Embracing Diversity for Success: Creating an Inclusive Workplace with Mike Robbins (Ep. #77)

Published on
June 8, 2023
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Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #77: Embracing Diversity for Success. Creating an Inclusive Workplace with Mike Robbins

Discover the transformative power of diversity in the workplace on the "Creating an Inclusive Workplace with Mike Robbins" podcast. Join host Wendy Hanson as she engages in a captivating conversation with renowned speaker and coach Mike Robbins. 

Gain practical strategies, inspiring stories, and expert insights on fostering psychological safety, building an inclusive culture, and leveraging the strengths of diverse teams.

In this episode:

Meet Mike Robbins:

  • With a wealth of experience in various teams, both in sports and business, Mike has had the privilege of working with high-performing teams over the past 20 years. His expertise spans across esteemed companies such as Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Schwab, eBay, and others. Matthew's dedication to studying the core elements of team achievement has equipped him with valuable insights into fostering successful collaborations.
  • Mike is known for his approachability and collaboration, he’s passionate about empowering individuals and teams to reach their full potential, fostering a culture of innovation and excellence.

Empowering Diversity with Psychological Safety

  • Foster an environment of psychological safety where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas openly.
  • Embrace diversity as a catalyst for creating psychological safety, allowing individuals to express themselves without fear of judgment or negative consequences.
  • Cultivate a culture that values and respects diverse perspectives, promoting psychological safety and enhancing collaboration within the team.

Building an Inclusive Work Environment for Success

  • How to establish a welcoming and inclusive work environment that embraces the unique contributions of individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Promote a culture of inclusivity by fostering collaboration, respect, and appreciation for different perspectives, creating a sense of belonging for all team members.
  • Embrace diversity as a strategic advantage, recognizing that an inclusive work environment leads to enhanced creativity, innovation, and better decision-making.

The Power of Diversity

  • Leverage the strength of diverse teams to tap into a wide range of perspectives, ideas, and problem-solving approaches.
  • Embrace diversity as a catalyst for enhanced problem-solving, as different backgrounds and experiences contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of complex challenges.
  • Foster a collaborative environment that encourages the exchange of diverse viewpoints, enabling teams to explore creative solutions and make informed decisions.

Unlocking Potential: Why Diversity is Crucial for Challenging the Status Quo

  • Embrace diversity as a catalyst for growth, pushing boundaries, and challenging traditional norms to drive meaningful change.
  • Harness the power of diverse perspectives to break free from conventional thinking and unleash innovative solutions.
  • Foster an environment that values diverse voices, encouraging fresh ideas and paving the way for transformative outcomes.

Key Takeaways

  • Diversity fuels success: Embracing diversity in the workplace drives bottom-line results, enhances problem-solving, and fosters innovation.
  • Psychological safety matters: Cultivating a diverse team with psychological safety allows individuals to freely express their thoughts and ideas, creating an inclusive work environment.
  • Challenging the norm leads to growth: Embracing diversity challenges traditional norms and ways of thinking, promoting growth, and pushing boundaries for better outcomes.
  • Diverse teams bring cultural sensitivity: Leveraging diverse teams enables organizations to navigate cultural nuances, fostering meaningful connections with customers and stakeholders.

View the episode transcript

Intro/Outro 0:02

Welcome to building better managers, the better manager podcast with Wendy Hanson, where we talk with top leadership professionals about strategies you can use today to create a happier, highly engaged and more productive workplace. Now, here's your host, better manager, co founder Wendy Hanson.

