited to have in here with us today. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than to supercharge dynamic fiery redhead’s and the CEO of a super awesome women’s owned business to
Maria Melfa: [00:01:38] Get the party started. So I just want to put it out that
Jocelyn Allen: [00:01:43] We brought you on, as Maria said because we love speaking with you. We’ve had a lot of engagement with you and worked on a ton of different projects. We get nothing but wonderful feedback about the things that you’ve done in the change that you’ve helped people make in their organizations and individuals. So why not put you out there to everybody else to hear what you have to offer? So what led you to become so passionate about change management?
Anne Bonney: [00:02:10] Well, you know, as Maria was talking about, I’ve dealt with a lot of change. And I and I know how hard it is for people. You know, after moving everyone, two or three years throughout your entire youth, change becomes easy and it sort of becomes the norm. And sometimes I find myself changing things just to change them, which, you know, whatever. Sometimes that’s great. But I also recognize how hard it is sometimes for people to take on change, especially in organizations where there are so many professional issues and organizational issues. But there are also personal issues and that makes it a really difficult thing to take on. And so with my unique background, I have the expertise to be able to ignite people’s courage to take on change and give them some skills to be able
Maria Melfa: [00:02:53] To do it. And you are about to finish your second book, is that correct?
Anne Bonney: [00:02:58] Yes. Yes, literally this week.
Maria Melfa: [00:03:00] That is fantastic.
Anne Bonney: [00:03:02] I’m uploading it hopefully today.
Maria Melfa: [00:03:04] Do you have a name for the book yet?
Anne Bonney: [00:03:06] Yeah, actually get them over. It is the second one. Get over. It’s the first one. OK, and so get over. It is for personal dealings with change, dealing with the discomfort of change yourself, and then get them over it. The second one is for managers and leaders to help their teams through change.
Maria Melfa: [00:03:25] Why did you decide to write a book?
Anne Bonney: [00:03:27] Well, as a speaker, it’s just one of those things you kind of do. And I wanted to see if I could do it. It’s one of those projects that is like giving birth kind of having never given birth. I can make that parallel. So probably nothing like it. But there’s a level of perseverance and suffering that happens in creating this little baby. I wanted to see if I could do it, and I felt like it was a great way to get my message across in my voice. You know, I’m not the first one to say in this stuff, and I recognize that. But I can see it in a way that makes it fun. It makes it a little sticky. It’s a tip book. You know, both of them are books. So it’s not like you sit down and you read chapter after chapter. You sit down and I joke about leaving it on the back of the toilet because sometimes that’s the only time we have a couple of minutes, three, you know, so you read one tip, you marinate on that all day. And hopefully not only does it give you some skills to move through whatever change you’re dealing with at the moment, but it also gives you a little laugh.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:04:24] Now, you said that you have kind of different background and different experience that makes change part of natural human function. Right. So can you tell us a little bit more about your background in your own words? Because it is very interesting. And I think maybe going beyond the bio a little bit would be nice to hear.
Anne Bonney: [00:04:43] Sure. Yeah. I got home from second grade in the spring of some year, a really long, long, long time ago. And my parents said, hey, guys, we’re moving to Saudi Arabia. And I didn’t know what that meant. My brother asked a bunch of questions and they said, you know, little Annie, what do you think? And I said, well, I got places to go and people to see this is all but I quote. In my family for the whole life, so we moved to Saudi Arabia, know this is little blonde girl moving to an Arab country where you very much feel other. We were Americans in a country that doesn’t have tourism in a very different culture and a very different religious background in a very different social culture. So, you know, that was a huge change. Seven or eight years old. It’s just kind of like, OK, this is what we’re doing now. And then when I was 10, we moved to Egypt. When I was 11, we moved to Greece. We lived in Greece for four years. Then I went to boarding school in northern Michigan, actually an art school to sing opera in the woods for four, three years in my high school. So that was super fun. So all of that changed all of those different people having to walk up to people and be like I am and I’d like to be your friend, know? I mean, you get used to the uncomfortable things that come with change, like fear of failure. And there have been so many times where I have failed and I have fallen down and it hasn’t gone well and it’s been ugly.
Anne Bonney: [00:06:05] And I survived that, too. And so you start to realize as you go through all these changes and all these times where it doesn’t go so well and then times that it does go well, that it’s really not that bad and it gives you that courage to jump out. So that was part of it. And then I’ve also had kind of a crazy career background. When I was at the art school, I wanted to be a Broadway star and then realized I didn’t want that lifestyle. And so I became a teacher. I taught special ed for a couple of years and then went to SeaWorld and saw the killer whale show and saw my dream job. So I started volunteering right down the street from you all at the aquarium in Boston and then got hired there as a trainer for SEALs and sea lions, did that for a few years, then moved to Arizona where there’s no water. So my sea lion career was over, but I got to work with birds of prey and train birds of prey in the desert of Arizona, which was super cool. And unfortunately, it was at the time in one of the most negative human environments I’d ever been in. And anybody who’s ever had a boss that was manipulative or negative or been in a work culture where it’s negative and you don’t know whether somebody pats you on the back or stabbing you in the back and don’t talk to this person.
