Harmonious Work Environments and How to Achieve Them

Bonnie Low-Kramen

It’s been called many things, but most famously, The Great Resignation.

But however we refer to the massive shift away from traditional 9-5 office roles in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the result is the same: How we view work – and how we view ourselves as workers and managers – has been fundamentally changed. Forever. 

For leaders, it’s not enough to adapt to these changes. We need to understand why they happened and what employees are trying to tell us.

Today on the podcast, we’re going to explore that shift together with Bonnie Low-Kramen, dive into what it means for workplace satisfaction, and examine how leaders and employers can improve experiences for their workers in meaningful, lasting ways

Listen to Harmonious Work Environments and How to Achieve Them with Bonnie Low-Kramen

Management 3.0 has many resources when it comes to new ways of working – maybe you would like to check out our Remote Teams module?

Transcript

*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: Before we dive in, you are listening to the happiness at work podcast by management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness. I’m your host, Elisa Tuijnder, happiness enthusiast and management 3.0 team member. In this podcast, you will hear insights from industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy. Motivated and productive at work so that loving your job becomes the norm. And not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday. So be sure to tune in and subscribe on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

It’s been called many things, but most famously the great resignation. However, we refer to the massive shift away from traditional nine to five office roles in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. The results is the same, the way that we view work and the way [00:01:00] we view ourselves as workers and managers has been fundamentally changed forever. For leaders, it’s not enough to simply adapt to these changes. We need to understand why they happened and what employees are trying to tell us today on the podcast. We’re going to explore that shift together with Bonnie Low- Kramen and dive into what it means for workplace satisfaction and examine how leaders and employers can improve experiences for their workers in meaningful and lasting ways.

Management 3.0 has many resources when it comes to new ways of working. Maybe you’d like to check out our remote teams model. Find out all information management30.com. 

Our guest today is Bonnie Low -Kramen a renowned speaker, teacher, author, and founder, and CEO of be the ultimate assistant, a curated training solution for corporate leaders and assistants.

Bonnie you’ve worked with a white range of clients, including Amazon, Price Waterhouse Coopers and the Wharton school of business. And I [00:02:00] want to talk about your experiences in the field in just a moment, but here on the podcast, we always start with the same question. What does happiness mean to you? 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: I love the question.

It’s great to be here with you, Elisa. And when I think about happiness, my goal is to wake up every day and feel at peace with what I’m going to be doing that day. And in my head, I’m thinking about my family, my friends, the work I’m doing, which has me so excited and to do something nice for myself, those are the elements of happiness for me.

It’s gotten pretty simple as I’ve aged. If I can. Have every day where I, I might be in, you know, involved in so many different things. But if I can be authentically myself, if I can [00:03:00] look in the mirror and be fine. Okay. With that person looking back at me, then I’m pretty damn happy.

Elisa Tuijnder: That’s fantastic. Yes, I wish we could all be like that or everybody could be like that all the time and that we could just be at one. No, I find that a fantastic answer. That’s fantastic. So yeah, let’s get into it. Your company be the ultimate assistant is known for creating synchronous and thriving work environments for its clients.

So could you explain to our listeners today what that means and how your work has changed in the wake of the great resignation, a term coined in the United States, but seen across the world where workers are leaving their jobs for a multitude of reasons and often attributed to the COVID 19 crisis.

But yeah, seen as probably a more deep rooted causes are at play that re yeah, so I’d love to take from that. 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: I’ve been [00:04:00] doing training and teaching for. 11 years. And certainly the last two years have been completely disruptive to the workplace. And so it was the pandemic that helped lead to the great resignation.

So essentially a lot of what we knew about the workplace pre pandemic has changed. There are new rules and. The staff of the world, you’ll remember in March of 2020 in a matter of what, five minutes or two days, they were given very little notice to go home, open a home office and their, they were expected to work.

