Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast

How to Define Tangible Employee Engagement with Jeff Toister

October 24, 2022 Russel Lolacher Episode 38
Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast
How to Define Tangible Employee Engagement with Jeff Toister
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with 4x author, keynote speaker and consultant on service culture Jeff Toister on connecting the dots to create tangible employee engagement at work.

Jeff shares his thoughts and experience with...

  • The questions to ask to gauge if your employees are engaged
  • Personalization's relationship to culture fit
  • How metrics shouldn't be the barometer for success
  • The importance of definitions
  • How we're approaching employee surveys and reviews wrong
  • The one thing that generally determines if an organization is engaged

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For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

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Russel Lolacher  
And on the show today, we have Jeff Toister. And here's why he is awesome. He's the president of Toister Performance Solutions, helping service teams unlock their hidden potential for almost 20 years. He's an instructor for LinkedIn Learning, supporting training and employee development, and more author of count them 1234 books on getting customer experience, right. He also writes extensively on employee engagement, which is a big reason he's here with us today. And he's been on tons of "Best of," "This is," "Top insert-number" lists here and there. He's got some knowledge this man. Hello, Jeff.

Jeff Toister  
Good to meet you in person and, and chat with you today. Appreciate you having me. 

Russel Lolacher  
It's, it's funny because I starting this podcast, I get this unbelievable enjoyment out of finally talking and reaching out to people that I've been circling with for a decade. And we had a really hard time even just starting the podcast moments ago, because we have something like jumping into all these different territories of conversation like No, no, we actually have to start this thing. Okay. So thank you for being here. It's exciting. So Jeff, we're gonna kick off with the question. I ask all of my guests with guests. Yes. See, I'm already flustered, what's your best or worst employee experience, Jeff?

Jeff Toister  
So I will be honest, it's been 17 years since I've been an employee. So there's a few experiences that were really vivid, but it's been a long, long time ago. Ironically, the one that jumps to mind was my very first job. And I was lucky to have a manager who got it. I often tell the story about my first day, which was not so great. I didn't get the training I needed I, the person who's supposed to be training kind of left me on my own after about 15 minutes. First customer I served, it was a service failure. But my boss, my boss-boss, really had a customer focus, she made it clear what good service looked like. And I realized many years later that not everybody gets that not everybody gets a boss, who is kind who is patient, who helps you understand what you're supposed to do. I think a lot of times we see employees, and we think, Oh, it's so obvious what they should be doing. But we what we don't know is did someone ever at some age, pull them aside and say, This is how you do it? And I was lucky that my first job... Christy, my manager, the person who hired me, as someone I really looked up to she set such a great example that I don't know if I would be here today if I had a bad first boss. So that was, that was my best employee experience. And I've had the spectrum great bosses, people I really look up to, and a lot of terrible ones as well, which now I'm grateful for it because I can tell the difference. 

Russel Lolacher  
And as much of a learning lesson as any is how not to do things and how you never want to have you will a lot of people either go I never want to boss like that again, or oh, I'm going in business for myself, because I never want to have a boss that I ever have to deal with at that level ever again. 

Jeff Toister  
No, that's and that's very true. I think bosses influence us and influence our thinking and our actions in our careers in so many ways. And, you know, in the moment, if you have a miserable boss, it's pretty tough. But yeah, just tell yourself, I'm learning lessons right now.

Russel Lolacher  
Just keep repeating it people that you're having a bad boss right now, just keep repeating it in your head over and over again. So our topic today is an interesting one, especially in how its worded. So we're talking operational employee engagement. And I, I can imagine there are some executives, C suites that are thinking, Oh, good. Finally, I have a to do list. Because on the podcast, we talked about mindset as much as we talk about tactics. So when you brought up the idea of operational engagement, I was excited, because I'm like, Okay, how does this sort of fit within all of it? So can we start with a sort of a high level? What do you mean, when you talk about operational engagement? 

