Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 103: Stop Employee Complacency with Len Herstein

June 10, 2022 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 3 Episode 103
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 103: Stop Employee Complacency with Len Herstein
Show Notes Transcript

Len and Kyle discuss eradicating complacency in HR, management, and leadership positions, how HR teams can remain vigilant against competition and keep top talent in the face of the Great Resignation, and how better employee advocacy can encourage a more engaged team. 

It's not surprising that the more success and power one cultivates, the greater their chance of becoming overconfident and complacent. Author Len Herstein, who has led branding teams for huge companies such as Coca-Cola and Nabisco, has seen this scenario unfold all too often. He wrote his new book Be Vigilant: Strategies to Stop Complacency, Improve Performance, and Safeguard Success in order to aid HR professionals and management leaders in eradicating complacency and unrest in employees before it begins. He can speak to:

  • The Danger of Success: Why past HR successes may be setting you up for future failures, and how to avoid this common scenario in a constantly evolved workplace
  • Question Everything: A key part of being vigilant is questioning everything (even things that go right) - how to brief and debrief your way to continued success
  • The Metrics Trap: Why the way your reading your metrics may be encouraging overconfidence, and how to gauge your performance safely

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

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Len Herstein:

That idea of gathering information and processing it keeps me in the moment makes me intentional and keeps me aware, which is half the battle of fighting complacency if I had no choice but to write a ticket every time I pulled someone over, would I pay attention anything? They were really saying to me? Would I really pay attention to what was going on the fact that maybe they've got a crying kid in the back or a diaper that needs to be changed or what I care about any of that stuff? Now I pulled you over, I have to write a ticket. I've got no choice. Take away discretion. Take away autonomy, you take away awareness, and that is the number one way to generate complacency. This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast where we talk to HR innovators about all things people leadership. If you're looking for places to find about new ways to think about the world of work, this is the podcast for you. Please subscribe my favorite podcast listening platform today. And leave us a review. Rebel on HR rebels.

Kyle Roed:

Welcome back, rebel HR listeners really excited for our guest this week. This week we have with us Lynn Herstein. Len knows the danger of complacency. He just wishes he had known it earlier. He is the author of a book called Be vigilant and he's on a mission to empower organizations and individuals to safeguard the success that they've worked so hard to achieve. Welcome to the show, Lynne. Thanks, Colin, appreciate it. Well, I'm really excited for this conversation. And, you know, I was I was prepping for this interview and reading through a little bit of the book. But, you know, the book is, it's all about stopping complacency. And as I reflected on that, and I was, I was thinking about that in my you know, in my personal career, and in thinking about complacency. And in the world of human resources in general, I just think it's such a risk

Len Herstein:

for all of us on a daily basis. But I think the first question that I have is, what, what prompted you to write a book about complacency? Yeah, that is a great question. I have spent a lot of the first 25 years of my of my professional career I spent in consulting, and then brand marketing, and then, you know, working for companies like Misko, Coca Cola, Campbell Soup. And then I launched my own company, where we put on marketing and branding conferences for the last 19 years. And along the way, about seven years ago, I wanted to do something that was given back to the community and volunteerism, I got involved in law enforcement. And so this was not something I always wanted to do it just opportunity came my way and, and I actually kind of dove headfirst into it and went through an academy went through 40 or 40 hours of field training and became a certified peace officer in the state of Colorado. And I go out, and I'm a reserve sheriff's deputy, which means I'm a sheriff's deputy that does everything everybody else does, I just do it for free. I was doing that. I think analysis can be something completely different. My wife questions this the validity of the psychological testing that they put me through. Somehow I made it through and I did that I thought it was gonna be completely different. But I started learning things that I was looking at it from my business lens, and I started applying it back I started applying it back to business and, and my life. And the first thing and the most important, and the most impactful thing was this concept that complacency kills. And we talk about that a lot in law enforcement, because law enforcement, we do a lot of things that are most of the time go right when they go wrong, they go really wrong. And so we have to talk about what is complacency and how it is. And I started thinking, You know what, complacency kills businesses, it kills brands, it kills teams, it kills organizations, it kills relationships, both professional and personal. And so I really got interested in this and doing a conference for 19 years, I always felt like I wanted to write a book, I spent a lot of time with authors. And, and just never had a good enough idea in my mind. And so when I kept thinking about this, I really dug into I really wanted to understand what is complacency? How do we identify it? How do we fight it? And how do we apply that to business and life? And that's where the book came from?