Anne Bonney: [00:07:13] They don’t say that. Don’t tell them this. You know how that is and what a drain it is. And so this was the beginning of my understanding of the importance of positive leadership and the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace and in dealing with other people. Then I moved to Baltimore, decided I needed a big kid job, answered an ad in the newspaper, if that tells you how old it was, and worked for Under Armour for about eight and a half years from 2001 until 2010 and grew with that company. Incredible change going on there. Incredible, positive leadership. I mean, we all felt like we were part of that team and we were making something happen and we did. And the incredible growth during that time was fantastic. Then left there to go to a group exercise company out of New Zealand called Les Mills. You probably have it at Boston Sports Clubs there in your neighborhood. And then I actually went to the company that owns Boston Sports Clubs and ran their whole one hundred and sixty club chain, their group exercise. So I sort of ran that whole division and then decided I wanted to pay for my own health insurance and went off to be a motivational speaker. So that was about five and a half years ago. So that’s kind of all the change that’s gone on not only in my own by my choosing, but around me as things have developed.
Maria Melfa: [00:08:29] Quite an incredible story. Your lack of energy
Jocelyn Allen: [00:08:33] To made that really tough.
Maria Melfa: [00:08:34] I mean, I know that that’s absolutely amazing. So do you still try to sing opera?
Anne Bonney: [00:08:40] In the shower or in the car after an endurance race with my endorphins are fine, but fortunately, in neither of those places does anybody have to listen to because the sounds that come on are not like
Maria Melfa: [00:08:51] They usually do. Well, certainly an amazing background. So it seems like part of your philosophy is trying to make being uncomfortable from change fun.
Anne Bonney: [00:09:02] Well, yeah. I mean, let’s laugh about it because it sucks, right? You know, I like change is hard and change makes us get out of our comfort zone, which by definition is uncomfortable. So we might as well laugh about it. We might as well normalize it sometimes when we’re in the depths of change. And the pandemic’s a perfect example of this where we’re all like, what is going on right now? Sometimes all we can do is just look at each other and have a laugh and realize that we’re not the only ones that are a complete disaster. And that’s OK, you know. And so it’s normalizing the discomfort and the chaos and the work and being able to laugh about it a little bit.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:09:43] I mean, you make some good points because I believe I mean, I’ll speak to it. Our culture here it is, is very much about the humor through everything, you know, making everyday fun. Because, you know, if your work isn’t challenging, I feel as though it’s not necessarily rewarding the harder you work and then the results that you see, it’s like, oh, that is so great a. I knew this could work and how do you get through that, you make it fun?
Anne Bonney: [00:10:07] Yeah, sometimes the work isn’t gratifying and you just have to do it anyway. And so if you can turn and throw a paperclip at the guy at the desk next to you and have a little silly laugh about it, you know, that makes it OK. Like, OK, I don’t like doing this, but I’m with these cool people, and let’s keep going.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:10:24] Ok, so paper clips, not staplers and tape dispensers. No, OK, no, I just need to clarify.
Maria Melfa: [00:10:30] I actually do have a few bottles of silly string in my office and I have sprayed it at people in the past. So far so good. Yeah. That’s always fun to do. Yes. No. Yeah, it’s absolutely true. I know last March when we shut down on March 10th and we all we had a meeting here and we said everybody, we are working from home and have no idea how long it’s going to take, just like all the other organizations. We did have a lot of cancellations that week and I did go home for a night or two, a little bit freaking out, saying, oh, my God, what am I going to do? But then, you know what? It just bounced back up. I mean, this is life. This is business. And we did we had some good laughs. We started watching, I think, as a company, Tiger King, and had some fun things that I could start having some fun meetings on that, you know, dressing up like Carol Bioscan. So, you know, we just did what we can do. You know, it’s you you can’t control everything, but you can control how you handle it. And that’s exactly what you’re talking about. And change management.
Anne Bonney: [00:11:36] Exactly. And I think people are going to come out of this pandemic a little better at change because we all did exactly what you did. It was like, oh, crap. And then it’s like, OK, let’s make it work because we don’t have a choice. What I want to do is make sure people are taking on the change that they want to take and that they’re engaging in the change that they need to make. And I think that being dropped into a global viral event is has made us a lot better at that.
Maria Melfa: [00:12:03] Absolutely. We had no choice. So why do you think change management is so difficult for organizations?
