Designing A Better Workplace Roots Out Bias. And It's There For You To Find, If You Look.

March 23, 2022 00:47:16
Designing A Better Workplace Roots Out Bias. And It's There For You To Find, If You Look.
I See What You Mean
Designing A Better Workplace Roots Out Bias. And It's There For You To Find, If You Look.

Mar 23 2022 | 00:47:16


Show Notes

Mika Cross is passionate about people and missions. Especially about figuring out the best way for people to deliver a mission. From her military and civilian service to her consulting today, Mika's mission is to help organizational leaders get that right. And this year's International Women's Day theme - #BreakTheBias - is the perfect backdrop for our discussion about how to position people to contribute their best work - or not. 

Bias is in the news a lot, today, with coverage of it in law enforcement, education, hiring and compensation, hostile workplaces, emotional intelligence, and unconscious bias and training, generally. Much coverage shows a bias about bias (sorry) conflating it with prejudice, moralizing about it, or scorning the moralizing. While that might or might not be deserved, it skews a basic point (again, sorry!): Experience wires our brains in ways which ready us to act in ways which can be biased. Apart from intentional bias, whether or not we're unintentionally biased depends mostly on how aware we are of what we're doing, and why.

Awareness is key and Mika describes a solid way to become aware of bias in the workplace - data. She shows how knowing your data will reveal patterns in hiring, firing, promoting, pay, telecommuting and more, which might be the result of bias. You'll only know if you look! Mika also brainstorms ways to change the conversation with data to learn what will give employees the best way to give you their best work. Here are some of my favorite ahh-ha! moments:

4:32 - The pandemic highlighted equity issues organizations can address now, as they plan post-pandemic "back to office" strategies

9:26 - No matter what percent of your workforce telecommuted during the pandemic, you might find distribution across jobs was unequal for reasons of bias, not strategy

12:17 and on - Hybrid work strategy by design, using mission requirements to determine work arrangements, and accountability

19:22 and on - Leaders can chose "one size fits all" work arrangements but they'll rob some employees - and their organizations - of productivity. Is the trade-off worth it?

25:12 and on - Flexible work arrangements require trust and accountability 

31:56 - How knowing their data saved The State of Kansas money, and saved its employees time

36:25 - What if people can't get on the same page? What then?

