Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast

Building a People-First Culture at Work with Annette Franz

March 27, 2022 Russel Lolacher Episode 13
Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast
Building a People-First Culture at Work with Annette Franz
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chat withs author and consultant Annette Franz, on company culture and how to put people-first in your organization to keep them engaged (and some of the red flags you might be going the wrong way).

Annette shares her experience and from her new book BUILT TO WIN...

  • What organizations don't understand about culture
  • How corporate and personal values fit to build culture
  • How you can check-in on how your culture is progressing (or not)
  • Red flags and mistakes to a broken culture
  • How outside-in, inside-in decision making can be impactful (for good and bad)

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For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

Russel Lolacher
And on the show, it’s Annette Franz and here’s why she is awesome. She’s the founder and CEO of CX Journey, Inc, she’s on Forbes Coaches Council. And she’s a long standing member and board member of CXPA Customer Experience Professional Association. Oh, I’m not done. I’m just breathing in all this air cuz I have to get it out with all the stuff that she’s been doing. She’s an author of the first book. Amazing. By the way, if you haven’t checked it out yet, Customer Understanding – Three Ways To Put The Customer And Customer Experience Into The Heart of Your Business. The woman loves a subheading. Here we go, we got another one. And her latest one, which I’m have in my hot little hand right now, is called Built To Win – Designing A Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value For Your Business. Lots of honors, lots of awards. And if you do a little Google Search, which I love very much, she also took Animal Science at Ohio State University. I love LinkedIn for that very reason to find out that stuff. Hi, Annette.

Annette Franz
Hello, Russel. How are you? Thank you for that. Yes, that’s That’s quite the story of where it all began, right.

Russel Lolacher
Scrolling down LinkedIn, I’m like… Animal Science! I’m mentioning that.

Annette Franz
Well, I grew up on a farm. So that was my dream as a girl was I’m going to be a veterinarian, you know. And that quickly came to an end when I found out six quarters of chemistry to get into that school. So yeah, chemistry is my kryptonite. So nope, wasn’t going to happen.

Russel Lolacher
And thanks for removing it from my career path, too. Yeah, I had no idea about this. So on the show, today, we’re talking culture, culture, culture, culture, because in this book built to win, which is very, this is interesting, very customer centric. Now, the podcast, of course, is all about employee engagement and employee experience. And you go through this book, and spoilers. The one of the biggest part of this book is about culture, even though it says customer centric, and people are gonna think, well, you know, customer experience, how you deal with the customer. But you’re getting into the foundation, like how is your organization actually built? And actually deliver? The first question I have, that I love defining his things like this, what is culture?

Annette Franz
Yeah, that’s, it’s a great question, it’s a great place to start, right culture, the way that I define it is core values plus behaviors, right core values and behaviors. So you, you define your core values, and then you have to also identify acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for each of those core values. And, and it’s really then becomes, you know, the way that we do things around here, that’s how people often describe it, right. But that’s how it becomes how we do things around here, because you’ve got the core values, you live those core values, based on behaviors that are both, you know, acceptable and unacceptable. So you know, what you need to do.

Russel Lolacher
So we hear about this all the time, where our company values that I mentioned, our company values, hey, look at the poster on my wall, company values, company values, you know, oh, shit territory of what is values. We know, organizations are not necessarily getting this, even though your explanation and definition are pretty straightforward. So what don’t organizations understand about culture?

Annette Franz
You just made a great point. It can’t just be, you know, the poster on the wall, right? You know, it has to be they have to be socialized, and they have to be operationalized. And there’s a lot of different ways to socialize them, get get them out there and get everybody understanding what they are. But the key really is operationalize them. And, and, and that really means that we need to use those core values when we hire when we fire when we promote, when we make decisions. When we create policies, when we create processes, everything we do has to be done through the lens of those core values. Otherwise, you know, it’s, it’s pointless, and you don’t get the culture that you deliberately are trying to design.

Russel Lolacher
So your company knows their values, whether they act on them, but they’re certainly aware of them. How does that intersect in the realm of culture when it comes to people’s personal values? Because they’re bringing stuff from home, that maybe family is important, but a lot of corporations are going well, family is our number one value? How do those align to benefit culture?

Annette Franz
Well I think there’s a couple of different thoughts on this. So first one is we talked about culture fit, and a lot of times that makes you know, people’s eyes roll and you know, whatever. But I really do believe that culture fit is sort of a two sided thing, right? It’s it’s the employer looking at the employee or a potential employee and saying, Is this person a fit? Or do they embody what we live every day? And then for the employee, the employee has to say, okay, what are your core values? I mean, they need to ask that, you know, what are your core values and I’m an employee’s employees like to work for companies, most of the time, where their values align with the company values, right? And here’s the crazy thing is like, if you look at core values on the company’s website, no. Sometimes they’re kind of mushy and squishy and not so far off from what the normal person’s values would be right? So now they have to step back and take a look at some other things, what’s the brand purpose, the brand promise, you know, some of the other corporate statements too, just to make sure that they align with the organization. So culture fit is one of those things, right? I mean, it really is, on both the employer and the employee to make sure that we, we work for a place where we hire folks who align with the values of our organization. And you know, to your point about the book, being about a customer centric culture, when we have a customer centric culture, one of those at least one of those values is going to be something around people, you know. People-first, customers are, you know, we are obsessive about customers, or you know, whatever those values are. So we want to make sure that we hire people who care about people, and who aren’t like, I don’t want to be on the phone, I don’t want to work, you know, they’re they’re just not, we always say hire for attitude, train for skill. And it really is true that you want somebody that is, is obviously going to care about their colleagues, but they’re also going to care about the people outside of the organization that they interact with.

Russel Lolacher
I want to dig a little deeper into that, that you say, customer centric culture in the book. Yep. But you also say employees more first. And we’ve also heard people-first. And I remember our conversation on LinkedIn right, said customer first and you’re like, No, no, not this. So what are we talking about here? I just want to get a little more definition of terms.

Annette Franz
Yeah, no, I think it’s a great a great, great question. So a couple of different things that I’ll try to point out there. So we can’t have a customer centric culture, without taking care of our people and our people, our you know, all people, right. It’s employees, its customers, its vendors, its partners, it’s everything, it really, I could have called the book or I could have called the concept people-centric, because it really is about putting people-first, you know, three of the principles I talked about in the book are people before products, profits, and metrics. So it really is about putting your people-first. And the reason that I often just use that term people is because we know that the employee experience drives the customer experience, right? That’s why we say if customers are first and employees have to be more first, we have to make sure that employees are taken care of that they have the tools, the resources, the training, everything that they need to do the job that they need to do. And one of the things you probably read it in the book, I share the story a lot. When I when I first start working with clients, I’ll interview executives, employees and customers at a company. And the most profound thing that I hear from employees is, first of all, obviously, everybody comes to work wanting to do a great job and they want to want to nobody comes to work and says, Hey, I’m gonna have a crappy day today. That’s the nobody does that right there. Now I’m gonna, I’m going to I’m coming, I’m coming to work today. And I’m just gonna, you know, piss off all our customers kind of thing, right. But the most profound thing that I hear from them is, I don’t have the tools, I don’t have the resources, the policies are broken, or outdated, the processes are broken or outdated. I don’t have the tools, the resources, etc, etc, to serve my customers the way that they deserve to be served. The first time I heard that from employees, I thought, wow, first of all that right there is sort of the epitome of the employee experience drives customer experience connection, but they get it employees get it right. And so we really do need to put our employees first and take care of our employees.

Russel Lolacher
Who owns culture in an organization?

Annette Franz
Hmm, great question. I mean, it’s, it’s not…Well, a it’s couple things. First of all, I think it’s the CEO. It’s not your HR department, if you have a head of people and culture, a talent, culture, whatever, I think that’s that individual or that group does. But first and foremost, I think it’s a CEO, I think that the CEO sets the tone. The CEO and the executive team, have to walk the walk and talk the talk. They’re not excluded from living these core values and building the culture that they you know, these cultures have to be delivered they’re not deliberately designed you get the culture you design your you get the culture you allow, right and so that’s why it has to start from from from the top. I also believe that there’s this bottom up approach to right once the CEO and the executive team set the tone. There’s got to be this grassroots groundswell the employees have to adopt it and you know, live it and so then they own it, right. So so it is a combination, it’s top down and bottom up, but I firmly believe it starts at the top.

Russel Lolacher
As an organization, you’ve designed what you believe will be the most amazing, bestest ever, people-centric culture. How do you check in on that? It’s not like something that you’re just going to design and forget about and go okay, employee now it’s on you not to fuck this up. Yeah. Like it’s it’s how do employees or how do executives make sure that what they’ve designed continues to be successful, impactful, purposeful?

Annette Franz
Well, you know, and it’s a great question. I mean, there are ways to measure culture. So that’s one thing, you know, it’s funny because people do think that it’s just fluff, oftentimes, and there’s no way to measure it, there are ways to measure your culture, you’ve got your governance structure, and you know, that committee set up the culture committee can, is one of those committees in that governance structure, they can take it upon themselves to sort of take a pulse of what’s going on within each of you know, because it’s a cross functional committee, right. So they can taste and take a pulse on an ongoing basis of what’s going on in their departments, or in their part of the organization, taking a pulse is is a great way to do it, I am working with a client here in Orange County that, you know, they actually use survey platform that allows them to just, you know, throw out questions every year on their Slack channel, every couple of weeks, just to kind of check in on people. And the best way to do it is just to talk to people and pay attention to what’s going on in the organization. But there are formal measurement, you know, probably one of the bigger metrics, or one of the bigger ways to know if it’s going the way you want it to go is just looking at sort of some of the business outcomes, right? What’s your employee retention? Like? What are employees saying, when they leave the organization? What’s happening with your customers and what our customers saying, you know, I, there’s a lot of different ways that you can get feedback about what’s happening with your culture today. The problem is, though, with some of that is that you have to be open to hearing it, you have to be open to paying attention to it, you have to be able to tie it back to the culture and not just try to say, Oh, well, that was just, you know, start making excuses for why did things happen, you actually have to be able to be open to tying it back to the culture. And I think that’s, that’s key, you can measure all you want, but you have to be open to knowing that the culture is the foundation. And if that screwed up, then other things will get screwed up down the line.

Russel Lolacher
So say, you’re not quite sure what kind of a culture you have in your organization. If I’m an executive, and you know, I love my metrics. And you know, I love to point to things like what what would I be looking at going, yes, I’ve achieved good people-first culture,

Annette Franz
it is going to be around retention, it’s going to be around your employee engagement scores. There are tools out there that you can use, like I said, to measure your culture, and you can use those metrics to track it as well. But I do think I honestly think the biggest thing is going to be retention. And then you know, if you have a way of tracking, obviously, productivity, I think that’s, I think that’s one thing, when you start to see a culture going toxic, you know, things start falling apart. And you will see that very quickly. And I don’t know that that’s necessarily in any number except for a retention and engagement, right? I mean, it’s funny, because when you define employee experience, people often confuse employee experience with culture. And they’re not the same thing. But the culture really is sort of the foundation of, you know, being able to design and deliver a great employee experience going forward. So so the very first place you’re going to see it is in your employees, and then it’s going to trickle down the line, right? And then you’re going to see it in your customer retention and customer satisfaction, because it all, it all is linked together.

Russel Lolacher
I hope leaders are looking sooner than later, when see their culture is going downhill. And they’re waiting for people to leave before they start paying attention. Right? I would rather I would hope that they’re looking for more smaller gestures, ie people aren’t providing feedback as readily or being as honest with their feedback as readily. What are some red flags that you think that leaders should be really looking for?

Annette Franz
I think that’s a great point, collaboration stops happening, right? People just sort of stick to themselves and don’t want to be a part of, I’ll use a prime example of a client that I worked with a couple years ago, they don’t attend the social events, they don’t participate, they aren’t as open about, they kind of just shut down, you know, the one client that I’m referencing it, the leadership team, I noticed it first when they said, you know, we have these monthly events that we do, and it’s their social events, and it’s just something we do and employees would always go go to them. But now all of a sudden, you know, they’re making excuses about why they don’t go and and they’re not showing up and it’s this or it’s that so So you’re absolutely right. It suddenly there’s gossiping, a lot of gossiping, and the meetings after the meetings, and there are those kinds of things that start happening and then things just turn sour from there. So yeah, you’re right. There are a lot of sort of little little signals that happen before even before the retention and the engagement numbers go down. Absolutely.

Russel Lolacher
How does a good culture fuel employee engagement

Annette Franz
So a good culture there’s there’s there’s this chart that I our graphic that I have in the book that basically says that you know, if you have that foundation in place, right if you if you’ve hired people who are culture fit and that has so many Good things to it versus some people think it’s a bad thing. But if you hire for culture fit, if you have the core values in place, and everybody understands those, if you’ve got leadership who’s living and breathing, I mean, there’s so much to that foundation of culture, right? That and employees have what they need to do their jobs, then and the workplace is sane. And there’s psychological safety, there’s no fear of recourse, like, there’s so much that goes into to that definition of culture, it gets simplified when we say core values plus behaviors, but there’s so much that actually is involved in all of that, right? And so much around that. So when we have that foundation, when we have that solid foundation, and it’s a good foundation, and it’s positive, then employees are aligned with the values, they’re aligned with the purpose, they have the sense of belonging, right, and they have this sense of achievement, and they feel valued, and they feel appreciated. It’s reflected in their energy and enthusiasm and the the, they want to be productive. And that’s how we get to the, to the engagement, right, that it’s the engagement to me is sort of a it’s a two way street, right? It’s sort of this confluence of some things, the employer, something great has been done by the employer. And that is developing that foundation, that culture that that safe space that great workplaces, and then the contributions from the employee as well, you know, I’ve made this emotional commitment to doing a great job, and they feel a sense of belonging and all of that. So when those two come together, t hat’s when we when we start to see those higher engagement numbers, absolutely.

Russel Lolacher
I want to build to win my organization, I want to know steps that will either reinforce the great work I’m already doing in an organization or turret right ship, as it were. So what advice would you give, because the books really good at laying out considerations and things you should do? But where should you start to change the culture or of your organization?

Annette Franz
Yeah, it really is. And this the things that we’ve talked about already leadership and culture, right, that’s, it’s got to start with leadership, right? leadership has to be, first of all, they need to know what kind of culture they want to design, right? I mean, that’s, that’s critical. And, and for me, if we’re talking about especially a customer centric culture, but whatever, whatever your culture is, I feel like it has to be delivered, it is deliberately designed to be to be the way it is, right. And in order to do that, first of all, there has to be a commitment from the leadership team, from the executive team from all from all the leaders in the organization. And they, they have to be aligned on it right, they all have to be in agreement that this is what we’re going to do this is who we’re going to be this is how we’re going to do things around here. The thing about a culture is it’s, it’s, you know, there’s a couple things, right, so you have a culture that you want in the entire organization, but you will have these different subcultures popping up within the organization, for the different teams and departments and stuff, but you want your main culture to be the one that you deliberately designed to be that way. And so you have to have, that’s where it’s got to start, it’s got to start with that leadership commitment and alignment. Because it is, you know, I’ll just talk about customer centric culture for a minute, its customers being customer-centric, and customer-centricity runs through the entire organization, we don’t have just an individual who’s customer-centric or department that’s customer-centric, or we’re sending out customer-centric messaging. Customer, a customer-centric culture is a culture I mean, customer-centricity runs through the veins of the organization, it’s the way that I define it is, you know, there’s no no discussions, no decisions, no designs without bringing in that customer voice without asking, how is this going to impact her? How’s it going to make her feel? What value does it deliver for the customer? If we don’t have the entire organization on board? If not, if every leader in every department in every division isn’t on board with that? It Tran it trickles down to making it challenging for employees? And then ultimately, you know, customers? Have it have an experience that’s not seamless? It’s an inconsistent experience across the brand. So sorry, I’m dying over here. I’m just coughing. Don’t mind me.

Russel Lolacher
Oh, good. That’s what good editing is for. It’s all good.

