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April 23, 2024 28 mins

In the last few years, disengagement at work has become a massive issue. We learned from Dr. Andre Martin’s episode that 53% of managers are burnt out and 1 in 3 employees leave their jobs in the first 90 days.

This week, we sat down with Chuck Lafferty, VP of CRM at ADP, to discuss ADP’s approach to employee engagement and innovation. Chuck dives into building trust within teams, innovative techniques like ‘Survey Roulette’ to incorporate user feedback into development, and the critical role of understanding and caring for individuals.

When employees feel valued, heard, and engaged in meaningful work, you see improved productivity and increased job satisfaction. The episode concludes with actionable steps to improve employee engagement through personalized interactions and empathetic leadership.

Episode Highlights:

  • 01:51 How does Chuck define employee engagement?
  • 04:06 Can you measure employee engagement?
  • 12:05 How can managers engage individual developers?
  • 17:16 Survey Roulette and how it helps engage engineering teams.
  • 22:31 Winning in the workplace 
  • 23:45 The importance of separating the problem from the person
  • 25:30 How can you improve employee engagement?

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Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Chuck Lafferty (00:00):
Bringing your whole self to work.

(00:01):
Every day, you come to workexcited to want to be there.
You are doing your best work.
When you're doing somethingyou love, and you're good at
it, that's called a strength.
When you're doing somethingthat you don't like doing,
but you're good at it,that's called a task.
That's gonna burn you out.
Think about somethingthat you love doing, but
you're not very good at.
That's called a hobby.
People might notnecessarily pay you for that.

Conor Bronsdon (00:26):
How can you build a metrics program that
not only measures, but improvesengineering performance?
What's the right metricsframework for your team.
On May 2nd and seventhLinearB is hosting their
next workshop where youwill learn how to build a
metrics program that reducescycle time by 47% on average
improves developer experienceand increases delivery
predictability..

(00:47):
At the end, you'll receive afree how-to guide and tools
to help you get started.
You can register today atthe link in the description.
Hope to see you there.
Hey everyone, welcomeback to Dev Interrupted.
I'm your co host Conor Bronsdonand I'm delighted to be
joined by a listener of ourstoday, the one and only Chuck
Lafferty, Senior Director ofApplication Development at ADP.
Chuck, welcome to the show.

Chuck Lafferty (01:07):
Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

Conor Bronsdon (01:08):
It's a distinct pleasure.
I know you are a professionalpodcaster in your own right,
and ADP is one of the biggestcompanies that people don't
seem to know about, despite thefact that y'all had 18 billion
dollars in revenue last year.
Can you tell us a bitabout the company?

Chuck Lafferty (01:22):
You know, I think that's a great
starting point and I don'tknow about professional
podcasts, but thanks for that.
ADP is a human capitalmanagement company.
We're also a tech company.
And what we do is wehelp your payroll.
So you can think of, um,paychecks, you can think of
taxes, you can think of benefitslike 401ks, medical and dental.
How I like to say it iswe do everything from
hiring to retiring.
Mm.
Great.

(01:42):
So we really help thecompany out there.
Uh, a couple more thingsabout a DP two that people
might not know is we're comingup on our 75th birthday.
Wow.
So we found in 1949,we have over 1 million
clients worldwide.
It's a huge number.
Surprisingly, as we're hereat, at this conference, I
have not heard a biggernumber than this one.
ADP moved 3.
1 trillion dollars in clientfunds in fiscal year 2022.

(02:06):
I have not heard someonesay a bigger number than 3.
1 trillion.

Conor Bron (02:09):
That's pretty solid.
That's up there,that's for sure.

Chuck Lafferty (02:12):
And, uh, we pay one in six workers in the U.
S.
So, there's a good chanceyour listeners out there, they
might look at their pay stub.
Well,

Conor Bronsdon (02:19):
I appreciate that context, and I know
that you're someone who'ssteeped in the ADP culture.
You joined back in 2010 as asenior application developer.
You've worked your way up.
You founded the ADP developercommunity to help foster
new relationships and newcommunication channels
between ADP development teams.
As I mentioned, you're alsothe host of the internal
ADP technology podcast.

