On this episode of the All About HR podcast, James Schofield takes us through why productivity insulation can be compared leaky windows and how you can start to drive success with the Workplace Culture Hierarchy. Modeled after Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and built upon Frederick Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory, this framework covers factors of the workplace that need to meet the expectations of being competitive, sufficient, and equitable in order to drive success. The idea is that if you skip one of the foundational levels of the framework, you won’t be able to tackle the more nuanced pieces that are built upon it. James takes us through those factors with fun examples and leaves us with a roadmap for workplace success.
VIP Guest James Schofield
James Schofield is a Partner at Roman 3 Solutions, a People and Culture training and advisory company dedicated to helping leaders and HR professionals take a systematic approach to assessing and implementing culture change. At Roman 3 James leads the implementation work of coaching leaders and managers to take the tools, resources, and strategies learned in training and apply them to their unique situation.
Prior to starting Roman 3, James spent 10 years coaching owners and managers of SMEs through a wide variety of challenges, but HR and labor force were always the common pain points regardless of size or industry. He later moved into an Economic Development role designing and implementing workforce solutions primarily in the Agriculture and Manufacturing Industry.
Why Productivity is like Insulating your House
James begins by taking us through why he and his partner created their company, Roman 3. He mentions how they kept seeing companies having the same issues among their workforce despite meeting all the standard requirements. He explains that this is happening because companies continue to follow the basic HR or legal compliance piece and don’t focus enough on the people and culture. Why? James thinks this is because labor problems don’t show up on a balance sheet. It’s hard to quantify or put a tangible budgetary number on personnel.
Tom and James go on to point out that there is a lot of actual data and statistics that quantify the cost of intangibles like turnover, burnout, and disengagement. They stress the importance of paying attention to these costs and how improving them can actually help your bottom line.
Driving Success with the Workplace Culture Hierarchy
Now that we have some context, Tom asks, “How do you go about focusing on people and culture and turning that into something that can drive success?” James takes us through a framework he calls the Workplace Culture Hierarchy which is modeled after Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and deconstructs the different needs an organization has.
Stage 1: Compliance
James starts off the framework with the compliance level and shares an example of how the framework applies to something specific like compensation.
James goes on to explain the important role that transparency plays in equity with the following example:
Stage 2: Psychological Safety
The next step on the Workplace Culture Hierarchy model is psychological safety. James defines psychological safety as the idea that people are allowed to be vulnerable at work. For example, do people feel like they are able to speak up when they are having a problem? Is there a freedom to fail? This stage is focused around finding ways to create an environment where people feel comfortable enough to own up to mistakes or ask for the things they actually need.
James mentions that direct supervisors play a huge role in fostering psychological safety in their organizations. If this is something HR wants to focus on, they need to spend time educating and contextualizing managers on how their interactions with their teams need to be adjusted. One way to do this is to ask people how they are feeling or have them provide feedback at certain times to help train those behaviors. James wraps up this section by mentioning that psychological safety is the second stage of the hierarchy because if people don’t feel like they can share openly or give feedback, it is very difficult to learn from them. If you are doing any type of surveys or engagement strategies and there is no psychological safety, it is hard to trust the data you get back because people likely aren’t being honest or telling you what is actually wrong.
Stage 3: Inclusion
The third stage of the hierarchy is inclusion. James explains that this is not just a piece of DEI. This is focusing on making people feel like they belong at work for their true and authentic selves, for both their abilities and perspectives. He mentions how you can’t create engaged employees if people feel like they don’t belong or can’t be themselves. Tom goes on to point out how inclusion and belonging really go hand in hand, and James expands by saying how inclusion without belonging is just integration.
Stage 4: Engagement
Towards the top of the Culture Hierarchy is engagement. James explains that when they talk about engagement, they break it into four areas that they abbreviate as RAMP: recognition, autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
- Recognition – how can you create more opportunities to recognize and appreciate people at work? Take the time to really strategize and have a thought-out process for continually recognizing employees for their commitment, milestones, anniversaries, and everything in between.
- Autonomy – how can you create more autonomy for employees? A way to develop autonomy is to build trust with them, which comes from providing limited freedoms. Operational requirements need to be considered but allowing employees a measure of agency over what they do on a frequent basis can help develop this further.
- Mastery – this is the idea of using, identifying, and developing skills. If everyone is given the same training all the time, they will all have a generic skillset. Creating mastery is looking for and identifying unique skills in your people and helping them develop them. This helps people feel valued and conveys that you care and want to invest in their personal development.
- Purpose – how can you provide employees with a sense of purpose in their work? The main idea here is to connect their day-to-day activities with the way that they find purpose. Part of this is bringing more meaning into work and building motivation for what they do.
Stage 5: Strive
The final piece of the hierarchy is called strive. This encompasses striving for success and building that into organizational success.
Tom and James finish off this episode by acknowledging that being profitable is great, but taking care of your people is really what is important.
Read below for a full transcript of this episode.
Welcome to All About HR. I am your host, Tom Horne. And I am on a journey to learn about all things HR, I am documenting my conversations with thought leaders, HR professionals, and real employees, but everything from recruiting, workplace of the future, benefits, you name it. We are All About HR. Let’s go.
All right, excited to be back at the microphone with some All About HR. I am fresh off a week in Central America, running around Belize with one of my friends, it was one of the best trips I have ever had. Anyone ever wants to go south, check out somewhere down there. The nicest people, the easiest place I have ever found to get around. The rice and beans is out of this world, as well as the mountains, and the ocean, I just can’t say enough good things about the country of Belize. So needless to say, I am back. I am fired up. And I apologize that you all may have noticed there’s an extra week in between us dropping episodes and now you know why. Probably should have told you ahead of time.
But needless we are back with a fantastic guest this week, somebody I have met in the Twitter community. Really, it was somebody kind of new. It wasn’t straight from the groups I have met from the HR community hashtag or from some of the conferences. It’s just somebody I saw pop up and I just constantly saw them saying really smart things over and over and I just really aligned with a lot of this person’s insight. So, our guest today is James Schofield, a partner at Roman 3 Solutions. A people, culture, training, and advisory company dedicated to helping leaders and HR professionals, take a systematic approach to assessing and implementing culture change. At Roman 3, James leads the implementation work of coaching leaders and managers to take their tools, resources, and strategies, learned in training and apply them to their unique situation. James, welcome to All About HR.
James: Thanks, Tom, really happy to be here and have a conversation.
Tom: Yeah, these conversations are already always more fun for me because I know I am going to learn something because I have constantly learned from you along the way. And you are one of the folks I just had to reach out to and get on the show. So, I am excited to be here and learning from you today.
James: Awesome. I appreciate that. I appreciate the kind words.
Tom: We even disagreed somewhere a couple months back where you posted something. I don’t remember, I wish I remember this and pre-show prep. And I was like, and I disagree with that. And then there was this really good conversation I was like, “All right, perfect. Now, I agree more.” And I think some of it you were like, “I see that side too.” I had to it was just one of those perfect back and forth. I was like, this is why I engage in social with the HR community. It’s great.
James: Well, and you have to have those types of conversations, right? Like, nobody has all of the right answers all of the time. So, opening up a conversation and being okay with being corrected or being wrong, that’s key.
Tom: Yeah, everything we do is really nuanced. HR, I say all the time, “It’s not rocket science, but it is very nuanced.” And sometimes the tiniest little shift can create the biggest difference and that’s one of the things I really love about this space is you can be 90% right, but that 10% wrong could be the most important 10%. And it’s these kinds of discussions where the professionals come together and that’s the purpose of the show is where we all come together and start sanding the edges and constantly trying to like get that extra percentage that will make the biggest difference.
James: Yeah, I love it.
Tom: So, I just got back from Belize, I am in Colorado. Where are we talking to you from today, James?
James: I am in Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s a beautiful snowy day here in Nova Scotia. It’s sitting right around zero Celsius so it’s actually warm for March but it’s yeah, it’s pretty comfortable.
Tom: Now, do you get a spring does that start coming in soon? Or is it like Denver? It’s I have two more months of winter for sure. Like I just know it like it’s here. Everyone else is full spring by the time we get there is it do you get a spring up in Canada there?
James: We do, we get a spring. Yeah, it’s March is going to be, we are going to keep getting hit with storms all through this month. Once we kind of get into April, it will change from lots of snow to lots of rain and that’s our spring. Then May, June temperatures start rising it’s barbecues and beach time.