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, you know, it's really interesting to think about it in that context. And, you know, you think about the headlines, and, you know, I mean, there's, you know, there's no surprise that being a law enforcement officers is extremely difficult challenge, right. And if you're not prepared, or you or you make one, one, bad decision, a whole lot of bad things can happen from that one bad decision. Right. So, so as you reflected on the training that you went through, and you were kind of putting that in the context of the business community, what were some of those common themes that you figured out okay, this is, this is the root cause of some of the complacency that that, you know, causes some of these further issues. You know, what, you know, how did you identify that and what did you see what

Len Herstein:

with common themes, yeah, I mean, well, the first thing I saw is that complacency is used, the word is used a lot in, in business and culture. You know, recently in the last couple of years, that word has been thrown around a ton. You know, after we have this conversation or after your audience listens and says, conversation, you will almost guaranteed hear the word used within the next 24 hours in some way, shape, or form. And it's almost become kind of this throwaway word that we say, you know, like, hey, let's not get complacent out there, you know, hey, you know, things are, we're starting to get complacent. But nobody ever talks about what it is what it means. And what do you do about it? Right. And so, you know, one of the first things you know, to answer the first thing in this whole process is understanding what is complacency? You know, what does it actually mean? You know, if most people are being honest with themselves, if I was gonna put you on the spot right now and say, give me a one word synonym for complacency, the one word, you know, most people are going to come back and say laziness. And the reality is that that is really far from the truth. Complacency is not laziness. Laziness requires a decision. So when I'm being lazy, I have the ability to complete a task or do something, I just choose that I don't want to put in the effort to do it. You know, I could be cleaning the bathroom right now. But I'd rather be watching the football game. Okay, I have the ability to do it. And I made the conscious decision not to that's me being lazy. Complacency is usually not a conscious choice. Complacency is usually something that sneaks up on us, it's born out of success. And so this is one of the key parallels between kind of law enforcement in business and life is that the more successful we are, the more vulnerable we are to becoming overconfident to becoming self satisfied, even a bit smug. And being unaware of the potential dangers, and the threats that are lurking out there. So in law enforcement, I might have, you know, in a course of a career, you might have 1000s of traffic stops. And the reality is, you know, most of those go very predictably fine. You know, you walk up, you get the person's license registration, proof of insurance, you go back, you do what you got to do, you decide what you want to how you want to resolve the whole thing, and they go on their way. What people see in media is the very, very small percentage of time when things go wrong. And the problem is, the more things go, right, the more you let your guard down, the more you become vulnerable to when things go wrong. And it's the same in business, it's the same in life, the more success we have, the more numb we become numb to the potential dangers. And that's really what intrigued me about this entire concept about, you know, really understanding that this is, you know, so applicable in business and in life, we go, we see this every day, you're gonna see it, once we get done with this conversation, you're gonna, you're gonna start seeing it in your own life, in your own business with the people around you, again, professional or personal. It's, it's just a very applicable thing. And so understanding that this is all born from success, starts to build the awareness. And the awareness is where the key is because most people when they hear about complacency, they go to well, the opposite of complacency must be paranoia. And paranoia doesn't sound fun. Like, that sucks. I don't want to, I don't want to be a paranoid person. But the reality is that the opposite of complacency is not paranoid, it's vigilance and the differences that paranoia is based in fear. And vigilance is based in awareness. And once you can get that awareness once you can get that understanding that you're at risk for complacency, and you can start building some things into your processes at work and at home to help understand it, identify and fight it, you're already fighting the battle.

Kyle Roed:

It's really interesting. There's so much great content in there. You know, I think, for me, I was actually literally having that thought, I'm like, Yeah, you know, no, I don't want to be complacent. But no, I don't want to be like, constantly on edge and like, you know, paranoid of everything going on. So I love the fact that you focused on, you know, kind of that vigilance and that awareness being so important. But I'm sure many of us who are listening right now myself included, can think of a number of different times where Yeah, things went really well. And you know, maybe, you know, you felt like okay, I got this thing figured out. And, and you take your eye off the ball. And then then a fire starts to smolder and you turn back around and you've got this like forest fire. Yeah, because you had it figured out. We all want the thing that we all become susceptible to is this concept of survivorship bias. So, survivorship bias is when, you know we make it through some sort of artifice.

