Cohesion Culture With Dr. Troy Hall

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Dr Troy Hall. Dr Troy, welcome.

Thank you Tom or Thomas, it’s good to be here.

Thank you. It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Well, thanks. You know, for the most part, I’m an open book. If you connect with me in social media, you would find me, if you find me on LinkedIn, it’s you know, Dr Troy Hall tells you a lot about me, but I’d like to tell some folks and things that aren’t on my resume or my bio. So I’ll start off with that a little bit. I married my high school sweetheart in 1977. We have two children and six grandchildren. Now, for those individuals who are watching, don’t let the hair colour fool you, but the grandchildren go from five months to 20 years. So it spans quite a little bit of time. So most of my work is with executives to help them create cultures of cohesion or cohesion cultures, as I call them. Which are safe workplaces where people have a sense of belonging, are valued and share in mutual commitments.

I do that through a consulting program and then also through some executive coaching and so that’s something and then I’m gonna tell you one other little tidbit that I that I have and that is I had the opportunity prior to the pandemic to actually visit cork Ireland. And so I went to the court castle because that’s where the Blarney Stone is located. So if you had an opportunity to travel and be there, you know that some of the tradition is that you have to kiss the stone upside down and that’s supposed to help you with the Blarney. So you uh, the castle is crumbling and they tried to reinforce it. So you go up the stairways and you know, sometimes there’s no roof and there’s no wall and you know, you’re making your way of about so I said to my wife on the way, I can go, honey, I said, do you think that if I kiss the Blarney that I’m going to counteract all that I have today? And she says, well, we’ll just have to see. So I go to the process, of course they have this little contraption where you can lean back, you can kiss it. Of course there’s 13 million mouths on it. Nobody even cared then. But today we care about hand washing and sneezing.

So you know, it’s really crazy how life has changed so much. But later on in the trip, I was speaking with some other friends and some other folks who were traveling and my wife looked over at me and she says, do you remember asking the question about whether you kiss the blarney, if that would cancel out? I said yes, because oh, don’t worry, it’s still there.

Well, I mean, yeah, interesting point about the way things have changed, there’s a little bit different now, kissing something like you said, that has been kissed by three million other people.


But coming back to your point about cohesion culture, can you give us a bit of a definition and perhaps the best example you have seen of what you would describe as cohesion culture?

So the cohesion culture works with the strategic framework of three elements and it’s really about creating safe workplaces where people have a sense of belonging are valued and sharing mutual commitments.

So the belonging aspect is not just the concept of saying, hey, I fit in or I show up every day to work, it’s a matter of how the individual feels in their relationship and their emotional connection to the place where they work. One of the good things about belonging is that we all want to belong. We want to be a part of something. We sometimes seek that out. And in that process of belonging, we give a piece of our identity in that to that group or to the individuals are working with and we give a piece of our identity. So by the way I indicate just a piece, because if you gave all of your identity, then we’ll be talking about the first four letters of culture and instead we’re going to talk about the extended word culture instead of cult. So you give a piece of your identity, it’s very healthy and what really happened, some very extraordinary things occur and that is the individuals then actually will support and uphold and defend that particular group or that organisation when they may be attacked from internal or external factors.

The other thing is that the group will automatically start working towards the common goals and the desired outcomes of that group or that organisation as a result of having that fulfilled feeling, which is and really good and Simon sending for individuals who followed him, he tells us that when individuals feel really connected to their jobs, they determine what the fulfilment, he says they feel fulfilled and when they’re fulfilled, then they love their jobs. The data tells us that 87% of the people who love their jobs, they’re willing to stay. So the point of what I do through the cohesion culture is to retain top talent. So the whole point is to make sure that if you’re spending all this money on bringing people into the organization, why don’t you consider them to be top talent and why don’t you do everything possible to keep them? So you expand from the belonging aspect where you brought them in and now you want them to feel like it’s some place special to giving them value and that means that the individual needs to know what their job is and not only just the job description, but how does it relate to others in the organisation?

Into the final product or service that you may be delivering to the consumer, They want to know that what they do matters and makes a difference. So it’s not just about having a voice which is part of belonging, it’s not just about being trusted or respected, which is still very important, but it’s about making sure that what I do matters in the big scheme of life and then lastly assured mutual commitments. And this is an opportunity where I teach organizations to make sure that they are explaining to their employees what that employee future looks like. So if you want individuals to begin to commit to the organization, commit to them first and it really falls under a transformative leadership sort of context that says that you should first has transformed transformational leaders that you would first invest into someone else and then self, you don’t give self a way, you don’t forget about self, but you invest into others first and then into self. So I have several clients, you asked me to give you an example, so I really am not going to refer to some national group because then people have their opinions here or there because I’m not inside, I only see what I can see from the outside, but I will tell you that successful organizations that really care about their employees will become a best places to work.

So look for those individual companies that are at best places to work and the reason I say that and why do I use that or a glass door best places to work is because the employees are the ones who are contributing to the survey answers, not the leadership, leadership has to do their job, but it’s what the employees feel about the organisation. So if you want to know an organization that may have it together, look for the best places to work either through their local chamber, through their local organisation or possibly through glass door, which we know is an international come, have you got any particular examples around glass door or is it is it just a case of let’s go have a look and I think I think you’re right. I think for the individual listener, I think it’s important that part of the coaching that I have is, you know, I’m not necessarily trying to get someone to do what I think they need to do, but I want to point them in a direction and let them choose and do their own when I suggest something to you, like I would pick a name of a company and say it automatically.

