TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast

Ep. 11 - Jason Lauritsen

September 10, 2020 Fuel50 Season 1 Episode 11
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 11 - Jason Lauritsen
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 11 - Jason Lauritsen
Sep 10, 2020 Season 1 Episode 11

Jason Lauritsen is an expert at helping organizations figure out employee engagement and helping managers be better managers. He chats with host Rhonda Taylor about the positive side effects of not being able to see our people as we normally would in the office, as well as removing bias in the workforce. Jason then dives into why managing the remote workforce doesn’t require different skills to managing in the office, but points out a lot of work still needs to be done by managers.

As a keynote speaker, adviser, leadership trainer, and author of 'Unlocking High Performance' and 'Social Gravity', Jason is dedicated to make work a more human experience. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonlauritsen/, Twitter @JasonLauritsen or visit https://jasonlauritsen.com.

For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentxpodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the TalentX podcast!

Show Notes Transcript

Jason Lauritsen is an expert at helping organizations figure out employee engagement and helping managers be better managers. He chats with host Rhonda Taylor about the positive side effects of not being able to see our people as we normally would in the office, as well as removing bias in the workforce. Jason then dives into why managing the remote workforce doesn’t require different skills to managing in the office, but points out a lot of work still needs to be done by managers.

As a keynote speaker, adviser, leadership trainer, and author of 'Unlocking High Performance' and 'Social Gravity', Jason is dedicated to make work a more human experience. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonlauritsen/, Twitter @JasonLauritsen or visit https://jasonlauritsen.com.

For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentxpodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the TalentX podcast!

Rhonda Taylor  0:25  
Hi, I'm Rhonda Taylor and I'm hosting TalentX today and today we have a wonderful guest, a friend of mine, we've been in the influencer space. He's a two time book author. He has his company that is global in clients. And his name, of course, is Jason Lauritsen. Welcome, Jason.

Jason Lauritsen  0:45  
Hey, Rhonda. Thanks for having me.

Rhonda Taylor  0:47  
Jason, you're well known in the space. You've spoken at a lot of conferences, but you know what, let us know who the real Jason is.

Jason Lauritsen  0:56  
Well, I don't know if we have time for that, there's too much. I wasn't prepared for that much unpacking Rhonda so I'm going to give you the, I'm going to give you the professional, the professional, real Jason. How's that? Um, the snippet of me is I live, like right now I live on what we affectionately refer to as the compound just outside of Omaha, Nebraska, kind of right in the middle of everywhere in the US, with my family, my three kids ranging from 23 to 10. So it's a lot going on here. 

Professionally, I spend most of my time thinking about employee engagement, how to help organizations figure out employee engagement, how to help managers be better managers. I have as you mentioned, I've written a couple books. I do a lot of writing about it. I do a lot of speaking and training around it. Recently, I've been spending most of my time on kind of a new passion project, which is something called the engagement leader community, which is an online learning community that launched recently that is designed for people who are trying to enhance engagement in their organization. It's a way for me to, like reach out and touch them and help them in this COVID distributed world that we live in. So that's me in a nutshell.

Rhonda Taylor  2:11  
Yes. And I've heard wonderful things about your following in that engagement program. So listen, we've seen a lot, gosh, you know four months ago, we had 2.8% unemployment. Now, you know, three and a half months later, four months later, we're at 9%. And you talk to some people and they say it's 30%. Big changes have occurred. What are you seeing out there?

Jason Lauritsen  2:43  
Well, yeah, you're right. I mean, the numbers in the US are pretty crazy, unheard of numbers historically. It's an interesting time, through the lens of employee engagement there's some really, I think, unusual things going on, that on the one hand, you know, you hate to see, obviously, and my empathy meter goes off all the time for the people that are being displaced and that want to work and can't find work and all that because I know they're in a really tough situation. I think that the silver lining of what's happening right now is we're actually seeing, I think, a bunch of progress kind of get broke through. Like there's a, as an executive for 10 years and now working on the outside helping organizations 

I've always talked about that, you know, we spend so much time thinking about how to get exec's, especially from an HR lens, how do we get executives to change? How do we get them to change their behavior? How do we get them to open their mind about changing their ideas about how we work? I've always said that there's basically two ways that you see change: you either get a new executive, which is often how it happens, it's actually a new person with a new state of mind, you don't actually change their mind, you just get somebody new who gets it, or a burning platform. And when the floor is on fire, suddenly we get real serious about changing and I think we've been seeing a lot of that happening recently in organizations as they try to adapt through this time, as organizations went from being all co located to being distributed through COVID and everything else. 

All of a sudden they're starting to do things that we've been trying to tell them to do that are good for them for years and now they're doing it. They're communicating more regularly with employees. We now have greater flexibility than we've ever had before. We're expressing legitimate care for people's wellbeing and their family's life and then we're building programs to help people manage the complexities of their life. All of these things that Rhonda, you and I have been talking about for 15-20 years that these are important things. It's no surprise, we just couldn't move the needle and then all of a sudden along comes a virus, and boom. Now the floor is, the platform's on fire, we got to do something and as a result, we're actually seeing engagement numbers starting to trend up it's pretty, it's kind of crazy. On some level it doesn't make sense and on some some level it makes perfect sense.