(02:40):
You have a greatpresentation that you give
about unlocking the powerof employee engagement.
Let's dive intothat a little bit.
Uh, what's theapproach you take?

Chuck Lafferty (02:48):
Well, first, uh, the questions that I get
is, what is employee engagement?
And so, I thinkwe started there.
We define what employeeengagement means.
Um, really, ultimately,what you want is a happy,
productive development team.
I mean, who doesn't wantto work at a great company
where you feel like you'remaking a difference?
We have something calledthe ADP Research Institute
at ADP and they do studies.

(03:09):
We study employees, wetry to figure out what
makes them productive.
You know, you might have heardof the ADP Employment Report.
You know, this comes out everyonce in a while and we kind
of, you know, it's broadcast ondifferent types of commercial
radio shows and stuff like that.
We talk about how many people.
Private sector jobs or inthe economy and so, um, this

(03:30):
research study they also do isaround, uh, employee engagement.
What makes people happy atwork and, and, um, and want
to stay, um, and productive.
And so, uh, Dr.
Mary Hayes and MarcusBuckingham did a study in
2020 called the DefinitiveSeries Employee Engagement.
You can look it up online andthey defined employee engagement
as the emotional state ofmind that causes people to do

(03:50):
their best work sustainably.
So that's a bunch of words.
Now let me translatethem for you.
What that means tome is bringing your
whole self to work.
Every day, you come to workexcited to want to be there.
You are doing your best work,meaning that you're not just
like, you know, of coursethere's down time and up
time at work and stuff likethat, but you're coming there

(04:11):
every day to kind of makea positive impact, right?
Help your teammates out.
And do great work.
And so, uh, we callthat a strength.
So, when you're doing somethingyou love, and you're good at
it, that's called a strength.
When you're doing somethingthat you don't like doing,
but you're good at it,that's called a task.
That's gonna burn you out.
You know, that, thatwouldn't be very much fun.
Yeah.
Um, think about somethingthat you love doing, but

(04:33):
you're not very good at.
That's called a hobby.
People might notnecessarily pay you for that.

Conor Bronsdon (04:40):
Hey, I'm good at building Lego,
thank you very much.

Chuck Lafferty (04:44):
So people might not necessarily
pay you for that.
So we try to find what areyou good at, and what do
you love doing, and we tryto match that, and that has
great impact on your company.

Conor Bronsdon (04:54):
That's a fantastic philosophy.
How do you measureemployee engagement?

Chuck Lafferty (04:58):
Okay, measuring employee engagement,
that's really tricky.
The only way that I'mgoing to know, If you're
engaged, it's if I ask you.
It's going to be really hard forme to figure it out otherwise.
There's not really like metricson code or productivity that's
going to tell me whether or notyou feel fulfilled in your job.
So ADP has a toolcalled Standout.
And it's actually atool that you can buy.

(05:19):
It's a survey that goesout to your company, and it
has eight questions on it.
And the questions arebroken down into we
questions and me questions.
I can give some examplesof the questions.
I don't have toread them all out.
What do you wanna do isyou wanna find qualitative
and quantitative questionsin any kinda thing,
like the door metrics.
Absolutely.
You know, there'squantitative metrics like
deployment frequency andqualitative metrics like
meantime to recoveryand change failure rate.

(05:40):
And so this is kindof the same idea.
How do you balance these?
How do you have a greatwork environment but
also feel challenged?
uh, the We questions are about.
why did I join this company?
And the me questions aremore about why do I stay?
So let me give you a coupleexamples of some of those
questions that we ask.
Let's talk about thewe questions first.
And these are, these also kindof, to me at least, feedback

(06:02):
to psychological safety.
So one of the questions is,my teammates have my back.
That one, that one kind ofmakes me feel like, okay,
I'm a part of a community.
I'm a part of people who aretrying to help me do my job.

Conor Bronsd (06:12):
And there's trust.

Chuck Lafferty (06:13):
And we're going to talk about trust.
You should ask me about trust.

Conor Bronsdon (06:16):
I'm jumping ahead here.

Chuck Lafferty (06:16):
That's the next question.
All right.
Because I'm excited about trust.
These questions are not aboutlike, what's the strategic
direction of my company?
Like, no one's going to know.
They're, they, some might,but unless you're reading
every single article,you're not gonna know.
Do I agree with the strategicdirection of my company?
It's really worded difficult.
But a question like, inmy team, I'm surrounded by
people who share my values.

(06:37):
You know, you'regonna feel that one.
Or, um, another question is,uh, at work I clearly understand
what is expected of me.
Mm-Hmm.
That's such a,that's a great one.
That's, that'ssuch a telling one.
'cause if you don't knowwhat's expected to you at
work, you gotta ask, yougotta go to your manager.
Mm-Hmm.
You have to figure outwhat you should be doing.
And that, then you align,then you can become more
productive.

Conor Bronsdon (06:57):
I'm taking notes here.
This is, this isgreat information.
So, so you mentioned trust,I'd love to jump in there, as
you mentioned, it's somethingthat's very important to you.
It sounds like it's somethingthat's very important to the,
the survey and stand out.
What are your thoughts aroundtrust within, uh, employee
engagement and teams?

Chuck Lafferty (07:12):
So trust is one of the most these are
all predictive indicatorswhether or not you're going
to be engaged at work.
So when I talk about trust,you are 14 times more likely
to be fully engaged at workif you trust your leader.
So if you're a directmanager, you say, you know,
there's always this oldadage of people don't leave

(07:34):
companies, they leave bosses.
Right.
I think this onekind of proves it.
If there, if you are, uh,if you trust your frontline
manager, your direct manager.
You're 14 times morelikely to be fully engaged.
So, that kind of proves thatyou've got to work on trust.
Now the next question is, howdo you build trust with teams?
How do you build trust withteam leads or managers,

(07:55):
or between teammates?

Conor Bronsdon (07:56):
And you're a manager of managers.

Chuck Lafferty (07:58):
Yes, I am a manager of managers,
so I have to teach this.
To my managers so thatthey can help manage
those frontline people.
How do you teach building trust?
So it's really hard.
You can't fake trust.
You can't fake caring.
Um, you know, that's areally hard thing to do.
So, uh, I have a lot of itemsI can share with you here.
Maybe I'll just touchon a couple of them.

(08:20):
That'd be perfect.
You can ask me to deep dive inany of these as we go along.
Um, first one to buildtrust is people want to
know why you're making thedecisions that you're making.
Um, It's really importantbecause so many times
people will go, that'sa stupid decision.
Why did someonedecide to do that?
I would go through that myself.
Right?
Why is managementmaking these decisions?

(08:40):
I don't understand the strategicdirection of my company.
Yeah.
Or even my team.
Or my team.
What am I supposed to be doing?
But if there is a reasonbehind why you're doing that,
and you're able to articulatethat to your team, oh my
God, then what happens topeople is they know the goal.
They know what they'reafter, and they know why
these decisions were made.

(09:02):
They're going to be so much moreengaged, so much more happier.
They're going to understandwhat they're trying to do.
And then you don't need tobe prescriptive as a leader.
You can say, thisis my objective.
This is the reasonwhy we're trying to
achieve this objective.
Go at it.
And the team becomes autonomous.
You want to create autonomousteams in your company.
Then they can go after it.
A couple more, let mejust touch on a couple
more for you, because Iknow you want to ask me.

(09:23):
I'm excited to share it.
All right, the next one ishow do we actually build trust
and it's through one on ones.
It's doing what you and I aredoing right now, you know,
you want to learn about, um,you want to learn about each
person's individual life,their family, uh, their pets.
People love talkingabout their pets.
You have a, you have a dog.
Guilty.
I have, I havethree cats actually.
Three cats.

(09:44):
I bet you, I bet you those catsare really important to you.
They are.
You know?
And if your managerknew your cat's name,
you got photos, right?
It's really important.
People, dogs, pets, anything.
It's really important.
And it's, it becomes almostlike, you know, when I ask
you, how's your cat doing?
I heard they were sick,you take them to the vet.
It becomes more engaging.
But also what happens duringthose conversations when

(10:05):
you're doing a one on one.
They could reveal something theywant to do at work, or something
that's making them upset atwork, or something that you as
a manager might have influenceover that can help them.
So that's anotherway to build trust.
Another one I like to use,and maybe I'll pass it back
to you, but I have actually27 items in my presentation.
I love that.

(10:25):
Let's keep going.
People can watchthe presentation and
learn more about it.
I guess one more thatI'll talk about is, let's
talk about just caring.
Let's just talk about caringabout people as people.
That one's really important.
Again, like I mentioned,you can't fake caring.
You have to beinvested in somebody.
And what happens withcaring is it's kind of,

(10:47):
it's kind of double edged.
Because you wantpeople to improve.
You want people to have afulfilled life, but also
be great at their jobs.
And what happens is you'remeeting one on ones, you
feel like you're investing insomebody, and they could leave.
They could leave the company,and that hurts, it hurts.
You know, you never thinkof it from the manager's
point of view, you alwaysthink like, this company

(11:07):
stinks, and I want to leave.
But when you think of it froma manager's point of view,
you're like, oh, I investedso much in this person, I gave
them training and opportunitiesand growth and promotions,
and they decide to takethat talent somewhere else.
It could hurt, but whatI want you to think about
is, you gave that person anopportunity for confidence,
to challenge themselves, tonow go do something bigger.

(11:28):
And you never know where life'sgoing to take you, or that
person, you could work with themin the future and what are they
going to say about you and yourteam and what you did for them?
They're going to have thatfor the rest of their life.
So, that's another way tobuild trust, is just investing
relentlessly in your team.

Conor Bronsdon (11:43):
I love that, and both of these examples,
you know, building trust,understanding what matters
to people, and maintainingthat relationship with that.
They actually bring tomind an example from
American business history.
So John D.
Rockefeller, famous businessmagnate, philanthropist, built
a massive business empire.
One of the things theydiscovered when he died was

(12:03):
that he had kept files onevery person he'd ever met
in his business dealings.
And he would keep notes.
He would say, you know,this is their dog's name.
This is their kid's name.
This is their, theirkids going to Brown.
Great.
Oh, and they'reon the swim team.
Let's, I should askabout that next time.
And that intentionality in likebuilding these relationships
obviously was a crucialpart of his success because

(12:24):
people saw that he caredwhether they were, you know, a
business partner or potentialcustomer or a team member.
He would go and he'd say,okay, I'm meeting with, you
know, Chuck, let me go, like,remind myself, like, oh, Chuck
has a, you know, a wonderfuldaughter who's going to
Brown, let me ask about that.
And I think that attention todetail and care about people
is at the core of so manyincredible renowned leaders

(12:48):
is they are intentionalnot only about designing
systems and technology,but also in designing their
interactions with people.
And, um, I think a lot offolks think, oh, you know,
soft skills don't matter, butthis is, You know, we always
talk about in the show, thisis a very actionable way to
approach and say, Hey, I'mgonna build employee engagement.
I'm gonna build trust.
Mm-Hmm.
, what are other ways thatyou can engage individual
developers?

Chuck Lafferty (13:08):
I have so many for you.

Conor Bronsdon (13:10):
Let's bring it on, Chuck.
I love this.

Chuck Laff (13:11):
Let's talk about it.
Yeah.
Alright.
So, one thing that I wantto mention here is I, I
do want to talk about whatI call innovation ideas.
And I want to touch on thisone, 'cause this is one
way that I get developersreally engaged in their work.
So, I talk about listenactively, no matter the idea.
And what that means tome is that you can come
to me with any idea.

(13:31):
Ideas are a numbers game, okay?
You want as many ideas aspossible because one or two,
1 percent of them, we'regoing to be blockbusters.

Conor Bronsdon (13:39):
Sure.

Chuck Lafferty (13:39):
So if you're going to come to me with an
idea, and I understand, youknow, in management it might
be hard to come to your boss oryour boss's boss, right, with
an idea because you want to feellike you're sharing something
interesting with them, right?
Well, and this is where that

Conor Bronsdon (13:51):
psychological safety piece comes in that you

Chuck Laffer (13:52):
mentioned earlier.
Exactly.
And if you care about somebodyand you're showing that to
them, they're going to wantto come with more ideas.
But the second you shootdown an idea, it's over.
They're not gonna come backto you with more ideas.
So what I want you all, theall management leaders, all
team leads, all uh, friends offriends that do development,
listen actively to that ideaand try and build on it.

(14:13):
So it's yes.
And you know, if there's alwaysthis thing yes and not no, but
you don't wanna say no, butyour idea's not gonna work.
You wanna say yes and here'show your idea could work.
The, the classic exampleI use is that if you came
to me and said, Chuck.
I have these Excel files,they're really good Excel files.
We can add and remove datafrom it, like a database.
We should use thisas a database.

(14:35):
I'm like, so what I'll dois I'll talk to you, and
I'll say, let's build on it.

Conor Bronsdon (14:41):
Instead of saying this is a stupid idea.

Chuck Lafferty (14:43):
I didn't say that, you said that.
I'm a leader.
What I would say is,let's talk about it.
Okay, let's have aconversation, let's figure out.
How we can useExcel as a database.
Does it, does it lock the file?
Could, could weread from it often?
Like how's all that work?
And maybe through thecourse of our conversation
we realize, uh, this mightnot be the best database.

Conor Bronsdon (15:03):
Yeah.

Chuck Lafferty (15:03):
But guess what?
That person's gonnabe excited next time.
'cause I listened to that one.
Yeah.
Right.
And so that's what you wannabuild with development teams.
Now what comes toinnovation ideas?
So now that I'm listeningto the ideas, what I do is
I don't, and this is a, aside topic, I can dive an
hour into this one with you.
Around tech debt.
I don't call it tech debt.

Conor Bronsdon (15:21):
Wait, lemme ask the producer.
Can we break up some more time?
What's our, what'sour runtime here?

Chuck Lafferty (15:25):
I don't call it tech debt.
Yeah.
I call it innovation ideas.
And the reason why I do this,'cause debt has a negative
connotation to it, as, asyou know, as most people say.
And so I call it innovation.
Imagine creatinga tech debt team.
What developer?
I mean, some would,but not a lot.
Like if, like you wanna be ona team that solves technical
debt, like that's really tough.

(15:46):
I mean, sometimes that'swhat platform teams do is
they're solving technicaldebt for the company.
Uh, but what I like to do isI like call 'em innovation.
So imagine being on theinnovation team now.
Hmm.
All of a sudden it's like, I, Iwanna be on the innovation team.
A little more exciting,a little more exciting.
And so just that simpleswitch in the words.
So what does aninnovation team do?
They lower build times.
They make applicationmore performant.

(16:07):
They find ways to tunequeries in the database.
They'll reduce the timein the CICD pipeline.
They'll add automated testing.
They'll make sure everythingis in CICD pipeline so that
I can extract things likeDora metrics, or have tools
that help me figure that out.
And so that is the foundationof your application.
That is the stabilityof your application.

(16:28):
It's the most important thingyou can do in your application.
You want your application tobe highly available, highly
resilient, and performant.
And of course, a whole othernon functional requirements.
And so if we frame them thatway, what you're doing is
you're helping that teambecome more engaged to make

(16:48):
the application better.
And another thing you'redoing is whenever I hear,
you know, I join architecturemeetings and stuff like that,
and I'll hear things like,we talk about it, but we
never do anything about it.
Because now, what happens iswe get to fix your problem.

(17:11):
Now that's my job.
Now my job kicks in,like, as a leader.
Now I hear that and I go, well,who's going to make the change?
I'm going to putit on your backlog.
And now that you get to, youget, you said you were the one
that, well, mentioned it was achallenge, you get to fix it.
I'm now going to give youthat opportunity for that
thing that drove you crazy.
And guess what happens?

(17:32):
They're engaged.
And guess what happenswhen they finish it?
They're so proud.
That they made it fasteror better or stronger.
And you've reduced friction.
And you've, and you've madethe whole team productive.
Yeah.
Maybe even the whole company.
So,

Conor Bronsdon (17:43):
so, important question, uh, when are
you writing your book?
Ha

Chuck Lafferty (17:47):
ha ha.
Um, I have a, I have alot, I have a lot to say.
I haven't plannedto write a book yet.
But, uh, I definitelyam passionate about all
this, as you can tell.

Conor Bronsdon (17:56):
Whether you're, you know, watching on YouTube
and seeing Chuck evoke this,or listening on one of our
podcast apps, it's very clearwhat your passion is here.
I've also heard some reallyinteresting things from your
talk and other pieces, includingsomething called Survey
Roulette Oh, , which I'd love to

Chuck Lafferty (18:13):
understand.
Yeah.
Survey Roulette.
So this is, uh, one ofmy, um, one of the leaders
on my team named Rick.
He came up with Survey Rouletteand it's, it's a fun thing
to engage development teams.
I try to make work fun.
It, you know.
Technology and stuff like that.
It can be, um, a littlebit daunting, a little bit,
um, monotonous at timesand also a little bit.
Um, you know, if you work on adefect for two or three days, it

(18:35):
can kind of crush you a littlebit, you know, you don't feel
like you're being productive,so how can we make it fun?
Right?
So one of the things theteam invented was something
called Survey Roulette.
We do a lot of surveying.
We try to figure out whether ornot people like our application.
And so we, we send out, youknow, um, surveys to them
and they give us a score andthey're also a little text box
that says, give us feedback.
And so what we do is whenwe send that out, um, every

(18:57):
month we're going to get thatfeedback in and then we review
it as a development team.
And so on there, we'll say,okay, developer, uh, max, um,
would you like a positive,negative, or neutral comment?
And Max will go, I wouldlike a negative comment.
So then we'll read it.
We'll pick a randomone in the survey.
We'll, we'll read it.
The comment, what it does isit's, it's kind of fun, number
one, but number two, thedeveloper gets to have empathy

(19:18):
for the clients, the peopleusing the application, because
they get to see a problem.
Most of the time there'sa fix for what they're
complaining about.
What might be negativein the survey?
Let's say it that way.
Um, and then we'll say, okay,um, we'll just go down the list.
We'll say, okay, Jesse,uh, what, what do you want?
And they'll say, I wanta positive comment.
Okay, we'll read thepositive comment.
What happens there?
It might be a featurethat we stumbled across

(19:39):
that was just released.
And guess what?
Jesse might have been thedev that did that feature.
Oh my God.
Now they're proud oftheir work and they got
direct user feedback.
About what we did.
So we do this for 15 minutes.
It's a fun little thing.
I thought I'd share itwith some other people.
Is

Conor Bronsdon (19:52):
this how you approach discovering features to
improve applications people use?

Chuck Lafferty (19:57):
Oh, 100%.
100%.
There's, there's somany things we do there.
Um, we do things, again,I mentioned surveys.
Right.
So we, we ask peopledirectly, uh, how they feel.
We also do observations.
I call this alsofueling your backlog.

Conor Bronsdon (20:10):
So when you say observations, this, uh, like
ride-alongs for devs basicallywith customers or what is this?
So

Chuck Lafferty (20:15):
it's there, there's actually, um, a
field called user research.
Mm-Hmm.
And you, you might haveheard of UX heard user, user
design, stuff like that,but not a lot of people
hear about user research.
So this is people that you knoware, are in the industry and,
um, we, we have them at a DPand what they will do is they
are legit academic researchers.
Yeah.
They're actually a part ofour teams at a DP and, and

(20:38):
there's a lot of 'em at a DP.
And what we do is, they'lldo time and motion studies.
They'll do things likewatching users complete tasks
and figure out how long theytake or how easy it was.
And we'll ask the users atthe end, we'll say, um, how
easy was this task, you know?
And then we'll get scoresfrom that and we'll be able to
take scientific measurementsabout how productive that
was, and then we'll applyit, a hypothesis, then

(21:01):
we'll apply whatever thechange was and retest.
Did the scores go up?
and it's the scientificmethod, right?
And so we just keep doing thatover and over until the scores
are where we want them to be.
So that's fueling your backlog.
And you mentioned, you didmention seat rides that the
other one is called seat rides.
That's a little bit different.
Okay.
A seat ride is not like meflinging you down the hallway
in your wheelie chair right now.

(21:22):
A seat ride is when, um,you sit with a person
using your application.
So, when I will sit with aperson that's actually using the
app, it's mind blowing, becausethey might have stickies on
their monitor, they might havethings they're writing down
while they're trying to completethe task, and you realize the
thing they're writing down iseither a feature you already
have, or it's a feature thatyou can now invent for them,

(21:44):
so that they don't have to goand write the sticky note down,
something you place right away.
You won't know that unlessyou go sit with the person.
Just watching them use yourapp and their environment,
what's around them.
Is there a mirror?
Is there, is there somethingelse they're doing?
Is it, how are theyfacing the computer?
What screens do they have?
What on?
Because then you'll discover,oh, they have Outlook open
over here, and they haveour app open over here.

(22:05):
Why?
Why do they have Outlook open?
Well, they needto send an email.
And so you're going to, you'regonna get so much more about
how you can put more thingsin your app if you discover

Conor Bronsdon (22:13):
that.
Yeah, that context is soimportant, the understanding of
how real users use it, because.
And this is so common inapplication development that we
imagine this path of, Oh, theuser will do this, and then I'm
sure you've seen this famousvideo of, Uh, you know, square
pegs go in the square hole.
Okay, great.
Like, triangle peg alsogoes in the square hole.
Great.
Like, it just keepsgoing in there.
We're like, wait, we designedall these, there's a triangle

(22:34):
hole, put it through there.
No, no, it just goesin the square hole.
And I think it's such a commonthing for us to discover when
we do these, these, uh, ridealongs with our Users, and we
go, Oh, you're using this in adifferent way than I expected.
And maybe you don't know aboutthis feature that you mentioned.
So the beauty

Chuck Lafferty (22:50):
of what all this, this research does is you
are now making your employeesuse your app more engaged.
You are now making thembetter at their job.
They're more productive.
And guess what?
They become happierbecause their app is what
they needed to do, right?
And so now you're scalingyour engagement, not just
from your development team,but now to the whole company.

Conor Bronsdon (23:12):
That's a wonderful philosophy, and
I've heard you talk abouthow this contributes to
winning in the workplace.
In fact, you use a quote in yourpresentation from Doug Conan,
to win in the marketplace, youmust first win in the workplace.
What does that mean to you?

Chuck Lafferty (23:29):
Winning in the workplace means to me
that our team is achievingwhat we set out to do, our key
objectives and results, right?
Our OKRs.
We are, we are doing thingslike meeting our deadlines.
We are producing thingsfor the company of value.
We're measuring our outcomesand they're making an impact.
Also, with that, is we haveemployees who want to stay,

(23:53):
who are productive, who arehappy, who are feeling fulfilled
with their jobs, and feel likethey are making an impact.
So now you can see the balance.
The balance is between havingsomeone become feeling like
we're producing a lot ofvalue, but also Being happy.
To me, that's winningin the workplace.
If we're able to do that, toget happy clients, you need

(24:14):
to have happy employees.
And so, and to have happyemployees, you better give
them the tools to do their

Conor Bronsdon (24:20):
job.
And engage them, as

Chuck Laff (24:22):
you've talked about.
This does it.
Doing things like thishelps engage them.
So, how do you

Conor Bronsdon (24:27):
scale that engagement with tooling or,
or cultural approaches, uh,across a major enterprise

Chuck Lafferty (24:33):
like ADB?
Well, I can talk aboutour development teams
and the stuff we do.
Um, you know, we do some of the,uh, the traditional practices of
Agile, as you can imagine, likea lot of development teams do.
We try to make it alittle more fun, though.
You know, we have our meetingswhere we try to keep, as few
people in meetings as we can sothat people can feel productive.
You know, so we're, sowe're engaging the right

(24:53):
folks in the teams.
We do things likesurvey roulette.
We do things likehaving teammates get
together, have meetings.
Where there, where there'snot just two people
talking, you know wherethe whole team is talking?
You can hear highperformance, you can hear
engagement on the phone.
Okay.
And the way that you do thatis through short chatter.
So what you're gonna hear issomeone say something for a
few seconds or or a minuteat most, and another person

(25:15):
chime in and say their partand another person chime in.
And as soon as you heareverybody on the phone starting
to talk like that, you know,you have an engaged team.
They, they got past.
Tuckman's group stagesof storming, norming,
performing positive crosstalk,positive, crosstalk.
People aren't nobutting each other.
They're not using names.
They're saying what the problemis, not that you know this,

(25:36):
John, your architecture's bad.
They're saying, um,the architecture's bad.

Conor Bronsdon (25:40):
They're improvising live together.
I mean, you used thephrase Yes and earlier.

Chuck Lafferty (25:43):
Yeah.
You're not, you're separatingthe problem from the person.

Conor Bronsdon (25:46):
Yeah.

Chuck Lafferty (25:46):
And then the team starts to excel 'cause they
realize I'm not against you.
We're against the problem.

Conor Bronsdon (25:52):
Yeah.

Chuck Lafferty (25:52):
And that's how they, that's
how they come to each other.

Conor Bronsdon (25:53):
And that separation of the
problem from the personis such a crucial thing
regardless of relationship.
I mean, it's a very commonthing you hear talked about
in like relationship therapyand it's also something that
is obviously crucial for otherimportant relationships in your
life including your workmates.
Sure.
So I love that you're kind ofbringing in these concepts and
I'd love to close by asking you,what those listening to this

(26:17):
interview right now should bedoing to improve engagement.
What are the tangibleor actionable steps they
should take?

Chuck Lafferty (26:22):
So the first thing that I want you all to
do that, especially if you'rea leader, is do one-on-ones.
That's, that's the ground rules.
That's table stakes.
So get out there, spend atleast a half hour with all
of your direct reports.
If you're not doing that, oreven if you're a team lead,
or you're a business analystor a product owner, you should
be meeting with the peoplewho work with you at least
once a week, one on one.

(26:44):
That's my big recommendation.
If your team is too large, maybeyou scale that to be a 15 minute
conversation or every other weekto make sure you get those in.
That's the one I wantyou to do the most.
Your manager, and if you trustyour teammates around you.

(27:05):
So that's, that's the one thatI want you to focus on, figure
out how you can actually buildrelationships with everybody.
And then just be somebody who'sgoing to listen, because a lot
of people just want to be heard.
They want to know that whatthey're saying is not going
off into the void and noone's doing anything about it.
So listen to people, acknowledgethem, and try to fuel your
backlogs with the stuff thatyou're hearing on your teams.

(27:32):
Put them on your backlogs aboutwhat challenges your direct team
faces and then you as a leader.
You're going to excel yourdevelopment team far beyond
just telling them what to do.
That's a wonderful

Conor Bronsdo (27:42):
note to close on.
Chuck, I can't thank youenough for coming on the show.
It's amazing to have peoplefrom our community like yourself
who've been listening and arealso these incredible leaders
come on to share your knowledge.
I'm excited to continue tofollow your journey at ADP.
And if you're a listener toDev Interrupted like Chuck,
or maybe you're watching us onYouTube, Uh, make sure you're
subscribed and ideally giveus a little rating or review

(28:04):
on your platform of choice.
I will have a linkin the podcast notes.
It's so important for us to helpkeep spreading this message,
help other teams improvetheir employee engagement,
and help improving highperformance across the industry.
I also want to give a verybrief shout out here at
the end to my incredibleproduction team for making
this interview happen, alongwith all the other interviews
DevOps Enterprise Summit.
Um, Adam Noble, our, ourproducer, uh, Jackson Wells,

(28:26):
who does an incredible jobon the audio engineering for
us and has dealt with so manydetails around this event,
and then Brent, our stellarvideographer who's joined the
team recently, is doing such anincredible job of making sure
that Chuck and I look great.
Uh, it's a lot of work, letme tell you, and uh, I can't,
can't thank them enough, um,and listeners, if you ever run
into them in the world, buythem a beer, say hi, uh, we love
hearing from y'all, and uh, andthanks for everyone who stopped

(28:48):
by today, it's been great.
Chuck, thanks for joining us.

Chuck Lafferty (28:50):
Thanks so much.
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