08 Jul Guest: Micky Kerwick + Meetings & Your Corporate Culture
My guest on today’s episode is Micky Kerwick, a highly talented Corporate Training Developer who specializes in saving time and money for businesses by revamping their training materials and improving their employee engagement strategies. If you have Zoom fatigue or you’re concerned about your company’s meeting culture, this is the episode for you.
Key topics we cover:
✔️ How do your corporate culture and your meeting culture intersect with each other? It’s one thing to tout corporate values with a sign on the wall– it’s different to actually live those values in practice.
✔️ Communication is key! Have you asked your team how they prefer to interact?
✔️ Maybe your team does not want virtual happy hours or a “let’s meet everyone’s dog on Zoom today” forced socializing. (Just sayin’. I know I never did.)
✔️ Micromanagement and death by incessant meetings = not the answer. Neither is suppressing creativity or pushing for groupthink.
✔️ If you can, schedule your necessary calls when you are fresh and have the energy for them.
Transcription provided by Otter.ai:
Hello, hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Causey Consulting Podcast. I’m your host Sara Causey and I’m also the owner of Causey Consulting, which you can find online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. Excited about my guest today– it will be more of a kitchen table conversation which I’m very excited about. Mickey Kerwin is a corporate trainer and instead of giving the traditional bio that goes on for a couple thousand years, I’m just going to let Mickey talk and tell us more about what she does. A lot of free reign there. Like, as a corporate trainer and what do I do. I said, my job is twofold. I’m a contractor for a company called Own the Room that does communication, training and sales, some leadership training, but mostly communication and sales. And so our role is really to go into companies that have hired us and do group trainings in person. Occasionally, we were doing virtual trainings. But now of course, with everything going on with COVID and we’ve switched almost entirely to virtual, which has been, we can talk about if you want, it’s been a very interesting shift. And then I also in my own company, and I do more leadership focused training, still communication and still some sales, but it’s more focused on how leadership how you can improve your leadership skills through communication. And then also, meeting culture as a representation of company culture and how those two things live on a spectrum that’s often either aligned or extremely misaligned. Interesting. I know right now that that things are still in a state of flux, there are some states that have allowed offices to reopen. Some people are physically in some people are still virtual, some people are working a flexible schedule where they’re able to split time between a physical presence in the office versus being at home. How do you think that corporate training is going to work? Or what are some effective strategies that you think are out there for teams that are spread out where some people are in one location? Some people are working from home and there’s all this like transition going on. Yeah, the short answer is, I don’t know because we’re still figuring it out. And I think it has a lot to do with meeting people where they are, yeah, so not expecting that things can look the same or should look the same. One thing that I’m noticing With a lot of team leads, is you’re having team leads that are very uncomfortable not doing things the way that they’ve always done them. So they’re not able to kind of respond to that change and they’re not able to. For example, I was talking to somebody recently who the company has taken on the policy work from home if you want to, our offices are open come in if you want to. So they very much left it up to the employees, which of course has its positives. There’s an autonomy there, there’s a feeling of like, I can keep myself safe, do what’s necessary for my family or my situation. But what is happening at the department, head level and then at the team lead level is they’re not being coached on how to manage team that’s desperate. And so it’s, you know, I think part of the answer to your question is you’ve got to be able to meet your team where they are, and take things into for example, like more bite size formats, if you used to have a Monday meeting, there was an hour long. And now the 12 people that were in that meeting in person, half of them are in the office and half of them aren’t. Maybe that meeting needs to be 30 minutes, and you need to have the people that are in the room. Also teleconference and the people that are out of the room, like you just can’t expect that the same format is going to work, right? I think is the short answer, like be willing to change format and be willing to ask your team you know, honestly, like one of the things that surprised me and I’ll go so far as to say disappointed me the most when all of this started to happen, like back in March, let’s say a lot of a lot of leaders immediately went into solutions mode before they had gathered any information from their team. So for like, this happened to my sister in law, her her manager essentially put all these measures in place like okay, we’re gonna have a Monday morning meeting, you know, where they never had one before Sarah like it was this was like a new thing. She was like, we’re going to have a Monday morning meeting and then you know, we’re going to do our happy hour call on Wednesdays. And on Friday afternoon we’re going to do like a meet the kids meet the dogs and nobody wanted that. Oh, God, nobody asked for that. And so I think a lot of the same mistakes are kind of being made as we transition back into office or work from home status is like just ask your team what’s gonna work best for them? Guess that’s the short answer. That’s really well said. You know, it gave me a little bit of a flashback there. I was about to break out into a cold sweat when you were telling that story. Because before I left Corporate America to really be fully into my coaching and consulting business, they had already cranked it up about virtual happy hours and wanting people to be on-screen drinking and cheering each other and it’s the same thing. Like, Did you ask if people wanted to do that? Did you ask Ask if somebody wants to get on camera in a Hawaiian shirt half drunk in front of their co workers or did some bureaucrat somewhere think this was a great idea for team building? Yeah, you’re just like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping that it sticks. It doesn’t. The problem is that it can be kind of funny and people are tolerant of it in the beginning, right? But then immediately you lose trust. And that’s the problem and people get burnt out faster. Yes, I want to ask you about Zoom fatigue because yeah, I know that I have had it and I’m not kidding Micky like right before you and I got on to record this episode. I got another request from some guy I don’t even know like, Hey, can we do a 15 minute zoom call? And I’m like, No, I at this point would rather like take this ink pen and put it through my eye like I’m giving myself a lobotomy than get on another like pointless zoom call that could have been a phone call so that I don’t have to like comb my hair so I look presentable. So what do you what do you think? What are some ideas that you have around this idea of like death by zoom call? Yeah, it’s another one where there’s no perfect formula, right? Like you have to you have to know your team and your situation and who the audience is on the other side. And what’s going to make sense. And I mean, it’s the same. The problem is that we had bad habits before when we were in person where we would call meetings that were unnecessary. So that habit is just carried over. And now we’re making zoom calls out of things. And again, because managers or team leads or people that are in charge of other people are feeling disconnected from their team. They’re creating a false sense of connection sometimes, yes, I don’t want to like I don’t want to dump on zoom because having a video conference is important. There are a lot of benefits to it. done well, it can boost connection and it can give you clarity, where you know, a slack message or an email is going to create more back and forth. But zoom. So we cannot help this as human beings like this is not this is out of our control. We read body language and non verbals far more than listen to what’s actually being said, the reason people get so exhausted on zoom is because you have to work twice as hard to read those nonverbals, which is more than 50% of communication is your nonverbals, your tone, your body language, gestures, all of that. And so in a, in a computer setting, it’s harder. So there are ways you know that you can temper it, doing shorter calls. And like, for example, taking a break where you might turn your camera off early. It’s a little bit of an individual pace, like you have to figure out what works for you as the caller. As the attendee. I mean, and give her you know, like, I tried to schedule my day in such a way that my calls are at the first part of the day. They’re not later in the day where I know that they’re going to zap my energy more. Yes. So in as much as you can play around with your schedule, that’s another tip that I would give. I like that. And and it’s interesting. I’m not I’m not going to name the company. I will just say that there is a company in the Tulsa area, which I think you know, most listeners know that I’m in northeast Oklahoma. You and I were talking a few minutes ago about it being the pollen capital of the United States. There’s a company in Tulsa and I’m not kidding, I know this is gonna sound like one of those old wives tales or ghost story that people tell their kids to scare them. It’s really not. There was a company in Tulsa that had a meeting in a company wide mandatory meeting to talk about how they were having too many company wide mandatory meetings. So I know that you are well versed in this intersection between meeting culture and company culture. And when I think about a story like that, if we’re going to force everybody into a meeting like a herd of cattle to talk about how we’re forcing too many people into meetings like a herd of cattle, I would love to, we’d love to hear your take on you know how that intersection plays between a company culture overall and the culture of their meetings. No, gosh, we don’t even have enough time. Oh my god, I love this. It’s my favorite topics. So high level if you go macro for what I look at is a company’s vision or mission and their core values and how they’re meeting culture. And I’ll give a loose definition about in a second is aligned with their core values, let’s say so Meeting culture is defined by like the frequency of your meetings. And, for example factors like if I sit through one of your meetings, how many people are talking? Are Is there a clear delineation between types of meetings, do your brainstorming meetings all of a sudden becomes strategy meetings, because the people that are in the room are actually more strategic either in the role or in personality set where they can’t stay in the brainstorming lane. And those are those are two very distinct meetings with two very distinct goals. And a lot of times, you know, as an aside, a lot of times what ends up happening is when you’ve got a brainstorming meeting that turns into a strategy meeting, and you don’t finish brainstorming, that’s what causes people later to come back and say, either in small groups or to their manager like, Well, no, hang on a second, because I’m really not bought into this idea. You never finish the brainstorming process. So the team is not fully expressed and they’re not bought in. So you can’t go into strategy. So the Kind of, you know, macro working our way down to micro. That’s the relationship between a meeting culture and a company culture, like how do we get the meetings to be representative of the very core values that you say exist. So creativity, for example, I worked with a client once were creativity was their number one core value as a marketing firm. And it was like creativity, entrepreneurship and harmony, I think were like their top three of five or six core values, that none of that showed up in their meetings, their meetings, were not creative at all. It was mostly somebody else coming in with directive and saying, how do we get this done? And then it was, you know, a lot of arguing a lot of micromanaging. Totally disruptive from. So it’s really easy for me to get sidetracked on this topic. So your question was mostly, like, how what’s that intersection look like? Yes, but I’m very much enjoying what you’re talking about right now. I mean, I’m nodding my head going Yes, I get it because it’s amazing to think how people can sometimes they can’t see the forest for the trees. And and I encounter this a lot in coaching because it’s like, yes, you just said creativity is one of their core values, but like sometimes a company can inadvertently it’s like they say creativity is a core value, but then in their process of coordinating these meetings, they actually inadvertently stifle that creativity. That’s right. And even, you know, I mean, this was a little bit of a sidetrack, too, but like even if you think about the hiring process, they have yes values, but really, the people that are making the hiring choices are either forgetting or they’re thinking that it’s only one level like the highest level that’s responsible for being creative. And so really what they end up hiring for consciously or unconsciously are the execute orders. But you don’t you can’t have creativity if you’re constantly going to hire like D personality. These are your type personalities, you’re never going to get that creativity flowing. So you have to really, sometimes This has resulted in behavior changes within the company. But honestly, sometimes This has resulted in a redefining core values. So it’s not one or the other. It’s a little bit of like looking and really seeing what’s happening in truth, not just on paper when we wrote these down with our board of directors, and it sounded really nice. And you know, neither is wrong, like you have to start somewhere. But then it’s looking and saying, Is this really what we want our core values to be? And if so, then we’ve got to go down the line and figure out where the behaviors misaligned where we’re not coaching the right way or offering the right opportunity. Yeah, so it becomes very interesting. And, you know, the company that you gave the example of that, like, let’s have a meeting about why we have too many meetings. Yes, Larry. Yes, I see that all the time. Like all the time, and it’s not necessarily wrong. Like you have to you have to get in person Talk about it if there’s going to be change. I’m curious as an introvert because you I sort of have my own bad experiences of being in like open office environments and loud noisy bullpens were exhausting. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting to go through so many iterations of the same task where and I mean, when I say loud and noisy bullpen, I mean, I’m talking about people throwing footballs back and forth and hitting golf balls across the office. Were you working in Finance? No, no, I wasn’t. Finance is the only the only place where that works. Well, yeah, I was in staffing and recruiting for over a decade. And I mean, it’s endemic for so many cultures because I can’t say like, well, that only happened at one place. I mean, it’s very, it’s very typical. Unfortunately. I wish I could say that it wasn’t. And I’d love to hear your thoughts about this idea of groupthink versus individual creativity because what I have seen in these companies that want to have like tons and tons of meetings, and they want to get everybody on a zoom call there to me, you know, I can only speak for myself, to me, there certainly seems to be a tinge of surveillance to it. Like we want to physically see you. We want to observe everything that you’re doing. And some of those cultures I think can lead into this mentality of you must be one of us. You have to think the same way that we do. So what what are your thoughts on like, how do we, how do we make sure that we’re not getting into groupthink? We’re not turning the company into a cult, you know, there’s enough room there for some individual creativity and being able to think outside the box. Yeah, I think again, it goes back to looking at you Your individual team and deciding what makes sense for the people on the team. But then also the end product, the goal, the workload, whatever it is. You can’t achieve thing. There’s many right ways to achieve things. And so you have to decide it’s not going to be perfect for everybody, but you have to decide generally speaking, what works for your team. And then micromanaging is like never the right answer. Yes. I mean, just just never is. But people define micromanagement differently. And so a check in with an individual person on your team might work really well for them or somebody else might respond to that and think, Okay, this is this is really just you trying to like dig deep and figure out like false sense of security, am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? So, you know, I think the best advice I could give is understanding that There’s a place and a time for everything. There’s a place in our time for a one on one call, there’s a place and a time for a phone call versus a text message or some slack message versus an email versus a zoom call, like, you’ve got these are all resources to you. But you’ve got to figure out like, when do I apply the right tool for the right scenario? And I mean, there’s no again, there’s no formula for it. Like I can’t give you a formula, you’d have to look and evaluate and ask like, ask your team. So I think it starts you know, depending on your leadership style, if we’re talking about that the leader level I think it starts with, hey, here’s what I’m thinking our weeks will look like. Given that 80% of us are working from home, we can no longer pop into each other’s offices are no longer just shout across the room. Hey, quick question. I’m thinking that we put a schedule like this in place, and then get some feedback from your team. Try it be flexible if it’s not working, change it. You know, you bring up introversion and it’s it’s such an interesting discussion because I think at this point, most people know that introvert versus extrovert is really about where you get your energy from. It’s not about being shy or not shy, right? And it’s a recharging factor. And so introverts by and large, it can take them a little bit more time to think and process. Yes. So they, they may not speak up in a meeting because there wasn’t enough room left for them to speak up in a meeting. And this is very rigid. Yes. Very dangerous, because it’s again, it’s that false sense of contribution from the extroverts or from the most outspoken people. Yes. And so, for me, this is very much my principle, but for me, it is the leaders job, whoever the leader is in the room, and there’s always a leader, even if it’s not defined, whoever that person is, they’ve got to craft the space and the time in the room for everyone to contribute. And these are some of the techniques that I teach. But for introverts what I always tell them is speak sooner than later. So even if even if all you say is, well, Sara, that was a really interesting point. I don’t care but like say something, say something sooner than later because the longer you go without talking, the harder it’s going to be for you to talk when you finally do. Zoom, in person, phone call, doesn’t matter. Just say something. Love it, love it. If somebody is listening to this episode, and they want more of you they’re interested in in retaining your services or finding out more about what you could do for them or for their team. What’s the best place for them to go online to find you? Yeah, thank you for that and LinkedIn or my website, so the website is Mkmetrics.com. Perfect. And then I’m obviously on LinkedIn under Micky Kerwick. Excellent. Well, I know that you’re busy and I appreciate you taking the time today to be with me on this episode it it’s been a good exercise in improv and being able to really just, you know, think think on our feet and and be willing to let the conversation go where it will without over planning which I always enjoy. So, Micky, thanks for joining me and for being willing to sit and have this dialogue with me. Anytime. I really appreciate it, Sara. Thank you. Once again, our guest today was Micky Kerwick. You can find her online at Mkmetrics.com. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review for us on iTunes. I will see you in the next episode.