Rebel Podcast: Life and Work on Your Terms

Remarkable Organizational Cultures: Axiology and its Role

January 31, 2024 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 4 Episode 191
Rebel Podcast: Life and Work on Your Terms
Remarkable Organizational Cultures: Axiology and its Role
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Get ready for an enlightening conversation with bestselling author and esteemed communicator, Dr. Randy Ross. Get a taste of his profound wisdom on axiology, the philosophical study of value, and its relevance to corporate culture and customer service. We dive into the crux of his book, Remarkable, uncovering how investing in people, particularly during challenging times, can yield extraordinary outcomes. You'll also discover the power of trust, connection, and accountability in creating a productive workplace environment.

We're shifting gears from self-esteem issues to fostering a setting where employees feel truly valued. Prepare to decode how a dash of hope can inspire teams and build resilience. Dr. Ross shares his insights on how extraordinary organizations magnetize top-notch talent by aligning their values and priorities. Be prepared to walk away with invaluable insights on nurturing a positive culture and empowering employees to reach their zenith. You wouldn't want to miss out on this intellectual feast!

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Speaker 1:

This is the Rebel HR Podcast, the podcast about all things innovation in the people's space. I'm Kyle Rode. Let's start the show. Welcome back Rebel HR community, extremely excited for the conversation. Today with us we have Dr Randy Ross. He is a renowned communicator, bestselling author of multiple books Relationomics, remarkable and Fireproof Happiness. He has a new release coming out. The third edition of Remarkable is coming out here in April, available currently for pre-order. Randy, thank you so much for joining us today.

Speaker 2:

Kyle, it's a pleasure to be with you, man, thanks.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. We are thrilled to have you and to talk about all sorts of cool stuff related to human resources, your background you actually have some legitimacy in the HR sphere. You were a chief people officer back in the day as well, right?

Speaker 2:

That's right. I'm not sure how legitimate it is, but just don't dig too much into my background. We'll go with that.

Speaker 1:

I think it counts, man, I'm going to give it to you. Okay, I'll take it, we'll give you a freebie, whether you think it's legitimacy or not.

Speaker 2:

It's like a short one and I'll take that.

Speaker 1:

One of the questions I have, and I love to ask this question of authors so what prompted you to write these books and to spend all of the time, energy and sometimes heartburn in writing a book, multiple books, around relationships, happiness and, essentially, human behavior?

Speaker 2:

Well, interesting question, but the reason I did it actually was just to establish credibility. We actually started Remarkable. We came up with the idea in late 2007 and launched Remarkable in 2008. One of the questions sometimes asked is what's the one thing you wish you had known? That you know now that you wish you'd known when you first started? The answer for me would have been I would have been grateful if anybody had just told us we were on the front end of a recession.

Speaker 2:

That's what I was trying to know, realized Remarkable, literally in January 2008,. And we had no idea what we were doing, in that I had this mistaken notion that if I built it, they would come. We built it and nobody came, because it was a recession, nobody was looking to do any training or development of their people. The training budgets had been slashed, as you remember. I had plenty of time on my hands and so I thought, well, maybe I just need to write a book and put all of our thoughts down and codify all these lessons that we had been teaching. That's really what we did. Books are a wonderful way. They're calling cards and it establishes credibility and helps establish you as a subject matter expert. I suppose, if you have much to say, really, that's why I did it. That's actually when things began to take off, because I think people saw the messages being legitimate and beneficial.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's interesting to me what you just mentioned. I went right back there to 08, and it was like I just remember at one point I was supposed to hire 90 people and then I was supposed to not hire anybody Effectively performance manage. It was overnight and I'm like, oh great.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, fun days right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, but yeah, it's funny. It's also funny to me. Stuff like that happens and there's this big question mark recession question mark happening right now. It seems like the first thing that we always do is we go and let's slash the training budget, right, or let's go, let's find everything we can that has nothing to do with generating direct profit within the next quarter, and training seems to always get slashed, which to me, is a big mistake. If you look at the companies that are successful coming out of the recession, they usually aren't the ones that have slashed the budgets right.

Speaker 2:

The best organizations, kyle, are those that act in a counterintuitive sort of a way, because when do you need to invest in your people the most? When we're stressed? I mean that's the time that you need to be providing additional resources and help that can help direct and guide them through challenging times. And so you're absolutely right. I don't understand that mentality. We want to save a buck. I've been in the process. We don't take care of our people the way we should.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, and it's the. You know, I think it's fascinating if you look at some of these case studies of these organizations that have been consistently successful. When there's a pause in the market or there's a recession, they're the ones that build themselves up to be stronger, because they can essentially catch their breath is how I would describe it. So it's fascinating. So okay, so I've got the stage set. You've got a little bit of time on your hands maybe not the time you want on your hands and you turned it into something remarkable. There you go. I like that. We'll tie that into like a dad joke pun thing there.

Speaker 2:

Well, you slide that in.

Speaker 1:

So tell me about the book, and obviously you're releasing a third edition. What was the focus of the book? And, ultimately, you know, what do you want people to take away from? Remarkable.

Speaker 2:

So the subtitle to the new release remarkable. Underneath that, three things engaging culture, stellar service, outrageous results. And that's what you can expect. It's a fun parable, it's an easy read, but what it does is it helps take principles of applied axiology and talk about how those can literally codify your culture and create an atmosphere of customer service. That's extraordinary. It's remarkable. I mean we define remarkable as you provide a service or a product and you do so in such a way that you blow people away so that when they leave your presence they have this irrepressible desire to talk about the difference that you've made while you were in their presence. And when people are talking about you and they're remarking about how your service or product has impacted them in a positive way, then you indeed have become remarkable. And so that's what the word means to us in the whole book. Through this storyline, this narrative unfolds some principles of axiology that every organization could be enriched and empowered if they would apply.

Speaker 1:

All right. So I'm going to ask the question because I'm okay asking the dumb question. What is axiology? Can you help us understand what this definition is?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely, and don't feel uninformed or foolish because most people have never heard of it, but I geek out on this stuff because I love philosophy and how it applies to human behavior. But axiology is a strain of philosophy that talks about values, value construct and value creation. And so for people who are always talking about let's bring value, just create value, let's add value to this endeavor, the challenge is most people don't know how to do that or what value really looks like. So axiology, the essence of axiology and, by the way, it goes all the way back to Socrates and Plato, but fast forward to the present.

Speaker 2:

The modern father of axiology, if you're interested, is a fellow by the name of Dr Robert Hartman, who passed away in 1970, but he was awarded, or not awarded. He was nominated for a Nobel Prize, but the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously, so he didn't receive it, but he was nominated the very year that he passed away for his work in this field. And axiology is the attempt to define and measure good, which to me is fascinating. And what his whole life was dedicated to was defining good and trying to describe and explain how good men and women could create movements of good within organizational life, and that's what those principles talk to speak to and how, when they're applied, it can make an incredible difference in terms of tone, atmosphere, culture. It can literally completely transform the organization.

Speaker 1:

Wow. So it's really fascinating and it's funny. I'm just sitting here like from an HR lens. It's like how many times have they said you know, how do we build our culture? What are your corporate values? How do you, you know, measure performance? And so much of it does come back to you know the? Just the basics.

Speaker 1:

And most of us don't know what that means, like how to do that right, like like I went to business school. I didn't go, I didn't get a philosophy degree, I don't. I mean, I can Google right, like how to, how to instill values in an organization. That doesn't necessarily mean that I'm the right person to do it. So for and I would venture to guess that most of our listeners are probably in the same boat where you know we're, we're being asked to do things that maybe we don't fully understand these principles. So as we, as we think about the, the, the, the subject matter that remarkable, helps us think through what are some of the, the, the tenants of axiology that we can start to incorporate in our day to day work to help our organizations thrive.

Speaker 2:

Well, let me just let me throw a couple of them at you. So the first principle of axiology is the, the, what we call the maximum of creativity, and it just simply says that we're all designed to create value. In other words, we feel good when we do good, and creating value is not about just creating value for ourselves. What's about creating value for others as well. It's this whole idea that you know, self-esteem is not enough. We've gone through great efforts to build people's self-esteem and and fundamentally unsubstantial ways, but when we're talking about value creation, it's about self-worth, which is based upon this idea that you've done something worthwhile, you've contributed to society. Now here's an interesting story to to make this point. Dr Hartman, you remember the name Abraham Maslow from psychology 101?

Speaker 1:

Sure Maslow's hierarchy right.

Speaker 2:

There you go. As you know, the pinnacle of the hierarchy, the five tiered hierarchy, as most people remember, is self-actualization. Well, hartman, dr Hartman, the father of modern axiology, and Abraham Maslow both taught together at the University of Mexico in Cuernavaca, and one night they're sitting together over dinner and Hartman turned to Maslow and he goes. So, abe, tell me about this, this hierarchy of needs that you've created, tell me all about it. They went through the long explanation of physiological needs, and then security, love and belonging, and stameny finished up with self-actualization. Dr Hartman looked at him and said so, abe, let me make sure I get this right. So, self-actualization means that you have become all that you were meant to be. You fulfilled your life potential. You're now self-actualized. And he goes that's the pinnacle, right. And Abe goes yeah, you got it. That's it, robert. And he asked him a question, two-word question that sent Abraham Maslow into a tailspin. He looked at him and he said this If you become self-actualized, so what? So? What good have you done? What didn't have you made in the universe? What legacy have you created? What good have you done for humanity? So, what? So what? You become all that you were meant to be, but your life. You just breathed our air and used our resources and you left the world no better than when you got here. That's the what it messed Maslow up. And if you do your research, maslow went back to the drawing board and he recreated his tear it's not five tears, it's eight tears. And in between self-esteem and self-actualization he added aesthetic needs and cognitive needs. But above, more importantly, above self-actualization, he added self-transcendence. And self-transcendence had a metaphysical connotation, but it really meant going beyond yourself to do good for others, to create a legacy, to give back to mankind, to leave the world a better place, to sort this idea of creating good.

Speaker 2:

So the question that's posed from this first principle is do you bring more value to the table than you take away? Simple question, but it's very profound. And simplifications, because everybody in society is all about getting as much as they can for themselves, right, right? Simple question, individually and organizationally, is do you bring more to the table than you take away? That's the first one, the principle of creativity, the second one I hit the rest of them pretty quickly, but the second one is positivity, the maximum of positivity, which is just this idea that all the good you want in life is the byproduct of creating value for others. If you want to leave a positive weight in the world, then you have to contribute to making the world good. And it's kind of interesting because John Templeton used to say happiness pursued eludes, but happiness give and returns. The same thing is true when it comes to positivity or success it's in giving it to others that it comes back to you.

Speaker 2:

The third principle is sustainability. In order to continuously create value, you have to leverage your passion and your strengths to solve problems. There's a lot of talk Kyle in the world about passion, there's a lot of talk about strengths, but the essence is you've got to combine the best of who you are for one purpose and one purpose only, and that's to solve problems. Because the bigger the problem you find and solve, the more value you create. The more value you create, the more invaluable you become, and that's the principle of sustainability. And then, lastly, the principle of responsibility. And the maximum responsibility just says that you have to act in a responsible manner, to do what you've been called to do, to fulfill your potential and make a positive impact on others. So it has to do with accountability and responsibility.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so if anybody nobody can see the video, but I'm sitting here like taking notes, like I'm listening to a lecture, sorry about that. You just blew everybody's mind because we got these five hierarchy in these. We got these down. This is like HR 101, and now you're telling us there's eight. So we're all going back to the drawing board.

