20. Returning from Remote + Library Legacy

Episode 20: Returning from Remote + Library Legacy (Summary)

There’s a friction point coming, between those who want all their peers back in the office and those who want remote work arrangements to stay they are. We’ll cover bridging that gap, plus, the special story of the kid at the library who grew up to be a BossHero. It all starts now on Boss Better Now.

Links:
To learn more about Joe Mull, visit his website ​Joemull.com​.
To hear more from Joe Mull visit his YouTube channel​.
To learn how to invite Joe to speak at an event, visit ​Joemull.com/speaking​.
To check date availability or to get a quote for an event, email ​hello@joemull.com​.
To explore options for coaching from Alyssa Mullet, visit ​Joemull.com/coaching​.
For more information on the BossBetter Leadership Academy, visit Joemull.com/academy.
Email the show at bossbetternow@gmail.com.
To leave comments, ask questions, or to message us visit our Boss Better Now Podcast Facebook Page.
Connect with Joe on Instagram.
Connect with Joe on Twitter.
Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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Transcript – Episode 20: Returning from Remote + Library Legacy

Joe:
There’s a friction point coming between those who want all their peers back in the office and those who want remote work arrangements to stay as they are. We’ll cover bridging that gap. Plus, the special story of the kid at the library who grew up to be a BossHero. It all starts now on Boss Better Now.

Alyssa:
You’re listening to Boss Better Now. Please welcome, speaker, author, and COVID vaccinated, Joe Mull.

Joe:
Greetings BossHeroes, and welcome to your recharge. We gather on this here podcast to celebrate the commitment you make every day to make work, work for others. Our goal with each and every episode is to drop a nugget or two you might find helpful and to fill up your boss cup. I am joined once again by my co-host, executive and physician coach, Alyssa Mullet. Hello, my friend.

Alyssa:
I have my second shot tomorrow. I’m super excited for us. Yay vaccinations.

Joe:
So, you’ve talked, on the podcast, about the simmering rage that has persisted, uh, sometimes under the surface sometimes, you know, in full view, um, has that abated a little bit? How has the prospect of being vaccinated or getting vaccinated impacted your overall well-being?

Alyssa:
So, I think that it has maybe, uh, tempered it a bit, uh, in terms of the anger and the simmering-ness of it. Uh, but what it has also brought me is in exchange, this kind of hope, you know, that, um, there’s more control available to me. Right? Um, the simmering part though is still these social justice issues, the political climate that we’re still reeling from and all of those things, that pot is still simmering for me. And I feel like I don’t know what it’s going to take for humanity to restore itself for me. Cause I don’t think me going back out into it as a vaccinated person is gonna do it at this point. I think I have seen too much now. I feel too much about these very important things that I didn’t before. And I’m not quite sure if I want to turn down the burner.

Joe:
And so, you have a journey to go on to figure out how to live with that or how to channel it maybe in, in a healthier way, rather than it just be something that is debilitating for you. And I think a lot of folks are going through that right now. And I know that a part of your simmering rage… It was born out of just the fact that not everybody is doing their part, right. Not everybody is doing what they can to mitigate risk, to mitigate spread, to, to, to, you know, wear masks and social distance and, you know, not go places where you, you know, unless it was necessary. Um, I know that’s a part of it as well. So how will you begin to channel this so that you can again, emerge into the world?

Alyssa:
Yeah, I think, um, a couple of things that I’m trying to do proactively right now, um, that have become more imperative to me in the last couple of months is self-education – specifically around, um, racial justice issues, um, as well as science and, um, I mean, my husband’s a scientist, so I feel like that’s always been a part of my life, but trying to, again, immerse myself and educate myself first. Um, it’s not my job to educate everybody else in the world, but I think that there is a place for me to be an advocate for knowledge, um, for my family at minimum. Um, and, and perhaps, um, there’s a way to channel that, to serve a greater good. And so that’s the space that I’m trying to navigate now is education listening deeply, um, and changing who I’m listening to, who I’m seeing, and my social media feeds things of this nature to try to get more perspective and make myself available in a way to maybe turn down that burner, um, or channel it in a positive, impactful way that serves my value.

Joe:
Well, you are, and continue to be a role model for me on the journey that we all need to go on to just be the best version of ourselves that we can be and everything that you just listed there are the things that we probably should all be doing, especially in the climate that we’re in right now. I know that I would like us at some point to do an episode or two or many, many, many on what bosses need to do to create inclusive and equitable workplaces. That’s important. We’re, we’re starting to create some content around that right now for our Boss Better Leadership Academy. And it’s challenging, uh, in this, uh, in, in this day and age to… Um, especially, you know, someone like myself who checks every box as being in like the majority power groups, right. I am a straight, white male, cis-gendered, non-disabled, American. You know, and, and I get a lot of power and privilege by every one of those labels. And every one of those labels is also a bubble that insulates me from a lot of things that others see and hear and experience. And so, um, you know, we’re going to tee up a future episode here, I think just with what you and I were talking about, if you’d be up for that.

Alyssa:
Oh yeah, absolutely. I I’ve been trying, like I said to do the work on my own individually and I, so I have a bunch of resources, um, that I think that, um, could be beneficial to our audience as well. So hopefully, uh, we’ll have a lot of people go along on the journey with us. Yeah, absolutely.

Joe:
I love it. And so that’s something that BossHeroes that you can look forward to, uh, in the weeks ahead. For today, our plan was to talk about some things that I’ve been seeing in the headlines lately about remote work and returning from remote work environments. Because I think right now…Alyssa, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it seems like there’s a lot of conversation about emerging from the pandemic returning to work and starting to navigate the, the post virtual world for people in a lot of workplaces. And what I noticed is that we have been surrounded by contradictory information when it comes to remote work. Um, I’m a bit of a news junkie. I read a lot of different news sites every morning while drinking my coffee. Um, and there are competing headlines everywhere and I’m seeing them daily in major newspapers. I saw headlines this morning in Newsweek, Forbes, and Inc. Magazine. Uh, you’ll see one headline that says remote work has proven to work and it’s here to stay. And right next to that, you’ll see another headline that says the remote experiment has been a failure. Uh, and then right next to that, you’ll see a study that says employees are dying to come back to work. And then right below that is another report that says your employees are not coming back to work.

Joe:
Have you notice this out there in the world at all. And some of the news coverage, or even just online.

Alyssa:
Well, you know, so I get the lovely, like SHRM, uh, the Society of Human Resource Management, uh, news blurbs and things of that nature and kind of the HR take on all of those systems. And yes. So, there is a mixed messaging for sure. Um, I think in terms of what I have interpreted from those headlines, um, is what I generally experience in, in a mediation session with, with clients, which is there’s their story, his story, her story, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle there. Because the reality is while we may think of the past year, year and a half as an experiment, uh, you know, again, any scientist will tell you, that’s not really a proof of long-term concept, so the jury should still be out. Um, is that reality? Can we have that kind of longer-term experiment? I think that in some businesses, it’s saying, no, no, no, we can’t, we can’t keep doing this.

Alyssa:
You know? Um, so somewhere in the middle lies this space of what’s really going to work in the future. And do we have to make these, um, kind of imperative — only this black or white, uh, kind of rules and regulations, you know, according to the HR realms, gray is not good. So, we, we got to go with this is this way or this way, you know, and it has to be equitable, which I get. But again, I think that it’s going to be a really big maze for not just organizations as a whole, but put that down to our, our bosses out there, how they’re going to handle within their own teams, how that’s going to look in the future. What is your sense of what the middle is — the reality of what our bosses are going to experience?

Joe:
So, I, as I alluded to in the opening of the show, I think there’s a friction point coming, uh, in a couple of different ways. Um, one of those friction points is related to what people believe about remote work, right, right now there’s a chorus of voices who are resisting returning to in-person work. They’re saying, um, I’m happier working from remote. It’s less stressful. It’s better, it’s more enjoyable. Yet, there are studies that demonstrate that some people working from home are more stressed and less happy. Um, not all of them. You have to look at those studies carefully that there, there is, as we’ve said, there’s contradictory information out there. Um, we, I’m sure in some organizations, we’ll see some data that says that their remote employees were just as productive and effective in a virtual environment than they were on-site. And you will have some other places where maybe that doesn’t hold true.

Joe:
So, I think that’s going to be a friction point at one level. The other friction point that I think is coming is on teams and across leadership in some organizations. Um, we know some people thrive when they’re surrounded by people and they get drained when they’re alone. And we know that some people thrive alone, and they get drained when they have to spend a lot of time around people. And this is … the friction point is going to be between these two groups of folks. Because what’s important to understand is that your employees will advocate for the environment that most caters to their personality preferences. And they will also de-value it’s opposite, right? When, when those who thrive around others say, we need to all be on-site to make this work, the introvert, the introverts are gonna say, “No, we don’t. That’s not true. This past year just proved it’s possible.”

Joe:
And then when those who thrive via remote environments say, Hey, there is no reason we can’t maintain complete virtual employment. The extroverts are gonna say, “No way, not true. This past year just proved it’s harmful.” And so, yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head, which is that the best approach likely exists between these extremes. Um, we have to figure out how to provide flexibility for employees without inequity. I think, you know, the organizations who commit to flexibility at the individual level and who encouraged their frontline and mid-level leaders to engage in an open dialogue that prioritizes worker needs and wants, they’re the ones who are going to reap the rewards. So, I think we need to have leaders approaching this question in the most kind of downstream level as possible. Starting at the individual level, what’s working for you. What has come out of this pandemic that you want to keep? What do you want to return to? How do we strike a balance? And then we move individual then to team then to, you know, my division and then my organization, uh, because we know that when you give employees autonomy and influence their engagement goes up. So, here’s an opportunity to do that, right? To say, “Hey, what’s worked for you. And what parts of that can we keep?”

Alyssa:
Excellent. That’s uh, I mean, I, I hope folks got off the elliptical and, or had their post-it notes handy because that was like a, how to enact a great, uh, case strategy in terms of starting at the individual level. So, bosses out there, these are the kinds of questions that you have to start approaching thinking that you have to start here and then work up to the big picture and be able to take your big picture to your big picture. Okay. Um, because that’s creating the environment that will most enable the majority of your teams to thrive. That’s when to create the conditions to have success.

Joe:
And I brought a, uh, two stats with me that jumped off a page in something I was reading the other day. Microsoft did a survey of 31,000 full-time and self-employed people in 31 different markets. And across this survey, 66% of, of workers said that they were craving more in-person time at work. And 70% expressed a desire to keep virtual remote work arrangements. So, this is the same survey. 66% said they were craving more in-person time at work. And 70% indicated a desire to keep virtual remote work arrangements. And guess what folks, both of those things can be true. Right? You can have people who say, I want some like touching, right? I want some of the in-person like proximity and I, some days want to work in my PJ’s. And like, both of those things can be true. What, what matters right now is the open dialogue to identify a construct that caters to everyone. But you know that that’s flexible enough to meet people where they are. Uh, but not in a way that is inequitable. You can’t give one employee a certain level of flexibility and then give another employee in the same kind of role, a different set of choices. Right. You’re creating a liability for yourself there. Um, but you know, here’s the thing. Go ahead.

Alyssa:
I think that’s so the statistics so are like making my brain sizzle out. Okay. Because this is like the exact example of cognitive dissonance in a very real way that we in HR are like, well you, it can’t both be true. You can’t have both.

Joe:
And of course, you can. I mean, of course they, they can both be true. You can say sometimes I want to be close to people. And sometimes I don’t, I would like the option of being able to do my job remotely some of the time, while also coming into the office and being connected to my peers some of the time. And I think that’s what that data is, is saying.

Alyssa:
Hmm. I, it reminds me of this concept, um, that I learned early in my, um, career entry into working with individuals with disabilities. Was, um, I had this, um, mentor who told me the story of what the, the term handicapped actually meant. Um, and it comes from this old, uh, kind of story of hand in cap. Cap in hand. As in, uh, individuals with disabilities were out there begging for money, right? And so that’s where that word came from. And so, this person-centered language was always what you were taught whenever you, um, entered into this realm of work. And so that’s why I say individuals with disabilities. So, you’re putting the person first. And that’s what I think that we need to hold onto here. In all of this dissonance, is that we have to be putting the person, the people first before anything else, any system, any in-person out-person, remote, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah person first, not these systems first. Person first. That’s seems like if we do that thing, and we hold ourselves accountable to that — rather than some kind of system that we’ve been accustomed to — that seems like it might work.

Joe:
You are often on this podcast quick to compliment my ability to tie things together, uh, in a nice bow. And I need to take this opportunity to tell you what a phenomenal job you just did doing that very sort of thing. Because not only did you get to the heart of the matter, which is really about people first – work with the individual – work up from there. But the example that you used was about creating an equitable and inclusive workplace. And in talking about some of the differences that show up in the workplace, sometimes using the example of non, of, uh, you know, disabled persons, individuals with disabilities, and calling back to the conversation we just had, uh, about social justice. And so, my friend, well done, I’m going to give you a triangle ding.

Alyssa:
Wow, I’m honored. And that is high praise coming from you. You must, must be rubbing off on me, Joe.

Joe:
Well, that brings us to everybody’s favorite segment – The Camaraderie Question of the Week. Every week, we ask a question of our audience and each other that you could take to team meetings and huddles in an effort to help the members of your teams find things in common with each other. We know that when you help members of teams find things in common with each other, they access each other’s humanity. That cuts down on team drama, improves collaboration, and generally makes people take better care of each other. And so, our Camaraderie Question of the Week, this week, Alyssa, excluding social media and camera. What three apps do you use on your phone the most? And you’re smiling. If anybody’s watching on YouTube, you see that Alyssa is smiling. Uh, and so I will let everybody else in on a secret. Um, we have answered this question already. We had a large team meeting, uh, for Joe Mull and Associates last week. And this was the question that we used at our meeting for our own Camaraderie Question of the Week. And we had so much fun talking about it. I thought I’m bringing this one to the podcast. So, I know your answer. You know, mine, but let’s share it with the audience. What are the — excluding social media and camera? What three apps do you use on your phone the most?

Alyssa:
Okay, so you’re going to get maybe a, I don’t know, a redacted version for the podcast. Cause I got family listening to this man. Okay. So, uh, my first, my first app is my Sweat app, which is a, um, a fitness app. I have a personal trainer on there, um, and I love it. So that’s every morning I’m on my Sweat app. My second one is my Kindle app. Um, I use my Kindle to read books that are not, uh, fueling for my brain, I use that as my escape pod for reading that I would otherwise not do. Let’s just put it that way. Okay. Number three is toss-up between, um, there’s a, an educational course that I’m taking right now. Um, stay tuned listeners, uh, for that. And that’s called Notion. And so, I’m on that a lot. And then it’s also tied with Spotify because I listen to podcasts every morning, whenever I’m exercising. So that is also on there.

Joe:
I feel like the fact that you led with, well, I can’t tell you what they really are cause it’s a family show you know it’s just everybody on the internet is going, what didn’t she say? Like what’s the, and that… The answers You gave now were the same answers. You, you gave it at our team meeting last week. So, so I don’t know what, what you were censoring, but, um, you know, congratulations on letting our audience’s imagination run wild with them.

Alyssa:
That’s what I’m here for, you know, bringing the intrigue. Well… so turn around, turnabout is fair, play. Let’s, let’s go over your answers, Joe.

Joe:
I don’t have nearly as, um, racy or an imaginative answer, as you may have alluded to. Um, mine are kind of boring. I think, um, I use the Lose It app every day. Um, I just passed 400 consecutive days of logging my food. This is, uh, a core habit that I needed to adopt to just make sure that I make maintain consistent, healthy behaviors with, with some food choices. Um, so every day, every meal, I log in the Lose It app. And you heard me say earlier in the show, I’m a bit of a news junkie every morning. Uh, when I drink my coffee, I catch up on the news in the Apple News app. It’s a, um, it’s like a news’ aggregator. I know you’re not an Apple person, but uh, Apple has an app where you can (Alyssa: Bad fruit.) There’s, there’s the oh…. don’t go there.

Joe:
The, the, you can pull in a lot of different types of, uh, sites and news sources. And so, I used that and read that pretty closely. And then the third is probably the Sirius XM app. I’m a big Sirius XM fan. I’ve been a subscriber for years, love it in the cars. And I stream it in my office a lot when I’m working and some days it’s, you know, Lithium or Turbo and it’s like Rock channels. And some days it’s like Yacht Rock Mellow Eighties Gold because I’m just feeling that when I’m working right, um,

Alyssa:
That is a very specific genre…

Joe:
There’s a lot of subcategories in the app. They’re super fun to explore. Um, you know, some days I’ll, I’ll listen to sports talk and you know, some days I listen to the news. Uh, so I love having that. And it gets played a lot in my office.

Alyssa:
I love this question so much because I took notes, uh, whenever we did it around, um, our team meeting and it’d be it you’re reminding me about being accountable for, you know, eating and things like that nature. I was like, I really got to get back into that. And so, in the last week I too have started to track my food again on my Fitbit. And so, I was like, see this, this camaraderie question…. It’s, it’s actually not a joke. Like it can actually spur some stuff to actually happen in an individual’s life.

Joe:
And, and one of my favorite parts of that at our team meeting last week was almost everybody around the table, or it was a zoom meeting around the Brady Bunch boxes mentioned something that somebody else wrote down, somebody else said, wait, what was that? And they wrote it down. And we all heard about apps that people use religiously daily, that we didn’t even know about. And so, I think everybody kind of left going, Hey, I got to check this out. And yeah, I like this question for that reason too. So, take this one to your teams and your huddles folks. It’s a fun, easy way to go around the room. Uh, the question was excluding social media and camera. What three apps do you use on your phone the most? And that is the Camaraderie Question of the Week.

Joe:
Hey BossHeroes, more than once you’ve heard me say commitment comes from better bosses, but where do better bosses come from? Answer: The Joe Mull and Associates Boss Better Leadership Academy. The managers on your team aren’t going to develop the self-awareness, knowledge, skills, and relationships critical to success in a one-day training. If you want them to motivate teams, maximize effort, and create the conditions for your employees to thrive, they need ongoing education. When your organization subscribes to our Boss Better Leadership Academy, all your leaders get to join me for a monthly learning event. These live coaching clinics, micro trainings, and dynamic virtual summits take just a few minutes each month. And the year-round access to our digital vault gives you all the recordings for on-demand use, new manager onboarding, and more. Oh, and everything we do is evidence-based and highly entertaining – if I do say so myself. Best of all, for most organizations, you can get a year of this continuous leadership development training for less than the cost of bringing me on-site for a one-hour keynote. If you want managers to lead well, they need to work on it year-round. It’s like going to the gym. If you go once, you’ll get a good workout, but no long-term results. If you keep going though, you get healthier and healthier over time. The same is true for bosses. They need continuous learning and mentorship. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s give your leaders the skills, tools, and knowledge they need to supercharge commitment and boss better. For more information, including pricing, visit joemull.com/academy.

Joe:
Okay, Alyssa, I am very excited because we are going to finish this episode with a BossHero story. You’re going to like this as, uh, as folks who have listened to our podcast may know — every once in a while, we try to spotlight, uh, everyday people who are out there leading in one way or another, uh, and who are making a difference in the world. And so, we want to award BossHero status today to two ladies, as a result of an email I got last week from Rachel in New England. Now Rachel found us by first reading my book, No More Team Drama, which led her to subscribe to our free Boss Better email newsletter, and ultimately to our podcast. I like her already. Uh, she emailed just to say how much she was…She emailed just to say how much she was enjoying all our stuff.

Joe:
Uh, and in that email, I asked her a little bit more about her story. And here’s what she said. After 27 years as a children’s librarian, I became the director of the library last year. I had no interest in the job. I truly loved my role as the children’s librarian, and I saw how unhappy previous directors had been. I saw firsthand the challenges they had to endure. So, she went on to explain that that when their last director left, she was named interim and she sat on the search committee to fill the position, but they couldn’t find anybody. They couldn’t find the right person. And ultimately the town manager asked her to take the director role permanently. She wrote, I started to have some hope that I could make positive changes. So, I agreed. That was one month before COVID.

Joe:
So, Rachel spent the next year reorganizing the library structure, reinventing a new model of service and giving – as she describes it – serious time toward addressing long-standing dysfunction among staff on the team. She said a year later, and now we are actively addressing the behavior of two employees that are at the heart of the toxicity. I also eliminated several things, including a group chat which fuel dysfunction, communication patterns, dysfunctional communication patterns, and was distracting for everyone. Rachel says, now her team is embracing change and moving forward in a positive way. But Alyssa, this is my favorite part of the story. This is going to give you all the feels.