Anne Bonney: [00:12:10] As I said earlier, you’ve got the organizational challenge of making the change and running the business, but you’ve also got the personal pieces and all of your humans that are involved in making that change happen have different experiences levels with change, have different success levels, would change, have different comfort levels, would change and have different all of that with how it used to be. So you’re dealing with every single individual along the line that helps make that change happen, has a different experience with it. And as a leader, the hardest thing is to get all that together.
Maria Melfa: [00:12:46] How do you handle it when everybody’s not on the same page?
Anne Bonney: [00:12:49] You know, I think communication is huge in change management, especially in the organization. You know, people need to trust that you’re going to give them the information when you have it, because sometimes in the midst of change, you don’t have all the information. And people need to literally believe that you’re going to give it to them. They believe that you are. We’re all on the same team. We’re in this together. And you’re going to give me the information when you can. And so when somebody doesn’t have that level of trust with you as a leader or with the organization because it could be either one, then they start to get into the resistance, they get into the challenges. And that’s when we need to start having someone on one conversation at first empathetic conversation saying, tell me what’s the challenges that you’re having? I can tell you’re not comfortable with this. What’s up? There may be some things that we can solve. There may be some things we can’t clarifying that this is the change. This is support we have for you. We want to make sure that you stay on the team. And if people continue to dig their heels in and sabotage the change, then the is a little different. It’s still an empathetic conversation, but it’s like we need you on board. Here’s where we’re going. We’d love to have you with us. And here’s what we need from you in order for that to happen and let them know here’s what’s going to happen if you don’t so they can make their own decision. We can’t control what anybody else does, but I want to give them all the information they need so they can make the best decision for themselves. And that’s part of the reason why normalizing the discomfort with change makes this all a little bit easier, because sometimes people are so good in it that they think that there’s it’s bad and sometimes it’s just saying, all right, here we are. I don’t like this change either. Let’s go. And sometimes that being on that same level can really help move people forward.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:14:39] So it’s an effective approach, I think, to take. So speaking of approach, you have your five P approach that you talk about in your book, so I’d love to hear what that is and a little bit
Maria Melfa: [00:14:50] More about
Anne Bonney: [00:14:50] It. As I was sort of conceptualizing this book, I wanted to give it some structure so people kind of had some steps to follow. And the first P is what’s the point? And identifying why are we doing this? What’s up with this change? Why is this happening? Because as you’re persevering through all the winding roads of change and trying to get to that new comfort zone, ultimately knowing why we’re doing this is an important piece. Right. And in a situation where we’re picking the change or the organization is changing to modernize or to serve the client better, that’s an easy way. But in the case of a global pandemic, sometimes it’s sort of like why don’t know why we’re doing this. I don’t want to do this. And the why becomes, why can’t we go back? Why can’t we do things the way we did? And so clarifying that helps us to be able to say, OK, well, I don’t like it, but here we go. Second is what’s your problem? And that’s identifying your feelings with it. And we don’t talk about feelings that work very much, but feelings are part of the human experience and we have feelings about stuff, and feelings and emotions are not bad. It’s what we do as a result of them that can cause problems. Right. So acknowledging your feelings and saying I hate this because I liked it the old way, I was comfortable, I knew how to do it. I was competent. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to learn this new computer system.
Anne Bonney: [00:16:15] I’m scared of it, frankly, because I don’t like, you know, and acknowledging all those feelings helps you say, all right, I’ve survived crap before. I think I can do this again. And it helps you turn away from the door of the old comfort zone. And now we move to the third party, which is what’s your plan? What’s your path? What are you going to do, start to plan? How am I going to deal with this? And this means you’re looking at what can I control? Because oftentimes in change, there are so many things out of our control and you focus on that stuff because it’s yucky. But in this step, you start to say, what can I control? What can I do to make this better? What can I do to move closer to that new comfort zone? And so starting to identify the path. Now, you can’t spend too much time at this stage. And a lot of people do like to spend a lot of time planning, planning, planning, and not doing, which leads it to the fourth P, which is budget. Margaret, it’s time. It’s time to take action because action shrivels anxiety. When we’re sitting there in the plan, what can I control? What can I do? What can I do? We also remember all the things we can’t and the anxiety starts to come in. But as soon as we start taking action and taking those steps, that anxiety starts to wane a little bit because we start to really believe, hey, I do have some control here.