Wendy 0:24

Welcome everyone. Our focus today is on building a positive company culture. Because we know that makes so much of a difference. I was recently at a conference on culture, and had the chance to meet and chat with Mike Robbins after his great workshop and presentation. I've been a fan of Mike's for many years because of his wonderful messages about recognition and appreciation. And he's expanded all those so much. You know, I learned something at the conference, which really frightened to me 43% of people feel invisible at work. And we have to do something about that. Because those are people that are going to walk away, we're not going to retain them, they're not going to be happy or productive if you feel invisible. So some of that we were going to talk about today with Mike. And you know, that statistic made me so sad. So we have to spread the word and motivate people to be able to say there is another way that we can connect. So today Mike is going to talk to us about so many important issues, one of them being psychological, psychological safety, we know what it is, but we don't always know how to achieve it on teams. So let me tell you a little bit about Mike for those who haven't heard of him before I bring him on. Mike Robbins is an author, speaker, coach podcaster, who delivers keynotes and seminars in person and virtually two groups of all kinds all over the world. Some of his clients include Google wells, Fargo, eBay, GAAP, Adobe, Schwab, Microsoft, Genentech, Airbnb and the San Francisco Giants. And you might learn a little bit about why that's one of his clients. He has written five books, focus on the good stuff, be yourself, everybody else has already taken, nothing changes until you do bring your whole self to work. And his latest, we're all in this together, which has been translated into 15 different languages. His work has been featured in Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist and on NPR. And he's a regular contributor to Forbes. So Mike, thank you so much for joining us today.

Mike Robbins 2:34 Glad to be here with you. Thanks for having me.

Wendy 2:37 Yes, it was so nice to kind of have a reunion with you at the conference, because I have followed you for years. And, and I love I love what you're doing and bringing into the world. So thank you. So we're talking about building a better culture at better manager. And in your new book, we're all in this together, you do a great job of sharing some really important ideas. And I love the stories that make it back it up in the research. And you started talking about diversity on C level teams, which we know everybody talks about. But why is this so important? And tell us more about that?

Mike Robbins 3:15 Well, look, I mean, it's important for a lot of reasons, especially these days, but you know, there's so much data that backs it up. I mean, you know, what we know about ethnically diverse teams is they they're 33% more effective than non ethnically diverse teams and gender diverse teams, I think it's 22%, more effective. So I mean, just in terms of bottom line results, it matters to have diverse teams. Now, we also just know culturally, how important that is that, you know, we want our leadership team, ideally, to look a little bit like the employee population, as well as the customers and clients that we're serving. Now, that isn't always the case, depending on where we're doing business and how we're doing business. And you know, it, obviously, there's a lot more to creating an environment that's inclusive, and where people really feel like they belong. But diversity matters on so many different levels. And, you know, I mean, for those of us who know it and believe it at the deepest level on all the reasons that it matters, both personally and societally, but just straight business wise, you're better off having a diverse team in terms of performance and results in from a cultural standpoint. I mean, I've known this for years, before I even had a lot of research to back it up when I would walk into or I do walk into, you know, an executive leadership team room and I look around and everybody looks like me meeting straight white dudes, I know, well, that's common, and we're gonna have some problems on a bunch of different cultural levels, because that's the case, there's going to be a bunch of things that aren't being addressed or that they're not aware of on a human level. And that's going to create a challenge culturally as well as in terms of how the team performs.

Wendy 4:50 Yeah, we we certainly need to bring women up to that level and people of color and you know, that's the only way we're going to make good decisions in an organization. And, and for so many reasons, as you say, it's just it's, it's the best thing to do for people. And it's the best thing to do for business. And we will all thrive more because of it. Yeah, for sure. Now, one of the things that you talk about, and it's psychological safety, and then and could you share some of the stats from Amy Edmondson 's work? And, and we still hear that this is not the norm in, you know, at high levels in organizations. And, and I believe that, you know, I don't think it's a safe place sometimes. And that's what we're hearing from our coaches, when they're working with their folks. So what are some of the issues here?