Annette Franz
Yes, I’ve run out of tea too. So perfect.

Russel Lolacher
You sort of touched on it a bit, and I’m immediately flaring when I hear intentional and design. Because the flip side of that is trying to change things and realizing it’s not going to be a quick fix. It’s going to take some time there is going to be some effort involved. So what are some further mistakes you’ve seen leadership make when they’re going through the motions of we’re going to change culture because I hear those that phrase a lot, but I’m like, you know, it’s gonna be a while right? This is not something we’re going to do on a weekend.

Annette Franz
Well, and that’s probably the biggest mistake is they think it’s going to happen in a weekend. How can It really is it’s a it’s a, it can take three to five years sometimes, you know, but but that is probably the biggest mistake of thought that this can happen overnight, I think because there are really sort of four things that go into really making that change or ensuring that that change is going to happen. So first of all, you got to involve your employees, you’ve got to communicate, communicate, communicate, you’ve got to model the behaviors, and then you’ve got to reinforce, if you fail on any one of those things, you’re going to have a setback, right? Or you’re just gonna, you’re just going to fail in general, right? So you’ve got to make sure you involve and bring employees along, from the from the beginning, right, involve them in the process, don’t force change on them, you’ve got to communicate why, why are we changing? Why are we changing the culture? What does it mean? What’s in it for me? What happens if we don’t change? What’s in it for the business? What, you know, those kinds of things, leaders have to model the behavior. And, and I and I use some examples in the book, where leaders, you know, their core values, say one thing, and then the leader say another thing, and those companies are, you know, no longer in business, the examples that I use what went back to, like, you know, 2000 2000 2008 2009 financial crisis, but you know, what, if you’re going through a crisis, your core values are the things that are going to hold the business together. So if you don’t model those behaviors, and reinforce, reinforces the fourth component, if you don’t reinforce the behaviors and the culture that you want, then it’s not going to happen, you know, and I was also saying the book, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right. So if you want your employees to act a certain way, leaders have to act that way, too. And they’ve got to model it, and they’ve got to reinforce it. And so I think that’s where the biggest failures happen is, if any one of those A, it’s, you know, it’s not going to happen overnight. And B, if any one of those four things aren’t done consistently, you’re going to have a setback, or you’re going to fail.

Russel Lolacher
In the book, you actually mentioned that culture fit could be a whole other book. But I just want to touch on it one more time, because you’ve mentioned it earlier, vision and mission. amazingly useful tools, if used correctly, how would you recommend that be used even at the onboarding, even in the interview process, around how vision and mission could help with that culture fit?

Annette Franz
I think we have to look at all of our corporate statements when we when we’re hiring, right, I think it’s important to look at, obviously, values, that’s, that’s sort of the key of the culture fit. But we want somebody who’s going to be on board with where we’re going, right? You know, I actually work with a company right now, where they just hired an executive who is on board where the company is today, but he’s not on board with where the company is going. And that’s your vision. That’s your vision, right? And so, it’s a challenge, you know, because when I completed the executive interviews and had a conversation with the CEO, he’s we talked about this one particular individual and, and he realizes it, and it’s, and it was, even when I interview that executive, it was such a different conversation from all the other, you know, executives I interviewed at that company. And, yeah, it’s it’s a, it’s a challenge. And I don’t, I don’t see that that executives going to be there for the long run. And so that’s why we have to take that into consideration. We need to hire people who not only will be with us today, and can get on the bus with us today. But can then you know, when we get there are just as excited about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there and help us get there. And that’s I think, a big a big part of that.

Russel Lolacher
I want to touch on a topic that you brought up actually in your first book and bring it up again. And that’s one which is the outside in Inside Out decision making. Yeah, cuz I love that. I love that from I know, you’re referring to it more from the customer side of things. But I’m curious, can it also be used? Well, first, let’s quickly just define it. And also how can it be used internally.

Annette Franz
So outside in is what I’ll start with inside out inside out is when we think that when we make decisions, so I said you know, culture is or customer centric culture is one where we no discussions, no decisions, no design, right? without bringing in the customer voice that’s outside, when we bring in the customer voice and we into all of those things into everything we do into our decisions. And we always make sure that we take the customer always have the customer’s best interest at heart, in our decisions that’s outside in when we sit here and we say I think I know, or I think I think the customer wants this or we think we know what’s best for the customer. And we make those decisions. And we design an experience and we do those things. And we think we know that’s inside out right? That’s that’s not even taking into consideration what a customer is saying or needs or any of that right. Whether that would apply to the employees and the employee experience. I think so because a lot of the concepts that apply and it might not be we we may not refer to it as inside out and outside in. But a lot of the concepts that we use when we design the customer experience, it’s the exact same work that we need to do when we design the employee experience. So so we can’t sit and say we think we know what our employees want. We think this is the best experience for our employees. We need to actually talk to our employees, we need to listen to them and bring that voice of the employee into the experience that we designed for them. So yeah, absolutely. And we may not refer to it as outside in and inside out, but it’s the same, the same concept applies. Absolutely.

Russel Lolacher
It might help for people that are an executive that have that us versus them approach. Sometimes when it’s like, well, we’re on a different floor. We’re different than all of you people. So maybe it’s good to get that from the outside in when you might be thinking your executive C-suite is kind of a bubble.

Annette Franz
Yeah, that’s a great way of looking at it. You know, here’s your you are up in the penthouse. So get outside of the penthouse and listen to your employees. Absolutely great, great analogy.

Russel Lolacher
People before products, people before profit, people before metrics, this is 25% of your book is talking about how people could be before those, and I know some people who are probably just going, what, what, I’m sorry, what, what now? What, where, when? How? So how do you convince somebody in a position to influence culture, a leader, an executive to go, oh, no, no people, these are still important products, profit metrics, but people How do you convince them to think differently?

Annette Franz
Yeah, you know, well, here’s, here’s the one that I that I like to just put out there. And the last chapter of the book is, again, an open letter to CEOs. And the closing line is, you know, take a minute, close your eyes, and think about your business without customers. And same with employees. Think about your business without employees. And then unfortunately, right now, with the great resignation, a lot of companies or leaders are having to think about, you know, their business without employees or with far too few employees. So I think that’s, that’s the way to look at it, right is to think, where would my business be if I didn’t take care of my people, my employees that where would my business be if we didn’t take care of our customers and treat them the way that they want to be treated, and help them solve the problems they’re trying to solve? So the interesting thing is, is that let’s take each one of those individually, people before products, okay, if you, if you are designing products, without thinking about who you’re designing them for, then who are you designing them for? You know, I have, I have talked to so many startups where my first question to them is, what problem? are you solving for your customers? And they’re like, um, I don’t know, we didn’t talk to customers. And it’s like, okay, well, that’s not going to go very far away. What, you know, so who are you in business for if you’re not designing a product for your customers, if you’re not talking to the the people who are going to buy this product first. It’s like Seth Godin says you, you’ll end up finding customers for your products, not products for your customers, there’s a very clear distinction there. And then if you go, if you we talked about people before profits, it’s not that profits aren’t important. We obviously we know they are. But the realization there is that is that connection, that the focusing on the profits or outcomes, right, but focusing on the people and taking care of your people. That’s a means to that outcome. So if we take care of our people, whether it’s employees or customers, if we take care of them, the profits will come. So that’s, that’s the thought process there. And then the last one people before metrics, I started my career 30 years ago at JD Power and Associates, and it’s probably the work that we did there really created some bad behavior at car dealerships over the years, you know, and with NPS, we’ve seen bad behavior with companies who are trying to move the needle, move the move the metric, right, hey, I want to be at the top of the JD Power ranking, hey, I want to, you know, I want my NPS to be 10 points higher this quarter than it was last quarter. And what we end up doing is we do things differently. And we do different things when we focus on moving the needle versus when we focus on improving the experience to move the needle, right? If you think about that first thing that I said about the car dealers, and I don’t I just you know, bought a car recently and still had the same experience, you know, even 30 years later, after I was at JD Power associates, where you go in and you buy the car, and then, you know, they say, Hey, you’re going to get a survey, you know, you know, rate me of 10 out of 10. And if you don’t, you know, I always exaggerate, but if you don’t, I’m gonna get fired. I’m not getting my commission, I gotta give it my firstborn. I get you know, all of these different things. And it’s like, Wait a second. That’s a that’s a shitty experience for the customer. It’s icky. It feels icky. But it’s really bad for the employee to really you’re having the employee bank for a score, have the employee bank for their commission or their promotion by asking the customer to rate them at 10 out of 10. I mean, I use those kinds of examples in those kinds of stories to say, You got to just step back for a minute and really think about why you’re in business and what you’re doing here. Why wouldn’t you put people first?

