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Reduce Burnout & Create a High-Performance Culture w/Andrew Freedman Ep#165

By Anthony Taylor - April 04, 2022

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Untitled design - 2021-12-27T131748.040  Anthony: Hey there, folks. Welcome to today's episode of the Strategy & Leadership Podcast. My guest - back for the second time, Andrew Freedman, who is the Managing Partner at SHIFT Consulting. Andrew, what's happening today?

podcast blog icon template (2)  Andrew: Hey, Anthony, good to be back with you. It's hard to believe it's been a little more than a year since we did our first episode. I'm excited for the second go around. We'll run it back even better.

Anthony: Perfect. I love that. Yeah, it's been really cool. I mean we were chatting about just as we started since our last episode - which you listeners can go back and play at any time on your favorite podcasting service, apparently, a lot of people are digging it and really digging the work that you are doing. So why don't you tell our listeners, if they are new to the podcast and new to you, what you do, who are you, and what you're up to these days? And what's exciting?

Andrew: Yeah, you mentioned Managing Partner at SHIFT. That's certainly what I do by day, when I'm not fighting crime at night, like a superhero, I guess. In that work, my mission is to really help leaders transform what they think and take action on building high performance cultures. That's what our organization is all about - transforming workforce engagement.

We believe that leaders can really use work as a weapon in a good way to transform the way that people work. So that they can actually change the way that they live. We really believe that work can be a lever for good. As opposed to people going home - unfortunately, I think there's still a lot of people that do this, whether going home means moving from the living room to the bedroom if they're working from home or working from anywhere, but people are leaving work depleted. Right now with a lot of study being done on burnout, more depleted more or less than, than ever. Our goal is to actually change that, so people are feeling fulfilled, alive, achieving, more than, so when they go back to interact with their families, work lifts them up.

That's really the purpose of our work. I get the pleasure to do that with leaders of all different companies across the globe - Fortune 500s and the like, every day, and I love it.

Anthony: That's awesome. It's an interesting world. In addition to the socio economic complexities that are happening in the great recession, or whatever the hell the thing is when people say they're quitting, and then you have back to back Zoom meetings with no buffers, which when we chatted about last week - which was still kind of novel. Now we're two years into it. Then you have that balance of supply chain constraints. Then you have CEOs and leaders that are pushing, pushing, pushing, but you can only push so much until something breaks. So I guess there's kind of two perspectives.

One is from the side of the employee, how one might be able to kind of reclaim their time, space, energy for them to perform at their best, like corporate athletes style. And then CEOs - what they can do to not put fuel on the fire. Because sometimes I see CEOs that are making the problem worse instead of better, because they still have pressures on them. So what are you seeing and where do you want to take our chat today?

Andrew: Yeah, whether you call it the Great Resignation, which is what many are calling it or the recession or the reshuffle or the reprioritization - whatever you want to call it. The World Health Organization recently defined burnout as a workplace phenomenon. Now burnout is becoming more of a thing. It's almost like when when WebMD started years ago, people would have a pain and they would look it up on WebMD. And they would read symptoms like "I have that". I think with burnout, it's twofold. Anthony, one is people are hearing more about burnout, and so they're saying, "Yes, that's me. I'm burned out also." There's some individual responsibility in that.

So things that people can do you: Protect themselves through more sleep, more quality sleep, and shutting down technology earlier in the evening. Now, part of the issue with working from anywhere that we've seen in the studies we've done, people are actually working for more hours a day, for more hours a day. Part of that is because they're not commuting. They're waking up, they're getting online earlier, they're more accessible at night. Leaders, many of them, have not figured out new ways to think about engaging their people and managing and leading. So what they're doing is they are as you said, they're having more meetings, emailing more, they're asking for more reports. So there is really no escape. People have not allowed themselves to escape and so when that happens, people are not energized. They're running from meeting to meeting to meeting, they have no time to decompress before they re-engage with their families. So they are absolutely feeling fried.

So to protect themselves, better sleep, shut technology down earlier, start the day with practicing gratitude. Before you get online, just think for a minute, what are you grateful for? These are easy tactical things that people can do. Write down in a journal, what are you grateful for? Protect your time, so that you're carving out time for exercise, make sure you're taking healthy supplements, and you're eating really well. All of these things matter. They're not warm, fuzzy kind of things. These are absolutely fundamental to our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well being. So I'll pause there to see if that does anything for you, which I'm sure it does. And then we can talk at the org level.


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Anthony: Absolutely. Well, everything you do is around the world of performance. So why I like that, I think it's good for just a general well being. The stuff you know, is often the stuff that you don't do, that you feel guilty about not doing. I want to just - for you listening today, I want you to just consider the ROI for you. Everything we do is for you, right.

So if you get more sleep, I don't get a benefit out of it. You're going to feel more rested, you're going to clear the gunk out of your brain, you're going to be a better partner or spouse, family person, you're going to be a better leader, because you're not going to be triggered by every little thing. And you've got so much stuff coming to you all the time that it's part of that preparation.

Two metaphors. One is as an athlete - if you don't rest and recover, if you don't warm up, if you don't do that stuff, you're going to hurt yourself, and you're not going to have the longevity. If you want to stay in your job, you got to have the longevity.