Most people thought it was gonna last two weeks and nobody seemed to. Imagine that it would last for two years, that upheaval Elisa caused great anxiety and [00:05:00] stress among for everyone really. And so I deal with, to do yeah. 

Elisa Tuijnder: And continues to do so

Bonnie Low-Kramen: mean it, the word they keep using is it was unprecedented.

No one was ever prepared for this. The isolation of being sent home to work was certainly anxiety producing, but not only for the staff, it was anxiety producing for the leaders of the world who certainly had no training for this. Many leaders didn’t have training to begin with to manage people, but then.

You had a workforce that was home. So what leader had training for that? That all of a sudden they’re managing a workforce in their homes and different time zones, et cetera. My point is that what that meant for my business. Is that I worked to acknowledge that [00:06:00] with leaders and their assistance, with their support staff, that the anxiety, the stress was coming from both camps and in order to make it synchronous in order to as I call it building ultimate partnerships, we had to take a fresh look at what was going on and the ways in which.

Everybody was using our precious 24 hours in a day because after all, that’s it doesn’t matter who you are. That’s all we get is that 24 hours in a day. But what the pandemic did, what the great resignation has done is it’s forcing all of us to take a fresh look at how we’re operating and how we’re working, where we’re working.

What are we actually doing? And what caused the great resignation was that people were in, for really tough reasons, having people who were affected by COVID and, people were dying and getting sick. And here in the states, we [00:07:00] called it a Yolo economy. You only live once.

And we had people, thinking, what am I waiting for? I’m going to. Sell my house and move across the country and go where I wanna be finally. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, it became very real, all of a sudden didn’t it very real, the Yolo lifestyle was always a bit like something to aspire to, but all of the sudden when this happened, it really did Yeah, make it real, like they just said it really put a mirror to the face where like the life became 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: So leaders needed to take a fresh look at the people who were supporting them. And that’s what I did in have done, continue to do in virtual trainings and in part, and in person trainings, now that the pandemic is, hopefully waning down That is to bring these groups together is to train [00:08:00] assistance is to train leaders about how assistance can be best leveraged in order to continue to help run companies.

Because frankly, the staff of companies. Is a company’s and a leader’s golden resource. It’s their golden natural resource. Cuz these people are already employed by the company. We retrain how to utilize the staff in the best possible way. And the leaders. Really not need this badly. Yes, 

Elisa Tuijnder: they do not. They, we at management D we’ve been con convinced for a very long time that it’s people, we just ran a conference, just all about employee experience and how it’s people first, but there’s still, unfortunately, a lot of people in the world that need to be convinced of this.

And that’s very unfortunate. But yeah, you’ve spoken and written about so many topics that I think are relevant here. And I could probably spend a few hours just picking your brain about lots of them, but unfortunately we don’t have the time for that. So I really wanna get into the concept of [00:09:00] Harmonious work environments.

Yes. It sounds a little bit cliche sometimes, or, but you found that they are achievable and that they’re related to productivity retention profits. I’d love to hear some more about that. 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: Oh, Elisa it’s this is the sweet spot. This it’s simple for leaders to help create and build a harmonious environment in their workplaces.

The leaders who got it right early in the pandemic were the ones who held weekly town halls to, to be communicative with the staff because there was so much anxiety and so much fear and worry about what was going to happen. What, so the leaders who made it, their business. To be overcommunicating with their teams were doing it well.

How about the CEOs early in the pandemic who gave every staff member a $500 gift card in order to make their [00:10:00] office, their home office comfortable for themselves? No questions asked. They could use it on restaurants if they wanted to or on, childcare, it didn’t matter. The leaders who showed in many different ways that they actually care about their teams, about their people are the ones who were creating harmonious work environments.

It’s not that these leaders had all the answers because they didn’t, what they did do was to reveal, to be vulnerable and to reveal it to their people. The CEO who had their assistant give them a list, 10, 10 names of numbers each day. And he would just pick up the phone and call people and just say at who are working from home.