Joe:
She said, I have to tell you about this Joe. Way back in my first few years as the children’s library. And I had a 10-year-old girl named Megan asked if she could volunteer. She wanted to be a librarian someday. And so, she began helping shelve books and work on various projects for me. Over the years, I wrote Megan many letters of recommendation for scholarships and other opportunities as she progressed through schooling and into her early work life. Believe it or not, that little girl grew up, completed a degree in library sciences, and several months before our previous director resigned, we hired Megan to be our adult programming librarian. So of course, when I became the library director, I immediately offered my previous position of children’s librarian to Megan, which is the job she always wanted. She is now not only my children’s librarian, but because she’s taken many courses in leadership and management, she is also my assistant director.

Joe:
You see, Rachel emailed me to talk about Megan. She said, I’m not sure I would’ve given up my old job, which I truly loved if I hadn’t known that the families and children I so enjoyed serving would be in Megan’s capable hands. Megan has been a tremendous help and partner to me in moving our staff forward into a more functional organization. I could not have made these changes without her support and her help. So, she goes on to say that she listens to our podcast to and from work every day and loves that it’s an affirming and positive set of conversations.

Joe:
Alyssa, there’s so much goodness, in this story, the story of both of these ladies, what stands out to you?

Alyssa:
This, Oh man, life goals hashtag um… So, mentorship is the first word that comes to mind is that, you know, God, their relationship started when she was 10. I mean like that is the stuff that like Hallmark movies are made of. So, in any case, I think, I think the biggest thing for me, um, as a leader would be look for those opportunities, um, to diversify your perspectives through. Maybe it’s not a ten-year-old, maybe it’s somebody that is a 60-year-old that you think is on the way out the door. You know, maybe it’s someone that’s in a way different department than you. That looks way different than you. These are the kinds of experiences and perspectives that we need, um, that can enrich our lives in ways that we couldn’t even dream to write.

Joe:
Yes. And I think my favorite part of the story is, I mean, obviously little girl goes to the library, falls in love with the library, wants to become a librarian and then goes and gets that job at that same library. That is incredible. My other favorite part of the story is Rachel’s humility. How common is it for an experienced established librarian to take someone they knew as a child and decide this person knows more about something than I do. I mean, Rachel went out of her way to say, Megan has more leadership and management courses and experience in her background than I do. So, I needed her to advise me and help guide the direction of our organization. Uh, you know, we all have people in our lives who knew us when they are, when we were kids, they will never see us as adults. Right. I, you know, that that’s true for aunts and uncles a lot, I think. The fact that Rachel is comfortable enough in her own skin and in her capacity as a leader, to look at this person and say, you’re probably more capable than me in some of these areas. And so why don’t we elevate you so that you can have an impact and make a difference? That’s incredible. That that’s, that takes leadership, courage and leadership humility. And that’s not something that everybody has. That is a BossHero.

Alyssa:
Yeah, no, I mean, I’m still trying to work on that whole ego thing cause I ain’t there yet.

Joe:
Well, Rachel and Megan are both going to get a Boss Better Now, swag bag — something that we’re putting together with some podcast related goodies. Uh, and so we’re going to send that up to them when they are ready. And so, Rachel and Megan, uh, seriously, our heartfelt thanks to you and all the good you do in your community there. And thank you for being role models for the rest of us on how to lead and serve others.

Joe:
If you would like to share the story of a BossHero in your life, we would love to hear it. And we might even spotlight it here on the show. And then of course you could win some cool stuff. The way that you can share your BossHero stories with us. It’s pretty simple. Go to bossherostories.com. You can fill out a quick form. Tell us a little bit about the story that we should share, and we’ll take a close look at it. Of course, you can always email us at the show with any of your comments, suggestions, or feedback at bossbetternow@gmail.com.

Joe:
That’s the show for this week. And until next time friends keep showing up and keep caring about your people. It’s the only way to achieve wins, get results and change lives. Thanks for listening.

Alyssa:
This show is sponsored by Joe Mull and Associates. Remember commitment comes from better bosses. Visit joemull.com today.

 

 

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