Get Hired Up! Podcast


Maureen Farmer 

&

Maddison Shears



We are so excited to share our summer series on the Get Hired Up! podcast with you. 


We reviewed and analyzed more than 280 executive CEO and board-level client profiles from large corporations, private equity firms, as well as family offices as they navigate promotions, board appointments, transitions, and start new businesses. We uncover the most pressing questions CEOs have today. These questions are aggregated to protect the confidentiality of our clients.



Transcript

Maureen Farmer

Hey, Maddison, welcome to the next Career Mastery series on the Get Hired up podcast!

Maddison Shears

Thank you, Maureen, I'm so happy to be back here again with you.

Maureen Farmer

Me as well. 

So, today we're going to talk about precede conflict on the team or the board of directors and what you can do about it.

Maddison Shears

Awesome. I'm excited. 

Maureen Farmer

Before we begin, I want to let the listener know here today that this information that we are going to share today has been highly fictionalized, to protect the confidentiality of a number of the clients that we've worked with over the past 12 years.

So, oftentimes, there's been a misunderstanding on a team or there has been an event happen, and all of a sudden, there is talk of a termination or a resignation. And our goal at Westgate is to prevent that. Our goal at Westgate is to help organizations engage their senior management teams and have them have a long, healthy and profitable relationship together.

So, having said that, Maddie, I know you've done a little bit of research for our conversation today and I'd love to hear it.

Maddison Shears

Yeah, for sure. So, I was doing a little bit of hunting for some statistics around executive and employee turnover. And I came across a Harvard Business Review article, and they quote Gartner. So, I'm just going to share a little paragraph from their article.

"According to Gartner, the pace of employee turnover is forecast to be 50% to 75% higher than companies have experienced previously, and that issue is compounded by it taking 18% longer to fill roles than pre-pandemic. Increasingly squeezed managers are spending time they don't have searching for new recruits on an expensive and competitive market. Unless efforts are refocused on retention, managers will be unable to drive performance and affect change. Leaders need to take action to enable their managers to keep their talent while still being able to deliver on results."

So, I think that's pretty interesting. And definitely a concern for companies. 50% to 75% higher is a big a big jump.

Maureen, could you share with us, maybe just to give the audience a little bit of context as to what a typical scenario might be for the conflict that we're going to sort of discuss and refer to today?

Maureen Farmer

You and I have reviewed quite a few files over the past few weeks, getting ready for the Career Mastery series and reviewing over 280 files of our own. And we've rendered a few themes and a few issues that come up from time to time. And this is typical, this is a typical scenario that I see. A CEO or a board member will reach out with a presenting problem. And the presenting problem might be oh, we have an issue on our team. And you know, what's the issue on the team? Well, you know, so and so is not performing to standard or there is just a misalignment, perceived misalignment of values and goals for the team. There's no shortage of scenarios that crop up, but generally speaking, it's a perceived miscommunication.

Maddison Shears

Yeah, I feel like I've experienced that. I feel many people have like, I don't know for you, Maureen, at some point in your career, whether you acted on it or not. Did a thought ever enter your mind where you're like, it would just be easier for me to leave?

Maureen Farmer

Oh, yes. 100%. And I think if you're a human being you're going to have that experience at some point in your career, where you want to leave because of a perceived miscommunication. Or you don't even know it's a miscommunication, because you're not really quite sure what the issue is. And by really understanding the motivations and the intentions of another person can really go a long way to help a team or even two colleagues, mend the fences, if you will, and move on and get things done.

Let's just talk about startup companies, for example, we've worked with a number of those types of organizations. And oftentimes what happens is that you'll have a group of entrepreneurs that built a new product, they're getting ready to go to market, they might be you know, in series... it doesn't matter what series they're in, or what level they're in, this is going to happen across the ecosystem for companies that are getting to market trying to, you know, achieve their breakeven point and manage their burn rate.

Oftentimes, what I see is a group of people who are all so incredibly motivated to get things done. And you've often heard the adage that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. Have you ever heard that? 

Maddison Shears

Yes!

Maureen Farmer

This is typical because we have people who are on the team, they're all high D drivers on the team. They all want to you know, produce results. They all want to lead, they jockey for leadership. And then when something comes up that, you know, just rubs the system, that disrupts the group, oftentimes something will happen, a trigger event, for example, that, you know, will cause some friction on the team.