Hey, how are you doing this? Is John. Your CEO. Do you have any idea the impact that has on people to know that the CEO took the time to call me [00:11:00] it mattered so much. So now that we’re deep into, past March of 2020 things are happening from harmonious workplace things like a decision to make no meeting Friday.

Or no meetings after one o’clock to now that people are coming back in lunch every Wednesday on the company, if you wanna come into the office, we’re gonna it’s pizza Wednesdays. Some companies are authorizing bringing your pet to work. Some that are totally remote are having meetings where it’s completely cool.

If your child goes on is on camera or your pet is on camera. I hope you see where I’m going here, Elisa. These things, a lot of the things I’ve named don’t cost 1 cent. The future yeah. 

Reward 

Elisa Tuijnder: and recognition programs that tie into this and yeah. Or not so much [00:12:00] rewards, but especially recognition the pizza Wednesdays, just the phone calls.

The thank you. The, that is I really like that. That is so important. And people tend to forget that often the simplest things can actually lead to very, deep rooted, 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: they matter results and they matter. Absolutely. We have this proliferation of technology in the world. We’re all walking around with all of these devices, but the bottom line is our companies are still populated by human beings and human beings get tired and scared.

And these are the people I talk to. I spend my life in rooms of men and women who. When they’re really honest, they reveal what they’re worried about and what they’re excited about. But it, there’s just been a lot to chew on in this workplace these last two years. And everybody acknowledges that culture is built from the top [00:13:00] down.

So we need leaders who are truly. Intentionally sensitive to the human beings who are working inside the company. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. And I think we see so much digitalization going on around those, but it’s so essential to keep thinking that there are human beings and there’s a human touch. At the center of this.

And it’s very important to keep that in mind at all times. And that humans are fragile and humans are, have needs, and humans need to be recognized. And we have all these, and 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: here’s another point. It’s not the same for everybody. So when the CEO would call. Someone, for example, say a single mom he would tell him he would ask her what’s happening.

What, how are things going at home? How’s your daughter, whatever. And sometimes the CEO would hear that, it’s really a struggle paying for childcare. So some companies are really making a big move to. [00:14:00] They’re female and male leaders, the truth is that women are still the primary caregiver for children, but companies are being overt about supporting their staff with actual financial support for childcare or elder care.

These things are making the difference between. Staying and being loyal and going above and beyond every day and leaving and going to another job, I really love that. It’s not easy on CEOs because it’s not the same for everybody. It’s 

Elisa Tuijnder: tailoring it to the needs of people. Then knowing who needs what, and that’s not easy that’s a very difficult job, but that does make the difference.

That absolutely makes a difference. And yeah, I really love that point. We’ve been talking about this great resignation and then people leaving. So that leaves me perfectly into this next question I have for you. And I’d really like to [00:15:00] ask you from both a professional and a personal point of view.

What do you, why do you think the employees are trying to say, or maybe saying but saying that they haven’t been heard on in this great resignation or even the fact. Companies that now acknowledging the great employee experience, awakening. Why all of a sudden is this becoming so central? What are people saying?

What are people saying when they’re leaving? Is it just about money or is it about time? We just spoke about, giving them help with care for elderly or younger people. Is it because of a necessity out there leaving? Is it, I’d love to hear your take on this. What is going on?

Bonnie Low-Kramen: This has really been a tsunami of an impact on the general workforce. And it’s been especially damaging for women in the United States. We’ve had 5 million women having to leave the workforce. It’s been a massive impact and we’re still now [00:16:00] coming out of it. And the good news about the great resignation, if there is a silver lining, it’s driving, there’s so many jobs.

That it’s driving salaries up. In February of this year, I was honored to give a TEDx talk and I called it the real reasons people quit, the real reasons, not the ones that they put in a letter of resignation and not the ones that they give it exit interviews, because you know what. When people are quitting, they’re not very eager to reveal the truth about why they’re going, but why they’re the real reasons they’re going are toxic work environments, workplace bullying, sexual harassment, racism, overt discrimination.

