Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 43: Virtual Reality for Employee Development with Robin Rosenberg

May 11, 2021 Kyle Roed / Robin Rosenberg Season 1 Episode 43
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 43: Virtual Reality for Employee Development with Robin Rosenberg
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Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 43: Virtual Reality for Employee Development with Robin Rosenberg
May 11, 2021 Season 1 Episode 43
Kyle Roed / Robin Rosenberg

Join Kyle as he discusses using VR as a culture-building tool in the workplace.  We cover the challenge of changing hearts and minds, but re-wiring the brain to empathize with others.  Fascinating stuff!  

Robin S. Rosenberg is the CEO and Founder of Live in Their World. Robin is a clinical psychologist and textbook author. She has had both psychotherapy and executive coaching practices in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. She is board certified in clinical psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology, a Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology, and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She has taught psychology classes at Lesley University and Harvard University.

Robin has been interested in virtual reality (VR) for years, and was the lead author of a study to investigate using “VR for good.” She has combined her interest in immersive technologies with her coaching and clinical experiences to foster in employees a deeper understanding of how and why other people may feel slighted or marginalized, and how to approach such interactions differently.

Robin is the author of both college-level psychology textbooks, and books for a general audience about the psychological underpinnings of (other people’s) fictional characters, such as Harry Potter, Batman, and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. After decades with successful psychotherapy and coaching practices, she founded Live in Their World, which enables lasting change in organizational civility and respectful engagement. The program applies the science of psychology to combine emotional and cognitive learning, using both immersive virtual reality and online learning. Robin also started a “Dear Robin” column, addressing people’s questions about civility and respect in the workplace.

https://www.liveintheirworld.com/
https://twitter.com/LiveNTheirWorld
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robin-s-rosenberg-b6942329/
http://www.drrobinrosenberg.com/

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

Subscribe today on your favorite podcast player!  

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.

Follow Rebel HR Podcast at:

www.rebelhumanresources.com
https://twitter.com/rebelhrguy
https://www.facebook.com/rebelhrpodcast
www.kyleroed.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-roed/

We love to hear from our listeners!  Send us questions or comments at kyleroed@gmail.com

Rebel On, HR Rebels!

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/rebelhumanresources)

Show Notes Transcript

Join Kyle as he discusses using VR as a culture-building tool in the workplace.  We cover the challenge of changing hearts and minds, but re-wiring the brain to empathize with others.  Fascinating stuff!  

Robin S. Rosenberg is the CEO and Founder of Live in Their World. Robin is a clinical psychologist and textbook author. She has had both psychotherapy and executive coaching practices in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. She is board certified in clinical psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology, a Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology, and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She has taught psychology classes at Lesley University and Harvard University.

Robin has been interested in virtual reality (VR) for years, and was the lead author of a study to investigate using “VR for good.” She has combined her interest in immersive technologies with her coaching and clinical experiences to foster in employees a deeper understanding of how and why other people may feel slighted or marginalized, and how to approach such interactions differently.

Robin is the author of both college-level psychology textbooks, and books for a general audience about the psychological underpinnings of (other people’s) fictional characters, such as Harry Potter, Batman, and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. After decades with successful psychotherapy and coaching practices, she founded Live in Their World, which enables lasting change in organizational civility and respectful engagement. The program applies the science of psychology to combine emotional and cognitive learning, using both immersive virtual reality and online learning. Robin also started a “Dear Robin” column, addressing people’s questions about civility and respect in the workplace.

https://www.liveintheirworld.com/
https://twitter.com/LiveNTheirWorld
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robin-s-rosenberg-b6942329/
http://www.drrobinrosenberg.com/

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

Subscribe today on your favorite podcast player!  

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.

Follow Rebel HR Podcast at:

www.rebelhumanresources.com
https://twitter.com/rebelhrguy
https://www.facebook.com/rebelhrpodcast
www.kyleroed.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-roed/

We love to hear from our listeners!  Send us questions or comments at kyleroed@gmail.com

Rebel On, HR Rebels!

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/rebelhumanresources)

Robin Rosenberg:

We have a program not just using VR but VR is part of our emotional learning to help people understand the experience of other people who are different than themselves to help raise awareness of bias but also upscale people for respectful engagement.

Kyle Roed:

This is the rebel HR podcast. If you're a professional looking for innovative thought provoking information in the world of human resources, this is the right podcast for you. All right, Rebel HR listeners, I'm extremely excited to welcome Robin Rosenberg to the show today. She is the CEO and founder of live in their world. Robin's a clinical psychologist and a textbook author. She's had both psychotherapy and executive coaching practices in San Francisco in New York City, board certified in clinical psychology. She is a fellow of the American Academy of clinical psychology and an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She's also taught psychology classes at Lesley University, and Harvard. So I am going to be in cycle analyze, see, today, I have a feeling the topic we're gonna be talking about today is really interesting. She Robin has been interested in virtual reality for years, and was the lead author of a study to investigate using VR for good. Welcome to the show. Robin,

Robin Rosenberg:

thank you so much for having me, Kyle, I'm excited to be here. And I will not psychoanalyze.

