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October 23, 2023
Show Notes: Episode 180 – Unraveling Bias
October 23, 2023

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This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

Misty 00:01
We all have bias, and when it comes up in the workplace – right? – it’s going to really impact the overall team, the bottom line.

JoDee 00:11
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, and with me is my friend and co-host Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, also an HR consulting practice.

JoDee 00:37
Our topic today is on unraveling bias. Bias is a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with others. We have heard a lot about gender and race bias. Today we’d like to explore other biases such as weight, affinity, beauty, and name bias. According to the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, these biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. It’s where you might just be doing things by habit, saying things out of habit, and not even realize that we have this bias. As a result, unconscious biases can have a big influence on our beliefs and behaviors. In the workplace, bias can affect the way we hire, interact with coworkers, and make business decisions. To combat bias, we must learn how they surface at work and how to avoid them so we can build a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Of course, really, bias can happen in any parts of our lives – right? – not just at work, but we’ll talk about the workplace only for today. Whether we realize it or not, our unconscious biases influence our professional lives, from the way we think to the way we interact with colleagues. They can lead to skewed judgments and reinforce stereotypes, doing more harm than good for companies when it comes to recruitment and decision making. Know that bias itself is not good or bad. It’s how we deal with it. As a simple example, I might have a bias towards Disney World as a favorite vacation spot, but only because I have been there more than 20 times. So I’ve been there a lot, it’s a comfortable place for me to go, so I have a bias there.

Susan 03:11
I love Disney, too.

JoDee 03:14
I might also be biased about all things purple because of our company colors of Purple Ink. But those biases might not always lead me to the best vacation spot, or to a color that matches perfectly with the furniture or whatever else might be purple. So let’s take a look at a few.

Susan 03:39
Sure. Well, I think name bias has really gotten a lot of attention of late in media. Name bias is the tendency to prefer certain names over others, usually Anglo-sounding names. We see this mostly in recruitment when a recruiter tends to offer – statistics will show you – more interviews to people who have Anglo names over sometimes equally qualified or better qualified candidates. How can we avoid this? Whether through software or manual process, removing personal information on resumes, certainly removing the name. I know my husband, he taught for many years at the university level, he learned early into it that the less he could picture the student the better, so he would take… remove names before he would grade any type of a paper so that he didn’t have any of his, like, “okay, that student drives me nuts.” You know, I always admired that. And in the world of work, certainly software exists where you can scrape the names off and actually take a look at experience, qualifications, skill sets, and hopefully make better decisions.

JoDee 04:47
Right. I love it.

Susan 04:49
Another one is beauty bias. Beauty bias refers to a favorable treatment or positive stereotyping of individuals who are more attractive. Now hiring, of course, it should be based on skills and experience. But the fact is, people tend to be attracted to attractive people. And by your favoring someone who looks more appealing, that could be what is called today “lookism” – L-O-O-K-I-S-M. I do think Washington DC actually has laws protecting candidates from lookism. You know, one way to get around that, phone interviews. They’re effective to get to know an applicant without the influence of their appearance that we now see so easily on Zoom, on Teams, any virtual platform. So thinking about how can I help myself from some of my unconscious biases surfacing in the world of employment, I think, is just the right thing to do.

JoDee 05:43
Right. Absolutely. Another one is affinity bias, and that refers to the tendency to favor people who share similar interests, backgrounds, and/or experiences. We feel more comfortable around people who are like us. I see this one all the time, and admittedly, I’ve done this before, as well. In interview situations specifically, where you see on a resume that people went to the same school as I did, they played the same sport, they were in the same fraternity or sorority, it can be anything, any kind of affinity group. But when you see that on a resume, it’s totally a tendency – right? – to talk about that issue. I went to the University of Evansville, which is a very small school in southern Indiana, and so most people haven’t heard of the University of Evansville, so when I see that on a resume, or I see my sorority, I always comment on that just to start the conversation. So it doesn’t mean you can’t do that – right? – connect with the people. But then am I also interviewing people who are more qualified or have more experience or better skills or whatever, or do I just like them better because I connected with them on some topic?

Susan 07:23
So JoDee, whenever I think that there’s affinity bias going on, when I’m working with a client and we’re talking about the candidates they’ve seen and I hear one of the hiring managers say, “Susan, it was like I was looking in the mirror. I couldn’t get over this candidate, how similar they are to me. I really think that they would do a terrific job,” I’m like, okay, ding, ding, ding, I think we’ve got some affinity bias.