Len Herstein:

Shoal waypoint and we decided that because we made it through there, we made it through there because of the decisions that we made. And because of the success we had and, and those things and we become that, that builds our, our overconfidence, right? You know, you may have seen, like, you know, a meme, I'm older than you. So I see these memes all the time about, you know, I grew up with lead paint and, you know, riding around backwards and station wagons with no seat belts, and then, you know, and smoking, you know, at a young age, and I survived, like, if you did, too, it's like, Well, the reality is, if you did not survive, you cannot like, you're not there to press the light button. So this survivorship bias, everybody who made it through that point, at that point, looks back and says, Oh, yeah, well, you know, they get that confusion between correlation and causation, right. And we do this in life all the time, we say, you know, that's where we get into this always done it this way, we've always this is, you know, what got us here is gonna be, you know, what gets us there. And that's not the case, right? So that past success puts us in danger.

Kyle Roed:

That's really interesting. past success puts us in danger. That's, that's a, that's a really interesting way to think about it. But I reflect on that, and I'm thinking about, you know, thinking about these companies that are, they've been around forever, right? You know, and you hear about these, you know, these teams that these teams are vigilant, or these teams have, you know, they've got good leadership skills, or they're, you know, they're, they're conservative, or, you know, there's a lot of different kinds of kind of phrases there. But I do think, you know, there's definitely something to it, right, it's the the organizations that are like, can weather the storm, that, that tend to come out on top. So as you're thinking about that, in the context of your organization, maybe, you know, if you're thinking about, you know, HR practices, you think about things like, you know, the great resignation, you know, how do we how do we kind of spot these, these risks? If if we do think that, you know, we might have some of this figured out, or we have a little bit of this Survivorship Bias happening in our every day?

Len Herstein:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the first red flag is, if you think you've got it all figured out, you're probably being complacent. Yeah, a friend of mine, a speaker and author, his name is Tommy sacker, he would take, you know, Einstein's theory of, you know, Insanity, where he'd say, you know, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, you know, Tom spin on it is in this day, and age, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results. Right, because things change, people change, times change, competition changes, everything changes. And so, you know, it's being, you know, having that awareness and understanding some of the red flags that you can look for, especially in an organization that has been experiencing success, is to look at your ability at all levels to what I call articulate the why. So this is something that comes from law enforcement, you know, when I'm out there interacting with people, I need to, you know, be able to articulate why I'm doing everything. What is the why, and that, why can't be because I can, and that why can't be because I said so those are bad wise, those are wise that get us into trouble. Right. And we can all think of law enforcement things that we've seen and, you know, heard of that fall in that line where people get power, and they abuse it? Well, it's the same thing in business. And, you know, you talked about the great resignation, you know, much of you know, your audience is way more savvy, because you're all HR people, but a lot of the general audience has kind of attributed to great resignation, as is as if it's a pandemic thing, as if COVID created this situation. But COVID didn't create this this situation, it might have accelerated it, it might have, you know, brought it about to ahead, way quicker. But the reality is that a lot of this is happening because of things that have happened over time, where the power relationship between employer and employee has not been nurtured. And so you have employees who are out there feeling like they're not getting paid enough. They're being overworked and not being fulfilled, there. They don't have any autonomy. There's no transparency, there's no trust in the organization. And as soon as that balance of power changed, and they could leave they left. Now for a long time, it might have felt like, well, our attrition rate is really low. Look at our turnover rate is really low, because the balance of power was different, and maybe they didn't have any choices. And so probably added we were probably asking the wrong questions at the time, or looking at the wrong metrics was which is another piece of the book. But you know, when we look at this our ability to articulate the why to understand In our true purpose, why are we doing everything that we're doing? And that can't just be making money, the purpose is not making money, the purpose has to be some greater purpose to society, or your you know, your ecosystem, or whatever it is you're you're interacting in, and making sure everybody in that organization can articulate that why? And if you can't, and again, if your answers are a lot of time as well, because I can, or because I said, so. That's a real big signal. That's a big red flag that you're complacent.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, as a father of three young kids, you know, because I said, So, I mean, I've, I've said it before, it doesn't work very well.

Len Herstein:

It works for a short amount of time, but that doesn't last forever.

Kyle Roed:

Like, it might like it. Yeah, it might work for like two seconds. But then the minute that they don't see you, they're right back to doing it again, right? Yeah, it just does. Yeah.