Kyle Roed:

It's fine. I'm sure you're gonna have all sorts of thoughts and things to share with your students after today's conversation about somebody that's been in HR for for over a decade. But you know, we'll save that for maybe after that we stop recording. But really excited to dive into the topic today. And we're going to be talking about VR in the workplace. And this is an area that admittedly, I don't have much experience about, I like to think that I'm, I'm hip, and I know what an Oculus Rift, you know, is. But as far as like, actual practical application in the workplace, I'm really excited to, to dig into that a little bit. So, you know, I think before we get into that, I just like to understand a little bit more about how you got interested in the world of VR and where that led you.

Robin Rosenberg:

I'm a psychologist and was certified in hypnosis. I was using hypnosis with psychotherapy, patients to treat anxiety, and all kinds of other things is actually that's a whole other interesting conversation. But I, there's a phenomenon in hypnosis, that's called dual consciousness or divided consciousness. And that's where you hold to reality simultaneously. So have you ever been hypnotized on the off chance?

Kyle Roed:

One time, a long time ago, in a an establishment of ill repute in college. Okay. And I don't know what I did, but I'm sure it wasn't great. Okay.

Robin Rosenberg:

So Oh, you don't remember it? They didn't I? I'm not a kind of. Okay, so, typically what happens when it's not in the house of ill repute? And it was a bar. I

Kyle Roed:

mean, it wasn't like, terrible, but yeah, I mean, okay. Yeah.

Robin Rosenberg:

What, what happens is that you hold the reality of whatever you're experiencing in trance. So for instance, if you have an elevator phobia, and we were working on that with hypnosis, you might see yourself, you know, pushing the call button for an elevator, in trance, but you also simultaneously know that you're sitting in my office. So you're holding both. And that's why sometimes people think they're not hypnotized, because they are aware of both. So I okay, that's kind of interesting, you know, just to intellectually curious about that experience, similar to knowing that you're dreaming. They're, they're a bunch of places in life where we have divided consciousness like that. And then I started to read about 25 years ago, a very early literature on the psychology of virtual reality. And I imagined what VR was I hadn't been in headset, but from the description, and I thought, wow, this has that same divided consciousness that hypnosis has. Because when you're in a headset, you have the reality of what you're experiencing there feels very real. But you also know you're in a headset. And so I just thought, that's really cool. I want to know more about that. And then interestingly, with hypnosis we know from neuro imaging studies, your brain registers the trance experience is real, which is part of why it's effective. As a therapy method, and your and semen VR, your brain registers, that experience is real. And so they had all of these things in common. So I started following the psychology of virtual reality literature for many years, and then had the good fortune to collaborate with an American researcher, Jeremy bailenson, at Stanford, on a study, using VR, for with super powers, we can, we can talk about that study if you want, giving people the power of flying like Superman, and seeing how helpful they were after they took the headset off. But what at the same time, Trayvon Martin was killed while I was doing this research. And then there was a spate of murders and of black people, often by white police officers, often without consequence. So that led to a surge in black lives matter that led some white people to say either all lives matter or white lives matter. And because virtual reality was, you know, close to my thoughts all the time, because of doing the work, I kept thinking. And I don't presume to know the lived experience of being black in the US. But from my work as a psychologist, I thought I knew enough to hypothesize that if we could give people who, who don't understand the phrase Black Lives Matter, enough, have a sense of what the lived experiences, they would get it. And they would be moved by it. And so that is how I came up with the idea for our company. So what should I keep going?

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, this question so far? No, this is this is fascinating. So in your company is live in their world? Is your company?

Robin Rosenberg:

Correct? So what, what happened is, I mentioned to a venture capitalist that I socialized with, because in San Francisco, where I lived at the time, you know, they're just a lot of venture capitalists. And I mentioned the idea, and he thought it was a really good idea. But I had a day job I loved you know, I said, Hey, if someone could use this idea, let me know, I'm happy to talk to them. And then fast forward a little bit, and me too happened. And then the same VC contacted me. And he said, Remember that idea you had, we'd like to fund you to do a proof of concept on gender. So it's a really unusual story. That because I was I wasn't going looking for money for funding. So we did a proof of concept for gender got amazing results. The participants in this study, were incredibly enthusiastic. And I had to decide whether to quit my day job and do this full time, which I did, thankfully. So. That's kind of what we do. We have a program, not just using VR, but VR is part of our emotional learning, to help people understand the experience of other people who are different than themselves, to help raise awareness of bias, but also upskill people for respectful engagement. We call what we do civility training, because fundamentally, it's about unearned respect. And, you know, with bias, so you're not aware of being disrespectful. It's a particular type of disrespect because of their demographic identity. But we all want to be treated respectfully, as individuals. And well, you know, from an HR perspective, the cost of incivility and disrespect and bias is huge. And we can talk about that more if you want. But I'm sure your listeners know all the stats.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, absolutely. So I want I want to step back a little bit, and I want to explore this. So you know, you mentioned that the brain registers these these trans experiences as real. And so as you're thinking about that, in the context of virtual reality, is the intent to to have people actually experience these situations of of bias or of being disrespected, and and have their brain it make them more empathetic? Is that the Am I understanding that correctly?