You are biased toward that particular organisation. What I think is important is that if what you wanted was to say, give me an example of a company that does this. Well then, I would say then do your research and go find glass door and look it up and really pay attention to what it is, then you’re going to be searching into the area that matters to you. So you’ll look into your industry and say, oh here is the company that does this, I make a suggestion, it’s not even in your industry, you go all, that’s just them, you know, realistically ground that information for yourself and then look for what matters to you. So let’s say you have a family member or perhaps a close friend and they say to you, I’m struggling a bit. You’re an expert in talent retention. I think my life, my best member of staff, I think they’re on the way out the door. Have you got any thoughts that you can help me? Well, one of the first things that I would have to do is to ask them to describe to me their culture. Tell me a little bit about what’s happening in the organisation again, what we do through the cohesion culture work.

When we, when we create this consulting engagement is we take those three elements of belonging value and shared mutual commitment and we overlay it to the organization and we say to the organisation, what are you doing to be belonging and value and shared what are you doing? And then we also look at the leadership of the organization and we say how in tune are you? So when I wrote the book, cohesion culture proven principles to retain your top talent which by the way is the bestselling title. That particular book provided in three acts. All the information that you need in an organization. The first act is about being a leader. If the leader is not right then you’re going to lose talent, you’re going to have disruption, you’re going to have dysfunction because the leadership actually sets the tone for the organization. It isn’t the workers who set the tone, it’s the leadership who sets the tone. The workers will contribute to leadership and will contribute to the culture but it is established by the senior most individuals within the organization and to have it be successful in the company.

Not only doesn’t have to be supported by the senior most individuals, but what you support has to be honest, true, authentic and genuine and then whatever it is that you’re creating it has to be so easy for people that they will live and breathe it and own it. So my advice then to that individual is to say what are you doing in the organization? If you’re supporting all of these all of these items then you may need to get to the root cause. So one of the things that I do suggest and that I work with organizations to put in is something called a stay interview. Now it will be too complicated to possibly go through all of the information today on the podcast for the viewers and the listeners to get it. But to stay interview is a process or program where leadership is actually doing one on one conversations with employees to find out why they stay. So of course Thomas, I wouldn’t speak to you and say, hey, why are you staying? You know, when you can go somewhere else, you know, the questions are all worded very differently and they’re worded in a way that allows the individual to contribute information and you don’t do a stay interview with everyone on one.

There may be some elements where you’re having some interactions with the individuals to really see how they’re doing and how they’re, you know, you do a check in and that’s fine. But the stay interview is designed very specifically to gain information about why people stay. The idea behind it isn’t that it’s not a one off. You actually are contributing that information inside the organization. Someone is gathering that data so that they can determine what is the relationship that is also happening in the company. And then and really the most important question at the end of the stay interview? And that one is to say Thomas based on everything that we’ve talked about today, what is something I can do to help you be successful and what you’re doing is saying to that person I care about you, you actually, in that question alone, you’ve now said there’s a future for you because I said, what can I do to help you be successful. So I didn’t say you weren’t successful. I didn’t say you have to be more successful. I just said what do you have to do to be successful? What can I do? And that is a way to express that kind of in a little bit of a neutral way so that the individual doesn’t feel like there’s a superlative that sort of defining them and not quite up to speed or they need something else.

They don’t read more into it because they believe in it. And part of this stems from the fact that in my leadership trainings and workings and coaching and mentoring, I go with the definition that leadership is to motivate influence and enable others to be successful. I break that down and say what is motivation? What’s the purpose to motivate? And people will sometimes say, well the reason to motivate is to get people to do things or to to to get them to accomplish their goals. No, the only thing, the only purpose for motivation is stimulus, that’s all it does. You just stimulate the rest of it comes with where you’re going to direct them. So you want to direct them in an area or a way that you can get the type of result. Either that you’re looking for or you’re helping them get when you influence people, it’s not about having coercive power, it’s not using institutional power, it’s using influential power, which means you mould their thinking. older thinking through the words you say, do what you ask them to read, where you train them, where you develop them or possibly you can you do it through your own actions and they get a chance to see how you act and that helps you mould the thinking.

And then lastly we take a look at enabling well in a social environment. Enabling means something completely different than it does in leadership. Enabling in leadership says I give you resources and I remove obstacles and if I want you to do your job. And by the way, that’s very important because in this definition, I have identified some of the top global drivers of talent retention and those global drivers of talent retention really fall much into that category of enabling because individuals want to have the tools and resources, they want to have the autonomy or they want to understand their authority and what they’re actually doing to complete the job and in the mould the thinking you’re providing the level of in of initiative that you want the individual to take. So that’s a little bit of that. I’ve got some other things that I suggest to organizations to do for their own empirical observations.