The list goes on and on, but it really stems from all of those things could fall under toxic work environments. And so staff are [00:17:00] searching for environments that are more healthy and cultures of respect in the research that I did for the talk, I, boy, it doing a TEDx talk is certainly nothing.

Anybody should go into lightly. Let me just say that. If there’s anybody listening, who’s considering it. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to talk about and what I boiled it down to because I, I’ve been working in different companies and doing my own workshops all in 14 countries. I feel like I really have a perspective of what’s going on and these assistants and leaders talk to me and they’re filling me in on what’s really going on and what I came to.

Is that there are four things that staff want most in the workplace. So any leader listening out there? I hope you’ll take this seriously because in the [00:18:00] aftermath of the TEDx talk, I’ve heard from people from all over the world, including HR. And recruiters and leaders and assistance, of course. And they all say yes.

Thank you for telling the world what it really is. So the top four things that people want in the workplace starts with respect. They wanna feel respected for the role that they’re doing. Doesn’t matter if they’re in janitorial service, they wanna be respected for what they are doing. And that means, that can also be really simple, Elisa, it means saying your name and pronouncing it right.

And saying, please, and thank you. And one assistant said that when her father died of COVID, her executive showed up at the funeral. That’s respect for human beings. The second thing people want are [00:19:00] belonging. A sense of belonging and purpose staff wants to know that they’re not just a number that they’re there for a reason that they were hired.

Somebody hired them at some point for a reason. And that gives them purpose as opposed to doesn’t matter if they’re there or not. And if that’s the feeling, then that is the recipe for quitting. The third thing, and this in this order is what people want. They wanna be paid fairly, fair compensation.

There are too many people who are underpaid, especially women and the whole subject of money. I’m not quite sure if it’s true in Amsterdam where you are, but certainly in the United States, the subject of money is this still continues to be something of a forbidden, taboo, secret subject that you’re not supposed to talk about.

And the time has come. We have to talk about money. [00:20:00] And certainly salaries are going up because of this great resignation. So it’s being forced upon leadership. And the fourth thing that people want most is career growth, professional development, training support to keep learning in their work. And that sends a very strong message that, we not only invest in you because we wanna pay you, but we also wanna.

Keep paying so that you keep learning and you’ll, be even better and better and grow with the company. So those are the top four things staff wants and want. And when they don’t get those things, that’s when leaders need to be paying attention to the loss rates, to the retention rates and to see where, what department people are quitting from.

What I say to leaders is they need to listen to the [00:21:00] silence. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Read between the lines. Sometimes 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: Staff are not eager to say the hard things. And so the leaders who can make it psychologically safe for their staff to say the truth about what’s really going on. Those are the ones who are gonna have the highest retention.

Elisa Tuijnder: That’s such an important concept. And I do love, the, that he started with respect and I think. The pandemic has leveled the playing field as well. A little about that with that, because the people that keep kept the world spinning and kept things going were nurses and supermarket workers and not wall street bankers.

Yes. And that respect was long overdue. Yeah. But I feel like they’re they were heralded by us as leaders and heroes and everybody around the world was giving them little tokens of appreciation, but they. But actually, we also want to get paid in like baseline ways, at least.

And I do [00:22:00] I obviously hate a lot of the things that happened during the pandemic and it was a very horrible time for a lot of people, but some of those silver linings in that respect can be overlooked. And I do I do think we need to continue to learn. From those things that we saw throughout the pandemic and the very troubling times ahead with war in Ukraine, as well as all the talk about a coming recession, et cetera.

So we do to keep these things absolutely in mind and not just let those lessons learn, go because that would be, that would 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: absolutely be horrible. Yeah. To me, that would be the biggest shame of all. If we get to 2023, and we’re still wrestling with some of the. Problems that we’ve got right now.