JoDee 07:45

Susan 07:45
Or if I hear a hiring manager say, “Susan, that person was like a mini-me. I just couldn’t get over it,” I’m like, wait a minute, this person is identifying way too much with the candidate. Could that be clouding their judgment?

JoDee 07:58
Yeah, of course it can. So one way to get around that is to use multiple recruiters or a diverse recruiting panel so then other people are giving their perspective as well, too, and not just the one person with a bias. There’s also a bias around recency. So this bias occurs when we attribute greater importance to recent events over past events because they are just easier to remember. This often happens with performance reviews. We might be evaluating someone for the past month, the past quarter, the past whatever time period, but we only think about what they did in the last week or the last two weeks, which could have been significantly different than what happened in all those other weeks – right? – and that could be good or bad way to do it.

Susan 09:04
I think you’re right. You know, I’ve often… often wondered if… when in your lineup of candidates — so a hiring manager sees, let’s say, seven people over, you know, a week and a half period, if recency theory or recency bias doesn’t come into play. The last one or two people they see just kind of, like, holds a stronger hold on their… their headspace. And I find – and I don’t know if this statistically true or not – they’re more likely to hire someone that they just more recently spoke with, as opposed to that first candidate who may have been better qualified, right? I’ve always told my kids if they have a choice of times to interview, try to interview second to last. So I would say…

JoDee 09:44
You don’t want to be the last one?

Susan 09:47
Yeah, I know… second last or last could be my… my vote.

JoDee 09:51

Susan 09:51
Yeah, just in case somebody has that bias.

JoDee 09:53
Well, by the last one, you know, they might be burned out on doing a good interview or maybe…

Susan 10:02
Maybe thinking about what’s for dinner. Right? At that point, they’re ready to go. Oh, right.

JoDee 10:07
That’s right, could be anything. Remember, we all have unconscious bias, and it might be based on previous experiences, where we grew up, where we went to school, people we surround ourselves with, and more. The key is to be aware of the bias and take steps to lessen the impact during recruiting, performance reviews, promotions, or other processes. Reconsider your questions and processes and encourage collaboration to work towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

JoDee 10:49
Dr. Misty Resendez Woods is an accomplished professional. She has over 18 years of experience spanning HR, business administration, and leadership development. She is very passionate about helping people overcome bias and diversity and inclusion topics. She’s dedicated to empowering individuals with the tools they need to drive personal success in all of their endeavors.

Susan 11:23
Misty, we are so glad that you’re here. Can you start us off with providing insights, perhaps, into the technique or approach you’ve found particularly effective in helping individuals recognize and address their own biases?