Russel Lolacher
Annette, we’ve come to the part where I ask the final two questions. Thank you for suffering through. I know you’re not feeling well, so I appreciate this.

Annette Franz
No, no worries. Thank you for having me.

THE FINAL TWO

Russel Lolacher
The final two. First question. What’s your best or worst, you get to pick one or the other employee experience that you’ve ever had?

Annette Franz
So I’m going to use the I’m just going to have to hope that they’re not listening to this, but I’m going to use the last last my last employer, I was the only woman in the company. It’s a startup. And it’s, they’re, you know, I’ll just, I’ll just sort of summarize a couple things. Communication was awful. Communication was I was on the leadership team, right? Communication was awful. I was often excluded from meetings that I should have been involved in, I was a head of marketing and customer experience. So it was would it behoove them to have me in a lot of strategy meetings, but I was left out for whatever reason, there was sort of this lack of trust, there was, it was just it ended up just being really a toxic culture. But a lot of it came, you know, from the top, from the very top to go founders. And it was probably the thing that or I would say, probably it is the it is the sort of final straw on the camel’s back that said, You know what, I’m gonna leave the corporate world and go out and start my own business. That’s how bad it was. And I’ve had I’ve had similar experiences over the years. But that one was sort of just like, this is the one that just kicked me in the booty and said, It’s time to go. You don’t ever want to deal with this kind of experience ever again.

Russel Lolacher
Was there a light bulb moment where you’re like, “Okay, here’s the straw. It’s been horrible forever. Here’s what happened to make me go. I’m out peace.”

Annette Franz
Yeah, but I actually can’t even share. It was something that it was, it was a situation that happened with an employee that had to be disciplined. And the way that it was handled by the co founders. And the way that they brought me into it and didn’t have my back was, it was yeah, it was just I. Yeah, it was an ugly situation. That was the moment where I say, yeah, it’s time to go. definitely time to go.

Russel Lolacher
My sub question I like to ask about that is how long ago was that?

Annette Franz
That was five years ago. That was five years ago.

Russel Lolacher
Five years ago? Okay. Yeah, just I like to reinforce the fact that bad and good employee experiences last. I’ve talked to people where it’s like, oh, that happened three decades ago, and it still bothers them. So it’s just people don’t understand the impacts of what bad leadership bad employee experiences bad cultures can have on people personally.

Annette Franz
No, it’s a great point. And you know, what? We’re even 30 years later, people are still talking about right. And that how does that impact pack the brand? Right? What you know, they’re out there talking about it? Yeah, that’s…

Russel Lolacher
Absolutely. So let’s leave it on a good note in that with a question is what is one simple action, singular that people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Annette Franz
One word… talk. Talk to each other, you know, talk to each other, get to know your co workers, for leaders, get to know your employees, get to know them on a personal level, on a human level, right? Just talk to each other and listen to each other and spend a little bit more time caring about the person, the human behind the Hey, you’re the head of HR. Hey, you’re the programmer. Hey, you’re the, you know… forget about the role, and really focus on you know, focus on the person. And that goes both ways. You know, employees can do the same things for their managers and their VPS or whatever. I just take, take the time to be humans and get to know each other.

Russel Lolacher
It’s amazing the amount of empathy and compassion that can be built when you understand what other people do are challenges they overcome if they become people instead of positions. Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Exactly what that was a net. She just wrote a book called Built to Win – Designing A Customer-Centric Culture that Drives Value For Your Business. Couldn’t recommend picking it up more. Thank you so much for your time today.

Annette Franz
Thanks for having me. This was fun.