There is absolutely no excuse for bullying in the workplace or sexual harassment and it’s happening even in the remote world. And there is zero. Reason that should still exist. And so I’m, [00:23:00] that’s one of my passion projects that we need to do everything we can to eliminate that particular problem.

Like there we cannot get to 20, 23 and 20, 24 and still be involved in trying to solve that. For example. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. That would be ideal, but unfortunately I think there will be some places where that wide still be going on, but let’s try with all of our movements that you have going on and management 3.0 has going on.

Let’s try and eradicate that. Slightly slightly switching gears there, but it’s something that I’ve been interested in is that you’ve also talked about office introverts so iion, doesn’t always get much attention when we talkabout the workplace, but I’m sure the more introverted among us might be more willing in this new client climate to seek out remote work.

Or maybe less happy in certain workplace situations. And they’ve now had a taste basically after remote work. And I organize lots of conferences and I [00:24:00] know that a lot of introverts do love the virtual conferencing as well. So what are your thoughts on working with employees who tend to be less outgoing or reticent to embrace certain kinds of office culture?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about that. Sure. 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: The pandemic was. Was pretty tough on extroverts. Like me who really thrive on being around people. And I needed to learn about introverts because the introverts were delighted to be at home. The in fact, one shared that he has been waiting his whole life for this to have an opportunity to be at home all the time.

But, there’s a danger to that. And actually every workplace. Needs both. We need extroverts and introverts. What introverts though, during the pandemic were able to highlight for the rest of us, was that things like being on webcam all day was exhausting. [00:25:00] And introverts were the ones who drove the question about, do we really need to be on webcam for every meeting?

And, that was a good thing. Introverts were also the ones who drove the no meeting Fridays or cutting meetings after one o’clock on a certain day, it’s different for different companies. But it’s not only exhausting to be on webcam. It’s exhausting to simply be in meetings and talking all day long or being so focused.

So we were, we had a big dose of empathy during the pandemic, especially about introverts. Ironically. For introverts, you pre pandemic. There had been a trend to knock down all the walls in companies and have open floor plans. You’ve heard that phrase open floor plans and. And that was a disaster [00:26:00] for introverts because they couldn’t concentrate.

And so what introverts ended up doing pre pandemic was buying noise, canceling headphones and ways to create. A closed space, even if they didn’t have one. And now with the pandemic, they’ve gotten their wish, the walls are created again and there is separation and there is some privacy.

So it’s been a sense, a lesson in sensitivity, I think. And a good one. However, what we’ve seen is that it is of value to come together as a group and the introverts do like it. They just like it within reason. So we’ve gotten an education about I introversion. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. I think what I hear you say as well again, is like that catering to people’s specific needs and it, that whole open plan office, just, it doesn’t work for everybody.

Let’s think again about what certain people need and [00:27:00] certain things have to come together and, but yes, again, catering to everyone’s self preferences and needs is so important. Yeah. 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: It’s a big ask to do that. It’s hard. And we’re still in the thick of it, and it’s gonna be messy for a while.

I have great sympathy and empathy for our leaders and for HR who are, there on the front lines of trying to make sense of all this, it’s all nice and good to say, yes, we need to cater to people’s individual needs. That’s a tough thing to do. And it’s going to take time. So my message to leaders in HR, To ask your people about the solutions.

What do they think? There needs to be much more conversation between what I view, what I call the constituencies of our workplace leaders do need to be vulnerable enough to involve HR and staff and the recruitment people to. How to see [00:28:00] where’s the greatest need and what, and to make it safe for people to tell them the truth, it’s many staff say, I’m not totally going to 

Elisa Tuijnder: HR.

Yeah. HR for HR, for people and not HR for managers. And I hear that a lot. Yes, exactly. It’s there to give the feedback because they think HR is there to. For legal reasons, almost, to, to cover the company. And I think that psychological safety element is so important because without that element, we can’t get the right proper feedback.

