When your encourage your staff to bring their whole selves to work, the result is deeper conversations and stronger relationships, not only amongst co-workers, but also clients.
In the Pulse of the Practice podcast entitled, “Bring it All”, Paul Miller, Owner of Business by Design, and I discuss the importance of bringing your whole self to work with John Garrett, a consultant, comedian and creator of the What’s Your “And” podcast. Organizations come to John to create a stronger culture based on their true differentiator—their people.
Encouraging balance brings success
As a former CPA, John works with leaders to break down barriers, foster unity, and strengthen bonds to build a strong culture. He says having a genuine interest in your staff outside of their technical skills is important, even critical, to differentiating your firm.
John calls sharing these insights into our lives our “ands”. For example, I’m an accountant and a painter (or whatever motivates you outside of work).
“You hired the whole person,” he says. “You didn’t hire just the accounting CPA part or the admin part or whatever their technical role is. The technical skills that they use at work are maybe 10 or 15% of who they are as a person. They have family and friends and faith and interests and passions outside of work. So find out what those are. Ask, and share yours.”
Strengthening these relationships is particularly important for those in a leadership position.
“As a leader, it’s super crucial that you’re a little bit vulnerable and share the human side of you,” he says.
Planting the seed for deeper relationships
If you’re a firm owner that hasn’t developed this type of culture, now’s the time. The pandemic presents an opportunity to use outside environmental change to produce change inside of your business. Ask your staff about a new hobby they’ve picked up over the past year and take the conversation from there.
“When it comes time to give out a gift card or a holiday package, say, ‘Hey, I know you’re crazy about your dog. Here’s a gift card to PetSmart.’ Simple things like that show people you care,” says John.
After a year of change, our bonds with co-workers have deepened whether we realize it or not. Letting your staff know you remember their personal interests can be extremely impactful.
“We’re on video calls, we’re in each other’s homes,” says John. “Don’t act like that didn’t happen. There’s human sides to us, and clearly if there’s something behind you in a Zoom or on a Teams meeting, then that’s important.”
Celebrating people as your differentiator
At the end of the day, what makes your organization unique is your people – but not in the traditional business sense. It’s more than just their technical skills.
“Software is the same across the board. Technical skills are pretty much the same across the board. It’s your people’s personalities and outside of work passions,” says John. “The core of your organization is the collective ‘ands’ of your people. So shine a light on that.”
If further proof was needed about the importance of acknowledging our passions outside of work, studies have shown that people with more dimensions to their life are less prone to anxiety and depression. Clearly, this is a huge benefit for firms—and even more important amidst the backdrop of the pandemic.
“I would argue that having more dimensions makes you a better professional,” says John. “And then as a leader of an organization, it humanizes you.”
Applying the same logic to clients
John says when you share what your passionate about, it can resonate with clients as well.
“There’s an example of a guy on my podcast that worked for a firm outside of Philadelphia, and he loved micro brewing beer at home,” he says. “But he was burned out and he’s like, ‘I would like to go try to get clients or I’m probably going to quit.’
“So they said go knock yourself out and see what you can do. They’re now the number one firm for micro brews in Philly. And every day he’s hanging out with the coolest people he knows because he loves beer. And they love him because he knows all the lingo and why they got the more expensive product instead of the cheaper hops or whatever it is.”
“And so suddenly now he’s excited to go to work. He’s excited to work on this client,” says John. “It can’t happen all the time, but there’s expertise that we have that’s untapped, that we don’t even know about. And we should care.”
And I say, cheers to that.