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February 19, 2024 43 mins

Are you navigating the challenging journey of transitioning from being a top performer in your field to leading a team for the first time? In this episode of Manager to Manager, host Kamaria Scott sits down with Jen Rohne, a seasoned Operations Director at Avery Dennison, to discuss the transformative journey from technical expert to inspirational leader over three decades.

Jen opens up about the challenges and triumphs of moving from an engineer role into various leadership positions, managing multiple manufacturing facilities. She debunks the myth that being excellent in a technical job naturally translates into effective people leadership. Instead, she highlights the need for a different set of skills and a mindset shift from executing tasks to guiding teams.

Throughout the conversation, Jen shares invaluable lessons on setting clear expectations, fostering accountability, and adapting leadership styles to meet the diverse needs of team members in various roles. She recounts how she helped an employee craft compelling business cases and supported an engineer transitioning to a team leadership position, offering insights into the importance of active listening and personalized management approaches.

A significant part of the discussion is dedicated to understanding and meeting individual team members' needs, promoting a culture of curiosity over judgment, and the critical role of empathy in leadership. Jen emphasizes the importance of acknowledging personal mistakes and learning from them, showcasing the power of vulnerability in building trust and respect within a team.

This episode is a deep dive into the nuances of leadership that go beyond traditional management theories, providing listeners with practical strategies and heartfelt advice from Jen's extensive experience. Join us for an enlightening conversation that will inspire you to embrace the journey of becoming a more effective and empathetic leader.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
(00:00):
I kind of like the comment we all stuck at the beginning, just because you're
good at your role and you're an engineer and I can fix a problem in a plant
and I can work with the operators to solve a quality issue or increase rate or all of that.
You can do all that and you're great in role, but that doesn't make you a good people leader.
And you don't have to be good in all those technical pieces to be a good people
leader. They're very, very different skill sets.

(00:21):
And we tend to promote people who are good in those roles into leading people
in that function where they're good.
And we think that that magic wand, or I used to say that they sprinkle fufu
dust on you and suddenly now you're people and it's going to be okay.
And it doesn't work that way.
So when you move into that role, there was a lot of head scratches for me.
I knew I wanted to lead people.

(00:42):
I knew I wanted to lead a plant, but when you got there, it was like,
what do I do now? What do I do today?
And so learning what it is to be a leader versus doing, that's a big transition.
Welcome to Manager to Manager, a podcast about the experiences of people leaders

(01:03):
and how we can enable them to lead engaged, healthy, and high-performing teams.
I'm Kamaria Scott, your host, and I'm thrilled to have you join us as we learn,
lead, and succeed together.
Together. Welcome back, friends. You are in for a treat today.
One of the common themes that we always hear when talking to people leaders

(01:25):
is how woefully unprepared we are when we take on our first team.
And the truth of the matter is, even if we take classes, there's nothing like
learning from experience.
And as my good friend, Benyi Banks says, we're all terrible in the beginning.
So in today's episode, I'm excited to introduce you to a guest who through her
own experience is going to help you with a couple of those life lessons.

(01:47):
If you master these, you'll be an amazing people leader. And so I'm excited
to welcome Jen Rohn to the podcast. Jen, welcome.
Thank you. I'm glad to be here and share at least my mistakes and faux pas and
errors along the way and how you grow, because in the end, that's what it's all about.
It is. Thanks in advance for letting us learn from you. So first,
let us learn a little bit about you.

(02:08):
Tell the audience a little about yourself, your industry, which is fascinatingly
unique, and your path as a people leader.
Sure. So I am a chemical engineer by degree.
Of course, that was over 30 years ago. I'm a trained engineer and I came out
of school and I worked for Lakeville Electric, a large global manufacturer leading

(02:28):
in the welding industry.
And I spent about five years in an R&D type role working on the development
of new welding consumables.
And after five years, I had the opportunity to move to a large chemical facility
that produces titanium dioxide.
And titanium dioxide is an inner chemical that's used in paints, papers, and plastics.
When you have a red wall and you're going to paint it white,

(02:49):
the fact that you can paint white over red is because there's lots of TiO2 in it.
It's the the whitest, brightest, most opaque substance known to man.
So it goes in all those kinds of things. It's in toothpaste and Twinkies and
plastic bags. It's in everything, really.
I spent 20 years there and I had a wonderful experience.
I started as a process engineer in the manufacturing facility.
Moved into a manufacturing engineer role, working more closely with the operators in that.

(03:14):
And then I moved into my first people leader role and became the operation superintendent
over one of the operating units and had direct responsibility at that point
for about 65 hourly personnel.
And I think I had three or four salary personnel that worked for me as well,
along with a number of shift supervisors.
That was my first taste of leading people. That was a union facility.

(03:36):
So there were some interesting lessons learned there. And then I moved laterally,
which I think is really important in growth too.
It's not always up the ladder. Sometimes it's sideways and you learn different
things. And so I moved in, I managed our engineering group for capital improvements
and very different than managing an operating unit.
You're managing mostly salary personnel who have, you know, different expectations

(03:57):
and different needs from those hourly workers on the manufacturing floor.
And then I got the opportunity to manage capital projects for the company globally.
I had responsibility for six or seven sites across the world,
managing over a hundred million dollars a year of capital.
And by the time I left there, at the end of my 20-year career,

(04:18):
I was leading a site of about 500 employees across two manufacturing sites responsible
for almost a billion dollars a year in revenue.
So a huge career starting as an engineer 20 years earlier and walking out the
door as that site director responsible for the whole facility.
I did jump in late 2017 because the site was undergoing a sale.

(04:39):
And Avery Dennison had knocked on my door a couple of times and I answered the
phone. and ultimately came over as a plant manager about five and a half years ago.
And now I'm an operations director over four facilities in the U.S. for Avery Dennison.
That is truly amazing. And just honestly, in a wonderful journey through your
career, starting from an individual contributor, coming straight out,

(05:01):
doing your job to leading multiple sites.
And so there's lots to learn, I'm sure, in your journey from where you started to where you are today.
What I'm really excited about is as we prep for this conversation.
We did take it all the way back to the beginning.
We took it back to the leader you are today and the leader you you were then
are two different people.

(05:21):
And I think it's important that I even stop and say, the way that you came to
me as a guest is I was at a conference on a panel with your HR leadership and
was asking if there was anyone in your organization that was really representative
of great people leadership.
Your name immediately came up and she said so many wonderful things about you
that I immediately was like, please connect us so that we can have a conversation.

(05:43):
Conversation so there is something the story that you
told that you have been recognized as an
amazing people leader across all of that journey and so
as you and I started talking one of the first things that you
said was but let me tell you how I got here I didn't start
off as an amazing people leader again going back to my friend Ben we kind of
all stuck in the beginning and so there are some lessons that I learned that

(06:06):
shaped how I lead people I'm excited to go back to a couple of of those lessons
and talk through what they were, what you learned from them and how they shaped you.
Let's go back to maybe one of the first ones that you learned as you first took on a team.
What was that and what did you learn from it?
Yeah, I kind of like the comment we all stuck at the beginning because...

(06:27):
Just because you're good at your role and you're an engineer and I can fix a
problem in a plant and I can work with the operators to solve a quality issue
or increase rate or all of that, you can do all that and you're great in role,
but that doesn't make you a good people leader.
And you don't have to be good in all those technical pieces to be a good people
leader. They're very, very different skill sets.
And we tend to promote people who are good in those roles into leading people

(06:51):
in that function where they're good.
And we think that that magic wand, under the, I used to say that they sprinkle
fufu dust on you and suddenly now you're people and it's going to be okay.
You know, and it doesn't work that way.
So when you move into that role, there was a lot of head scratches for me.
I knew I wanted to lead people.
I knew I wanted to lead a plant, but when you got there, it was like,
what do I do now? What do I do today?

(07:13):
And so learning what it is to be a leader versus doing, that's a big transition.
One of the things I I learned very early on, and I had an HR manager who was
key for me in this, in helping me understand setting expectations and holding accountability.
People tend to shy away from that, especially the accountability,
because we think back to school when we got in trouble or you got in detention.

(07:36):
It always had a negative connotation to it. What he helped me understand is
that setting expectations and then holding accountability really is a positive outcome.
And you're setting an employee up to be successful by telling them what those
guardrails are, where they can make those decisions, or where they have to behave or act.

(07:56):
And then it's ultimately their choice on what they do with it.
So what might help me understand, and this was a union facility, right?
So there's clear rules about if you're going to have an accountability discussion
with someone because an employee didn't follow the procedure and made a mistake that resulted in,
in this case, it was an environmental incident because an operator didn't follow

(08:16):
the sequence and didn't pay attention that the machine didn't switch the way it was supposed to.
And ultimately there was a dust release in the plant. So that drove an accountability
discussion and the union steward to be in there with them.
They're there representing that person. And Mike really helped me prep for that.
What he said is, you have to not think about this as discipline. This is not discipline.

(08:37):
This is corrective action. And you have to look at it from this lens.
This is having a conversation about, tell me what happened that night. What did you do?
What did you not do? What do you remember? What did you look at? Did you check this?
I had my facts. I knew what had happened, But I kind of said,
what happened? What could you remember?
Now that employee walked them through it. And then when I said,

(09:00):
okay, did you go back and check this?
Did you go back and confirm that? Well, no, I didn't. You know,
you're supposed to do that. Yep. That's part of the standard process.
Okay. So is it safe now to say you didn't do that that night?
Do you know what happened because of it?
Yeah. Okay. The bag house filled up. It would be the rupture disc.
And I did that. You know, that's unacceptable, right? Right.

(09:22):
Yep. All right. Well, I'm here
to tell you today that you didn't follow standard operating procedure.
There was a negative consequence of a release and we can't let that happen again,
right? So following our rules, it's a step one violation.
It's a verbal warning. It's a conversation you have not had.
It's going to be documented in your file.
I said, I fully expect that you're going to be successful going forward.

(09:44):
You will understand what you have to do. Yes, I do. Do you need any help for
me to be successful? No, I don't. Okay.
Any questions? No, here it is. I have complete confidence we're never going
to have to have another conversation about this again.
Me too, right? I don't want to do it again. I said, thank you,
right? Have a nice day. And off they went.
And I never did have a performance conversation with that employee again.

(10:05):
It's pretty clear cut. And it's about setting that expectation and having a
discussion. And so what that really helped me understand is that was easy because
there was a rule, there was a procedure, right?
You do this, this, this, and this, and you skip to this step and that caused the problem.
It's harder to have an expectation discussion with somebody managing a project
or managing a customer relationship or driving an initiative in the plant,

(10:32):
whether it's improving quality or productivity. activity.
Something that's less concrete, that's a little more difficult to set the expectations.
So it was actually nice to start easy with that one, but that's so important
because at the end of the day, I think that's what people really want.
They'll tell you, don't tell me what to do. Well, yeah, they don't want to be
micromanaged, but they want to know, these are my guideposts,

(10:55):
these are my guide rails, and this is where you want me in, and this is where
you don't. And there's comfort in that, right?
Don't just say, here's a big wide open field, run and go. So that setting expectations
is so important to help people feel successful.
There's a couple of things that stand out to me from that conversation.
One is one of the places where we see managers shy away is what they perceive

(11:17):
to be difficult conversations.
I think the conversation around performance is probably in all the years that
I've been with managers, the one that they do find the most difficult.
This was the expectation. and for whatever reason it wasn't met,
they find that part difficult.
I love that you've walked through that conversation and the outcome of the conversation.

(11:39):
It's okay that the conversation isn't happy, but when you start looking at it
from the perspective of what do I want to take away from the conversation?
What do I want them to take away from the conversation?
If it's, hey, I want them to come away with an understanding of what good was
supposed to look like, where they land in the conversation and how not to land

(12:00):
there again. And with my support.
That's actually a positive conversation. Yeah. That's not something to be afraid of.
Yeah. And it's, you're right. I think that is the most difficult because a lot
of times you have a personal relationship.
Generally, we're not jerks and you like the worst. So if you're going to tell
somebody, you know, what you did is unacceptable.

(12:21):
This is poor performance and we can't have that continue. You don't want to tell that, right?
So I think it's hard to cross that. But what you have to understand is shying
away from that conversation is actually not treating the rest of your employees
fairly because they're watching that.
They know who the poor performers are.
They benchmark themselves against each other. If they realize this employee

(12:43):
is not putting out as much work, whatever that work would be,
and there's no, I'll say, negative consequence to that, then that's established the new bar.
And then they're thinking, well, why am I performing here or trying here?
So you, as a manager, you have to deal with that.
Everybody's equal. Everybody has the same expectations.
And if somebody is not meeting those, you have to address that.

(13:03):
That's how you move forward.
When I think about setting expectations and I think about it with my own teams,
it's really about having the conversation around what does good look like.
In manufacturing, sometimes it can be very procedural. So it's easy to be like,
good is do this, this, this, and this.
But with different populations of people, it is different to have the conversation

(13:25):
around expectations and what does good look like.
And I know that you have led different types of employees in different roles.
How do you help employees who maybe aren't given a procedure manual,
know and understand what good looks like and to really set that expectation?
So we're giving them a little bit of what of set expectation.

(13:45):
But what's the how of that?
How do you go about about doing it when there isn't a manual to help people?
Honestly, as I look back, it's kind of scared as I was to lead the hourly manufacturing employees.
That was easier than managing the engineers. And it was a smaller group,
but it was much more difficult to that point.

(14:05):
So a couple of things. I had an engineer who.
There was documentation when we did capital projects and there were forms you
had to fill out and different papers, almost small papers that you had to write
as part of our capital process,
whether it was a design basis or the authorization for expenditure that,
you know, that, hey, company, give me a million dollars because I'm going to do this.

(14:26):
I had one employee who would write, you know, two sentences and be asking for a million dollars.
There's no rule that says how to do that. But I know if I'm going to send this
up to the vice president of finance and the vice vice president of operations,
and I want a million dollars, I'm going to write more than two sentences.
When that case, it's a matter of sitting down and talking with them.
Okay, well, why are we doing this project? Well, what is the justification?

(14:50):
And just asking those questions and saying, okay, can we add that information
in there? Can you talk about the business case?
Can you talk about the age of the asset or the criticality to the process?
Build the story, right? So it was a lot of, let's sit down, let's talk about
it. Could you revise that again and then come back and let's review it again?
And it was a lot of red pen and me saying, okay, this isn't good,

(15:13):
but let me help you see what good is like.
I had another leader who was a very good individual contributor engineer,
wonderful technical knowledge, and became a people leader.
And his struggle was coordination.
Now it wasn't just him managing his own time, which could be a struggle.
Now he's managing a group and it was a small group. I think it was four or five engineers.

(15:36):
And he was struggling to manage some key activities that his team was doing.
So in my one-to-one discussions, I had said, you're losing track of this.
You're losing track of the team's progress on this.
And so I sat down after a couple of meetings and I said, how about we get a dry erase board?
And I think we drew four quadrants on it. I said, let's talk about capital projects.

(15:58):
How do we want to lay that out? Do you want to do it by engineer and dates?
Here's June, here's July, here's August.
And here's what employee A has to have done in June. And they have to have this done in August.
And then these are management of change requests that they're doing. Okay.
So here's the status of those. Here's action items that we had.
And I helped him build a dashboard on a dry erase board so he could look back

(16:23):
at a higher level and see what his team needed to be doing.
Not today or tomorrow, but maybe in that 30-day view or the 90-day view so that
he could understand in managing things through one-to-ones or other group meetings
or individual department meetings.
He could be like, where are we on that? Do you need help there?

(16:45):
So he could get in front of it. So that was what I did with him.
And so I think there's a bit of the how.
What stands out to me from that is, and it's in my experience too,
is that sometimes showing people what good looks like is a collaborative process.
You almost have to sit with them side by side and work to where you have the

(17:08):
same vision and understanding of this is what we're solving for,
and this is what we're trying to achieve.
And then, as you said, I think that first example, you asked questions that
checked for understanding, and then you knew, okay, now we both know what the
expectation or the standard is.
The difference for me from thinking about the first experience that you gave

(17:30):
us to the art of doing it really well is learning along along the way,
how to check for that understanding that they know what the expectation and standard is.
Because I think a lot of time as people leaders, we assume they know,
and then we're having that conversation about missed expectations.
Yeah. And it's, it's so important. Listening obviously is the piece of that,

(17:51):
but it's also accepting that your way isn't the, you could say the right way.
It's probably the right way for you, but it may not be the right way for them.
And that's another struggle where you have to accept that everybody's different.
Everybody's got different internal motivators. They think differently.
So just because this makes sense to you, just because that dry erase board setup

(18:14):
made sense to me, it didn't mean it was going to make sense to that employee,
but it was a jumping point to get him to think about what tools do I need to
create for me as a leader, as a manager, to stay on top of the work that my team is doing.
Exactly. And then that is the outcome. That's the, here's what we're solving for.
So I agree with you. I always say my way is a way, not the way.

(18:38):
Way. And when I lead my team that way, it acknowledges that they may do it differently or better.
And as long as we get to the outcome, I am a happy camper.
I want to go back because I think I heard you start to talk about listening.
I know one of the things that we wanted to share was about learning to listen
and your own growth in that way.
Let's go to the next lesson, the next gem that we will give leaders about learning to listen.

(19:02):
What can you tell us about that? For me, listening is not easy.
And I've always been someone who struggled and in times would actually butt
in or not let people finish a sentence, finish the sentence for them or not let people answer.
And I don't think I even noticed it. It was just a behavior.

(19:23):
And in 20, oh, I think it was 2017, when I moved into the site leadership role
permanently, I went through a series of leadership assessments.
You know, those questions, what do you like? Do you like sitting by yourself
on a chair on the beach, or do you want to be in a big club and a party?
There were no right or wrong answers, but it just talked about tendencies.

(19:44):
So different leadership profiles and assessments. And one of the assessments
I took was around processing speed.
And it was one of those tests where there were 25 questions and they gave you
four shapes in a row that were a combination of black and white circles and squares and triangles.
And the fifth one was blank and they were in some type of a series.
It was like a logic puzzle.

(20:05):
And you had to say, here's your five choices, A, B, C, D, which one finishes this sequence?
And so I took that assessment and there were 25 questions and I was just about
to click on the 24th question when my time ran up. It was a time test I took on the computer.
As it turns out, I got the first 23 that I answered correct.
The 24th one, if I would have had another half a second, I would have got that

(20:28):
one right as well, but I didn't get to the 25th.
And it was very interesting because I was reviewing my results with an HR manager
from Australia who happened to be over and was helping my HR partner in my development
plan, because that's what we were trying to craft out of this is what is my development plan?
Yes. And I remember her looking at that saying, okay, A, I've never seen a score like that.

(20:49):
B, what it tells me is that you process things very, very quickly.
From a listening perspective, what it means is when someone is talking,
I've already processed the answer to whatever question they haven't even asked
me yet, because I'm already there and I'm drawing those inferences.
And I may be right and I may be wrong, but I've already done it in my head,

(21:11):
which means I am very quick to not let them finish because I'm also very results driven and oriented.
So you've told me this much. I'm already over here. So I'm jumping in.
I'm jumping in. I don't need you to tell anymore.
I've heard what you said. We're going to go do do this. And so from a listening
perspective, right, I'm not listening.

(21:33):
What I say might ultimately be exactly what they wanted and what they needed
from me, but I didn't give them that time in the middle.
And then there's plenty of times where, where I went was not where they were going.
And, and so understanding that my desire to jump in comes from my quick processing
and my I need to make a decision.

(21:56):
Those are two very high internal motivators for me, which makes me not listen.
So for my development plan, listing was a big piece of it.
And it's really just stopping, counting in my head, making sure they've finished,
asking clarifying questions to make sure they've got it all before I jump to an answer.
And it's a constant battle, even today, to think about it.

(22:19):
And for me, moving roles this late in my career was pretty neat because I was
just really starting to understand that opportunity for me and that gap.
But this group here didn't know that.
The group I worked with for 20 years knew that. We got the new and refined you.
I'm not perfect in it. My decision-making still comes out pretty strong,

(22:40):
but that's so important because people need that. People need that time.
They're there for a reason. Yep. You're jumping in and finishing it.
You haven't given them that time.
I think the takeaway for people leaders from what you said is there are skills
and strengths that serve you well as an individual contributor contributor,
that don't serve you well as a leader.

(23:02):
When I hear you say processing speed, and I hear you say decision-making and
results-oriented, we praise and applaud that.
And I'm sure it's probably why, if we go through the story of your career and
how you ascended, those were strengths that really helped you be successful.
But then as you've become a people leader, those skills are not necessarily

(23:23):
helping you succeed as much as you would like.
So I wanted to just talk a little bit about what's the moment when you realize
that, goodness, what got me here won't get me there.
I'm doing this thing and it's really not helping me as a people leader.
And I do need to change my approach to be successful in my new role.
Yeah, that's a pretty late revelation for me. So I've led people since 2002.

(23:47):
I wouldn't say that switch flipped for me until 2015. And in 2015, I went into a role.
Kind of the assistant site director. They titled it business integration manager,
but I didn't have any direct reports at that point, but I was developing and
setting strategy for the site.

(24:07):
So we were talking about growth and safety, quality delivery costs to four tenants of operations.
So what did we need to do to drive safety? What do we need to do to drive quality?
So I took some time focusing on performance and data and help build a strategy.
And here's the the projects.
Here's the initiatives. Here's the programs. Here's the procedures.
I built the bridge from where we are today to where we're going to go.

(24:29):
What I recognized in that was I didn't do anything.
At that point, I spent some time building a plan and then I led the resources to do it.
So this project would be good for this engineer because either A,
it's in their strength or B, it's a stretch for them to help them develop.
It was in that almost a sports team team analogy where I've built the playbook.

(24:54):
I've built what we're going to do, but now it's recognizing who are the people
that are going to do that?
Who's going to lead this sub team? Who are the members of the sub team?
And some of it is bringing in people with strengths or people with different
opinions or different personalities.
So you start thinking about all the things that make that successful,
not just for the success of the project, but using that as a platform to to develop people.

(25:18):
And that was very different. In the end, I didn't do anything.
And as a people leader, that is one of the hardest shifts because again,
most people who get promoted are great individual contributors who get stuff done.
At the end of the day, if I look back, that probably was one of my favorite
times in my career because every day I made a change.
Every day I made a difference. I could walk home and go, I did this,

(25:41):
this, and this, and this was the outcome. them.
Now today in this role as an operations director, I got to look back months
to see when I've moved to the needle.
Understanding that your success comes from the success of your organization
or the success of your people.
And that's just time bound. That is not a today thing.
And that takes time to recognize and realize that I'm not going to sit back

(26:02):
on Friday and go, wow, I knocked it out of the park this week. Yes.
Might not have done anything. That's hard for somebody who was really good at
an individual contributor role.
I look back on this plan five and a half years after I've been here and I can see how different it is.
And I've got all kinds of measurements that show me that, but I don't see that
on a daily or a weekly basis.

(26:22):
And that's an incredible shift. The climb to getting recognized as a people
leader is about being high performing, achieving individual contributors who
get stuff done personally.
If you give it to me, it's going to get done.
And then that shift to you're not doing the work. You should not be doing all of the work.

(26:43):
You shouldn't be doing most of the work. And knowing that all of the strengths
and skills that made you so successful in that way, the role has shifted.
I love that you gave us the years of when you started leading and when that
switch happened, because it doesn't happen overnight.
I think the first few years, the first, I'm going to say at least minimum five

(27:03):
years of being a people leader is a struggle because you are unlearning the
behaviors of being an individual contributor in real time. And that's not super easy.
I think about sales teams that I work with where they're like,
the sales leader is still selling.
It's because we're falling back on our comfortable behavior.
We're falling back on what made us successful before instead of what we need

(27:24):
to make us successful now.
Now, one of the things that we do need to do to be successful is learn how to match motivators.
I heard you say internal motivators a couple of times. So I want to jump into that as well.
I love that you have had the development of assessments to give you insight into yourself.
And I think beyond listening, learning to have insight into other people is

(27:45):
probably the second biggest thing we can do.
So tell us a little bit about how you kind of came to that realization.
Yeah. So I think that is important. We're not all the same.
We talked about earlier, just your way doesn't necessarily the right way or
the only way. It's just a way. way.
And same thing. Well, the way I work, the way I operate is my way,
but that's not someone else's way. That's what makes the world great.

(28:05):
We're all different. So that's the power of diversity.
We all look the same and thought the same, and we wouldn't be nearly as good
as we are when we harness the power of everybody.
So for me, intrinsically motivated is to make a decision and to move forward and with speed.
So I want to get stuff done. To me, that's the most important thing.
I don't even necessarily want to be right.
I do like being right, but I'd rather just make the decision.

(28:28):
I just want to go forward. Analysis paralysis drives me crazy.
Let's just go. Let's just go do something.
And if it's wrong, we'll adjust. We'll make another decision, but let's do something.
So for me, that drive to push and get stuff done and make a quick decision, that's wonderful.
So when you send me an email, you can put the question in the subject line and I'm fine.

(28:48):
And I can respond and say, yes, I don't need a good morning, fluff, happy.
How are you? How was was your night? Did you watch the baseball game?
Like I don't talk about it, but I don't need it.
You can hit rewrite to the punch, right? Yes. So-
In 2017, when I was in the site director role, I had a manager working for me.
I think I had seven or eight managers at that point. That was my staff.

(29:10):
And my office was in the front of the main office building.
And when I came out of my office, my assistant sat there and there was like
a countertop where I could look over at the top of her desk and talk to her.
And her habit was when I would walk out, if I came off of the conference call
or a meeting, she would leave notes on the corner of that counter.
And it might be a message, you know, this person called, please call them back

(29:32):
or a post-it note. Danny stopped by, please go see him.
And I found that most mornings, because I usually had early mornings called,
most mornings when I would come out between 8 and 8.30, there was always a note
to go see this one specific individual.
And she was really good. There'd be a time, 7.50, so-and-so stopped by,
would like you to go see them.
So, okay, first day, I'm like, this is really cool. I have this assistant.

(29:55):
I'm in a big fancy office, right? right? I've got these numbs for me, so I'll go do this.
I went to their office and said, yeah, what's up? Karen said,
you want to see me? Okay. I just wanted to run this past you.
And they would spend 30 or 45 seconds telling me what happened last night and
what decision they've made and what they were going to do.
And I'd be like, oh yeah. Okay. Great. Sounds good. Okay. Thank you. And I would leave.

(30:16):
Next morning I'd come out, there'd be another message. Go see this individual.
Okay. And it would be Groundhog Day, right? We've repeated again.
And it would be what happened last night and what we're going to do today and
what the timeline looks like. And this is going to be the cost.
Okay, fine. After about the fourth or fifth day of this, I was actually getting
irritated because I was like, I go in there.

(30:37):
They know the answer. They've already solved the problem. They have the path forward.
They know what the impact is going to be. All the right decisions are being made.
I don't offer anything in here except a walk down the hall and a walk back to
my office in three minutes of my day that I lost.
That's how I was looking at this. And so it became very frustrating to me.
I would continue to go, but I'm sure I probably got crankier as time went on.

(31:01):
But probably less than a month into this, as a leadership team,
we did another assessment. It was called the print profile.
But it talked about your internal motivators and your detractors.
And so when you did it, it talked about the things that you really thrived on.
So for me, one of the things that ticked my box, like, whoa,
I am happy when I can do this, this, and this.

(31:24):
Jen is happy when I can make a decision very, very quickly.
And this is what motivated me.
Then it talked about things that drove you bonkers.
One of the things that drove me bonkers, still does, is needy people that come
hang on you. you. Please help me.
That inability to make that decision on your own just drives me nuts.

(31:45):
So we look at this other individual's print profile and their internal motivator
was to be heard and understood and reach that, I'll say kumbaya,
reach that sense of belonging.
And that was internally motivating to that individual.
And in that assessment, when I looked at that, But what I recognized that their

(32:06):
internal motivator was my nails on the chalkboard detractor.
And they weren't looking for me to make a decision. That was never the intent of that.
To my assumption, they had already made the decision. They were looking for
that affirmation and that 45-second communication touchpoint to gain that consensus to be heard.

(32:28):
That was it. When I recognized that, it was so powerful to me because then that
post-it note in the the morning wasn't as irritating.
I'd be like, okay, it's going to take me two minutes. I'm going to walk down
the hall. They're going to tell me their piece.
I'm going to shake my head. Maybe once in a while I ask a question.
Everybody's happy to go back to my office. That two minutes was so important

(32:48):
and so motivating to them.
Not giving that two minutes would be a huge detractor, a huge dissatisfaction for that employee.
I had to recognize, even though it drove me nuts,
I needed to do it because I needed to do that to help that person be successful.
That's my role as a leader is not to impose my needs upon them,

(33:09):
but recognize what they need from me.
And that was just such a neat little flip for me.
I always say I love this and I truly love this because the greatest lesson you
can learn as a people leader, the most impactful thing that you can do is know yourself,
know other other people and know how to flex to meet the needs of other people.

(33:32):
I think anyone in a leadership role who can't learn to see and understand the
needs of others and learn how to adjust their behavior accordingly is always going to struggle.
When people look back and wonder, you know, what are the important things we
should teach new leaders or even leaders who are currently leading that need to be more successful?
It's exactly what you just said. It's the ability to look at a situation,

(33:55):
wonder what am I missing?
And even to know why am I irritated by this?
Because as people leaders, we all have those moments. There's times when I'm
in meetings and I'm just sort of like, I feel like there's someone scratching at a chalkboard.
I have to ask myself, what's happening with my motivators and attractors that
this is setting me off internally?
What is this other person really trying to communicate? What's the real need here?

(34:18):
And to the extent that I can figure that out for myself and I can figure out
their need and how to meet their need in a way that doesn't make me crazy.
We are a happy team because teaming is about working together.
Leading people is about influencing them. And when they feel like their needs
are met, then they are more willing to do the work that we need to do and we're
influencing them in the right way.
So I love that you're able to kind of talk through that and explain it in a

(34:41):
way that probably a lot of us
experience, but maybe we don't always talk about it that way in training.
This is why we do assessments, whether it's the print profile that you used
So whether it's DISC or Myers-Briggs, there's a number of assessments that people
can take, but it's really about understanding each other, understanding yourself,
understanding what somebody else might need, and then being able to meet them where they are. So...

(35:04):
Thank you for sharing that with us. Yeah, no, that's, you're exactly right.
I cannot manage every single employee the same way. You just can't.
And it's not that you're being unfair.
There's somebody that I can shut the door and yell at because that's ultimately
how I have to get their attention.
I'm not going to hurt their feelings. There are other people I did that,

(35:24):
forget it. I would shut them down. Potentially they're looking for another job.
And you have to recognize that because they're not the same.
They're not the same. And that's hard because first of all, it's hard just to
learn how to manage people.
So once you figure it out, you're like, here's me. I'm a people leader and this is what I do.
And then as you grow, you're like, no, that style will work here.

(35:47):
But you need to do this, this, and this.
And it's always changing. You're always learning and you misstep and it's okay.
To me, that's another big lesson as a leader. You have to acknowledge that you're
not perfect, that you don't have all the answers, and that you make a mistake.
Yes. And there's nothing wrong. In fact, you have to say that is my bad. I am sorry.
I remember early on in COVID, we were all remote.

(36:12):
And so the leadership team was remote and there was only one or two of us in
here every day and we were rotating.
So most of the time when we met, it was remote and we had a meeting and nobody
had done the actions that they were supposed to do.
And we were going through this list and it was like, I haven't done it.
I haven't done it. I I haven't done it.
And I like exploded on my whole team on a Google meet call.

(36:33):
And I just was like, that's it. We're done. Nobody has done what they're going to do.
I said something snarky and I flip and slam down the phone at a meet call.
And my HR manager called me like after it happened. It was like, hi Jen, let's talk.
It was good because I think it was a development activity that no one had done
it. So she was mad they hadn't done it.
So she was like, well, Well, maybe not the best approach, but yeah,

(36:56):
they're clearly not getting that this is important and they can't just keep blowing it off.
But she said, I could see you, even while we were on meet, she said,
I could see you stewing. And I knew the kettle was going to blow.
The next day when we had a meeting, I started with, okay, let me just talk about
my behavior yesterday. I am sorry that I popped off.
Wasn't my better moment. So I apologize for the way I behave.

(37:18):
I don't necessarily apologize for what my message was. This is important.
We're doing this to develop our people. These are important.
We have to spend as much time on our people as we are on our process.
And we're not. And it's not acceptable. And I want you to understand that.
Yeah, I lost my temper. So that wasn't good. So I'm sorry. That was it. Moved on.
Nobody's mad. But I just felt it was important to say, look,

(37:38):
that that wasn't one of my better moments. And I'm sorry.
There are moments like that for all of us. I think I was in an episode and I
talked about, I had a moment when I sat at someone and I had to go back and
say, I'm so sorry. That was out of character for me.
What's encouraging about the way you have told this, and I appreciate your candor
and willingness to share your experience, is that we never stop learning.
You gave us a lot of dates to help us contextualize your leadership journey over time.

(38:03):
And it's not just new leaders who need support and continuing to learn.
It's current leaders. I hear all the assessments and development plan.
I heard that continuously through the conversation.
Just really quickly, how are you paying that forward to make sure that the leaders
who report to you are continually growing in their people leadership capabilities? possibilities. Yeah.

(38:25):
I mean, I have one-to-ones every month with everybody that works for me, right?
So they've got that personal time and that's their time with me.
That's not my time to say, where are you on this? And where are you on this?
I use a primer for that discussion to get them to think about leading questions
about what they want to talk about and not just project based,
but what's going well, what's not, what's off track, what could you do differently?

(38:47):
What developmental opportunities are you working on? How are your people?
Where are your struggles there.
So I lead by example to an extent there.
And I'm also a bit of a storyteller and I can spin a story a million different ways.
It works well in the interview process, but it also works when I'm coaching.
And so I will do that. I will say, well, I've noticed this and let me tell you

(39:08):
about a time that I did this.
And I'll usually tell about something stupid I did in the past and how that
didn't work well and get them to think about it.
You have such a gift for storytelling. telling. I am not surprised that you
use that in your coaching.
Can you give us an example of what that looks like?
Yeah, we had a recent safety incident here where somebody got hurt and it was pretty moving for me.

(39:31):
It was our first, in my time here, my first five and a half years,
it's our most significant injury. The employee is okay.
It is going to make a full recovery, but it just got me thinking about the culture
here and is the culture what I want it to be? And if it's not, Matt, how do I get there?
I was actually on vacation when the injury occurred. So when I got back to the
office about three days later, I pulled the entire leadership team together,

(39:52):
including all the frontline supervisors, the managers.
And I started a message with, we're going to talk about the injury.
And the very first slide I put up had two words on it, just said, I failed.
And they all kind of looked at me funny. And I said, I've been here five and a half years.
The safety performance that we get
is a function of the culture that I've created. it. So this is my fault.

(40:13):
And I take full and personal accountability for this injury happening here.
And, and I just wanted to talk about how, how we have to look at things differently.
So I pulled up a clip from Ted Lasso early in season.
I think it was an episode eight of season one where he's playing darts in the
bar and he's, and he's actually hustling a Rupert in that scene.
And as he's, as he's talking through it, he talks about how people have doubted him his whole life.

(40:38):
And that's really bothered him. They've always looked down on him and talked down on him.
And he saw a quote on, on a building, taking his son to school one day.
And it said, be curious, not judgmental.
And what he took away from that was people belittling him. It had nothing to do with him.
It had everything to do with them because they weren't taking the time to be
curious and get to know him. They were judging based on what they knew.

(41:02):
And how I relayed that to my team is our safety culture.
We need to be curious, not judgmental. When people bring us a concern,
rather than taking the time to explain to them why it it wasn't a really concern,
flip it and ask them to explain that to you or show you or help you understand.
I don't believe that people come to work every day to get hurt.
That's not their intent.

(41:22):
So when they bring stuff to us, we need to not discard it and judge them for
what they say. We need to turn it around and say, help me understand.
Because you're going to get a way better solution in the end from that much higher inclusion.
People are going to feel like their opinion is valued. And it's that be curious,
not judgmental. And that's kind of our mantra now. but it's a really neat clip.
As a leader, you don't start with telling someone why they're wrong or they

(41:46):
did it wrong or they didn't follow this, or if you would have done it this way,
that wouldn't have happened.
You start with, talk to me through that again. What happened before? Can you show me?
That's amazing. A perfect point to the conversations that we've been having.
I want to thank you, Jen. You've really given a lot of good lessons to our listeners.
So if you all are keeping score or writing them down, first and foremost,

(42:06):
figure out how to set expectations and show your teams what good looks like.
Remember to learn to listen. And I guess that ties very nicely into so that
be curious, not judgmental.
Know yourself, know your teams, figure out how to flex and lead each other differently
and continue focusing on those development needs.
And if you can do those four or five things, you are off to being an excellent people leader.

(42:30):
So again, thank you, Jen. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for sharing your
experiences with us and helping us learn a couple of lessons along the way.
Well, awesome. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my long-winded stories
and appreciate the opportunity to share.
It's all about getting better and learning and training is training,
but you pick up a snippet somewhere and you apply it to what you do and that
made you better. And that's a good day.

(42:51):
Thanks for that. All right, you all. Thanks for listening. Have a wonderful
rest of your day or week, and we'll see you next time on Manager to Manager.
Music.
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