The other thing I was thinking about the other day, I was drilling through tile to install something at my house. And every couple minutes, I had to dip the thing in water so I didn't break the bit. If you burn yourself out, however you want to look at it, if you don't do the proper recovery things you're going to break. Then you're going to let everybody else down and make the process worse or the environment worse. So not to like guilt you into it, but look at your holistic environment and see the benefit of doing that. Because I think Andrew is spot on with that. So I just want to give you a different perspective. Andrew, does that track with you in terms of the cause and effect?

Andrew: 100%. It made me think of a session I had recently with my life coach/therapist, Michael, who is amazing. This is something else that people can do. Some some folks wear a badge of honor, like "I don't need a therapist". Yeah, you do. We all do. We need somebody that professionally can help us. Anyway, Michael said to me recently, he said, "Andrew, it all starts with you", which is something Anthony, you and I talked about before we started this session officially.

I can't be good for my wife, Joanne, if I'm not good. I can't be good for my clients if I'm not sharp. So another way to think about it, to really drill this one deeply, is you're being really selfish if you're not taking care of yourself. Because you're not giving yourself fully to others like you think you are. Maybe you're like, "No, I'm going to skip my workout because I need to answer these five more emails. Or no, I'm going to skip lunch or I'm not going to meal prep".

All these things that you're rationalizing are actually hurting you and hurting the people that you actually believe you're helping - you're doing the opposite. You just don't know it. So it's about breaking that cycle as you say, and remembering it does start with each of us.

Anthony: Yeah. I've had my days where I got up at 5am and I'm like, Yes, I'm gonna get a jump on the day because I feel like I need to, but I'm so much happier with that extra 90 minutes of sleep. Because if I'm tired - that's not the game I'm trying to play. So maybe we can shift gears a little bit and from the CEO, organizational perspective, what's happening with senior leaders and how they are developing the support within the organizations instead of making the problem worse?

Andrew: What I love that I'm seeing, and a lot of the work that we're doing with leaders is really understanding that they need a new playbook. The leaders who get it understand that that playbook starts with them. So you're seeing a lot online, you're seeing a lot of research, from companies like Bain and BCG and Accenture and certainly my firm SHIFT, that are saying the new leader playbook includes things like authentic connection, vulnerability, empathy. These are the attributes that lead and it's not just words on a page, but really bringing this out.

People need authentic connections more than ever. Part of what has occurred during this Great Resignation, or whatever you want to call it, is that the employees have come up with a new scorecard about what they value in life. For leaders who are still stuck in the "but you must come back to the office five days a week, because that's our culture". Employees are going "well, that's cute. Bye bye." They're voting with their feet. There hasn't been a month since probably April of last year, where at least 3 - 4 million people, haven't left their current employer. So leaders who think it's their way or the highway, their employees are taking the highway. So the leaders who get it are saying, "Okay, I need a new playbook, I need a new way to think about this."

There's a systems based approach. So they really are rethinking the way that they lead. They're rethinking the way that they hire, they're rethinking the way that work is done. While they may not know that they're using the model that we've created, I'll share it with you and your listeners, if you want to build a high performance culture. Here's the recipe - there are three influences that are critical at the org level.

One is the environments, systems and resources that you're providing for your people. Do the environment, systems and resources align with and support the vision that you've created? That's the first.

The second is expectations and feedback. Have you recalibrated the expectations of what success looks like for the organization and for key roles? Do you have mechanisms to provide useful feedback that supports people in doing their best?

Then the third is reward, recognition and consequences. One of the biggest challenges that I've seen Anthony, is expectations for the job have changed. But rewards, recognition and consequences maybe haven't. For example, with a lot of people, rethinking and leaving, you're seeing fewer people in many organizations who have to pick up the workload of the folks that left. That's not a new phenomenon, but you're seeing it more. In a globally dispersed workforce, it does make it a little more challenging if leaders haven't thought this through.

So what happens is, I'm a really good performer, I stayed at the job while a number of my colleagues have left. So what happens to me? What's the negative consequence of me being an excellent performer? I get more work, I get overworked, I get overstretched. So this is one of those things that leaders don't necessarily get it. They're just like, "oh, Andrew is great, he can pick it up, he can help us, he'll be patient."

The reality is you're burning your best people. So you've got some people who've left, and then the ones who stay are paying a penalty. Leaders who get it understand the systems based thinking, and they're recalibrating all of these influences. So that's at the org level. The individual level that leaders also understand Anthony, are motivations and preferences. So am I understanding the motivations and preferences of the individuals? Am I aligning those things with their work, capacity and job fit? Do people have the right capacity, and are they in the right job? Then do they have the skills and knowledge, and how are they developing those things? So those are the six influences.

That's really what I'm seeing. And that's the work that I'm doing every day, helping leaders rethink how to build an organization that has these influences well in alignment.

Anthony: Yeah, that aligns with how we look at things. It's not just the plan, but the environment around the plan. So as listeners, I invite you to skip it back two minutes to look at all of the areas Andrew looked at. But instead of kind of rehashing that, just the invitation is to take some time, take a step back and look at the entire system. Within each of those, you have areas to look at. How are we doing at this objectively, and like see if you can get some feedback from people. Because I find that the gap between your perception and expectation at the highest level of leadership versus the senior management, the middle managers and the frontline employees, can be very different.

If you're genuinely interested in creating a transformational change at this point of your business or your organization, you have to look at it as a systems approach. Andrew does that track with your thinking and recommendations as well?

Andrew: It does. So your listeners don't have to try to figure out what questions they should be asking themselves, if it's useful, when we're done, I'll send you some questions that align with each of those influences. You can put it in the show notes or however you want to share it out. This way people can just use that tool as a template, as a guide to say, "Hey, let me just do some an inspection here to see how are we doing? What do we need to rethink?"

Anthony: Yeah, that's awesome. Thank you for that, I appreciate that. It's funny because reflecting now, we're talking to you a lot more as if there's three people in the room versus Andrew and I speaking. Him and I feel are pretty much on the same wavelength. But it's neat because despite being in a different country and a different coast, the fundamentals are the same.

So having interviewed, you know, 160 different people on this podcast, everybody's got a different perspective on it, so it's about finding the best tools that work for you. I think that Andrew to what you were saying earlier, I've developed a routine, I've developed a system, I've developed a process that supports me as an individual in my growth and what works for me. What works for me might not work for you as Andrew and might not work for you as the listener, but really looking and saying, "how does this vibe? Is this a fit? Is this a fit for where I'm at in life right now? And can this move forward?"

I think that's the journey of personal growth that each one of us as human beings and leaders in 2022 has to go on to be to continually moving forward.

Andrew: 100% This is part of why I love I love rapping with you. You're right, we do vibe together, we think very similarly. Not groupthink, but just, we play really well here. I love what you just said, makes perfect sense.

Anthony: Awesome. So what are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year as we wrap up? What are some of the challenges that you're taking on with your people, and what is exciting you about the rest of 2022 and beyond?

Andrew: Well, there's a lot. I'll boil it down to just two things for today. One is doing a lot of work around reimagination. With our team and our clients, specifically reimagining how work gets done, because work has never been a place where people go, it's a thing that they do.

Right now the customer requirements, customer demands, employee demands, they've really changed the way that leaders need to think about things. I'm like a kidney candy store when I get into a room with a leader or a bunch of leaders or key people on their team, to rethink the way that work should be done, so that it really lights people up, it delivers more value for the employees and ultimately more value for the customer. So that's one thing I'm really excited about.

The second thing that I'm really looking forward to is we acquired and relaunched a SaaS platform late last year. I mentioned earlier the importance of authentic connection, it is really something that's paramount of importance for leaders. The SaaS platform - it's a video based storytelling platform that really allows leaders to build connection across five important dimensions. One is the dimension of you know, the individual to self. So how clear am I on my priority, my connection to me, my connection to my work? To really make sure that I understand what I need to do to perform at high levels, my connection to my manager, which has always been a really important connection. The folks at Gallup have well researched this over time, my connection to the company, and then my connection to my peers. And these five points are critically important.

Again, in this hybrid work environment, it's been really tough for leaders to do this. I mean, folks have onboarded hundreds, if not thousands of employees at some of the organizations we work with, and they've never been in the same room together. So what does that do to onboarding and what does that do to connection? What does that do to learning? What does that do to performance? When you think about what keeps people at work, one of the things is making sure that they've got good connections, so we're totally geeked out about that. It's gotten some good traction, we implemented it with a number of our clients already.

I'm just excited about the possibilities for what this platform will do for us and for our clients through the years.


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Anthony: That's so cool. There are so many software platform tools out there, and the tool is only as good as you use it. But I think for an organization that's committed to listening and committed to understanding and really being able to bridge that gap, I think that's an amazing opportunity. So that's just really rad. I think that there's a lot of people who could take advantage of that. So where can people connect with you? Where can they you know, obviously, we'll put the questions in the show notes. But yeah, if they want to get get in touch with you, where do they go?

Andrew: Easiest places, our social channels. LinkedIn, I'm happy to accept LinkedIn requests from any of your listeners, because if they dig you, I dig them. My handles are all the same, it's afreedomthrive. So they can find me there on LinkedIn. Also, as we talked about last time, the book Thrive - can find me on the website we created for that which is thrive.shiftthework.com. That's an easy place to go also. So those would be the two easiest places to engage with me.

Anthony: Awesome, Andrew, just good to see you. Thanks for being here. Thanks for doing what you do. It's been a personal and professional pleasure. So I appreciate it. Folks, my guest today Andrew Freedman, who's the Managing Partner at SHIFT consulting. Connect with him, the work he is doing is awesome work. I appreciate you being here. I hope you enjoyed the space we created for you today because I I believe I know Andrew, and he's so committed to people and their growth and their success. And so that's why he's here again. That's why we're here every time. I bet that's why you're here listening. So thanks for being here.

Thanks for being just along with the ride for us. My name is Anthony Taylor. This has been the Strategy & Leadership Podcast. Thank you, Andrew, again for joining us, and we'll see everybody next time!


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