Jeff Toister  
Well, when I when I don't really use that, that term, I just use the term employee engagement. But I recognize employee engagement means so many things to so many people. So I think if we make it operational, we make it more tangible. So let's start with a definition. And I'll pause for a second and say, if if you're listening to this, ask yourself, how do you define employee engagement? And how do you define it in your organization? And it in my experience, nine times out of 10, that question has not been covered. And we do a survey maybe once every 12 months, every 18 months. But we haven't asked ourselves what exactly as employee engagement. So it remains very murky. And I think that's the problem. So here's the definition I prefer, an engaged employee is deliberately contributing to organizational success. And if we break that down a little bit, there's there's a few really specific components. One - we have to have defined organizational success. If we as an organization haven't gotten clarity around, what should we all be doing? How do I expect to engage my employees. Two - If an employee is deliberately contributing, they have to be aware of it right? And in other words, we have to have made our employees very aware of what success looks like. And in many organizations, if you ask employees, you know, what's your job? They'll tell you about the processes that they're followed, but not why not the big picture, not the corporate strategy. The third question then is, if they understand what success looks like, Are they are they committed? And so we get back to your question, Russel, which is, what is operational employee engagement, I should be able to tell if an employee is engaged, you're not just by watching them do their job. And I learned this from a client of mine who had an incredibly strong service culture. And they could tell if their employees are engaged, using the same process they used to evaluate performance. So on an annual basis, they could tell, was this employee engaged or not? Because part of the review was was not this nonsense? Like, are you a team player? Do you have integrity to show up for work? It was, Are you exemplifying the culture on a regular basis? They had meetings and conversations with teams to talk about, you know, what are we trying to accomplish? And how do we do it? On a weekly basis, every manager is expected to have a one on one with employees. It was an engagement conversation. So you could tell if someone was engaged, using the same process used to manage performance? And doesn't that make things a lot easier than worrying about this survey that we're gonna launch every 12 or 18 months? 

Russel Lolacher  
Where does personalization come into this? Do you feel because we do talk about bring your whole self to work? That's where engagement lives. But when it comes from a top down, and this is what success looks like? But it also feels like each employee has their own sort of engagement road to get to that point? Is there sort of a perfect world here? Or does personalization, but up against cultures? homogeny? More or less? 

Jeff Toister  
So it's a it's a great question, because the answer truly is a blend. On one hand, as an organization, we have to have absolute clarity about what we stand for and what we don't stand for. Otherwise, it'd be like driving around in circles. If you go on a road trip, what's the first thing you do you set a destination? Don't just hit out the road, see what happens? I mean, maybe you do, but most of us were like, I would like to go to here, please. But then the other side of it is then making sure the employees you hire people that want to be on that journey. And employees are actually getting much more savvy about evaluating companies to say, is it a good fit with not only my values, but my career goal? Do I believe in the product or the services? And when you have that combination, that's incredibly powerful. Now the employee can still bring their whole self to work, but they're bringing their whole self to the right workplace for them. They they fit in there part of it. I think there's another question that often gets asked along with this, as you know, the difference between culture fit and culture add, which I think is a really apt the most people asking that question, I think are a little caught up in semantics to thinking that I have to change myself to fit in. But that's not what that means at all. It means that I can bring my whole self to work and I belong here. And that necessarily means I'm adding to the culture, say everything you do an organization changes the culture in some way. We just want to make sure we're bringing people to the culture that want to be here. And I think when you look at it through that, that lens, the employees who are the least happy, are probably employees who'd be really happy somewhere else. And that's okay.

Russel Lolacher  
We've mentioned the benefits of being an engaged employee is we're talking about meeting the success of the organization, which nine times out of 10 is hitting a bottom line dollar figure quota this quarter, but might not be. So what is the benefit of truly having an engaged workforce because I just, I feel like this needs to be a priority. But some leadership is just sort of like thinking it's a checkbox?