Speaker 2:

You got to Google it.

Speaker 1:

We got to Google it. By the way, I love the fact that that story you were using first name, like we're on a first name basis with Maslow. I think what's fascinating to me is maybe the fact that we're challenging the paradigms of everything that we have really had ingrained in us. It's about thinking differently about how we define things and then, ultimately, I think about this in the context of HR. If we think in the context of value add and how we add value as a human resource, as professional, it changes the context of how you approach the work that you do.

Speaker 2:

Oh, no doubt.

Speaker 1:

Right. Am I going to go update that policy so that one incident that happens once every 2,000 times gets corrected and never happens again? Or am I going to go focus on this employee relations issue, where we've got a severe gap in a positive culture at this location? That's a pretty simple decision. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's always going to be our decision point. Yup, well said, okay. So we're Googling Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Everybody's doing that right now.

Speaker 1:

I think one of the other comments that you made that really stood out to me is the fact that…. Okay, you know it's self-esteem is not enough and that we have focused heavily on self-esteem needs. But it's been. I would you didn't use this word, but I think about it as like it's been kind of hollow, right, there's not been a lot of substance there.

Speaker 1:

So as you look at human resources, I would argue that there's been a lot of hollow actions in our function as well, where we do a lot of talking about helping our employees find happiness or helping our employees add value, or finding the right talent for the right job. But it's a lot harder to define finding, you know, the actual value that somebody delivers or the value that you deliver on a daily basis, and I think that that's one of the big challenges that we continually see in our profession, which is, you know what's my worth, and I think that can be, that can be tough for us to kind of confront as a profession. So, as a former HR guru well, I'll use that term, or HR professional, whatever you want to use how do you look at our profession from the context of the value that we create and how can we reflect on that within our organizations and personally to make sure that we're not just focusing on self-esteem but we're focusing on that self-worth piece?

Speaker 2:

Yeah Well, I think it's very important that we help elevate people in their performance, to feel proud of the work that they do, and we have what we call the remarkable trilogy of great culture, and that trilogy is a place where people believe the best in each other, they want the best for each other and so, therefore, they expect the best from each other those three things we believe the best in each other. Now, a lot of people you know spend or a lot of HR professionals spend a lot of time trying to puff people up and let them know we believe in you, we believe in you. You know the raw, raw, cheerleading kind of stuff, and I think that's fine, but can't stop there. People need to know that we believe in them. That that's trust, right? Trust is foundational for all relationships. But the second part is we want the best for you, which is connection and compassion. We've got your back, you know, we're looking out for you, we have your best interest at heart, but then, and only then, can we apply accountability, which is therefore we're going to call the best out from you, and I think most organizations fail on this element of coaching coaching people up the way they need to be. Yes, there has to be trust. Yes, there has to be connection. There also has to be that accountability piece. But you have to have all three.

Speaker 2:

One of the things we've been really good at in the past is HR professionals is that accountability piece. But think about your own teenagers. You've got three kids. You know they're. They're getting to that age where they're, you know, going to start challenging and defying you. I hate to tell you, buddy, but you're your oldest one, at 11 years, you're on the verge of adolescence. This is going to get more challenging and if you try to hold kids accountable before they believe that you love them and you, you believe in them and you want the best for them, you're going to incite rebellion. And a lot of times what we do in organizational circles is we fail to connect people's personal passion to corporate objectives in such a way that we are challenging them, number one, to make sure their values are solid and number two, that their values align with those of the organization. And when we do that in the context of believing the best, in wanting the best for and expecting the best from, I think we can coach people up to higher levels of performance.

Speaker 1:

I love the way that you articulated that and it's yeah, for the audiences you know understanding. I've got an 11 year old. Just last night he, when I said hey, can you put the phone down, I got that stare right. So it's like it's not full adolescence, but it's like just like a little bit there, like a little spark of rebellion.

Speaker 2:

And you're swinging the inkling.

Speaker 1:

It's coming. It's coming and, if my adolescence is any indication, there may be a bumpy ride. But I love the fact that you know you tie this back to some of these release what I would call like very basic principles. But just because they're simple doesn't mean they're easy. Right, it's the trust, connection, compassion, and then you can drive accountability right. And so often we're sitting here and we're the ones that maybe don't understand the person, don't understand the context, maybe don't understand the business as well as we should, and we're trying to drive accountability and it just doesn't work right. Yeah, exactly, makes everybody miserable. So I'm curious to dig into some of the research on this a little bit. You talked about defining good, and one of your more recent books, the Fireproof Happiness, talks about happiness as well. Are these principles, do they underlie some of the research around feeling good or being happy or driving that within a culture or society?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And then all of our messaging is very tightly tied together and it builds progressively upon itself. But in the book Fireproof Happiness, you know I love first of all I'll be back up. I love Rebel Human Resources podcast because I love to shatter myths and mistaken beliefs about HR functionality. But in Fireproof Happiness one of the things we do is we establish, through research, the connection between hope and happiness. We know that happy people do better work. Here's the interesting part Hopeful people are happier, they're healthier, they live longer and they're more productive, and the research bears that out over and over and over again. So the question is what's hope? Everybody agrees that hope is absolutely essential for the human spirit to thrive. But if you ask them to define hope, most people have a very fuzzy, non-workable definition of hope. Well, we define hope as a dynamic motivational system tied to inspirational goal setting. Now, maybe you've heard this said, probably heard it a thousand times hope is not a strategy, right? You just?

Speaker 1:

quoted my chief risk officer.

Speaker 2:

Well, let me tell you I shatter that hope is your absolute best strategy. I love it If you know what hope is and you know how to pursue it effectively. Because, think about it this way, kyle let's say that you're involved in any endeavor and the people that you're involved in that endeavor with are hopeless about reaching that objective. What's your success rate going to be? Zip, zip. And so hope is absolutely the heart and soul of any strategy, but you have to understand what it is and you have to be able to apply it effectively, and so we sort of reverse engineer, deconstruct hope and then put it back together again in the book Fireproof Happiness, and we talk about practical principles that can be applied to help your teams elevate their hope, because to build resilience into an organization, you have to instill a sense of hope.

Speaker 1:

I love that you hear that Ron Hope can be a strategy if you define it correctly, that's right, there's an asterisk there.

Speaker 2:

Your best strategy.

Speaker 1:

I love that. Yeah, yeah, that's. You know I do joke. I'm going to be a little bit more broadcast. It's a little bit oxymoronic, right, because, like, how many HRs do you know are actually rebels? But the reality is like we do need to disrupt some of these systems because if you look at some of the challenges that we're facing in corporate America and in our teams and in a society general, you know some of these systems aren't working Right. So you know we're using conventional knowledge to try to, you know, lead organizations or build strategies or policies, and the reality is a lot of people are miserable.

Speaker 2:

Well, and remarkable is unconventional. Remarkable is not doing the usual, it's being unusual. Remarkable is not about being normal, it's about being abnormal. Remarkable means you go above and beyond, as a matter of fact, a great quote that I love by Robert Stevens. He was quoted in an ink magazine article and he said this advertising is a tax you pay for being unremarkable.

Speaker 1:

I think it's more than what will?

Speaker 2:

the people are talking about you. What's the best form of advertising? We all know it's word of mouth.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I just love that.

Speaker 1:

I love that. Yeah, it's, that's good. I'm writing that one down On that note. I think I would use the same argument for human resources. If you are status quo HR, you are absolutely going to pay a tax on, you're going to have more turnover, you're going to have to pay more in recruiting fees and all the other stuff that goes along with it, because people aren't going to want to stick around at a status quo company. You do need to be remarkable, absolutely right now, with just the talent market that we're facing right now. So I couldn't agree more. And you hit on one of the maybe the points of my career where I had a light bulb moment, and that was we can't just keep doing stuff the same way. We've always been doing stuff for the last four years because it's not working for everybody. Everybody is failing. So let's change it. It's a little bit different, let's be notable. And in this case it was in our community and it worked right. And then word of mouth and I didn't have to pay a bunch of recruiter fees anymore. Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Because when you get to the point that you are remarkable, then you don't have to attract talent, you just select talent. They'll come to you Right. Because people want to be a part of a remarkable organization. People want to be a part of an organization that understands that people thrive in relationally rich environments. People are tired of toxic behavior and when they find a community where their priorities, their passion, their values align with the organization and they feel at home, they're invigorated by the work that they did, because they know it's making a difference.

Speaker 1:

Period Punctuation mark. We're going to stop it right there. I am going to encourage everybody to again go check out the book Remarkable, fireproof Happiness and Relationomics, dr Randy Ross. Thank you so much. We are going to shift gears. We're going to go into the Rebel HR flash round. We've been kind of tiptoeing around these questions, but I'm fascinated to hear your response. Question number one where does HR need to?

Speaker 2:

rebel, in my mind, is pretty simple HR needs to move from regulation to inspiration. We become really great as HR professionals about producing policies and procedures and, like you said, addressing that one off bad behavior rather than creating an inspirational environment. The essential what we've done is we've created a police state that goes around and catches people doing things wrong. We need to reverse that much. Like Ken Blanchard told us in the one minute manager years and years ago, we need to be walking around, catching people doing things right and creating a positive, inspirational environment. We need to move from policies and procedures to pay attention to our people and taking care of our people, because if we take care of our people, the people will take care of the client.

Speaker 1:

I love it, from regulation to inspiration, very well said. Has anybody told you that you've got a way with words?

Speaker 2:

It's almost like you've written some books, or something my wife tells me I use too many words.

Speaker 1:

No comments on that. I am running a podcast, so the good news is I can say as many words as I want. All right. Question number two who should we be listening to?

Speaker 2:

You ready for this? Your people? Because here's the thing the lost art of leadership, I think, isn't asking good questions, and most leaders tell they don't ask. But if you ask the right questions, kyle, and you listen intently, your people will tell you what they need. If you ask the right questions, you listen intently, your clients will tell you what they need. If you ask the right questions and you listen intently, your spouse and your kids will tell you what they need to thrive. I think we need to start listening to our people, because if we don't listen to our people, they will tell us with their feet. I think that's one reason we've got the revolving door. Talent is that we're not listening to our people and we're not meeting their needs.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Everybody wants to be heard right. Absolutely, the human truth, no doubt, All right. Last question here how can our listeners reach out, connect with you and get their hands on the books?

Speaker 2:

That's easy Reaching out to me. You can look at my LinkedIn profile it's Dr Randy Ross. On my website, it's drrandyrosscom, just dr. No period, drrandyrosscom. As far as getting your hands on the books, as you mentioned, remarkable, the third edition is coming out in April 2024. You can pre-order that right now by going to any of your favorite bookstores, wherever fine books are sold, and asking them to put one on order for you. As soon as it comes out in April, you'll have it. The others are available at bookstores as well, or wherever you typically buy your favorite books. You can find us online. You can find us on Amazon. You can find us at our website.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. We will have links in the show notes. Open up your podcast player, check it out. Dr Randy Ross, amazing to have you on the show. Just some really, really wonderful content. I would encourage everybody to pick up the books.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for joining us. This has been fun. I've enjoyed hanging out with you.

Speaker 1:

Likewise. All right, that does it for the Rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebelhrpodcast, twitter at rebelhrguy, or see our website at rebelahumanresourcescom. The views and opinions expressed by Rebel HR podcast are those of 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.

Speaker 2:

Baby.

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