Anne Bonney: [00:17:33] There is something I can do. And I’m not just a complete victim of this situation. I can act on it, even if it’s something like talking to somebody, even if it’s like researching something online, it’s going to move you towards that new comfort zone, whatever it is. So punch it market time to go and then we persevere. Then it’s just time to slog through it and keep trying and keep trying new things and keep moving forward. And, you know, we want to always have this nice straight path towards our new comfort zone, towards this beautiful lighthouse at the end of this long, straight path. Right. But that’s never, ever how it is. And if you’re one of those people that wants to see the whole path, even if you see it, it’s probably going to take a hard left. It’s sometimes like a complete surprise, like, have you ever seen Harry Potter and, you know, in the dorm, the way the stairs kind of move like an Escher thing. Yeah. So it’s kind of like that where you think, you know, where you’re going at all set and you’re off on another path. So persevering becomes that last step to where we finally get where we’re trying to go. And the new normal, even though I hate to say that becomes our new comfort zone.
Maria Melfa: [00:18:45] When I look back at the twenty-seven years of to in some ways, the pandemic was actually an easier way to embrace change because we didn’t have any choice. Yep. Everybody understood were as we kept on hearing everybody say, which I think was kind of overused. But we’re all in this together, right. We all came together and all looked OK, great. What are we going to do? We’re going to quickly pivot and start doing a lot of virtual instructor-led training, which obviously we had no choice there, started looking at doing some webinars, creating our own courses, but we were definitely more quick to move. We tend to be pretty quick to move anyhow. That’s just, you know, we’re a very agile company. But I know and the past, when I look at some of the changes that have happened, sometimes we’ve underestimated even a little change and how much effect that that could have on the organization, such as hiring a couple of new managers and the organization. And, you know, we hired the managers. We tell the organization what they’re doing, what they’re supposed to be doing. But you don’t realize how just that small change can affect people. So I think that was
Jocelyn Allen: [00:20:00] The important point that we were kind of discussing prior to. This conversation, too, is that with change management, because it is often something that affects so many levels of an organization and their employees that we see this ideal structure to it. But it is kind of something that needs to be more agile because of those moving Harry Potter staircases, which I love you so much more for that reference.
Anne Bonney: [00:20:28] But what do we need to be ready for if we are going to bob and weave with? I mean, the modern world is changing so fast and so it’s so hard because we want to have a nice, clean way of doing things. And then all of a sudden the stairs shift and we’re like, I thought I had this under control. So it’s this constant journey and constant. You can’t get comfortable. That’s why getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is important.
Maria Melfa: [00:20:56] I 100 percent agree. You have to try something and see if it works. If not, you move on and change to something else. And that’s what business is constantly changing and innovating.
Anne Bonney: [00:21:09] Yeah, and there’s that balance, too. There’s that balance where you say, OK, wait a minute, are we should we stick with this a little longer or should we change something? And it’s that constant juggling, balancing, doing the best you can. And this is the key is you’re never going to have all the information. You’re never going to know if what you’re doing is the right decision. And that’s where the courage comes in. But that’s where the fear comes in. They are their constant companions, those two little jolly elves. And it’s really important to have the courage to make the changes when you realize this is right. I think here we go.
Maria Melfa: [00:21:46] So when you’re working with organizations, is there a certain level that you work with? Because I could imagine that if you don’t get the buy-in from the sea level or the top level, the change might not work. Or maybe it just depends on the size of the change.
Anne Bonney: [00:22:01] Yes, but the culture of positive change needs to be throughout the company in order for it to be successful and relative with relative ease. The easiest way to get through it is where everybody’s onboard. Everybody in the organization is getting the same message from the C suite, from their middle manager, from their supervisor. They’re getting the same message from everybody. And that’s where you create a culture where change is OK and what it’s what I call an environment of safe failure, where it’s OK to try stuff and not work. When I know that I’m not going to lose my job, that I’m not going to get judged, that I’m not going to get fired, that I’m not going to get punished for trying something new when it doesn’t work, I’m much more likely to take on these changes and take on this stuff. And that’s a cultural thing. So it does need to start at the top. And I actually had I had somebody come to me and say, we need you to fix our front line team, so we need you to work with them and fix them. And I could just tell by the way they were talking, that there was a very dictatorial negative tone throughout the upper levels of management. And I said I don’t think I’m your girl because I don’t think you’re going to get the change if you’re not embracing that culture as well.
Maria Melfa: [00:23:21] So and when we were preparing for you to join us today, we were talking about some of the challenges that organizations have faced during the pandemic. And I think a lot of organizations might have focused too much on how I guess I shouldn’t say too much because it’s obviously very important, but how this affects their clients. But oftentimes they might have not taken a step back to see how this has affected their employees. Have you seen any situations like that?