BTW, check out for a fun, quick history on the origin of the word "bias," dating back to the game of bowls with balls shaped to curve when rolled.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 Welcome to, I see what you mean a podcast about how people get on the same page or don't, or perhaps shouldn't today. My guest is Mika cross Nika is a friend and colleague acknowledged as a thought leader in federal government workplace transformation. Mika, welcome to the show. Speaker 2 00:00:22 Thanks Lou. It's so great to connect with you and be a part of this conversation today. Speaker 1 00:00:26 Thank you. I'm looking forward to it very much. Why don't we start with just a short bio. So listeners who don't know, you know, something about you. Speaker 2 00:00:34 Yeah, for sure. Well, you know, I got my start in uniforms, so I army veteran, I served both as an enlisted soldier and as a commissioned officer, after nine 11, I joined the United States intelligence community still in uniform in Washington, DC, where I helped work on human capital policies and programs and initiatives all across the intelligence community, much of which included work, flexibility, work-life programs, diversity and inclusion. And then people focus strategy really breaks my way across government. I've worked for places like the United States department of agriculture, the office of personnel management, the consumer financial protection bureau department of labor before jumping over to private industry where I worked for a fully remote company, working with employers of all sizes, types and industry who leveraged their remote and flexible work for the purpose of attracting, retaining and engaging top talent. Speaker 1 00:01:31 It's quite a journey you've been on. Absolutely well, and I know you and you're known for being great, passionate about your cause. 20 years later, you're still fired up about it. What's that passionate about? Speaker 2 00:01:45 Yeah, I am, I think really early on, you know, and I served in a combat support role so often by the way, many women veterans don't even identify as a veteran if they haven't served in combat. And so I started realizing certain intricacies around bias and around even culture pieces of what it meant to feel like you belong in terms of a team. I served my country twice. And if you had asked me in my veteran versus asking me, have I ever served in the military? I might've answered very differently. Speaker 1 00:02:23 I didn't know that Mika. Speaker 2 00:02:25 Yeah. So I started paying attention also to, you know, how people interacted with one another. I always supported the quote unquote boys at the time. Um, these are combat arms. These were tankers. These, you know, people in the, in the combat arms field in my job was really on the periphery. It was to support them before, during and after deployment, which included elements of making sure their families were okay while they were deployed. Speaker 2 00:02:55 I realized really quickly that that was actually a matter of national security because if those who are putting their lives on the line and in international waters and areas of the world that are not the safest and then to pay the ultimate sacrifice, the least we can do is make sure that there's a smoother transition and that they have what they need to take care of the mission while they're there. And that things run a little smoother. So I started seeing those kinds of connections and, you know, I was an in general, I worked in policy and personnel in the military. And so yeah, I started learning more and more and more about the impact of the pen for written. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:03:35 So it's, uh, well, here's what I heard the position or several positions you held seemed to have given you a broad perspective, but a number of different views into the people part. How do I want to say this to people? Part of the mission, right? What it takes for people to be positioned psychologically, emotionally, mentally to do the job. Yeah. And, and you're passionate about Speaker 1 00:04:02 Right. And you're passionate about getting that part. Right. What does it take for people to do their jobs? Well, yeah. Well, we, you, you work in an area where there's a hundred things to talk about. So let's start here. March is women's history month and the theme is breaking the bias. I think we ought to be pretty well known what kind of biases exist, where women are concerned in the workplace. But tell me what your focus is. Now, tell me what people need to be getting on the same page about when it comes to that theme. Speaker 2 00:04:32 It's such a great question. Thank you for asking that. And I love this month's theme this year for women's history month around breaking the bias, because, you know, as employers and organizations and leaders all across the world are looking at their back to office return to office strategy. There are equity areas and really significant impacts to policies, affect people in the workplace and also equity issues in the workplace in ways that maybe we hadn't considered before. And so not only does it impact potentially women at different rates that it would impact men, it also the, your strategies, your policies, your, your, um, protocol even are you're going to conduct business post pandemic most certainly have equity implications. So one of the things I'm really passionate about right now is working with leaders to understand where those hidden biases might lie or what they might look like in the workplace, looking at data in terms of who and what positions are qualified for, what kinds of flexibility. Speaker 1 00:05:47 Interesting Speaker 2 00:05:48 As you look to reintegrate teams back into a physical space, even on a hybrid basis, are we looking for blind spots and areas like trucks somebody's bias and recency bias, because if you have a preference as a leader, but you're leading a multi-generational, you know, with five generations of workers that all have different preferences and competencies and abilities to work in ways, and some choose not to come into the office, is there an impact to how they are promoted? Is there an impact to how work is assigned? Is there active how we quote unquote see them if they're not physically present and all of these things. So these are all sort of really wraps in nicely to the current times of what organizations are thinking about. And there are a lot of ways that we can talk about, you know, being aware and kind of looking for, with my thoughts, moving forward. Speaker 1 00:06:37 Let me ask that question while you were saying that I was thinking the change in work location, workplace situations during the pandemic, might've served a highlight some things that it would be an opportunity to fix things at the pandemic might've highlighted were broken or were biased or inequitable. Is that true? Did the pandemic highlights some things and are used, do you see executives now, government, or non-government going okay as we recover from this, as we create our next new normal, there's some things we've got to fix. Is that what you're working with them on? Speaker 2 00:07:10 Yeah. A lot of, a lot of areas in, in that, you know, dialogue, including when you take a look at those who were eligible and actually participating in remote or hybrid work pre pandemic, you might be surprised to know that the majority of teleworkers, which now we're referencing is hybrid, but teleworkers were actually men over the age of 40. Speaker 1 00:07:35 I love, I love your use of data, by the way. I just always let you really ground a lot of what you do in data, which I think is fantastic, Speaker 2 00:07:42 Very important, you know, because if we don't understand Speaker 1 00:07:44 Exactly Speaker 2 00:07:45 What was sitting in, which positions and typically women and minorities, people of color and individuals with disabilities, traditionally in most workplaces sit in positions that are like mid-level manager and below, when you look at the people that are occupying primarily most of your mission, essential mission, critical kinds of occupations, and at the senior leadership level and executive level, take a look at the demographics. And then next say which positions were where I consider it, whether it considering traditionally eligible for what kind of flexibility opting into that, because that is a clear bias right there. So as you come back to the workplace, considering things like who does coming back to work affect the most and to who is able to make different decisions around where, and when I work are my policies impacting women and people of color differently than they are men or other demographics of workers, or even other occupations. And what can I do to change that? Because as you know, Lou, you know, we're talking about women's history month and to the tune of nearly 2 million women workers in the United States alone that were parents or, and our caregivers, those women had to drop out of the workforce. And so as we look to reintegrate and leverage women as a critical component of our talent strategy, it's really gonna require taking a hard look in reality around what our policies say and how they might affect different demographics of work. Speaker 1 00:09:26 So accompany might've said, Hey, we've got X percent of our workforce. That's that's teleworking or high or hybrid, but if you look more closely into that number, you'd see it skewed in some obvious ways, they might've been more male than female. They might've been older than younger, maybe more white than non white. Is that what you're saying? Some of the data show Speaker 2 00:09:46 It would be, could be. Yes. And I certainly don't want to, you know, use that as a one size fits all sort of model, but it's important data to look at from an analytics perspective, you know, what is the bottom line who's opting into what flexible options, for instance, traditionally, our support roles. These are your admin support, your front office staff, those kinds of positions we're ineligible to routinely and regularly conduct work from home or from an alternate location because they had to be physically on prem on site. Well, you know, fast forward to the Speaker 1 00:10:17 Pandemic, Speaker 2 00:10:19 That was a flawed logic. You know, and guess what shocker we have, you know, the validity of digital sign things and not have to print out everything hard copy and be able to route things electronically Speaker 2 00:10:30 About that. So when you bring them back, are you allowing some combination of choice and preference along with complimenting what the mission requires and what your preference is as a leader, because what your preferences as a leader may not be and likely isn't the same preference as those other five generations of workers who are following you, and also emulating you to look at what a career path looks like in your organization. And if your preference quote, unquote bias is for physical work done only in the office and you can't wait to get back and you're vocal about that. And even if your policies allow it, your preferences for those that are sitting with you right there in the room next to you, people are going to see that they're going to watch that and they're going to pay attention and they're going to vote with their feet. Speaker 1 00:11:20 That's it to me in my mind, you sort of bookend some things like you start with data and you're always at the other end, the other bookend is you're always driving at the mission requirements. So it might be that what the mission requires, what an executive believes the mission requires is partial or incomplete could be bias is a systematic thing. So it could be biased. It could be, there could be systematic references that he or she has, or just unknowns that they don't know that if they had information on, they'd say, well, that makes me rethink eligibility. Speaker 2 00:11:52 That is such an important piece that you bring up because often leaders get worried and nervous that for instance, if they have this policy that authorizes, you know, choice and maximum flexibility that everyone's going to just want to keep working from home a hundred percent all the time. When in reality, you know, the data, I'm going to bring it back to the Speaker 1 00:12:15 Data. Speaker 2 00:12:17 Those right now, in most organizations that like 15 to 20% of your workforce will want to work that way. The rest actually do crave, purposeful, meaningful interactions. In-person with one another, but they have to be designed around again, the mission and for a purpose, they're not going to want to be forced back in an office where you may or may not have to wear a mask. You can't see the person's expression anyway, take meetings from your desk anyway, not to have those social connections or those collaborative interactions, and to have to endure two hours of commuting each way. You know, that's not strategy by design, and it's also not, not an employee experience by design kind of model. Often leaders will think like I have to equitably apply this policy, whatever that policy may be in the same exact way for everyone you don't, but you have to make decisions the same way. Speaker 2 00:13:10 Meaning for this particular position, if there's a requirement for you to be on premise for a specific equipment or in an office interaction or security reason, or what have you customer service reason, because we're having customers person, then that is a business reason. And therefore we can't allow fully remote every day, but we can allow you to choose different kinds of work schedules that might flex around your personal needs to therefore you're still able to extend maximum flexibility and some choice because at the end of the day, workers want to know that you trust them to be able to choose what works for the mission first and for their lives second. Speaker 1 00:13:53 Wow. There's just, I'm jotting down some notes here. It's easy to frame the conversation as insert with certain buzzwords remote or telework or w and then the focus becomes who's not in the office, but you just said something that was very important. The focus should be on mission accomplishment. I don't know if you're Coca-Cola or you're, you're the Navy and what are the best work arrangements to achieve the mission. So it shifts, it shifts the aim to, in my mind, make a shifts that aim it. Isn't just, what's the right remote workplace policy. It's a bigger question. There's a remote workplace piece of that, but that's not really what this is all about. It's much bigger than that. And that serves in means that that's a means to an end and keep it in perspective. Speaker 2 00:14:37 And then you, you nailed it. And it was a really big deal for the nation's largest employer in some agencies prepaid when they started allowing wifi access in like the cafeterias and the library and the sitting area. And do you know, most people when they really wanted to interact and sort of do some creative kind of ideation and innovation, they would pick up their laptops and leave their office and go grab a coffee with a coworker, or have lunch together, and like, look at some things together, you know, and they were able to do that. And that was like such a big deal. You know, we are in a different way of working. And then we just had millions of future workers who are coming to work for you and me who just had the biggest remote slash hybrid experiment of their lives. As young as age four, they are coming to work for us. Speaker 2 00:15:31 These kids have had to also transition to remote working and learning. They've had to be able to learn how to be present without being physically present and their coworkers, their teachers, and such as early and as young as age four, think about the transitioning high schoolers. These kids are resilient, college students. They are coming to work for us right now. And they're going to want to have some choice in how, when and where they work. So to your point, it's not just about remote. It's not just about hybrid. It's about, do you trust, hold accountable? Can you offer a variety of flexible work arrangements that work with the position and the person, and then do you hold them accountable? Speaker 1 00:16:15 Farron? Yeah. Right. This is a fair point. So I think a lot about changing the conversation. So if the goal is to be on the same page about something so that presumably smarter decisions are made smarter plans are put in place more effective there's way. There's things that help us get on the same page to get in the way of getting on the same page. Sometimes we can't and we've got to manage that well, how does somebody, how are you helping people? How are you hearing executives re ask the question of themselves just more broad framing it more broadly, familiarly, more strategically for the enterprise, for the, for the largest goals, the GRA the broadest grandest schools of the opera of the enterprise. How are they having that conversation? Cause it seems to me it could be overwhelming. There could be so many things to think about. So many things to consider HR could be losing her mind because good, bad or indifferent, they got a lot of policies that could change. How do you start that conversation and have it, uh, and even a modest sized organization that is on something the size of some of our federal agencies. Speaker 2 00:17:20 I'm going to say right now, it's a hodgepodge. I mean, you look at any of the current headlines that you see the biggest tech companies, all of a sudden changing their tune and saying, Nope, just kidding. Come back to the office. So I think the biggest thing is to consider that a one size fits all approach is not the right approach either way in either direction, a one size fits all approach is never going to meet your business needs because it won't meet your people's needs. So I think first getting really clear on again, on the business reasons for eating in a cold located or physical location, you know, there are, Speaker 1 00:18:01 That was the question I was going to ask you. Could I ask, did the pandemic help certain leaders have that aha moment about that question and go, you know what? I'm seeing some things differently. Did it make some people rethink the situation, rethink the questions, change the conversation? Speaker 2 00:18:17 I think for sure it did, but one thing I've learned in dealing with organizational change, right? Speaker 1 00:18:24 Good. But Speaker 2 00:18:26 You're never going to change the mind of a naysayer. You can throw all the tangible data off savings, the ROI, the business cases. They're always going to come up with a reason why they can either discount that information or don't Speaker 1 00:18:44 Some bias would come in Speaker 2 00:18:46 And that comes down to personal preference too. So I mean, many leaders, Speaker 1 00:18:52 If you say preference Could be a bias that could be bias. Speaker 2 00:18:56 Yeah. You know, who have a preference of not working from home. I mean, some people hate it. They feel isolated. They don't want to look at their spouse or children all day long. You know, they been feeling really isolated and not connected. And for legit want to come back to work, but your preference and mandating other people fall in line with it likely isn't the right arrangement. Speaker 1 00:19:22 So did the pandemic make them rethink that one size business? Are they thinking that maybe one size doesn't fit all now? Did they have that experience or not so much? Speaker 2 00:19:30 I mean, I think some did because we have data, you know, I mean, look at flex jobs, they work with the, the international companies around the globe and there was an uptick of, gosh, I wish I had the data right in front of me, but it was upward of 20% increase in fully remote. And they're staying remote. So many employers are just going to continue keeping that model because it did work some aren't, you know, you have really old-fashioned traditional industries like the financial industry, the legal industry that is just used to getting work done, even the military and, and bureaucratic organizations like typical public sector organizations that were used to getting work done in a headquarters building slash off. And they cannot wait to go back. So it's going to