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Can a Remote Workforce Truly Improve Performance Results?
In today’s episode of Optimizing the Hiring Process Podcast from The Hire Talent, we speak with Chief Culture Officer, Speaker and Visionary, Shane Metcalf, quoted here:
“In order to cultivate high performance and engagement, leaders must shift from a “how do I get the most out of my people?” mindset to “How do I help my people become the best versions of themselves?”
Fletcher: Well, welcome to The Hire Talent’s podcast, optimizing hiring results for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. Today, I’m super excited to have Shane Metcalf. He’s the Chief Culture Officer and Founder of 15Five. They’re a performance management software and consulting business and I think it’s great to have Shane on today because all a lot of companies were facing, how do we have a more effective workforce now that many of us are going fully remote or maybe a hybrid model? Can we be truly more effective and have better results in that environment than we did in the in-person one. So we’re going to get to explore that with Shane today, so thank you for being here.
Shane Metcalf: My pleasure. Really good to be here, Fletcher.
Fletcher: Awesome. Awesome. So, I always want to open, how did you get into this business? I love performance management, but how did this become your mission?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, man, I am still asking myself that question, how did this happen? Yeah, look, I’ve had a very non-linear career path. In high school, I’ll be like I’m going to go to the college so I can get a degree in business and I can then work my way up through startups and then found my own company. And because I love HR, that’s going to be the focus. I had a very non-linear career path, as I just said. I did a lot of different things. I was in private equity and clean technology, but it was actually being in the Bay Area, dropping out of the business world and going deep into personal development, transformation work, interpersonal community, Burning Man, all the like freaky underbelly sub-cultures of the Bay Area and having no career.
Shane Metcalf: There was like a five-year gap on my resume and all of that led me actually to becoming a coach because you work so much on yourself, you transform yourself, you think deeply about what you want in life and how do you get what you want in life. And then it’s kind of, for me, coaching was the first thing that synthesized all the different aspects that I worked on on myself and turned it into a form of service.
Fletcher: Wow. Yeah. [crosstalk] common theme on this show, man, a lot of coaches and a lot of people talk about, the self-realization, awareness, creating mission and purpose for themselves. And it sounds like you had quite a journey in that you had to explore a lot of different counterculture and traditional and a little bit of everything past to figure that out.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, definitely, and so 15Five, one of my friends, Casey Baker, who was a friend of mine and we were hanging out and she just met this guy and started dating him, and his name was David Hassell. And David seemed like a cool guy, entrepreneur, and so I made up with him and I’m working on a webinar called, Super Charge, which is about energy management for entrepreneurs. And I meet David and I started telling him about it. I’m like, “Dude, you got to start taking cold showers and you got to do this body weight training app from this guy, Mark Lauren called You Are Your Own Gym. And David loved those things. He was like, “Oh, this is really cool. This guy must know what he’s talking about.”
Shane Metcalf: And so we meet and we develop a friendship and then one day I ask him, “Hey, how can I help you?” And he’s like, “Well actually I just literally got off the stage publicly launching my company 15Five and I need somebody to coach all these executives that are signing up for the product.” And I’m like, “Oh, uh-huh” And then he kind of described what he looking for and I was like, “Okay, do I go left or do I go right and put my ring in the hat.” And I did, three days later, we were working together and the rest is history, so we’ve been building this company for the last eight years together. And what is been really interesting is that David gave me a carb launch to basically guinea pig on the culture. I wasn’t running culture [crosstalk 00:04:07]-
Fletcher: To integrate it into the company, but also to teach your clients this too.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, sure, sure. Basically what I did is I imported a lot of the social technologies to create trust, vulnerability, and connection that I picked up from these freaky sub-cultures and authentic relating and this wild place called One Taste that if you Google it, it’s going to be a whole can of worms. [crosstalk 00:04:40]-
Fletcher: Check that out, everybody.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s going to bring up a whole other set of interesting interview questions, but I had these interesting social technologies and I started applying them in building our own culture.
Shane Metcalf: And what happened was people started having deeper conversations. People started revealing themselves, because essentially it’s about creating opportunities for people to self-reveal. Traditionally, we put on our suit and we put on our facade, we have a professional masks that we go to work with because that’s how we’ve been conditioned and taught for decades and decades, if you want to be successful, put on the mask.
Fletcher: Okay, so are you advocating to like-
Shane Metcalf: Take off the mask.
Fletcher: Take off the mask and allow yourself to be maybe a little exposed from a personal perspective at work then, to open up and share like what you do on the weekends, and your hobbies, and your interests and things?
Shane Metcalf: And there’s an important term I use, which is self-reveal, which is giving people the permission, creating a psychologically safe space and giving the people the option, but not forcing people. You meet people where they’re at and invite them to step into a little bit more vulnerability and allow themselves to be seen and magic happens. And of course, personal boundaries are really, really important [crosstalk 00:06:10]-
Fletcher: Because that could get sticky, right?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, it can get sticky, which is why there’s an art to it. But it’s also, the myth of work-life balance has been very destructive because basically the shadow of work-life balance is saying, “Look, we actually only care about you as a professional. We want this to be a transactional relationship. You give us what we want and, oh, by the way, we’re going to take more from you than we’re going to give to you. And then we’re not responsible for positively influencing your life outside of the office,” and that I think is bunk because we spend what? A third of our lives at work.
Fletcher: At work, yeah. I think this is an interesting concept. So I’ve interviewed 10,000 job candidates, right? And at the end of the day, every-
Shane Metcalf: Which is like what? A hundred thousand hours? So you’re like a [inaudible 00:07:07].
Fletcher: Yeah, yeah. It’s about 10,000 hours. [crosstalk 00:07:14]. Yeah, it’s not 10,000 hours, no. Probably or maybe a 10th of those have been like deep dives, like top grading style, like two plus hour interviews, right? And the rest of those actually we’ve consolidated them and so, I don’t want to get too off track, but with like top grading, some Lou Adler stuff, my father wrote a book on this. So like an amalgamation of like these really great people who know a lot about interviewing, and assessing people, and, anyways, I shortened it to like a 30-minute interview and we call it the Power Interview Guide because if you’re going to interview 10,000 people, I don’t have a hundred thousand hours to do it, I’m only [crosstalk 00:07:49]-
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, that’s great. I’m interviewing a CMO candidate right after we get off this podcast.
Fletcher: Good, good, well, we may or may not have time. I can give you some suggestions, but the point is though, to what you were saying is, one of the [inaudible] that I had, like maybe, I don’t know, halfway or three quarters of the way through this journey is like, we’re all humans and we’re all looking at how do I improve my own quality of life, right? That’s human nature. Every human being, we all want to figure out how do I get from here to over here, right? And then continue that journey, hopefully in a positive trajectory. Now, that’s an interesting thing because it’s different for everybody though, right? How do I improve my quality of life is different from one person to the next, right?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s interesting because there are kind of universal human needs, but how those needs show up and which ones are currently met and which ones are below, we’ve tapped into the reserves and which are just completely empty.
Fletcher: Yep. Yep.
Shane Metcalf: Varies to an infinite degree.
Fletcher: Yeah. Yeah. And work-life balance is one of those that is a continuous trend, so I think it’s interesting you bring it up and in blending the personal and the work and I literally [crosstalk 00:09:08]-
Shane Metcalf: Well, and again, in 2020, work-life balance was completely, a nuclear bomb just killed it, because all of a sudden, work was at home [crosstalk 00:09:17]. The lines got really blurry, but they were always blurry, we were just in denial because it’s one life. It’s not like I have work and then I have life, it’s like, work is life, life is work.
Fletcher: Or I’ve got nothing else to do too, right? During COVID, we wrote a book and did crazy stuff, and like worse, or actually probably harder [crosstalk] especially at first we were like, “I don’t know what to do with myself.”
Shane Metcalf: Average hour, like daily work hours went up, I think like two or three hours across the board. And which is, again, all the more reason why we need to get good at building our cultures and our experience of work, such that it is contributing to our experience, a positive experience of life versus, I like to say soul-awakening versus soul-crushing, because we all know soul-crushing is something that every single professional has probably experienced in their lifetime.
Fletcher: Yeah. And I think, so tell me, okay, I had an epiphany, and I just brought this up, I just did a pre-podcast, like right before you so I’m like back to back recordings, and my subject here, well, not different subjects, but she was all about energies, how do you get from like this victim energy level to this dreamer and awaken energy level? Are you familiar with this concept?
Shane Metcalf: I’m a big fan of a variety of models that talk about the vibratory spectrum of human consciousness and so, yeah.
Fletcher: So I think it’s along those lines, and I think there’s different ways of talking about it and I think it’s taught in all different types of religions and so. But [crosstalk 00:11:01]-
Shane Metcalf: But I do think is really important is the number of different systems that talk about these different levels of consciousness, whether it’s like life happens to me as a victim or like me [crosstalk] to the shadow, to the gift frequencies.
Fletcher: Yeah, whether I’m serving others or it’s all about myself and then drive vision, and I think the vision piece is the thing that I think is really, everybody, all the coaches, all the business leaders I bring on, we all talk about the same thing. Now, sometimes they’re talking about creating mission and vision and purpose and core values for a business, but then one of the things I realized in my own life, bringing this back, these memories back to me is early in my career, I think the first 12 years of my career, I was a fricking workaholic.
Fletcher: Like work, work, work. No time, it probably destroyed my first marriage and put me into a terrible place for many years. And I was going through marriage counseling with my first wife and we were trying to salvage the relationship. We didn’t like hate each other, it’s just had deteriorated to this terrible place. And the counselor asked us to go back and do a ten-year life vision, right? Like what do you want out of life? Where are you going, right? I didn’t really think anything much of it at the time, but it was like the most awakening exercise I’ve ever done. It took me like 10 minutes to do. It literally took me 10 minutes to do. I wrote down, like I want to live by the water. I want to have work-life balance. I want [crosstalk 00:12:46]-
Shane Metcalf: Hey, look at your Zoom background, man. You got by the water.
Fletcher: Yeah, exactly. No, totally, yeah. I live in a beautiful place called Surfside, California. I’m staring out at the ocean as soon as we’re done with this, I’m going to go surfing, so.
Shane Metcalf: For reals?
Fletcher: Yeah, for real. [crosstalk] That’s exactly what I’m going to do, as soon we’re done with this conversation, I can’t wait to get off the phone with you and so I can get out there.
Shane Metcalf: Well try to speed this up then.
Fletcher: Exactly. But no, this is a lot of fun too, but, so, yeah, and I want to, I have a family. I didn’t have any kids, I want to be part of my community or have multiple communities and I want to have that balance and work was part of it. I want to work but it’s only a certain amount, and really it is transformed the way I look at being a leader, and I don’t think I’m that, naturally, not even that great at it, but I definitely, over the years I’ve been running this business seven years now, I began to encourage the people on my teams to do the same thing because I’ve seen this actually in job applicants, 10,000 interviews. I ask every single person, “Well, what is it you’re looking for out of your career?” And the answers you get back are, nobody knows. The vast majority of people.
Shane Metcalf: Well, it’s interesting. I like to say that most interviews are two people lying to each other because it’s like, okay, how do I tell you what I think you want to hear? And that’s going on both sides. And so I like to look at, interviews are almost like coaching conversations where you’re actually getting underneath the surface of what does this person truly want in life?
Fletcher: Yeah, so how do you get them to open up? Share a technique with us.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, sure. Often I will actually say that, I’ll start by saying, “Look, I think that for the most part interviews are like generally two people lying to each other and trying to say the right thing. So first of all, I don’t want [crosstalk] I don’t want that,” and everyone laughs at that because they all get it, they’ve all done it, they’ve all been on both sides of that.
Fletcher: Or they’re thinking it, right? They spent the whole last 20, 30, 40 minutes prepping on how they’re going to lie.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, exactly. And so then it’s about like making it clear that, “Look, my role as a company leader at 15Five is to ensure that this is the greatest professional experience of your life. That’s what I want to stack the odds for. And we’re only going to get to that if we’re really figuring out what do you really want in life and how can 15Five be a vehicle for you to realize those dreams in life? And when you’re actually at work, how can we stack the odds of you using your strengths on a daily basis? You understanding and operating from your zone of genius the things that give you energy versus drain your energy. And so that’s what we’re really all about. And so, let’s explore what does that look like? What do you really want?” And that generally sets a different context for the interview than most people are used to.
Fletcher: Yeah, that’s good. So it helps to begin to get them to open up and to be a little more transparent and, yeah, yeah. You don’t have [crosstalk 00:16:00]-
Shane Metcalf: We do ask a lot of transparency and vulnerability of our people. Working at 15Five is not for everybody. Like some people really want to just, “Hey, I have the things I do outside of work and those are completely separate from my work.” And that’s just not how we play as a company. We have a lot of respect for that personal boundary, but in general, if you weren’t somebody that is going to enjoy doing a gratitude reflection every Monday morning and company all-hands are opening up on Question Friday. So every Friday we play a game called Question Friday and it’s a really good virtual ritual for building culture and connection in this new work. [crosstalk] So every month there’s a different question master, so somebody owns that for the month and so each Friday of December, we have [TJ Venezuelo 00:17:02] who is the question master for December.
Shane Metcalf: So last Friday he asked the question, what is something that you know you should let go of, but are still holding onto? Beliefs, identities, grudges, resentments-
Fletcher: Old furniture.
Shane Metcalf: The old furniture, exactly. I just can’t let go of that dresser. And this is voluntary for whoever wants to show up and we get a good chunk of the company show up every week and people went there, man. People were sharing their hearts.
Fletcher: Wow. Wow. Yeah.
Shane Metcalf: And it’s exquisite. And those are the moments, because we’re 200 people now and we have been doing this the whole journey and when we were smaller and doing in-person retreats and stuff, which by the way, as we move to a virtual norm, it’s so critical to at least once a year, get together in-person for in-person connection. We’ve been a hybrid business model from the beginning where we had offices and remote, and in-person retreats are so important and they’re going to come back, we’re going to get out of this.
Fletcher: And I got introduced to that right here. So this is my buddy’s place, and we’re up skiing on a boy’s trip every year. and it’s right across the street from the Hyatt in Incline Village, and we’re at the poker table and there’s like 20 software engineers. And we’re like, “What are you guys all doing here?” And he’s like, “Well, yeah, we’re having a working retreat. We’re up here for a week and we’re working.” It was like, “Oh, that’s cool.” I’d never thought of it before. I don’t know, it was like seven years ago or something. I was like, “Wow, okay. If I ever do a remote workforce, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Shane Metcalf: Totally, man. I’ve taken my team to Mexico, the Redwoods, Florida, Sedona. [crosstalk 00:18:57]-
Fletcher: Did you do all 200 people now?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, so in January of 2020, before the [inaudible] hit the fan, we brought all 200 people. We bought out a whole hotel for the week. I like to think of them as transformational business retreats because I bring the best elements of the kind of interpersonal transformational world to bear and create these opportunities for people to experience things they’ve never experienced before, all alongside strategy and working sessions and all kinds of variety of experiences.
Fletcher: So you’re making sure that you’re emphasizing to some degree, well, in large degree, the individual, their needs, their desires, their personal wellbeing, and making sure that there’s a channel constantly available for them to grow as an individual, and then doing all the normal business strategy stuff. And that’s something that you’re lacing into daily, weekly, and [crosstalk 00:19:59].
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, look, I think that culture is fundamentally about human needs and there’s a great author, Scott Barry Kaufman, he wrote a book recently called Transcend and he kind of took a lot of Maslow’s unfinished work and carried it to the finish line. And, you know Abraham Maslow, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, [crosstalk] which is really funny. Maslow never actually framed it as a hierarchy of needs and never put it as a pyramid, that was an organizational development consultant who put it as a pyramid and then it’s stuck. And it’s actually a complete misrepresentation of Maslow’s work, which is just a funny little piece of history [crosstalk 00:20:42].
Fletcher: Yeah, interesting, I didn’t know that.
Shane Metcalf: But humans are dynamic. If you want to build an extraordinary culture that actually unlocks the potential of your people and helps them become better versions of themselves, you need to build a dynamic culture. And we can’t have it, like humans are not two dimensional, we’re not [crosstalk 00:21:02]-
Fletcher: And you got to facilitate it.
Shane Metcalf: [inaudible] motivated, economically-minded robots that, that’s all we care about, is making money. We have needs for community, and connection, and growth, and esteem, and abundance, and prosperity.
Fletcher: You’re talking about this in the hiring process but, okay, you’re hiring somebody remotely, we’re meeting on Zoom, this is how you’re meeting, whatever platform you’re using, and it’s day one, [crosstalk 00:21:31], month one, how do you create a structure? Somebody like me, like if there’s no structure to this forget it. [crosstalk 00:21:37].
Shane Metcalf: Absolutely. Okay. So we have a template that we’ve built into our product, but you can also download, I think we have PDFs on it, we call it a Best-Self Kickoff and it’s a two-hour meeting between the employee and the manager, and the manager goes through a series of questions to understand this person at an uncommon level. What do they want in life? What is their vision? What are their strengths? How do they like to receive feedback? What is success really going to look like? What are the lessons they’ve learned from their previous roles that they want to apply in the current one?
Fletcher: Okay. So you’re doing this post hire.
Shane Metcalf: Post hire. That’s self kickoff.
Fletcher: Because if you ask all those questions during the hiring process, do you think you’d get a straight answer? An honest answer?
Shane Metcalf: I think that there’s some version of it to do in the hiring interview, but what we’re really talking about is it’s like, “Look, you’ve made it through, we’ve chosen you. We’re now-“
Fletcher: We’re in it together.
Shane Metcalf: And so it’s one of the best ways to kick off the relationship because you get to understand each other, you get to understand, and it’s two ways, the manager is also sharing how they work and what their expectations are, and so that there’s actual communication happening. So that’s one of the best structures to implement. And then look like we’re in a world where a once a year performance review is not enough feedback, we need continuous touchpoints, check-ins, asynchronous reflections on what’s going well, where are we stuck? What do we need help with? So that we can [crosstalk 00:23:18]-
Fletcher: So what’s the frequency? How do you structure that frequently?
Shane Metcalf: Look, we recommend a weekly check-in, but also a bi-weekly or monthly is really good and that’s an asynchronous check-in. So it’s, I’m your direct report, I’m going to, at the end of my week, sit down and reflect on that week or that month of what are my wins? What are my challenges? What’s going well? How am I feeling at work? How am I tracking on my goals?
Fletcher: Yep, yep. And [inaudible 00:23:50].
Shane Metcalf: And get some of this information down on a digital process.
Fletcher: On paper, essentially.
Shane Metcalf: Digital paper, which then means that we can go into our next one-on-one and you can say, “Cool, tell me more about this challenge you’re facing,” versus spending our one-on-ones, kind of wasting our time in the backend process versus getting deep into the meat of an actual coaching management conversation.
Fletcher: Let’s focus on the challenge, how can I help you overcome it, and reward or recognize the accomplishments, and it’s coming from the individual they’re sharing with those things.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah. Yeah. So look, the whole suite that we’re looking at is it’s, you need continuous feedback so check-ins, and one-on-ones are some form of appreciation. High fives is what we call them in our platform. And so that’s the like weekly kind of like the recurring rituals, but then you also want quarterly or biannual, deep dive performance reviews, we call them best self-reviews because it’s actually about forward-looking, what do you want? [crosstalk 00:25:01]. What impact do you want to have? How did you do last quarter? How do you want to apply those lessons?
Fletcher: Are they putting in their own personal goals then too typically in those as well?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah. Look-
Fletcher: I want to go to the gym more often. I want to eat better. I want to [crosstalk 00:25:18]-
Shane Metcalf: So we call those self-development objectives, and so it’s applying the same OKR framework, that’s so effective for business to view people’s personal lives of saying, “Yeah, man,” because that’s… To go full circle, the work-life balance versus work-life integration is that, I want every person at 15Five, whenever they’re done with 15Five, I want them to have better relationships with their family, with their siblings. Not because we’re teaching them how to have better relationships with their family, but because we’re teaching some of the foundational power skills rebranded from soft skills of communication, and empathy, and listening, and clearly expressing what you want. Those are the things that actually work across all relationships.
Fletcher: Yep. Yep. And that’s, just the last person I told you we were talking to, the energy levels, right? If you’re stuck in the victim mentality, you can move to the dreamer, the visionary, and then the empathetic, helping others, all these different phases and how do you utilize those? And yep, if it’s negative in one area of your life, it’ll carry over to the other and vice versa, right? So if you can build it together, personally and professionally, then both sides win which is [crosstalk 00:26:46]-
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, look like helping people shift out of victim consciousness and into, create our consciousness or whatever we want to call it, look, that’s no easy task and there’s a lot of subtlety and complexity because there are systems of oppression in the world and there are people that get the short end of the stick. And so it’s not about saying, “Hey, that’s not true. Just bypass that crap.” It’s saying, “No, we need to [crosstalk 00:27:12]-“
Fletcher: Recognize it. [crosstalk 00:27:16].
Shane Metcalf: Play the blame game and we don’t want to stay stuck in those cycles where it’s not actually about leading to a better path.
Fletcher: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s really interesting. I think the awareness of all this stuff is often missing and that’s a big piece and that’s pretty interesting. You answered one of my questions here, but what else are you guys doing to create social bonds in this remote work environment? YI think that’s a big fear, right? It was a big fear for me, and I’m a very expressive person. I don’t [inaudible 00:27:51]. I obviously do it but, like I want to have a one-on-one, I want a conversation with people, that’s how I express myself, that’s how I communicate like my best self, but yeah, how do you create those bonds? We were doing team lunches. I’m also like, here’s maybe something about me is, I’m like a pretty dry guy. Like I’m not like super animated or fun or like, I’m pretty straight to the point, like all business. I have a really hard time with things like, “Oh, let’s be [inaudible 00:28:25], like super friendly.” I want to be, but just this is difficult. So, yeah. So I forced it, we had [crosstalk 00:28:32]-
Shane Metcalf: I challenge you to play the Question Friday game sometime. Book a 30-minute meeting, bring your team to the table and ask, let’s see what would be a good kickoff?
Fletcher: I’m going to write this down.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, yeah, please do. Okay, this is a really fun one. If you could snap your fingers and get an advanced degree in any subject, what would it be and why?
Fletcher: Okay. So that’s-
Shane Metcalf: Super fascinating way to learn more about what are the actual passions and curiosities of the people. Like my chief of staff wanted to get a degree in botany and herbology and I’m like, “What?” I had no idea. And then what’s really cool is it’s like I have that in my brain and now I can think of ways of contributing to her.
Fletcher: Yeah, and next time her birthday comes up, you can buy her book on it.
Shane Metcalf: Exactly.
Fletcher: Or something, yeah. Yeah. I know. So we had that structure when we had team lunches and so it was like no work and so I like forced it. Like to me everything has to be structured, otherwise I’m just like, it’s too much for me, but yeah. So I think a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of business leaders are afraid of going fully remote because we’re going to lose this ability to [inaudible 00:29:47].
Shane Metcalf: Sure. Well, Listen, listen-
Fletcher: You mentioned the Question Friday, so what are maybe a couple of other things that you do [crosstalk 00:29:53]-
Shane Metcalf: Sure. So, first of all, I just want to say this is hard. Fully a hundred percent remote without the ability to meet intermittently in person is very difficult.
Fletcher: Yeah, because you guys do hybrid.
Shane Metcalf: So anyone that is telling you that it’s a piece of cake is high, because look, like we’ve been doing this for a long time.
Fletcher: Yeah, I know.
Shane Metcalf: Lori McCleese, who’s a friend who runs Automattic, she’s the Head of People at Automattic at WordPress, and they have like 900 people, a hundred percent remote.
Shane Metcalf: And COVID has really been challenging for them as well because that in person, the ability to have annual meetups, department meetups makes so much of the pressure off. And then you’re not only remote, you’re actually working from home in a pandemic. We’re all working [crosstalk] of ripping the band aid off of social injustice in this country. We’re in the middle of the political insanity and hyperpolarization and-
Fletcher: We’re trapped with it. We can’t get away from it because you’re stuck in front of the TV or at home, and the only thing we can do is consume this and think about it and be completely over run by it.
Shane Metcalf: So it’s not an easy thing to be doing right now to maintain healthy social relationships in this current dynamic but that doesn’t mean we can’t make effort and we can’t try. And so, okay, a couple of other favorite, easy to do things. So start your meetings with a very short internal state check-in, just like [crosstalk 00:31:33]-
Fletcher: How are you feeling?
Shane Metcalf: Like what’s the weather report in three words, the internal weather report. And you can do different variations of this. Or sometimes do like, what are you proud of? Or like who’s somebody in your life you haven’t expressed appreciation to lately? And you can just do this in like five minutes with 10 people and it’s a moment of shared humanity. It’s a moment of revealing the internal, because it’s like, “We’ll do this.” And it’s like, or we’ll do an IEP check-in, which stands for Intentional Energetic Presence, and you can actually listen to the Anese Cavanaugh interview we’ve done on our podcast, the Best-Self Management Podcast, where we go deeper into this, but it’s on one to 10, what’s your IEP level?
Fletcher: Yeah, what’s your energy level? How are you feeling?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, so it’s like, “Oh, I’m like a six. The kid didn’t sleep at all last night and I had a fight with my spouse and I’m just kind of hating life right now.” Cool, and we don’t need to do anything with that, it’s just a moment of [crosstalk] sharing it, allows people to be more present because it’s not actually, they’re not spending the energy cup trying to cover their ass and try to look good, like looking good, covering our ass is a full-time job that none of us can afford to be doing.
Fletcher: The truth will set you free, they say.
Shane Metcalf: The truth shall set you free.
Fletcher: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s amazing, when you are honest with others about the things that are most uncomfortable inside of you, it like can go away, automatically, sometimes. [crosstalk 00:33:15].
Shane Metcalf: Formula for shame is that shame is like cockroaches and it scatters when the light goes on and the light is revealing it. It’s letting other people see us in our darker places.
Fletcher: Yeah, and it’s amazing how it takes the pressure off that you’re bottled up because you’ve been hanging on to whatever that energy is that needed to be released.
Shane Metcalf: And again, at a very simplistic and high level, I think that’s the kind of new paradigm of work that we’re moving into. Is that work is actually a place that is safe to be seen.
Fletcher: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting.
Shane Metcalf: Wow. Wow. [crosstalk] that is a very print type of work than what we’ve known for thousands of years.
Fletcher: Yeah, so this conversation did not go anywhere where I expected. I thought we were going to talk about like the really nuts and bolts about performance management, which I was like super excited to talk about, which we’re not even going to talk about it, I don’t even want to talk about it anymore.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, I know, and it’s like-
Fletcher: That sounds really boring right now, so sorry [crosstalk 00:34:25]-
Shane Metcalf: That’s why I am our Chief Culture Officer and not our Chief Product Officer.
Fletcher: Yeah, exactly, through the mechanics of, well, we’ve had plenty of coaches on that talked about rocks and check-ins and huddles and all that other stuff, so listen to one of those podcasts, we can talk about that some more, [crosstalk 00:34:43]-
Shane Metcalf: It really comes down to like dynamic humans need dynamic cultures if they’re going to thrive.
Fletcher: Yeah, I like that.
Shane Metcalf: And people ask me, “Okay, well, how do you define dynamism?” And it’s kind of like look, if humans are an octagon, we have eight sides, and I think we’re way more dynamic than just the eight sides, but say there’s eight sides to a human being, most business cultures have focused on maximizing two, maybe three of those sides. “Okay, we’re going to pay you money and we’re going to maybe help you with some professional development. And that’s kind of what we care about.”
Fletcher: But, yeah, I just went through this like the wheel of life exercise. I think you’ve probably done something like this so I think it’s your, obviously professional, there’s a personal, that’s like you as yourself, your family, there’s spiritual, there’s-
Shane Metcalf: Intellectual, emotional, social, quality of life, life vision, physical. We have so many aspects to us. Every single, look, if you’re a human being, then you’re dynamic. [crosstalk] even if you’re not paying attention to those other aspects of yourself, they’re still president and they’re probably the very thing that’s undermining you, just like in your first marriage, being a workaholic.
Fletcher: Yeah, I was too focused on the professional.
Shane Metcalf: Only focused on the professional is not actually what’s going to have Fletcher unlock his genius.
Fletcher: Yeah, be my best self and I definitely, it’s been a long journey and you struggle with it every day and, look, this is eye-opening for me. This isn’t like the newest concept ever, but man, just being able to hear you talk about how you integrate culture and do it, it’s something I need. I told you, I’m kind of this dry cookie cutter, I operate with systems and processes and it’s difficult for me to kind of get out of those, but to build in something that helps encourage everybody, including myself, to focus on the multiple factors of being a person and being able to feel comfortable sharing that with others on the team I think is really important and is inspiring me to do a better job of that and to-
Shane Metcalf: Look, a really cool thing to do is just like that person had you write out a 10-year vision for your life and it was eye-opening, is do that with every single one of your employees. Create time and space on the clock for them to create a compelling life vision for themselves. What do they want? Where do they want to be in three, five years?
Fletcher: Yeah, and how can this career opportunity help them get there? And what else can we do to help them get there? It would be beyond the work itself, like what you’re talking about, creating an environment where people can share and be open and maybe get some of those uncomfortable pressures out in the open so that they can be relieved of them to some degree hopefully or another, hopefully a lot, right?
Shane Metcalf: There’s a really cool exercise called Giving Circle, and it comes out of the University of Michigan. Adam Grant actually helped to develop it. And it is a really cool exercise and you can do it in-person, but you can do a virtual version of it as well, and I’m probably going to actually try out in our first virtual retreat in January, but basically, so this last retreat, what you do is you put sticky notes, like large sticky notes up on the wall in a room and each person has one large sticky, and you make one personal ask and a professional ask. So something you need in your personal life.
Shane Metcalf: And something you need in your professional life.
Shane Metcalf: Like a request. [crosstalk] this goes like everything from, I want to switch from sales to product and so I need a product mentor to guide me there, to my mother just had kidney failure and needs a kidney donor.
Fletcher: So to be big.
Shane Metcalf: Like seriously, like those are [crosstalk] real examples of what people have put down.
Fletcher: Anybody got a blood type, right? Got an extra kidney, please [crosstalk 00:39:24].
Shane Metcalf: And what we don’t know is we don’t know all of the other stories of our people. We don’t know if there’s a somewhat superficial request they have or something they really need. Like one person wrote, “My father just got diagnosed with cancer and I would really appreciate prayers for his healing.” And this is like-
Fletcher: And everybody can offer that [crosstalk 00:39:47].
Shane Metcalf: And then what happens is everybody walks around the room. They write their own version, their own requests, a then everybody walks around the room, and if you can contribute to somebody’s request, you go and write your name and how to follow up.
Fletcher: Okay, good. [crosstalk] So you can then get a personal one-on-one connection and take it from there.
Shane Metcalf: Yes, and all of a sudden we’re building a culture of contribution [crosstalk] of helping each other, yeah, because we don’t, the cool thing is when you hire somebody, you’re not just hiring them, you’re hiring their entire network, [crosstalk] you’re hiring access to all of that person’s network and you don’t know who people know or who they’re connected.
Fletcher: Yeah, well, and their network affects also their wellbeing too, right? It goes back to this, our energies going in the right direction and if we can have a positive influence on their personal network and vice versa, personal network can have a positive influence on us, right?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, it all comes down to, can we be a net positive contribution to our employees’ lives versus a negative, contribution. And that goes way beyond money.
Fletcher: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, I got like two more questions for you. So one, I’m dying to ask because I think you’re the best person to ask and I know this kind of gets back to the boring stuff, but how do you know if somebody’s cut out for working in a remote environment?
Shane Metcalf: Well, it’s funny is that in 2020, everybody has to be, right? In some sense, we’re all getting our ass kicked through the bootcamp of working remotely. Look, are you talking about like in terms of in the interview process, [crosstalk] whether this person is going to actually be successful?
Fletcher: Yeah, I would imagine some people it’s just not a fit for them, right?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, sure. Well, look, for the most part, people are decently okay it’s self-sorting themselves.
Fletcher: Yeah, when it comes to this.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, when it comes to, it’s interesting, we’re in a new world, but pre-COVID generally people that were applying to work remotely knew what they were doing and knew what they were getting into. Before we would ask, “Do you have any experience working remotely?” And now everybody is going to get to say yes to that so [crosstalk 00:42:15]-
Fletcher: How did you feel about it? You might get a lie back in response there, right?
Shane Metcalf: I think as the world returns to some equilibrium and companies embrace a hybrid model where there’s way more, look, there’s normalization around working from home is a permanent effect from COVID, even when everybody’s vaccinated or it’s a distant memory, like companies that were like, “No, there’s no way we’ll ever allow remote work,” are going to allow some aspects of remote work and so-
Fletcher: Many, many more will, for sure, yeah.
Shane Metcalf: It kind of goes back to, again, of really understanding what do people really want and how can we help them have extraordinary lives as well as extraordinary careers. People are going to know if they liked working remotely or that they hated it.
Fletcher: Yeah. Yeah.
Shane Metcalf: It’s tapping into people’s self-awareness around, did they thrive in the benefits of working from home of being able to go and hug your kids in between meetings and cook your own lunch and not spend two hours a day commuting and be in an office environment of constant distraction when your job is actually better served through deep work.
Fletcher: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Your software developers, man, leave those guys alone.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, leave them alone. Turn off Slack. And so I would hope that people are going to be more honest about working remotely. Now, there is of course counter motivators, right? Maybe I don’t actually like working from home, but I do like living in the mountains and so I’m going to kind of again, lie and say, “Oh, I love working remotely because I love the cheap rent and I like connection with my family,” but I’m actually suffering socially. So I think that like going deeper into, it’s almost like top grading for like the experience of working remotely. Like, “Cool, tell me about your setup. Tell me about how you maintained social connections in your life. Tell me about what were the biggest challenges? What did you like?”
Fletcher: “What was your biggest success working remotely,” right? Because I like that question, and see the problem with working remotely is you got dogs barking in the background, that’s just going to be a new norm, right?
Shane Metcalf: Kids running in, [inaudible 00:44:49], it’s kind of, it’s not even kind of it, I think it’s actually beautiful because you have these high powered executives that are embarrassed when their kid runs into the room.
Fletcher: Yeah, exactly.
Shane Metcalf: They’re like, “Oh God.” And all of a sudden-
Fletcher: It’s such a human condition. Like that happens every day at home, exactly.
Shane Metcalf: And that’s where my hope is, that we move as a business community, is towards more whole humanity. Recognizing our inherent wholeness, that dimensionality, serving the whole person, designing our companies and our cultures to be of service to the whole person and having some compassion and grace for each other to not be perfect.
Fletcher: Yeah. Yeah. I love it. Yeah, I think this is an important message to be sharing with folks and I know it can be difficult. It’s been a difficult journey for me, I’m nowhere close to achieving many of the things that you’ve talked about, but-
Shane Metcalf: And nor am I. it’s a never ending hike [inaudible 00:45:57].
Fletcher: Yeah, yeah. I won’t lose anything in life. It’s a constant journey and so. But I think the awareness piece, talking about it, thinking about it and, it’s definitely something that I’m really glad that I got to have this conversation. I hope everybody else enjoyed it. I’m sure everybody can take something from this and I [crosstalk 00:46:17]-
Shane Metcalf: Well, and I’ll just hold it because some people, and we’re all at varying degrees of proximity to the ideal, but I’ll just end with a vote for idealism, and not in the sense that we have our head in the clouds, but in the sense that we are holding a higher ideal about what our lives and our work can be in service towards, and that North star can give us direction and orientation in life even if we never achieve it, even if we never get to a place where our companies fully embrace humanity and work on the [crosstalk 00:46:57]-
Fletcher: It affects your decision making, right? So if you have that North star and you’re moving towards it, then you’re going to make more decisions that are in alignment with getting you there. And like my exercise, my personal vision, that’s what I’ve found to be true and I think sometimes it’s difficult to identify what your North star is. I see that a lot as a problem. I think I was very lucky I looked back at that exercise. I’m like it’s the same exact thing, seven years ago. It has not changed one bit for me, but it goes back to lots of people maybe haven’t found it yet, so I think some of the things that you’ve talked about can create a stage or framework, help people discover what that is, because that’s probably one of the most difficult parts, is just trying to figure out what your North star is.
Shane Metcalf: Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s like, as a coach, we often will say like, there’s two types of people in the world, there’s people who know what they want and people who don’t know how to get what they want.
Fletcher: Yeah, and that’s because they haven’t figured out what they want.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah. [crosstalk] There’s not knowing what you want, but then there’s like the deep work, I forget who said it, but that knowing what you want is a rare psychological achievement, and I just love that because it does take work. Some people have a little bit easier time of it, but like, it is a process to like-
Fletcher: It’s trial and error like anything else. I found it through failure.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah. Most people have.
Fletcher: Yeah. Yeah.
Shane Metcalf: And again that’s like, oh, right, maybe it’s designed that way. Maybe our struggle and our suffering is actually part of the design that propels us forward. Damn it, who designed this system?
Fletcher: So, all right, I always just ask at the end, one, two, three things that we could do tomorrow to implement in our lives, to help, in this case, I guess, achieve a better social bond relationship, create a better culture in our business.
Shane Metcalf: Okay, so first you need to start with shifting how you see your people. Stop seeing them as employees and start seeing them as fully fledged human beings with dreams, hopes, desires, fears, traumas, personal baggage, and ambitions.
Fletcher: Awesome. Change that mindset.
Shane Metcalf: Change that mindset. See them as dynamic human beings and then start actually getting curious about how you can create a more dynamic culture that fulfills more of those needs.
Fletcher: Start asking those questions.
Shane Metcalf: Start asking those questions, start making space for, it’s almost, I kind of hate saying this because I hate the term, but it’s almost we need to be life coaches. Like we need to turn our businesses into life coaching businesses for our employees, which I despise to be even saying that because I hate the term life coach, but it’s about taking an interest and becoming concerned with leaving our people better off than we found them. And that is, there is no cookie cutter approach to that because every person is unique and has the different spread of which needs are already fulfilled, but then figure out how can I give these people more than I’m going to take, because I’m going to take a lot. I’m going to take [inaudible 00:50:18], as a business owner-
Fletcher: A minimum of a third of their life.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah. And so how can I give them more than I’m taking?
Fletcher: I love it.
Shane Metcalf: And stay in that inquiry.
Fletcher: I love it. So, change the mindset, ask the questions, and begin the journey is really, you can just start right there and even if it’s just one step at a time, I think that’s great, and that’s where I’m at. I’m taking baby steps that direction, but having conversations like this helps me and hopefully everybody else continue to propel that forward so. Where do we find you?
Shane Metcalf: You can follow me on LinkedIn, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, Shane Metcalf on LinkedIn. You can also follow our podcast, the Best-Self Management podcast, though depending on when this episode airs, we are doing a re-launch and it’s going to probably be something like Pioneers of HR or HR Pioneers, to be determined, so stay tuned for that. But if you just follow me and if you subscribe to the Best-Self Management podcast, you’ll get all of those notifications.
Fletcher: Yeah, okay, good. And everything will be on the page here, in the emails, and the social, we’ll provide links. So if you missed it guys, it’ll all be there. You can come back to it, forever etched in stone. And Shane, this was a really fun conversation, it didn’t go any way I expected it to, but [crosstalk] I’m glad we had it. All right.
Shane Metcalf: All right, Fletcher, thanks so much man.
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