Anne Bonney: [00:23:56] You know, honestly, not really. And I’m kind of asking the choir what was in the sermon because the people that came to me were looking to help their employees through stuff. So I may not have a good view of it, but I think that that there has been a lot more focus on how does this affect our team, because of the obvious question of productivity, when you’re quote-unquote living at work, when you’re living at school when you’re living everywhere you used to go outside of your home to get to was in question. So I think people organizations have been really thinking about their teams because they had to, you know, again, they were dropped into this thing, which has been great.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:24:40] What do you do about the opposite then, if you’ve noticed something that because change management is very important for the internal structure and the employee wellbeing and success, but what about when you’ve noticed that something is being or attempted to be implemented that would completely throw off their current business model work? How do you speak to something like that?
Anne Bonney: [00:25:03] This is where communication comes in. This is where empathetic communication comes in and this is where listening comes in. For example, an organization that I worked with recently has fantastic family culture, and they’ve got a lot of people who have been doing their job for 20, 30, 40 even years. And they were shifting over to an automated computer system. They weren’t laying anybody off. But now the job these people used to do with their hands was going to be done through a computer and they were needing to take this on a huge change for people who grew up doing a job one way and they essentially rip the rug out from under them. And so what needed to happen was and it did and they did a phenomenal job with this, was communicating with that team what the change was, why it was how it was going to affect them. It was very important, to be honest, at this point. But also, what are we going to do to make sure you get the support you need to be able to be successful? Because ultimately, that’s what we want. We are successful if you are successful. And so then the first question is, what challenges do you see? What makes you nervous about this? What makes let’s talk about this. And this is a great conversation to have with your established team and hopefully, your leaders have a great rapport with the individuals on their team.
Anne Bonney: [00:26:33] And so they can have that conversation a little better than, say, the CEO can of what are your fears? What do you see as challenges? What do you hate about this? You know, let’s have a venting meeting because that’s going to uncover not only what they’re concerned about, that we may be able to help them with, but maybe some things we didn’t even think about because we don’t have their perspective. And so that might help us manage the actual change process better and it helps them realize they’re being heard and that we care about their success. And that’s going to make people a lot more courageous because they don’t feel like you’re just dropping it on their head, you know, because, again, you are ripping the rug out under them. And even if it’s just something as small as a new manager, it changes the dynamic of the workplace where people were perfectly happy before. And so taking the time to do that is an investment in their commitment to this change. Going forward. It takes more time. It is a patient-requiring process, but it helps people feel like you’re with me in this. We’re in this together. And again, it is a cliche these days, but it’s so important. Yes. That I don’t feel like I’m on an island and you’re going to ask me to do something that I can’t do.
Maria Melfa: [00:27:48] How do you work with organizations to help them handle somebody who is resistant to change?
Anne Bonney: [00:27:54] No matter how good you are at that beginning communication process, there’s always going to be a few people who are like, I hate this, I don’t want this. And that’s where those one on one conversations that we talked about come in. That’s where listening, being empathetic, understanding, hey, how can we help you get through this? And then once you’ve had that conversation once or twice, sometimes it takes time and they’re going to grumble for a while. And sometimes you just give them some time and you start to see them getting on board or you start to see them not getting on board. And it’s time for that other conversation where you say, here’s what we need from you. This is your job. Now, I know you don’t like it and I’m sorry we’re here to provide the support you need, but you also need to meet us over here. And here’s what’s going to happen if you don’t. And again, they may have had a terrible experience with change. You got laid off at their last job, you know, and they feel terrible about it and they’re living in that right now. So putting yourself in their shoes will help you have more empathy and more patience in that moment. But also saying here’s what we need from you and this is what’s going to happen if we don’t get that. And I hope we don’t have to go there. But that’s the next step. And they know and they can then make the decision for themselves. And I’ve actually had a conversation with somebody where I said, do you want to be here anymore? Because you are miserable right now. And maybe with this new job, which wasn’t your old job, maybe this new job isn’t what you want and maybe a big change is what you want to do. And I said I hope you don’t leave because you’ve got so much institutional knowledge that I’m going to be up a creek if you are not here. However, above all of that, I want you to be a happy human. Fortunately, she stayed so silently.
Maria Melfa: [00:29:33] So do you have any metrics that you work with on organizations, on how you assess whether adoption actually took place?
Anne Bonney: [00:29:42] It all depends on the organization, what they’re doing. I mean, productivity is an easy one. Absenteeism is a pretty easy one. Turnover is a pretty easy one. But then you can also do internal survey-type things to get a read on where everybody is an anonymous type. State of the Union as an employee here kind of thing, and figuring out the right metric and the right measure for your organization, what you’re trying to achieve, so you really do need to just look at what you’re trying to achieve as an organization and find the right metrics that are going to measure the right thing. It’s not just profitability. It’s not just the obvious KPIs. Sometimes measuring employee satisfaction will eventually turn into that, but there’s a different way you need to get at it. So you’ve got to think about it in a creative way.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:30:33] We had a conversation earlier about leadership representation and how important communication is and some feedback that we are part of the conversation was, well, of course, I’m communicating with my team every day like I am. I see how they’re doing and yada, yada. But the hey. Hi, how are you? That’s not communicating. So what ways have you implemented or seen organizations implement ways of communication that were effective? Are memos and emails a good thing? Is there a sandbox kind of? What approach do you take there?