be the ultimate experiment, right? Because just as we were forcing everybody without a choice or preference, Speaker 1 00:20:28 Right. Speaker 2 00:20:29 Well now we have the luxury of time and we can be more thoughtful and strategic about what it will look like to then quote unquote force people back into an office. And if we don't do it thoughtfully and with again, a combination of business reasons and preference from the workforce and extending trust, but holding accountability, then I think we're going to fail. And you can see that happening, Lou, with a great resignation right now, and people are, people are done with not having a choice in how they spend their time. And so, yes, you know, we have to work. It's a, can make a life for ourselves. Sure. There are many employers that are hiring that do offer a variety of different kinds of flexible opportunities. So my hope is that they have learned and that they will be introducing some of the lessons learned into, you know, their policies and strategies moving forward. Speaker 1 00:21:22 Well, I'm a good example of some things you talk about. I'm 61. So I grew up in a time. My first job out of college was in the eighties. I worked for the federal government from 89 to about 97. And then I've been a consultant since, and mostly an independent practitioner since, but I, I was sort of raised in that time of the mindset that that's just the way it was. And sometimes, and sometimes time in you're at your desk, in the office, isn't the most productive or the most, or the most optimal for productivity. Your, your point about people taking the laptop and go into some social space to sit with others. And work is a great point from my personal experience. I don't know what data there are to, to, to back that up, but, but sometimes getting away from the cubicle area walls, if you have them being in a different environment, fosters some collaboration or some creativity your, your mind can do, you know, I had a buddy who worked from home a long time and hated being at home, loved to be at a Starbucks or Panera. He liked the environment. Speaker 1 00:22:29 I'm like, how can you concentrate in there? He said, I, I don't know. I there's a rhythm in that place. And I pick up on it. And I, I work too with the noise, with the activity, with the, and I didn't understand at the time I kind of figured it out. I worked from home a long time pandemic, Kevin, nothing to do that. I am on, mostly worked from home, but I love to take a break once a week or twice, so they can do that. And it's, and it's a different energy. And, and we're not just talking about something that preference at the level of Lou likes that. And it makes me feel good. Let him do it. That's not the point. The point is productivity. Are you bringing your best to the job every moment, every day? And if not, why not? And if the work, if the workplace is getting in the way of that for you and others, we're not talking about individual contributor here. Speaker 1 00:23:18 Teams of people doing tasks, doing projects, doing programs, isn't there a better way. Look, we all leave our desks to go to the conference room. To me, isn't there a better way to meet, to work together. And if so, what is it? And if, if they're right there for us and we have a bias against them, where, what are we achieving? Aren't we cheating results. Aren't we cheating outcomes. Aren't we cheating people in the passion that they, they bring to, to work. And aren't we diminishing that. I think there's consequences that you're right. A bias, a person could say it doesn't matter. I'm still doing, I'm bringing them all back. And we're all gonna sit in our cubicles. Speaker 2 00:23:56 Well, you know, even though we were forced into this work from home experiment, well, let's just talk about the government. You know, 61% of government workers were working remote. The rest were still on premise on site, on location. They were still needing to be somewhere, but many managers were figuring out how to navigate that new normal during the pandemic and how they were going to connect their teams and how they were going to keep the mission going by basically calling meetings to work in order to work requiring video beyond all the time. Whenever you meet with someone, keeping your little light on green, you know, if you're on some other kind of collaborative technology and it was burning people out, I mean, you couldn't keep up with it and then let alone the caregivers and parents who also were pulling triple duty in the home, trying to work in locations that were less ideal with distractions at home. And so that zoom fatigue, quote unquote, was a real thing and burnout and anxiety and the acts of that. It's going to fill over. Speaker 1 00:25:12 You mentioned trust and accountability a couple of times. Let's talk about that because what you're just talking about right now, I think goes to the trust question. If you're being asked to always have your video on always have that be connected to that system so that it, it it's a ma it's a means to an end, some manager has presumably of knowing what you're doing or of knowing you're present or available. Doesn't say anything about what work's getting done. It's kind of a poor measure and it lacks trust, which is like, I think the first mistake, and it's a poor measure of, it's not a good means to the end of the manager. My want to be able to report up the chain of command and say, no, one's here, but everybody's working. What's the conversation going on today about using different kinds of measures, like results or output outputs or outcomes cause I'll puts her over real legitimate result. What are people thinking these days about other ways to, to measure or to report accountability then presence? Speaker 2 00:26:10 Yeah, well, that's forcing the hand of organizations that were stuck in the traditional, you know, industrial age way of managing performance, which is minute by minute, hour by hour punching a clock for 8.5 hours a day, right? When 30 minute break, Speaker 1 00:26:27 15 minute, right? Yeah. Speaker 2 00:26:29 Sadly the nation's employers still as much like that. And so the hands of managers are tied in some ways because they have to certify that time worked was time paid. And that really is an unfortunate design in my giving the number of knowledge workers versus those kinds of more blue collar or on-site kinds of positions that require a time based work requirement versus output and outcomes necessarily. So it's really tricky for organizations that are managing knowledge workers and in a variety of occupations. But I think this conversation is evolving. Many people in private industry are doing a way with performing the mandatory annual performance appraisals, and instead replacing it