Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love

Why Creative Conflict Is Key For Employee Engagement with HR Huntsman

March 05, 2024 Russel Lolacher Episode 142
Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love
Why Creative Conflict Is Key For Employee Engagement with HR Huntsman
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with executive coach, consultant and speaker HR Huntsman on why leaders need to introduce creative conflict into the workplace to improve employee engagement. 

HR shares his insights and experience in...

  • The importance of creative conflict
  • Trust as the foundation:
  • Leadership's role in fostering an innovative culture
  • Creative conflict as a catalyst for innovation
  • Creative conflict as a pathway to engagement and productivity
  • Basing conflict in curiosity and inquiry over direct confrontation

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher: And on the show today we have HR Huntsman and here is why he is awesome. He's an executive and business coach and founder and president of Leaders Edge. It's a consultancy helping leaders become the best version of themselves. He's also a bit of a speaker.

He's had an impact in that area with almost 30 years of experience giving 3,000 esque talks. I'm just using round numbers here. And he's done this for over 300, 000 people worldwide. Welcome to the show, HR.

HR Huntsman: Russel, it is a pleasure to be here, my friend. Thank you for having me.

Russel Lolacher: So we got to start baseline. We got to start we start every episode, which is, sir, what's your best or worst HR employee experience?

HR Huntsman: Okay, my friend, let's go worse. Let's go to my military days. Got out of high school, joined the air force, got a high-end electronics job, top secret. I was planning to spend my life there. Come from a long line of veterans.

And I quickly found out that a high performance and a high achievement wasn't the best route to success and rank. Now I made rank very quickly. But I realized that time in grade and time in service, those are military terms, were used more than performance. And for a high achiever like myself, that became very frustrating because I began to see myself surrounded by people that I thought were lazy, sloppy, and wasteful and not helping the organization.

And that for me was really frustrating. So got out of the military and shortly thereafter started my first company.

Russel Lolacher: It's interesting when you discover that a culture is just not for you while you're in it, especially at that age, it's important to realize that you have some power to leave those experiences as opposed to some people.

I can imagine there's so many people that may have those experience military or otherwise, where they're like, well, I'm 20, I'm 21. I'm going to stick it out for at least a couple of years. Yeah. And then they're way worse off at the other end of that.

HR Huntsman: That's right. Absolutely right. Obviously, the military, you have a, in my case, a four year contract.

So I had to finish the four years, unlike the private sector where you can, you know, move around a lot more fluidly. But yeah, we're autonomous beings. We're in control of our future. Take control of your future.

Russel Lolacher: So let's take control of this episode here, HR. We're talking about creative conflict. That's when we first chatted, this came up and I was really excited to talk about that. So let's first start by defining what creative conflict is.

HR Huntsman: Love it. I love this topic so much. What creative conflict is, this is where the highest performing teams that we work with, they, they live here. And the low performing teams, we try to get to live here.

And what it is, is this collaborative high performing environment where disagreement, respectful disagreement is not only allowed, but it's encouraged. And this is where innovation is bred. This is where creativity is bred. This is where new ideas come from. This is where old ideas are challenged and dead horses are dismounted and killed and put to bed and new ideas flourish.

It's this, it's this creative space where all voices in the room are heard regardless of rank. Rank is thrown out the door. And it's a idea meritocracy, no matter where the idea comes from, it's rated on its own merit. And we're allowed to disagree and challenge. And there's this heat and passion that arises and great ideas come from this space, but it takes a lot of freaking guts and time to create such a place.

Russel Lolacher: And I mean, my brain is going a little wild here on this sounds great. Can't introduce something like this just cause. What are the ingredients of a culture needs to have to be able to embrace a concept like this?

HR Huntsman: Yeah, well, at the bottom, at the bottom of it lies trust. When there is mistrust or distrust, you're not going to have creative conflict because of rank.

There's going to be people whose voices are weightier, they're heavier, whether it's because of position or time in grade, time in service, they have you know, they have history there and that's how we always do things. So trust has to be built and that often takes a great deal of time. You're right.

You just don't walk into a place and have created conflict. It's built through trust and connections and trial and error and some sting and some pain. And it takes a lot of guts to do it.

Russel Lolacher: I'm seeing how it can be an amazing force for good and an amazing force for demonstration how horrible your culture is.

So where have you seen it as a demonstration of getting it right versus getting it wrong?

HR Huntsman: Sure, I'll go to one of our current large clients, largest paralegal firm in the entire state of Washington. And when we met them, they asked for our help and they did not know how to have these conversations.

Your very typical, hierarchical, directorial... you know, direction was given from the top down and carried out by, you know, different layers of management, et cetera, pretty typical structure. Everyone at the top knew what's best. They've been here the longest time, yada, yada, yada. They asked for our help to break through these particular barriers.

And I said, well, we need to mine the creativity and the brilliance that's in the room. They didn't know how to have these conversations. But the key here, Russel, is that the leaders were willing to learn how to listen better and to sometimes be wrong, to not always be the smartest person in the room.

And once, once they gave that freedom and permission first to themselves, to not always have to have the answers. And then to others to speak up over. It's taken about three years, we began to build a really good creative environment that's, I can just say it's culminated recently in the development of an entirely new training program and onboarding system.

And actually two new departments that came from, they came organically from team leads and not from management. So really good success story there. And they've tripled in revenue in the three years I've been working with them.

Russel Lolacher: Does it often come when somebody approaches you about creative conflict, does it often come with a, Oh yeah, we'll do this in two years.

Oh, we'll do this in two weeks. Like this weird expectation of time?

HR Huntsman: Here's how it normally, no, I don't get that a lot. Okay. What I, what I do get is this a lot. Oh yeah, we're ready for that for sure. I'm, I'm an, I'm an open door. Yeah. I don't mind receiving feedback and hearing difficult things. Until it happens.

And then walls can go up and ego is bruised and people are shut down. And once that, once that vulnerability has been extended and violated, man, it's really, it's harder to get it back the second time, than the first time.

Russel Lolacher: So I guess to add to your ingredient of trust is also self awareness, not only as an individual, but as an organization.

Who are you? What's your stock? How do you value your, are your values real or not? That sort of thing.

HR Huntsman: Right. And I have to, I have to prove to different stakeholders here, like to the principals, I have to prove that there really is brilliance in the room that we can go after if you'll let it happen. And to the, you know, to the, the frontline people, I have to prove to them that you're going to be able to respectfully disagree and not get your head shot off.

And both sides have risk involved. And, and it takes a, it takes an artist to help them kinda walk through and we often get it right and, but sometimes it's really hard and people get shot .

Russel Lolacher: Well, not actually.

HR Huntsman: But not, not actually shot. Not literally shot, no.

Russel Lolacher: Considering the, the horrificness in some workplaces these days. Yeah. I just wanna be perfectly clear here.

So in that you mentioned risk, what are we risking by, so say an organization does decide to set up creative conflict as an exercise, as part of their DNA? What are they risking in that for good or for worse?

HR Huntsman: Sure. Let's talk about those, those different parties.

You have the principals they are risking ego. You know, they're, they're the founders or the owners or the partners or the board members. They are the C suite people. They, they can be risking ego because they may not be right. And they may discover that they're not right. And that's, that's really hard on people of position, quite often.

They're not used to being either told they're not right or discovering that they're not right, and that can be really hard on ego. There's a lot of insecurity in the C suite, and it can be bruised, so they're risking ego. The people on the front line, they're risking position or advancement or retaliation.

That's what the biggest fear is. Yeah, they'll say in front of you that they're open to this, but once you leave, you know, I'm shunned or you know, I'm not called on in meetings anymore. I'm not tapped for projects anymore. So they say the right things when you're around, but there's a little bit of retaliation when you leave.

So they, they risk that.

Russel Lolacher: I want to go back to what we're talking about when we talk about creative conflict. Is it something we do workshops regularly around? Is it a new way of doing meetings? One-on-ones performance reviews? How does conflict, creative conflict show up in the DNA of an organization that's trying to have this innovation?

HR Huntsman: Right. Very, very good question. So we'll initially teach it in workshops because most organizations are not good at this. They don't know how to do this. People hear the word conflict and they run, they shut down, they don't know how to do it well. We have workshops around it where we will demonstrate it around a particular topic.

We call it issue processing. Around a particular topic, a system or a process or a new revenue stream or whatever. We'll use a topic to develop creative conflict. And I'll talk about, we'll teach it, we'll talk about trust and collaboration, etc. That's how we usually initiate it or teach it. But then, we'll take it to absolutely staff meetings, team lead meetings, one to one coaching sessions, and how to have it in every one of those settings.

You don't have to wait for our monthly or quarterly workshops. You should be having creative conflict as a matter of course within your culture. It should be a matter of course that people can raise their hand and say, I disagree with that, or I have an idea, or I would like to try. That should be just a matter of course as a part of the culture.

It has to be developed at each of those different settings.

Russel Lolacher: Completely get that. When you look up creative conflict, you also see the term destructive conflict as sort of its ying to its yang. How do they differ, for example?

HR Huntsman: Yeah, here's how we teach it, Russel. Creative conflict, the tagline we use is for the good of the organization, I respectfully disagree. It's understood for the good of the organization. Not because I have a beef with you because you took my parking spot. You ignored me. You ate my lunch out of the refrigerator for the good of the organization, I want to submit a different idea, an opposing plan an alternative strategy.

You, you and I, there's nothing personal involved. We're debating ideas for the good of the company. Destructive conflict is always, well, I won't say always, it's almost always personal, we're attacking a person. We're attacking their demeanor, their character, whereas in creative conflict, we're talking about great ideas for the good of the company.

Does that ring true with you?

Russel Lolacher: Absolutely. So as someone, in a room that's trying to foster creative conflict and not destructive conflict. And you see it sort of turning, how do you ensure we're staying on the positive path?

HR Huntsman: Right. Yeah, we do see that happen quite a bit because, again, ego gets involved, insecurity rises up, walls go up.

Let's say you and I are in a board meeting or a creative session and I propose an idea and you like, I disagree with that. I think that we should go this direction. I have to have the security and the moxie to understand you simply disagree with my idea and not with me as a human being. Now your question was what happens when that goes south and it does. You disagree with me, my insecurity rises up, my red flags go up, my ego gets bruised, and I may push back on you, not on the idea anymore, but just the fact that, I don't know, you're a contrarian, or you're a poor listener, or you never agree with me, and how come you always take Peter's side or... and when we're in, when we're in those sessions, I have to stop and go,

H, I want to remind you that Russel was just presenting an idea that is contrary to yours. And we really need to just focus on the idea itself. So there's times where I have to call a timeout.

Calm the room down. Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: But how does that look to everybody else in the room? So I'm, again, I'm going to the ego situation, right? So there's an executive who's Oh what do you mean? Even they won't even admit they're being defensive, but yet in the room, they're looking vulnerable. They're being called out. How is that received, especially in a transition where you're trying to implement this?

HR Huntsman: Oh, Russel, it is tense, honestly. These are tense times, especially when there's an executive involved. If it's two frontline people or mid level managers, it's not quite as tense as it can be. But when it's a, when it's a C suite person or a founder, an owner that's involved, man, the room just goes dead quiet.

They're, they're wondering like, H, how are you going to save this? Please stop this. Like we, we, nobody likes this tension and I have to, I have to call it what it is. That's my role. I have to call it what it is. And I have to talk about all of us have ego and we all have insecurity and we need to learn to set those aside.

And I'll say, Russel what were you feeling in that moment when H challenged you? What, what was going on there? I'll call it to the surface right there in front of a dozen people or the entire executive group or whatever it is. What did that feel like? What were you feeling? This is after I've calmed it down a little bit, right?

What were you feeling, et cetera. And we'll have that conversation right there. And it is... those are tough conversations.

Russel Lolacher: Does it get tougher in a remote and a hybrid situation? Because I can see having those conversations in a room and there always seems to be having that physical connection helps because you can see body language, you can see, you can feel tone which you do not get as much through a screen.

So how has that changed your approach?

HR Huntsman: Oh, it's very, very different. I will, let's see how concretely I can say this, I will almost never go there in a virtual situation because it's far too difficult to manage it. Like that conversation that I just relayed to you, I won't go there in a virtual situation.

It's too, it's too dangerous. It's not as effective, it's not as effective, it's not as powerful, we're not going to get anywhere. Yeah, I won't go there in a virtual situation, it's too difficult.

Russel Lolacher: But then how do you adapt? Because considering a lot of organizations are either going completely remote, how do they have creative conflict when you yourself are saying that it's too dangerous?

HR Huntsman: What I would do in that part, so I haven't had those level of conversations in a virtual situation because they're so much more difficult to manage than right there in the room where everyone's feeling it, right? In a virtual situation, I would, I would certainly call it out again, but not to the same degree.

I would say, okay, Russ, H, let's calm, let's calm down a little bit. We're focusing on the idea. I would probably bring it back to that level. Let's just focus on the idea. And then the, what I would do after that as I do one to one coaching with each person and I would address it that way on the backside is how I would do it in a virtual situation.

Russel Lolacher: Yeah, I mean, I, so my background is all communications and I can feel in this situation that, you know, in a, in a situation like you're describing, in a room, you may have to have a follow up session after to develop it. But in a virtual situation, I can almost feel, and you kind of illustrated this, multiple follow ups.

It's almost like within a virtual session, it's more ripples in a pond that you have to address as opposed to we're all here. It's a powder keg, let's deal with it. But it just, it lasts a little longer virtually. I'm that's, that's, that's how I would approach it. But I, I hear what you're saying.

HR Huntsman: You're exactly right.

Because so much of communication are the non verbal body signals that we're getting, that's why we lose so much in the virtual setting. So because we lose all that, we do have to have multiple conversations to pick up on all that nuance that was lost, that when we're in the room, we can feel it. I mean, we can, you can feel the energy there.

You can't feel it in a virtual situation. So you're absolutely right that multiple conversations would be required.

Russel Lolacher: So what's the role of a leader in they want to have an organization, they want to have a culture that embraces creative conflict. They want to not shy away from this. So they have to be obviously nurturing and encouraging the culture.

What are they doing?

HR Huntsman: So we teach two things, two S's. You need to have space and you need to have safety. So you need to create the space in the calendar. Most organizations don't, they're so busy doing the day to day. Widget development that they don't have the space for having these kinds of innovative conversations about future widget development.

They're too busy making today's widgets. So number one is the leaders have to create the space in the calendar and make it a priority for strategic conversations such as this, whether it's new product design or systems development or team bill, whatever it is. Space. Safety goes back to what we were talking about earlier.

The psychological safety has to be developed. That takes time. And that means the leader has to go first. The leader has to demonstrate vulnerability, the willingness to be wrong, the willingness to be corrected. All those things a leader has to develop, has to take some risk at it first, because the leader is not willing to take the risk.

Russel, no one else is going to take the risk. Guaranteed. So it's a responsibility of the leader to step out and say, gang, I mean it when I tell you that I want to hear constructive critique about what we're doing, fire away. I'm going to listen the best I can. My ego could be bruised through this. And so I may, I may raise up a little bit, but I promise you I'm going to work myself back down.

I promise you, I want to become a better listener. I promise you, I want to get better at, you know, hearing your feedback. Bear with me. I'm, I'm a flawed human being, but let's go. Man, if they can do that, that's freaking gold.

Russel Lolacher: Where does diversity, equity and inclusivity fit into this? Because not everybody takes conflict the same way.

And this could just be cultures within an organization, much less cultures from around the world. So how do you approach that differently?

HR Huntsman: The same way, just a bit more tenderly, a bit with understanding about different backgrounds, cultures, what is brought into the room with those understandings... not everyone comes with the same type of understanding.

I encourage conversations ahead of conversations. This is what we're going to be doing in this creative conflict scenario. I'd love to get your feedback on how that feels to you from different, from different backgrounds, different cultures, different settings. How does that feel to you? What are your thoughts on this?

How would you respond to that? Like I would have, not I would have, I do have meetings before meetings to prep people for the creative conflict that's going to happen in that meeting. Because you're right. We all bring our scar tissue, our cultural biases. We bring all that with us. And those are real things that have to be addressed.

Russel Lolacher: I'm even thinking generationally.

HR Huntsman: Yeah. Good point.

Russel Lolacher: I'm hearing phrases like career limiting moves when it comes to, you know, saying anything contrarian to the, to the way the organization's going. Meanwhile, there are generations after me who have no problems being honest, open, and transparent.

I'm jealous as hell, but it's not how I was raised right. So how do you approach that group of generations who are a lot more embracing of this and a generation that's going, you know what, I need to meet you halfway.

HR Huntsman: This is great. In fact, this is the conversation we have more often than not is the generational conversation, not the cultural conversation.

It is the generational one. We have some Boomers left. We have X, Y, and Z now all in the same room. I'm X myself, you know, old school grinder, wake up, you know, hand to the plow, you know, work yourself to the bone, burn out at 45, restart at 50 with a new car, you know, that's my story. Listening to X and Y, the Millennials and Y come behind us and share different stories.

I do have to prepare my generation of leaders to hear those stories, because some of them are not good at hearing them. And I hear a lot from them that, Oh, young people today, like these Millennials and these Gen Z's, they're lazy and they're, you know, everything we've, we've all heard. And, and I, I can tell you from my experience, I have lots of 20 and 30 and 40 something clients.

That's not my experience. These are, I mean, these are amazing leaders and great thinkers. And there's lazy people at every generation. They just want to work differently. And that's, that's what, that's where my coaching comes into the. C suite and founders, you know, in their late forties, fifties and sixties is they just want to work differently.

And we, we need to listen to what that looks like because they're on their way in and bro, you're on your way out. So if you're, if you're not going to listen, you're going to be passed by. That's what I tell them. You're going to be passed by the leaders that do listen are going to pass you by.

Russel Lolacher: And I love, I love that because it's, it's come up in a conversation recently where you have older generations of leaders going, Oh, I'm so worried about these Y leaders and these Zed leaders.

And I'm like, but you're responsible for training them. That's your fault, if they're bad leaders. You're the one that's supposed to be setting the table for how they, how they show up, how they learn. You just can't cross your arms and go the youngins today, which are now 45 when we talk about Millenials.

HR Huntsman: That's a fact.

No, that's a fact. And you're right about the training. So, um, a lot of the work we're doing with the companies we work with is all about cross functional training and leadership development, because some of these wise leaders are learning that by investing in these young emerging leaders increases retention, productivity, innovation, creativity, by investing in them and getting their ideas is great for the organization.

It's a win scenario, and, and the Y, the Y Zs are asking for it. They want someone to invest in them.

Russel Lolacher: Have you ever approached or been approached by an organization or any experience you've had where you're like, you know what, you're not ready for creative conflict. This is maybe in three years. But right now you are just not prepared to take this kind of a leap.

HR Huntsman: Oh gosh. Yes. I can think of two organizations. One was a hundred million dollar RV company. The other is a very high end, well known jewelry company and both run by Miranda from Devil Wears Prada situation. Both, I mean, one, the RV was highly volatile, temperamental. Well, so was the jewelry CEO. They were absolutely not ready for a creative conflict.

They couldn't handle it. Their ego was too big, too volatile. They knew everything. They were the know it alls in the room. They diminished everyone who would disagree with them. Absolutely not ready. And I walked away from both of them.

Russel Lolacher: What's the tipping point for you to go, this is somebody I can't work with.

Versus, Oh, I can work with you. You're not ready, but I can work with you. What is your tipping point for that?

HR Huntsman: Yeah, we, we require four things of anyone that we're going to work with. Authenticity. You have to show up as your real self. Vulnerability is key here. And that's what these people are missing.

Vulnerability to say, I don't know, I don't have the answer. I need to hear, sometimes I fail. Teachability and accountability. And sometimes the CEOs don't want to be held accountable for their own behavior and performance. So when they're violating those four core values of ours to the detriment of the people around them, I tell them you're not ready and I can't work with you.

Russel Lolacher: How does it hurt an organization not to have creative conflict? I'm thinking it from, employee culture standpoint, because I'm thinking of those organizations that reached out and you're like, Nuh uh. I'm thinking that they saw it in a brochure or they saw it on a leadership retreat where it's like, you need creative conflict in your organization.

So they saw it in a check box.

But if they're not ready, what's the detriment to the organization to not have that creative conflict?

HR Huntsman: Yeah, first of all, no one comes to me and says, H, we need more creative conflict in our organization. They don't say that. But what they say is, I want more engagement. I want more buy in. I want less turnover. They're looking at the results, right? They're looking at, you know, the, the lagging indicators. I want more productivity. I want more accountability. And I say, absolutely. I can get you those things. The route goes through creative conflict. The route to all those things that you're asking me for makes its way through creative conflict and there's no way around it.

So without creative conflict, what you're going to have is less engagement. Because you're not asking my opinion, I'm not valued, my ideas are not embraced, right? So when I'm not valued or heard or seen clearly, I'm only going to give you about, in fact the research shows that you're only going to get about 40 percent of my best effort.

So productivity is diminished, right? You have the quiet quitting. This is where quiet quitting comes from, is because people aren't being seen and heard and valued and listened to. So they're giving you about 40 percent of their best efforts. Profitability is down, turnover is high, obviously retention is low.

We all know that turnover costs like 230 percent compared to retention. I mean, you're just, you're just burning cash is what you're doing by not, by not having the guts to open up the floor to creative conflict. You're just setting cash on fire. And you're okay with high turnover, low productivity, low engagement.

You're saying, I'm okay with that. And you're, you're just setting cash on fire. The, the studies show that high engaged creative conflict types of cultures, they get about 80 percent of people's best efforts. That's not a hundred. It's 80, but that's twice as much as 40, which means you get a 200 percent increase in engagement and productivity, which is going to lead to far higher profitability and accountability.

And it's a 200 percent increase just by having the guts to have these kinds of conversations.

Russel Lolacher: And I wish more leaders wouldn't look at it like a quick win. It's just sort of like a, Oh, you know, we'll get an HR in here and done. We're done? Right? It's done? As opposed to, and I remember listening to some members of my own team a couple of years ago where they would be very comfortable speaking truth to power.

They had no problem telling me I was an idiot, and I had no problem with it at all. Because they were way smarter than I was on a lot of topics. I'm like, no, tell me I'm wrong. I need to learn. But they would take that safe bubble of confidence that they had within my team and then they would apply it in situations where it wasn't as, but they still felt that they could do truth to power, but it added a level of uncomfort because it was a different culture, a different subculture.

But immediately when they came back to my group, I'm like, congratulations. I love that you felt confident and powerful enough to speak truth to power in those situations. It made everybody really uncomfortable, but I'm really glad that you made us sit in that uncomfortability.

HR Huntsman: Yeah. Yeah. What we teach is not, I mean, I love the truth to power idea.

The way we approach it is far more about asking great questions and listening, not speaking in a directorial sort of way. Like Russel, you're an idiot. Russel, what's your idea on this? I'd love to hear your experience here. It's far more the curiosity and inquiry model that we teach that brings the way we say is bring greatness out of the people around you.

Russel Lolacher: I love that. And to be clear, they called me an idiot because the relationship at that level, we've worked together for so long, it was that comfort level, but they would take that truth to power through questions. I've been glad to clarify that. Actually how they did it was through really poignant, important.

Good. Relevant. All questions that actually improve the organization, if answered properly, they were just truth to power questions that most people wouldn't ask. So no, I'm thrilled you, you packaged it in curiosity because I think that that's missed because you hear truth to power, career limiting moves.

It's baked in curiosity.

HR Huntsman: Yeah, it's got to be baked in curiosity. It's absolute fact.

Russel Lolacher: How have you seen light bulb moments work when you've worked for organizations where maybe they were going down the path and they weren't there, but then they had that one, two or third session. They're like, Oh, okay. Yep.

Nope. The leaders get it. Executive gets it. Employees get it. Can you, can you share any case that you don't have to name names, but any case studies where you're like, you just, there, you literally saw a light bulb show up above their head.

HR Huntsman: Absolutely. I'll go back to just as recently as two weeks ago.

We're working with a large heating and cooling company here in Washington state. And over this last six months, sales were way down and couldn't figure out why they were convinced that it was because the marketing. Language was wrong at the top of the funnel. So they bring us in for this creative conflict conversation.

We do what we call issue processing. We drew the entire funnel up. And as you just said, just baked in curiosity, I'm asking a million questions about the sales team, the marketing language, their value prop, their value chain, how the baton is handed down, blah, blah, blah. And every department is reporting in yada, yada, yada, and about.

Three hours into this four hour session, it dawned on them that it wasn't the top of the funnel. That was a problem because we had identified one level of conversion was getting a 55 percent conversion rate in sales. And one was getting an 11 percent conversion rate from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel.

And so I began just drilling on an 11 percent conversion rate. What is the problem there? And they realized they were. Addressing referral potential clients the same way as cold call clients in the same manner. They didn't have a different system. And so through creative conflict, someone said, we need to build in some third party advocacy through here, getting some testimonials baked into this conversation with the cold calls.

Because the referral people, they come with already some trust built in. They already have third party advocacy. They said, okay, at this stage, this stage, and this stage, let's have a testimonial video here. Let's have some testimonials built into our booklet here. Immediately, they're like, oh my gosh!

Russel, within two weeks, that 11 percent has gone up to 60%. Because they're willing to sit in a room and just pound each other with questions. Navigate the minefield through the entire, through all departments. And because they had the guts to do that, they're able to radically and almost immediately reverse their sales and close rates in this particular area.

It was beautiful. I loved it. I walked out of there feeling like I just won the Superbowl watching these guys do this.

Russel Lolacher: I know it's situational, but I wanted to ask, do you have any particular, do you have a favorite question when it comes to sparring, a little spurring, sorry, a little creative conflict?

HR Huntsman: A favorite question. So all my best questions begin with what? I can't say a favorite question. I have a favorite question in one to one coaching, which is how do you get in your own way? That's my favorite one to one coaching question. As far as a creative conflict question, Oh, okay, yeah, yeah. Let's do this one.

What are we afraid to address that everyone knows, but no one is saying?

Russel Lolacher: That's good. That's good.

HR Huntsman: What are we afraid to talk about? Everybody's talking about it around the water cooler in the lunchroom, but what are we afraid to address that everyone knows, but no one wants to talk about? It's the elephant in the room.

It's probably my favorite question.

Russel Lolacher: And I'm sure a pin drops right after it's asked.

HR Huntsman: Yeah, it's not oh, I got it. I know what we're all afraid to talk about.

Russel Lolacher: Oh, thank you so much for this, HR. It's been great.

HR Huntsman: Oh, you're fantastic.

Russel Lolacher: I'm going to wrap you up, sir, with the same question I ask all, which is, what's one simple action right now people can do to improve their relationships at work?

HR Huntsman: Okay, lean into conflict. Lean into conflict, don't run away from it. It's not going to do you any good. You're just delaying it. Lean into the conflict in a respectful manner. Ask questions, listen well, reframe what you hear. So I'll say it again. Lean into conflict. Don't run away from it. Ask questions, listen well, reframe what you hear, and then repeat the cycle.

Russel Lolacher: That is H. R. Huntsman. He's an executive business coach, founder and president of Leaders Edge and a professional speaker. And he's just made me a very happy boy. I want to embrace, creative conflict. Thank you so much, HR.

HR Huntsman: Russel, you're the best. Thanks, my friend. Have a fantastic day. We'll see you soon.