Anne Bonney: [00:31:05] Again, it depends on the team. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. It depends on the communication channels that you have. The key is to create an ongoing open communication culture where we talk to each other, we tell each other what’s going wrong and we learn how to have those conversations in an effective way so that the other person is willing to take part in that communication. So whether it’s email, instant message, text, we have so many ways of communicating, including this phone thing that I hear you could like hear people’s voices through, which I never use for that. But, you know, like we could. And, you know, Zune brings up the other another option. So figuring out how you’re going to use the tools at your disposal, I like to recommend to organizations and to leaders that they create a standard of how we’re going to use our different communication channels. Interestingly, people have different judgments behind different types of communication. For example, when a client texts me out of the blue, I’m like, what are you doing in my living room? Like my personal life here? Of course, they’re my client. They can text me whatever they want, but that’s like my initial reaction.
Anne Bonney: [00:32:19] So and some people have that feeling about email. So if we create a standard for how we’re going to use these channels, if you need a quick answer, text me if it’s going to require a little bit more or there’s an attachment. I think to email it. If it’s something you need an answer for right now, call me. But as we said, it’s such a weird thing. But when we’re not walking by each other in the hall every day, it’s important to have this standard of how we’re going to communicate. Once you clarify that and everybody’s got the guardrails, communication can flow a little bit easier. But we cannot forget the importance of those voice to voice communication because there’s so much communication that happens with your tone of voice, with your body language, with your facial expression that you miss in an email. I could write an email. Hey, Jocelin, need that report Friday. Thanks. And you have just had a bad hair day and spilled coffee in your lap are already in a really bad place and you read it. Hey, Jocelin, need that report Friday.
Maria Melfa: [00:33:22] Thanks.
Anne Bonney: [00:33:24] And suddenly we’re in a fight, right? So we can’t forget the importance of connecting as humans with our voices, with our faces. That’s vitally important to keep that communication open and vulnerable,
Maria Melfa: [00:33:42] Not even in regards to change management. But I totally, oh, totally don’t know. It’s just amazing because we have our sales reps working with our recruiters and working with our project managers. And for the ones that do work in our Marlborough office, it’s amazing because they will email each other and they are sitting right next to each other and they turn around and you have a conversation, you know, and then they’ll even sometimes I mean, incredible group. We all get along great and amazing teamwork. But sometimes we’ll hear that maybe a recruiter goes to their manager. And I haven’t heard back from my sales rep yet and the sales rep sits right next to them. So it’s just it’s so funny. Everybody’s just afraid to talk.
Anne Bonney: [00:34:24] And these days, we kind of need to set that expectation with our teams, especially with, you know, not if you’re not in your office every day. You kind of need to set that expectation and then be a great role model as a leader. You’ve got to model that and pick up the phone. I mean, when I was working in New York City for the company that owns Boston Sports Clubs, I had directors from Boston to Washington, DC and every once in a while I would get on a train and I would go spend a couple of days with them. And they’re like, nobody’s ever done this. But I’m like, show me what you’re proud of. Show me where your challenges are. And that connection was huge in them feeling like I was there too. Help them be successful, which ultimately I was, that’s a leader’s job because I’m not doing the work they were doing the
Maria Melfa: [00:35:08] Work so on many years ago when we would talk about change management projects, I would look at it in a technical adoption aspect. It was probably for a company that was rolling out a new product. But now over the last several years, it seems like when we’re talking about change management, it is more from a cultural perspective. What have you seen?
Anne Bonney: [00:35:38] And I think it’s both. I think any change, as you talked about earlier, any change can throw people off. And so, yes, there’s a very technical side of how do we roll out a new product? How do we roll out a new computer system while keeping our organization moving forward and continue serving our clients? So there’s definitely that side, the project management. We do this and we do this and we do this side of it. But I think more and more today as we start to realize the emotional intelligence requirement of doing any kind of change that we have to incorporate the soft skills and the humans and how we’re guiding our teams through change as well. And I think that’s been a great development over the last probably 10 years.
Maria Melfa: [00:36:25] It’s interesting. I wonder how many organizations don’t have a complete plan for these technical rollouts, because oftentimes when I look at some of ours that we’ve had with the new CRM, you look at the training program and plan, you look at it in different phases. We’re going to train on these first modules, then we’re going to train on these next modules. But they don’t look at the impact of how it affects the organization. It’s almost a little bit too linear versus when you’re looking at a cultural change.