And I also offer a cultural assessment tool which allows an organization to do a benchmark before we do any consulting work. We do a benchmark and then from the benchmark, then after a year later we’re actually able to go in and do another survey, the same survey again. But we are able to capture the people who were present for the whole year of change versus people who are brand new and be able to separate those benchmarking numbers and we’ll tell you whether or not what you’ve done in that year has made a difference. Mm I am. I really like the stay interview. Um, it doesn’t make me think of the concept of the 1-1. So have you got any thoughts of around the topic of frequency? Around 1-1? How often you’re checking in with the people who work for you? Well, I think that you would want to gauge that on a couple of things. It’s not what you, the leader thinks you should do, it’s what the employees need. So you really think about your one on one based on their needs.

Obviously, a frequent touch base would be determined by the complexity of the project or the complexities of the organisation. The type of activities like for instance, if I were in immediate environment, I would almost expect a daily touch base, right? Just to see what’s happening because the media changes all the time. Information topics, things are going. So you would have that if you’re in a manufacturing plant, maybe you’re, you’ll need to touch base once every week or two weeks or once a month. It just depends on the complexities of what you’re doing. So you want to, you want to balance the complexities of your industry with the needs of the individual. You may have some folks who need a little bit more attention and it doesn’t mean that there are bad employee or that they’re needy. It’s just that the way they’re wired is that they want a little bit more feedback to make sure that they stay in tune with what they’re doing. So you modify that some support for that is an article from the Harvard Business review called The Power of Small Winds. The research that was done by a mobile and Cramer is very relevant today, even though it’s a decade old, basically the concept is that how a person feels when they leave their job is how they will feel the next day when they start.

And so they subscribed to the concept of feeding that internal fire the progress loop they call it uh, to, to really make sure that the individual is taken care of on a day to day basis. And again, what does that look like? Sometimes a day to day. Touch base is a two-minute conversation. It’s not always a sit down. And then there are organizations that I work with who have a, what they call or what I would refer to as an online or an instant way to touch base with the employee and the leader and they have it set up so that’s on the phone to touch base. And they’re set up for whatever the organization has established as their criteria for required touch bases. But the individual can touch base as frequently as they want and also the employee base as a whole and actually provide a shout outs or high fives or some sort of acknowledgement or affirmation to other employees in the organization and allows it to be a continuous performance improvement and tweaking along the way.

That is very, very successful for organisations, especially large organizations where they may have diverse work teams, especially now that we’re into a virtual world or a hybrid work environment. Something having an online ability to touch base quickly is very helpful. Okay, I was going to ask you about that about your thoughts on instant communication via tech and whether or not I guess I’m thinking quality versus versus the instant chat and what your thoughts are on there. So I can probably hold my hands up in terms of admitting the fact that in terms of being able to message someone immediately and get an answer straight away has replaced somewhat the quality of conversation you might have with that person. So what you got any thoughts around that? Yeah, I think first of all, we still have to remember that we’re human, we’re people and we do like the interaction. So I think it’s important not to misuse the technology that we have to just make things simple that the idea is that we should be thinking about how we relate to people because it is we are a people centric society and we should not be worried about replacing that because our human need the way were designed and the way we are wired is to connect.

So we just want to make sure that you’re still doing it. So I think that you use the technique, we use instant messaging or texting or some sort of internal communication. If you need a quick answer right? I need a quick answer. Like hey you have this information, Can you give it to me, can you send it, you have time to talk? That’s a quick message. Right? If you’re starting to write paragraphs and paragraphs and a text message then you don’t understand the tool. And so therefore the problem isn’t the tool. The problem is the user and you’ve mis-used it. If you think that because you have a virtual employee that they don’t need to have some sort of conversation, then you’re totally missing. I recommend to organizations that frequently when they set up meetings that they actually opened the room 15 or 20 minutes earlier than the scheduled time That they give people permission to not have to do back to back-to-back meetings that actually start exactly on the hour and end on the hour, that what they do is they start scheduling meetings that actually end 10 minutes before the hour. So although you may have an hour on your calendar, end at 10 minutes early.

So an individual who goes to another meeting on the hour can actually do some socialising with people before the event actually opened. And that is exactly what we used to do when we would have in person meetings. I have, I’ve had clients tell me I am in zoom burnout. And I’m saying to myself, I know, but you told me you were an in person burned out before we even went to zoom and that’s because you were going from one meeting to the next. It’s the same thing on zoom. So if you feel that you’re burned out on zoom, you’d be burned out on your face to face meetings. It’s not zoom that burns you out. It’s the amount of information you’re trying to accomplish in the given day. That may be exhausting you and you just don’t even realise how much of a strain it is for that to happen. There’s a lot of brainpower that’s actually, you know, involved in working on problems and solving them and doing it. And when you’re doing that on a consistent basis on, on, on a regular basis, then you’re not giving yourself any time for any freedom. So what I do recommend is that a remember to take time for yourself, inject funds into the day to make sure that you give this opportunity for people to communicate and talk about themselves personally and sometimes a phone call is what’s needed if you can’t have a face to face that maybe a phone call or an online visual where people can actually connect can really make a difference because we’re not going to replace that anytime soon in terms of changing your own behaviour as a leader, you’ve mentioned being congruent with what your true to your values are as a company.

Have you got any other thoughts on that? Well I think that first of all the core values of the organization create the foundation for how people will interact in the organization. So what we do know is that core values establish our belief system. So our belief system is based on values without the values, we don’t have a belief system so once we understand those values and how they begin to start thinking about them, that’s we start thinking about them. That becomes our belief, then we establish an attitude about them. So our attitude is either for or against or last a fair somewhere in the middle of that and then that manifested behaviours so then how we act is always based on our value system, so we can’t forget that and so it is very important that as leaders were congruent with the values, that’s why we have to uphold them. The other thing in the in the book the cohesion culture book, I talk about the seven attributes of an effective leader. So that not only are you taking a look and saying well here are my unique core values for my organization.

Like, I want them to be about creativity and fun. I want, I’ve seen where joy and kindness are a part of core values for an organization. I’ve seen integrity, honesty, team value, so there’s all these items that you can have, so what I say is regardless of what the value is, you should be establishing the beliefs, the attitudes and behaviours that you expect for the organization because that’s the employees. Now you’ve got a basis to hire top talent into your organization, Top talent is just not the people who are the most skilled. It’s a combination between the individuals who are skilled and who also fit with the cultural values that you are expressing each and every day. What are your traditions, your norms, your customs, your protocols, What are the symbols? You use all of those things Actually reflect the organization and you want the people inside the organization to reflect that because when people interact with you either as a person to person inside or a person to external person on the outside, you should be extending the brain, the brand shouldn’t be confused between who the people are and how they represent themselves and I will tell you that people don’t hide very much, you know, you’re pretty much it’s hard to fake yourself all the time.

So eventually it shows up. You might be able to fake yourself in the beginning of the new job. But over a period of time, your true self will eventually come forward and what you want is that those true selves will actually be congruent with the organization. So in addition to that, then I say, here are seven attributes of an effective leaders. Follow these guidelines follow these things. The 1st 1 is to be teachable. That means to have your mind open to new information and be willing to accept something that you hadn’t even considered or thought of before. I remind leaders that you cannot be a victor of your future. If you’re held captive by your past, if you think that the only future you can get to is based on what you’ve done before, then you’re not going to get to any new place, you’re just going to get to a place that may just exist exactly where you are today. Getting to a future that you want to create a design sometimes requires you to think differently and to find new information that you weren’t even sure you were going to find. And so it’s all about, it’s not about knowing what that information is, but it’s about being open and receptive to the fact that new things can come into your mind that will help drive you to a different place.

So that’s a teach, ability is important. I have a mantra about that. And my mantra is simply this, you don’t have to know everything, you just need to be teachable. And if you can have that concept in your head, a couple of other things, really great things happen for leaders. You dispel something called cultural superiority. And that is when the leader has what I would call academically ethnocentric thinking, saying that that leaders cultural ways of doing things are the best or that they believe that their culture is absolutely the only way they judge everything based on their cultural experience. But today, as you know that we have expanded our conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion. We need to move leaders more to cultural relativity, which means that I will begin to research and understand the context of what is happening in the culture based on its background, based on its history, based on those rituals, cultures and traditions and understanding the difference between them.

If we don’t do that and we’re going to get stuck. Very important, very simple example that I can give you on teach ability is I was teaching a leadership session at De la Salle University in Manila and I asked the students at that time because it was a leadership program, I asked them just like I do in the in Canada and other north American areas and I said, hey, you know, raise your hand if you think you’re a leader and literally nobody raised their hand and that almost never happens to me in any session. That was the first time. And I was, I was sort of taken back for a moment and I thought for a little bit and I said, okay, so tell me when do you think you’ll be a leader? And then the group started interacting and what they told me is that in their culture to accept leadership and to define themselves as a leader is a title that they believe that they have earned. Not a title they get to claim, but a title they earn. So if I would have imposed my viewpoint that everyone is a leader and that you should claim who you are and keep letting it be a work in progress that’s much more positive than simply waiting for the someday for something to happen.

Then I would have missed the opportunity of really relating to them and to understand that they were leaders. They just didn’t claim the term leader. So I had to invent another way for them to make sure that they were taking leadership responsibilities and really investing themselves into leadership into whatever area that they were doing. And if I hadn’t done that – and I’m not saying this to brag about myself, I’m using it as an example so that the individuals who are watching and listening to this will be able to understand that if I had just applied my Western thinking into that environment that said that you have to be a leader, you have to raise your hand. You’ve got to take that charge on doing it. I would have been cultural superior as opposed to being culturally relative. By stopping and asking myself in that moment, why did they respond that way? What was it that they were hearing that changed the way they would have responded based on the others that I was that I was used to working with. That’s just one example of the teach, ability and then the other six components of those effective leadership characteristics or attributes that I looked too, is to want to talk about compassion that we have for human beings and the compassion that we should have for others.

The empathy that we’re going to apply grace. Grace is not compassion. I had a great conversation with the leader of the other day to define the difference between Grace and compassion. To understand that graces the unmerited favour that you extend simply because you say so, not because somebody has done something. If they feel if you feel that they’ve done something, then now you’re showing maybe compassion, but if you want to truly give Grace and be free to do that, then it has to just simply be because I say so not because somebody has earned it and not because you’re expecting something back in return, then I expect leaders to be truth seekers. They need to find that the evidence and information that they’re getting is right. Remember in the beginning of this conversation when I pointed them to the glass door and I pointed them to best places to work as a place to find it because they need to seek the truth themselves. They need to find their truth, need to validate what they’re hearing to make sure that it is true. And obviously being humble 2001, Jim Collins wrote the book good to great. And one of the things he distinguished in that book is that to get to the top level of leadership, these companies who were extremely successful, who went from good to great.

What was the characteristic that was available to all of those leaders humility and so acting in a humble the other is to be authentic. They have pure intentions and the things that you do each and every day that you’re not going to wake up in the morning to see how miserable can I make people’s lives. But I’m actually going to wake up in the morning to say how can I help someone? How can I help them be successful? Because in taking care of them, I’m also taking care of self. And then the last element is to be a peacemaker. Will we make peace each and every day. Sometimes leaders don’t realise it. But the words they say polarise people to the left and to the right, and when they’re polarised, when those individuals are on this side, there may be peace in this camp and peace in this camp. But true peace exists when all parties come together in a place that they did not previously occupy. And so I find that that space of peace as a leader is to always be bringing people together and not being the reason that people are polarised the one side or the other.

It’s a great answer. Couldn’t have asked for any better than that, could I? Well, thank you. I appreciate that. Does the leadership characteristics, does it, is that covered? Because I was going to ask you about the mindset of the purposeful CEO is that what you covered there? Or is there a distinction to be made there? No, that’s it. It’s there all by the way, look for those who are visually seeing. It’s in the book. So here we go. Yeah, it’s right there. You know, information. So the three steps to building cohesion in company culture, is that the opening, what we what we covered in the opening in the opening. It would be right to make sure that we’re focusing on belonging value and shared mutual commitment. But I have something I want to do with you. If you’re open to it. Are you open to be asking you a few questions? I certainly am before I forget I really want to ask you or maybe put this out there for a question in the future, which is I think people do, do you see the value in a culture and you know, I think people would love to implement something like this, I think what they struggle with is implementation and then consistency.

So either you can you can run with that one now, if you want to and ask me a few questions or ask me a few questions first, I don’t mind. Well I want to ask you, so I’m going to ask you a couple of questions that will kind of give some additional foundation for people who are watching and listening to this on the cohesion culture. So the first thing I want to talk about is why do I even care that it’s a cohesion culture, why don’t even care about the word cohesion? The reason I care about is because cohesion is a causal phenomenon, It means that when cohesion is present, you get performance. When you get performance, you get the level of engagement that you’re looking for. So if you’re looking for engagement, you want to put cohesion in. So what is cohesion belonging? Value, shared mutual commitment? So you want to talk about implementing, that’s what you would implement, and can you sustain it? Absolutely, because organizations can actually look at that and say in each of their own individual departments and units, you now have what I call a framework that actually helps control the chaos.

The chaos. That would be all over the place, every individual leader can be charged with the responsibility of saying how are you welcoming people into your organization? Into your department? Are you giving them a sense of belonging? Do you treat them as though they are valued you? Do they understand what their role is? Do they see how it connects to others in the organization and then however you shared with them what their future is? What is their direction? Do you spend time with them and developing them all of that falls into place? It’s very simple things to do. It’s just a matter of people saying, oh those are the things I need to do. I can do it. So I want to share with you the difference and what happens in organizations. People sometimes use correlation all data and they use correlation all data to predict future outcomes. So I want to share with you the fact that you really want to look for causal effect data? Not correlation all data. Now, am I going to tell you that you should never use correlation of data? No, because all correlation does, it says that there is a statistical relationship between 22 items and you can actually create either a statistical relationship against or for so it’s either way it’s either to be one or the other but they don’t cause the other.

So I’m going to ask you this. So Thomas, you’ve experienced rainy days in your past. I’m sure I live in the UK. So absolutely without saying so. So on a rainy days, do you always open an umbrella? No, No. And have you had times when you’ve gone to the shore or had times when you’ve gone to other places in the United Kingdom or travel elsewhere where you have opened an umbrella to shade you from the sun. Um, I may, I may be the worst person to ask this question. But um, I haven’t personally done that now. Have you observed other people who have? Yes. Great. So what you have said to me then is that I have had rainy days and I’ve not open an umbrella. I’ve also opened an umbrella or seen umbrellas opened on sunny days. So rainy, rainy days and umbrellas have a correlation or relationship, I can correlate that on a rainy day. More umbrellas will be opened than not, but rainy days do not cause umbrellas to be open because by the previous conversation, we know that we open umbrellas on sunny days and they don’t cause it to rain.

So looking at correlations data is to really understand you’re trying to create a relationship and you might be able to predict some future values based on it, but you don’t get a cause and effect. If you’re looking at leadership, you’re looking at culture, you’re looking at what you want to do in an organization, to create the hard dollars for all the activities you put in, your training programs, your leadership development programs, your talent acquisition to bring in the people should be focusing on creating cultural fit to create cohesion cultures. Now, the other thing that also happens and this is my next series of questions for you is that many times when people hear me for the first time, they think that I’m trying to make every company exactly the same. So I want to use this example with you and talk about chocolate cake. So Thomas, have you eaten chocolate cake before? Once or twice? Yeah, good. So you’ve had it more than one time and more than likely you’ve had it from a different baker. Would that be true? Good. Did those chocolate cakes when you had them taste exactly the same? No. Great, but you recognise that it was chocolate cake?