Misty 11:36
The model that I like to use is called the FLEX model, and I like to introduce this to individuals for themselves, but also when they’re engaging with others – right? – to be aware of the biases that they have. And the FLEX model, it’s just a tool – right? – that really helps to create a solution in order for people to move forward to recognizing their bias. Right? So when we talk about FLEX, FLEX is Focus within, it’s Learn from others, it’s Engage in dialogue, and eXpand the options. And so this… this model, when we talk about focusing within, we have to be in tune to our emotions, right? So why am I feeling this way? Why does this person maybe remind me of this? Or why does this situation… is it bringing up something from my past that is, you know, making me put up a barrier? So for example, if somebody has discrimination against somebody that’s older. Right? Let’s say my preference is to work with people my age, because maybe in the past, I worked on a team where a member was maybe significantly older than me, and maybe we struggled with some challenges, maybe there was some communication disconnect, and just not working my style. Like, I’m a C, and maybe this person was just taking a long time to get work, and I’m real, like, I need to get it done. I want to, you know, make sure things are correct. So maybe that created some issues within our team working together. So now the next time I’m working with somebody, this bias comes back up for me. So I have to be in tune with my emotions to say, “Hey, Misty, wait a minute, why are you feeling this way?” Right? I have to be able to recognize my experience in the past and how it has shaped my perspective moving forward. And then when I’m focusing within, I have to be able to stick to the facts, right? I don’t want to make assumptions. Like, you know, well, this person is new, I haven’t worked with this individual before, so let me not bring that past experience into my current work situation that maybe I’m dealing with. And then I need to turn that frustration maybe that I’m experiencing more into curiosity, to say, okay, let me learn more about this person and, you know, what kind of maybe workflow that we can have working together. So that is the focusing within. And then when we talk about learning about others, it’s really recognizing how others’ experiences have shaped their perspective as well. So I would say that has to be… learn to be open minded, right? When we talk about engaging with others – right? – and consider that they have different experiences, as well. So maybe that person is experiencing – that elderly person that I might have been paired with is experiencing some issues wanting to work with me because they’ve been left out, nobody normally engages with them. So maybe that they’re just used to working alone. So that’s why maybe this person is a little bit more hesitant in wanting to say hey and reach out and connect, right? Because they’re just, you know, now more introverted than they normally would have been. So I have to think about how my actions may have impacted them, as well. So learning about others, kind of just taking that whole time to kind of say, okay, how am I feeling, like, why am I feeling this way? Let me take some time to learn about others. And then we take it to that third step, which is the E, which is engage in dialogue, right? So the way that we do that is dialogue is a two-way communication, right? It’s not just me talking at someone, or just me absorbing information, but it’s actually a two-way process. Right? So we do that by asking open-ended questions, right? So learning more maybe about their work style, learning more about them personally. And then when we’re engaging in dialogue, we want to listen to understand, right? It’s not about debating one another, but it’s really just saying, okay, I want to understand from this person’s perspective. I always like to say take off my glasses and look through somebody else’s lens, right? So looking through those different viewpoints. And part of that requires not being defensive or combative, as well. And then we want to expand those options, right? So we want to brainstorm ways to work together, what’s going to be our solution moving forward, maybe this is an opportunity for me to share, hey, this is my preferred workstyle, what is yours, and then I can take that into consideration when we’re working on deliverables moving forward. So again, just being flexible about different ways to reach common goals, and just really, you know, to continue to be, you know, open-minded and be flexible.

Susan 16:21
I love the FLEX. And that really, I think, the focus, the learning, engaging, I was so anxious to hear what that X was gonna be. And I…

Misty 16:28

Susan 16:29
Expand, I get it! Thank you for that. FLEX… Is this model pretty… is it a widely known one out there in the world, or is it something you see really emerging?

Misty 16:40
This is something that I see emerging specifically in the DEIB space. This is a model that really helps individuals to really say, okay, let me really just take a moment to see why I might have some hesitation. Why do I have a preference, right? I use this a lot, and you also see it in leadership models, as well, because even with leadership, we have… we tend to have preferences – right? – of who we want to work with. We want to work with our high potentials before anybody else, because we know what to expect from them. We know what they’re going to deliver upon. So it’s just easier as leaders for us to engage with them. So it’s really… I’ve seen this being applied in both DEI and leadership spaces.

Susan 17:21
Terrific. Well, thank you for that.

JoDee 17:22
Yeah, I was just thinking that as well, that I love that model with regards to bias or discrimination, but that it could be, like, a great conflict resolution model, too. Right?

Misty 17:37

JoDee 17:38
So that’s good. And Misty, can you share with us maybe a specific instance where you designed or implemented a program aimed at mitigating bias among employees?