Len Herstein:

It only it only works as long as they perceive the power, the way you want them to perceive the power, once they realize that, if they don't do it, there's not a lot of consequences that you can deliver, then then you've lost the power.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, you know, I think one of the things that that is, was really interesting that she talked about there that I want to dig into a little bit more was was really this idea of, of constant change, you know, that the world is constantly in flux. And, and I think it's just, I mean, just look at the last few years, right? I mean, come on, did you know, five years ago, where we all talk, and you know, this next, the next time we have a global pandemic, or, you know, the next time, everybody decides to change the way they work and wants to, you know, go virtual, instead of actually coming into an office? Or, you know, or or, you know, you know, whatever you can pick? Yeah, you know, it's it is it is absolutely a great example of, you know, it's impossible to survive, and definitely impossible to succeed. If you're not, you know, flexible and nimble, and, you know, kind of constantly learning and evolving. But, you know, I think one of the, one of the challenges there is that, you know, with that level of unpredictability, it's really hard to build out, you know, what's my strategy? Right, so So how do you, like, how do you work through that kind of managing the unknown? No, but try to continue to work, work your vision and work your strategy and kind of work your your why?

Len Herstein:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, a lot of this gets into what I would call threat awareness, and scenario planning. So, like you said, it's hard to predict everything. But what you can do is understand this, that a lot of times people have this notion that in a time of crisis, we will rise to the occasion, you know, we will, you know, will get superhuman strength and be able to lift a car or will, you know, all sudden become amazing leaders, because the times are requiring it. The reality is, and this is what we know, in law enforcement is that in times of stress, in times of crisis, we do not rise to the occasion, we fall to our highest level of training. And that's an important concept for business. Because what it means is that we need to constantly be looking out for where can these threats be coming from? And we need to, you know, be kind of evaluating which are most likely, which are less likely but, you know, understanding where can our threats come from, and thinking about what if, what if this happens, what if that happens, right, we do a lot of that law enforcement, we have these scenario plans out so that if something happens, we're not first trying to figure out what we're going to do about it. Now we, we have a plan for the day, we have a plan for what we're going to do, we might be going out and doing proactive this or proactive that or whatever we're doing. But we also understand that those plans change dictate, you know, and is dictated to us based on what other people do. And that's the situation that we all find ourselves in. And so, you know, what we have to be doing is we have to be looking out for, you know, one of the dangers is that we get into this kind of tunnel vision, we might call it being laser focused, but laser focus is just kind of, you know, a nice way of saying, having tunnel vision either way, we're losing sight of what's around us. And sometimes we get so focused on what we think the threats are, right? Whether they're internal or external, maybe maybe Externally we settle in on one or our one or two competitors that we're really going to plan around. Or internally we focus on what are the key issues that we've that we're going to really you know, put all our attention towards, and we lose sight of all the other potential threats out there. And without, you know, some sort of formal process to make sure someone has responsibility or some team has responsibility for constantly looking out for where can these Next threats be coming from what are the, you know, what are the threats in next year, two years, five years, 10 years? What are those threats, you know, from internal from external from, you know, environment, government, you know, economic, geopolitical, right, whatever it is, whatever the these things are, you want to make sure that you have an eye out for them, and that you are scenario planning that you're ranking them, and you're looking at it and say, if this happens, what are we going to do? If that happens? What are we going to do? What are some things that are threats, because of the way we're conducting ourselves in that right now that we could preempt? So if we had thought about the potential of a great resignation? You know, one of the things that I use as a very simple example of this is the trucking industry. And what has happened with the trucking industry. And, you know, everybody talks about the fact that we can't find trucks and is impacting our supply chain. And all these things. Well, for a long, long, long, long, long, long time, truckers were unhappy. It's a hard lifestyle, they're not paid appropriately, that it's not a healthy lifestyle, and it was an aging population. And you know, people who were thinking about the fact that eventually this power dynamic might change might have been thinking about what do we do about that 10 years ago, but here we are now. And we've got, you know, a lot of people who decided they just don't want to do it anymore, they're going to retire, or they're going to go do something else where they can have a better lifestyle. And it's hard to get 20 Something year olds into the trucking industry, because of the way it's structured. All these things could have been pre planned, they could have been eliminated before they became problems. And that's part of the benefit of scenario planning is when you're when you're doing a scenario planning, when you're looking at those threats, when you're identifying where those threats could come from. A lot of them you can preempt, and you can, you know, take the sting out of early because there are things that you should be doing already. You talked about, you know, people wanting to work from home and stuff like that, that's not new. People have wanted to do that for a long time. It's just before the companies could say no, now they can't. But Why could they? Why did they say no before? So, you know, these are the things that we have to think about.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, you trucking examples really interesting. Earlier in my career, we had a, I was the HR person responsible for the over the road truck fleet. And, you know, back then, and this, this was probably 10 years ago, you know, we, we didn't figure it out, you know. And what we ended up doing is we just, we just pay people more, and we just really hope, you know, gee, I just hope that they, you know, stick around well, you know, what happens is after, you know, 10 years later, after you do a job that's really hard on your body, guess what, you really don't want to keep doing that job anymore. And then you just and it was just like, you know, retirement after retirement after time. And you know, to the point that then you look at the kind of the inflow of talent pool. And, and we found out, oh, our local community college isn't even doing CDL training, you know, and the ones the few people that go through their, you know, kind of any sort of commercial driving course, they're already hired by the time they graduate. All the cards now, right? Yeah. And it's like, oh, you know, and so in that context that could have asked, like, you know, this really isn't surprising, you know, we should be having this, this is just a logical outcome of, you know, something that we should have been able to read the tea leaves on a little bit, right.

