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Episode 14: Delivering on Your Future Business Strategy

In this episode, host Chris Thornton is joined by Liz Kislik — a management consultant, executive coach, and frequent contributor to HBR and Forbes — to discuss how, in the wake of the pandemic, leaders need to determine the best strategy moving forward for their people and business. They dive into the needs of different employee groups, how to retain top talent, and how important empathetic leadership is when rebuilding culture in the new world of work.


This transcript was automatically generated with artificial intelligence. It’s in the queue to go through a review with human eyes!

00;00;00;00 – 00;00;34;05

Hello and welcome to Change@Work, a podcast about the ever evolving world of work and the human behaviors that drive it. I’m Chris Thorton, principal here at Daggerwing Group. We’re consultants who take a slightly different approach to change and how we work with our clients. We’ll explore some of the things we’ve learned, what to do, what not to do, who we are as a team and as individuals.

00;00;34;07 – 00;00;57;13

Joining us today is Liz Kislik a management consultant and executive coach with over 30 years of experience. Liz is also a TEDx speaker and a frequent contributor to HPR and Forbes. Liz Hi, Chris. Glad to be with you. Thanks for joining us. Happy to be here. All right. Well, Liz, I know that you’ve listened to the podcast, but for those who are brand new, who followed you to this podcast.

00;00;57;14 – 00;01;13;04

Welcome. We always do a little check in to make sure people are human, because sometimes in the change industry, people don’t quite view as is human. So we just do a double check. Make sure that your human really just gives us a good way to get to know you a little bit better. Liz What was your dream job when you were growing up?

00;01;13;10 – 00;01;46;06

So when I was about ten or 11, I actually wanted to be a rabbi. wow. But at that point, the conservative movement, which is the branch of Judaism that my family belonged to, was not ordaining women. So just wasn’t wasn’t in the cards at that time yet. But I do preach all the time. How so? Some of my work with clients.

00;01;46;07 – 00;02;14;21

Yeah. Is a kind of pulpit speak. A kind of finding your higher good being part of in serving a community and just trying to get people to do their best. Wow. Absolutely. Absolutely. So if you had an extra hour of free time every day. Wouldn’t that be a dream, first of all? And how would you use it?

00;02;14;23 – 00;02;39;19

I would probably be so confused about how to use it that I would pass because there are so many, you know, when I think to myself, if I had more time, the first thing I always think is I would sleep more. But when I have a little time, I don’t sleep more. So I don’t know if I would make good of it anyway, but sleeping more would be great.

00;02;39;21 – 00;03;10;29

Reading fiction would be so lovely. But instead of all the nonfiction I read, both those things would be really fun. And I think just it sounds so simplistic, but taking more walks would be nice and not so much for the walking as for the being out. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Do you celebrate holidays? Loads. Okay. Which one is your favorite?

00;03;11;02 – 00;03;39;24

I think the one I really like the best is Thanksgiving. Partially because my extended family gets together, but not at my house. great. Perfect. So I’m happy to bring stuff, but I don’t have to have all the work of hosting. So I really enjoy Thanksgiving a lot. I’m out of the hot seat, and all the food is good, and I love it.

00;03;39;27 – 00;04;12;04

I love it. Well, you certainly passed the test. Thank you so much for that. Was great to learn about you. So we’re going to talk today about how organizations can best move forward now that the dust is beginning to settle when it comes to all that we’ve been through, we’re recording this, let’s say, at mid-summer 2021. So in a previous change work episode, we spoke with Sumi Kim, who’s the Global Diversity and Equity and Inclusion officer at OPG.

00;04;12;04 – 00;04;46;07

And she said, How from a DNI perspective, 2021 is the year of receipts? And I’m wondering, when you think about that, what do you think about the year of receipts, especially when it comes to a business strategy perspective? So a year of receipts. Sounds to me like the question, are we making good on our promises? Yeah, absolutely. And I’m not sure, Chris, that I agree with you fully that the dust is settling.

00;04;46;08 – 00;05;18;13

Okay, that’s fair. That’s fair. Tell me more. I think the rise of the Delta variant and the insufficient levels of vaccination for anything approaching herd immunity except in very small areas. Yeah. And the fact that things are opening up so much more all over, I think we may be creating new risks for ourselves. Interesting. So that’s one possibility.

00;05;18;15 – 00;05;53;17

And I think, you know, the hard thing about looking for receipts, you want to see change based on the plans or commitments you made for change. But if 100 other things are changing at the same time, it’s really hard to manage change, control the process, do the things you thought you would do, and in fact you may be completely distracted by some other calamity over on the side.

00;05;53;23 – 00;06;22;02

Yeah, and it’s hard to have enough resources to deal with not just the change you promised, whatever that was, but looking ahead and still not knowing what’s really going to be. I wonder within the business leaders that you’re working with, are they plowing forward like nothing has changed or everything changed? And, you know, too bad I got to get back to work.

00;06;22;02 – 00;06;49;28

Can you summarize some of the attitudes that you’re seeing? it’s a real range because they’re all different people and there would have been a range even without the pandemic and even without last year’s racial justice movement. You know, the range is always there. So there are some people who really have just been waiting for it to go back like it was before.

00;06;50;03 – 00;07;19;23

You know, whatever that meant to them. And some of them are acting as if it is back to what it was before. And their teams are not always so thrilled about that. Yeah. Yeah. So some places there’s turnover when employees are not comfortable with the direction of the senior leadership or they felt they’ve hung on long enough and now they’re finally going to make a break for it.

00;07;19;25 – 00;07;51;26

In other places. It’s been really fascinating. Some of my clients are on a real growth path. Their products or services ended up being in demand. They are trying to add people. They’re trying to integrate new people. So in some ways, some of them are taking the opportunity to do new things they didn’t do before and tried to be more inclusive or create more sense of belonging because it’s new anyway, might as well do it.

00;07;51;28 – 00;08;20;17

And other people are kind of battening down the hatches and trying to make everything as small and explore licit as they can because there are so afraid of it getting out of hand and you manage it. So it’s really all over the field. I know what you’re saying. I one of our clients is a tell me what everybody else is doing person like they real and it’s not that they can’t make their own decision, right?

00;08;20;17 – 00;08;52;06

They could. They certainly could. But they kind of like to know how do they compare to others? What do you think about that outward view to see what other people are doing? Do you think that that’s a helpful thing to do is to scan the landscape or should you just go with your gut? I think it is very wise to scan first because sometimes there are models you yourself don’t know or tweaks to what you would do or things that even if you can’t do them now, you think, well, it would be wonderful to work up to that at some point.

00;08;52;07 – 00;09;20;18

Yeah. And then I think every leader ends up going with their gut on some level, even if their gut is avoidant for sure. Yes, Absolutely. Absolutely. So when you think about all of the plans that people have laid out and they’re they’ve listen to their gut, they plan for the future, they’re doing what they think is right. I’m seen and I’m going to guess you are as well.

00;09;20;18 – 00;09;50;21

But there’s this wide variety of work from anywhere approach. You can work from home, but only two days a week and it will be you know, you can have Tuesday and Thursday at home this week and then next week it can be Monday and Wednesday. Like it just keeps shifting when you have to be in the office. There’s a real struggle for equity as well of if we treat office staff a particular way and we’re not treating manufacturing staff the same way or field staff the same way, then that’s not right.

00;09;50;23 – 00;10;23;03

What do you think people should do right now? How do you help leaders figure out what’s right and what’s best for their people? I’m fond of a concept from Pope John Paul. The second that was actually called Mother’s Justice. He was quoted saying this once, and I just loved it, which is not the same for all the children, but for each according to their needs.

00;10;23;05 – 00;10;51;23

All right. So it’s just true that if you work in manufacturing and you have to handle product, you have to be on premises. Yeah, and it’s true that if you are in customer service, you may be able to work from home, but your hours may be very specific. Okay. To make sure you’re covering the needs of customers. Yeah.

00;10;51;26 – 00;11;23;08

So there is great privilege in being an executive, being in some kind of thought or intangible work where your time is less constrained. Yeah, and and that’s the case for most executives. And so they don’t always think through what will feel fair to my staff. They just think about what seems rational and logical to them based on their own experience.

00;11;23;08 – 00;11;50;10

Sure. So in general, people understand what their job requires of them. Manufacturing people don’t say, I can take my workstation home and make the stuff at home. They understand. So then the question is to find out from them how will they feel safest and most productive? What are the things we can do to support them given that they need to be on premises or need to be working certain hours?

00;11;50;12 – 00;12;18;21

And there may be a whole variety of things that we could trade off to make them more comfortable. Maybe they can’t give up their commuting time, but we can take care of certain errands for them. I mean, I’m just making that. Sure, sure. Yeah. So what are the needs of all the stakeholders driven perhaps particularly by customer and marketplace needs?

00;12;18;24 – 00;12;53;03

Because we’ve got to satisfy those to be the business we are and then how do we translate that back? So that all our good folks are willing to keep coming in or showing up? Well, that’s that’s it right now, isn’t it, in particular of is is a real workers market in many cases of treat me the way I need to be treated and give me the flexibility or the the environment in which I can thrive because if you don’t I know your competitor or somebody else in a completely different industry can provide me what I what I need.

00;12;53;09 – 00;22;41;09

Are you seeing any of those? The fight for talent come to the forefront when it comes to how people are dealing with the future of work? So far, what I’m seeing is turnover more at lower levels. Not quite so much yet higher up in organizations. Okay. Where it’s clear that the same kind of work is available elsewhere.

More in the Series

Chris Thornton is a Senior Principal and member of the global leadership team at Daggerwing Group. In his role, Chris serves as a source of strategic counsel for Senior Executives with client firms, advising them on how to help clients achieve Executive alignment, transform their cultures and equip and enable people managers to lead and embed change. An expert in the people side of change with both client-side and consulting experience, Chris has worked with leading companies including Nestlé, Pfizer, and GE Aviation to do change right and make it stick. He is also an active speaker on business transformation, a driver of innovation in Daggerwing’s breadth of change consulting services, and the host of Daggerwing Group’s podcast, Change@Work. Chris and his wife were featured in the New York Times for their love of pie.