PeopleTested Media → an Author Spotlight On Judy Ryan’s Book What’s The Deal With Workplace Culture Change?”

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Jack Tator, Publisher at PeopleTested Media interviews author Judy Ryan on her new book “What’s the Deal With Workplace Culture Change?”

Interview Transcript

hello and welcome to the PeopleTested podcast with your host Jack Tater

hi and welcome to the March/April PeopleTested podcast today we have the pleasure of having Judy Ryan with us Judy is the founder and owner of lifeworks systems and Judy is also the author of “what’s the deal with workplace culture change” Judy’s going to discuss with us today on our podcast about how she helps businesses to affect workplace culture change i hope you enjoy the broadcast thank you very much for joining us here on the people tested podcast today we have the pleasure of speaking to Judy Ryan judy ryan is the author of what’s the deal with workplace culture change Judy it’s great to join great to be with you thanks very much for joining us today thank you jack i just want to say i really appreciate you and all you’ve been able to do for me by publishing the book i feel like you put me on the map in a new way and i’m just really really grateful to you well i’m grateful to you judy i mean i was very impressed with with what what you’re doing and uh the changes and the impact that you’re making on businesses of all sizes out there so it’s it was it was my pleasure to to help you to get your message out there because i think it is an important message and uh an important way to help businesses today in this in this changing environment so i appreciate that judy but why don’t you tell me a little bit about and tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and uh you have a very interesting background maybe that’s a good place to start you can tell us a little bit about your professional background and and uh um and what you’re doing now okay well i really i think that my background was developed almost as early as when i had my family and it was really because i was seeing people adults and children in work and in even in the community at large that just felt so discouraged and felt pretty miserable you hear people all the time saying i just want to get out of the corporate culture i feel like i’m just a number that sort of thing and i knew that there were better ways of doing things so that people didn’t so often get discarded or feel put down or feel overlooked or you know become miserable i saw business owners miserable i saw educators miserable i saw families miserable and i knew that there were better ways to do things because i had happened upon them and i had been trained in them and i was having the results of that so in about 1998 i left a very lucrative position with a software uh company and founded my own work and actually founded the company in 2002 but did my work under another umbrella for a couple of years full-time and really my goal is to create conditions where people are their best and so when when people hear about culture change they don’t really know exactly what that all is they kind of have their own view of oh is it is it good communications well yes it is is it good teamwork well yes it is is it leadership development well yes it is you know is it emotional intelligence yes it is so it’s kind of hard for people to grasp what is a healthy workplace and what makes it a healthy one and that’s why i was really intrigued with you describing the purpose of your series of books what’s the deal with it’s just to be able to answer the most basic questions that people might have about workplace culture so i got started because i could see that there was another way that was not being furthered and it’s still not consistently mainstream yet there are a lot of other companies that are starting to recognize the importance of healthy workplace culture and employee engagement and all of that but overall it’s still relatively new in in its infancy in terms of becoming more mainstream now the whole concept of workplace culture i you know i i go back to to my years in in the corporate world and you know there was always the the work on defining a mission statement and uh uh and trying to get to motivate employees uh what what would you say what would you say to a to a company is how they would how they could ultimately define what their workplace culture is i mean is there any sort of a quick check or or quick litmus test to try and understand what kind of a workplace culture a company has if it’s something maybe they haven’t put a lot of focus in in on or just a way to just kind of quickly say here’s what our workplace culture looks like at this point in time well i think that’s a really um rich question first of all because you mentioned that a lot of companies started to try to create a mission statement or a purpose statement and they wanted people to focus on that and be motivated by that and kind of be aligned by that and that’s a good idea in and of itself and it’s very much aligned with what we’re doing we help people be purpose driven where i think culture has often missed is that they don’t recognize the importance of putting down the old ways of trying to get good corporate citizenship through control methods and instead really developing people into leaders so that ultimately every employee becomes responsible for their relationships they become responsible for how how motivated they are not motivated by others but that they are internally motivated and how much they are passionate and excited about their workplace and can remove those blocks so so what has happened is that a lot of times people say i can’t be a good boss and be a friend to my staff or i can’t be a good parent and be a friend of my children and the reason that they say that is because the old way of doing things is kind of do it because i said so do it because you’ll lose your job if you don’t do it if i dangle a carrot do it if i tell you that i’m proud of you but none of those what we call extrinsic motivation really develops good employees so we say that the primary responsibility in a healthy workplace culture is to create an encouraging environment where you’re effective at transferring responsibility to other people so that they can become empowered leaders and that’s often at odds with the practices that are actually in play in most companies now do you find do you find that there’s differences uh in terms of workplace culture and affecting change as it relates to workplace workplace culture based upon the size of the company i mean can this is this something that works for a small business as well as a large business and and and does it not work for a very large business what’s been your experience that’s a good question too it’s actually for any size business i have a one company that i’ve worked with for five years that has seven people and they’re absolutely their their brand is their workplace culture so that’s you know it depends on the type of leader and what the leader’s ultimate endgame is and theirs is to have to be able to attract and keep good people to be able to cause a specific level of confidence and success for all of their clients their clients now they’ve won multiple awards for their workplace culture so that’s on the small end of the spectrum we’ve also worked with clients that have 1500 people in their in their company and the way that we are able to do that is because we believe that everybody in a workplace should have access to the same tools and strategies and skills and that the organization should become masterful in making those new practices part of the regular operations of the business and so that’s that’s really the biggest challenge for most organizations how do we take this new information and turn it into actual resources for our organization whether we’re small or large the one that has 1500 they have over 400 facilities all over the two-state region so the way that we help them do that is we help them get that out through a combination of life programming and online programming so they’re let’s say it’s a slow steady process it’s like when a child learns mathematics they don’t learn in one year sometimes they learn it over a period of time and that’s the same with culture change it can take a period of time of slow and steady change and measuring and applying and practicing and making sure that it becomes part of the behavior i hope that answered your question oh yeah no no no absolutely absolutely you know one of the reasons i was very excited about um having you as as as an author and involved with our book series is because i’ve noticed recently over the last few years there was always this thought process that uh the customers are focused and businesses would say the customer comes first and i’ve noticed that there’s been a focus with businesses that are service oriented businesses or customer focused businesses uh or even even just large size businesses where they’re trying to really make an impact where they’ve said you know what our customer is important but what’s even more important is our employees and a and a satisfied and a motivated employee will bring in more customers and and i think we’re seeing that with a number of businesses just recently i i was on uh shake shack uh which is a you know obviously a a food business uh the ceo said his focus is on making sure that the employees are satisfied and if the employees are satisfied that will give him a differentiator and a competitive advantage to bring in more customers do you see this as a trend as well that more companies are starting to pay attention to ensuring that their employees uh are in a place where they’re motivated uh enthused um and in the proper workplace uh and that is what is helping them to uh grow their businesses and in essence is your what you’re going in and teaching these businesses helping them to get to that point i think there is a trend toward that oh and mainly because unfortunately or fortunately however you look at it i think that the facts in the research indicate that for business not to do that because there’s a cost associated with disengaged employees and a gain associated with engaged employees so for example 16 of the population is considered actively disengaged and those are the employees that are real troublemakers you know they’re working against the system they’re um gossiping they’re negative they’re testament they’re not they’re underperforming it’s interesting because there’s a lot of old programming you know the customer is always right the adults always deserve respect as opposed to the youth that sort of you know that sort of programming of kind of uh win-lose dynamics what we really promote is that everybody is important including the employer so when we work with employees we work to build an encouraging environment where they feel empowered they feel connected and contributing and actually even lovable but we also help them to cause the same in their employers and in their managers because they’re equally important to that process so it’s it’s not an either or and i think that’s why a lot of people complain about millennials or they’re having trouble retaining millennials it’s because they know that it’s possible to have a more democratic mutually respectful environment and they’re not very tolerant when it’s not so it’s really good business for and i think business owners are looking at it from even a bottom line emphasis it’s important for them to make the connection between if my employees are not happy if they’re not engaged there’s a cost associated with that and so more and more business owners are aware of that connection there’s even statistics to back that up do you find that that point about you about the millennials is a very interesting one are you finding that businesses are stepping up and saying um that they’re looking to do things like affect this workplace culture change in line with the needs of securing millennials and and retaining millennials do you see that as a as a trend and a need for businesses i don’t know that they always realize that that’s why the negative trend has been happening a lot you hear a lot of um companies complain about millennials that they’re entitled that they don’t they job hop all of these things when we work with companies we specifically tell them this is an unconventional culture model it is one based on shared power on mutual respect on everybody developed in moving away from control methods to responsibility-based methods and so when we make that connection for them then they see oh well that would make sense why they would job hop or why they would feel disillusioned and so instead of seeing it as there’s a problem the millennial they’re seeing it as maybe the system needs to be you know really considered at this time and same with engagement i think if i were to say to most business owners don’t you want your employees to be happy and engaged some of them may say well i don’t really know if i care and that’s honest-to-god truth for some of them but even from a business perspective it doesn’t make sense for them to ignore their employees engagement and their employees satisfaction because when they’re unhappy it does trickle down to their customers and it really has a huge effect on their reputation they’re able their ability to grow all of the possible solutions that could be put in place a lot of that they don’t even know they’re taking a hit on those until it’s pointed out right right and like you say the old ways of doing things have to be changed to address the new uh the new generations coming in and working so yeah yeah the old stuff and not only not only human systems which is what i focus on but really successful businesses of the future are going to be systematized in every way they’re going to need to be able to understand how they do what they do so that nobody within them is it’s not dependent on any one person or small group and so human systems are just another area where people need to have very specific standardized ways that we deal with gossip we deal with under a performance we deal with negative behavior we deal with communication problems if they don’t have a standardized way that’s actually effective all of those things collectively cost them and same with their sales systems their marketing systems their accounting systems all of it okay right right well why don’t we talk a little bit about your book because i think we’re finding a lot of success with the book not just with employees and and and but as well as with employers that i think the book works very well for laying out a plan uh and the reasons for why workplace culture change is important so why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about uh about the book and maybe some of the reasons for um for why you put this book together well i think the main reason i put this together is i wanted to just answer the most fundamental questions and that’s what this book really does it’s it’s simple things like how do i know if the condition of my workplace culture needs to be addressed how do i affect that what do i need to do what do i need to learn what what is the part that i need to play would i have need to have my senior team understand and commit to do you know why would we transform our culture if we were going to put in the time and the money what would be the payoff for that and if we were going to transform it how do we know what we transform it from into because there’s lots of models out there and so you want to understand the various models and what model that we provide what is the benefit of that model and if i do work on my business and the culture how am i going to stay you know keep current within my business which is always a a challenge because most people that need culture change they’re actually in freakout mode and they’re often feeling like things are out of control so how do i put a process in place that allows me to continue to function but also work on my business and then is there a process for getting there and that’s the part i think that’s the question that i most like to be able to explain to people in the book is yes there is a process you don’t have to reinvent the wheel there’s a there’s a specific way to design something for you that’s within a framework that you can make work in your workplace and it’s affordable and it’s all of that so that people can say okay i have a picture of where i’m starting what i’m ending on what am i gaining in my culture and those are questions that people i always say it’s like putting a puzzle together with no picture of the puzzle in front of you so my intent with the book is to paint that picture so they at least know what those pieces are right right well i think the book is fabulous the book is so information rich that it’s it’s it’s very much it’s very much like its own textbook i mean you’ve got a lot of stuff in there a lot of ways for people uh to to processes in there i mean reasons for why they they need to be doing these things and and you know it works well as as a standalone as well as even uh kind of a textbook for all employees to use in conjunction with each other yeah i i wonder if you could just share with our listeners judy a little bit about uh your business and what you do uh with businesses in addition to the book i know the book is a way that and i know you’ve used the book with a number of companies but maybe talk a little bit about some of the other services that you provide out there to companies in line with the book to really affect workplace culture change well gosh i appreciate that question a lot we have spent a lot of time and and invested a lot in making our work truly distributive so that we can bring it to people no matter where they are no matter how big or small they are and that it is um very end to end so what we usually do with customers is we start with a couple of assessments one is measuring the levels of trust the levels of engagement and how well people in the environment understand and are approving of the purpose values visions goals procedures and roles of the company so that they’re on board with all that and sometimes they don’t even know what they are exactly or they know what they are and they don’t like them so it’s really important to know that we also do a temperament assessment it’s not the disc or the myers-briggs but it’s one that’s very strength based and it’s very memorable so people use it frequently they refer to it frequently and it’s based on four colors then we go and we actually start the month by month training and we usually do two of these individual modules over a calendar month people can watch those on their own time they’re they’re designed to be fun they have video they have interactions they have exercises things that you would normally see in a live workshop and then the group leaders come together once a month and they lead a group session to review what was learned in the modules make it relevant to their purpose and values and then work to apply it as an operational way of you know being a resource in their company and when when all that’s going on our team is mentoring the executive team and the executive team is learning the mentor there are direct reports and so there’s this this transition from a control driven environment to one that’s focused on intrinsic motivation and all throughout that process we’re just regularly working with those executives and helping them to own the transformation over time and then what we measure at the beginning we set performance targets and then we measure those throughout the duration of our engagement with them and at the end the the goal is to make sure that these uh results are exceeded are met and or exceeded so that the the company can say wow that was worth our time and our money and investing in this because we can see a tangible return on investment so that’s kind of the the end-to-end process and fortunately or unfortunately i don’t want to scare any listeners but that process is not a short process if you’re going to do it right it’s a slow and steady process right and i think what our listeners have to recognize too is that you work with a full team of people uh who have been doing this and experts and knowledgeable people who are uh who’ll be engaged in the process and and moving the company forward through this process as well yes yes some of them have had one of my people has had over 22 years in the corporate environment and understands how not to do and why it’s so important we also have we have in addition to our corporate side of the business we have our education and family sides of the business and some of our people from that side have a background in education and they have left their you know education jobs for example because they want to change the faith of the way that we do culture in general because it all starts often in our most basic institutions like our schools were designed for to create compliant conforming factory workers that’s why they’re not holding up often and that same model is used in business and it it doesn’t necessarily get us the best result right right right now i know uh when we put the book together there was a lot of uh feedback and and uh information we received from business leaders uh about their interest in ensuring that you got into print can you share a little bit of the feedback that you’ve gotten from business leaders to to your business and and to the book well um we did get some really nice endorsements one of them was from maxine clark the founder of build-a-bear she said i i don’t know why this approach is not being used in all businesses and that this should really be looked at we also had one of our top clients is that client that i mentioned that has 1500 people that she’s responsible for she’s the divisional vice president of operations for rehab care so she also spoke and we’ve worked with her over multiple years the client that i said that was smaller that had the seven people they’ve worked with us for five years and i wanted them to share multiple examples of how we’ve been able to impact their culture so they’re actually the lead in endorsement even though they’re not as well known but they’ve really dug deep and have really made tremendous change to their culture and then we have some business owners that have worked with multi-million dollar projects and have been working beside us as partners and as colleagues and that have a knowledge of what we’re doing for multiple entrepreneurs and business owners and have uh one is bill purnett one is los landis who are really talking about how this approach has time has finally arrived and that this approach to workplace culture especially a process driven approach is a game changer just like some of the other game changers uh like michael gerber’s in this people that have said this is a shift that’s going on right now and we all need to pay attention to it right right that’s great that’s great so judy let me just um ask as we finish up here um how can our listeners and business leaders uh find out more about you get in touch with you what are the best ways for for them to reach out to you and and to uh get in contact with you and see your resources that are available to them well what i would hope they would do today and this won’t be forever but for today we are running a promotion right now and we have a special page on our website for this and it’s if they just go to

that would be a win-win for all of us for them for us for you because we want people to have the book and to have some samples of what we do so that they can really get the importance of this culture change approach in this process so that that would be one way the other would just be to visit our website which is lifework okay of course they could always email me at that address as well judy at so judy at and what was the name of that that page you’ve got set up now specifically for the special offer

okay that’s very good and once again Judy’s company is called LifeWork systems and Judy you’re located in the St Louis area yes we’re in the midwest and we but we can go we have online training and people that will travel right right we can go anywhere in the english-speaking areas of the world yes and i can attest to that judy does get get all around the country and uh and she does a lot of things online and a lot of things over the phone but uh meeting her in person is is an absolute pleasure as well and and to have her uh in front of your uh team is a very compelling and and ultimately powerful um change agent for your business uh judy thank you so much for your time i really appreciate it um and uh once again judy’s book is called what’s the deal with workplace culture change it is available on amazon uh in paperback and kindle you can also get it at any bookstore just walk in and if they don’t have it you just ask them for it as well as even check with your local library local libraries have it either in their uh in their library or as part of their online offerings a lot of our our books are now available through as an ebook through a local library so you can check with your local library but judy thank you so much for joining us i really appreciate it jack 100 thanks to you as well well thanks for joining us that was Judy Ryan of LifeWork Systems and Judy is the author of “What’s the deal with workplace culture change” as judy mentioned please check out her website

You can get her book free as part of this so please take a look at that and thank you for joining us on the people tested podcast and we hope to have you back with us again next month

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