Mike Robbins 5:40 Well, you know, I first became aware of this concept of psychological safety, probably about, I don't know, seven or eight years ago, I was doing some work with Google, who's a big client of ours. And they did this three year long study that got a lot of press called Project Aristotle, and they studied, you know, they spent a bunch of time trying to figure out what are the conditions necessary to create high performance for teams, and after all their research was done, they came back with some findings. And the number one most important element they found, for high performing teams is this thing called psychological safety. And my first question was, well, what is that? Exactly? I hadn't heard of that, in those terms. And it turned out, it was based on some research from a professor at Harvard Business School named Amy Edmondson. And she and her team had been doing a lot of research over the last couple of decades. And it's essentially the way that I talked about psychological safety and understand it. Now. It's, it's group trust, right? It means the group, the team, it could be the whole organization or the team itself is safe enough for what for risk taking for mistake making, not that we want to, for doing things that may be a little bit different out of the box. And we know if I make a mistake, or I take a risk, or I speak up or I push back against the norm, I'm not going to be shamed, or ridiculed or kicked out of the group for simply doing that. I mean, something as simple as just being able to say, I don't understand this, or I don't know why we're doing this, or I don't know how to do this, I'm not very good at it. Those are all things that we can do on a psychologically safe team. And you know, when I was working with Google at the time, and we still do a lot of work with Google, but there was a woman named Karen Mae, who was their head of learning development at the time. And she was one of the key people that was putting this whole project Aristotle research project together. And I asked Karen, I said, Were you surprised by any of the findings, and she said, you know, Mike, we weren't surprised that this thing that we now know, as psychological safety was important. What we were surprised by is how important it was that essentially, if a team has it, they've really got a chance, not a guarantee, but a chance to succeed and ultimately thrive if they don't have it. No matter how smart and talented the people involved are, it's going to be very difficult for that team to really operate at an optimal level. And so when we think about this, when he from a cultural standpoint, there's a lot of different things we can do to drive more psychological safety. But the thing that I focus on a lot in my work, is really encouraging and challenging leaders to show up as authentically as possible, because that's often really what drives from a leadership standpoint, the culture of the team is how does the leader How does he or she interact with and show up with the folks who report to him or her. And you know, they have a lot to do it. They're not the only element that really creates the psychological safety or lack thereof, but they're the key element.

Wendy 8:16 Yeah. One of the things that I noticed too, Mike, is that if a leader is able to say, so push back on this idea, you know, it really invite the pushing back, yes. Because if you don't invite it, then there are people that maybe I shouldn't push back.

Mike Robbins 8:34 Right? Well, it's both the asking for the pushback or the feedback or kind of prefacing it by saying, Look, point out where I might be wrong on this, or what am I missing are those kinds of that sort of mindset. The other thing though, that's equally as important when the it's kind of the like, I have an open door policy thing, which people don't say anymore, because there aren't doors anywhere. But you know what I mean? Like, come to me, tell me what you think. But then if people actually do it's, how do we respond, right? Push, it's always the push back. And then someone pushes back. And then the manager acts like a jerk when they push back. And it's like, oh, they didn't really mean it. They just said it, because it sounded good. But it's both the asking for the feedback, encouraging it, and then actually engaging when people do now that doesn't mean that you have to just take everyone's feedback and go, Okay, thank you. I'll make all those changes, or no, but it means you open a dialogue. And people realize, oh, we can have a real conversation, we can respect that you're the boss, and you're ultimately in charge. And when push comes to shove, you're going to you know, do my performance review, or maybe make the final decision. But if I know that Wendy, if you're my manager, and you say Mike, push back on this or point out where you disagree with me here, and then I actually do that and you are able to engage respectfully in a productive conversation with me then I'm like, Okay, well, I guess we can do that. Or if you also as if you were my manager, Wendy and you say, You know what, Hey, Mike, I really made a mistake here or I screwed this up, or you know what, I'm actually very good at this. Could you help me or those kinds of things, then all of a sudden I realized like, oh, when She said she made a mistake. Oh, she admitted, she doesn't know something. Maybe it's okay for me to do that, even though she's my boss. And I'm at some level, of course going to try to impress her. But ultimately, really strong teams with a lot of trust and psychological safety. Don't spend a ton of time and energy trying to impress each other. They spend their time actually working with one another to try to produce the best results.

Wendy 10:25 Yeah, that's a great point. One of the things that you talked about at the conference, which I love, when you call did having sweaty palm conversation, and I actually was sitting with someone who it was in a very high position. And her boss was in a very, very high position, and she knew that something was going wrong. And she said, and it took her like, she didn't sleep for three days. And she finally had this sweaty palm conversation. And she was so surprised that it worked out as well, because we make up stories. So tell us about what is a sweaty palm conversation? And how do we prepare for it so we can actually sleep before we have, right?

Mike Robbins 11:05 Well? Well, the premise of this sort of came a conversation I had with a mentor of mine years ago, he said, Mike, you know what stands between you and the kind of relationships you really want to have with people. And I said, What's that? He said, it's usually a 10 minute sweaty palm conversation you're too afraid to have, he said, so if you get good at those 10 minutes, sweaty palm conversations, you'll have fantastic relationships, you'll build trust, you'll resolve conflicts, you'll talk about the elephant in the room, you'll give feedback, you'll get feedback, you'll address, you know, sensitive topics sooner rather than later. He said, But if you do like most of us, and you avoid those conversations, because they can be scary or awkward or uncomfortable, or sometimes, you know, they take longer than 10 minutes, or they make things worse before they make them better. He's like, you know, you end up being a victim of who you work with who you live with. And you know, he was right. And that's good sound advice. And there's great books out there, like crucial conversations that we all know how important it is. The challenge is, those conversations are hard. They're scary, they're uncomfortable. And in today's world with how fast we move, and so many conversations happening electronically, or at best on, you know, zoom or teams or we're not sitting in the same room with each other, we're not on the same timezone. They're even harder. And you know, and there's also a lot of factors at play. While we're more open, in a lot of ways at work than we used to be, let's say, there's also a level of sensitivity that people have this both healthy and unhealthy, about how to address some difficult conversations. So there's a lot of things that get in our way. And so whenever I'm working with a leader, or with a team, the first thing, it's important that I talk to people about and just remind everybody listening to, it's okay that these are hard, it's okay to acknowledge that they're hard, it's okay to want to avoid them initially, because most of us do as human beings. And if we can acknowledge Well, what is it that's hard about it? What am I afraid of, usually, we're afraid of a couple of things, right? I'm afraid I'm going to upset or offend the other person, I'm afraid I'm going to look bad, something bad's gonna happen to me, I'm afraid I'm going to, you know, cause a problem that's just ultimately going to make things harder or worse for me, you know, and at the end of the day, it's like, I'm afraid I'm gonna lose my job, which is usually not ever the case, just from a conversation, although it's possible in the realm of possibility. Again, you're my manager, I come to you and say the wrong thing. I guess it's possible that I could lose my job. But that's like, you know, very, very, very unlikely. But so if we can acknowledge what we're afraid of, and get in touch with that, then we can start to think about or at least make a choice. What's possible on the other side of this conversation, why would I have it, I care about this person, this relationship matters, this project really matters, I'm concerned about the direction that we're going or whatever it is. And again, then it just becomes a cost benefit analysis thing. It's like, okay, this discomfort that I have this fear that I have, that I might upset the other person, or cause a problem for me, or make myself look bad, or damage my reputation, or ultimately lose my job, which probably isn't going to happen, is whatever I want to have happen more important to me than what I'm afraid of. And, you know, that's a way I think, to think about it and to remember that most of us, it's the classic sort of and everybody listening, if you're a manager of other people, you have to give people feedback, even even if you don't want to it's part of the job, right? At some point. When do you get your my manager you got to sit me down and go, Okay, it's time for the quarterly review or the annual whatever. And even if it's mostly positive, there's gonna be a few things. You got to tell me, Hey, Mike, you could work on this or you could work on that. That's a really important part. That's not the only sweaty palm conversation, but that's one that's unavoidable as a manager, and there's many other optional ones that if we had them sooner rather than later, we would actually create way less stress for ourselves, everyone I talked to about this, I'll say hey, have you ever had a situation blow up on you and you realize, you know, what, if I had addressed this like three weeks ago, when it first popped up, it wouldn't have been that big of a deal, but now three weeks, and it's like a really big deal. Why? Because I was afraid or I didn't know what to say, or it was awkward or I didn't want to, you know, there, we've had to do it on Zoom, and I was busy and we avoid it, and then it actually becomes a bigger issue.

Wendy 15:14 Yeah. And I love that you also throw in there in our personal life, because there are sweaty palm conversations we need to have there, you know, the time same rules

Mike Robbins 15:24 Yeah, totally. And the thing is, look at those can be trickier. Because on the one hand, we know people better and we're closer, but the stakes are higher. Right? It's like on the one hand, like my wife, and I've been together for almost 23 years, like we've had a lot of sweaty palm conversations over the years. But if it goes sideways, even if it's just for a day or a week, like no, I got my wife mad at me, and I'm like, oh, no, that's not good. I love her. And she's upset with me. And that makes my life you know, less enjoyable. Or, you know, we have two teenage daughters, we're having sweaty palm conversations all day, every day, whether we want to or not, they're just coming at us. And so again, what I often will remind people is that it's not that we're running around trying to pick fights with people or create things to be dramatic, it's looking at what's in the way of us being able to communicate clearly and authentically with each other. What's in the way of us really trusting each other and counting on each other. The things that are usually in the way are sweaty palm conversations. And if we can have them, what we do is we just eliminate barriers for connection, collaboration, communication.

Wendy 16:30 And in my experience, and then coaching people that need to have these conversations, it's always seems like it's that how do I get into it right now? Like, what is what and once once I was working with a very senior leader, who, you know, was great as team loved him, and he had things that he had to say, but he just didn't know how to get into it. And once he did, he could. So what's your suggestion for that, that kind of stuck, they gotta get in

Mike Robbins 16:56 what I find, I mean, literally having phrases or buzzwords as corny as it sounds can really make a difference. Like a lot of the teams that I work with, they use this phrase, can we have a sweaty palm conversation? Or you know, my friend Kim Scott wrote that great book, radical candor. It's like, Hey, can we have some radical candor? I mean, it's like code for, can we get real? You know, I use the metaphor of the iceberg. And can we lower the waterline on the iceberg a little bit. And one of the ways that I start most sweaty palm conversations in my life, and I may have said this at the conferences, because I say this all the time, it's usually I started by saying, you know, what, I don't really want to have this conversation, or I've been avoiding this, or I was awake last night, stressed out about talking to you about this thing, right? Because if I start with you, and I say, Wendy, Look, can we talk about something, I'm kind of nervous to bring it up. I don't exactly know the right words to say or I'm, I'm concerned, you might get upset. But I think it's important, just that rambly sort of preamble into it, what I'm doing is I'm lowering the waterline iceberg, I'm being a little bit vulnerable, I'm letting you know, I want to talk to you about something, and I'm a little nervous about it, or whatever the case may be. And what that does, what we know from research and even from science is that the natural response to vulnerability is empathy. So when we lower our waterline on the iceberg, even though it's scary, and it is vulnerable, what it's going to do way more often than not, is have the other person respond in kind. Right? So when we go in with, you know, sort of our armor up, which we sometimes do, if we're scared, or we're upset, what it does is the other person puts their armor up. And now we're, you know, trying to come up with the right argument to make for why we're right and they're wrong, or why, you know, whatever the case may be. And I know that some situations can get gnarly like that. But the reality is, if you start a conversation and let someone know, I want to talk about something and it's sensitive. It's you know, we've tried to talk about this before or when it's come up. I know you have really strong opinions. And so do I, I don't think we're on the same page about it. But can we talk about it? Usually people unless they're so stubborn, are so upset with us are so just sort of nailed to the floor on it. They're willing to at least engage, especially if we're willing to start the conversation that way. Because to your point, I often say the hardest part of most sweaty palm conversations is literally like the first 10 seconds of getting over the hump. And you know, I use this as kind of a funny example because it's not all that relevant anymore, given all the technology that we use. But when I was a kid, one of the things I used to do, and I had to say something scary on the phone to a friend of mine, I'm like a teenager, or whether it was like ask a girl out on a date or tell someone I was upset with him or whatever. I would move the ear part of the phone away from my ear and just say it into the thing like somehow that was making me safer because I couldn't hear them when they go, Oh my God, or you're a jerk or whatever. But somehow it gave me a little more freedom to just say the thing. Yeah, out of I don't know what that was, but it was my version of like, that's my sort of first 10 seconds of the sweaty palm conversation. I'm just gonna say it. And this is the one time that I will say most often than not sweaty palm conversations are not effective to have over email or text or slack right because it can get gnarly and usually, however, one instance where this sometimes can be beneficial, we got to be careful with it though is, if we know we're afraid to say something to someone, we're not going to bring it up in the meeting, we know ourselves well enough to know, you know, right again, when you're my boss. And even though you seem to be a really nice person, I'm intimidated, I don't usually say everything to you, because I'm afraid if I write it in an email or a note and say, I'm sending this to you in writing, because I want you to get what's on my mind, and I'm afraid I won't say it in person. And I want to follow up with a meeting and a conversation to talk about this, I'm not loving it over to you to just dump it in your lap. I'm doing this intentionally, because I'm afraid when we talk, I won't say everything, I'll hold some of the background, sugarcoat it, because I have a tendency to do that. Here you go, then that puts me I throw my hat over the wall. Now I have to go have the conversation. Because I've put it out there. Now it's a little bit passive aggressive. It's a little bit manipulative. But what I've done is I've forced myself to save the thing. If I know that I have a tendency to not say the thing. And now you've got it in writing, you've got some time to think about it, you may dash an email back to me, and it could escalate on email. But most likely, if I even say, I'd rather not go back and forth on email about this actually want to have a live conversation. But I'm doing this to protect myself from pretending and saying it's all fine when it's really not all fine. And I want to make sure I say what's on my mind.

Wendy 21:14 Yeah, I like that. It's good to be able to have a backup plan for these things. Right, totally. Well, another thing that you talk about a lot these days, I think, is authenticity. And why are we so worried about being our authentic selves, one of the pieces of our culture, a better manager is like, bring your true authentic self to work. You know, like, yeah, that's what we want. We don't want somebody else that you kind of made up along the way. Right? Why is that important?

Mike Robbins 21:44 Well, I think it's important for a bunch of reasons. And I've actually seen an evolution in this over the last, like, I've been studying authenticity for 15 years, and I would say a decade and a half ago, there was way more resistance than there is today in different ways of showing up with I mean, think of just some superficial things, like think of how we dress at work now and how we talk at work. Now, it's gotten for better or worse, it's gotten way more casual, it's gotten way more comfortable. You know, I mean, I think COVID For as challenging as it was, like, accelerated that, because everybody's like, Look, I'm just gonna show up and be me. I don't you know, but even just the ideas of like, I was sitting with a room, an executive team that was mostly women. And they were reflecting on coming up in their careers, and even being of a certain age that when they had their kids, they were afraid to talk about being pregnant at work, they were afraid, you know, not that that doesn't exist. I don't know what it but I'm assuming today, it's a little more conducive to those kinds of conversations for women who are having babies than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. So we've made progress. And I think there's less resistance to this notion of like bringing our whole selves or our full selves, or our best selves to work. However, there's been this weird, not, I don't want to say backlash. But what I've seen over the last five years is two things have happened. And as someone who literally wrote a book called bring your whole self to work, and did a TED talk, I've gotten some of this pushback directly that like, Hey, man, again, easy for you to say, you know, you're white, and straight and male, it's not as easy for some people. So that's actually can be dangerous for some of us who don't feel as psychologically safe or even practically as safe, based on how we look. The other part of it also is that because of the environments in which many of us work these days, and so many hot button issues, there are a lot of people that I have heard say to me, I don't know what the rules are anymore, or I don't know where the lines are, it's changing all the time. And I'm so worried about upsetting people, or offending people or saying the wrong word, or I'm just trying to be funny, but that's not funny. And you know what I mean. And this is not giving anyone a pass for like making sexist jokes and racist jokes. I'm not saying that. But I think legitimately, the ground keeps moving beneath our feet in terms of sort of the expectations. And I also hear people say that, to me, sometimes like, again, against some of what I've written about in research that like, Hey, I just want to show up and do my job. That's it. I don't want to be talking all about my feelings and my life and what's going on. And you know, so again, we have to sort of make space for all of that. So that's a long answer to your question. I think there's a lot of different reasons why it can be challenging for us to bring our authentic selves to work. But underneath all of it, there's so much benefit when we do to us. And to the people around us, like we can bring the best version and the most creative, innovative versions of ourselves forward. And we also can create trust and connection and that psychological safety we were talking about earlier. It's just there are some things we have to be mindful of as we're doing it.

Wendy 24:37 Yeah, it's, it's so true. And I think, you know, us extroverts, I think I can put you in that column. Definitely. It's a lot easier to be able to do that. If you're an introvert. You know, it's a little bit hard enough, you know, put yourself out there. You know, I've heard that from many introverts and so we have to be aware, always that one side Is doesn't fit all, we totally give people the space to be who they can be and who they feel comfortable bringing to the table. And we always know if if we're comfortable with one move, and it works out, well, well, maybe then they'll do the next move. And maybe they'll feel better. So we have to encourage that. And we have to appreciate, as you would say, you know who they are, and what it took for them to do something, not just recognize them for what they did in terms of sales, but for who they are. And I think that's one lesson I've gotten from you over the years that we try to carry on in spades here and keep remembering because we don't always do it well, but appreciation of the person is really important.

Mike Robbins 25:45 Yeah, for sure. And that's big. I mean, the distinction that I make the you just referenced, Wendy is the distinction between recognition which is about performance and outcome. And that could be sales performance, or business performance. It could even be what you were talking about earlier in terms of an extrovert who's going to come and share and say something to you, right? Versus appreciation, which is really about valuing who people are. So what that means is we recognize people when they deserve it, if you produce a result, or I produce a result, or something happens, there can be some recognition for that. But there's not always something to recognize, however, everyone is valuable, and everyone's worthy of appreciation. So appreciation is more about valuing people caring about people being interested, curious. take as an example, the introvert who's not necessarily speaking up in the meeting, who's not necessarily telling you what they think or what they want, or what's going on. Sometimes, it can be a little harder to manage that person, especially if that's not your personality type. But it can be about getting curious and really wanting to understand what's going on. Maybe there is a way you can also invite or potentially challenged someone, hey, I'm not asking you to get up in front of the whole group and tell us all this stuff. But as your manager, it would be nice for me to know what's going on. So can you write it down? Can you Can we figure out a way that it works so that I know what's going on. And you feel supported by me because we tend to support others the way we want to be supported, which both makes sense. And is problematic. Yep. Right? because not everybody's wired the way we're wired. And if you've ever had a meaningful relationship, like I don't know, a love relationship, or a child or a friend, you realize that pretty quickly, like, Oh, they're not wired the same way. I'm wired, same things true at work. And even though our work relationships aren't the same as our personal ones, what goes into a successful relationship, the context may change, but the fundamentals are pretty much the same.

Wendy 27:34 Yeah. And even though it's the good stuff, some people don't like the good stuff being sent out to a big group. So we need to make sure that we're respectful of that. Yeah, totally. I can't believe the time is going by so fast. But I have one more question. I saw this. And I just love this exercise that you talked about doing with teams? If you really knew me, yeah, you would know this about me. Can you explain that? Because I think you know, any team and manager it's it speaks to that authenticity piece, we were just talking about how to be able to show up and see each other, can you describe that because I think it's priceless. I love

Mike Robbins 28:12 that it's my one of my favorite exercises to do with teams. And you can do it in a big group, a small group, ideally, you do it with your own team, your intact team, you know, 10, up to 15 people, if the groups larger than that you put people in the small groups, but basically it goes like this, like I explain a little bit about authenticity and vulnerability and the iceberg and set that context. But then essentially what we do, and if I'm facilitating this with the group, I always go first, if I'm coaching a leader, or a manager do this, I encourage him or her to go first. And when I say go, first, what you're going to do is, you're going to take a minute or two and just repeat the phrase, if you really knew me, you'd know this about me, and then you just lower the waterline on your iceberg. And it's really more about if we really knew you in this moment, it's not necessary. I mean, you can tell your life story if you want. But it's more like if you really knew me, you know, I'm feeling you know, nervous about this meeting we have or this deadline, or this thing that's going on, or excited about this other thing or, you know, concerned about one of my kids or whatever it is it's no, there's no right or wrong way. But whoever goes first, when I facilitate it, I don't plan it out. It's just I know, the more willing I am to be vulnerable and real in the moment not for shock value not to try to impress people, but real because vulnerability, again, is really about stepping into that unknown that, you know, emotional exposure, risk and uncertainty as Brene. Brown defines it as, but when you do that, so then what you do is one person talks, everyone else listens, and there's no feedback. There's no questions or comments or then we go to the next person and then they just if you really knew me, and you go around the whole group, and you can do this on Zoom, by the way, you can do it in a hybrid setting, you can do it all sitting in the same room, it doesn't matter. And then when everyone's had a chance to go in, sometimes people get a little emotional sometimes, you know, you just you gotta if you're facilitating you just got to hold some space and remind people, It's okay even if they get a little uncomfortable about it. And what I find windy over 20 years almost of doing this exercise with teams like amazing stuff comes out. And what we realize is, we're way more alike than we are different. And down below that waterline, there's so much common ground for us as human beings because even if we're different races and genders and backgrounds, we have different roles and skill sets. We come from different families, we live in different parts of the world. Down below the waterline is joy is pain is gratitude is excitement is fear is anger is all the emotions, human emotions, and there's nothing wrong with them. They're just human emotions. And if we can be real with them ourselves and connect with other people in that way, we realize, Oh, we're all just a bunch of humans together in our messiness, trying to figure out how to make this thing work, whatever we're trying to accomplish together. And it's really remarkable.

Wendy 30:49 Yeah. And one more clarifying question, if you have a team of like six to eight, you want to do this at a team meeting, and you're the leader and you're facilitating, do you go around more than once Do you like, then people kind of understand what it is, and then

Mike Robbins 31:04 you can totally do that. I mean, sometimes I'll usually go if I go, first, I'll do like two or three different things. And then you know, but if you want to go around multiple times, you can definitely do that. Usually, what happens is the debrief conversation afterwards, or you do it once, and then people have kind of opened up, you talk about it, you can do it again, what you find is, it's just and we're relational creatures, so people tend to feed off of one another. And all of a sudden, it's like, Whoa, she said that he said that, I guess we can go there. And again, the point isn't to get people to say crazy things or to like, make people cry, although those things can happen. And it's also important, though, to set some context and make sure hey, we're going to keep this confidential. And I also often will acknowledge after the exercise, what we call the vulnerability hangover, which is sometimes we say something and then we're like, oh, my gosh, I wish I never said that. Please never bring that up. I mean, you know, some level of embarrassment. But what you do is you start to create, over time, more psychological safety that like we can open up with each other. And it can be kept safe and sacred, not used against each other. That's the important thing, too. If someone comes to you and share something vulnerable, you can't turn around and weaponize it back to them later on, then they're never going to open up to you again.

Wendy 32:12 Right? That's great. Because I, I do think we need more of that intimacy and authenticity on team so that people feel safe. And I think that exercise is a good is such a good way to do it. I really, I really love that. So I think that was a great share for people today. So we've heard, how do you get into these conversations a little easier, more about creating that psychological safety place? And then you know, how do we how do we really make a difference with giving people feedback and being able to have people hear things and be vulnerable and be authentic? So yeah, so such important learnings? Yeah. So Mike, if people which I'm sure they will want to learn more about you, what's the best way we will put a lot of things in our show notes for a better manager, but what's the best way for them to learn more about you?

Mike Robbins 33:04 Best place? Is that our website, which is Mike dash robbins.com.

Wendy 33:07 Okay, and everything the books are on there, a lot of what you believe in the world, your podcast

Mike Robbins 33:14 all that good stuff. Yep, the podcast, the books and how to get in touch with me and Ted Talk videos and all the stuff.

Wendy 33:21 Yes, I highly recommend the TED Talk videos. Yes. I think people would get a lot out of those. Yeah, if they take time to listen to those, and then they can contact you via the website, right, if they have questions, and certainly if they want to do more with you. Absolutely. Yeah, good. Well, this has been a treasure and a treat. And I'm so glad I feel like we've reconnected even though. Yeah, after many years. I just love that. And I love what you're spreading out in the world. And so for everybody that's listening, please go on and look at the shownotes when you hear this and, and give us a little ranking on, you know, when they ask for feedback, there's easy ways to be able to do that. And if you have any questions and you want to reach out to me, go on our website better manager.co And you can write something on there that I'll get or just write directly to me Wendy at bettermanager.co Or go on LinkedIn, Wendy Hanson. So thank you, Mike, for being with us today, sharing your wisdom and I hope everybody will take take something away from this that they're going to put into action right away. Have a great day, everyone. Bye bye.

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