The Intelligent Workplace

The Intelligent Workplace

Episode 2

What employees CRAVE from their workplace

Gregg Lederman, Reward Gateway

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Gregg Lederman founded Brand Integrity, a leadership development and employee engagement company. He has 20 years of experience working within organisation on implementing engagement solutions.
 
If you have seen one of Gregg’s presentations, you would know he is an engaging high-energy speaker. An experienced campaigner, his knowledge of human interactions in the workplace is thorough. Gregg focuses on implementing programs that increase employee engagement and improve work culture.
 
So, how does the Intelligent Workplace help him address employee cravings?

Chris:
Hi, I’m Chris Lukianenko and this is the Intelligent Workplace, brought to you by LiveTiles. My chance to speak with the industry experts, and explore the new ideas and technologies that are shaping and transforming the modern workplace.

Chris:
Gregg Lederman was described to me by a colleague as a, “Must have,” for this podcast. He’s the founder of Brand Integrity, a leadership development, and employee engagement company, and has over 20 years of experience working with organizations on implementing engagement solutions. If you’ve checked out his website, attended one of his talks, or watched any of his videos, you would know that he’s an engaging, high energy speaker. So, he’ll hopefully make my job really easy on this podcast.

Chris:
Gregg is focused on implementing programs that increase employee engagement, and improve work culture. I’m keen to understand how the intelligent workplace may be able to help him in his endeavors. So welcome to the podcast, Gregg Lederman.

Gregg:
Thanks for having me, Chris. Glad to be here.

Chris:
I’m really stoked to have you on the podcast today, mate. Thank you very much. Why don’t we kick it off, and you can give us a bit of a wrap up of your career to date.

Gregg:
It all started for me in business back in the early 90s. I got into a bakery and ice cream retail and wholesale business. Didn’t really know anything about bakery products, how to create them, but I had a great partner. We learned the ice cream business pretty quick. Before we knew it, we were building what we call the values based business, which wasn’t a term that was used a whole lot back then. But we put a couple of core values together that we wanted to help us with the selection of employees, then we put together a series of basic behaviors we wanted everybody to live every day to delight customers.

Gregg:
Man, we took a business that we bought out of bankruptcy, turned it around, sold it for 10x what we paid for it in three short years. I was like, “Wow, this really works. I’m going to turn around and do this for other companies.” Built my second values based business, Brand Integrity, started that in 2002, and just sold that last summer to Reward Gateway, where I’m the president of employee engagement there now.

Gregg:
Company with a mission to make better places to work. That’s what really … It’s about making the world a better place to work.

Chris:
Fantastic.

Gregg:
They were really intrigued by Brand Integrity, as you mentioned, because through a few things that they learned in talking to our clients, and they were really shocked about. Looking across our client base, we’d achieved, with them, 90 percent of their workforce engaged at work. Now, if you read the studies on a global scale, it’s rare that you have any country that has more than a third of their workplace considered engaged at work. Our clients are achieving immense engagement levels.

Chris:
That’s fantastic. I’m so excited to talk to you today because I see a really nice mash up between the work that you do, and the work that’s being done in developing the intelligent workplace. Human and computing sides, both sides of the equation, working together to help us feel more engaged at work, and increase productivity. Because the real matter of fact thing is, is there’s a real cost to disengagement in the workforce.

Chris:
I’ve read numbers talking about upwards of $400 billion dollars in the US market alone. We need to have an engaged workforce, don’t we?

Gregg:
We do. I see those numbers every year too when the studies come out. It’s absolutely amazing to me. I don’t know how they actually calculate it, but in our firm we’ve created a product called the Engaged Index, which is a simple way to measure. Which is why I can tell you that across our clients, they achieved over 90 percent engagement. If there’s a $400 billion dollar challenge, Chris, like you mentioned, then leaders need to understand how to improve engagement.

Chris:
I’m interested to know that with your background in engagement and leadership development, spent a lot of time in IT … how you see what the definition of an intelligent workplace might look like.

Gregg:
It’s interesting, I may see it a little bit different than most. I mean, when you read about intelligent workplace it’s all about the evolution of technology in the workplace. It’s like the fax machine, and then we’ve got email. It’s all about how you leverage technology. I look at it a little different. It’s about being smart in how you leverage technology.

Gregg:
For instance, there is 80 plus years of research that tells us that if we want people to be more motivated, and committed, more engaged at work, there’s three things that all humans crave. First, they want to feel respected for who they are and what they do. So, if I feel respected, I’m more likely to be engaged. Second, I want to feel my work is purposeful. That what I do is relevant, and has meaning and impact. Then, third is relationship, in particular, relationship with my boss.