Anne Bonney: [00:37:03] And I think it depends a lot on the person initiating and driving the change. One of the most fascinating topics that I train on is personality styles because when we understand ourselves and our team members and when how people are wired differently, it allows us to deal with them and communicate with them and in a different way that works better for them. So my point is that when you are rolling out a change of planning it if you’re one of those personality styles, it’s very relationship-focused. You’re going to have more focus on the people and on the soft skills and on the culture. And if you’re one of those more technical people who’s very task-focused, you are going to be more focused on a step, step, step this training, then this training, then we roll this out, then we push the button. And then so I think when you have a well-rounded team who has that open culture of communication, people are able to say, hey, yeah, I know you’re driving this and you’ve got the tasks down, but we also need to think about our teams. So it takes that three hundred and sixty-degree leadership style that’s collaborative, that takes into account all of those personality styles. So you’ve got all those strengths and you hit all the edges. And I think one of the big problems is that sometimes organizations don’t. One person drives it and they have that typical personality style that drives it a certain way and that can impact the success or the speed and efficiency and grace of the change.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:38:29] There are so many layers to change management. You understand that because it’s always a big task. But I think you don’t realize the breadth of it until your kind of dialing into it the way that we are.
Anne Bonney: [00:38:43] Any time you deal with humans. Right, right. If it weren’t for the rest of the people, this would be easy. Any time you bring humans into it. That’s why I train not only on change management but on emotional intelligence and communication because they are inextricably linked.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:38:59] Oh, yeah. Like one of my, I say it all the time. Any time anything happens, my excuse is humans being humans again, like everything in the world, whether it’s basic and small or it’s a national disaster. Humans being human.
Maria Melfa: [00:39:18] And we certainly know that. Yeah, right.
Anne Bonney: [00:39:21] And it’s kind of level setting your expectation. Right. They’re not you. They’re not going to do things the way you do it. And setting that expectation as, OK, we’re dealing with humans here, kind of allows you to have that moment of levity to say, all right, this is how it goes, rather than being all super angry and frustrated and stuck there.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:39:38] Now, given that there are so many layers to this, what would you say is the best way to develop a feedback plan?
Anne Bonney: [00:39:46] It goes right back to that open communication, that vulnerable collaborative communication where we are comfortable saying this isn’t right, this isn’t OK. I’m not comfortable with this. This is going wrong. And once we’ve got that culture. Giving feedback is just part of that culture, and not only will you give me feedback as your employee, but I can give you some feedback as your boss, and this requires teaching people how to do it. We are naturally good at giving people feedback, especially those of us who are very relationship-focused because we don’t want to cause conflict. We don’t want to make somebody feel bad and so will avoid it at all costs because stuff doesn’t get solved. And so teaching this is where this training thing comes full circle is you got to teach your people how to communicate the negative stuff. And once everybody has that knowledge, then they can march forward together, assuming positive intent. I see what you’re doing here. You’re trying to make us stronger. We have this unspoken agreement or unspoken agreement that we’re going to communicate openly and now we can do it and we can move forward with having these tough conversations. Now, once that’s part of your culture, again, having them effectively, having them respectfully, and having them with the intent to improve the whole team and the whole organization. Now the feedback becomes easy because it’s part of what we do.
Maria Melfa: [00:41:14] When you’re working with large international companies that have multiple locations, how do you handle the whole change management process if you’re working with one branch and the headquarters? But the change will have a ripple effect through the other locations.
Anne Bonney: [00:41:33] What I think that’s part of that planning process is to say what are the ripples? And it’s important to talk to a lot of different people in a lot of different parts of the organization to say, here’s what we’re going to do. How do you think that’s going to affect you? And again, the bigger it gets, the harder it is. But it’s really important in that planning time not to keep it in the silo. Silos are important to a degree because we need to get stuff done in our little silo. However, there are ripple effects. And so we need to make sure that we have that cross-departmental communication to be able to say here’s what’s coming down the pipe. And this all this communication stuff takes time, it takes patience, it takes time and it takes time. But it’s an investment in success down the road, not only from technically getting the steps right and understanding what the ripples are so they can prep for that. But also so Bob in the other silo is like, yo, what are you doing here? Like, you just messed up my whole stream, you know? And now we’re dealing with Bob and me in a fight, which is no fun and it takes time and it is boring. But ultimately that should make it more efficient once we get rolling.
Maria Melfa: [00:42:45] I believe a lot of organizations underestimate the amount of time and knowledge that’s needed to successfully have a change transformation.