Tom: That is one of the great things about having a winter. I lived in California for eight years and it was just perfect all the time. It was great. But there just gets to a point to where when you go through this and then it gets sunnier, just the barbecues are just a little bit sweeter.
James: And I actually really enjoy winter. There’s lots that you can do. I live in a rural area in Nova Scotia. So there’s lots of tracks, go snowshoeing, hiking, whatever you want it, there’s lots that you can still do get out and enjoy. And being able to enjoy the same area in different seasons is also kind of cool.
Tom: Yeah, I 100% agree. And the key is, if you get good equipment, you will be comfortable. I am out skiing on days that are freezing. So cold. I said, I never thought about being cold at one point out there during the day. So, if you got the right stuff, you can go out and do all the stuff and be pretty darn comfortable doing it.
James: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I tell you bonfires on the beach, in the wintertime is amazing. Love it. Just nice, cool air, sea breeze with a roaring bonfire. That’s perfect.
Tom: That’s something I can get behind. So, we are going to jump into our first question that we asked everybody, which might be what you are listening to at this bonfire on the beach, but what are you listening to right now?
James: So for fun, I am rereading the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. It’s great series. My business or my commute what I do to try to increase my own knowledge base, right now, I have gotten into Marketing Over Coffee podcast, which I have really been enjoying. Because as a partner I am responsible for all aspects of the business. Marketing is one where I have had to intentionally seek out some resources and find some good information and that one’s really been speaking to me.
Tom: Is there any nugget that resonated with you most recently? You can share because I think everybody’s always trying to learn more about marketing.
James: The biggest things around marketing are not, I think it’s more the underlying principles of marketing is just communicating, all right, it’s a communications effort. And understanding any form of communication is going to require understanding your target demographic, and so that from a marketing perspective is essential. But it’s also something that I can apply, as we are using internal communications, or our communication strategies with our clients and our participants in our training programs and understanding and speaking to what they need rather than trying to speak to what I think they want.
Tom: Yeah, I love that. I think that’s what I tell people about sales too. I was like, sales is not a bad word. My definition of sales is enhanced communication. And it’s very, very similar, how you go about a process, how you steer a process, it’s how you communicate people. And if you can communicate better, you can create better processes.
James: If you can solve a problem for somebody, whether you are talking marketing and sales, or whether you are talking, in the work that we do around training and development, if we can solve a pain point that they are having, that’s how we are going to build loyalty. That’s how we are going to add value.
Tom: Perfect, yeah, we are 100% aligned, because that’s what we talked about. I mean, it’s there’s a lot of people out there selling platforms, our goal is to get you solutions so that we have a relationship and that there’s real value. And then, it just perpetuates that it’s a small tweak, but that mindset makes all the difference in relationships. So, tell us a little bit about how you created with a partner, Roman 3, how did you get there? What was your need? And what are you solving for currently, in your role?
James: Working backwards, a bit Roman 3 is really, it’s started with my partner Kobe and I really trying to solve some key issues that we had encountered and in previous roles. So, I came from an economic development background prior to starting Roman 3, working with primarily small and medium size businesses across Nova Scotia and trying to help them with everything from increasing exports to solving labor challenges. Prior to that, I did a lot of one-on-one small business coaching. And again, everything like 95% of the problems that we kept running into with businesses of all sizes, had to do with labor. It had to do with how do I find good people? How do I motivate people? Once I have them, how do I keep them? What do I actually do to make people want to engage with the work process? Every industry, every business has been struggling with these problems. How do I create an environment where people actually don’t dread showing up to work in the morning?
And so Roman 3 is really an outpouring from all of that experience, meeting with businesses, talking with businesses, trying to help solve some of the problems that they have been facing. And we really, we take a people-centered approach to everything that we do, we call ourselves a people and culture company because that’s largely where our work lives in that people and culture dimension and really, what we were seeing is people just following the basic HR or legal compliance piece. We are still having the same problems, despite meeting all of the requirements.
Tom: What do you think? And this is a question I asked a lot. And I don’t think there’s a right answer, which is why I continue to ask it. But why this all makes sense we know this to be true. Why is it such heavy lifting? Why are there still this day, so many companies that just refuse to think that way, or that even refuse aren’t even aware, and you have to show them that path?
James: One of the biggest contributors, I think, is that labor problems don’t show up on a balance sheet. With other workplace issues, you can point to a line item and say we are over here, or there’s a problem that we have had to address, or we need to invest in new equipment, and we see where the equipment line is on, what we are spending on maintenance on new equipment, we have kind of a total of what our labor is, and it’s everything related to our labor pool, our staffing costs, kind of get lumped in together. And we don’t really have a way of… there haven’t been many good tools to actually articulate that. And we use a concept that we call productivity insulation, and to help to try to make this clear for a lot of business owners and leaders that there are things that you can do to insulate your productivity in the same way that you insulate your house, right.
So, if you have bad, or leaky windows or poor efficiency cracks in your door or foundation, your heat is going just escaped through those cracks. But it’s not going to show up on your household budget and the same idea that there are all of these problems that are just leeching your productivity that are just sapping away a lot of money that you are not even necessarily know that you are spending because it’s in loss opportunity, rather than a specific line item cost. And I really like the idea of productivity installation, because it is kind of an easy-to-understand natural example that people can get behind.
Tom: That’s about as well as I have heard that stated to be perfectly honest, and I have been on my high horse about do you know your cost of turnover, because I feel like that’s one of the places where HR can put a line item in front of people that you can go back to, and then you can back a lot of things into that cost of turnover brings recruiting costs, trading costs, productivity, time, efficiency. You can put all of these pieces into a line and you can put other things under and the number of companies I talked to that just say, “We don’t have a budget to spend on people and culture,” “We don’t have a budget to spend on employee engagement,” “We can’t afford those are nice to have,” “We are running on slim margins.” When you can show actual costs that are all they are leaking out of your company, and I think that’s one of those places you can do so it’s almost always eye opening, always and all these other things you can’t afford to do start looking actually cheap compared to that number when you can look at it that way.
James: Yeah, and you are spot on. There’s a lot of actual data and statistics to support the cost of turnover. There’s data and statistics to support the cost of unplanned absences, of disengagement, and burnout. Burnout is huge, especially COVID, or post COVID, as mental health and burnout have been massive problems and every sector, every industry, everybody who’s working is exhausted with everything that’s changed and continues to change. There’s really good research into what these problems are actually costing businesses. So, putting together like we have a simple calculator tool that we use, with businesses to try to articulate, we call it labor value lows. And it looks at those types of issues helping them to determine what they are vulnerable to and how that is actually impacting their bottom line, but you nailed it. People say that they don’t have a budget to address these issues, but you are already spending a ton of money. Use your money wisely, rather than throwing good money after bad.
Tom: Love that, throwing good money after bad. We already have some good quotable here, James. Good stuff. So, I think we have covered a pretty good base of like, what and why right. Let’s talk a little bit about how. How do you have a process you go to? How do you go about taking this thing in the clouds, people and culture and turning that into something that can drive success, they can stop that energy from leaking out of your house, as you gave in your example?
James: Yeah, so we use a process, a framework that we call the workplace culture hierarchy. So, I will give you a little bit of context. My partner and I, the one of the reasons why we work so well together is I have done tons of business coaching, and he’s an adult education specialist. He’s got his master’s in Adult Ed in developing critical analysis skills. So, taking that approach of what a workplace culture is, and how is it built, the workplace culture hierarchy kind of deconstructs the different needs that an organization has. It’s modeled after Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but really specific to the workplace. And the way that it works is that we start at the compliance level, which is complying, not just with your legal requirements or your legal expectations, but how actually complying with your industry and your employee expectation.
So, it’s modeled after and built upon Frederick Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory, which is all about how do you address the factors of your workplace to reduce or eliminate job dissatisfaction. So, compliance is all about the factors of your workplace, and we have seven factors that we talk about. And then those factors need to meet the expectations of being competitive, sufficient, and equitable.
So, compensation is an easy one to wrap our heads around. Compensation needs to be competitive with other organizations in your industry or sector, it needs to be sufficient to accomplish what it is that you are trying to accomplish. So, if you are trying to provide people with a minimum standard of living that they can have some level of comfort and engage in work, the expectation is that your wages or your compensation is going to be sufficient. Then it needs to be equitable, it needs to be equitably available and applied to everybody. And the reason why I want to use compensation in this talk is because we often get questioned about, well, does that mean that, the CEO and your frontline staff have to be paid the same in order for it to be equal? And the answer is no. Right? Different levels of responsibility and different skill sets require different levels of compensation. But there needs to be a feeling of equitable between people. If there’s vast discrepancy in the hierarchy, that can lead to job dissatisfaction.
Tom: That’s actually a piece that I have thought about a lot. And I think you are a perfect person to drill down into with. When you are talking about pay equity, for example, Tom should be paid this and James should be paid that but I have always been brought up through my career that pay is a mix of a lot of things. It’s what’s does the job require? What experience and skills do you bring to that job? Pay should be a little bit of a different mix for different people in some ways, but there’s also the, “No, it shouldn’t, the job should be the pay,” like, where do you land on that? And how do you help companies figure out that hierarchy? Because you are right, like, why does a trash guy make less than a finance guy, it comes down to inputs, right? Like, the trash guy may be working twice as hard, or maybe not. I am just making examples here. But the impact of what the finance person does, they can solve something and all sudden, it’s now making $200,000 for the company that’s creating more revenue, so their pay is higher. So, there’s the experience, and then the job titles and all that but then there’s also the impact on the company. How do you wrap all that in?
James: That’s a great question. I love it, because it’s hard to give a single right answer for but I am going to attempt it.
Tom: And I am not holding you to a single answer, this is all discretionary. But I think that’s a great thing to note as we start down this road, for sure.
James: It is a great question, because it is, it’s topical. And it’s front of mind for a lot of people of how do I treat people equitably, while still realizing that there are some positions, some jobs, some people who contribute to the success of the organization in different ways? I will back up; I believe that transparency has a large part to do with it. Compensation should be transparent. There should be a clear understanding for me as an employee of, okay, if I am at a certain wage or compensation level, that’s consistent within my level of responsibility, what do I need to do to increase that? Have I reached the top of my salary band for lack of a better word, where, you know, the only way to increase my compensation level is to increase the level of responsibility that I have in the organization, through promotions or, looking at new opportunities?
Compensation needs to be sufficient, I am going to go back to this efficiency piece for a bit because it needs to have all three elements of competitive, sufficient and equitable. I want to take a step back and talk about compensation with all three of those expectations of competitive sufficient and equitable, because it’s really tough to look at any one dimension solely, because the way that the three work together is important. So, you use the example of a custodial position and a finance position. It’s pretty easy to wrap our heads around there are vastly different levels of responsibility in those types of positions and the level of responsibility and the impact that a mistake could have on the organization. The skill sets that are required for both, all of those elements need to be considered in terms of driving compensation.
Transparency is a huge part of the equitability piece because if people understand where they fall in terms of a pay scale, and what they can do to increase their compensation within the pay scale, then people feel like a transparent process is more equitable. If you are hiding your wages or compensation from people, or if there’s the idea that it’s somehow wrong, or discouraged to actually have any transparency around pay, the lack of transparency creates anxiety for many people, or the idea of why am I not allowed to talk about what the wages are? What are they really hiding? Why am I being vastly underpaid compared to my co-workers who do this same type of job? All that does is create opportunities for misunderstanding and conflict.
So, transparency is one of the best tools that we have to actually look at the equitable component, because if everything is laid out, and there’s a clear process for how things happen, then it is equitable for everybody. The same opportunity exists for everybody.
Tom: Yeah, I love that.
James: Equitable does not mean treating everybody the exact same, right? It’s making sure that everybody has equal access and equal opportunity.
Tom: Yeah, I think making sure people are aware of what those definitions and the difference of equal, equitable. The same, different. All that. I think that education too wrapped up in this can be really helpful because I think people misinterpret different terms and the application in such conversations as pay here.
James: Yeah. Compliant stages where a lot of our work with clients happens because it’s fairly easy to wrap our heads around. And it’s where we see many organizations missing the mark, especially if the focus has always been on just maintaining legal compliance, then the idea of competitive, sufficient, and equitable, that alone can really make a huge difference in an organization that’s experiencing high levels of job dissatisfaction.
Tom: This has been great. We are going to take a quick pause, and we come back, I want to jump back in. I think we have gotten through the compliance stage of this hierarchy. But I want to get back and reframe the stages and then we will keep going down this road. We will be right back.
All right. It is time for everyone’s favorite 90 seconds, the HR Hot Sauce. James, are you ready?
James: I am ready.
Tom: What’s the best job you have ever had?
James: I think the easy answer is, this one. I have started my own business working with a great team doing something that I really love. I will say best job for somebody else is absolutely working in economic development help them community and business growth.
Tom: What’s the one phrase at work that drives you nuts?
James: Low hanging fruit.
Tom: Do you like working on rainy or sunny days?
James: Both actually.
Tom: How can someone make your day at work?
James: Coffee. Bring me coffee. I am good. I am a golden.
Tom: Best useless skill?
James: I am having a tough time thinking I am an example. I am not sure if it’s because I just have way too many useless skills, or what the problem is here. Yeah, I am going to pass and use that as my non-answer.
Tom: So mild, medium, hot, or nuclear?
James: I really want to say nuclear. But once I hit 40, it’s more accurate to say hot.
Tom: You and I are birds of a feather. Favorite interview question to ask or be asked?
James: This is a great one. I actually had a manager who asked me this question early on in my career, and I have blatantly stolen from them and use it since. It’s “What can I do as your manager to encourage you to stay forever?” That was just a great question to be asked because it allowed me to talk about what I need from them, and it gave that impression that they actually care.
Tom: Give me a song that you go to bring you out of a funk?
James: A single song, I am not sure. I am stuck in the 90s. I still love 90s grunge. Give me some Pearl Jam or Sound Garden, and I am golden.
Tom: All right, that’s excellent. You are off the HR hot sauce, hot seat. Well, let’s get back to the show.
And we are back, talking with James. We are talking about creating culture, creating a system that can help drive culture and growth for your organization. So James, now that we took a brief pause, bring us back to the stage approach. I think we have talked about the compliance, but bring us back to base and then walk us through at the different stage in this building are for more of a builder approach.
James: So, we talked about compliance, and we actually dove into compliance pretty great in the first part. The next stage when moving beyond compliance is about psychological safety, which is a term that unfortunately, is starting to get co-opted a bit into like psychological health and safety.
Tom: Every term is getting co-opted, that’s just that’s just how it goes.
James: As soon as it becomes popular people spin it for what they need it to be. But at its root, it’s a term that was coined or popularized by Dr. Amy Edmondson, who is a fantastic researcher with Harvard Business School, who has written some great books. Highly recommend The Fearless Organization, it’s one of her more recent books. But psychological safety is the idea that people are allowed to be vulnerable at work. And so are people able to speak up? Are they able to speak up when they are having a problem? Or is there a freedom to fail?
So, a lot of the things that we talk about in this stage is around how do you create an environment where people actually own up to mistakes or feel that they can ask for the things that they actually need, and that they can put themselves in situations where they otherwise would feel vulnerable? Put themselves out there, right? Or do people need to hide who they are for fear of, “If I speak up, I am going to be ridiculed,” or “If I share my ideas, it’s going to be shot down,” or “If I make a mistake, somebody’s going to blast me for.” That is the opposite environment of psychological safety.
Tom: And how do you train them to do it in a productive way? Because there’s lots of people that have good ideas that you want them that may just blurt it out, or just say things that are always like, pointed. It’s not just on opening it up, but I imagine there’s a way of how do you do that?
James: Similar to with compliance, we deconstruct it into the locations where psychological safety needs to be present. So, there needs to be psychological safety in professional discourse. Do people have the ability to engage in professional discussions and disagree in a way that actually leads to some productivity rather than just finger-pointing and arguing? What I will say with psychological safety is that the biggest influencer of how this plays out is on the direct supervisor. So, this is something that needs to if HR is going to champion, that it needs to be reinforced to the management to the front-line managers who are interacting with people on a regular basis or in their teams. And it does require a lot of contextual information around when is it appropriate to speak up, so actually asking for people’s opinions at certain times or asking for people to provide feedback at certain times is one way that you can begin to train the behaviors that you want. Psychological safety, the reason why it’s the second stage of the hierarchy is because if people don’t feel like they can speak up and share and that they are free to fail and make mistakes because failure it’s not really a terrible thing unless you were talking gross negligence, which is something else entirely.
Tom: Entirely, but failing forward is a great thing.
James: Yeah, it is right. Because if we help people to learn from the mistakes that they have made, then ideally, they don’t make those same mistakes in the future. But it’s also hugely important if you are trying to get any information out of people, if you are trying to engage with your employees. And like, if you are doing any type of surveying, or engagement strategies, where you are looking for feedback, if there’s no psychological safety, the information that you collect, you can’t trust because people don’t feel safe to actually tell you what’s wrong.
Tom: We spend a lot of time on that topic over in my neck of the woods. I am not going down that rabbit hole. I have just got to say, yes.
James: So, we will talk about the next stage. So the third stage is about inclusion. And its inclusion is not only a diversity, equity inclusion initiative. Inclusion is about making people feel like they belong at work. It’s the idea of belonging, and it’s belonging for their authentic self for who they are. It’s belonging for their perspectives and it’s belonging for their abilities. So, we talk a lot about inclusion, and I love talking about inclusion, because it’s central to, it’s where we, with compliance and psychological safety, we are largely looking at how do we fix a lot of job dissatisfaction or a lot of the things that make people want to leave jobs, when we get to inclusion, and then engagement, it’s how do we make people really feel connected to the work, connected to each other, and that they want to actually stay? That we can create a poll that draws people to us?
Tom: Yeah, I love that.
James: And inclusion is central to that. Because the way that we talk about the hierarchy, you can’t create engaged employees, if people don’t feel like they belong at work, right? If somebody feels like they are an outsider, if they feel that they can’t be themselves and that they have to conform to some norm rather than be who they are. Now, obviously, we are still talking about there’s professional standards, and we have had this conversation of authentic self is not an excuse to be a jerk. Your authentic self is that you are rude. And you make incredibly inappropriate comments and jokes. Yeah, no, that’s still not acceptable. But are we allowing people to be themselves with all of their weirdness intact?
Tom: Yeah. Can you have tattoos and do a great job? Yes. Do you have to force them to cover it up? The other piece I love is that the DEI, I see that all the time, and I always feel guilty when I don’t put the DEIB at the end. Because that inclusion, belonging connection, I think, is the most important piece of all of that for whatever your diversity, whatever your background, whatever your role, whatever your company type is, if you create inclusion, you can help create belonging, and then drive yourself down to that next step of engagement.
James: Well, and we always say that inclusion without belonging is integration, right? It’s merely putting people in the same room together. That’s not inclusion, that is integration. The belonging is what makes it inclusion. And we have a lot of our conversations. And the reason why I started saying it’s not just a DEI effort, is because oftentimes, when we are talking about DEI initiatives, we think that if we have diversity initiative, and we create the factors for equality, then inclusion is a natural byproduct of those things. But inclusion is its own stage, it is its own thing that will enhance everything else that you do. There’s a great quote from Khalil Smith, who’s with the Neural Leader Institute, who says, “Diversity without inclusion is merely a revolving door of talent.”
Tom: I love that. Yeah, I was actually sitting here thinking, there’s a lot of really good quotable things to pull out of this. So, we are going to have to make a blog to go along with this, I think. So. Let’s get into that engagement step now. Yeah, I know how we create engagement. And we have done a lot of podcasts. I don’t think we need to get like super wide on the engagement. But I do want to hear your take because you have very well thought out pieces for all this. So, once you have created an inclusion and the outcome of belonging, which I love, now you move to engagement, what’s that look like?
James: So we actually when we are talking about engagement, we distinguish between engaging with employees and creating engagement in employees. And our goal is to create engagement in employees. We want employees who are engaged in the process, not the social media term of engagement of how many people have interacted with or how many people we have interacted with. And so when we are talking about engagement, we break it down into four areas that we call RAMP because everything needs to have an acronym. So, it’s recognition, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And so each of those four areas we then talk break down further into, how do you create recognition or appreciation in the workplace? How do you create autonomy at work? So, we in autonomy, we talk a lot about the idea of, you know, the way to build autonomy is through trust, and you build trust through providing limited freedoms.
Operational requirements always need to be thought need to be considered in all of this, but how are we allowing people some measure of agency over what they do?