Gregg:
When we think about intelligent workplace in the future, it’s a mistake, in my opinion, to think it’s just about how we leverage technology, whether it’s texting, email slack, to communicate with people. It’s a combination of that, but it’s also getting back to being a human being, and having those interactions where we’re delivering for people what they crave. Show it using the technology, and sometimes not technology to be able to give people what they crave.

Gregg:
Chris, I’ll give you an example. It’s one thing to send an email telling someone what a great job they did, and how they make a difference, and how much you appreciate their work. It’s great when you go online in your social recognition platform, and do the same thing. Because now you’re sharing that best practice with everybody to learn about what it is that person did. It makes them feel good, they get the respect, purpose and strength of relationship that they crave. But every now and then you might want to break out a thank you note, and actually hand write that.

Gregg:
The intelligent workplace leader is going to be someone who knows how to leverage the technology, and get back to being human with the face to face interaction that we all desire at work.

Chris:
Yeah, I’m hearing you. Let’s roll with those three ideas of respect, purpose, and relationship. Let’s pull up respect. What about the idea of respect, in terms of say, artificial intelligence … by respect, I’m thinking maybe it’s more around respect for you as a status in a business, or a respect for users emotional well being, or empathy for their personal situation. How do you think we can bring that into what you’re talking about? Will that work?

Gregg:
At the end of the day we’re human beings, so it needs to be genuine. It’s one thing to be able to google and learn a whole lot about somebody, and get their background before you’re going to go meet with them on a sales meeting, or a customer meeting. But it’s a whole nother thing to actually ask them the right questions to show them that you really care about them as a human being, and learn about them. It’s just a different way of processing information.

Gregg:
But it’s interesting because we’ve got to be careful. Our addiction to technology, it just may be reprogramming our minds. Now it’s reshaping our actions, feelings and thoughts. In a way … Technology’s designed to bring us together, in some cases, if we’re not an intelligent leader, than it brings us apart because it interferes with our relationship.

Gregg:
When you send somebody a slack message, or a text, they can’t always read the tone very well-

Chris:
So maybe we need to find a way for technology to help us with that. Because I know, you get the whole idea of someone typing in all capitals, you think they’re yelling at you. It’s really hard to read the subtleties in an email. Is that something a machine could solve for us in the intelligent workplace? I’m not sure whether they could or not.

Gregg:
Look, there’s no slowing down the technology train, nor should we. Because it’s organizations like yours and mine, Reward Gateway, and LiveTiles, that are bringing this great technology that can help facilitate more in person connection, where we can maximize the values of those relationships.

Gregg:
A good example would be a video chat, it’s a little bit more personal versus doing it over the phone. I’m not going to be working in a world, I’ll tell you that, where we’re depending on technology to try to create human connections that really require human to human interaction.

Chris:
Yeah, because there’s a deeper relationship being formed if you can see a person’s face, or talk to them on the phone, or whatever, as opposed to liking their post on YEM, or whatever.

Gregg:
Yeah, I mean, look … As technology becomes more and more pervasive in our personal, and of course in our work lives … by the way, it’s absolutely going to. Interpersonal skills are going to become even more important. Doing business is all about relationships, right? Relationship building skills are never going to be automated. I heard this phrase in the sales training that I recommended to my clients back in the early 2000s.

Gregg:
I sat in one day, and listened to this sales trainer who said, “Folks, I got one main message for you. People do business with people they like.” That resonated with me throughout my whole career, and helped me in building my last enterprise. Think about it, Chris, listening skills, empathy, being able to manage conflict, the ability to do follow up really well, these skills are becoming more important than ever.

Chris:
Absolutely, I totally agree.

Gregg:
Here’s the thing. When we talk about the big idea here is … It’s the leader’s job at work to create the environment where people feel respected, and a sense of purpose in their strong relationships. They need to leverage technology to help them do that, they can’t be the driver. We need the human to human connection.

Chris:
Yes, yeah. So, what I’m hearing … We talked about this concept of the intelligent leader that you mentioned before. I feel like the technology can help build a more intelligent leader. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say that you’ve got 10 staff working for you, and you don’t know everything about them. But what if you could learn more about them via their interactions with their technology and their colleagues. Things like YEM, or chat rooms, or slack, or whatever. If you could get a bot, or whatever, that could build up a profile about your staff, and what they’re really good at, and maybe what they need to improve at, to then allow you as an intelligent leader to know your staff even better, and prepare for that and any discussions you might have with them.

Chris:
Do you think that would work?

Gregg:
I’m not going to be a predictor of peoples appetite for that in the future. I do think some people are going to get creeped out by that because of the fear of technology and big brother always watching. I think the big idea that we’re hitting on is, technology, and the social networking platforms we’re talking about … these social platforms, they give us new avenues here that we have, so we can spark much better connections, and stronger, more powerful relationships with people. But at the end of the day, it’s a balancing act.

Gregg:
I give this lesson to my kids all the time. I talk about it at work all the time. Life is a balancing act, right? So, for a leader, they need to balance a focus on performance, and being a humanistic leader to be a great leader. When it comes to the technology we have to balance the leveraging of the AI and the different platforms, with building trusted connections with people, which involves one to one communication. Which, that saying, “The soft stuff is the hard stuff,” those soft skills I mentioned earlier, the listening skills, the different types of communication skills, they’re going to become more important than ever, because we can’t just rely on the technology.

Chris:
No, absolutely. I’m sitting here thinking, how can we build a way to provide people with purpose in their work day from a technology perspective?

Gregg:
For one, it’s content, then getting them the right content in front of them to get them to think, and challenge assumptions and beliefs. Then, again, you’ve got to bring in the conversation about that, and it can’t just be all online. You can serve up content … we have to be careful we don’t have people drinking from a fire hose, we can only take in so much.

Gregg:
I mean, if you watch what’s really going on out there … I mean, drinking from a fire hose is probably a really good analogy. Because we have more content than ever being thrusted at us. But our attention spans are getting smaller and smaller. My question to you, Chris, is how do we leverage technology to help us filter through what’s most meaningful for me to look at, at this time?

Chris:
Yeah. I think it’s all about understanding each other, isn’t it? What drives us, what we’re interested in, how we learn, all those sorts of things to help feed the right content back to the user.

Gregg:
Yeah, absolutely.

Chris:
Well, mate, I look forward to reading your book. I’ll have to pick that up off of Amazon, it’s called, Crave. That was just a quick little summary of some of the stuff that you go into your books. I look forward to reading that. Now, mate, obviously the experience of the user is a really high priority in anything that we want to do in the intelligent workplace.

Chris:
I’ve read this concept of creating a sense of awe for users as a great way to enhance their experience. We’ve got so much technology available to us that could do this. I’m just wondering, do you think that might work in helping build engagement, from your perspective?

Gregg:
Yeah. I think just like … Getting back to the idea of the smaller attention span. What I’m seeing among our clients is they want more integration of their technology into single platforms, because they don’t want to have their people going to too many different areas. Then, once they’re in that platform, there’s opportunities to provide content, appreciation, recognition, things like that, that will keep them engaged. A really strong communication platform. A lot of companies have Internets, but they can’t get their people to go to them.

Gregg:
How do you surprise them, and delight them when you can’t get them to use it? That actually really important piece is, again … You’ve heard me mention the intelligent leader. The intelligent leader drives everything. If we want to delight, and create awe, leveraging technology, we have to teach leaders how to do it, how to use the technology really well.

Gregg:
I go into companies all the time and, “Yeah, we’ve got this social recognition platform.” “Oh, yeah, really? What percentage of your managers do a recognition on a monthly basis?” “Um, five percent.” That’s 95 percent of your managers that are missing their opportunity to delight their people. Surprise them with a small dose of what they actually crave, respect, a sense of purpose, and in doing so, they strengthen relationship with them.

Chris:
Obviously this is your area of expertise, working with business’ to increase employee engagement. Do you feel like over your 20 year career that the technology that’s coming out … are you having to work harder, or is it making your life easier in trying to build these engaged workforces?

Gregg:
It’s absolutely making life easier when it’s used appropriately. When you can switch that from five percent of managers using your social recognition platform, just to stick with that example, and you can get north of 50 percent of them, it’s making everybody’s job easier. All because we’re taking the time to recognize and share best practices of what people are doing. That’s the key. An intelligent manager knows, “I’ve got to capture an example of what someone’s doing, show how it drives our values, and how it has impact. That way I’m giving people what they crave,” and then to the point you’re getting after, Chris, you’re sharing a best practice that makes everybody’s job easier, and more fruitful at work.

Chris:
Yeah, absolutely. I’m sitting here thinking that an employee engagement module solution just has to be a part of any intelligent workplace we decide to build in the future.

Gregg:
No question about it. Here’s the thing with employee engagement. It became a buzzword about a decade or so ago. It’s someone that’s motivated and committed. If you’re motivated and committed at work, you’re engaged. But there’s just not enough of that. Here’s the problem. In the workplace, where people are suffering now from … We don’t know how to monetize engagement. If we’re in a professional services organization where we’re suffering from turn over of our people, and we can’t find good quality people to get the work done, then we need to recognize our values in action, things like teamwork, delighting clients. Catch those examples, share them using the technology today, so others learn what great work looks like.

Gregg:
Guess what happens to turn over, over time? It goes down significantly. I speak regularly in front of audiences of all sizes, and I ask the question, “How many of you, show of hands, don’t like to be recognized when you’re doing a good job?” Do you know how many hands usually go up? Almost none. Nobody raises their hand, maybe one or two people. The one or two people that raise their hand, they misinterpret my question.

Gregg:
Then I ask another question, Chris. I say to the audience, “How many of you do a really good job recognizing your people?” Because these are almost always managers and leaders. I say, “How many of you are doing a really good job recognizing your people when they do a good job?” Again, maybe five, ten, fifteen percent of the hands go up, at the most. So that, right there, is what I believe is the culprit for our engagement challenges, globally.

Gregg:
We need to teach managers and executives in organizations, to be more intelligent workers, using our intelligent workplace technology. If we do that, we can make the world a much better place to work. I’ve got clients that attest to that with engagement levels three times the global average is, recognizing their people.

Chris:
Of course technology is just so great in allowing us to share these successes. Whether it be by video, or testimonials, or podcasts, or whatever. One of the things I think also would be great to give some help with technology, is instilling cultural values in new employees.

Chris:
I’m thinking that within this intelligent workplace I’m a new employee, I’m going to get given a computer … that whole onboarding process should really start then. I’m just not sure whether technology … Because to me values, I feel like they’re a personal thing, yes, but some of those companies are too big, and you’ve got to send them out via technology. Do you think that technology can help with us getting those messages across?

Gregg:
Yeah, I think it really can. I think you’re seeing quite a bit of it in the recruitment, the hiring, and the onboarding arena. For instance, you can leverage technology for recruitment, and hiring of people to see if they’re a good values fit. Then, you get them onboard, it’s time to indoctrinate them to your culture. What if every single time we hired somebody, there was a program in place where at the 15 day mark, the 30 day mark, 45 day mark, and 60 day mark, we took the time to share one thing that they did that brought our values to life, and helped drive one of the business results, accelerated business results in our business?

Gregg:
What if we did that versus always focusing on what people are doing wrong? We trained our managers in an onboarding process to leverage our technology, to capture and share an example. What if, Chris … What if at team meetings, whether it’s a daily shift huddle, whether it’s a weekly team meeting, a monthly team meeting … What if the first minute of that meeting was just scheduled right there, a one minute reminder on our values in action where those examples were shared?

Gregg:
Not just of the new hire, but of people in general. That’s an example, to me, of balancing, as we talked about earlier, the use of technology to gather those examples, so the leader can be sitting there with it right there on their phone. But also bringing in that human connection, that human piece that without that, technology is not going to drive a more engaged workforce. Because we’re still human beings, we have to be human and have those conversations.

Chris:
I’m going to leave with one final question, which I’m going to ask to everyone of my guests on this podcast series. I’m calling it my billion dollar question. Here it goes. Gregg, once the machines are doing all of our work for us, what will humans do? Are we destined to become the pets of AI in the future?

Gregg:
My opinion is it’s not going to happen. As I said earlier, we crave the human connection. Again, in the beginning of the Crave book, you’ll see I cite 80 years of research that tells us we crave respect, purpose, and a sense of relationship, in particular with our boss. If we want to make better places to work, we need leaders that are intelligent, and going to create the environment for more engagement.

Gregg:
Technology is a tool. I do not believe I will be alive during a time when technology is doing everything, because we are still human beings with brains that need to be nourished with human connection. But the technology is really exciting, and the things like LiveTiles is doing, and other organizations to help us be better humans and progress even further at what we’re trying to do, are much needed. They should be much appreciated, and people should be using them.

Chris:
I love it, mate. I love it. So, the take away for me tonight is that we need to work with technology, keep the human element there, create more intelligent workers, intelligent leaders, and always remember to come back to those three cravings of respect, purpose and relationship. Bundle that with technology, and we’ve got an intelligent workplace. How’s that for me summarizing the last half an hour with you?

Gregg:
Oh my gosh, you did a wonderful job. I’ll sum it up with, “Hey, look. If you give people more of what they crave, you can get a whole lot more engaged.” People that want to learn more about that, just go to Gregglederman.com. There’s all kinds of complimentary guides to do just about anything that I talked about today. How you create, how you define your values, and how you create and measure the engagement in your workplace.

Chris:
Absolutely. I’ve spent the last week and a half trolling through your website, looking at your various videos, checking out your old haircuts, your old suits, and [inaudible 00:20:27] the great content there. It’s absolutely fantastic, mate.

Gregg:
I went through a long hair phase for a little bit. Fortunately that ended.

Chris:
You did. The one thing that carries true through all your videos is your high energy delivery style.

Gregg:
Thank you, Chris. It’s been a pleasure to be here with you today.

Chris:
Thank you very much, Gregg Lederman for joining me this morning. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I’ve learned a lot, and I wish you well for the future. As you said, get out there and buy Crave, from Amazon.

Gregg:
Thanks for having me, Chris.

Chris:
Thanks for joining me on the Intelligent Workplace podcast, brought to you by LiveTiles. If you have any feedback, or want to suggest a guest for a future show, email podcast@livetiles.nyc. Thanks for listening, I’ll catch you next time.

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