Anne Bonney: [00:42:55] And that’s why that culture of open communication is really important in having those connections that we just connect with periodically. Then when we have a conversation with them, Bob and I, it’s not like I haven’t talked to Bob in a year and a half and suddenly I’m appearing out of nowhere telling you what to mess up what’s happening. It is our part of the organization. Having those connections and having that network throughout the organization can help open a culture of communication,
Jocelyn Allen: [00:43:23] Bringing it back to the fear and the courage that you said, because you said, you know, it takes a lot of time. It’s an investment. I think investment can be a scary word for people. So I like that you kind of brought it back full circle for us from the thing that you were speaking to in the beginning, down to what it actually takes to have effective change management. Now, we wanted to bring you in to talk about this because we love your approach to it. You’re dynamic, engaging. It’s refreshing how you bring humor and reality to the forefront of everything that you’re doing. But that’s not all Anne Bonnie’s about. So do you want to tell us a little bit more about the other things that you do outside of change management? Y0u do the podcast. I know I saw on your website that maybe you’re taking me to Costa Rica in December, so
Anne Bonney: [00:44:10] You’re coming with us. All right. So, yeah. So the podcast is Ignite Your Influence. And a couple of months ago, I shifted it as I shift my business. It was igniting courage. And I used to have conversations with people about where showed up in their lives. And so as my business has evolved, I evolved the podcast. But all those might encourage podcast episodes are still there if you want to go see them. But it’s now called Ignite Your Influence because as we think about change and dealing with change, we think about emotional intelligence and we think about effective communication, which are the three big pillars of my business under leadership. Having influence with people is key. Having them want to do business with you, want to talk to you, want to be vulnerable with you, want to trust you in the change. All those things require influence. So now I interview people and I have my own episodes about how to build your influence. I also. I’m starting to do women’s influence intensive three-day retreats. I’ve been kicking around this idea for three years and I want to get it right because I love when like-minded people come together and are just able to be vulnerable, talk about things, but then have genuine breakthroughs. In a five-hour seminar. I can plant some seeds, but when I get people who are the right people in the right room for three days to really dig into what keeps us from being influential and how can we look at what we’re doing in ourselves to be more influential. I know true personal transformation can be made right. So I’m diving into that. I think I’m going to start those this fall. I want to do it in person. I do well on virtual. But this particular thing, as you said, Costa Rica, I also want to do in some fantastic locations.
Maria Melfa: [00:45:57] So I guess I’ll have to have all of our women at the company go to Costa Rica.
Anne Bonney: [00:46:03] There we go. We have a specific, you know.
Maria Melfa: [00:46:05] Yes, that sounds amazing. I cannot wait to tell all the fellas. And you did some amazing virtual classes for us. And I’ve never seen such incredible feedback and testimonials. One of the classes that you did is managing remote teams, which obviously is a very popular subject right now. Do you want to talk a little bit about that and some of the other classes that you see are very popular this year?
Anne Bonney: [00:46:33] Managing remote teams has become very relevant. How to be a great virtual team member? What do we need to do to stay productive? How do we how do we communicate? And both of those are where we’re in a new world here. And honestly, even once the pandemic has kind of settled down and life kind of gets back to where it’s going to settle out or whatever, whatever that means, I think Virtual is going to be still a huge piece of our business and in our lives and the way we work. So learning how to effectively embrace this as not a temporary thing, but as a permanent thing, how do I keep people motivated? How do I keep people productive? How do I communicate and all of that? So we cover all that in both managing virtual teams and being a virtual team member, which also includes stress management and how to deal with your stuff and stay productive. But another one that’s been big this year is how to present virtually how to have virtual meetings and how do I show up so that I can build credibility, whether it’s with my clients, whether it’s with my teams, whether it’s with the board. And I got to do an important presentation on this Zoome thing. How do I present? Because I’ve done a lot of speaking, public speaking training for organizations as well. So that just lent itself to how do I show up virtually, which I’ve gotten some great feedback on as well. So those are some of the big ones this year that have been relevant to the changes that have gone on in the workplace.
Maria Melfa: [00:48:03] Unbelievable. Totally believable. And you are a true reflection of the name of our podcast. Bring out the talent. You have an embarrassment of talents.
Anne Bonney: [00:48:18] I was pretty embarrassed to go on the show, but here I am. I get that a lot.
Maria Melfa: [00:48:24] Really, really do. And I know we focused a lot on change management, but as we just discussed, there are so many other topics that you help organizations with. And we certainly would love to have you back and talk more about some of these other topics that you work with organizations on.
Anne Bonney: [00:48:41] Yeah, absolutely. Let’s do it.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:48:43] Well, thank you and so much for joining us. It has been a pleasure. You are incredibly engaging, dynamic, as I said before. So we look forward to scheduling something again in the future. And thank you for joining us on Bring Up the Talent.
Anne Bonney: [00:48:56] Thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure.