Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.

What It Takes for Leadership to Solve Employee Apathy with Justin Robbins

July 25, 2023 Russel Lolacher Episode 82
What It Takes for Leadership to Solve Employee Apathy with Justin Robbins
Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.
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Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.
What It Takes for Leadership to Solve Employee Apathy with Justin Robbins
Jul 25, 2023 Episode 82
Russel Lolacher

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with keynote speaker, consultant and analyst  Justin Robbins on addressing employee apathy in the workplace - as a leader, as an organization and as an individual.

Justin shares his thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • How legacy checks support organizational values.
  • Setting up for success in onboarding.
  • The key driver of employee apathy.
  • What are early warning signs of apathy.
  • How coaching is a solution to employee apathy.
  • When do we know we’re successful at diminishing apathy.
  • What it looks like to tackle our own leadership apathy.

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and share with others.
For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

And connect with me for more great content!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with keynote speaker, consultant and analyst  Justin Robbins on addressing employee apathy in the workplace - as a leader, as an organization and as an individual.

Justin shares his thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • How legacy checks support organizational values.
  • Setting up for success in onboarding.
  • The key driver of employee apathy.
  • What are early warning signs of apathy.
  • How coaching is a solution to employee apathy.
  • When do we know we’re successful at diminishing apathy.
  • What it looks like to tackle our own leadership apathy.

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and share with others.
For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher
On the show today we have Justin Robbins. Here's why he is awesome. He is a keynote speaker, founder and principal analyst at MetricSherpa, an independent research and advisory firm helping customer experience professionals. He's an advisory board member of the CX Accelerator, that's a community supporting the customer experience. He's a member of the Board of Advisors for Quality Assurance and Training Connection to help educate those in contact centers. And he's a certified business associate for ICMI, designing and delivering courses for the International Customer Management Institute. Hi, Justin

Justin Robbins
Hey, Russel.

Russel Lolacher
So happy to have you here. It has been. We're just talking before the show started. It's been a while. I was just thinking it has been... when was TalkDesk? That was 2018?

Justin Robbins
Yeah. It's been five years.

Russel Lolacher
Yeah, it's been a while. Been a while. It's been it's been a while. It's great to see you, sir. But I'm not. I'm not letting you off the hot seat, though. Which is the first question I asked that I have to ask all of my guests because boo, what is your best or worst employee experience, Justin?

Justin Robbins
I'll make this easy. The worst is just going to be the opposite of what I'm going to talk about with the best rustle. So you know, there are a lot of things that that flashed through my head. And the time that comes to me first is during my experience at Hershey. And there there were, I think three things about my time at Hershey, that makes that my best employee experience. The first was being supported and a part of a team of not not just one great leader, but multiple great leaders. And these are people who were well intentioned well invested in their, their, their employees, well, well kind of invested in their peers, you could you could just... you knew with with your interactions that you were surrounded by just a group of genuinely good people, that that was kind of the first defining moment for me. The second, the rustle is I actually think and look back at things that at the time, I probably minimize their significance. And it was opportunities to go and get certified as a facilitator for Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It was being part of lunches where we were looking at the four generations that we had in the workforce at that time and understanding what they meant for us as leaders and as employees, and all of these things that happened that were investments in us not just as employees of a company, but really as people and as future leaders outside of an organization and how those would be transferable and enable us to be successful there places. All all of that for me, honestly, I think has has shaped me in just so many ways and and instilled so many values and things that that have become incredibly important for me as I've been leaving and working with employees since that time.

Justin Robbins
That stands out to me in terms of the best. The third thing I noticed I said three things about it. The third was just the values of the organization, the core values of the organization and how there was an intentional effort or making sure that police understood and embodied them in meaningful ways. It wasn't just, hey, here's a poster of the things we care about. But it was like, Russel, here's, here's how we make this real for you so that you give a shit and you actually do something about it. Right! Tthat to me was what was just amazing about the experience.

Russel Lolacher
I love that. And I want to ask a quick question about the values, though, because yeah, I totally agree. It's on the website, it's on the poster. So it must mean something. But when it came to your experience, how do they actually embody the lip service that we usually get about values versus the practice of values? Like was it in their hiring? Was it in there? Like, what was it actually what it looked like?

Justin Robbins
Yeah, so I would say it showed up everywhere, it was part of the hiring process, part of the new hire orientation of which I was one of our ambassadors and, and so, we would, we would talk about the culture of the organization, what we were trying to do, but to me, the most effective mechanism that we put into place while I was there, that is still being used by the organization today is something called "Legacy Cheques.". And legacy cheques was an on the spot recognition program and what it was is every manager above had, what was almost like a chequebook that had a spot for the employees name, the date, and then it had these four core values - own, anticipate, delight, and inspire. And then it had a spot for me to write what I observed. So for example, we had an amusement park there, and if I was in the park with my family and Russel, you worked at the amusement park, and I saw you go out of your way to do something for a guest of the park or something, I could there in that moment, write you a "legacy cheque" and say, "Hey, Russel, what you did, as you anticipated this guests need by doing this, this and this." And then there were three copies of that check one I gave to you right away one got sent to your, your manager so that they knew, "hey, Russel was recognized for do this amazing thing." And this third one was actually redeemable. So because we have all these parts of the Hershey destination, they were kind of incremental value the first time you got one of those five, the second time was $10.15, and 20. And then would recycle. And you could use this for dining out for park tickets for spa for hockey game, right? All all of these types of things. And I mean, the results, the results spoke for themselves. And the investment, I would say it was well well worth it. But here you systematized handwritten on the spot recognition, which is tied to multiple motivate multiple motivating factors. You know, there was a monetary element I saw in my office in particular, we had these pillars where managers would take all of the legacy cheques their employees got. And so somebody would say, "hey, Russel, I saw you got this legacy cheque for doing this thing. Like, that's amazing. Go you." And, and, and it was all based off of these core values. So it wasn't a post like it was lived out every single day. And there was very clear connection between the work that you did, and the bigger kind of focus of the organization you were a part of.

Russel Lolacher
That's fantastic. I also love that reinforces that leaders need to recognize what the values are to reward them. So that also digs into the whole situational awareness thing where it just can't be about you. You have to be watching the environment you're supposed to be perpetuating as a leader I Yes. sucks. Yeah. Today is another direction than that under believably good story. We're talking about apathy today. And I dug into I did my Google Dictionary, which is basically lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Now that's all well and good. Those are three words that we want to avoid. But I'm interested more in what that actually looks like in order to combat it. What does it feel like? How do you understand and see apathy, Justin?

Justin Robbins
Yeah. Russel I have this just kind of an interesting observation that I've made and and kind of anecdotal from conversations I've had with leaders who have become maybe callous and, and believe that, that they made a bad decision when they've hired someone and they've hired someone who is giving those those attributes about apathy. And one thing that I like, I'm an eternal optimist, and I have to believe, Russel that by and large, the human population is not like, built with a predisposition to be apathetic. In fact, I think we're the opposite. And apathy manifests and shows itself when when there starts to be gaps between what we had hoped and expected and been promised and the reality that we find ourselves in front of, that's when we grow in disinterest and discontent and frustration, and all of those things. So for me, like when I think about like, at its root, what drives apathy, it's a person who believed that they were going to be in one set of circumstances, or equipped with one set of resources or going after one, one set of problems. And then their reality begins to become a stark contrast of that, that to me, at its root, I believe, is what causes a lot of apathy to show up.

Russel Lolacher
So it's the the promises not delivered. It's the we're going to help you but we're not but but the delivery of it doesn't work. This is this has always been worrying me of this gap between words said and actions taken, which generally happens around the onboarding process, which is this, here's the experience you're gonna have. Whoops, is that where you see at the most?

Justin Robbins
Yeah, so let's let's talk about an interesting because to me, when I talked to people about this, Russel often talk about the difference between what are things that are drivers of employee satisfaction? And what are the things that are drivers of employee engagement. And when we think about some of the things that drive employee satisfaction, particularly around the onboarding process, and starting a new job, I expect a few things. I expect, you're going to pay me the amount of money that you said, you're going to pay me you're going to provide the benefits. You said you provide a work the hours that you said I would work. And so those are very clearly documented. Right. I am signing an agreement that says those are terms of our employment. There are two other really important drivers of employee satisfaction and contributors to apathy that are assumed but not signed on the dotted line. One of those is the leader that I'll be working with. And the second is the tools and resources that we'll have available to do my job. And from a leader standpoint, we can start to get a pretty good understanding of that leader through the interview process. We can look at websites like Glassdoor to get a sense of some of the leaders, we may even know people that work for that organization can can get a sense. So we've okay so in that we've got a number of things to understand the leader. And of course, people can put on a front and change and whatnot. The thing that's not talked about that I see as a core driver of apathy is I'm going into a job and I believe that I'm going to have the tools and resources that I need. And at no part of the interview process, are we transparent, and maybe say, "hey, Russel, by the way, we're gonna give you a number of tools to do your job. But we've got this one system, that it causes a lot of frustration for people who are going to do what you do, because it takes a lot of time, or there's a number of bugs. And there's a number of workarounds." And what I believe we subconsciously convinced ourselves, if we don't, we don't disclose that to people. Right? We're worried that if we share that with them, they're not going to join the organization, they're going to be like, Well, I don't want to be part of an organization that does that. So instead, we avoid the topic, or we don't write, we don't even lie about it. And then employee joins, and they find out, wait, the tools, I have to like, they suck, they don't, they don't do what they're supposed to do. And this now, even with the best managers can erode the employee's ability to do their jobs. So that that to me more than anything is part of the onboarding process is this element of again, and I look at the research I've done and it's people leave jobs for two primary reasons. It's their, their, their boss, or its they don't have the tools and resources. And I believe that if we're more transparent and vulnerable, and just factual about understanding, hey, this is this is what we have available today. And we recognize where there are challenges. But I want you to hear loud and clear that me as your leader, I'm going to support you. I'm here to make sure that you're successful. Right, rather than now I'm trying to backtrack on. Yeah, I guess I should have told you that some things are janky around here.

Russel Lolacher
Keywords get thrown around a lot. AH, those buzzwords. So I just want to make sure are we differentiating apathy, between disengagement and quiet quitting? I just wanted to make sure that what we're talking about, is that the same thing is a semantics exercise?

Justin Robbins
Yeah. So let's talk about quiet quitting for a minute, because there's a Harvard Business Review article I read from 19... I want to say it was 72. And it talked a lot about psychological absence. You know, you know what psychological absence looks exactly like, Russel? Quiet quitting. It's this fundamental problem of how do we erode trust and credibility and interest, as a result of what we do or do not do say or do not say. And so so when I think about disengagement engagement, for me, is my willingness to exert discretionary effort. And we have certainly seen people who are dissatisfied in their job that are willing to exert discretionary effort, Right, it's people who may not be happy with the amount of money that they make, but they they believe in the mission, and so they want to be a part of the cause. I may be apathetic about my boss, or about how I'm being resourced, but I may still want to see the organization when, and this can create an interesting set of challenges for it to me, can you see someone who is apathetic and disengaged? And then yeah, they're going through the motion. So I think by nature, that is the definition of psychological absence or quiet quitting. But to me, they're not. They're not necessarily one in the same, but I think they can absolutely have influence on the other.

Russel Lolacher
What is a leader's role in this in in addressing apathy? And, and with influencing apathy it sounds like very much, it's a transparency problem. But when it comes to fixing the problem, what is a leader's role?

Justin Robbins
Once you get to the place of somebody being apathetic, it's a difficult road from there. So I think the the leader's role first and foremost, is recognizing the early warning signs of apathy, and having a proactive mechanism to it's not just about transparency, but to me, it's about it's about communication. It's about engagement. You know, I think one of the one of the common things that organizations you know, have in place today are exit interviews, which are, you know, I don't have necessarily a reason to be honest, I don't even necessarily have a reason to show up. There's not a lot of incentive for me as the departing employee. And I may not even believe at this point anything's gonna be done with the information. I think there's there's a lot that can be done. And some people classify them as staying interviews. For me. It's just what is our consistent cadence of communication with our people? It might be one on ones, it might be quarterly chats at a coffee shop, it might be focus groups. But how are we? How are we taking our team and creating an environment where they feel like they can tell us what we should start, stop and continue, as a business? How are we giving people an active voice in, in influencing the decisions that we're making, right, just because we ask an employee for their opinion on how we should change a process doesn't mean we have to change the process. But that even just the act of saying, Russel, like, it is clear to me as your leader that this is causing a lot of problems for us. And I don't know that I have the perfect solution, other than any of us do. But I think if we come together, we can get something that's better than what we have today. I think it's that type of posture and that type of engagement early and often, that will get you to a place where if you have apathetic, if you've apathetic employees, at that point, there's probably something else going on outside of your influence that is driving that and that and those can be factors outside of work that right, there can be all sorts of things that that now are showing up as discontent that you've done all you've been able to do at that point.

Russel Lolacher
I love that you tapped onto that, because a lot of a lot of leaders don't understand the ecosystem of what their employees are working within. And I don't mean, the work, workplace culture, I mean, home life, I mean, family life, I mean, there's a lot that can influence that, that apathy, but you've touched on it real quickly, what are some of the warning signs that leaders can look for that their employees might be going down the path of apathy.

Justin Robbins
One for me is, is and I'm gonna use a lot of my examples, and Russel, as you know, but for those who don't, so most of my work is done with customer service teams or with contacts in our organizations. And, and there are, there are small signs of neglect, that start to show up for me in the early phases of apathy. And those small signs of neglect can be extra time on break, it's it's starting to show up as tardiness, it's starting to show up as someone who was performing really well, in some areas now starts to trend downward. And based off of the nature of many jobs, you've it's often a tribute to oh, well, we've just went through this change, or we just deployed this new system, or we just launched a new process or, or, and we don't actually engage the employee. And I don't know why this is, but so often, leaders will not engage the employee in an honest conversation and say, "Russel, like, how are you feeling? What's going on? Something's happening here? Because we've got a lot on our plates, we've got a lot of things fighting for our attention. And I think it's, it's easy to let those small things slip and assume that, that they're, they're not there. So those kind of small signs of neglect, I think are one for me. The second, which can be a little bit harder, depending on again, this depends on how you're engaged with your people. But you know, there's there's always alive and well a a gossip kind of undertone and murmur happening within your organization. And I think starting to see what employees maybe previously like weren't buying into some of these things or weren't engaging some of these things, and now starting to even if they're not feeding into it, or starting to engage with it. This to me, like those are signs of dissent, that are starting to show up as well. And I think the the last part of it is, you know, really just like watching for, are they just going through the motions, you know, to that idea of quite putting, like, depending on the nature of your work, and how much opportunity to have to see your employees in their element. Like Are are you noticing that the things they once got excited about that they once cared about isn't the case anymore. And those things can sneak up on us but again, I think the more that we're in tune to that and and are aware of it, the better our chances are of being able to do something about it before we get to that point of like, you know, Russel I guess we always put it as like, if I have an employee resigned from my organization, it should never be a surprise. Right? It should never be a surprise even if they're going to another organization. Like if I'm a really good manager. I may have even been part of the conversation with that employee of helping them understand why that next move is right for them, because being someone who probably knows their performance better than anybody else, right, so that to me is, if you are having people quit your organization today, and it's coming as a surprise to you, then you are missing the science, that that I think is the biggest piece of it.

Russel Lolacher
How do you motivate a team or a colleague through apathy? You've done the surveys, you've got the information, you've seen the warning signs. So what are the mechanisms you may need to put into place to combat this?

Justin Robbins
So you mentioned, you mentioned the survey. And based off of my research with with frontline employees, like in general, people really don't believe or buy in or care about the survey. Right? For a lot of reasons, it's it seems like it's not in the best interest, and very rarely is it clearly shared, what was learned what's being done or not done as a result, and how that affects me. And so I think the communication around it is really important. So, you know, take that as a nugget, like, hey, if I've done the survey, what's what's one of the things to do first is to very clearly communicate with people like before and after the survey, what's being used, how's it being used, what's understood what's not understood, all of that kind of stuff. I'm gonna sound sound like a broken record here. But again, Russel, to me, the biggest, the biggest mechanism in working against apathy is the coaching conversation. It's not a company wide campaign. It's not a series of classes, it is a one to one relationship like that. That is it all day, every day, you've done the survey, if you've seen the warning signs, and you're trying to like overcome the hump, in in apathy, you've got to invest in one to one relationships with your people that like that is that that is the only way. That really is it to me, are you willing to invest consistently in those one to one relationships, because if you're not, then just expect it to continue to be a problem.

Russel Lolacher
Maybe let's actually talk about what a coaching conversation would look like here, because my biggest problem or challenge with this is leaders being asked to do this, and not having the skill set or the tools to do it. Because so many people are put in leadership positions that have no leadership skills, not their fault. They just have never had, maybe they're not comfortable in conflict conversations. Maybe they're in 117 meetings that day, and just aren't able to prioritize it. So I'm not saying like, let's go through 17 coaching models, but what is sort of one that you think would be most effective, because consistency is key here. And to be able to do one coaching session they go, "I fixed apathy!" That's not how the way the world works. Apathy is an ebb and a flow if you're not consistent about it. So what is maybe just walk me through one particular coaching model you like that you think would work best?

Justin Robbins
Yeah. So to your point, Russel, if you think about how most people who have never been taught how to coach, our approach to coaching becomes one of two things. It's either how we ourselves like to be coached. Or it's this combination of people who've coached us in the past, the best in the worst, right? To the point of your very first question. I remember before I had any training on how to be a coach, I just remembered all of the coaches that I hated. And I wanted to do the opposite of what they did. And that was my coaching style was not what they did. I think there are a few things that are really important with understanding coaching. And I do think this is so often training and development at the supervisor, manager and beyond is overlooked and and the further you grow in an organization, the less and less time is often spent in professional development, you know, outside of going to conferences, or maybe if you yourself are hiring an executive coach, right? Often that's not the case. And so I believe that the best investment for a new supervisor or manager is in formal training on how to be a coach. In terms of coaching models. There's there's a lot of different types of models out there. And I'll be honest, over the, over the years, I've used different coaching models for different teams. I think first and foremost, it's important to identify one. And there's, again, you go do a web search right now for coaching calls, and just pick one of them, pick one and apply it across the team because what happens is, does a few things one, every coach in an organization or in a department now have the same framework of what happens in a coaching session. That's the first part about what a coaching model does. It defines what happens in the course of a coaching session. It looks at how is coaching delivered? It talks about what does the person who's being coached? How should they prepare? What do they bring to the session? And for the coach, how should they prepare? And what do they bring to the session? It defines clearly, how do we get consensus on what the most important aspect was in? What do we do moving forward from here? One of the most simple simple models I've seen is even just just three questions, right? It's like, you know, what did you do? Well, what did you improve? Right? It's like, it's like that. It could be start, stop, continue. There's there's one called SAFE, there's, again, so many out there. To me really clear, we go in what is expected of the coaching conversation, how does the coach prepare? How does the person being coached prepare? What are the outcomes of that session? High level, that's really important. The second piece that if you think about how do you crawl, walk, run this thing. I think the very first part is get a coaching model into place and get people accustomed to using the coaching model. The second piece now is having someone who is who's actually coaching the coaches, and having a process and this is actually when I think about, again, from contact centers, there's something called calibration, which is when you're listening to calls, and hey, would we would we score this call the same way? I believe having someone to lead coaching calibration sessions, and say, Hey, based off of this, this piece with, you know, this thing that happened with Russel and coaching isn't just about, you know, replacing a behavior that we want to see, you know, improved or modified, it's also about how do we reinforce the good things, right. So it's have a coaching model in place. The second piece is having someone who is able to help calibrate and coach and develop the coaches. And then the third piece of it for me is like, and this is really where you're running is, you know, now you're start to develop a library and an index of all of these coaching situations and outcomes so that if I'm brand new to the organization, I don't just understand, hey, here's, here's our coaching model. And here's how I'm going to be developed and continually groomed as a coach. But now, Hey, say I have an instance that for the very first time, I've never had a an employee who just totally ripped into a customer. And I'm a new coach, and I'm not sure how I might coach that situation. Well, if you're now at this, like highest level of having a coaching repository, and I can say, hey, let me look at all the times when employees struggled with this exact issue. And let me look at all of the examples of the type of coaching feedback that was provided. And let me look at all of the examples of what was then the time to proficiency or the future, you know, kind of outcomes based off of that. I mean, that level of sophistication and resourcing having can have profound impacts.

Russel Lolacher
Do you approach it differently, individuals versus teams? I mean, a team can be apathetic, even if it's just an individual that's influenced it, but it can grow. So is there a different way of looking at it in that way? Or no?

Justin Robbins
So yes, and no, I think it still comes down to the individual level. And if we think about why are why are people doing what they're doing, right, there's the common example of, hey, people don't do things for, you know, one of three reasons they, they don't know how to do it. They know how to do it, but they don't know why it matters, or they know how to do it, why it matters, and they just don't care. So in your example, you said, Hey, team is often influenced by an individual, my first focus is on the individual, right, if I want to get the team is only as strong as as that person. So I think it does matter at an individual level is like understand that. Now that said, I think when we think about casting vision for our team, when we think about especially if we've got environments where there are a lot of dependencies on each other, I think there's a lot that can be done to coach and develop and inspire and motivate at the team level. But, you know, I think about, you know, my one son is a soccer player. And for as, as often as they have practice as a team. They also recognize that if they're not doing goalie training, if they're not doing defender trick training, if they're not doing finishing training, right, if they're not focused on those players or those areas, the team will only get to a certain level. And so what while yes, I think there of course, work that needs to be done at the team level. I think if it's a matter of somebody's driving apathy, which it's it's always going to stem to an individual or individuals that that improvement has to be done at the individual level.

Russel Lolacher
So let's talk about that improvement. Justin, how do you know you're successful as a leader if you're trying to combat this apathy thing? How do you know the needle has been put in another direction? For lack of a horrible metaphor.

Justin Robbins
Yeah, I'm a big believer and how will you know when you see it? And Russel, I measure my work towards success in one of two ways. And I think about it in terms of predictive and reflective measures. Predictive things are what what can I do in advance of this desired outcome. And, you know, my desired outcome in terms of apathy might be part of it might be thinking about customer satisfaction rates, it might be looking at retention. But it also might be looking at people who are exhibiting discretionary effort. You know, I think about the employee who one day came to me and said, Justin, I know we had that thing happened yesterday, last night, after dinner, I was like, just thinking about it. And I believe that I've got an idea that'll help us, right. There aren't many balanced scorecards over that, that have like ideas thought about at dinner, or in the shower and brought to the office the next day. But those to me are the indicators of people who are like, like, starting to really like, get it in there and get reignited, and excited and engaged in what's happening here. I always focus on the predictive things, because I believe if I focus on the predictive things, and I've got the right predictive things, then I'm gonna get the right outcomes. So for me, one of my measures of success is, am I or are my leaders? Are they spending time in one on one coaching? And it's not just about are they spending the time, but what's happening in those coaching sessions? It's understanding like, Hey, have we identified really good opportunities to collect feedback from our employees? Have we put really good mechanisms for talking about what we're working on? Right? If I understand what is driving apathy, I can create really good measures to identify address and prevent it from happening in the future. And then my reflective measures, those are all the things that now it's too late. Right, that's going back and saying, Okay, well, you know, we had six people churn this past month, or, you know, we had to have a conversation with Russel and even though he hasn't quit yet, like, it's really clear that he's there. So like, there's not one set of metrics, but I think it's, if you understand what is driving apathy today, the first place is what are the predictive things that you can do and measure and look at, to better understand, address and overcome those things in the first place.

Russel Lolacher
You talked off the top about values. And I often recommend and suggest myself that vision and mission are one of the most integral communication tools in organization to help with motivation. Where does purpose values mission, and those values have a role in an apathy conversation?

Justin Robbins
There's like four, there's there's four dimensions of kind of employee growth. And I'm forgetting about like, the actual name for this, but it's, it kind of progresses like this. Russel, the first question employees, ask when they join an organization is what do I get? Right? What do I get from the organization? And this goes to some of the other things we talked about in terms of like, pay hours, benefits, whatever. The second part is, what can I give? And this is really understanding like, do my skills, passions ability, line up with my ability to drive impact here? Kind of the third level of maturity is this idea of "Do I Belong?" And that is this this connection of like, do I feel connection to a greater purpose do? Do I see like this being like, my tribe and my people? And then the fourth, to me, which is like the real ideal here with engagement is "How Can We Grow?" And this is now thinking about beyond itself, how can the organization that I'm a part of be successful? Where I, what I think is interesting, Russel is a lot of people join businesses, because they maybe are fans of the product. They're fans of the brand. They're fans of the mission. They're fans of the values, those are, those are all things that get us really interested in what this company says they're about. But then I asked the question of like, how do they show up? And how how do I get connected to those in my every day? And the hard answer is that in a lot of organizations that I don't. I see it in our manual or on the back of my my name badge. It might show up in our annual review process, right? Often annual reviews, try to try to have the core values of the business and then if I'm a manager... I'm now reverse engineering. And I'm like, Okay, "what are all the things that Russel did this year that make him have a selfless spirit of service? Well, I remember this one..." We're trying to manufacture this verse, the approach that I mentioned at Hershey, where we said instead of it being something that, that, you know, we look back on how's it something that we're, we're moving to every day, and this, to me becomes that sense of purpose? It's recognizing that Russel, you joined this organization, and because you believe in the cause? And so how do I every single day reinforce the fact that you are making a difference on the cause?

Russel Lolacher
So let's flip the mirror around Justin. Because as leaders, we feel apathy in a lot of organizations within it. And maybe we don't have the best leader to help us through our apathy. It just washed over us whether we like it or not. So as leaders, how do you think we need to step up and get motivated, engaged, even if we're doing mundane tasks?

Justin Robbins
I will speak for my self first. I think part of it Russel is having a, a network and a group of people that we invite into accountability. I think it's recognizing, it's like really recognizing the influence and the impact that we have on the people we serve in the organizations were a part of, and, you know, again, I think about examples of like, my, my older son, and things he did, and my younger son, like, I watch him, like parodying those things, because he respects him, and he admires him. And, you know, whether employees respect and admire you or not, like all eyes, if you're a leader, all eyes are always on you and what you're doing. So I think I think the first part for me is like, it's being really intentional every day to wake up and recognize like, this is an opportunity and a responsibility, and are we going to be good stewards of it or not? And recognizing that we cannot do that alone. And you may not have the best boss, but do you have a peer or someone else in your organization that can hold you accountable, or that can be a sounding board, or that can be a mentor? Do you have someone outside of your organization and, you know, sometimes it'll be like the lines blur between people who are friends, or people who are old bosses or old colleagues. But that that to me is like, I know, I know, if a a leader a holds their, their role with the respect and honor that it it needs. Like that, to me is evident. And it's also evident if they are inviting others into hold them accountable and keep them in check. Because our own worst enemy is supervisor, manager, director VP, I don't care what you are or not, is our own stinking thinking. And so what can we do to make sure that we've got people in our lives to protect us from that? That I mean, that to me, is it like, for the rest of your life, people are going to make decisions that you don't agree with? And you like, actually give you a mantra that your former mentor gave to me? And it was this idea of care deeply, fight passionately and hold loosely. And I think, how do how do leaders get past this idea of apathy, like if you if you really love your job and the organization, you're part of know that they're going to be like, they're going to be tough decisions? And, you know, it's easy for us to like, get inside of all the things we would have wished or wanting to do differently. But can we get back to this place of like, do you care deeply about what you're doing? And what you're going after? And the opportunity to have? Are you willing to fight passionately for what you believe is right, and you know, your perspective. But at the end of the day, will you hold loosely to know that if you're part of an organization, like there are many variables at play that you do and don't know, to the best idea may not be your idea, or the thing? That's right for right now, you won't always agree with that. To me, it's a posture, it's a way of thinking and again, it's it's having people keep us in check.

Russel Lolacher
For me, I've also found it to be really motivating with change. I think a lot of people for apathy for themselves is there in a role regardless of how much successful they see or how much success they see the impact their board, because it's the same job they've been doing for far too long. But the minute they get a new responsibility, a new opportunity within the organization, that switch happens, where they've got something new to new bone to chew on. And they get to use their brain in a new way. And I felt that for myself in the organizations I've worked with, that's always been a big trigger for me of going, Oh, I am more than that roll, I can do other things, too. And to get the opportunity to do that, not only for myself to find those opportunities, but for leaders to see going, Oh, they'd be great for this. That's always been a big opportunity for me for apathy fighting. I love it. When is apathy gone too far I want to wrap up with this is, is there a point where either for yourself or for an individual, you're coaching and mentoring, we're at these like, you know, what this ship has sailed? There's no, like, what is the tipping point where it's just sort of like, maybe you need to go somewhere else, maybe we need to let you go. Or maybe I need to quit.

Justin Robbins
I wish there was just one one thing here. Like, this is this is why I'm like, probably, their human resources, individuals right now, we're not going to like what I'm going to say here. But perfect. But to me, there's this like, this gut moment of like recognizing, knowing that their heart or your heart isn't in it anymore. That, to me is the moment. And that can show up through conversations, it can show up. To me there's there's this connection between what we value. And this is not just in terms of like where we find significance and what we believe is important. But this is like even our core ethos, like what is it that we as a human beings stand for and believing and want to contribute to? Right? So there's like that consideration for all of us. There's this then layer where we think about our skills and passions and ability and, and what is our ability to drive into contribute change toward whatever that thing is, right? And then there's this this third part of, and do we believe that we are supported and resourced in the way where that is possible. And my observation has been that if one of those is at risk, you have great opportunity to kind of restore and redeem, like that person and get them on the right path. And so if if I, I'm like, this is aligned with what I believe in, and I have the right tools, but I don't think I'm good enough. Like, we can work through that. Right? If it's like, I think I'm good enough. And I have the right tools. But is this really what I believe? Well, we can work through figuring that out, you know, or it's, I believe this, I'm good enough. But do I have the right tools? Right? All of those are solvable problems, once you start to have two of those. Now to me is that the place where I'm probably going to lose you and and the minute then that I've recognized that all three are gone like that, to me, that to me is the true point of no return, where it's like this no longer aligns with what I believe, where I think my skills are best suited and and you know, having the resources to do what needs to be done anyway. That, to me is the point of no return. But honestly, it's like, if I've lost you on two of those, it's or five, I myself lost on two of those. It's probably time to find something else.

Russel Lolacher
Thank you, Justin. Now I got to ask you the last question, which is what I asked everyone, which is what's one simple action, right now people can do to improve their relationships at work?

Justin Robbins
To me, Russel, it is to be proactive in not just connecting with people, but being genuinely curious about who they are and what they show up for every single day. The more curiosity we have around like the people we're with and what really brings them to be their best self at work. Man, that is such just powerful information. And I think it enabled us to accomplish a lot together.

Russel Lolacher
Love that. Thank you very much, Justin, it's nice for me to ask you the questions. This time. Last time you were the facilitator, and this time I got to pepper you sir. That is Justin Robbins. He's a keynote speaker and founder, founder and principal analyst at MetricSherpa. Thanks so much for your time, sir.

Justin Robbins
Thank you Russel.