with meaningful performance conversations on a regular ongoing basis, which gets rolled into how you assess someone's impact and contribution to whatever the mission or the bottom line is. And then therefore how you get compensated and rewarded for it. Speaker 2 00:27:37 So what I like over the last two years is seeing how especially public sector managers have been able to lead with more, I don't know, a humanized approach to work and having these kinds of conversations, even asking things like, is there anything that, you know, might be preventing you from getting your work done? Or what do you need at this time in order to help meet this deadline or listening? When someone's saying, you know, I have these three ongoing priorities that are all due at the same time and I have a three-year-old at home. So which one of these would you like me to maybe look out if that's able to be done? So having more conversations grounded in reality, where we don't necessarily have to hide the things that are contributing to potential issues with meeting deadlines, outcomes and outputs is I think a really positive thing. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:28:33 Yeah. You, you made the point about the type of job. Some types of jobs might require presence in a certain location, but that's just a, that's just a location question. Even if you're on an assembly line, if you're still better off, if you engage the men, the minds of the men and women on that assembly line, while they might have to be there physically, if they've got a mind and if you, if you engage it, they like their job more, they'll be more productive, there'll be more safe. And, and, and this kind of data is out there. Um, you know, it, you know, it probably pretty well because it's your line of work. I know it from some work I used to do. And what am I a podcast episode I'm lining up with somebody is a VP of health and safety, and he's got phenomenal data on how he changed the culture of the shop floor. Speaker 1 00:29:29 And he'll tell you the kind of conversations that he dues to do it and how, how it increased safety and productivity, unmistakably. Like the graphs on the curves are crazy and he engaged and it wasn't like he said, all right, we're going to, you walked down and said, we're going to do things differently, starting, starting now, because I'm here, what he did differently with how he engaged the people there to say kind of the questions that you were mentioning before what's working here, what's not working here. What do I need to know? What do I need to get out of your way? How can I help? Right. It was more of a servant leader kind of thing, where he's saying, okay, you're doing the work. What do I need to know to help you get the work done safer and better? So the data is the data are out there. And even though somebody might be, it might be appropriate for their piece of the mission for them to be located in an office or in a factory. That doesn't mean that you don't treat them. Like they don't have a brain. Speaker 2 00:30:27 And it also doesn't mean that you can't extend them other kinds of flexibilities other than the boat work. Speaker 1 00:30:33 And we'll talk about that. Speaker 2 00:30:35 Yeah. You know, about 10 years ago, I got a call from the Virginia Parks and rec service, and they were trying to figure out this, this flexible work program, their work-life policies and how this was going to work. And they're like, well, we have these Kirk Rangers and these, these perk leads that their whole job is to be on the trail, Just showing them, you know, the different things in our great parts in this state. How would we do that for them while other people can participate in remote work? And I said, well, why don't you ask them? They know what their job is. They know what their job is. They know what the requirements of the job is to remain employed and do a good job on behalf of the citizens Speaker 1 00:31:21 To do the job Speaker 2 00:31:23 Well. They love it. You know, some of these were here like, you know, 37 years, um, perhaps they might say, well, I changed, uh, you know, come in early, maybe I do a six to two shifts. And Mike over there takes a two to eight or whatever it might be, or maybe we do a job sharing arrangement, or maybe I compress my work schedule and I'm off one day, every two weeks. And that allows me to have time with more time with my family and those sorts of things. It also potentially can cut down on the number of hours of overtime that you're paying out. Speaker 2 00:31:56 Remember the state of Kansas had a really big issue with paying millions of dollars to their public servants who were coding time to overtime. And they did this pilot project where they condensed over a week to four days versus so they did, you know, for those who want to opt in, do four tens and think about 60% of the workers wanted to opt in. And they saved like $2 million in the first year and overtime. Because by the time you reached 10 hours a day, you don't want to put any more hours. You want to go home. But they also had one day, a week off in addition, a weekend, and people who are more joyful and they were more productive and they were engaged. So there are different ways of doing that, invite your workforce to the conversation, ask them not just their preference, but how that you were to be granted this kind of work arrangement. How would this job be done? How would you be responsive to customers? How would you interact with the team and make sure we're kept up to date with your priorities and what's going on, how would you be able to meet those demands? So I think that's a really important, Speaker 1 00:33:00 I think the specificity of those questions is, is critical. It isn't a vague conversation about what would you like with it? I know, I know a little bit about customer experience and I always surprised at how much it really applies to work worker experience to the companies that innovate the best. Didn't ask the customers what they wanted. Because if you do that, you find out some things that aren't real helpful. They want everything, the same features and attributes, but they want it faster or cheaper or something. Something that doesn't really tell you, it doesn't get deep enough. You have to ask more specific questions or make observations. Yeah, how's the customer use our product. We might think they're using it. We might know how they're using it, but we might find some things that are hidden from us. We, we don't, we couldn't see unless we went out and observed and realized they're using it in ways to solve problems for which it wasn't designed. Speaker 1 00:33:53 Well, we could, we could add value. We could create something new to help them with that. Innovation came from knowing what the customers needed that were new value, adding new value employees, the kind of questions you asked, not would you like a general event of a general thing, get specific and have to me it's a little bit of their honest conversations. There might be a little harder, not in the sense that they're difficult, but just that you got to think about before you go into the meeting, think about what you want to talk about and make it, make it real, engage them in that way you get, you get ideas. Speaker 2 00:34:33 Yeah. This was really important. You can see this play out pre pandemic. Also when larger employers were investing all this money in that open office cubicle concept, Speaker 2 00:34:46 And they were redesigning their office space and they created like innovation hubs and foam booth and a little conference rooms here and there. And then you had this big, huge open bay where like, it didn't matter if you were an executive or a high level leader or the workforce. We were all there together. And nobody wanted to work that way. And people were getting distracted by someone's perfume or someone microwaving. You know, there are fish dinner for leftovers at lunchtime. And people were in the office with headphones on because they couldn't focus and they needed some quiet. It was not working. So now thinking about organism, there are also investing money and redesigning office space along with their back to office strategies. And they're redesigning office space based on pre pandemic level. And so it's like, you're, you forgot that again. The, the user experience, the user experience is your workforce. It's your workforce and top priority. How did they want to work? What will give them their best way to give you their best work and to, to deliver that mission to whatever customers or stakeholders you have and how do you make sure that they feel supported and that they have some choice. People just want some choice in the matter. They just want some choice and they want trust and they want direction and they want purposeful work. It's not that hard. Speaker 1 00:36:14 I'm making a note here. I love how you pose that. What we'll give them the best way to give Speaker 2 00:36:20 Their best Speaker 1 00:36:20 Work, their best work, um, Speaker 2 00:36:22 And outcome. Speaker 1 00:36:23 So Speaker 1 00:36:25 It's not that hard, but boy, it seems to have eight people that call the show. I see what you mean, because it's about that aha moment when somebody might have that insight, that shifts perspective and gets them on the same page with someone like, alright, now I get what you're trying to tell me. And then we have a different conversation after that moment, but also thematic. And the show is, but we don't always get on the same page. That's just not always the outcome. Maybe we're working toward it. Maybe it's not going to happen, but we need to do something and perhaps work together, even if we are not on the same page. And so what are your thoughts? What's your advice about if you can't get on the same page, what do you do? Speaker 2 00:37:05 Uh, I mean, still document, document document for remote hybrid and hyper flexible teams. This is make or break. You must come to a decision around which meetings require a video in which don't, and you can do that through a facilitated discussion, right? Coming to a consensus together. Can we agree that in this scenario, we're going to do a meeting this way. And in this scenario, you might have a choice of whether you want to engage by phone or by zoom or by, you know, whatever other means you might have, right? Maybe for our one-on-one check-ins. If we're not having to make notes, we can give you a choice to do it by phone and do a walk and talk. And so we're still together, but we're also outside moving and getting some fresh air. Can you give workers choice, but also document your processes in what scenario requires a meeting. Speaker 2 00:37:59 We do not need to meet, to get work done all the time, right? In fact, it shouldn't. And so hyper effective and successful hybrid and remote teams document their process. They use the right mix of synchronous and asynchronous work. They help teach the team how to leverage the collaborative to Knology together, because there are different levels of competency and familiarity with those kinds of tools and be, you know, graceful and patient, but like expect that people are going to come prepared. This is the agenda by which we're going to guide, oh, we work together. This is the agenda by which we're going to do this kind of a meeting. Is this a decision making meeting, or is this an informational update status meeting? What is the purpose? Are we going to be respectful of our time? Are we going to start and end on time? Speaker 2 00:38:47 What if we don't? These are all things even, you know, like the agile methodology, it's great to emulate. There are so many best and promising practices on how to do this, but the problem lies when you don't figure out how to document what you're in agreement on what your expectations are of the team and how do you get on the same page when you're not going to have the same opinions or shared experiences, not everyone will, but then how do you move forward? And so these sorts of office norms, office protocols and standards are really key to successful teaming. No matter the location, Speaker 1 00:39:24 If you carefully document what you don't agree to, if you carefully document it, you might find out it's not what you thought you might be able to narrow it. You might make it more specific. You might have an aha moment of, oh, I thought it was something else. And I realize if it's better defined, you have a better chance of doing something about it, even if you could agree, not just to disagree. Cause that just kind of leaves it in a disagreement state, but agree to how did you say it before? Speaker 2 00:39:53 Well, like how we're gonna work together to resolve some of those things. Like, in my opinion, like even asking questions, like, how might we, how might we, this is the, can we agree that this is the objective? Can we agree that this is the goal, the desired outcome Do this. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so those are just important ways to sort of get, and you can get a variety of answers. Speaker 1 00:40:18 Yes, you can. Well, that's good because you've got more options to try. So I, I toy with the definition of getting on the same page that is very succinct Mika and I think relates to what we're talking about, agreeing enough to take the next step together. Yeah. So if you and I had a difference in policy you're, you're in one department, I'm in another, you're one executive, I'm another, if we had a diff disagreement about something, but we agreed to take some next step together that might be to do some more discovery, to do some more, if then scenarios, pilot, or scent, you know, try some things. If we're experienced, teaches us more about them. We know fills in some gaps, maybe turn some unknowns into knowns. Maybe God forbid highlight a bias, highlight a bias that they go, oh, I guess I better rethink that one. So if we agree enough to take the next step together and come back and say, what did we learn? I think you get, we might not always agree on everything, but I think you start to build more agreement, narrow disagreement, once more, you build some trust. Speaker 2 00:41:27 Yeah. And you know, as you move towards those more documented processes or arrangements or, you know, office norms, let's say team norms, you know, even thinking about, so what happens if you don't do what we say we're going to do, you know, in, in terms of remote and flexible teams? Well, if we say that our once a week status update meeting is going to be videos on and someone routinely does not come prepared with their video on maybe that person needs to come take the meeting in person. And that can be their choice. Either you work from home with your video on, for this meeting, or you can come in in person and we'll put you on the screen sitting next to me, or you can ask, is there a reason why you don't want to turn on your video and can I help solve for that? Speaker 2 00:42:13 Maybe they need a reasonable accommodation. Certain people have different comfort levels with being seen and heard on a video screen. Maybe they have a real significant issue that would qualify them for a reasonable accommodation or a change in protocol or practice. I just think those are ways to hold people accountable. And that's the other piece next is also getting clear on how do you manage performance and conduct regardless of location, right? And it is a manager's responsibility to uphold those standards. It's a pretty easy one. You know, if I tell you this meeting is going to be camera on and you don't do it once. And I say, come to the next meeting with your camera on and you don't do it twice. Third time, I can get rid of you because that means you're disobeying a request. Your order, at least in the government space versus performance is you can't do something because of XYZ. You maybe you need some training or extra coaching or whatever conduct is when you won't or don't. Speaker 1 00:43:16 And it kind of builds is not just right in that instance. It's right for the team. There's nothing worse for a team culture, organizational culture than to watch people whose conduct is substandard and that, and, and, and, and nothing happens to them, Speaker 2 00:43:31 Right? Speaker 1 00:43:32 They're just poisoned culture, Speaker 2 00:43:34 Holding their responsibility either. Or, you know what we agreed to as how we're going to conduct our team, you know, and back to preferences. And you had the episode on different communication styles and there's different learning styles, preferences. And some people don't have an ideal setup, or they have things in their lives that just don't re no visible that's okay. Provided the standards you set for your teams are being met. And if they're not, and it's up to you as a leader to either extend some grace and flexibility around that, based on that reason or an accommodation, or what have you. But that also requires establishing relationships together with each other, with your direct reports, with other leaders and other, you know, even your customers to hear back for how, from how things are going, Brittany, someone into an office and have them physically present, isn't going to solve for those Speaker 1 00:44:27 Things. Right, right. Speaker 2 00:44:30 For over them, 24 hours a day, Speaker 1 00:44:32 Right. You just of move the problem to a different location. Let's come back to where we started, which was the, the theme of breaking the bias. Anything that you wanted to close with on that. Speaker 2 00:44:44 If you haven't taken a look at your HR analytics data, first of all, you should have it. If you don't have it, find it later of any organization, it's incredibly important and powerful information to take a look at who is sitting where, you know, what is their demographic? Um, what is their background? What is their tenure? Uh, what is their education level? What positions are people holding? What positions are eligible for? What kinds of flexibility, either pre pandemic or now, and then marry that up with your people strategy. In addition to your organizational objectives. I think that's a really great starting point for being aware of some of those hidden biases around flexible, remote and hybrid work overall, and that will help inform your strategy. Moving forward. Speaker 1 00:45:35 I couldn't be said any better than that bias comes our brains. Our brains are, we're probably wired. We're, we're, we're wired to work with some shortcuts and they can become biases, right? We, there, there's just, there's a lot of research on that. We don't need to go into just say, our brains are wired to work a certain way. We can make fast decisions and we often need to first search for, for reasons, but biases can be built in and you not see it sometimes being told, Hey, I think you're, you know, you're biased on X, Y, and Z. Maybe somebody is open to that. Maybe they're not data can always help show what you're, what you're not seeing. If you've got, if you're making decisions based on what you think is the right evidence. And then you look at data and you realize you see five other things. That's a great, that's a great aha moment to have Speaker 2 00:46:25 X, right? Absolutely. Speaker 1 00:46:27 Thank you, Mika. This has been great. Yeah, Speaker 2 00:46:30 Fine. I hope we get to do it Speaker 1 00:46:31 Again. It's a huge topic. The fight will go on for a long time, but I loved having the conversation with you about what's working and what's not working to get people on the same page and make the workplace better with there's so much more we could talk about. Maybe we'll circle back on a time and have that different part of the conversation. Speaker 2 00:46:47 And that will be great. Thank you so much for having me. Speaker 1 00:46:49 Thank you. Thank you, you too. Bye. Bye. Bye. And that's how we see it. My friends, I want to thank Nica for recording today's episode. You can find it at, I see what you mean dot dot com. Plus all the usual places, send questions and suggestions through an app. Subscribe and give me a five star rating unless you can, in which case, tell me why and join me next week. When we take another look at how to get on the same page and stay there, unless we should have.

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