Here's an example, production. So the production, the manufacturing division of the company is having some difficulty with the quality control issue, for example, and then enter stage right, we've got the Chief Financial Officer who has a knowledge of manufacturing, given the fact that she had worked in manufacturing in a previous career. And so this person is all of a sudden advising the CIO on the manufacturing, how the division can improve performance, and meet their quality standard. So, in that particular situation you have, you're going to have a conflict. And depending on the CEOs appetite for addressing that issue, and having a conversation with the CFO will really determine whether or not that issue is going to get resolved or whether it goes on for a long period of time, the longer it goes on, the longer it continues, the less likely it will be resolved. So teams that are good at addressing perceived conflict initially, quickly will have the best outcomes.

Maddison Shears

Definitely. And so I guess now would be a good time to probably talk about a tool that can help people with that process, just as support because I think even if you have a leader who is extroverted, a people person, they could even be good at mediation, it can be exhausting to accommodate everybody, because everybody is different. Everybody has different behavioral styles. People perceive things differently. They appreciate different forms of communication, what might be respectful in one context for one person is disrespectful for somebody in a different one. So maybe now we can talk a little bit about a tool that can help anybody at any level, in any industry, in any organization with this process, avoiding conflict...not avoiding conflict...

Maureen Farmer

Mitigating conflict!

Maddison Shears

Mitigating conflict, exactly. And eliminating possible termination, or resignation resignation, because that is the flip side. 

Maureen Farmer

So in this particular situation I mentioned a few minutes ago, you know, we have a highly, high performing individual with a perceived conflict with the CEO. So what it was was just a mismatch of communication style. So the CEO very, very direct, very detail oriented, not a micromanager but accountable, wants to hold individuals accountable and to account because of course, you know, that's what the role of the CEO is, then you have somebody who's a younger generation quite a bit younger than a CEO who feels frankly, intimidated by this communication style. So what does he do? He is avoiding her communication, rather than answering the CEO through indirect communication, like email, or voicemail or text, this person is ignoring the communication until he goes back to work. I believe the reason that he's not communicating with her is that he's afraid to do so because of her communication style, she's very, very direct. He's very, very indirect.

Maddison Shears

Right. Definitely, I can totally relate to that myself, because I know my style. And I know what can be intimidating for me, and what's comfortable for me. So, the tool that we're going to be talking about today is both useful in how you interact with a team, but also how a team can interact with you. And something that Maureen just said, reminded me as well...talking about this is useful in eliminating termination, and resignation. But it's also extremely useful with decision making, and therefore, time efficiency. So, if somebody is taking, you know, if they're using avoidance, becoming more silent and trying to avoid conflict, or a conversation with somebody that they're very uncomfortable being around, then decisions are not being made quickly. And at the rate that they need to be made.

Just really getting to the root of the problem, and helping support employee and executive engagement.

Maureen Farmer

And I think people overthink it as well, I think they think that if they have a conversation with someone, it has to be a long convoluted process or that they have to duke it out in a court room. And it's going to be very negative and very uncomfortable.

The science that we're talking about here today, just for full transparency is is the DISC leadership assessment that we use in our organization to help teams communicate better, just so that people know what we're talking about here. And this is a tool and this is the science that's been used for decades and decades for companies around the world for many different purposes. And we talk about it being like a Swiss army knife and that it can be used in various scenarios.

We even use it here in our family. There are four of us in the family. We've all done the DISC assessment and now we all know how the others prefer to communicate. And it's the preference that really we're talking about here today. The preference and how people want to be treated. So, rather than treating others the way you would want to be treated, treat people the way they prefer to be treated.

The ROI for this type of a tool and and a process is exponential, and it's very, very difficult to put a value on it. But if you imagine the cost of recruiting, let's say a CXO, in any organization is going to be exponential, regardless of the value the the the cost to the organization, there is still going to be a significant disruptions. And when we can eliminate the termination or the resignation option, then we've just created tremendous return on investment for doing so. So the opportunity cost of not dealing with these types of...most times very, very simple miscommunications can, you know, border into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost, decisions are made faster, that's the impact, there's more proactive communications, there's a speed to decision making, we're saving time by by making communications faster, because we are not avoiding people on the team. We're not avoiding issues, we are making decisions quickly. The faster you can make a decision, the better the outcome for your team and your organization with due diligence. So, I'm not suggesting that you know, the faster you make the decision, the better it's going to be. But the faster you have the conversation, and the less you avoid it, overall, the faster the decision will be made.

Maddison Shears

Yeah, and I think...Maureen and I are both trained on DISC so we are very familiar with it. As she said, we use it in our work daily, we both use it in our personal life as well. And I think a part of why we wanted to speak about it on the podcast is just that the more that people are aware of the tool and all the different ways that it can help you in preparing for a conversation with somebody that is different from yourself, the better because, of course, if somebody is really well in tune with DISC, talking to somebody who is not super in tune with DISC, you know, it can still be effective. But I just think it's a tool where like, the more people are aware of it and how it can be useful, the better. So, that's part of it. And I think for this conversation, we're going to sort of bring you through how we have integrated the tool into our business in a way where we can help other companies and individuals with avoiding this perceived conflict.

Maureen Farmer

That's an excellent synopsis Maddie, thank you for that. And I think you you hit on a point here that I would like to mention, and that's that what this tool does, when everyone is aware of it, is creates a common language for communication.

If I am the CEO, and I am incredibly process driven, which I am process driven, detail oriented, I need to take my time. And you can likely tell from my communication style that I do like to take my time, I'm not a quick, quick, quick, go, go, go type of person, I am thoughtful. And I need to formulate my thoughts. And I do not like being interrupted. That's my style. Now, when I know that I have to interact with the CEO, let's just say the CEO is very, very driven, very direct, you know, chop, chop, chop, get it done. What I can do now that I'm aware of the construct, and the model is...and we have that beautiful 42 page report that has all kinds of different strategies in it for communicating with other styles. So, if I can sit down with the report, I keep it handy. I keep it close by, I can look at the report and look at the tool and say okay, I know that you know, George the CEO, he's very, very, very results focused. So when I go into a meeting with him to give him a debrief, I don't start with all of the details, Maddie, I start with the outcome. And so this was the production volume this week. And when I give him the details around, you know, production times, run rate, spoilage, that type of thing. And then the CEO is happy, because he's getting the information he needs right away. Because you know, for all we know, he has to report to the Chairman of the Board later on that day, and he will not have the patience to sit down and look and listen to a lot of detail upfront. He wants to know what is the outcome now, and then he can digest or consume the details at his convenience.

If I know that I can go into that meeting prepared to speak with him in that way...imagine the opposite...where I go into the office and I start with the spoilage, I start with the run rates. I would think that somebody who is a high D driver will get frustrated with that.

Maddison Shears

Yes and they'll start tapping their foot, and then you're going to feel uncomfortable, and you're going to feel rushed, which is against your style. And then it's just sort of like a domino effect...

Maureen Farmer

Exactly, exactly. And I'm going to avoid those meetings as much as possible. Because if somebody is tapping their fingers or tapping their foot, while I'm in the room, I'm going to lose my train of thought, I'm going to perceive that as being rude, even though the CEO is simply just waiting for the information, so he can move on to the next thing. Right?

And so if I am reluctant and slow at giving the results to the CEO, what's he gonna think?

Maddison Shears

That you are incompetent. 

Maureen Farmer

Right and neither is true. But perception is reality. And until we can uncover what is true, what the intention, the motivation is, then we're going to walk away with resentment, and lack of clarity and confusion, role ambiguity, we talk a lot about role ambiguity as well. Because if you don't know what your role is, and you're over at the production department, instead of in your own R&D lab, and you're telling the production team what to do, that's role ambiguity, because as a CTO and the R&D leader, your job is to create the product, not to produce it.

Maddison Shears

Yeah. Something to note here is that, obviously, over time, you get to know people, you get to know your team, and these things will come to you over time, you'll eventually realize, okay, they don't enjoy talking that way, or, okay, this person really doesn't care about what I did on the weekend, they just want to get down to business. But the point is, this tool helps you get there a little bit quicker. And ideally, it eliminates turnover. But it also just amplifies employee engagement. And it creates a self awareness that I think every corporate culture, every work environment can benefit from.

Maureen Farmer

More harmony on the team! To the degree that that's possible. So, of course, when organizations tend to come together after an integration, after an acquisition, when there is a new CEO appointed to the group, there's always going to be disruption and friction. So, whatever we can do to reduce that is only going to improve awareness of others on the team, self awareness in an environment where there is massive change is going to improve retention. And let's go back to your stat again, what was that at the very beginning that you mentioned?

Maddison Shears

"The pace of employee turnover is forecast to be 50% to 75% higher than companies have experienced in the past."

Maureen Farmer

So this is perfect timing for this type of a tool.

Maddison Shears

Given that this tool is best utilized in a group setting—and the reason for that is just quickly as an example, Maureen's little example of herself earlier, you know, being thoughtful of the person she needs to speak with that is very direct and wants answers right away, wants the conclusion first, that's all great, but then it would be excellent if they can also do the same for her and treat her with the same respect. So, where he has to come to her for something, he should also be able to take his time in explaining something to her, because she likes to have a thorough understanding of what she needs to do, of what's being communicated to her. So, it is a two way street. It works best in that environment, of course, because we're trying to eliminate turnover and improve retention for everybody on the team. And so with that said, Maureen, I would love if you could tell us a little bit more about Westgate's main event.

Maureen Farmer

The main event is an introduction of the DISC construct and model to an organization. It is very easy to do, it doesn't take a lot of time, but the return on investment is exponential. So, I'll tell you a little bit about how it works. When an organization is having a retreat, an off site retreat, or maybe they're having a board dinner, a board meeting with a dinner, even a board meeting without a dinner, we're often asked to come into organizations to introduce the concept. Some of the best times, the best main events that I've attended, had been when teams are off site. They're off site, they're relaxed, they're not in their regular work environment, they can let their hair down, they're more open. It just creates a really, really great environment for this type of an event. In advance of the off site event. The participant, they each take the assessment, takes 10 minutes for them to do. They get a 42 page report and before we go to the off site retreat, I sit down with them usually over a zoom call, but sometimes just over the phone depending on their preference, and debrief on the assessment. That takes between 20 and 30 minutes at the most depending on the person's schedule.

Then we move on to the retreat off site. One that comes to mind is San Diego. Beautiful, beautiful part of the world, I remember being there like it was yesterday.

Maddison Shears

I'd love to go, I've never been.

Maureen Farmer

You have to go.

So, essentially, I go into the dinner. And we do a debrief as a group. And so I walk them through the group construct, there is a graph that I show them. And everybody on the team is plotted on the graph. And that way, they get to see how their styles interact with one another. And what I love about it is takes the subjectivity out of the team environment, it takes the subjectivity out of the notion of relationships, because when you know how to interact with somebody with a really detailed, high C, we call it profile. We know prefer things in writing. And we know they don't like to make rapid decisions, we know that they're very analytical, they need to look at all of the solutions before they make a decision. Whereas somebody who is of a different style may be more intuitive, may be more spontaneous, and may be very quick to process information in terms of making a decision. So, you can see two very different styles and approaches to decision making can actually halt production, if you will, it can actually halt a major decision, because the two people can't agree on the decision. One is incredibly risk averse. The other one is a risk taker. And so they are, by nature, going to have a conflict in terms of how they make that decision. But once they understand the other style, it is amazing how much time can be saved by getting to a decision faster.

Maddison Shears

And instead of having to have the person explain, actually, could you send this over to me in you know, a document? Or could you send this over to me with a spreadsheet to support it, because that person is analytical and wants that, you already know that if you go to the main event, and you learn about all the different aspects and how to communicate with the different kinds of behaviors. You know, in a few weeks, when you're working with somebody who's very different from yourself, you don't need to have them mention what they need from you to get them deciding quicker. You already know. So that's a huge if you have that happening all over your organization, and people are being proactive in that sense, then it saves a ton of time.

Maureen Farmer

And I also think it builds trust and inclusion on the team. So you know, having this tool gives you a vehicle to assess a person before you go and have that meeting with them. You can remind yourself 'Oh, yeah, I remember that person is a really detailed guy, I remember that. I'm going to pull all of my information and have it to give that to them in advance of the meeting. I think that would be a really good idea.'

Maddison Shears

And you'll feel better about it. And the other thing, too, just, I know we're getting close to the end of our conversation here. But there's no right or wrong, we always tell anybody that we're explaining these methodologies to that there is no right or wrong. Sometimes when you use an example, it seems like oh, God, I don't want to be that person. But there's strengths and weaknesses in everybody and you know, what I perceive sometimes as a weakness, and somebody else who, you know, maybe comes across as intimidating to others, is actually a strength in a lot of ways. And they can do something that I can't do, you know, I can't, I can't be that direct. I can't be that confrontational, but sometimes that's necessary. And so it's just remembering that.

Maureen Farmer

100%. It's important that there's a good complement of styles on the team. Sometimes it's important to have a group of high D's on a team to get things done quickly. For a long term team, for a team who's going to be working together for three to five years and beyond, probably better to have a more balanced type of team, all things being considered from a communication point of view. And remember that perceived conflict is just that...it's perceived. We don't know what the other person is thinking. We don't know what their motivations are. And we don't know what their intentions are. 95% of the time, people's intentions are purely vulnerable. But we don't always see that.

Maddison Shears

Right. We will also include a brochure in the show notes of this episode, where you can learn a little bit more about Westgate's main event. And if you're interested in inviting us to maybe your next off-site retreat, please reach out to either Maureen@westgatecareercoaching.com or Maddison@westgatecareercoaching.com. And we'd be happy to have a chat!

Maureen Farmer

It has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today, Maddison.

Maddison Shears

Thank you, Maureen. Bye for now.