Mastery is really the idea of using identifying using and developing skills. So, if everybody has to take the exact same training, then that’s not really valuing skills, right? It’s you, if everybody’s just given the same training all the time you create generic employees. But if you can identify use and value the skills that you have, and or develop the skills that you have in your teams, then that’s how you win. When people feel like they are valued and are using the skills that they have, and that you, as an employer actually want to invest in their human development, that’s a big contributor to creating engagement.
And the last one is purpose and which is my favorite topic, because I have seen how radically purpose can change and we are not just talking about the big picture aspirational, and we want to change the world purpose, which those are great, and they are fantastic for inspiring motivation but if you want to sustain motivation, then you need to connect the day to day actions to the way that people connect and find purpose.
Tom: I love the RAMP. And you are right, everything does need to be an acronym. Like their psychological safety. I am waiting for like psychological quitting. I think they have already given another name. But I am sure that will come back at some point.
James: Oh, no doubt the whole buzz word, HR problem of the week, quiet quitting, quiet firing, quiet hiring, quiet, whatever,
Tom: Just us trying to get eyeballs. That’s why we try to steer clear. So, you have got the engagement. Yeah. What’s the final step here? Like, where do you go now that you have built this really strong, wide structure?
James: So, the top of the hierarchy is what we call strive. And it’s striving for success, striving for continued success and it’s linked to organizational success. So, in strive, we are talking about an organization’s ability to capitalize on internal growth, external growth. So, you are increasing your market share, increasing your internal capacity, how ready are you as an organization, if a big opportunity comes along? Can you do have the foundational framework that will allow you to capitalize on the successes? It’s also about collaboration, it’s about change management. The big outcomes that often provide a lot of difficulty or challenges for businesses. Change management is a huge one, it’s something like only 34% of change is actually considered successful, which is atrocious. Like there’s a lot of work that is required.
Tom: But it still seems higher than I expected, unfortunately.
James: Yeah. But I mean, this is all types of change, right? Whether you are implementing something fairly simple like a new CRM, which still has a lot of challenges to it, or you are talking large, sweeping organizational change, with new leadership, new directions coming in play, or a merger or an acquisition. The statistics around the success of change is scary, because we focus so much on the process of change, rather than making sure that the people are ready to change, both strive. Everything that we do is about the people, right. Making sure that the people and the processes are aligned, improving them and bringing them along together. And that strive is really where we see the phenomenal outcomes of the improved ability to innovate, or to collaborate, or to manage change effectively, or to increase market share.
Tom: This has been great. And I think this points back to where I think business in general went a little bit wrong back in the 60s, maybe the 50s, when it went from a stakeholder model to a shareholder model, and when we can get back to taking care of the stakeholders, you are going to get better outcomes, rather than the first thing I was told when I first started my career 20 plus years ago, which was, we owe it to our shareholders to do the best job we can. And I remember thinking, what the heck with that they were to me, I am making them their dang money. And, I think that this is just me on my personal limb here, but I think that’s where we have gone wrong. And I think structure like you are talking about building or you do build for organizations helps realign organizations without proper stakeholder thinking that if you take care of the stakeholders, you are going to get better business outcomes, less absenteeism, less turnover, better productivity, longer tenure, better outcomes, better results for those shareholders. I am not anti-shareholder, I just think focusing on them is not the way to get make business better focusing on the people that drive those successes are and you gave us a framework to help do that.
James: I love it. Because we always say that you can do the right thing for the right reason and still make money, right? Nobody here is opposed to organizations to businesses, being profitable. That’s what we are all after, that’s good but you need to take care of the people as well. And that’s, that’s really, at the heart of everything that we tried to do at Roman 3.
Tom: I think that’s a perfect place to stop. We can’t price anything better than that, James, I will put it in the notes, but where can our listeners find you?
James: So, you can find me on Twitter? James from Roman 3, we have also our podcasts we have a we do an episode every two week please diagnosing the workplace where we talk about a lot of these issues that and dive into a lot of these challenges.
Tom: I have watched it on YouTube. It’s great.
James: Yeah, we have got YouTube if you can’t get enough of my voice. I am sorry for you. But we have got lots of material out there that you can find. Also check us out at Roman 3 dossier.
Tom: I put those links. James is an absolute pleasure to connect with you on the podcast, Laura, who’s on mute thank you as always producing the show putting a lot of this together. Always a pleasure. Great to be back with another episode where I have learned All About HR. I will see you back next time take care.
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