Rhonda Taylor  5:34  
Oh, exactly. And we've witnessed that ourselves in the number of engagements, especially like in gig engagements. They weren't so popular before COVID and now, the number of gig assignments that are out in an organization are phenomenal.

Jason Lauritsen  5:59  
You know, it's funny, I think one of the side effects that seems to be taking place that I think is a really positive side effect of not being able to see our people is that it's, you know, in terms of the day to day management of our organization, when we don't have our people there, we can't see the human being, it actually I think is helping us start to step back, it removes kind of some bias interrupters, or some things that get in the way of thinking about portability of talent and thinking about how we work and how we can work and how we can flexibly build an environment where we can actually leverage talents and abilities in different ways. 

I would suspect that your gig functionality is a perfect example of that. Like, when I see somebody sitting here and I know that person is a marketing specialist or an accountant or whatever, they're in front of me I know they do numbers and spreadsheets if they're an accountant, but I may not even be thinking about them for all of these other talents they may have whereas when I can't see them now we're reliant on kind of systems to enable and tap into that talent and put it to work. I think it's really interesting that maybe now all of a sudden, we're thinking more broadly about talent, or we're thinking more broadly about how we can work I think it's a really positive thing that's going on.

Rhonda Taylor  7:33  
You're so absolutely, absolutely right. Because in the past, the gigs and the fun things within an organization that were around to do, were usually almost like a favor, a tap on the shoulder and say, "Hey, can you do this?" because the supervisor had faith that this exercise would be done. But now people have to go out and literally take a look at their remote workforce as to who can do this, and it opens up a whole new level of transparency and that's so valuable.

Jason Lauritsen  8:15  
For sure. My hunch is that what we're gonna see over time is the organizations that are proactive about that because I can't, because I can't sit down with my favorite employee and sort of say, Hey, can you help me with this, and then they get to take on this kind of cool assignment. I don't have that conversation as regularly, I don't have that sort of passive fly-by that I've got to put it out to a broader market, I'm actually probably going to find a better suited talent. So we start to tackle problems by tapping into actually, even better, more highly skilled people potentially, or we're going to see people come to the surface that we were overlooking. It's amazing how much our eyes deceive us when we're in management and that's one of the things that I think is positive about the distributed workplace is it allows us or forces us to rely on things. 

It's kind of like, it makes me think of the Blind Audition story that you hear it gets retold, I think it was a symphony somewhere where women were really underrepresented in this in the symphony. And then they put up a screen and started doing blind auditions and they made them actually come in with bare feet because they that way they couldn't tell even the sound of their feet on the on the ground as they walked in, who's wearing what kinds of shoes. All of a sudden once they went to blind auditions and ended up being like 50/50 men and women it was strictly a bias that was built in that men were better performers or better technical players. I think we're gonna see that effect, hopefully, I mean, we're gonna have to be really careful that we design our technology and use our technology the right way so we don't perpetuate bias and all that sort of thing, but if we do it right, it should open up a whole world of visibility into talent we didn't even know we had.

Rhonda Taylor  10:12  
Oh, exactly. And, you know, Jason with this COVID we're hearing people all getting like, all these new words, all these new job descriptions and all of these new action items. And, you know, I think the best one was I heard, you know, somebody has the responsibility of training their staff on using Zoom and I'm like that's in your job description now. You're a Zoom trainer? But you know, you have some insight too on certain jobs that are evolving and you question the validity because, you know, example, I think we spoke earlier about managing the remote workforce, right? What's your view on that position in the future?

Jason Lauritsen  11:08  
Sure. So one of the things I worry about, I don't know worry, I guess I would maybe worry isn't the right word, but it's something that I find interesting. Maybe aggravating, maybe troubling. I'm not sure, it's a whole - I have mixed emotions Rhonda, that's what I'm trying to say, mixed emotions about this is over the last two or three months, you see it discussed you see managing remote employees discussed as if it's some kind of new skill set or it's like some kind of rocket science that we have to master and figure out and retrain our people. And the reality of it, is that the reason, at least I think this is my opinion is that I think the reality of why remote management is hard is because we suck at management. 

We've been bad at management in a lot of ways for years, we're not very good that's why I wrote a book about managing performance in a way that actually unlocks performance is because traditionally we've been, we have a bunch of management systems that aren't very effective, we've underdeveloped our managers around the things that really matter. And so when you aren't good at that, for example, if I have a team I manage in person, and I'm not very good at setting clear expectations, and I'm just sort of managing it I'm micro managing it on a day to day basis, I'm kind of muscling my way through it. I'm in my people's business and just course correcting them kind of like bumpers, you know, like have bumpers on each side of them. I just keep kind of knocking them back towards the general direction I want them to go. If that's how I've been managing for 30 years and all of a sudden, I have no ability to bumper manage my people anymore. The fact that I suck at managing is now pretty visible and it starts to become a pain point. So if I'm not, if I don't know how to set clear expectations, I don't know how to provide helpful coaching or feedback, I don't know how to have conversations with my people to keep them focused and motivated and encouraged if I've not been doing that and then suddenly, and I've been sort of making up for it through weird in person micromanagement. 

All of a sudden, us being at a distance when my people can actively avoid me because they really hate how I manage them, things are gonna break down. And so it's not a matter I don't think of we need a new skill around remote management. We just need to own up the fact that we generally have been really poor around developing the kinds of management skills we really need. Its fundamentals and if we do it well now and we get people doing this well now then they'll be good managers regardless of where people at and that's what we need to be thinking about are the fundamentals, as opposed to treating it like it's some completely different set of skills? Because I don't believe that it is, sure there's differences in how you do it, but I don't think it's a different set of skills.

Rhonda Taylor  14:20  
Yeah, well, whether you're a manager or an employee, you know, this era has opened up a great door of opportunity. People are sitting back and sure at first when we all we all were were in lockdown. And like, let's face it, Jason the world stood still for two weeks. That's scary. And we sat there trying to figure out, you know, okay, what's happening? There was a little bit of shell shock, but then people went into a move forward, like how am I going to cope with this and companies stepped up, big time. I'm really proud of some of the companies that I know, that stepped up and even though their workforce was remote, they gave them skills to handle this era, whether it was professionally or personally. I was just wondering if you saw that?

Jason Lauritsen  15:26  
Absolutely. I think that there were a lot of organizations that and that kind of goes back to my burning platform thing comment earlier is that because the situation was so dire, it was like we had a whole bunch of leaders in organizations. I mean, they've known and they've been inching towards creating a more human workplace and then finally we were forced into it. Finally we were forced to create like, flexible, because how do you not be flexible when you had to send everybody home and you weren't prepared for it, and they've got their kids there, and they're doing school and they're trying to deal with cohabitating with their spouse, and both of you working like all the stuff they had to deal with that. Are you supporting a front line essential person that has to go to work and now the level of safety is gone. Like you had to be flexible, you had to care at a level that you knew that if you didn't care, there were literally life and death consequences for the people and the business. So it forced us into this. 

I think there have been a lot of examples of people that in organizations that did step into it. What remains to be seen is how sticky it will be. Have we made real changes that will stay with us for a decade? I think that we have. I think there's been some fundamental shifts. I've, like you have, I've seen a lot of really encouraging things that I am super hopeful about in terms of actual real sustainable change. But we're gonna have to be diligent about supporting it and encouraging it and getting it built into our processes now, because someday when we get to whatever the other, whatever the next thing is after this, if we haven't built this into how we do business, it'll be really easy to snap back to old habits. So I think there's a there's a real opportunity and a lot of work to do, but I'm hopeful about where we're headed.

Rhonda Taylor  17:39  
Yeah. You know, Jason, I always, always live in I always believe that we live in a world of caring. And I think this COVID has taught us all to care in a big way. To care for each other, to care for our jobs and our fellow employees and to care for the universe and the world and the environment. I really hope that you know, I like that saying we're all in this together. I really hope that that continues.

Jason Lauritsen  18:16  
Yeah, I do too. I think there's a big chunk of people that have leaned into that and I think that I hope that it stays like you I hope that it stays with us I hope it's a sustainable, I guess emotion, mentality, mindset, whatever it is, but yeah, it's a beautiful thing when you see it in action, and you see organizations that are being the kind of employer that we know is possible. My hope is that, we will see that the business results are going to follow and I believe that we're going to. I believe that the performance of these organizations over the next few years, the organizations that really leaned into this that were caring at speed and scale during this that were taking care of their people first are going to be the ones that are best positioned to not only survive, but thrive in the future. I really hope we have that story to tell.

Rhonda Taylor  19:19  
I do too. And Jason, at TalentX we strive for all the employees to be happy and satisfied in their work. What keeps Jason Lauritsen happy at what he does at work?

Jason Lauritsen  19:37  
Being able to have an impact on the world and on people around me that's at the end of the day there's that and the freedom to do the work that really matters. And when I can marry those two things together, I am happy and when I am happy then generally that means I'm a lot easier to live with. So I think that probably means my wife is happy to and that's ultimately what really matters. So that's it for me.

Rhonda Taylor  20:05  
Jason, I thank you so much for for joining us on on TalentX today.

Jason Lauritsen  20:10  
Well, thanks for having me. It's always a joy to talk to you Rhonda.

Rhonda Taylor  20:13  
Well thank you and this is Rhonda Taylor from TalentX hosting Jason Lauritsen today, have yourself a great week. Be safe. Remember, we're all in this together.