Len Herstein:

Here's, here's, like, just my own personal experience. Here's a funny one. Not so funny, but it's just interesting. So I have a, I have an 18 year old daughter, she just turned 18. And, you know, three, four years ago, you know, fast food, or, or any sort of kind of service, like that type of job. You know, all they were thought talking about was the minimum wage, right? Fighting the minimum wage, people want to raise the minimum wage, they don't want to raise the minimum minimum wage, it's all about minimum wage. My 18 year old won't even work fast food for 16 $17 an hour. Now, the minimum wage is irrelevant. It doesn't even matter anymore. Right? The job is not attractive to people. And, you know, who would have thought, you know, if you were, you know, a fast food company three, four years ago, who would have thought you'd have a hard time finding people to work? You know, the feeling, I think at that point times, we have almost an unlimited, you know, employee base people, you know, you know, so we'll just, you know, we're just going to try and keep the cost down across the industry. And that's the way we're going to go about it. They can't even find people in high school who will work for $17 an hour. I mean, that's mind blowing.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's interesting, and it's, you know, I think it goes back to one of the comments you made about kind of that, you know, that complacency but it's, you know, We all kind of got complacent about the level of competition that was out there as well for talent, you know, and as and as HR, you know, people, you know, we we're not competing for customers necessarily we're competing for for employees, right. And those competitors, our competitors are, it's not just people who are selling a similar product, like, it's anybody who's hiring. Right, we have a lot more competition, right. And if we're not avail, like aware of what's going on out there in the talent market, I mean, you know, sign on bonuses of 1000s of dollars, and, you know, the, you know, raises of X percent, you know, and we're not as proactive as possible, eventually, you're just going to be caught in the dust. Right. And so I do think, you know, talk about a threat, a threat that's out there. But then I also think, you know, one of the things that you said, I thought was, was really interesting, and it it ties into, you know, so many things, it also ties back to your organization having that, why articulating that? Why, right? Because if anybody wanted to leave any company right now, for the most part, and go make more money, and that was their primary objective, they could probably do that. Right? I mean, eventually, you keep job hopping, eventually somebody will not hire you. Right. But, but, I mean, right now, the the power dynamics have shifted, right. And so, you know, how, I mean, as you look at, you know, complacency, as you look at some of the, you know, the research that went in this book and some of your personal experiences, you know, what is what is setting those, those leaders and, and those those officers apart that have figured out how to articulate the why, like, how are they doing that? How are they figuring that out?

Len Herstein:

Well, I mean, articulating the why, requires a firm understanding of who you are, and the role that you play. And again, whatever society, you know, that you wanted to find yourself in, we spent a lot of time at the annual HR departments and in, you know, in organizations, you know, over the last two decades, there's been a lot of time spent doing mission and vision statements. And, you know, we can spend so much time on a mission and vision statement, to the point where it means nothing to everybody. And, you know, people people don't, you know, people think that they want to use like Disney as an example. And it's like, they, you know, I think the common perception, if you ask the average person, what is Disney's mission, or vision, they would say, all it's to make people happy. And it's like, you know, maybe that was the statement, you know, 50 years ago, but the statement today is very, very long and convoluted, and has lots of buzzwords in it. And covers different that different industries that Disney wants to define itself. And, and it means it doesn't mean anything about making people happy anymore. And so over time, even Disney has figured out a way to screw up their mission statement. The reality is that I think the true benefit comes from the purpose statement that most people in most organizations don't spend enough time on. And that's really where it comes down to, like, where, what is the role that you play, and that's, that's a top down, that's a top down, you know, complacency is top down and bottom up. And a lot of times, what happens is, if top down, we're not defining that purpose, bottom up, nobody has that purpose. And so they aren't able to do it to do the things they need to do. And again, you know, having complacency at the, at the field level is extremely dangerous, because you're not at the top level getting the information, or, you know, people aren't seeing the red flags and time, by the time it gets to you, it's too late. But the people who are really successful in their purpose statements really, really understand their customers or their consumers, they understand the ecosystem they play in, and they understand what role they play beyond again, just, you know, making money. So you know, for a Patagonia it's basically, you know, producing clothes in a way that is sustainable for the world. Right. And everything they do, falls into that name and define the type of business that they play in. So they play in, you know, kind of outdoor, you know, adventure things, right. So, you know, if all sudden they had an opportunity to make some clothing for, you know, for hockey, not a good fit for them, right indoor hockey or whatever, it is not a good fit, outdoor things that their purpose allows them not only to be able to articulate their why but it also defines what they do and what they don't do, and how they do it. So you know, that type of understanding Southwest is another great example of really understands what their purpose is and what they're there to deliver. For, you know, not only their past And jurors, but for their employees, and it makes it very easy for people to really decide what do I do? And what don't I do? You know, because of the way southwest defines itself, you know, and also what we can get into, you know, this, this also kind of the next step out of this is autonomy. And, you know, having the ability to interpret that and make those decisions at the lower level, is why you don't have people on delta or, you know, United singing to you when you're when you're walking on a plane, whereas southwest they do, right. Or, you know, getting creative with the, you know, with the safety briefing, right. All these things come from that purpose. And from understanding that.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, it's such an interesting point. And I think, you know, getting into, you know, kind of stepping into the autonomy topic, you know, and there's, there's so much research out there on, you know, employee engagement, and, you know, what does that actually mean? And how do you get it, and, you know, oftentimes you'll hear it really does come down to like employees owning, you know, a piece of their of their role or believing in some of their organization or having, you know, having the ability to make, make a change, make an impact, you know, and feeling like they're part of something bigger. And I think so much of that does come back to that, you know, that the ability to be autonomous, you know, the ability to control what you do. And it reminded me when you said that of, you know, the a lot of the research around, you know, money and happiness. And it's, you know, it's, and what's really interesting is, you know, money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy autonomy and autonomy does create some happiness, right? So it's kind of that same principle where it's like, when you can control what you do a little bit or control your decisions a little bit. You see, you know, some of that increased engagement. But yeah, I'm wrestling with like, okay, so how do you but how do you do the autonomy? But then make sure you've still got vigilance?

Len Herstein:

Yeah. Well, it all it all, it all comes together. Right? So here's the linkage. Autonomy, as you said, is directly linked to engagement, right? The reason why, and the power that that brings, is that when you don't have autonomy, and you're treated like a robot, what do you stop doing? You stop thinking, you stop processing information, right? You know, if you walk into a store, and there's someone there whose sole job is stocking shelves, and they are only incented, on how quickly they stock their shelves, and how accurately they stock their shelves. And they have no incentive to actually talk to anybody. And their job has nothing to do with talking with anybody, when you walk up to that person and ask them for help, and they ignore you, or they send you to somebody else, you know, that is a lack of awareness, that is a lack of engagement, that creates a complacency in terms of the way this organization is interacting with their customers. Right. And so that is something that you might not ever see at a senior level. But because you took the autonomy because you took away the ability of that person to decide how they're going to do their job. You have turned him into a robot. And when you turn him into a robot, you lose awareness. When you lose awareness, you lose, you develop complacency, right, because you lose sight of the things around you. And it's so it's all interrelated. So, you know, it's not about how do we create vigilance if we're also giving autonomy. Autonomy generates vigilance, because autonomy generates awareness. You know, when I'm out there as a as a police officer, I have autonomy and discretion. When I pull someone over for a traffic stop, I could write them a ticket, I could write them a ticket, but write it for something less than what they actually did. I could give them a warning, I have those options. Because I have those options. I have to gather information and process it and make decisions. Right? That that idea of gathering information and processing it keeps me in the moment makes me intentional, and keeps me aware which is half the battle of fighting complacency. If I had no choice but to write a ticket every time I pulled someone over. Would I pay attention anything they were really saying to me? Would I really pay attention to what was going on the fact that maybe they've got a crying kid in the back or a diaper that needs to be changed or you know something distracting or whatever it is going on in what I care about any of that stuff? Now I pulled you over I have to write a ticket I've got no choice. Take away discretion take away autonomy you take away or we're Notice, and that is the number one way to generate complacency.