Misty 17:53
Yeah, so when it comes to mitigating bias in the workplace – right? – we all have bias. And when it comes up in the workplace – right? – it’s going to really impact the overall team, the bottom line, but some of the most common biases that we see is, like, perception bias, where it’s like I want to make a stereotype against a group, or we have the… we have affinity bias, where it’s just like, I want to be with this person because of their behavior, or I don’t want to work with this person because of their behavior. So think about people’s work styles, think about their strengths, things like that. And then we have that “the halo and the horn” effect as well, like, oh, this person is great, maybe because they’re in a position of title, or they’ve been at the organization a while, so people kind of idolize them, so they can do no wrong. But then there’s this horn effect and you’re like, well, I’m not too sure about this person, so we kind of see them as maybe not adding as much value to the team or the organization. So what happens is, in teams, we start to see all of these different biases occur – right? – and therefore we’re not going to have a good working team. And so one thing that we want to do is, first of all, we want to address this. So just bringing attention and awareness that bias exists and each and every one of us have this, and that we have to be willing to call it out from one another, and that the leader has to be willing to speak about it as well. Right? The leader has to be able to address the concerns that they may see. Right? And again, going back to their own bias that they might have, stating that, well, I know that this is my high… my high potential, my high performers. So you know, let me engage maybe this project that I have on somebody else, instead of always going to them, even though it might be an amazing project for this high performer. We have to be aware – right? – of what kind of bias that we have. So first of all, it’s about questioning ourselves, right? What bias do I have? Why am I thinking this way? And then it’s about addressing it with others, making sure that others know and are questioning do I have bias going into the situation. It’s about pairing with others and also processing, because we operate in life with blinders on sometimes, and we have to make sure that we’re just not going down a one-way path, and we’re not being able to see the whole picture. So it’s thinking about that, and then it’s addressing it, right? So providing individuals with the opportunity to see, because 99% of the time, we don’t want to admit that we have bias, we just kind of operate in life. So providing tools and resources for individuals to assess themselves, like Harvard has this IAT assessment. So what that is, is that individuals can go onto this Harvard website, and it’s called the implicit bias test, and you just click on some… like, it tells you, like, the H and the K, for example, just push H or K when a picture comes up. And again, it kind of measures our assessment. As soon as we see something, we automatically make an assumption. That’s just the way our brain is wired. And then, so I… this IAT test from Harvard will print out a report to say, you tend to have bias in this area, or you tend to lean more towards this area. So then therefore, it gives us something to work towards, to… to say, okay, I know now, I can see that I do have bias. It’s not just somebody telling me – right? – that I have bias, but I truly do. So what is going to be my path forward? How can I begin to move forward? And so what I… what I talk about in programming is really to establish accountability partners, right? You know, that being the supervisor with the employee, or the employee with another employee, in order to say, okay, here is going to be some action steps that I can begin taking today – right? – in order to address the biases that I have. And so, again, those things that you can begin doing today is like, check yourself, you know, who does this person remind me of? Or what situation is this person reminding me of? Does this person, you know, have a particular influence or impression, and why do I feel that way? What are some other things – right? – that are kind of maybe making me think about this, where I might not want to work with this individual? So asking yourself these hard questions, before we… maybe you say something, you know, where it could be offensive, because our words can hurt. And once our words are said, we cannot take them back. Right? There’s going to be an emotional response that this other individual might have. So the goal is that we don’t want to create harm to others. You know, we call these microaggressions, even though we’re not having any malicious intent when we say these words, the words still hurt others, and so therefore, it’s harder to come back. Right? When we’re working on teams, especially in that workspace, it’s more challenging to come back and try to say, oh, I didn’t mean it that way, or I apologize, right? Like, that hurt has already been done, so it takes a lot longer to try to help those individuals heal from that. So some things that I would say as a takeaway is to have employees or managers or supervisors or teams to host a brown bag discussion, right? To say, hey, let’s come together, let’s talk about, you know, maybe some biases that we might see in our workspace, and what are some things that we can do about it? I would encourage individuals to take the IAT test – right? – and say, okay, what can be a personal plan for me? What are some things that I can begin doing differently to move forward? I would say to seek out working on projects with people who are different than you. Right? It helps us to learn more when we can… when we learn someone’s story and their experience, we now see that person on a different level where we’re able to connect with them more versus just saying, oh, that’s JoDee, who works in accounting. Well, now we have a personal story and a personal connection, because we’ve actually had conversation, right? So now we’re like, oh, that’s JoDee. And now we have this personal connection, and we’ll be more likely – right? – to be able to want to engage with somebody who’s different than us.

Susan 24:09
I think that is so true. And I can just think times in my life where there was someone I wasn’t so sure of, and then I got stuck on a road trip with them, I come out of that road trip, I love this person, they are the best. The more time you spend with people, the more you can unravel and realize that, you know, you connect on different points of reference. So it’s wonderful. Hey Misty, if it’s okay with you, we’re gonna put a link in our show notes to that IAT test. Because it is free, isn’t it? The Harvard…

Misty 24:33
It is. That’s correct.

Susan 24:35
So our listeners, if you’re listening right now, you too can take that assessment. Can I ask you, you mentioned as one of your suggestions that, pack brown bag lunches, have real discussions. How could we as employers make sure that that’s a safe environment? I think people are so afraid they’re going to say something that’s going to offend somebody or is going to come back to, you know, cause a charge or litigation for the organization. What tips do you have to really create a safe environment for those kinds of discussions?

Misty 25:01
Great question. So in order to create safe spaces… we’re in the DEIB space now starting to pivot to more “brave spaces.” Safe spaces means that I can show up in a workspace and that I know that I will be protected by, like, I know that people are not going to judge me or be combative with me, that I know that I can share who I am authentically. That is a safe space. That, for example, if somebody was gender fluid, and they identify as they/them, that I can come to work, identify, share that my pronouns are they/them, and this is a picture of me and my partner. That is a safe space. A brave space is where I feel comfortable enough to engage in conversation, where I know that my colleagues are going to be respectful, and that they’re going to be open-minded, and that they’re still going to treat me with kindness and empathy – right? – even though we might be discussing challenging topics. So there’s a little difference when we talk about a safe environment versus a brave environment.

Susan 26:10
I love that. Is there anything employers should do or any rules of the road that need to exist for a brave space to be successful? Is that like everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? You know, how do you make sure that people really feel comfortable being in a brave space?

Misty 26:25
In order for a brave space to occur, there definitely has to be some ground rules, right? We have to come in all open-minded, all willing to be able to listen, to be willing to treat others with kindness, respect, with dignity, not trying to push our values onto someone else – right? – even though that they may not align with one another. In safe and brave spaces, we agree to respect each other for who they are. And so that’s how we are able to create those spaces where we can have open dialogue – right? – and to really create an environment that’s comfortable for everyone to truly show up. Organizations are aware of when we create safe and brave spaces that we use inclusive language, you know, regarding any kind of discussions that might come up during this time. You know, in addition, sometimes it’s helpful to have leadership on board with these brave spaces and to support these brave spaces to ensure that everybody is respecting the ground rules and that they’re held accountable if they’re not, because what will happen if… if leadership doesn’t support or even the other employees – right? – are not really supporting these brave spaces, it’s going to create hurt, right? We’re gonna begin harming our employees, and they’re gonna… you know, they’re gonna start to fall back and disengage and you know, that whole quiet quitting, because they don’t feel like they belong. It’s almost like, hey, you… you call open the space and you say you want me to be who I am, but yet, you don’t truly respect me for who I am. And so therefore, when people don’t feel safe, it goes back to that whole Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? If we don’t feel safe in our environments, we’re not going to be able to produce, we’re not going to be able to think. So think about our bandwidth, like, if we’re tasked with working on a big project that day, or if we’re engaging with a client, how do you think that interaction is going to look? It’s not going to be very successful for the organization or for the team. So there’s going to be a lot of pressure on these individuals who are feeling more attacked and maybe just like they don’t belong because they’re being questioned or they’re not being respected by their their counterparts.

JoDee 28:39
Misty, I’m learning so much today already. Like I… I’ve heard of space — safe spaces for a long time, but I hadn’t heard that word “brave spaces,” and I love that. It’s such a powerful word, I think, just to put in front of us. And by the way, I have also taken that Harvard review implicit bias test, and I don’t know, it’s probably been five or six years since I did it, but I was horrified, actually, to find that at least at that point, that I had a bias against people with physical disabilities. Like, it was such an eye opener for me, but yet, I knew it was true because I could then look back and say — not that, you know, my intention was ever to be un-inclusive with that group, but that I had made assumptions at different times about what a person could or couldn’t do or might enjoy or not enjoy because of that physical disability. So I think that’s a really powerful thing. Now having said that, that was sort of… for me, it was self-awareness, and then I became more intentional about it. But can you tell us a scenario where you coached someone to overcome a bias or a few bias challenges?

Misty 30:20
Yeah, I recently had a situation where I coached an individual who was expressing their dislike for the organization’s policies moving forward regarding gender identity and felt that they should not have to put their pronouns in their email, because the organization was moving more towards inclusive language. And the individual felt like identifying as she/her in her email would mean that she was accepting that it’s okay for individuals to identify as they/them, and was not comfortable with doing that. So just really had took some time, it was one-on-one coaching that I did with this individual and worked this individual through from tolerance to accepting of others, right? When we are tolerant – right? – we’re not very open-minded, we’re not going to be able to work together fluidly like we need to in the organization. And this individual felt that it was impeding her personal values and beliefs by being forced to accept this inclusive language and have to identify herself by falling into, you know, the workplace policies. And so during this time, just with work and creating awareness, and helping this individual move from tolerance to acceptance, that was my goal. And it’s not asking this individual to change their values or beliefs at all. This has nothing to do with values and beliefs. This has to do with respect. This has to do with being open-minded. This has to do with having empathy for one another when we come to the workplace and when we engage with others. And during our time, I presented various case studies and tools and resources for this individual to see how if we hold this tolerance against others, how it can impact our workflow when we engage with others who are different than us, and it could impact our customers. So if I have this bias – right? – it’s going to impact everybody that I show up with that might fall into that category. So that was kind of what we did is we just took some time to really unpack, you know, what are some ways that I can connect with this individual to just create this awareness? Once you have the blinders removed, it’s easier for people to start unraveling their unconscious bias and start to move forward.

Susan 32:59
That’s terrific. Well, Misty, we ask all of our guests a JoyPowered® question, and the one we have for you today is… What is one small step people can do in the area of trying to unravel biases that would create more joy at work?

Misty 33:15
I would say be kind. The easiest thing you can do is just to be kind to one another. And be curious. I think those are the biggest key takeaways that I tell everybody that I’m working with is to stay curious about one another, because what happens if we’re not curious, we lead with those assumptions that we’ve had about somebody. And sometimes these… these biases are developed off of things we’ve seen, heard in the media, right, and things that we’ve been told by our family or community, the news, and we really don’t have an interaction with somebody, but we already have this bias. So stay curious.

Susan 33:55
I love it. Thank you.

JoDee 33:56
Yeah. Great answer. So. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Misty. It was really eye-opening for me.

Susan 34:05
Really appreciate it. Thank you.

Misty 34:07
Well, thanks for having me.

Susan 34:08
JoDee, it’s time for our listener question. We always welcome questions from our audience. This question comes from one of our podcast listeners in August. “What is the most common mistake in meeting etiquette?”

JoDee 34:21
Well, I have to tell you, Susan, that I went to Google to see what they said about this. And of course, there were lots of different comments and lots of different articles on this, but in general, the top six that I kept finding over and over. Number one, interestingly, was that we have too many meetings. So it’s just not even good etiquette to keep inviting people to a meeting. Secondly, when there’s no direction or meeting agenda. I think this one can happen, maybe, when we have just one topic that we want to talk about, or we have a meeting scheduled every week or every month and we have it whether we have good topics or not to talk about. So we just set it up, but don’t really have a plan for the meeting. The third one of poor etiquette is arriving late and finishing late.

Susan 35:33
Ooh, finishing late drives you nuts.

JoDee 35:36
It does. And I always say, you know, if the meeting ends at — if we had posted or sent an appointment that the meeting would last from two to three, starting at about five till, you’re losing people, right? Either literally, that they’re getting up because they have another appointment, or mentally they’re done. Right?

Susan 36:00

JoDee 36:01
So both of those can be a problem.

Susan 36:04
Allowing cell phones, I think you want to be really thoughtful. We know that term nomophobia. People do get kind of itchy and shaky if they don’t have cell phones somewhere, like, within six inches of them. However, asking people to silence them, I think, is the right thing to do. And I think that if someone’s got an emergency that they need to hear from a child or a loved one, then that person, I think, needs to let the facilitator know, “there’s a chance I may be getting a call” or “I might, you know, get a buzz, I may have to excuse myself,” but I’d be real thoughtful because cell phones is just a huge distractor.

JoDee 36:35

Susan 36:36
Another one, I think, is establishing ground rules. I think often in a meeting there may not be need to have ground rules if it’s a team that works together all the time, very respectful of each other. However, if things start to go sideways in a meeting, I think you have to call an audible stop and say, hey, we need some ground rules here. One person talking at a time, whatever that needs to be corrected. I think you need ground rules. And then finally, the lack of participation. If you go to a meeting, I think it’s your… the onus is on you to voice opinions, thoughts, responses. And I have always said that if I go to a meeting, people are gonna know I was there. Maybe just means I asked a question, but I’m not… If you go to a meeting, you’re completely silent for that meeting, what a waste of your time and of the people that invited you.

JoDee 37:20
Right. Now, those were our Google answers we found, but personally, I think the lack of engagement in the meeting is the biggest issue. And some things we can do to overcome that is assign roles to different people. You know, maybe someone starts an icebreaker activity at the beginning of the meeting, and somebody else gives an update on project one, and somebody else gives an update on project two. Not — I know I used to feel this way, when I would set a meeting with a group of people, I always felt like I then needed to do most all of the talking. I felt like I was leading the meeting, and you know, I still might be now. But if you can assign different pieces and parts on the agenda, give people different roles, like, you could have someone be the timekeeper, or someone to be in charge of drinks, or whatever that might be, people come to the meeting knowing I have a purpose at this meeting, or I’m giving this update at this meeting, then they’re more likely to pay attention to it. And if you get lots of people involved, then just overall it can become more engaging.

Susan 38:52
I’ve seen you do that many times. JoDee, I remember the first meeting I went to, I think it was, like, your first… like, an off-site meeting that I participated in, and you gave me a role. I thought, oh my gosh, she’s got a lot of trust in me. But I realize now that that’s part of your strategy to get participation and people really feel vested. So I’ve seen you do it. And I think it’s a really, really good idea.

JoDee 39:12

Susan 39:13
I really like your… your ideas for the agenda. I — we’ve mentioned this in meetings before, but I do think people have to understand what it is you want to accomplish in a meeting. And if you call a meeting, giving people the purpose. And then if you have the agenda, sending it out in advance, it’s going to help all those introverts have time to process and come in, you know, loaded with ideas. So where you have a luxury of time, I definitely think that’s a positive thing to add.

JoDee 39:41
Right. Absolutely. In our in the news section today, the question that I wanted to find information on was why should we return to the office? We’re hearing now every day that some of the bigger companies or even some small companies around us are asking people to return to the office. So SHRM surveyed 1,500 HR professionals in June 2023 about their organizations’ return to office plans, of those who have brought their previously transitioned remote workers back to the physical workspace. So these were all people who had already asked everyone to come back, and the main reasons for that were the need for in-person collaboration and teamwork, workplace culture, and employee engagement. But one other one there that I — and I agree with all of that. But the fourth one was leadership preferences. And I have to tell you, when I read that one I kind of gulped on that, because I think if, you know, the owner or the C-suite, we think everyone should come into the office, so we make a rule that everyone has to come to the office, that might not be the best answer, right? Or it might not be what most of your people want. So unless you can actually share – right? – that, hey, we came into the office for a week and our productivity numbers went sky high. And I think that’s true in some places, that people will be more productive to come back to the office. But I think those leaders need to have a specific reason before they just say, “I like to come to the office, so I’m going to make everyone else come to the office as well.”

Susan 41:50
I think you’re right, and one of the things that I’m seeing play out is that we’ve — I’ve seen C-suite or owners say “I want everyone back,” and then there’s some reasons why there’s one or two or a handful of employees that they want to continue to accommodate by not coming in. And I don’t mean, you know, a disability-related accommodation, but there’s something else going on in their family, their life, whatever, and that just makes — it burns. It burns the people who are like, well, I think that I should have an exception. It’s the exception making today that I’ve never seen before, which on one hand, I think it’s — I love being able to meet employees where they are, but when you only do it for select employees, you’re inviting such angst into the workplace.

JoDee 42:29
Right. Totally agree. So here are some other statistics that SHRM found in this survey.

Susan 42:38
Employee productivity concerns surface 41% of the time. Leadership preferences, which we’ve talked about, was 65% and a desire to restore a sense of normalcy and routine 54%.

JoDee 42:51
So once again, I found that leadership preferences or that desire to restore a sense of normalcy, that could be an issue, right? Especially if it’s leaders who are viewed maybe as being old school or not a sign of the times. And what works best for the leader, of course, might not be what’s best for everyone. So restoring a sense of normalcy… you know, what is normalcy anymore? Is normal…

Susan 43:25

JoDee 43:25
Has normalcy been to come to the office every day or to work remotely every day? So I think that one can be a little bit difficult. But yes, so maybe that remote or hybrid work is the new normal and we should embrace it. After employees of the same companies returned to work, these are the positive results and challenges they found. So this is after they went back to work. 53% reported improved collaboration and 28% witnessed increased productivity. So that’s good, but 65% of them are still facing employee resistance and 27% are struggling with hybrid schedules. So whatever your company is doing, I suggest that you gain a good grasp of what is working and what is not and keep working to make it better. That’s not always — what works for some might not be what works for everyone. But personally, I’m a big fan of hybrid schedules. Alright. Well, thanks for listening today, and please tune in next time, and make it a JoyPowered® day.

Susan 44:52
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JoDee 45:29
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Susan 45:57
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Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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