Jeff Toister  
Well, let's go back to how you define it. And I would not define organizational success in terms of metrics. Because as soon as we do that, then we're looking at our organization as a commodity, there's nothing special about it. There's nothing unique about it. We don't have clarity about what our strategy is. I have observed the most customer focused organizations define success through a what's called a customer experience vision. And what this is, it's a shared definition of outstanding experience. It gets everyone on the same page. Now, again, we don't want to get hung up in semantics. This goes by a lot of different names. Sometimes it's the corporate mission statement. It's the purpose statement, it doesn't matter what you call it internally. It's just that it's a one TrueNorth that says, everybody is working towards this direction. And I'll give you an example. I'm really outdoorsy and everytime I want to get new gear to go hiking or camping or whatever, I go to REI because that is the place, at least in the States you go to for that sort of thing. And their purpose statement is a life outdoors is a life well lived. That's the true north. That's how they define success, are we helping people enjoy the outdoors. Now, when they do that, by the way, they're one of the fastest growing retailers right now. But that's, that's not really the success I'm talking about that success comes as a byproduct of living that purpose statement. And so when we talk about engagement, then if you go into an REI, the people who work there, love the outdoors, like really love the outdoors, and it can't wait to help you enjoy the outdoors. And so that's what I mean by you can see, engagement becomes really tangible. It's part of the operation. And that's that's where the fit is. It's it's not about if it's just if we got to hit our number, that that's a it's a byproduct. And I think some executives don't want to don't want to hear that. But the most customer focused executives know exactly what I'm talking about.

Russel Lolacher  
The big question I have is, why do we suck at this so much? Because I mean, there was a Gallup poll, what 2021 state of the global workplace 20% worldwide employees engage 34% in the US, and then they'll in you know, we'll see surveys with executive and they're like, Oh, our engagements up at 84%. So they see this huge gap, even in what their employees feel and what their executives assume. Why is this still a problem?

Jeff Toister  
So that's a lot longer conversation than just this podcast. So let me give you the big picture answer. It starts with defining things. So I have a bone to pick with Gallup, which is when you read the research, they should start every report with this is what we mean, when we talk about engagement. They don't they leave it out. But what exactly are they measuring? So even Gallup is obfuscating, they're kind of making it intentionally cloudy. And if we go into an organization, I've had this conversation with a lot of CEOs lately. And I'll say, you know, what's your what's your mission? Or how do you define organizational success? And they struggle to define it, or to articulate it like it's in their brain somewhere. But they can't articulate it clearly. Now, if I'm the leader, and I can't clearly articulate this is what a great experience looks like, this is what we should all be working towards. How do I expect my employees to understand it? I worked with an organization earlier this year that the CEO told me, you know, we've spent countless hours countless committees, countless consultants, trying to just create a mission statement that resonated with people. And I worked with them in two hours, we had a mission statement that everybody loved. So it's, it's, it's about having the right process to bring clarity, to a very simple thing, which is defining things upfront, this is how we define success. This is our vision. And then communicating that with everybody and making sure everybody understands it. But most of the time where we're most organizations are skipping all that work. And they take a very tactical view. And so as an example, I talked to a CEO who is a large multinational organization. And he was really interested in service culture. And so we started talking about I learned, he wasn't really interested in service culture, he was interested in getting a better score in the employee engagement survey, because his predecessor had set a benchmark, and he had about six months before the next survey was coming up. And he wanted to beat that score to show his value as a leader. Well, if that's your goal, then you're not very engaged as a CEO. And so that's, I think that's the challenge that that you bring up. So we haven't bothered to find anything thing. So necessarily, we end up just being really super tactical, and not strategic.

Russel Lolacher  
I love that you're pointing out that once you start having these conversations and defining what success looks like, it can become a lot different. I had a very similar conversation with an executive, when they were talking about, oh, I want my social care program to be much more effective, much more. And then I had a chat with him, and he just wanted to be better than another CEO. I'm like, Great tweet one more time a day, and you'll have better numbers like it was the contrast of what success was. And when you got to the meat of it. I'm like, Oh, this is a narcissism exercise. Oh, that's different than actually being effective. But once you know, you can hit success a lot easier. How has employee engagement changed in the last couple of years? 

Jeff Toister  
Employees are getting savvier? They are their expectations have certainly changed. This is not a generational thing. By the way. This is across the spectrum of employees that they realized that the idea that may have happened a couple of generations ago have lifetime employment doesn't exist. And the job market has changed considerably. I think employees have a lot more leverage today than they did even a couple of years ago, and they're using that leverage. So I think that's what's changing on. On the other hand, though, you know, what's not changing is, is I gave my first employee engagement presentation in 2007. And back then was like, employee engagement is a big issue, here's how we'll fix it. And here we are 2022, employee engagement is a big issue, here's how we fix it. So in some ways, things are never quite staying the same. And there's always a few organizations that get it right, and crush their competition. And then there's everybody else who's, you know, trying to get a better score and engagement survey but not engage their employees. 

Russel Lolacher  
How do you feel around measurement? Like, how do you know you're doing well? I, I've been on panels where I've had seen high level, you know, executives say, you know, it's really hard to measure success, is it? 

Jeff Toister  
No. If you haven't defined success, yeah, it's super hard. But if you've said, this is exactly what success looks like, then it's easy. You know, the tip, the typical measurement for employee engagement is this annual survey, which immediately tells you how we value engagement. Imagine you only reported your financials once a year. Seems kind of ludicrous, right? But you've slotted the employee engagement surveys, like an annual maybe an 18 month activity. So even the measurement cadence tells us it's not really important. And then what's on the survey, what are we trying to measure with the survey? It's just the answers to the questions. But so the process is fundamentally broken. If we back it up, we started talking about operational engagement. It's really what aligned engagement with performance, and we're saying they're exactly the same thing. The employees knows what they're supposed to do. They know how to do it, they want to do it. And I can observe them. And so now I can measure daily, I can watch their interactions, or look at their work product. If if we're having weekly or monthly checking conversations, I can evaluate very clearly if they're engaged, based upon the work that they're doing. And by the way, as a leader, when an employee comes to me and says, This is the challenge that I'm having, that's part of the engagement conversation, where they say it's hard to do my work because or this machine is broken, or customers are really angry about this. That's an engagement conversation. We're talking about solving workplace problems, which we do every single day. Those are engaged employees who care about solving those those problems. And then even the annual review time, you know, most annual reviews, and I've been a part of a lot, they're nonsense, you know that they, they actually create psychological damage for employees and employees don't look forward to it. And managers, if you're being honest, I can't tell you how many managers I've heard, oh, reviews are due next week. I guess I'll whip them up this weekend. So let's stop with that nonsense. But I've seen reviews that have worked really, really well, because it's just a formal recap of a conversation that's been happening all year. There's no surprises, and it's a focus on, this is what you're doing really well. And this is what you can do better in the future. And here's how we get you there. I mean, that's those all are things that are easy to measure once we've defined exactly what we're measuring and why. 

Russel Lolacher  
So we did kick off with the term operationalizing or employee engagement, but how to operationalize it. What does that look like? On a on a sort of a day to day? I mean, we have to get so granular. But what does that mean? Like from from a, you know, day to day, month to month, week to week? Well, I'm jumping around the calendar a little bit in that way, not in the right direction. But what does that look like? 

Jeff Toister  
So I give you one very specific example. I was working with a client company called Clio. And they are, they're based in your neck of the woods. So it's a it's a legal practice management software company. And if you're, if you're a lawyer, you've probably heard about them use their software to run your law practice. If you're not a lawyer, you haven't heard of them. But it's a fast growing company that had been for many years. And so I was sitting with their support team, and their support agent took a call from a customer who wanted a certain feature that didn't exist. Now, if you've worked in a software business, this is common. People are always asking for software features. And then the answer is oh, we don't have that. We'll be sure to let our development team no which is code for please go away. And, and that's the end of the call. But not this employee. They had a customer experience vision, and they had just actually created it and rolled it out. And it spelled out for everybody. This is the type of support that we're trying to offer. This is the type of product we're trying to build. And I'm sitting next to the agent. He literally has this card with this new vision statement right in front of it. It's in his hand. And as he's talking to this customer, he's looking at the card, and he's he's thinking, what am I supposed to do in this moment? What is the action that's aligned with this vision, and I'm paraphrasing a bit. But the vision essentially said, we're trying to help our clients realize the full value of our product, that we're helping our clients who are busy lawyers, run their law practice better. And so based upon that vision, he made a different decision than most support agents would make. He started asking some questions, but tell me about why you're asking for that feature. What are you trying to do? And he discovered that Clio and their software had a much better way of doing it, it's just the the lawyer, the client had no idea it existed. And so by the end of the call, instead of the, oh, sure, we'll let our development team know, he'd actually helped her find a solution that was better than she imagined. And the byproduct is now she's happier. She's learned how to save some time. And she understands how to better use the full value of Clio. And so that's a very granular example of in that moment where I'm not sure what to do, the employee thought back to what a success look like for the organization, what's the right action that's towards that success? And to create a better result necause of it. 

Russel Lolacher  
How do you get into that psychological safety, vulnerability, diversity conversation, when it feels to operational, because employees are very much looking for organizations that have a soul that have a purpose, not only their purpose, but the purpose of the organization, which again, we can semantics of mission statements, and so forth. But there is that human side of things. And if you're only looking to assess engagement based on service vision, I'm wondering where the humanity can find its way in there to be measured? 

Jeff Toister  
Oh, I think that is the humanity. So let's, let's start at the beginning of the employee lifecycle. Unless you massively screwed up, you hired people who wanted to do a good job. If day one people are like, this is great, I'm so excited about this new job. If you don't have that, you messed up big time. So let's assume you did a great job you hired people who want to do great work. Well, part of why they're excited, they're excited about the promise that they can make a difference that they can do good things. That's that's the humanity. And as we talked about earlier, as employees today are doing a better job of screening potential companies to make sure that there's that that culture fit that it's a place they want to work. It's a it's a place that they believe in, all of that goes back to that that purpose state or that customer experience vision. When there's clarity about what we stand for, then employees, it's much easier for them. Now, what happens over time, is that employees become disillusioned. It's not a motivation question. It's a deep motivation question. They realize how hard it is to do great work, they start realizing that maybe their jobs don't matter so much, that every day they're dealing with the same issue over and over and over again, and that gets demotivating. So when we go back to some of these human issues, you're talking about burnout, I did a study on employee burnout, specifically in contact centers, and that there's a number of factors that influence burnout. But 74% of contact center agents are at risk of burnout. And the biggest mitigating factor was whether or not they felt their organization was customer focused. If there was a vision, there was clarity, something they could latch on to and believe in, very low rate of burnout risk, if they felt the organization had no vision, no clarity, then they had the highest rate of burnout risk. We look at something like compassion, fatigue, empathy, fatigue, and customer service in particular, you are all day having to empathize with other people put your own problems aside, that's exceptionally difficult. What is the biggest thing that helps people overcome that when they feel like their work has meaning that there's a purpose that I can actually make a difference in people's lives? If when do we get burned out is when I don't feel like I can make a difference? So to your question, I think you're looking at them as separate issues. And what I'm saying is that, no, they're not separate at all. In fact, they're, they're exactly the same. And when you have clarity around your purpose, employees who believe in it, and all day, every day you work at making it easier to achieve that purpose. Your employees love that. And they're going to come back for more.

Russel Lolacher  
Whose responsibility is all this Jeff? Is it the responsibility of leadership? Is it responsibility of employees? Is it HR, like who is the one that owns engagement?

Jeff Toister  
Yes, everybody is responsible. Now, when you say everybody's responsible, that means no one's responsible. So ultimately, it's the CEO. It's the leader that person sets the tone, they set the agenda, they set the priorities. So we cannot escape that. But you mentioned employee employees have responsibility to I mean, every every organization, we have a spectrum of employees and you know, I work a lot in customer service I did a study on on toxic employees, a typical workplace, at least the United States, 20% of us have a toxic co worker. But if you work in customer service, 83% of us have a toxic co worker. Wow. So that employee bears a lot of responsibility, because they're trying to recruit other people to be destructive to steal, be dishonest, intentionally provide poor customer service, harass people, bully people. So employees absolutely have a responsibility there. It takes effort every single day. And I think in these conversations, we should not let employees off the hook. We're not blaming them for everything. But employees have responsibility to HR HR is often the department that setting the tone with that we're the stewards of the culture. We're training people, we're doing these annual performance reviews, these annual engagement surveys. And if you're engaging in things like a nonsense annual survey, you're setting the culture if on the other hand, you are making sure that everyone in the organization understands the culture, that's a different agenda to you asked me the very beginning about good experiences and bad experiences, employees. My last employee experience, part of my role, I was in the training department, but that made me part of HR. And we would do, I work for a parking management company, we had about 500 locations. And part of my department's responsibility was go to each of these locations once a year, and just evaluate service. And we did this not as a mystery shopper, but we would show up on announced talk to employees wash the operation. And I can tell you after doing this year after year, 500 locations a year, got a lot of data. And there was one thing one thing I could point to that if this thing was present, that was probably an exceptionally well run location with really enthusiastic employees. And if it wasn't, then it was probably not doing as well. Lots of turnover, poor employee performance, unhappy employees, etc. And the question was this, I could go to anybody randomly because these are unannounced and ask an employee, what's our mission? And if the employee can say, well, here's our mission. And here's what we stand for. And let me explain to you how I'm part of that. It was 99% of the time is a very well run organization, low turnover, great profitability, happy clients, if the employee looked at me with a blank stare, or set like I heard about that in a meeting once but didn't really know what it meant. They weren't working with a purpose. Nine times out of 10 was a poorly run organization. So it goes back to your question whose responsibility Yes, the CEO at the end of the day, but everybody has responsibility in this equation.

Russel Lolacher  
You've inspired me ask a question about asking, when it comes to employees, anonymous surveys, anonymous questions. I'm torn on that idea. Because there is that idea of if you ask employees anonymously, they'll feel safe, and be honest. But I have the flip side of that going, well, if they only feel safe being anonymous, then your culture is kind of broken. So I'll read literature from and there's a lot of people that really still propose that anonymous surveys are still important in healthy organizations, where do you land on that?

Jeff Toister  
They're they're really important in unhealthy organizations. And for the reasons you've talked about? Are you telling me then that a CEO can't go to any employee and have a frank and honest conversation? And if that's the case, then that should tell you something very clearly about the culture? Are you telling me that a boss doesn't have the kind of relationship with an employee where an employee can be honest with the boss and say, This is what I'm getting out of the job? This is what frustrates me, these are my goals, or, you know, my goals don't align with my job right now. I know that's often the case. But that's also telling us that we don't have the right kind of culture. So anonymous surveys, you know, I'm very much a realist, I think they're an important tool in the right situation. But on the other hand, I would rather work to a culture where we can safely have conversations that are really honest and frank, and we don't have to work with anonymity because the problem the anonymous survey, among many problems, is it's really hard to dive into that feedback. You know, if if I get a survey and an employee says I'm unhappy, my boss is a jerk. Oh, great. I'd love to follow up with you learn more about that open, I can't. So it creates a lot of barriers. And the interesting thing about that, in my experience, if you go to employees and ask for their input asked for their feedback, if they believe that you're doing it for the right reasons, you're there to help. I have never experienced issues where employees feel like they can't be really honest. The opposite is true. I've had some really interesting, difficult, frank conversations with employees because they felt the trust was there, they felt the questions were being asked for the right reason that maybe this conversation would make a difference. So they're a necessary tool sometimes. But it's also a sign I think of your culture. If if you feel like you have to resort to the anonymous survey, 

Russel Lolacher  
Yeah that always blew me away when I completely agree with you. That's why always blew me away when you were talking about, well, we have a great conversation. So the next anonymous survey, but then why are you still doing the anonymous surveys?

Jeff Toister  
A year from now, by the way, a year from now! But here's the other thing about the anonymous survey is, and I've talked to the I know, this happens a lot when we have this, this anonymous survey happens once a year, there's kind of a critical, critical incident model. So what managers will do is right before the survey goes out, because it's anonymous, but they're they're held accountable, maybe to an average, and they want to beat the score of the last manager, whatever. Managers withhold discipline. So employees who really are doing a bad job or they're toxic, well, they're anonymous in that survey, so we're not going to address that issue. We'll do things like have pizza parties and other things to kind of build up spirits and morale and really have like a pep rally. And it's all designed to kind of influence employees to think well, what was the last thing that happened? Oh, it was pretty good, you know, had this big party or was great. And now the survey results look fantastic. This is how the system gets gamed. Meanwhile, that toxic employee probably should have been fired. It is wrecking havoc with the rest of the team making everybody's lives miserable. But the manager doesn't want to do anything because you know that anonymous surveys coming up. 

Russel Lolacher  
But they were so fun at the party last night. How could I ever say anything bad.

Jeff Toister  
So much fun. Help yourself to another slice of pizza will you?

Russel Lolacher  
Jeff Toister, what is one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work? 

Jeff Toister  
I think we start by building relationships. I was just working with a couple of clients on internal customer service recently. And one challenge is we always assume people in other departments have this kind of evil agenda, you know, when they're frustrating us and they're doing it on purpose. And what I would suggest is that, let's let's take a walk to their department or schedule that video conference. And instead of just assuming here's, they should understand me take a moment to understand them. What are their objectives, what what pressures are they under? And I can't tell you how many times I've gained a lot from those conversations. I accidentally learned this many, many years ago, early in my career, I was in sales. And I was in the company cafeteria one day, it was super crowded, and the only table I had space was the accounting ladies. And they were the stereotype of the accounting ladies like the youngest one could have been my mom. Most of them could have been my grandma and Herrmann. This young sales guy, probably cocky and this big ego. I didn't want to sit with the accounting ladies. And it turned out they were amazing. They were super cool. They were awesome and a lot of fun. I end up having lunch with them like once a week on a regular basis. But here's what I gained from that conversation. I learned that they had frustrations with sales, they didn't have access to our data, we were slow to respond. And they learned from me. We had frustrations with accounting. We didn't have access to their data. They were slow to respond. And by building relationships with them entirely on accident. I remember one person in particular Donna, and we just became buddies. And every time I needed something from accounting, I just called Donna, Hey, Don, I need some help. And she would help me out. And anytime she needed something from sale, she would call me Hey, Jeff, I need some help. And I would help her out. And it happened by accident. Because we took time to build a relationship that became mutually beneficial. So I think that can work wonders, build relationships with people, especially in other departments. And it's amazing how much more work you can get done. 

Russel Lolacher  
That there is Jeff Toister. He's the president of toy store performance solutions, four times four times four times four times an author. I'm going to put links to his books in the show notes and LinkedIn learning instructor. Thank you so much for being here with us, Jeff. 

Jeff Toister  
Thanks for having me, Russel. I enjoyed the conversation.