Kyle Roed:

That's that's really, I think that's a really powerful, really powerful example. And you know, a great, you know, a great reminder that, you know, you can't make a workplace of robots. First of all, that sounds miserable. No, thank you. But I do that when you told the story about stocking shelves, it's so I started my career in retail, and so definitely hit home. But now it's so funny because, like going into a store, especially store that does like online ordering fulfillment, like if you go into, you know, one of the larger retailers that shall not be named, which I order a lot of online stuff from them. And it's a great experience for me to just click a button and then go pick it up. But when I actually go into the store, all you see are these, like, there's like a cart every aisle. And these, like, people who I mean, they literally are like robots, and they are all they're doing is they're just walking, they're filling the bag up, they're putting the label on it, put it up cart, and like they, you unless you walk up to him and you like, Wave at him, you know, they are not paying any attention to the customers in that store. So you know, if that's your goal as a store to have great customer experience. You know, yeah, you probably you're probably not incentivizing people to do that.

Len Herstein:

Yeah, I mean, think about if one of your problems in your store is that your aisles are confusing, or the way that you have your products are confusing, or the way that you have your price prices on Eric confusing, who is going to be the person who is most appropriate to figure that out and be able to send that signal upwards, the person who's in the aisle all the time, right. But if that person has no incentive to talk to anybody, and they're just a robot, and people just have a difficult experience, and then they just, you know, they end up going somewhere else, because they can never find what they're looking for, or whatever they don't, they're not gonna go talk to somebody, they're not gonna go out of their way to go make a complaint to a manager or fill out an online survey or anything like that. Your opportunity is right there in the aisle to see like, this is, you know, this is right there. We've got it, we've got someone seeing it, someone's having a hard time they can, someone asked me six times today where this product was, well, clearly, we've got an issue with where that product is being shelved. But that information may never make it up. And that'll never make it into a metric. It'll never make it into a survey. And the people at the top who just look at sales numbers, they might think everything's going great, because sales are increasing. But this is where we can get into, like debriefs and stuff like that. If you don't question things, just because they're going right, you never see the micro failures.

Kyle Roed:

Now, it's so that's so powerful. And it's what's really interesting, I'm just thinking, you know, from, from a 30,000 foot view, you know, a lot of times you don't even see the issue until it's too late. Right? Once sales start getting impacted, then as big as you, right, yeah, but absolutely. But at that point, I mean, what what, what is impacting sales might have actually started impacting it a year ago. Yeah,

Len Herstein:

that's exactly right. That's, that's the danger. That's the insidiousness of, of complacency. You don't you don't realize the dangers until it's too late. And that's why we call the Great resignation a COVID thing, when it's not a COVID thing, because it's convenient to talk about about when it happened, but the seeds were sown a long time ago, right. And that's why I talk about complacency as a top down and a bottom up. So that top down lack of autonomy that's given to our people, because we don't trust them. Right, then creates bottom up complacency. And so you know, it's all interrelated. It's all interrelated. And again, that lack of trust then generates a lack of trust.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's, it's really, this is just a really fascinating topic. And I'm thinking about it, you know, my current context is a manufacturing organization, you know, there's so much of an emphasis on, you know, lean manufacturing and systematization and, you know, automation and things like that, to the point that a lot of work has become extremely transactional, and but then I reflect on the areas of my organization or past organizations that have had issues because it's almost like people shut off their brains. And they just like, they just let like a quality issue slide. You know, what, this wasn't on the standard operating sheet. So just, you know, what, yeah, it matches Go ahead. And in doing that, they totally missed this giant, like scratch on the side of this product that is totally going to satisfy a customer, right? You know, and stuff like that. It's like, how do I miss this?

Len Herstein:

We get that right. So so as a as an organization, I'm sure you get the fact that the more that you script out what people have to do, the less aware they become, but the thing is that if you look in especially in a manufacturing environment, one of the things I talked about in the book is that is the power of reminders, right? and a power of just visual, textual, you know, sensory reminders to remind us of things that we might otherwise forget. Because we get into these routines. We know this in manufacturing. So what do we do? We put loud sounds on on forklifts, you put signs that say, you know that our safety signs, but everything that we only talk about it in terms of safety, right, we understand that we're making people's jobs so repetitive that they could lose focus that they could lose awareness of what's going on around them, but, and we understand the importance of reminders and the understanding of, you know, the importance of sensory indicators to break them out of that, but we only do it for safety. But there's so many more things that we can be doing it for.