Robin Rosenberg:

You got it, Kyle, that's it. We eat that part of it, actually. So part of it is really deeply understanding what it is like to be on the receiving end for a particular demographic group, the ways in which bias plays itself out. Typically, and that's not enough though. I mean, that's understanding and understanding is great, but From my psychological vantage point, when we talk about civility or inclusion, training or Dei, whatever phrases we want to use, ultimately, what we're talking about is habit change. Right? It's it sets of behaviors that are automatic. And so you have to really upskill people to get those behaviors automatic. So one and done training typically doesn't work. And part of why it doesn't work is it doesn't help instill a habit, you need Distributed Learning, sort of learning in small doses over time. To help people consolidate the new behavior, well, first know what the new behaviors are of what they're supposed to be doing. And then consolidate them, help them remember to do them. And then when they remember them frequently enough, they become automatic. And then, of course, both social accountability piece as well.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. The this is, this is fascinating to me, because I think one of the biggest challenges that we've faced just in general and human resources is a lot of our, a lot of our initiatives, a lot of the things we focus on, are very fluffy. And, and, and kind of hard to define. So things like culture, you know, build a culture, what does that even mean? Right? or, or, you know, address biases? I think I don't, I don't think I know a person who says yeah, biases, biases, good. You know, I don't think anybody necessarily, I think there's always exceptions, but for the most part, in general, people don't want to be biased, because they know that leads to poor outcomes in a number of areas of the world. But I think what's really interesting about this approaches, is the scientific approach towards actually kind of re mapping the brain or getting somebody exposed or immersed into the actual reality of what it feels like to experience it. So So how do you? How do you approach kind of actually rewiring somebody that doesn't think there's a problem in the first place?

Robin Rosenberg:

Well, there's so many great places to go with this with with this question, um, in the in the preamble to it. So, unfortunately, some dei training, I mean, I'm using dei as a catchphrase again, we can talk about civility, we'll talk about respect we can, ultimately, it's respect. with shame and blame type trainings. What can happen is people who feel shamed and blamed shut down. You know, I'm sure you have seen this when someone mentions dei or d&i. Some people roll their eyes. Well, maybe not when you're around, but

Kyle Roed:

typically not around me. But I know what I know it's there, right? Yes.

Robin Rosenberg:

And so psychologists refer to that as reactance, which is where when someone tries to persuade you of something, you become more entrenched in your original position. So it's actually it's harmful. Right? because they'd be sorted, they become even more committed to that position. And I think that's what we're talking about. Yeah. And so with, with our program with the VR component, what we're simply saying is, hey, have this experience when, you know, just we're not trying to convince you of anything. Just try this out? Welcome. You know, just see what this is like. And, you know, again, I think people are really surprised to be on the receiving end of something they haven't experienced it in particular way before. I mean, everyone's around jerks, right? Everyone's had people, we're all we've all in a given workweek been disrespected, unfortunately. But this is a very particular way of being disrespected that we're talking about. And so it's not saying, don't do this, we're just saying, Hey, this is what it feels like. Right? That's what we call this emotional learning, or VR modules or emotional learning, and then we pair that with cognitive learning. But in the VR portion, we're not just showing you the ways the bias plays out. We're also upskilling for three different roles, if you will, that all of us will be in any given workweek. So we're the person who is disrespected. How do I handle that? Right? How do I handle having been disrespected where the person who's a bystander which we want to convert to an upstander or an ally? What do I do well, What do I say? And then we're the person who has often unintentionally been disrespectful. And so when someone lets you know, how do I handle that? What do I say, you know, especially if it's quite charged. And so it's oh my gosh, you know. So we're trying to upskill, those three different positions. And that's those are really talking about three different habits, if you will, right, the habit of the upstander. The habit of someone who takes feedback well, and uses that it's not just taking feedback, but sort of uses that feedback and knows how to engage. We call it respectful engagement. And the person who was disrespected, ideally, they shouldn't have to be the ones all the time, sort of bringing it up. And that's how allies can be so helpful. But sometimes you have to be the one bringing it up. And so it's, it's how to be most effective and doing that with with at least emotional cost. Because there's a, you know, there's a is a heavy mental load to emotional toll. So those are the three sets of habits that were trying to upskill.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. Have you seen? You know, I mean, I know just over the last, just even over the last few months, it's it just seems like they're they're just continue to be such tragic headlines as it relates to racial matters. And, you know, right now, while we're recording this right now, we're awaiting the verdict in the the George Floyd case, and, you know, I mean, emotions are elevated all over. And so are you seeing, you know, an increased demand for this type of work? Or what are you seeing in your work, in response to some of these social social issues that are continuing to say, to me, it seems like it just continues to escalate higher and higher and higher and get more and more emotional.

Robin Rosenberg:

So we're seeing two different things simultaneously. what's clear is what's what whatever people have done before, has not generally been effective. And in fact, research there, it's not most dei interventions don't have a lot of research, assessing their your value in their outcome. What there is, you know, isn't great, although we do have some learning about what's effective and ineffective, which we've lived in their world has made use of that. So I think people realize that they need to do different things to be effective. But at the same time, I think they are understandably very nervous about whatever they do differently, not being a good fit for their employees for their company. And you know, that that's a challenge, it is a challenge. So, I think people want something different, but they're very nervous about something different. We, I think we're a bit different than many other dei programs, because we collect data as we go, you know, the scientist in me was, it was important first to do no harm, which is why we did a proof of concept study, right? We didn't want to get reactance. But also that we do good, and that we can measure doing good. So that's built into our program, which I think helped me, you know, people are relieved by but I get, you know, we are being entrusted with it by a company with helping address a very profound, deep, emotional topic, and I absolutely understand the comfort of doing what you know, even if it's not as effective as you'd like.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely lower risk,

Robin Rosenberg:

in a way. I mean, it's it's not really lower risk, but it feels lower risk in the moment.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, I think one of the one of the really interesting things cuz I I'm in the Midwest, so I'm from a very traditionally non diverse part of the country, pretty much everybody looks like me, right? And I grew up in that environment. My context is, like, yeah, had I not had some of the experiences that I had, you know, later in life, I would, I would not have much understanding for the plight of people of, you know, minorities, communities. That's just that's just a fact. I've been fortunate that I was I was raised Bye bye to enlightened parents that made sure I was exposed to that. But I think one of the things that I've seen through my working career is that the teams that have really homogenous and are very like minded, and from a similar background, that there is a lot of, there's some of that psychological safety in those groups. And it can be very destabilizing to, to, to challenge the status quo in those groups. And but but I just think, you know, this could be an application that in a relatively safe way could get somebody exposure to that, and start to lay the groundwork for the action, which for me, is higher diversity and higher diversity of thought and go actually execute on some of your your plans when it relates to, you know, hiring people that think differently for senior leadership roles and get, you know, focus on board diversity, and some of the things that were really moved the needle in a big way. But this almost to me sounds like this could kind of be like a priming exercise to get a team ready for that.

Robin Rosenberg:

Yes. And in fact, I think that our program is helpful, either at the front end, or as a tail, to make whatever happens last longer took to kind of amplify it. And it is exactly what you said, it's like it is in fact, low risk. If because we're just inviting you to, again, have an experience and then pair it with sort of a deeper cognitive understanding. And the principles of civility and respect are the same across demographic groups. It's just where the the specific ways ways the biases play out, or little or little different. Can I ask you a question about the homogeneity in psychological safety? She said, I don't want to put you on the spot. So feel free know, tell me, I might know

Kyle Roed:

if it's terrible. I'll just I'll just edit it out. It's fine. Go ahead. Okay, great.

Robin Rosenberg:

Want to make sure you're psychologically safe? I'm good. So sometimes what can happen in homogenous organizations or teams? Is, it appears that there's homogeneity? I mean, visibly, that's obvious. But But in fact, it's not psychologically safe. And that the people who feel unsafe or quiet,

Kyle Roed:

interesting, I could see that I'm just I'm reflecting not so much in my current organization, but I'm reflecting on experiences that I've had in past organizations, where you would look at the team and you think everybody hears the same. What does the same school look the same? talk the same, same accent, you know, probably from the same hometown. But then the then the HR investigations that I've had to do on some of those teams, the disrespect has been present in some of those situations, to the point of the differences, maybe aren't as visible, but it's, I have I have had people in your fistfights over politics, or, you know, I've had I've had people who feel that somebody's slacking off. And there's some disrespect there. And yes, I have absolutely seen a lack of civility on some of those teams. So that's a good call. Yeah.

Robin Rosenberg:

Well, what the other thing I think that can happen in terms of diversity of thought that what you were talking about of just that homogeneity, the appearance of homogeneity doesn't mean actual homogeneity. So I'm going to use a crude example of a fraternity, okay, we're just just, you know, everybody, let's just say everybody's white, everybody's male, and even everybody's straight cisgender. Let's just make that assumption. Okay. There will be people there who are actually not comfortable with some of the group processes that happen, but they feel unable to say anything. Because they feel unable to say anything. It looks like everybody's comfortable and psychologically safe. But they're not

Kyle Roed:

100% I came from I came from small town, Iowa. That's exactly that would exactly describe my experience in a lot of scenarios.

Robin Rosenberg:

Right. And so I think that there's, I think even among homogeneous groups, there's so there's the disrespect piece and that's people are jerks everywhere. But I think there's also the well how safe is it real Is it? Is it safe for the people who are most vocal? Because they get to speak their minds without, you know, fear of anything and no one overtly disagrees with them? I think it's just I think it's complicated, I guess. So I think the this psychological safety and how much nav don't always go together, certainly they're not great for the organization, even though people may, the majority of people will feel more comfortable. But comfort can also lead to complacence.

Kyle Roed:

Right? Right. And I view you know, I view diversity of thought, as one of those critical have to have in any organization where innovation is required. You know, and if you don't have that diversity of thought, guess what your, somebody else is going to pass you by, because they're thinking differently, and they're more in tune with what your customers may want, you know, I mean, we're a for profit enterprise. And so, you know, if, if we don't have the best innovations, then eventually we're gonna start to lose customers, and we'll start to lose profits. And you know, it will, it's bad for everybody. But I think one of the challenges, you know, to confront this isn't necessarily at the individual employee level at the at the manager level is understanding that even though something may feel a little bit destabilizing, because it's different than what you've done, in the past, ie, you're hiring somebody from a different, let's just say, different college, you know, you're going out to, you know, I don't know, a different regional college that and you're looking for people with a little bit of a different degree to come into the team. And I can't tell you how many times the managers like, well, they don't they don't have this type of degree, or they don't have that type of degree. And I know what this degree is, and it's not, it's not as good as this degree, you know, and you get into these. I think it's, I think it's a fear of destabilization, or, you know, the term that I hear is, like, we don't need distractions. And I just think that's very dangerous. It's almost like the phrase, you know, well, this is the way we've always done it.

Robin Rosenberg:

Well, it is. Exactly. Right. Right. I understand that. In fact, we just posted, I have a dear Robin column, we post once a month that where people can can write in questions anonymously about incivility or respect is respect bias. And there was one about ageism, and reverse ageism, and sort of how older people can fall into the well, this is how we've always done it. And, you know, yeah, we are we tried that, you know, 10 years ago, poopoo didn't work out, or we don't need to try it. Because what we're doing it works really well. So why, you know, what's that phrase? Why change horses in midstream. And I get that I get where it's an unknown versus a sure thing. And especially for people who are generally risk averse. It is risky. It absolutely is risky. But the risk of not mixing things up. And sometimes changing horses at some point in the stream is being left behind. And losing out opportunities. It's also losing opportunities for growth. Yeah, I mean, just that's a whole other.

Kyle Roed:

That's where I was going with it yet. I'm just I hear that. And I just think opportunity cost, right? I mean, it's in, you don't really know what that is. It's it's impossible to define truly. But it's, it's my opinion, that's a bigger risk than than the risk of, you know, doing something different. By Yeah, that was a podcast, probably,

Robin Rosenberg:

that's another podcast, and that's a whole other upskilling for really a growth mindset. Yeah. And that's, you know, until very recently, I, you know, I think the old This is how we've always done it, and it works, was rewarded, and in many organizations is still and so the growth mindset is really quite different than that. And it's I think you really need mentors and to lead to really show the ways that the organization values that growth mindset. Can I say two more things about what you had said you had said so much there, right. So, one is when you're talking about hiring for diversity, and really making that effort and board diversity, so hire, you're hiring. The talent acquisition, with diversity of mind is great, and there are a lot of ways to minimize the bias in the process. That person Events hiring diversity. There are two other pieces that are connected that don't often get discussed. So one is that you can hire, you can hire for diversity. But if the organization is not inclusive, those people will leave, and why should they stay. And so well, there's also being the only when that's a whole other conversation. That's an interesting future podcast. But for the inclusion point is diversity without inclusion is really a setup for everybody involved. And so I know that you know that, but I just wanted to tag on to that. And in fact, some of the research is saying the best way to get diversity at the later end of the talent pipeline, because, you know, everyone now is scrambling to find people of color to put on boards and for C suite. And, you know, oh, we, you know, where can we find them? Is, the best recommendation is actually take a look at your talent pipeline, and how are you supporting people along the path? Where's that? Where are the biases and obstacles and the lack of equity all along, and so you can grow your own diversity along the pipeline. So I just, that's been very recent, as people are really wanting to have more diverse people, you know, at the later end of the pipeline.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. I distinctly remember, earlier in my career, I wasn't intentional, but we, we hired a number of diverse people, it was just, we just needed people. And we hired a number of diverse people. And they were the only people of that, that classification. In the in the entire organization kind of pains me to say this, but I don't know, they were not supported as inclusively as they should have. And it wasn't intentional, that we didn't do that. It was almost we sit we didn't know that that was going to be an issue. And and ultimately, we found out when they all quit. And, and went somewhere where it was more inclusive to work. And, you know, that was a pretty, pretty painful lesson to, you know, to learn early on, but, you know, for me a call to action that hey, maybe, you know, maybe, maybe something's off here, maybe we're not supporting it, you know, new hires the way we should. And then oh, by the way, while we really weren't, we weren't aware of the barriers that these individuals faced and the, you know, some of the challenges that presented themselves in the workplace, you know, and, and had we had we been intentional and thought about that, we could have knocked some of those barriers down. You know, we could have thought about transportation, we could have thought about translation, we could have thought about visual controls, and all the all these best practices that actually make it a better place to work in general. But because we weren't as intentional as we should have been, you know, ultimately, we did not set them up for success. And it was unfortunate, and it wasn't overt. It was, it was just, it was what happened. And yeah, painful lesson and, you know, still something I don't really like to admit. Right.

Robin Rosenberg:

It is what it is. It is what it is. And I think, you know, again, if there is a silver lining, I mean, that's the the growth mindset, right is sort of taking what happened and really learning from it. And and then moving forward. And that's what you did. And that's what we're all trying to do is figure out what are what kind of what was the learning for us? What are the best practices? How do we create an inclusive work environment in general? And specifically, and it is, it is painful to you know, to look back and but but as long as you're focused on what are the lessons learned? I think it's really key.

Kyle Roed:

Right, right. We didn't make that mistake twice.

Robin Rosenberg:

Exactly.

Kyle Roed:

So yeah, that I think that's, that's just and I think that's part of the challenge with with this, you know, these types of initiatives in general is is it It isn't fun to address your biases, it can be painful, and it can be a little bit shocking, and you have to be reflective, and and self aware to enough to make change but to circle back to what we started talking about. You know, it's it's interesting that you know, your approach in the in the VR simulations is it's more along the lines of here's an experience and then letting somebody kind of let that seep into their consciousness in a way That's not, you know, accusing them of doing doing wrong. So So how do you how do you structure the that type of a program? Do you? Are you taking scenarios and just running them through kind of the scenarios? Or does it? Do you modify it for the organization? I'm just curious how you kind of tactically approach that.

Robin Rosenberg:

So for the VR module, so we have three modules just so people can understand. One is the the data we collect this we it's we call it civility scales that are in the literature, they've been validated. And they, they ask questions about people's own behavior, both how they feel they're treated, and how they treat others. So that's kind of cool. Then there's the VR module. And that's about 20 to 25 minutes of scene after scene after scene. And that's intentional, because, you know, if you see one scene where you know, you're in the first person experience, let's just say of javante, a black man, if you're one scene, it's like, well, yeah, just get over it, you know, what's the big deal? It's really seeing the see the cumulative toll, and the different ways that that bias can play out. And the dilemma about what do I do here? Right. I mean, I think that's the other piece, which is, do I act? Do I not act? What's the cost of acting? What's the cost of not acting? And that too, has a toll. So we want people to just understand that, and allies experience that as well. Right? Or witnesses, if you will, right, there's a cost potentially for acting, and a cost for not acting for, for seeing and understanding and doing nothing. And so we it scene after scene, but we also do want to show and we do i mean of ways that anyone in the situation could intervene. So if I was the one who was disrespected? Here's how I could intervene, if no one else is gonna say anything, right? So do I say something? And here's how to say it. How ways that an ally can intervene and say something, ways that the person who was often unintentionally disrespectful how to take that feedback, and really take it in and learn from it or, you know, ask questions, you engage, right, because none of us is ever going to get it. Right. I mean, you know, my husband is probably the person I know best in the world. And I don't always get it right. And neither does he. So, but we have to engage each other, when we get it wrong to help understand each other better, right? That's the whole thing. These are colleagues, I work with them or partners or whatever, is, you know, not all black people, or not all black men have the same sensibilities. And so it's really what is, you need to let me know what I'm doing. That may be disrespectful, so I can learn. And I will do the same, right. It's creating that respectful engagement with each other. That actually creates trust and psychological safety. I mean, that's the irony, right, is that when we can have those conversations in an open and respectful way, I will trust you more. And I will feel safer with you.

Kyle Roed:

100% Yeah, that I mean, and it makes, I mean, it makes logical sense, you know, the more authentic you are, the more trusting people will be towards you. But But in order to be well, to it to an extent I have been a little too authentic in the past. Right, exactly.

Robin Rosenberg:

Exactly. Some kind of authenticity. We don't want.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, yeah, that's it. Yeah. To an extent, like HR authenticity.

Robin Rosenberg:

It's like, if you're an angry person who just starts up that we don't want you to be

Kyle Roed:

right. That's a that's a great point. There's a little asterisk next. I may or may not have come across a few of those people in my HR career, but they were being authentic, maybe not respectful. But I think it's it's so interesting. And you know, this is one of those, this is one of those challenges that employers are struggling with. I mean, it's, you know, we want to create a safe environment for people, we want people to be able to be themselves at work. And we want to, we want this to be a great place to work. But in order to do that, it's just you know, sometimes the steps to get there are so challenging, and every organization is so different. So our Are there organizations that you have found this as really successful with? Or? Or is this kind of universally been a success? In some of the scenarios that you've used this training?

Robin Rosenberg:

Let's think as long as people walk the walk of this in the company, the leaders, it's successful, but if you know as much in life, if they say one thing and do something else, you really learn from their actions and not from their words. And so I mean, you know, for all of us, that's how we learn best, you know, whether it's what our parents told us, and then there's what they're doing. And guess guess, which was more powerful?

Kyle Roed:

That's a whole nother podcast. that one that one you would you would be able to psychoanalyze me and my parenting style, but you know, that we don't have time for that.

Robin Rosenberg:

Right? We have to be careful around kids. For that reason, right, they absorb everything. So I mean, I think it's just the genuine, genuine desire, that openness and curiosity to learn that is communicated to people. And that's, you know, it doesn't matter what the industry is, that's the really important variable. And if it's reinforced, technically reinforced in the culture, all the better. So for instance, is inclusive behavior, however, accompanies defining that part of what is assessed or discussed a performance review. Right, and that that's really walking the walk, you have to be very clear with people about what those behaviors are like, what what is it? That's part of the evaluation? What is it that we how do we assess that. But that's, that's a really powerful statement, to say, we value this so much that when it comes time, for your annual review, we're going to talk about the ways that you've been inclusive or not, you know, supported our efforts at this or kind of gotten in the way,

Kyle Roed:

right. If you want to modify behavior, you have to start to measure it right. You have

Robin Rosenberg:

to start to measure it. And ideally, reinforce it right? spoken your that what you just said is let Spoken like a true psychologist.

Kyle Roed:

Well, I, I started in psychology, and then I actually went into I was a marketing major, because I viewed that as the psychology of business. Right now, what HR, which is really the psychology of business.

Robin Rosenberg:

Why?

Kyle Roed:

I'm a very amateur psychologist, but I just think I find people fascinating, I find the way the brain works very, very fascinating. And I think that's why I enjoy human resources, because it you're dealing with people and people are messy, and there's all sorts of just really interesting things going on. And then you get into the whole sociology piece of it, and how people interact with each other. And I just, I find it very fascinating. I enjoy the I enjoy the case study of my job.

Robin Rosenberg:

Spoken like a true social.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, well, and you know, it's interesting that, you know, in industrial and organizational psych now is is a very common degree for somebody that wants to go into HR. And I think for me, that gives me that gives me a lot of hope that we're going to have some really great, great organizations with people leading them that understand how human behavior is it can be leveraged for the good of a culture and a company and, and customers and all that. So I'm excited about the focus. And, and I mean, this conversation, I just love this, I could just, I could talk to you for another three hours. And, you know, we'd still have more to talk about. So I really appreciate the work. And you know, I had never, I had never really thought about VR in the context of building an inclusive culture. And for that I thank you for expanding my, my perspective there.

Robin Rosenberg:

Sure. I just by way of VR, I think there are a lot of other ways that VR can help in the workplace. And especially with distributed work with remote or different field offices. There are some really cool ways where people can feel they are together in a room. When they are not in a headset. There are apps that allow people to feel both they're together around a conference table. They're together, sitting together watching a presentation. There are all these ways to feel co located I guess, even when we're not so if you have distributed workforce and they have a hankering to Want to be in the same room and really equalize things? It's a way of doing that.

Kyle Roed:

I love that. And I mean, I look at that, I think that's the future of work. I mean, we, we have my, my company has 26 locations in 11 countries. And we actually, I would say COVID was one of those experiences for us where we didn't know how disconnected we were, until we all had to connect on COVID. And then we realized, oh, wow, we really need to be intentional about being connected to each other. And so COVID actually, I think, helped us build a more unified culture globally, just be just by product, leveraging some of these technological tools, and something as simple as a, you know, video call, like we're on today. That would have taken a, you know, around the world tour and a full year for me to have the level of conversations that I'm having in a week. You know, it's so it's, yeah, I mean, I think, I think the opportunity there, it's exciting, the rate of change is is, you know, continuing to pick up as it relates to some of these technological improvements. I can't wait to, I can't wait to go to my first virtual conference. But I just need someone to figure out a virtual happy hour that that isn't terrible. That's all a

Robin Rosenberg:

question. I'm actually curious your take, because you're in a great position to address this. You know, some of the virtual best practices is that when some people are co located, but other people attending a meeting are not that everyone should be on their own computer to equalize it. And I just wondered your thoughts about that?

Kyle Roed:

I agree. 100%, I cannot stand a meeting where there's multiple people in a conference room. And maybe 50% of the participants are not, because then you get this like, this really awkward, like cross Table Talk. And there's always a microphone interaction and background noise. It's very distracting. But it also it does make anybody who's not in that room feels excluded. right or not in on the conversation, they can understand what's it's, yeah, I'm an all or nothing kind of a virtual meeting. Cool, man. Thank you. So yes, great question. And one of those. We tried to do that. I had a few employees who are fully vaccinated, thankfully. And they tried to do that on a recent recent call. And it was just it was just a, it was a cluster, it was a mess. It was so distracting. I was just like, Guys, go back to your desk, just go to your desk. So we could actually like talk and I can't hear everything in the background. Yeah, it it. Yeah. I'm with you on that.

Robin Rosenberg:

Cool. I think it's nice to some tension of people really wanting to be in the same room together because of feeling deprived. But the but it really does create it sort of to two tier system. And aside for the technical issues of noise, yeah. But thank you for that sort of doing a little poll was your element?

Kyle Roed:

Sure. I think, yeah, in the same context, I think there are some, there are some interactions that do need to be given the current technology need to be in person. And you know, I think about I've had meetings recently about talent development and career planning, and organizational design and organizational development, some of these things where you just, you have to, you have to be able to interact and a really, I don't know what the right word is. You just it just kind of have to be in the room where it happens, quote, Hamilton, but, but I still think there are some of those interactions. So I don't think that I don't think that virtual work is going to be permanent for all positions. And I'm not necessarily in that camp, but I think it's helpful in certain situations. And then there are situations where, you know, in person is just better. So interesting. Anyway, all right. Well, we are we are steadily coming in on time here. I want to be respectful of your time. So we're gonna shift gears and go into the rebel HR flash round. All right, great conversation. I'm fascinated to hear your responses. Alright. Question number one. What are you reading right now?

Robin Rosenberg:

I just finished reading the novel outlaw by Anna north.

Kyle Roed:

Question number two, Who should we be listening to? Oh,

Robin Rosenberg:

man, we should be listening to your podcast.

Kyle Roed:

Well, thank you for this shameless plug. I appreciate that. Yeah, I've I guess never know how to. I love that question. Because I've had some guests say like a band like, Hey, this is a great band right now. And then I've had some who, you know, give me a laundry list of like, professional speaking, people to follow. So I'm a big Beatles fan. So my Not so much lately. Now we're doing like music videos, but my my five year old her thing is yesterday, she loves the song yesterday. And God, God bless her. She doesn't know any of the words and she can't stay on pitch at all. But she she kind of mumbles the words along to the song on my, on my iPhone, and it's, it's adorable.

Robin Rosenberg:

It's really timeless. It's amazing. Actually. I'm a musician and I I'm so humbled by really what they created. It's it talks about innovation and coming without byesies right. Yeah, this is how to be done. Just Yeah, sorry, total digression there.

Kyle Roed:

It's all good. I'm a big Beatles fan. So all right, last question. How can our listeners connect with you? I,

Robin Rosenberg:

let's see LinkedIn. There are other Robin Rosenberg's. So just look up Robin Rosenberg, psychologist, or Robin Rosenberg live in their world. You can look up live in their world on LinkedIn, we are on Twitter as live in letter N their world because that was an absolute maximum number of letters you could put in a Twitter handle. Our website is live in their world.com. And you can contact us there. And then just so you know, if any of your listeners want, we have a white paper on the best practices of giving and receiving feedback. That's on our website, live in their world comm backslash publications. And it's right there. So it's, it's called from in sort of a variety of different sources of what we know.

Kyle Roed:

Perfect. We will have all that in the show notes for our listeners, Robin, it's just been absolutely wonderful conversation. Thank you so much for sharing some of your wisdom with us today and really appreciate the time. Thank you,

Robin Rosenberg:

Kyle. Thank you. And it's thank you for sharing your wisdom. I really appreciate it.

Kyle Roed:

Take care. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Witter at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. views and opinions expressed by podcast was the opposite this podcast

Jude Roed:

baby