Relationships at Work - The Leadership Mindset Guide to Creating a Workplace We Love

How to Make Peer Coaching Part of Our Leadership Journey with Meredith Bell

December 26, 2023 Russel Lolacher Episode 122
Relationships at Work - The Leadership Mindset Guide to Creating a Workplace We Love
How to Make Peer Coaching Part of Our Leadership Journey with Meredith Bell
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with author, podcaster and consultant Meredith Bell on prioritizing and implementing peer coaching at work.

Meredith shares her insights and experience in...

  • Importance of coaching culture in organizations.
  • The differences between peer coaching with traditional coaching and mentoring.
  • How peer coaching can help self-reliance and critical thinking in the workplace.
  • The positive impacts of vulnerability and transparency in leadership.
  • The role of empathy and listening in peer coaching.
  • The value of embracing diversity and curiosity in coaching.
  • Measuring the success of peer coaching.
  • How leadership has a critical role in peer coaching.

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher: And on the show today, we have Meredith Bell, and here is why she is awesome. She’s the president and co founder of Performance Support Systems. Through that organization, she’s an author and publisher of performance improvement books and tools that help grow strong leaders and teams. Including co authoring books like Peer Coaching Made Simple, Connect With Your Team.

And she also authored the book Strong For Performance. She’s also the host of a podcast, you absolutely should check out called Grow Strong Leaders, that interviews business leaders who are committed to their and their team’s growth. Sounds very familiar to the stuff we’re talking about today.

Welcome Meredith.

Meredith Bell: Thank you, Russel. It’s great to be here with you.

Russel Lolacher: I’m excited. Peer coaching, we’re talking about today. But before we get into that tête à tête, a little bit of French there, we’re going to get into the first question, which is what I ask all of my guests. What’s your best or worst employee experience, Meredith?

Meredith Bell: Well, I have to share two, because they were back to back in a two year period. I worked with two different bosses that were so extreme contrasts that I can cover both of these in a short order. I was in public education in this particular school system, I was hired to be the director of federal programs and the gentleman that hired me was also my boss.

And he was amazing. He saw my strengths. He saw areas where I could excel and he gave me free reign. He understood that’s what I would respond best to because of how I’m built. And so I was able to be really creative and do some wonderful things with these programs. And he affirmed me. He just did all the right things as a boss, right.

In terms of making me feel not just feel good, but, but challenging me and inspiring me. to be my best. And then we got a new superintendent of schools at the end of year one who shuffled things around and my… I lost my boss. He got moved to another part of the organization and the fellow that was put in his place was the antithesis of him.

He was a micromanager. He had meetings all the time. I felt constrained and shrinking. And plus the superintendent gave me, through this guy, an area of responsibility I had no experience in. And so I was set up for failure and just decided I can’t do this. And, I decided to leave education.

I had dreamed my whole life of being a teacher and then moving into other roles, but I just felt demeaned and minimized. And the contrast in my enthusiasm in year one and my shrinkage in year two was just amazing. And the takeaway for me was realizing what an impact, you know, leadership actually does have on morale, on a person’s sense of who they are and what they’re capable of.

So I ended up leaving after that second year. And that’s when I ended up starting my own business because I still love teaching and training. So I moved into teaching communication skills and leadership and team building. So it all worked out. But the contrast there served me well in terms of my own work with organizations and having a vision of what really powerful, positive leadership looks like.

Russel Lolacher: I’m always fascinated by culture when it comes to good and bad leaders. So I’m kind of curious in that situation, like we’re talking within a year and a year, horrible and the best back to back. How does a culture condone that? Like, so did the culture of the whole organization change? Cause it condoned good leadership and horrible leadership, but it was still the same culture.

That’s what I’m kind of curious about.

Meredith Bell: You know, I would have to say it, the culture wasn’t necessarily transformed automatically. The first superintendent or the superintendent who was there when I got hired, I didn’t have that much interaction with him. My boss was more direct connection for me and he, I don’t know, shielded is the right word, but he removed those of us that worked with him from some of the other stuff that was going on and it became more political and bureaucratic after the new one came in and there was, there was a change in the culture because this fellow that was the superintendent was more autocratic.

You know, this is how it’s going to be. I wasn’t given the opportunity to discuss whether I felt I ought to take on this new responsibility. It was just, this is yours now. It was thrown at me with no preparation, no support. And so that, that, was a change in terms of my little world with the culture. And I think that that ended up trickling down as I reflect now, because after I left, I don’t think that superintendent was there a whole lot longer.

Russel Lolacher: It’s so funny too because we always hear the phrase people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. But what we don’t flip that around is that people also don’t leave… they leave bad bosses, but sometimes they don’t leave great bosses. Like the whole organization can have a bad culture, but if you have a great leader as a boss and they’re shielding you from that politics and that, you know, that stuff that just impedes your productivity and your value and your worth. People will stay in bad organizations if they have that, you know, that light bulb in front of them.

Meredith Bell: That’s right. I think that is so accurate Russel, because their world is primarily around that leader who’s having a positive impact with them and they’re, they feed off that. It, you know, that is so there they are protected in a sense from some of those other areas that are less healthy, less positive.

Russel Lolacher: Well, let’s positively… Oh, there’s a beautiful segue. Let’s positively get into our topic today. Yes. That radio training is coming in question. Now I, I always love doing this at the beginning of almost all my podcasts, which is getting into definitions because we in the workplace, don’t define things very often.

We talk about stuff all the time, but we don’t define them. So, let’s start the bar here because I want to define what peer coaching is, but I also kind of want to differentiate it from things like regular coaching and mentoring. So, can you set the bar for us? Set the table as it were. Yeah.

Meredith Bell: All right. Thank you. That’s a great introduction to this. So in my mind, peer coaching is where two people, they could be coworkers, they could be people who are colleagues and just know each other. So peer is, doesn’t have to be literally, you know, where exactly peers, they could be at different levels in the organization, but the idea is that they are committed to each other’s success.

And so they’re working together and they have made a commitment to meet virtually in person, but connect with each other on a regular basis to check in and hold each other accountable as well as support and encourage each other as they’re working to make improvements in whatever areas they that it is that they want to work on.

So we call it peer, because it’s, they’re not approaching it as one is more knowledgeable, experienced, but that we both care about each other’s success. That’s really the main criteria. There’s no certification required. There’s no special training. It helps if they have certain basic communication skills and then that commitment to be honest with each other and call each other out if they have not, you know, kept a commitment that they said they were going to do. So in a normal, let’s say a normal coaching role, where one is the coachee and one is the coach, that’s a little different because it’s not going both ways as far as what… that they’re both trying to help each other.

The coach is typically being paid by either that coaching or the organization to help that individual grow as a leader, grow as an individual. And the many times it’s to help them prepare for that next level of leadership. And so it’s a very different kind of thing where one person is committed to their own growth and the other one is helping them with that. Mentorship to me is, is more if you think about career someone who is a mentor is in a role of advising, whereas a coach is asking questions more and drawing out of a person. A mentor is being a little bit more directive, a little bit more, guiding of a person, kind of filling them in to shorten their learning curve, whether it’s in a technical area or how the organization works.

But it’s, it’s somebody who is leading that other person along a path so that they gain knowledge. They gain experiences more quickly so that they can then perhaps take on another role. But it isn’t so much drawing out of the person and asking as many questions as finding out what is it you need to know and how can I help you get there?

Russel Lolacher: Now when you use the word peer, are we talking someone who has power over, shouldn’t be doing peer coaching? Just trying to find what, what peer coaching is not to better define it.

Meredith Bell: Oh, that, you know, that’s such a good question. One of the things we talk about, we do use the word peer coach, but we also talk about coaching partnerships. And so it could be that a manager is in a coaching partnership with the people who report to them. But that to me is not as much a peer as somebody that, that could be in a, they could be in a different position.

It could be a higher level in an organization for one person than the other, but they could be in different departments, but they have this kinship where they’ve agreed we want to work together. For example, some companies that incorporate peer coaching do it in cohorts that are going through a leadership development program, and those programs can consist of people in different positions.

You know, they might be within a certain range of leaders within a company. So it wouldn’t be a supervisor and executive, for example, but, but it could be people that are different levels who would end up being peer coaches. So I wouldn’t say take it literally, but it can often be coworkers who are working together, know each other well, and care about helping each other grow and learn.

Russel Lolacher: You’re talking about formalizing it a bit there with cohorts within an organization. What are the benefits to an organization to take this seriously?

Meredith Bell: There are so many, because the fact is everyone could use a coach. And so we’re kind of on a mission to help people understand the best way to create a culture where people thrive is one where they feel comfortable coaching each other. So what does that mean? Well, it means doing the basic things that a certified coach does, which is to me are two big things, listening and asking questions. So those two elements, if you imagine people within an organization adopting the idea that I could coach even the CEO, if I were given the opportunity to be with that person by asking questions about what’s important to that person, you know. What is it they most want to see happen in the organization and then listen in a way that I can offer up a reflection of what that person has said, or even throw out an idea that they might not have thought about before.

And being willing to give feedback to someone, both positive and constructive. So being honest. It’s this culture of being honest with each other, so we’re direct. It’s also a culture of openness. and safety where I feel comfortable sharing with you what I’m thinking, what I’m hearing, and I don’t fear retribution of some sort or punishment or negative impact by taking a risk of being honest. So to me, the benefit is organization wide. It’s always best, of course, that it started at the top. Where the CEO, all the senior leaders are openly committed to the success of other people openly own up to the fact, I don’t know everything. And so they don’t try to be the answer person. I once spoke and had as a guest on my show, this woman who coaches. She’s a high level executive herself, and one of her roles is coaching other senior leaders, and one of the key things they struggle with is feeling like they have to be the answer person, you know, and so that puts a lot of pressure on people in leadership roles where I got to know the answer.

No, you don’t. If you turn it around and ask somebody, what do you think? You know, there’s so many benefits to the company and to productivity, if leaders will learn to do this one thing and and peer coaches can do this with each other too. Instead of feeling like, Oh, I got to find out what this person needs and give them the answer. So I can get on to the next person and solve that problem and then solve the next one. Instead of that, helping people realize they have the wherewithal to come up with the answers themselves. So when someone comes and says, Oh, I don’t know what to do about this situation. Instead of going, well, I think this would be, I think this would work.

Because giving an answer seems expedient, right? It seems like, okay, I get this person out of my office or off the phone. I can move on to my next thing. But in reality, if we invest the time to ask the person, Well, what have you thought of so far? What options have you considered? Well, what do you think would happen if you did that?

Getting them to think for themselves is such a critical skill that actually, honestly, can start with parents doing this with their kids. Because that’s how we get independent, critical thinkers. And that’s what happens in the workplace too. If we help people realize this person expects me to think about things before I come to them, then you’re helping people be more independent critical thinkers themselves to anticipate what are some of the consequences.

And you end up saving time because they don’t need to come to you. They’re not dependent on you. They’ve learned to think and handle things for themselves. So imagine how freed up the time would be. For leaders who took that approach of investing the time up front to teach people to think for themselves.

Russel Lolacher: My brain is just firing around the idea of executives and leaders being transparent and vulnerable about going through a process like this, because I’ve seen so many executives isolate themselves. Because, well, one, either they’re in so many meetings, they don’t have time to even talk to anybody else unless it’s scheduled or, and even that might get rescheduled.

Well, we had a half an hour. Now we have five minutes for us to build connection. Like that seems to be such the norm. But for someone who is new to your organization or looking to build a career in an organization to see their boss, their boss’s boss’s boss’s boss admit they don’t have the answers, admit they don’t have, they’re vulnerable and that they’re doing the best they can and that leadership is about responsibility.

And I think that would inspire people to…

Meredith Bell: Yes, it does.

Russel Lolacher: Absolutely. But, because those leaders either go executive coaching behind closed doors or don’t talk about it because it’s… It’s, it’s vulnerable because they need help. I think that is deterrent to cultures that are trying to build that and, and, and understand that that’s not a healthy organization.

Meredith Bell: No doubt. Russel, we’ve been in the 360 feedback business for almost 30 years. And one of the things we’ve seen is when senior executives get their feedback, if they’re willing to sit down and talk to people around them who gave them the feedback, and say, here’s what I learned. Here are my strengths. I understand that.

Here’s where you’d like me to change. Here’s what I’m going to be working on. And I need your help. I need your support. I need you to hold up to me when I’m not following through with what I said, I’m going to do. That goes such a long way to building that trust, to helping people feel comfortable being honest, because here’s the top leaders being honest, and that has a cascade effect throughout the organization. Just like the negative leadership has a cascade effect as well. It’s so much more powerful. You know, one of my favorite CEOs ever is Garry Ridge. He’s retired now from WD 40. But he told me his three favorite words were, I don’t know. Imagine the CEO of a big company willing to say, I don’t know. And that’s where we can turn around and say, and what do you think? I would really value your ideas. This is where people become more committed to an organization, to a leader, because they realize they matter. And that’s where all of us want to feel is that we matter.

We are valued. And I think that’s such a powerful way to demonstrate that. To show I have confidence in who you are as an individual, as a person, on this team. To just ask for their opinion and thoughts and stay curious and not judge or evaluate what they have to say and instead learn to say, well tell me more about that? And what’s the thinking you brought to that? Or what experiences have you had? So you know, again, it goes back to that being expedient with time, we want to get to the point, move on, you know, and instead, if we will, are willing to peel back the layers a little bit and better understand them, the message that sends to the person that you care. One of my favorite quotes ever, and I won’t quote it exactly. It’s from this book, How to Get Clients by Steve Chandler, one of my favorite authors. And he has a chapter in there on curiosity. And he says, if you’re willing to stay in a curious place, and really be with that person, you’re bringing curiosity. What they feel is love. Now think about that.

Because so few people are curious. You know, you mentioned it earlier. We run out of time for things, but if we’re willing to invest time and recognize that’s the most important thing we can do as a leader is help someone else feel valued. and trusted by us.

I tease the word mileage because it’s not a manipulative thing, but the commitment we get is just amazing. If we recognize not just the value from a heart perspective, but the practical value of reduced turnover of greater commitment, greater effort when people feel that they are important to us.

It’s, it’s just amazing to me.

Russel Lolacher: I love that you dropped Garry’s name. Garry was a former guest on our show as well. I was a big, big fan of Garry’s. Yeah, I, I love the idea of the curiosity being a key factor. So what else, if you’re going to be a peer coach or you’re looking for a peer coach, besides curiosity, what other traits should we be leaning into to be the best peer coach we can be?

Meredith Bell: I think a key one is, is listening because so often we’re waiting to take our turn to speak instead of really listening. And so if I’m going to be an effective peer coach with someone, I have to be willing to set aside my opinions. You know, the idea that I need to give advice or I have to respond in a certain way and just be fully present.

Pay attention to the tone of voice, the body language, the eyes, you know, if I’m, if I’m even on a call with them, a Zoom call. versus a phone call. But what are the little things that I might pick up about the totality of the message that they’re sharing with me? And then reflecting back to them, you know, it sounds like you’re really frustrated.

So we learn how to be empathetic with someone by showing them, you really get how they’re feeling in that moment. And so for them to, to have the freedom to say, Oh, it’s not that I’m frustrated. I’m just hurt, you know, or disappointed. So we’re helping them uncover, through our questions and our listening, what’s really going on with them.

So they come away understanding themselves better and, and feeling more confident. I think that’s a key thing. As a peer coach, we can help build another person’s confidence in the way that we respond to them. And confidence is everything. When you look at what are we willing to risk? What are we willing to try?

If I’m not feeling comfortable, I’m going to tend to play it safe and, and, you know, not speak up, not push the boundaries and suggest something that’s way outside of what’s been done before. So I think those are some key things to genuinely care about the person and the other person knows it, also.

Russel Lolacher: So in your book, you talk about the six basics, listening, being one of them, giving advice, you start with accountability, which totally understand that that makes a lot of sense.

But I want to take it sort of a step before that. How do you begin peer coaching? Do you just randomly walk up to somebody go, you’re gonna get coached? Like, how does this? How does this even start?

Meredith Bell: Well, there’s a couple of different ways. It can be a more of a project, you know, a centrally managed thing. And when that happens, I always recommend, select people that are always raising their hand and saying, pick me, pick me for the next thing that you want to try because they are the ones that are interested in growing and developing and they will become your biggest advocates.

So, yes, two people could decide, we want to do this ourselves. But more often, if it’s going to really become widespread in an organization, there needs to be an internal champion, you know, someone who’s facilitating the process. And so in that case, what we advise is having a meeting… Well, first identify who’s going to participate.

And then it’s always best if people can choose their own partners, because the more you can eliminate friction or potential resistance, the more people will embrace this whole process. And so people can choose someone else that they want to work with. And then there’s a structure in which everyone in their pairs agrees.

All right. How often are we going to meet? How long will we meet? What’s our connection going to be? It could be as short as five minutes.

It doesn’t have to be a time consuming process. The key is, and I like that you mentioned the accountability, because it helps us stay on track. Anytime we’re trying to do new things, and in our case, we wrote that book as a companion to our book on communication skills, because we all come into the workplace. communicating in certain ways. So we’re hardwired with our way of listening, our way of giving feedback or not. And so having somebody to work with us as we’re trying to make adjustments to that is very powerful.

So it’s getting that agreement, making that commitment. We’ll meet every so often for this many minutes. And we have a structure to it where we take turns talking about here’s what I said I was going to work on, here’s what I actually did, here’s how it went, and here’s what I am planning to do for the next time.

So you each take turns going over those kinds of information. And just as a quick example of that would be, let’s say someone has a tendency to interrupt others. Because that’s a common problem, right? We get excited about what we want to say, or we wish the person would move faster, and so we are finishing their sentences, or cutting in, cutting them off to say what we want to say.

So if somebody’s made that commitment, and this is someone who works with them, then they’re going to be able to observe them in meetings and in other interactions, and be able to share some feedback about what they’ve observed, not just what the person who’s working on it has observed. So that’s where it helps to have somebody that has first hand knowledge of of you and what you’re doing.

But the idea is to listen closely to hear, did the person really put this into practice? If not, what held them back, what got in the way? And that’s where the accountability piece comes in so that they recommit.

to doing whatever it was they said that they would do. So there can be this structure. And then the other piece of the structure is that the person facilitating this checks in periodically with those pairs to see how it’s going.

And they might even have a group call or meeting where people have a chance to share. How’s it working with you being, you know, with your peer coaching, what kind of issues might you be running into? Not necessarily with each other, with the process and then hearing the success stories of other people that are doing well can be inspiring to other folks.

So it’s a shared learning that can happen and it can go on indefinitely. And you could have the same people paired together for a long period of time or after so many months. You could say, well, let’s shuffle things up a bit just as a way for us to get to know other people and work with other people and hone our coaching skills with different personalities, different topics that people might want to work on.

Russel Lolacher: And you, you touched on something I want to jump into because from my experience, nothing is one size fits all. So, we’re talking about peer coaching. How do we approach it from a generational standpoint? From a Gen Z right up to Boomers, who have a much different perspective of how they want to interact, what success looks like. How do you, how do you cater to that?

Meredith Bell: You know, one of the things you could do is as you’re setting this up, throw it out. What do you think would work best in the way we structure this? So getting… the more we can get buy in from others, the more they are going to be committed to whatever the process is. Instead of feeling like, again, if the facilitator feels like I got to be the answer person, I got to have it all mapped out in advance, that might fall flat.

And so getting input from others would, what do you all think about, you know, having somebody that’s not close to your age, be your peer coach? So that you can learn from, you know, different generations or somebody who’s not the same race. I mean, there are so many ways that you can encourage people to look at diversity and look at working with people who might be different from them in whatever way that might be.

And it could even be people who are similar ages, but their personalities are really And so it’s this idea of, to me again, starting out, helping people, having people help you define the parameters, and how we’re going to do things so that they are, are equally committed to it.

Russel Lolacher: There’s that curiosity thing again, Meredith.

Meredith Bell: Well, it is. It’s a common theme, and it is amazing if we can all… You know, because there’s so much divisiveness in the world, in the U. S., where I am at this point, and if we could switch from judging and evaluating and critiquing. And, and be more curious and open to learn about what is the thinking behind the person’s thinking, to better understand, even if we don’t end up agreeing with them, to understand them as a human being, I think, is so important for overcoming and working through some of those differences that we perceive as being so stark.

Russel Lolacher: How do we know we’re successful at our peer coaching? Are there KPIs we should be paying attention to here? Like, we dive into it, we’re doing it. How do we know we’re achieving it?

Meredith Bell: Well, I think that’s an excellent question and, and there are a number of different things you could look at. You know, one is, doing a survey and asking people, what difference has this made? If any, or even in group discussions of how you approach talking to others, feeling comfortable, you know, offering up coaching in other settings, what difference has this made for you in terms of how you feel about working in this company?

And, you know, being a part of this team wherever the impact could be, because I think you do have to think about that. What do we hope to achieve by having people be peer coaches? What is it we want to do? And from our perspective, helping people learn to become better communicators with one other person can help them be better communicators with others.

And that’s the key. You know, we were talking about why people leave organizations and a lot of times it’s because the person’s manager simply didn’t know better. You know, they were doing the best they could, but they were not very effective communicators. And so if we can help people learn to communicate more effectively, then we lose all that wasted time that was spent in drama, you know, and negatives. Talking and emotions that impact our productivity and our performance. So I think it can sometimes be tied back into employee engagement scales, turnover. You know, what are we seeing in terms of retention? Are people staying because it’s a better, happier place to work because we’re getting along better.

We’re not spending so much energy and time fighting battles and instead working together towards achieving our common goals.

Russel Lolacher: We touched earlier about formalizing peer coaching, and I’m kind of on the fence on this because I love the organic nature of peer coaching and it being relationship-based. But I also understand some organizations may need to be forced to do this because it’s not within a lot of leaders natures to be this connected or this interactive.

Where do you stand on formalization? Because I get the worry that there are some bad leaders that may do more harm than good being forced into a peer coaching relationship.

Meredith Bell: Well, you know, you’re bringing up a key point that I think a lot of organizations are really embracing. And your recent guest Angela Stopper, at University of Berkeley talked about this because it took them… because I’ve talked to her about this. It took them about three years to really get the managers on board with taking on this coaching role, which is required.

And so I think that part of this goes back to, as a company, as an organization, what do we value? And if we value the ability for a leader, to effectively coach others. And we embrace that and say, this is going to be a core value that we want everyone to adopt. And that includes even down to the individual contributor level, coaching each other.

Then what are we putting in place to support that? What are we doing to help these leaders who don’t feel comfortable in that role become more comfortable? And that’s where some companies have them, you know, in cohorts in these leadership development programs, work in pairs with somebody that’s a peer first, because as they get more comfortable coaching a peer, those same skills will transfer over to coaching the people on their teams.

So we can’t just say, this is what we want, or this is what, how it’s gonna be. We have to look at what needs to be done to help people be comfortable in adopting these rules. I think you’ll always have those high achievers, Russel that organically would naturally get together and say, let’s let’s do this. Let’s hold each other accountable because you can call it accountability partners. But two people that say, yes, we’re going to do this together. This happens all the time with people that want to work out, lose weight, you know, those kinds of things, but it can happen in the workplace too. And it’s, it, it can have greater longevity and an impact if it is more formalized in, in a process that’s put in place. And I think, again, it’s important to let it be optional at first, or, you know, starting with a pilot. So you work out things and you see what, what part of this process could be tweaked to be more effective so that it becomes more widespread and becomes the way we do things around here, which is what culture is really all about.

Russel Lolacher: Now, you’ve worked in this realm for quite a while. Where have you personally seen peer coaching move the needle on even the most personal of levels?

Meredith Bell: It would be with leaders first. Leaders who have, made a commitment and they’re also working in a company where this kind of coaching process is valued. It’s hard to be two people just standing out from the crowd and, and having an impact. But this is where I think it makes a huge difference when it’s adopted at a broader level at at leaders levels, because then they can be coached and especially if it starts at the top top and those executives know how to coach their group, their next level down. And so it has a cascading effect and people see and feel that. So there has to be that commitment typically in time and money for people to be able to learn these skills and do this.

You know, Russel, a key aspect of what we’re talking about here is not sending people up to training, to a classroom to learn how to do this. It’s doing it on the job. That’s where the practice happens. That’s where the rewiring of the brain has to happen, where we’re doing it over and over again. So that new pathway becomes second nature for us and it replaces the old way of doing things.

And that’s true for any new skill that we’re learning.

Russel Lolacher: We’re certainly talking about leadership and modeling behavior at the executive level. Is there a place for peer coaching for, new hires for those that are just just starting out in their careers in the organization. Is there value there?

Meredith Bell: Absolutely. Yeah. And it could work in two different ways. It could be two new people put together, help each other along the way. But it could also be someone who’s been there a certain period of time with a new person, in which case they would be kind of serving a dual role coach and mentor, because they may be helping them learn the ropes of how things are done in the company.

And I think that goes such a long way for building, retention and commitment to the company, because right off the bat, they’re not left floundering and trying to figure out what we do. You know, it’s that whole thing of onboarding. How adequately are we onboarding people and also offboarding them when they decide it’s time to leave, what are we doing to make that a graceful exit? What are we learning from them? What are we doing to make them an advocate for our company even when they no longer work here? So, you know, it’s that whole process from attracting the right people, bringing them on board and that coaching piece right up front.

So they feel, oh, this feels good. Somebody cares about me and is interested. That connection is so critical because you’re probably familiar. There’s so many people that come and then they go, they leave within 90 days. because of this lack of connection to that organization. So I love the idea of pairing them with someone.

Russel Lolacher: I think the idea of including peer coaching right out of the gate is such a lovely way of showing we’re going to invest time in you. We’re going to give space for you to invest in your career, invest in the value of what you’re about to do, even if you’re still trying to figure that out.

And maybe what your career could be in this organization. So I love having that as part of the onboarding experience. So, Meredith, you’ve taken us from the beginning. right through the span of an organization. So I have to wrap it up with the last question I ask all of my guests, which is what’s one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Meredith Bell: This is something that’s not talked about enough and that is appreciating people. And, and here’s a tip I learned many years ago from Dan Sullivan, who has strategic coach. Before we have a conversation with someone, if we can just take a minute or two to imagine how important they are to us, what is it we value? What is it we appreciate about who they are and why they’re important to us in our lives, whether it’s in our personal or business, because if we take the time to do that, just like we want gold or, you know, real estate to appreciate or stocks to appreciate… a person’s value can appreciate in our own minds when we take time to do that. And the way we interact with them as a result of taking those few minutes to think how important they are to us has a twofold benefit. Number one, we are more curious. We are more caring with them. We don’t have to say when they come in the door, oh, these are things I appreciate about you.

We’re feeling it. We bring that energy to the conversation and they feel it. So the benefit to them is they elevate their value in their own mind.

And that to me is one of the most powerful things we can do for another human being.

Russel Lolacher: That is Meredith Bell. She’s the president and co founder of Performance Support Systems. She’s an author and she’s the host of Grow Strong Leaders podcast. Thank you so much for being here, Meredith.

Meredith Bell: Thank you, Russel. It’s been a great conversation.