Yeah. Okay, great. That’s the cohesion culture. So every time you think about it and the reason is because aside from the cocoa, the primary ingredients in a chocolate cake are the milk, the eggs and the wheat or the flower, and there’s a multitude of solutions that you can have for that. So you can have different eggs products, you can have different milk products, you can have different wheat gluten free, whatever, bleached whole grain, whatever you want to put into it. So it’s a matter of mixing those items, but you still, when the chocolate cake is served, you still recognise it as chocolate cake. Same thing for the cohesion culture, it’s about the three elements of belonging value and shared mutual commitment and the good news is is that if you produce those three items then you’re going to end up with a very effective culture in your organization and one that is going to be extremely easy for people to follow and to learn and to understand because it isn’t complicated, remember I said in the beginning to create an effective culture, it needs three things.

Senior leadership has to be focused on Those three strategic elements. What you do in those elements has to be honest, genuine, authentic. And then lastly it has to be so easy that people will live and breathe it and own it. So now the good news for you Thomas and for those folks who are listening, is that every time you see a piece of chocolate cake, you’re gonna say, oh there’s a cohesion culture, okay? Or maybe just bring a chocolate cake into work with that work? No, but it wouldn’t hurt who wouldn’t want a nice treat, Right? So what’s your take on the, let’s say the big Corporates and not to tire them all with the same brush, but I think there’s a people are aware of a big corporate company who has like slogans on the wall but is perhaps not, it’s theory, but it’s not, it’s not practical if you like, what’s your thoughts on that? Oh well exactly what you would say is that you should put up on the wall, whatever it is that you’re going to follow and do.

Although, um, sometimes so seeing insincerity on the wall or having a comment of, of saying that, you know, I want to do what I want to do, not necessarily what’s good for you, but what’s good for me? We wouldn’t want to see those words on the wall. So we tend to try to put something more favourable on the wall, but it goes back to what I said from the very beginning, like don’t bother putting this stuff out there if you’re not going to do it. And the hardest thing is for employees who want to work an environment that wants that and they want to know. And sometimes I have people who come to me on the mentoring, you know, and again, I coach individuals sometimes who are younger in their organizational and they want to know like how can I fix this and how can I change? And the reality is, is that you can be a change agent within your organization, but it’s a much slower process when you have the power of the authority to make the changes easier for those things to happen because you’ll, you’ll be able to feed them through the organization. What is helpful is to make sure that really whatever you’re saying is really what you’re going to do and that you don’t provide conflicting messages.

I’m sure you may be familiar or listeners will be familiar who might be paying attention very soon to this. Uh, information is that there was a global company who put out a culture memo and that culture memo was not reflective of realistically what people thought the organization was supposed to be and it was all about growth and an opportunity, but what it turned into was more of a messaging of productivity and focusing on not being a barrier or not being a constraint or not fully expressing yourself because you may have a viewpoint that’s different than someone else’s and in organizations you should be able to allow individuals to express themselves. Sometimes what they express may not be the way you think as a leader. Well then you have an opportunity to really evaluate that and decide, Is that good thinking or not? And if that’s not good thinking or not productive thinking or very positive thinking for what you want as an organization, how did that person get there?

Did they get there because they haven’t been fed, Did we not create any influence, you know, in organizations, they have the opportunity to exercise two different types of power. The first is what we call institutional power or organizational power and that is when the leader is in charge and so therefore they can provide commands or direction they help people adhere to protocols, to processes to legal ways in which things need to be done. And those that kind of power is great. There’s no problem with it. It’s only a problem when the individual leader uses it in a coercive manner, when they’ve used it as a quid pro quo or when they have used it to try to get their way with no justification as to why a leader who uses influential power will explain the why behind things. They will actually teach and aspire vision as opposed to trying to control vision and control people. They will get people to do the right things because individuals will know it is the right thing to do and they will believe it’s the right thing to do because the value system of the leader and the value systems of the organization are such that I can easily believe that to be true.

What we find is that we must do those types of things if we really want to really create the right environment in an organization. So, you know, I’m really just telling you don’t put something on the wall that you’re not willing to stand behind the gap between what a leader says and what a leader does has to be like this. So, for those who are watching, they’ll see that my palms pressed together for those listening, it’s the press the palms together. That means leader says and the leader does and they have it has to be so tight because if there’s any gaps in between, it changes the potential for interpretation and it changes the way individuals will, uh, will review it. And when we make choices and decisions, our value system is engaged. Our value system is based on our understanding and adoption of integrity and integrity. Are those really values of moral and ethical and legal convictions that we uphold, um, knowing whether or not we’re doing something to harm someone. I tell folks here is the best way.

You can define integrity. If anything that you do harm someone else, it’s not integrity. So you ask. So you don’t have to worry too much. Are you honest in what you’re saying and doing? If you are, then you’re operating with integrity. Jack Welch had a, in his book, winning that he wrote with his wife, Susie before he passed away. He refers to integrity as a ticket to the game. He says, everybody has to have integrity. He said, if you don’t have integrity, then you don’t have the primary characteristic by which to operate. And um, that integrity doesn’t mean, oh, I am a, you know, a difficult person. And so I believe I’m a difficult person. So therefore I’m going to act like a difficult person means I have integrity. No, If you are doing something that creates harm or some sort of concern to someone else, then you’re not necessarily operating in an area of integrity and you’ll need to just really re-evaluate what your actions are and fix them and you need to call them out in an organization stuff to leadership to call out when the leaders, other leaders need to be accountable to each other.

I need to call it out when it’s not happening, but if the leader of the company and the CEO and the most executive people don’t believe that’s the right process or the right thing to do, then you either have to figure out ways in which you can survive in that culture or go find another culture. What do you think about when I first heard about the cohesion culture and the principles I thought is not necessarily positive, it’s just being consistent. So like a company allegedly like Amazon that’s a nine til nine working hours type thing. If they had like a positioning for their employees, like we want, you know, we want to be ruthless and we’re gonna get lowest prices and we want you to work as hard as you possibly can. Would, would that be an example of cohesion culture, if everyone was also on board with that particular let’s say philosophy, as long because again the research is those three primary elements belonging value and shared mutual commitment.

So in the value category, if we all agree that working 9-9, trying to get the best and lowest rates that we possibly could and those actions that we did do not harm someone else, then we would be operating in an area that would say, yeah, we would, we could say that would be cohesion. and again, so when you are hiring people into the organization, what I also find interesting is this People sometimes even coming into organization knowing they’re going to work 99 and then they want to complain about it. I always find that to be interesting that you know from human behaviour that we will take. You know, we know what the expectations are, but yet we want to go in and carve out the expectations based to fit us. We want to customise it and sometimes it doesn’t happen in an organization. There are specific requirements for jobs. Not every job in an organization will be virtual today, even though there was a large trend of moving to virtual, there are still some positions that will need to be you know, have people actually working inside the reality Is that the difference between having that understood as an expectation is different than simply saying that if you don’t return to work, I’m going to make you a contract employee.

That’s a very different conversation than simply saying your role requires you to be on site. This is not a virtual position because working virtually today, as we should be thinking about it is not a benefit, it’s just opposite, it’s a place of work. So you simply say you may work in a remote or virtual location is acceptable to the organization. It’s not a benefit. Now, individuals may choose to apply that as a benefit to themselves saying, well that’d be awesome when I get to work, if I want to work remotely from home or virtually from home, that would be a really great thing to do. That would really matter a lot to my life. You might see that in a positive way, but it isn’t an employee benefit and that’s what’s really important for organizations to understand is that when they’re defining their positions, their defining what they’re doing, such as the work hours or the requirements of the individual job, they have to be fair and uniform across the board when they’re fair and uniform for those positions.

So anybody who has to work 9 to 5 should be having that whatever the same job type is. Now, if that organization says every employee has to work nine 95 or 99 or whatever that time is, then that’s fine. Then they have to make sure they’re administrating that fairly throughout the organization. When they when they accomplish those things, then yeah, they could have a cohesion culture in that way. But for the most part, I would tell you the wisdom that I would say from that is telling a person that they have to work 9-9 and they have to work all out and all hours to get that and they’re not an owner of the organization? The likelihood is that’s not going to happen based on human behaviour. In terms of implementation, just coming back to that briefly, a few simple steps to get started with cohesion, culture Or do you recommend someone doing if they’re if they’re new to this concept? Well, the first thing I do and I actually used is one of the things that I, one of the activities I give individuals, we first start talking after I make sure that the CEO is on board.

The CEO is not on board that I don’t even do an engagement because it’s just going to fall apart. So there’s no point. It’s just ridiculous. I don’t want to take people’s money because my brand is based on whether or not people feel if I say to you that I’m going to give you ideas and suggestions to retain top talent but I need to make sure I’m delivering on it. And so I know that if the CEO isn’t on board is not going to happen. But what I will tell folks is you need to do some observation and you should do it for a minimum of two weeks and you can do it a little bit longer, What you should be doing is paying attention to what are the greetings that are happening in the organization? You’re in a virtual environment? And what are the greetings that are happening when you’re on online? Are you offering the opportunity to have any greetings or conversations prior to the session? Actually beginning much like when I gave that example earlier in the podcast. Um, so you’re, you’re looking for the greetings and how people are interacting? Do people just simply come in, go to their office, go to their space? They don’t say anything, go to lunch, don’t say anything. Go home at the end of the day, Don’t say anything. What are those greetings that are happening?

What’s occurring in the, in the hallway and in common areas where you are? The next thing is listen for laughter, you want to listen to the sounds of the organization, What are you hearing? And I’m not saying that you want to hear laughter like belly laughing, but it’s the laughter that you want to hear. It’s the easy is there a light heartedness that’s occurring within the organization that you’re able to kind of see? Is there a little bit of fun being interjected? And of course, when we talk about fun or when I talk about fun, I’m always meaning the appropriate level of fun that is available. Never, never fun. Never making fun of an individual or doing something of that nature. But I mean just, you know, sometimes people will express some funny things that may have happened to them in the day and just have a good hearty laugh about it. Um, some really really light hearted activities? Maybe some sort of a group activity, a group building activity or team building activity or team bonding activity.

So there’s something about that, we know that when there’s a little lightness and levity in an organization, it reduces the amount of stress and today, more than ever we’re starting to understand more about the mental stress of employees and really focusing on the mental wellbeing of the employee. And some of that could be attributed back to that 99 conversation that we had earlier. And then the last thing that we want that I want them to do is I want them to look for the Camaraderie or the affirmations that are being made between people sometimes when we’re physical, it could be a handshake a high five. but it can also occur in a verbal sense. It could occur in the way that they respond to an email where they affirm someone, so you’re looking for that. So if you’re looking for greetings, you’re listening for laughter and you’re trying to determine what are the affirmations that people will extend to each other? Well, someone compliment someone else for the work that they’ve done. Well, they give people credit for an idea that they have, even if that idea doesn’t manifest itself to anything, but will they give somebody credit for that.

All of those types of things will help you begin to determine where your culture is because when you find that you don’t have greetings, you don’t have people interacting, you don’t hear any laughter, no levity, no lightness in the organization and people aren’t affirming themselves, but they are only trying to get what they want to get. You don’t have a cohesion culture, then you need me particularly like the conclusion to that one. And yeah, I’m feeling a little bit better about the culture of my company, so thank you for that. By your goals. My goals are specifically to try. So if I look at it from a business perspective, it’s to try to help as many people as possible, be successful in what they do. If I can help turn at least one more organization around to have a cohesion culture, even if I have to work with that one client, Like it’s not about having 500 clients or 50 clients or five clients, it’s having a client who wants to do this work, who will make a difference in people’s lives. These cultures will make a difference in the way people interact.

Generally people spend more time at work than they do anywhere else they think about work, even when their home. So there’s a lot of interaction with work, so why not try to make it the best experience possible and if I can do that, then it would be a great thing and it would be an opportunity for me to empower individuals to do that. So really my goal is to try to help as many people be successful as possible. I also volunteer time to individuals, some start-up companies, some start-up leaders. I actually do pro bono work with them and help them get started and get off the ground because I recognise that in an environment or in an economy all ships rise when they have an opportunity to self-actualise and people will not self-actualised if they feel threatened or if they feel that their security or their protection is is you know, under some constant scrutiny or possibly not happening. So if it goes back to Maslow’s theory, very simply, so if in an organization you don’t have a cohesion culture and you have a coalition, you have a culture of fear or retribution, then you’re not giving people an opportunity to self-actualise and growth and development and organization comes from self-actualising.

As a matter of fact, the statistics will tell us that 50% of the increase in productivity and creativity of an organization is attributed to the fact that cohesion is present. We know that globally $7 trillion dollars a year are spent in lack and loss of productivity because teams do not work cohesively together. and so I know there’s a lot of work out there to be done. I know I’m not going to do it all or be able to be all to everyone, but I and certainly reach a lot more people and it’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book, oh Asian culture so that I could give a guy to individuals along the way, They could see it. I did not write a book that needed three parts before you can figure it out. I gave you everything in one book, on page one of three of the book, it shows your visual of the talent retention model, so you can see all the pieces interacting and working together and I described each of the pieces in the book, so it’s not like you’re having to try to take what I’m saying today and go like well that’s a lot of concept, how do I figure it out?

You can get the book and help you figure it out in that regard. So I do that. The other thing that I also did was I created cohesion Culture camp and so I worked with a a renowned individual who does team building and team bonding activities, known for his work around the globe and so we partnered and well partner, just wrong word, we create a strategic alliance, there’s no partnership agreement, there’s a strategic alliance And we created cohesion culture camp which is a five module self-paced program that leaders can actually take to help them create cohesion cultures. That program is also set up so that they can have employees take the program as well. So once the leadership has taken the program, individual employees can take it And I have several clients who asked me to come in and do these group coaching that helps support the material after the individuals have gone through the session. So it’s really great. It’s called Cohesion Culture course dot com. So if you do want to check it out, that’s how you would do it.

And so it gives me the opportunity to give people a model in a book that they can actually follow along with the information they need, I tell them how to get started and what to do and then also to expand it to be scalable then they can actually go to and actually take that course and engage with me and I’ll help you figure out what else to do from there.

Okay. Well, I was gonna say where’s the best place for people to find you. But are there any other places other than that?

Well, the best place to reach me is and that’s the website and there’s a connect form. And so the connect form is real simple, gives me your contact information that I reach back out to you and once I do, then all of my contact information is in the signature line and I just want to make sure that people seriously want to connect with me before I give them my mobile number or some other phone number and if they are, then they’ll go there. It’s a simple form, they’ll make a connection and life will go on from there and I get a lot of business from word of mouth. So I hardly ever advertise for the work that I’m doing this year. I didn’t have to advertise at all. Basically, it’s word of mouth of being out in the industry and having made relationships with people that really matter or make a difference. So I don’t doubt that. I don’t doubt that for a second. Thank you.

So thank you very much for the value today and it’s great talking to you.

Thank you, awesome talking to you, Thomas. Thank you so much for having me on the show.