So that then if we don’t have the feedback, we can’t implement the changes that we need or are looking for. 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: Absolutely precisely it, which is the reason I’m writing my new book called staff matters because I am so struck Elisa by what’s not being said in the workplace. The staff are telling me, but they’re not telling their leaders.

They’re not telling [00:29:00] HR because they’re frightened and worried. And in, in many cases for good reason, 

Elisa Tuijnder: absolutely. Yeah. Not a not everywhere, but yes, absolutely. And that’s the, that’s absolutely a culture that needs to change. And that is the first step. And this whole. People first and employees first in, in, in organizations should be the base of everything in that sense.

And that leads me perfectly to my next question, because one of the things that you’ve spoken for is obviously the value of an organization staff. At that sense, you’re writing the book and specifically you tend that leaders and organizations need to focus on their employees at every level, if they want to succeed in this new workspace workplace landscape.

Let’s give it a little bit of space and let’s, I’d love you to expand on that. Sure. Where do you stand? 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: we have a really interesting opportunity right now in our workplace because leaders have a, [00:30:00] we have a chance to take a fresh look at our entire staff. And the staff, no matter what role they have currently, there is potential there for movement to another department or another responsibility.

And 2022 is being referred to as the year of the employee, people first, but 2021 was referred to as the year of the job description because so many people’s jobs. Looked different. And now we have many people who, pull out their written job description, the one that they got pre pandemic, and it bears very little resemblance to what they’re doing now.

And I think the best thing that leaders can do, one of the best things is to. Endorse and encourage and support every staffer to have a current [00:31:00] detailed up to date, job description for what they’re currently doing, but also alongside that to have a conversation about. What is it that they would like to do?

What is it that they’re capable of doing? You might have somebody sitting in marketing who has an interest in accounting. Like they found that they’re really great with numbers, et cetera. Now, if the pandemic taught us anything, It is that any one person can be plucked out of an organization suddenly like that?

True. Many companies were destabilized when people were suddenly taken out because of they got COVID or a family member got COVID or for a myriad of reasons people left and that can be really disruptive to an organization. But my point of view on the question is that leaders can now look at these golden resources, the people who are already on the payroll [00:32:00] bring all job descriptions up to date and up to speed.

And take the time to have a conversation with these people to understand where else might they be plugged in the company. What if somebody was gone in those other departments and it’s called, we could call it cross training or shadowing. And the bottom line is it’s all about succession planning.

The idea that everybody’s gonna leave someday. But I be, what I see Lisa is that companies can do it so much better. If there can be some time and attention paid to the people who are currently on staff and what are they capable of doing? And that’s gonna be a big effort, that’s a recalibration, isn’t it?

That I’m suggesting, but I, 

Elisa Tuijnder: I think. I don’t 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: know that there’s anybody who thinks that this is the last pandemic we’re ever gonna see. Yeah. [00:33:00] 

Elisa Tuijnder: And 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: that whole smarter, next time, 

Elisa Tuijnder: that whole mindset of everybody’s rep replaceable should leave because hiring good people is hard. Hiring great people is almost impossible and everybody can learn or all those people can learn new skills and have interest.

Yeah. But we need to cultivate their. And their skills. As long as these employees are great cultural fits, they should, we should continue to invest in them. And we should continue to, make them grow 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: and then help them. And I’ve seen companies during this pandemic who have done that.

This is not pie in the sky theory for me. This is I’m excited about it because I’ve actually talked to people who are doing it, who looked at their job description, assistance, for example, who. With the pandemic weren’t as busy all of a sudden, right? They didn’t have as many, travel trips to plan or events to plan.

You can imagine how the, a job description could [00:34:00] suddenly get really altered because of what happened. And so those people took it upon themselves to get training, get certified in a Microsoft office product, for example, and then come back to the company and do training for the rest of the team.

I’m very encouraging of staff at all, companies to take a fresh look at what they’re doing now, and then think about what they might like to do. I don’t think there has to be as much quitting if there can be a productive conversation with leaders in HR about what might be possible. Can people get involved in onboarding?

Can somebody get involved with tech training with IT? Can somebody get involved with the disaster planning team? 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. People like, like to reinvent themselves and find new passions. It’s not like we, we start a job and then we stayed for the rest of our lives, in that same job and like good companies, give room for people to move [00:35:00] around and explore new things and yes.

Up to absolutely. I’ve I see that it works. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. People roll into things and all of a sudden they discover this new passion for something maybe very niche, like you said, risk and disaster planning. Making those plans. That’s a really interesting job and yeah.

People can roll into. Things, if there’s enough freedom for that 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: and freedom and encouragement, that’s where the respect, the belonging the money, because sometimes it means taking a class. So that means being supported to take a class and the message being given is I believe in you, I believe in you and I we need you here.

Not, we want you here. We need you 

Elisa Tuijnder: here. Yes. I really love that. I, yeah, there’s, that’s very inspirational. Thank you. What we always do at the end of this podcast is that management point, we are all about tangible practices. So I’d [00:36:00] love to hear some of your ideas about what our listeners can start implementing tomorrow.

I know in the past, you’ve written and spoken about things like establishing an employee user manual, or asking employees specific questions on their first day of work. In these turbulent times, what recommendations do you have for employers and organizations hoping to make employees happier as well as this, as well as navigate this incredibly complicated landscape?

Yeah. 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: So my message Elisa for leaders and staff is to acknowledge that we need some new strategies given that so many people are working remotely and virtually and. Potentially thousands of miles away from home base, wherever that there’s a fragmentation that has happened. And so we need a new way of connection with one another.

And that coupled with the notion that every [00:37:00] single person in a company. Is a SME, an SME, a subject matter expert. And so the smartest companies out there are figuring out ways on with SharePoint sites or in Teams to create excel spreadsheets that are shared among all staff to help people fast track the connection to essentially a shortcut in how to get to know each other.

If you think about the things we talk about with each other, if we’re working together in the first week or first month it’s we find out, are you a morning person or an afternoon person? What time of day are you most productive? Because that would help somebody understand should I book you at eight in the morning or not start you until 11, that kind of thing.

But if we’re working. Remotely, we don’t have an easy way to know the answers to those [00:38:00] questions and to know everybody’s subject matter expertise. So there’s a company that I believe is doing it really well, and they have made it their business to. Have a contact list of every staffer with contact information, where they’re based and how to get them email and cell phone, et cetera, and then listing their subject matter expertise.

Things like, on a business level, they are fluent in French and German. They, the languages. They are an Excel guru. They are. A champion event planner, they’ve got 25 years experience in that, et cetera, those kinds of things that they would welcome other staffers to contact them about some companies, this particular company, they also in light of the pandemic, they added a personal section where they included their personal SMEs.[00:39:00] 

In order to promote rapport and connection things like somebody who is into Ngwe or that they are they’re an expert at Chinese cooking or they are great. They’re interested in bikram yoga, those kinds of personal things, which help or I’m into horses, I’m into my dog, whatever it helps when.

Re when you’re searching for your colleague and you’re gonna be in a meeting. It’s interesting to know oh, Elisa, I didn’t know you went to this school. It’s a fast track document that companies are tailoring for their own purposes. I love the questions. If we were working together, one, two of the questions I would for sure wanna know is how do I win with you and how do I lose with you?

 And this goes for leaders and peers. So how do you win with me? For example, is be [00:40:00] prompt. Let’s start meetings on time and how do I lose with you is don’t not giving me information in a timely fashion, I’m just talking now, but yeah, absolutely. Can you see how the answers to those questions really?

Speed up the process of us getting to know each other. Absolutely. 

Elisa Tuijnder: And we have a practice at management 3.0 called personal maps, which is a very simple tool where we literally just on onboarding. And it’s one of the things we talk about in our modules as well, where it’s just here is a diagram and you just put, who is your, what’s your family life?

What’s your interest like? And you share as much as you want, because obviously some people don’t want to share or everything, but that’s the base of everything. Making those connections. Making this connections building that. Yes. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. But building that before, and we’ve done this in our management 3.0 community as well, and people just, you can find, oh, you’re a coffee afficionado or you really love [00:41:00] this.

And are people from across the world, I was in one of the sessions and it was somebody from Indonesia connecting with somebody from San Francisco about their love for coffee and it’s, they, would’ve never known that. Didn’t make that simple 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: in schedule. Some people might hear that and think, oh, that’s silly, but it’s not silly.

It’s 

Elisa Tuijnder: very simple. And simplest thing sometimes really get the most results in that respect. Yeah. 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: It’s all about relationships, isn’t it? And those are the kinds of things that build connections and you’re into poodles. Oh, I’m into 

Elisa Tuijnder: poodles . Yeah. And then. Work relationship just improves from that point onwards.

Cause you can find that’s common ground to start off from. 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: And I’m of a mind that these personal maps, these user manuals for people need to go both ways. It needs to be leaders certainly need to tell their. The people that are working, who are supporting them, what these, this information is, but it should work the other 

Elisa Tuijnder: way [00:42:00] too.

Yeah. They shouldn’t be throne. And just I need to know all the things about you, but I’m here on my iron throne or my ivory tower at C. So right. You don’t get to know anything about me. Yeah. You like 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: having your birthday acknowledged or you don’t. You, how do you know those things unless you 

Elisa Tuijnder: overtly ask?

Yeah, absolutely. Bonnie, this has been great. It’s been such an interesting conversation. I think I, I really wanna learn more and I could sit here for for a couple hours, but unfortunately we don’t have that time, but for those listeners that really want to know more, you spoke a little bit about the book that you’ve just about to publish or have just published.

Could you tell us a little bit more where people can find this so they can keep 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: going. Thank you. My website is my name, Bonnielowkramen.com and my book, the new book Staff Matters will not be out until the end of 2022. I’m editing as fast as I can. [00:43:00] And it, I promise it, it addresses all the things we were talking about on this call today, which it makes me really excited because there’s.

Too much that leaders don’t know about what staff are feeling. And I think we need empathy the other way around though, that staff needs to know what leaders are feeling. And I give voice to all of those people in the book. I am. Actively teaching workshops and doing corporate trainings where we bring leaders and assistance together to build ultimate partnerships.

So I would love to hear from you and to To help you do that better, faster, easier and to minimize all the angst that’s going on in our workplace today we need to do that with each other. We 

Elisa Tuijnder: definitely do. there’s so much angst. Let’s take this. Let’s take that part away already. Let’s make her our.

Workplace is [00:44:00] happier. Happy. Yes. That’s why we’re all about here. There’s enough craziness and uncertainty going on. Let’s make those places 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: safe spaces and it doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be really simple. Really simple. So grateful to talk with you, Elisa. 

Elisa Tuijnder: No, thank you so much for taking the time today, Bonnie.

I really appreciate it. So all that’s left for me at this point is to, again, thank you so much. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and I really can’t wait for your book to come. Yeah, I’ll, we’ll definitely, we might have you back on the podcast at some point afterwards, and just ask how many more things have come to you after the publication of this book.

And can’t wait for to think 

Bonnie Low-Kramen: They’re moving pretty fast. I’ll tell you – 

Elisa Tuijnder: They are very much moving very fast. You can’t even write that fast anymore. all right, again, thank you so much bunny. And we’ll hope to see you again on the podcast at some point. Thank you so much. [00:45:00] You’ve been listening to the happiness at word podcast by management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness.

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