Kyle Roed:

Right. Yeah, you know, it's funny, too, because it's like, I don't know if you've seen this, or if, you know, but but for me, you know, at least anecdotally, I can think back to, you know, the best performing operations are also the safest. Right. You know, it's like, it's almost like, if safety is good, if the results are good, they're that, you know, then there is a general awareness about other aspects of the organization. And, I mean, in my experience, that's definitely been the case. So,

Len Herstein:

yeah, but I mean, you know, to your point where you have, you know, people who are, you know, this not on their checklist, so they're not going to pay attention to it. Right. You know, that's something that you could address the same way that you address the safety issues, right. You could have, you know, you know, a visual reminder, every, every time they're coming out a locker room, you know, see something, say something or, you know, total quality is everybody's job or, you know, having using metrics to incent people the right way, you know, do you get rewarded when you find something that's not on your checklist?

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. Yeah, I'm laughing here, because I'm just thinking, oh, man, I was totally complacent on some of that stuff. You know, I'm like, oh, what's another posting, you know, we got enough postings out, there's too many postings, you know, you know, no, I probably shouldn't have shouldn't have thought in those contexts. So thank you for reminding me to not be complacent with my communication. Well, this has been just a wonderful conversation. You know, I think it's a really interesting topic. It's not one that we've really explored on this show. But it's one that I just think there's so many corollaries between what we have to do every day in HR and making sure that we don't get complacent make sure that we retain that vigilance and, and expect organizations to do the same. So I want to shift gears I want to go into the the rebel HR flasher, I'm so fascinated to hear your, your responses to these questions. So first question, what is your favorite people book?

Len Herstein:

Favorite people book? Well, so here's one that is probably going to be the easiest read you'll ever have, is perhaps the smallest book you could ever get. And it's written by a guy by the name of Kevin Carroll. Have you heard that name before? Okay. So Kevin is a super interesting guy. Just an amazing background. And he wrote a book called rules of the red rubber ball. And his whole thing is the importance of play. And the importance of play in our adult lives in our work lives and what goes on it just, you know, I don't have enough time to go through his whole background. But you know, he grew up disadvantaged in Philadelphia, was moved around, ended up joining the service, learn seven languages, came out, got into sports stuff worked for the 70, Sixers and someone else and then got to work for Nike, and he travels the world talking about play and the importance of play. And it's just an it's an amazing, super quick read. That will certainly awaken some things as it relates to yourself and people in general.

Kyle Roed:

Cool. We can all use a little bit of play here after last few years, I think. Yeah. All right. Question number two, who should we be listening to?

Len Herstein:

So like podcast wise, or just like in terms of direction you want? Yeah, um, you know, I've had the benefit of working with a lot of really, really brilliant people over the years, and there's tons of great podcasts and stuff to listen to including yours obviously. You know, if you're, you know, if you're looking to kind of get outside of the HR realm and just kind of things in general, a really brilliant guys is His name is Mitch Joel. J OEL. And look up Mitch Joel. He wrote the six pixels of separation and Control Alt Delete, but he is just a super smart guy who has awesome guests on And then and just cover a lot of topics and just, I would definitely recommend looking them up.

Kyle Roed:

Cool. Up to check that out. You've given me two new ones today. So we're on a roll. All right, last question here. How can our listeners connect with you?

Len Herstein:

So two simple ways. Number one is my website is Len herstein.com, l e n h e r s t e i n.com. And there you can learn everything about me everything about the book, be vigilant in terms of also where to get it, you can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble Apple Books Wherever you get books. The other way is just reach out to me on LinkedIn connect with me. I love it. I love it when people reach out to me because they're interested in sharing information and stuff. Not so much when they just reach out and start selling me things right away. But

Kyle Roed:

you can be both my friend. Yeah, just a public service announcement. If you're trying to sell me something. Don't start with a LinkedIn connection saying, hey, I want to sell you something like yeah, at least fake it a little bit.

Len Herstein:

Like, like, you know, like, you're inclined to hit that accept button. But you know, as soon as you hit that accent, getting this ding in your inbox. They got me. Oh, yeah,

Kyle Roed:

they got one. You know, I you know, I always like to, I always like to assume the best but you know, yeah. Yeah, I'm with you. Alright, so once again, that is the the book is Be vigilant strategies to stop complacency, improved performance and safeguard success. Your business and relationships depend on it. It's available everywhere that books are sold Amazon, Barnes and Noble go find a local bookstore that carries it. But really appreciate the content, just great conversation and a little bit of a different way to think about the world of work, I think and one that I think is really important. So thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us today. Lynn.

Len Herstein:

That Thanks, Carl. I appreciate it. Hey, the one thing I will leave people with is success is not the end goal keeping it is love it.

Kyle Roed:

Thanks. Have a great rest of your day. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter at rebel HR guy or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe