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111: The 6 day workweek, Multitasking Myths & withholding donuts from contractors..? This Week in Work 2nd July 2024

Welcome back to Truth, Lies & Work, the ward-winning psychology podcast that simplifies the science of work.

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Join 112,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!


Welcome back to Truth, Lies & Work, the ward-winning psychology podcast that simplifies the science of work.

Hosted by Al and Leanne, this episode dives into the latest news, lively debates, and practical advice for today’s workplace.

Whether you’re a business leader or just passionate about work culture, there’s something here for you.

News Roundup

1. Multitasking Myth

  • Multitasking is often seen as a productivity booster, but research shows it can actually slow us down, increase stress, and decrease productivity. Experts suggest monotasking as a more effective approach.

2. Greece’s Six-Day Working Week

  • The Greek government has introduced a six-day working week to address population decline and labor shortages. While it offers a 40% pay boost, it has faced backlash from unions and workers who argue it undermines workers’ rights and could lead to exploitation.

3. Quiet Quitting in the UK

  • Gallup’s latest report reveals a rise in ‘quiet quitting’ among UK workers due to burnout, toxic management, and lack of meaningful work. This disengagement is costing the UK economy significantly. Experts suggest enhancing workplace culture and employee engagement as solutions.

Surprise Segment: Truth or Lie

Leanne Elliott discusses the validity of using body language and micro-expressions to detect lies, with insights from Dr. Ryne Sherman, Chief Science Officer at Hogan Assessments. While popular culture often exaggerates these methods, there are subtle cues that can be indicative of deception.

Weekly Workplace Surgery

Al Elliott puts listener questions to business psychologist Leanne Elliott, covering topics such as workplace inclusion, employee retention, and fostering a culture of honest feedback.

1. Freelancer Exclusion: Addressing feelings of exclusion when a freelancer is treated differently by the team.

2. Employee Retention: Strategies for small business owners to retain key employees despite limited career progression opportunities.

3. Encouraging Feedback: Creating a culture where team members feel safe to share honest feedback and contribute ideas.

Tune in for practical advice, expert insights, and discussions on creating a better workplace culture.


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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Leanne Elliott: Hello and welcome to Truth, Lies and Work, the award winning psychology podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. My name is Leigh Anne. I’m a business psychologist.

Al Elliott: My name is Al. I’m a business owner.

Leanne Elliott: We are here to help you simplify the science of work.

Al Elliott: Yep. Hope you’re having a good week so far.

Um, we had a lovely weekend. Leigh Anne was away, so I had a great weekend without Leigh Anne, but you had a lovely weekend. Montenegro. I

Leanne Elliott: did, I had a weekend in Budva, Montenegro with my best girlfriend. It was fabulous. I feel rested. I feel like I want to go back. Happy to be here. Don’t get me wrong, but possibly when I was there, I was happier.

You know what I mean?

Al Elliott: Yeah, it doesn’t really reflect too well on your husband there, does it? But anyway, I’m

Leanne Elliott: rested and recovered and I’m glad to be back with you, Al.

Al Elliott: If you’ve, um, if you’ve never been to any of the Balkan countries, then you need to, you need to go. We live in Bosnia, it’s beautiful, but if you like coastline and you don’t like Croatian prices, then go to Montenegro.

It’s about half the price. You will, you will like it. Anyway, so today is the Tuesday episode, Thursday episode. It’s all about guest interviews. Tuesday is just you listener. You and us having a little chat about work today. We have the news roundup. We bring you the very best stories we’ve seen in what in the week around work and workplace culture.

And then we have a surprise summer segment. Leah, do you, are you going to tell us now?

Leanne Elliott: Yes. This week, truth, truth or lies back. Um, so truth or lies where we dig into popular psychological trends or beliefs and find out if they are actually true. So this week we’ll be answering Al’s question. Uh, can body language or microexpressions tell us when somebody is lying?

Um, and we’ll be answering that with a little help from the chief science officer at Hogan assessments, Dr. Ryan Sherman.

Al Elliott: And finally, after the break, we have the World Famous Weekly Workplace Surgery, where I put your questions to Leanne, who is a business psychologist, if you didn’t pick that up already.

Leanne Elliott: And if you’re not sure what that is, go back to last Thursday’s episode, we explain it all.

Al Elliott: Absolutely. So is it time for your favourite time of the week,

Leanne Elliott: Leanne? Yes, cue the jingle!

Al Elliott: What have you got, Leanne?

Leanne Elliott: Um, sorry, I didn’t say it’s time for the news roundup, but we win, we’ve got that, right? We know what we’re doing now.

Al Elliott: Yes, the news roundup.

Leanne Elliott: Yeah,

Al Elliott: you can

Leanne Elliott: tell

Al Elliott: by the jingle.

Leanne Elliott: I saw an interesting article this week on the Telegraph website. I’m very cultured about multitasking. I know we talk about multitasking quite a bit, Al, don’t we? Because both of us are generally pretty bad at it. Um, but it’s one of those things that it sounds like multitasking might be better for productivity.

Um, it might be that you get more done in a day or Well, it turns out that it’s not as effective as we might think. So most of us do take pride, um, in our ability or lack of to juggle multiple tasks at once, whether it be cooking, emailing, chatting on the phone. There’s a whole host of things. I think I I’m a bit overambitious of what I can also do while I’m brushing my teeth.

Um, turns out not a lot.

Al Elliott: Let’s not go into that. Thanks for sharing there, Leanne.

Leanne Elliott: No worries. And of course there’s a cultural expectation as well. You know, there’s always that, that people say, Oh, aren’t they amazing? so much done. Look at her juggling everything. I’m sure women out there will, particularly with children, um, will, will roll an eye at that one.

Um, but yeah, it can be seen as a superpower, but the thing is the most recent research suggests that we’re not actually really any good at multitasking or indeed we’re not multitasking at all. Instead of just switching rapidly. Between tasks. Um, and that can slow us down. So Dr. Roz Halari, a neuropsychologist points out that multitasking can decrease our productivity and make us prone to errors because our brain processes information slower and less accurately when we’re trying to do too many things at once.

This isn’t just about slipping up in your daily chores. It could mean missing crucial details or even facing serious risks. It’s like accidents, but what really happens in our brain when we’re trying to multitask is actually chemicals. So multitasking increases stress levels shown by a rise in cortisol, um, or stress hormone, and also our attention spans take a hit to, uh, make us much more, um, distractible and over time it can even research has shown it can even change our brain structure, reducing the density of the gray matter in areas responsible for cognitive.

Cognitive control. If you’re wondering why there’s so much more talk at the minute about kind of neuroscience and kind of what happens on our brain is because we now have the technology to actually scan the brain and do lots of cool tests with it. And that’s fairly recent, kind of the last decade or decade or so.

So we’re starting to see some stuff come out. So another expert called Dr. Aditi, um, suggests that we should actually focus on monotasking, which is just doing one thing at a time. And this approach not only may help us to complete tasks more efficiently, But also makes us happier and less stressed, basically giving awful attention to one thing.

So yes, food for thought. Next time you are answering emails during your lunch break or texting while walking the dog. Um, just remember doing less could actually help you do more. I like the sound of that.

Al Elliott: Yeah. Don’t try and do two things at once. Just do one monotasking, do one thing really, really well.

And there’s also the switching cost, which we’ve talked about before as well. Um, which if you are writing an email and then you see a text from your phone, you look down and you reply to it, there’s a cost to switching to that and switching back to your email. Um, and which will become evident over time.

So monotasking is the future.

Leanne Elliott: Maybe. What have you seen this week,

Al Elliott: Al? Well, some news from Greece in the Guardian this week. The Guardian’s a UK newspaper. I don’t particularly follow it for its political views, but um, I have to be honest, it is some of the best writing and the best articles out there. Um, and this is where the government of Greece has just announced a big change in the working week.

Lots of countries are experimenting with shorter working weeks. And in fact, we’ve had lots of experts on here talking about the four day work week, including Joe O’Connor, who is the founder of it. Uh, just skip back to about the sort of 40s, somewhere around there for the episodes. And you’ll see Joe’s, uh, Joe’s episode.

But Greeks is going the other way by introducing a six day working week, bumping the total up to 48 hours. Prime Minister. This is going to be fun. Prime Minister. Kariakos.

Leanne Elliott: You can do that. I’ve got you. You can do it. I believe in you.

Al Elliott: Prime Minister Karyakos Mitsotakis. Karyakos Mitsotakis. One more time.

Leanne Elliott: Go on.

Al Elliott: Prime Minister Karyakos Mitsotakis says this move is necessary because of Greece’s shrinking population and a shortage of skilled workers. I’m not sure I’m following this logic here. He believes by having the option to work an extra day or put in a few more hours each day, it’ll give you a nice 40 percent pay boost for those extra hours.

So, um, I’m not sure the maths works on that, but then let’s be honest, Greece has never been great with working out maths when it comes to money. They almost went bankrupt 10 years ago. Anyway, so this, he hopes that this will bring Greece back in line with other European countries in terms of what people are earning.

But not everyone is on board with this idea. Unsurprisingly, unions, workers, Lots of people are up in arms calling the new measure barbaric and arguing it will roll back long standing workers rights. They’re concerned that without proper oversight, employers will start demanding these extra hours, effectively ending the traditional five day workweek.

That makes sense because if it’s now in law that you can get people to work six days a week, why wouldn’t you if you were one of those bad bosses? So despite the assurance from the government, this new rule is worker friendly and growth oriented. Orientated. Very few people are convinced they point out better productivity comes from better working conditions, better quality of life, not more hours at work.

And we know this. We know this listener, don’t we put into context. Greeks already work the longest hours in Europe at 41 hours a week, yet they get paid significantly less. The opposition argues that this could worsen the brain drain and be particularly unfair to young Greeks who are struggling to find jobs.

They were, you’ll find a lot from Southern, um, Southern Europe. A lot of people tend to go to Germany because that’s where they think the best places are, the best jobs are, but unfortunately also it’s quite a bit more expensive than Greece. So, uh, not sure there’s a net gain there. So while the government pushes for more work days to tackle economic issues, many are left wondering if this really is the best way forward.

I am unconvinced, Lee. What do you think?

Leanne Elliott: I too am unconvinced, Al. Do you know what it just, again, is it not just putting it on an individual to solve a systemic problem.

Al Elliott: Yeah. Nice. You know

Leanne Elliott: how people working an extra day a week is not going to suddenly fix the GDP or whatever, however economics work. And you know what I mean?

Like it’s not going to bring the same new opportunities or new business or stimulate growth. If you’re just because people are working, um, six days a week, it. It probably means if people are earning more, they’re paying more taxes.

Al Elliott: I was just gonna say that. Mm-Hmm. . So this is, this is probably the root of it, is actually they want more people to work so they can collect more income tax.

Leanne Elliott: Um, I can’t imagine that Prime Minister will be in power very long with ideas like that.

Al Elliott: Oh, I dunno if he’s working an extra day a week than perhaps he’s got more time to get things done. I don’t know. Lee, what have you seen this week?

Leanne Elliott: Well, the other thing I saw this week, Gallup have released their latest.

State of the workplace report. They do it every year. Came out a couple of weeks ago, makes for some pretty grim reading. Not going to lie. Um, and also a resurgence of a term we first reported on all the way back in 2022 and one of our very first episodes, actually quiet quitting. Ah, so the latest Gallup report shows that a significant number of UK workers are quiet quitting, which means just doing.

Just doing what you’re contracted to do in your job, um, which you may also know as being, uh, employees being disengaged. So according to new data, the top three reasons driving this trend is burnout, toxic management, and a lack of meaningful work. So Professor Tina Kiefer from Warwick Business School has delved deep into these factors.

She’s found that not only are these workers disengaged, but their lack of motivation is estimated to cost the UK economy, you ready for this Elle,

Al Elliott: 257

Leanne Elliott: billion annually, that’s about 11 percent of GDP. Um, so why exactly are workers tuning out? Well, Professor Kiefer highlights two. Overarching themes, firstly, many employees feel their work isn’t contributing to anything significant.

They’re missing a sense of purpose. They don’t have a reason to go to work beyond paying the bills. And secondly, many are just overwhelmed by the negative workplace environments that drain their energy to the point that even if they wanted to engage more. They simply can’t. Um, the report also references the concept of quiet firing, which we’ve seen gain traction over the past few months.

Um, that’s where management practices push employees towards an exit, um, by suddenly suggesting that they’re probably better off, off elsewhere. So, yeah, and I guess it’s one of those things, isn’t it? I think that this is. State of mental health in UK has been, it’s been pretty poor for a while. Um, the pandemic didn’t do much to help with that.

Um, and of course the rise in remote work we’ve seen since the pandemic, you know, many people’s sense of belonging has shifted away from the traditional office setting, um, and isn’t quite. Translating to the digital world simply because, um, the managers don’t have the capabilities. Um, so yeah, um, and also very sad making statistic that professor Kiefer points out, workers in the UK now rank 33rd out of 38 in European countries for employee engagement.

If you want to be ahead of your competitors, make the next 12 months a year to invest in employee engagement. Um, because. It’s really not as difficult or as mystical as it might seem or sound. There are very basic things you can provide your employees that are going to help them feel this sense of, of meaning and belonging.

Um, it really isn’t anything that you need to even throw that much money at. And of course, if you do one thing, train your managers. So what is the solution that Professor Keefer suggests? Well, she suggests that companies. Again, as I said, need to go beyond surface level perks and really invest enhancing their employees work life.

I mean, it’s not a new news story, Al, but it seems to be a persistent one. Thoughts?

Al Elliott: Yeah, I think that stat of being 33rd out of 38 countries is kind of, kind of It’s shocking. Really? Um, you’d think on paper, the UK is would be the best place to work because you know, there’s, there’s, there’s great, usually great companies.

There’s innovation. You’ve got Uber eats, you’ve got Amazon can deliver anything within an hour. Well, that kind of thing just goes to show that actually the core The core necessities of a decent workplace is, like you said before, the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing. Are you in the right role?

I’m going through the RX 7. If you are looking to invest in, this was, this is, there we go, shameless plug. If you are looking to invest in engagement and recruitment over the next 12 months, like Leanne suggested, then there is something called the Rx7 method, which we do with select private clients at the moment, but we are opening it up.

So if you’re interested in that, check the show notes, you can get in touch and we’ll talk about it there. Basically it’s seven foundations of an amazing workplace culture, all beginning with R, hence Rx7, R times seven. Anyway, Lee, anything else to add to that? Do you think before we go into our surprise segment?

Leanne Elliott: Do you know what? Again, I think it’s that it’s, it’s something we’re seeing that’s not. getting better. And in fact, the first big government commissioned report into employee engagement or quiet quitting was back in 2008. So we’re kind of like 15 years on now and it’s just getting worse and worse. And I kind of think it’s because there’s too many surface level interventions, things going on, much like the, you know, Greek idea of getting people to work six days a week to boost the economy.

Um, I kind of like it. Do you remember when we proper like crashed and burned in the Olympics? Was it like 20, 20, 2004, maybe really bad, or maybe it’s even 2000 and the UK government decided to invest in grassroots sports like youth teams and inclusion and diversifying, you know, the, the types of activities kids could do in schools and the funding that different sports clubs got.

And by 2012. We were in like, was it the top five medal winners in the world and we’ve got a population that’s teeny tiny compared to some countries. So I think it just emphasizes that We can create systemic change and we can over a period of time. And it’s not a quick fix. We are probably looking at five to 10 years to truly change the experience of that people are having at work in the UK overall, um, to be more positive, but it requires a systemic change.

And I understand that businesses need that support from potentially the government as well. Employees need that from business leaders. Um, I just think it’s time now, you know, it’s just getting progressively worse and my fear is that this. trend will actually just become part of what working life is.

Quiet quitting is just an aspect of, of work that we need to live with. And that’s miserable making for business leaders and for employees. So I guess I’m just worried that it’s going to be normalized to the point that it’s just expected from all parties.

Al Elliott: Not if you have anything to do with it, Lee. Um, and if you listen to this, this podcast, you’re probably, you’re probably already like on the road to having an amazing workplace culture, but just a quick tip.

If you can create products and services that your customers love, then you can create cultures that your employees will love. The principles are very, very, very similar. If you are interested, check the show notes, you can book a call with Leeann. and she will talk you all through it. Leigh, talking of Leigh Anne, you have our, what I’ve called the surprise summer segment, because I never know about it until the day we’re actually recording.


Leanne Elliott: SSS.

Al Elliott: I put the L in alliteration. What’s, what’s the, what’s the segment Leigh?

Leanne Elliott: Today’s surprise summer segment isn’t that much of a surprise because we did it last week. It’s called truth or lie bang on brand. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take, um, psychology that’s popular, uh, pop psychology, you might call it, things you’ve heard of.

Trends, general beliefs about how we function as humans. Um, like for example, 16 personalities, Myers Briggs. Is it actually proper psychology or is it just pop nonsense? I think, you know, the answer to that one, but do you know the answer to Al’s question? So Al absolutely loves a show called Lie to Me, where a character uses micro expressions to determine if somebody is lying.

Personally, I just can’t. because I can’t, I’m sure it’s like a doctor watching like casualty or something or Grayson asked me, but Al, you flipping love this show, don’t you?

Al Elliott: Well, I don’t love it. It’s my guilty pleasure. Um, I, I, it’s silly. It’s silly. And I don’t see it. When I first started watching it, maybe years and years ago, when it first came out, I was like, Oh, this is cool.

But obviously you pointed out that it’s all a bit bullshit. But, um, the first one, for example, the first episode, it used microexpressions to uncover a bomb plot by the KKK.

Leanne Elliott: Nice.

Al Elliott: Yeah, it was. Yeah. It’s not exactly science.

Leanne Elliott: No judgment. We all have our quirks. We all have our quirks. Vampires. Exactly. Um, but yeah, I’m, I mean, I am deeply skeptical about body language and microexpressions.

I’m not the only psychologist that thinks that, but I thought, You know, just to make sure I should probably ask one of the world’s experts on behavioral science, and that is Dr. Ryan Sherman, the Chief Science Officer at Hogan Assessments. And here’s what you had to say about the TV show, Light Me.

Dr Ryne Sherman: So Paul Ekman, who’s a really well known psychologist, was a consultant for the show to talk about some of these, and he’s probably studied sort of non verbal, like these kind of behaviors, more than anybody in the world, right?

That there’s a tremendous amount, uh, he’s sort of known for, uh, faces. Uh, the work that he’s done on faces, the idea that there are only that there’s only so many different emotions expressed by face, like there’s happy, there’s sad, there’s, and then there’s emotions that tend to be recognized globally.

Now, there’s been some sort of controversy about that in recent years about, well, maybe there’s more emotions and maybe they’re not as global as we think and all this kind of stuff, but for the most part, many people can recognize when somebody’s happy or when somebody’s angry or when somebody’s sad just by their facial expression.

And so from that part of it is that I think that that’s, uh, that’s, that’s all true psychology. And in terms of the lie stuff, there’s actually quite a bit of research on lie detection and detecting deception from a whole bunch of things. Uh, there’s a really classic studies where they took like FBI investigators and they took regular police officers and they just took like normal, ordinary citizens and they had them all like watch video clips.

people who were either lying or not. Um, and in this case, they, they, they set it up so that half of the time they were seeing a lie half of the time they weren’t. And what they found out was that the federal investigators were much better at catching liars who were lying. And the reason they were better at it is because they assumed everyone was lying.

So they weren’t better at right. So they also were calling people liars who weren’t lying to. So they actually weren’t more accurate, right? But they’re better at catching liars. So if you just say everybody’s lying, then you’re going to catch all the liars. But of course, you’re going to accuse a lot of people lying who aren’t.

So it turns out that, um, at least in that sort of sense, like that, there’s no doesn’t seem to be any sort of trained skill, at least at that level in detecting lies in that regard. The point is that you can detect lying, you detect deception in sort of ways by using information much better than you can by these sort of nonverbal kinds of things.

All of that being said, I will say, and I’m not 100 percent sure how this works, but there is this, um, this group of, you know, mentalists, right, quote unquote mentalists, and a lot of it are sort of, you know, parlor tricks, card tricks, things like that, but I suspect that there is actually something very subtle, um, there’s these classic mentalism tricks where people have like a coin in one hand or the other, and, um, My understanding is that some of the ways that they work is that people sort of give away through their non verbals, uh, which hand the coin is in.

They’re actually giving it away in some non verbal way, like they just tilt their eyes just slightly one way or there’s just something they do. Um, there are, there are cognitive psychology kinds of tricks, right? Like if I think the classic one is, um, um, pink elephants. Right? If I say, man, don’t think about pink elephants.

Whatever you do. For the next minute and a half, I don’t want you to think about pink elephants at all. Don’t, don’t, don’t think about them in any way. Um, what happens is when we try to put something out of our mind, it comes into our mind. And so sometimes these mentalists can use tricks like that, right?

They can tell you, you know, don’t think about your security pin number. And what’s the first, you know, that’s all you think about, right? And so then they can say things like, no, I don’t want you to think about the first number. So I don’t want you to think about zero or one or two or three. And then, and something might, you might do something non verbally while they’re going through those numbers.

And if they’re really good and they’re really practiced, they might be able to pick that up and you can sort of give it away, even though you’re trying actively to not give it away. So there is some psychology there. Um, I think a lot of what’s on that TV show is definitely pop, right? The sort of, oh, your eyes look that way, your eyebrows did this, or, you

Leanne Elliott: know, Well, there you go.

I’m afraid it is a lie. I love what Dr. Ryan said there about how certain trained professionals seem to be better just because they assume that everyone’s lying.

Al Elliott: Yep. That makes perfect sense. You can find out more about how Hogan assessments can help with your recruitment at hoganassessments. com. And you can listen to more of Ryan on his podcast, science of personality, just search for it in the, wherever you get your podcasts.

After the break, we have the World Famous Weekly Workplace Surgery, where I have a bit of a scandalous one to kick off with. See you after the break. Welcome back onto my favorite time of the week, the World Famous Weekly Workplace Surgery, where I put your questions to business psychologist, Leanne. Leah, are you ready?

Leanne Elliott: Yes. I have been on holiday though, just to just to pay my first day back. So I might not have my old business psychology at full, you know, full throttle yet. But yeah, crack on.

Al Elliott: You and your, you and your four girlfriends. One thing I do know is that Montenegro is significantly less apparel than they did four days ago.

Yes. Yes. So here we go. Here’s the question. I work as a freelancer at a company, but to be honest, it’s my main gig really. I do 25 to 30 hours a week and I get on really well with the guys I work for. I’ve been working there for about a year, and I thought I was part of the crew until last week. The big boss came in with a big basket of pastries, like muffins, doughnuts, etc.

for the team, and he went round the entire office and handed them out. But when he got to me, he said, sorry, you don’t properly work here, so none for you. At first, I thought he was joking, but he just walked off and continued handing out doughnuts. I told you it was scandalous. I’m really trying hard, but this is what I like about this person who’s written in.

This is what I really like about this. I’m trying really hard to be grown up and see both sides of this, but it’s hard not to be upset about this exclusion. Surely it can’t be about the money, donuts, a couple of dollars. So why do you think he’s excluding me like this?

Leanne Elliott: I mean, I think the thing is, is this person is clearly trying to make some kind of point about separating you from the rest of the rest of the team.

I’m not sure why there are various things that could be motivating that maybe he’s irritated paying a freelancer, a higher hourly rate, although actually overall is probably paying less in terms of other benefits and perks and whatnot. Um, it could be that he didn’t want to hire a freelancer and he got overruled in some way.

Um, I dunno, maybe he’s trying to create distance because the company is about to go into a different direction and, and bring roles in house and that might not. include you? Um, I don’t really know, but it’s very odd. It’s very petty. Um, and I think this is where it’s really, and I feel for you cause it’s a really fine line as a freelancer and I too have worked as a freelancer.

Um, Or kind of a long term consultant for, for companies and you can get attached and you do start to feel like you’re part of the team and, and it really just depends how that operates. I’ve done it in some organizations where as a contractor, I feel very much a part of the team and that’s not made any difference.

It’s just been kind of how my. My pay is structured or how I’m, you know, my employment is structured. Other organizations where it has been a bit more of a barrier. Um, I think it’s one of those where it kind of comes with the territory as a freelancer, because as much as you might get comments like that, and it’s very unnecessary, but equally.

You’re not part of that organization in the same way that other employees are. It’s a very rude and brutal way to demonstrate that. Um, but you’re not. So I guess it’s maybe a point of reflection in that if this is a regular gig for you, if you enjoy the work, you enjoy working with the rest of your colleagues, how do you, the rest of your colleagues make you feel?

If they make you feel included, and it’s just kind of this one person that doesn’t, then how much is that really going to impact your, your day to day life and. And I guess a bigger question to reflect on is as a freelance, is this something that you can get used to and get on board with and start to accept as part of part of the deal, you get the extra flexibility.

That does mean that at times you don’t get a donut and you don’t necessarily get that full sense of belonging. That’s kind of the trade off, isn’t it? Um, So yeah, I guess that’s my only advice is kind of like, that’s very weird. It’s very odd. It’s completely unnecessary. Maybe that person has their own motivations as to what that could be.

You’ll tie yourself in not trying to figure out what that motivation is or what the reason is. I would use it more as an opportunity to, to reflect back on. On you and your experience and how you want to manage your career, because if you stay in freelance, um, or indeed consultancy, this probably isn’t going to be the only instance of this you’re going to experience.

So it’s how you deal with that and how you manage that yourself. Maybe it’s time to. Go back in house. Maybe it’s time to, um, to just reflect on, on kind of your role and how integrated you get yourself. Maybe there are a few more personal barriers to put up to help you stop getting so attached. That’s what I’d say.

It sounds very strange.

Al Elliott: Yeah. And while you were, while you were saying that, I was thinking there’s two things I thought about. First of all, is that there’s a very good chance that everyone else, the rest of your, I’m going to say colleagues, because you work in the same office will have noticed this and maybe that was the intention they noticed it, or maybe.

Maybe not. I don’t know, but they will have noticed it. So if you’ve got a really good relationship with them, there’s a very good chance that they’re going to stand behind you and go, Yeah, he was a bit of an arsehole, wasn’t he? Why’d he do that? Don’t get it. And that’s probably done more damage to the big boss that actually has done to you.

The kind of the opposite to that I’m thinking about is potentially, and I wish I wish we could actually have a two week conversation because I’d love to ask. Are you getting a bit too attached? Are you maybe pretending that you are part of the team when actual fact you’re just a contractor and this was his way of going, Hey, step back, Janet.

Mm-Hmm, , you know, you’re, you’re not part of this team because perhaps you’ve just been a little bit, I don’t know, in overenthusiastic in the way that you’ve, uh, um, that, that you, you, you are part of the team.

Leanne Elliott: Maybe, it sounds like, as I said, there’s clearly some kind of boundary this person is trying to set, isn’t there, this boss dude.

Um, not, not in the nicest way, but, but as I said, you can tell yourself and not trying to figure out what that is, if he’s not going to be transparent, you could ask him, um, but again, it’s kind of to what end that’s, that’s going to kind of come to. I think it’s probably worth spending, rather than spending your time obsessing over him, reflect that back and obsess over you and what, what you You know, what you want out of it and in terms of freelance or indeed this company, um, and then maybe once you’ve figured that out and you don’t, you know, you know what you want to do, then maybe go and ask that question, asking why, why he did that.

Um, very strange equally, if you want to be as passive aggressive taking doughnuts next time he’s in the office and don’t give him one.

Al Elliott: I mean, the positive you can take before we go into the next question, just thinking the positive you can take out of this is that. at least you kind of know what he thinks of you and where you stand.

There is so many, I’ve not waited in offices for years and years and years, but there’s so many bitchy comments and little stuff bubbling onto the surface that you don’t know. And then suddenly you find out that the Arnold doesn’t like you. And that’s why your, your hours are so weird, you know? So at least you know where you stand.

So at least you can do something about it. Are you ready for the next question? Lee?

Leanne Elliott: Yes.

Al Elliott: So this one’s a, I can totally. Relate to this one’s a bit heartbreaking. He says, I run a small business that I’ve nurtured and grown with care over the years. Recently, I faced a troubling trend. Several key employees have left all citing a lack of career progression as their reason for moving on.

This has left me disheartened, but also concerned about the future stability of my team. Here’s where the challenge lies. As a small business owner, I’m acutely aware that I can’t offer the same career progression opportunities that larger companies can. My resources are limited and being real Frank, I don’t have the energy or the drive to scale the business significantly to create these kinds of positions.

I’ve always prided myself on creating a supportive and family like work environment, red flag. But also it seems like this is not enough for my current team. Given my constraints, I’m at a loss for how to keep my remaining key people engaged and satisfied, but without giving them the career progression they seem to be asking for.

Lee, any thoughts?

Leanne Elliott: Did this person mention kind of the average tenure of these people U2? No,

Al Elliott: no, but reading between the lines, it suggests that they are, they’re not just someone in their year. It’s just, yeah, it sounds

Leanne Elliott: like there’s, there’s a bit of, yeah, there’s a bit of emotion in this, isn’t it? It’s just that they’ve, um, quite simply, there’s not a lot you can do, to be honest.

Um, and I think it’s recognizing that you’re right, Al, family, red flag. These people aren’t your kids. These people aren’t your brothers and sisters or your aunties and uncles or whoever they might want to be in this fantasy family situation. Um, they’re adults that you employ to do a job. And if you organize your, um, your business well, and if you invest in your own development as a leader and manager, well, then you will create a sense of Of belonging as we’ve been talking about, and that’s going to help with employee engagement, but that’s just one aspect of what people want from work.

And it’s, it’s kind of a swing both ways. And we can’t go, we don’t want the world to go all the way, always all about engagement. It’s like, we were talking about the hero tax last week. You know, we don’t want to go to that point where people aren’t getting the fair paying benefits they deserve for the work they do, or indeed having that career progression that, you know, That career progression is also a key aspect of employee engagement.

If you really can’t provide that in your business and you’re not in a position where you want to, and fair enough, that is within your rights as a business owner, if you don’t want to scale your business to create these opportunities, um, then this is just a cycle you’re going to go through. I think it’s maybe looking at it, flipping it in a different way.

You know, what, what opportunities can you provide for these people over the three to maybe five years they’re with you to then you feel a sense of pride setting them off back into the world to go and smash it somewhere else. Um, I think it’s shifting your expectations because if you can’t pay people more, if you can’t give them the opportunities, there’s a limited time you’re going to be able to engage them in that job and more to the point, you don’t want to engage them beyond that point because they start to get bored.

Then they’ll start to disengage and they’ll start to quite quit and your productivity will drop and your profitability will drop and your customer satisfaction will drop. You kind of want people to move on before they become disengaged. So I think it’s really more about managing the time that, that people are with you.

Um, shifting your expectations in terms of how long people will be with you and what they can contribute during that time. Um, and then really just looking at having a really great recruitment process in place, potentially where you’re bringing people on, um, without as much experience and you’ll train them up.

And that’s a good way to keep people with you longer. I think that’s the thing. I mean, the other thing that you can do, depending on if you’re just finding, again, I guess it’s some of the questions, the last question, if you’re finding this really hard to deal with, if you’re getting attached to your employees is maybe look at contractors.

If you don’t want to scale your business, if you just want the job to get done, um, you can still, as we’ve heard, you know, create great relationship with contractors and feel very much an organization, but it gives you So, um, but it gives you that flexibility and potentially that kind of that boundary in that distance from getting too attached to when they, you know, when they do leave in, in that three years time, it’s not as personal.

It sounds like you’re making this a very personal situation. Naturally, objectively, these people are, are, are, are trying Sounds like they’re thriving in your organization. They’re contributing a lot. They’re getting a lot out of it. And when the time is right, they’re moving on to the next stage of their career.

That’s just, that’s just kind of how it works. Um, and also there’s very few organizations, no matter how big they are and how many, um, you know, career pathways they have, there’s still very few organizations that will hang on for people for more than five years anyway, um, because people want that different experience, different industries, different teams, um, you know, it’s just the way it is.

Is that harsh? Sorry. Not my mic.

Al Elliott: No, I think that’s, I think that’s fair. The key things you said there was one, which I was thinking of already. And you said it, which I was really pleased about. But the first thing you said that is taking it personally, or she’s taking it personally, or they’re taking it personally.

Um, that’s come through just through it. Every, almost every word is like, this is personal. This is emotional. This is, you know, this is not a business. So I would probably do what Leanne said, my marketing brains thing, Don’t become that person who’s so frightened that you’re going to lose people in three to five years to a bigger company.

Just switch it and go, right, we are the company you go to before you go and work for IBM. Market yourself as that. You won’t be with us for more than, for more than five years. And you’ll probably only be with us for three years, but here’s the benefit. Number one is that, all right, you’re going to earn less, but we’ll prepare you for all the problems that you’re going to deal with at a larger company.

Two, you’ll learn just generally about how to work, how to, how to think. Um, number three. Is it the wheel? And this is where potentially some of the older people who a bit more knowledge might hang around, and this might give them a bit of a reason to stay as well. You’ll have a mentor of someone who’s been in the industry for 20 years, um, and they will work with you over the next three years.

And if in five years time, you’re still here. Well, I’m going to fire you because you’re going to be, you should have moved on yourself and just positioning like that. And it just makes it, you almost become like a, I can’t think of the word, I keep thinking of entrepreneur. What’s the word when you go and work for someone.

like an

Leanne Elliott: internship,

Al Elliott: apprenticeship, apprenticeship. That’s the word I’m thinking of. Almost like you become an apprenticeship program. Um, and you can tick all your boxes there. And also you might find some of the older people who are thinking of moving on, or even some of the younger people are thinking of moving on.

They’d get so much out of being a mentor. Like we, we have a client, um, with one particular guy who I won’t mention his name, but he’s a superstar and he kind of lives. to mentor new people. And this business is very similar. They tend to take people on very, very young, train them up, and then I think they expect them to move on.

Um, and, uh, and so I think there’s a really smart way of putting it together and you don’t have to worry because like Leanne said, if they want career progression and you simply can’t give it, What do you want us to do? Magic?

Leanne Elliott: No, you can’t. And again, and I think you’re right, Alex. It’s a really smart way to do it.

Is that that reposition yourself, but you’re also going to have to have to have a long, hard talk with yourself about whether you are the person that is able to do this because you will still invest the time and effort in this person, potentially even more so than you already have. You might, you can either see it as I’ve spent five years training that person up to be the best they can be.

And now they’re going to go and work for my best. Or you can kind of think of it as I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of nurturing a young person in their career. They’re always going to think fondly of me and my business and maybe once they’ve gone out into the world for two or three years, they’ll come back and go, do you know what?

This is the best place I’ve ever worked. I want to work here again. Um, so I think it’s either way. I think it is, you know, the overarching, it’s going to take a mind, a mindset shift from you. And I think if you really can’t handle that, um, You know, that, that responsibility really in terms of nurturing people and encouraging them to move on.

Then I would maybe look at contractors as a way of, of better managing, um, you know, how you get the work done in your business without the emotional drain of it.

Al Elliott: Are you ready for the final question? I manage a medium sized team, and lately I’ve noticed my guys are hesitant to give honest feedback, either to me or to each other.

It started to stifle our innovation and improvement, and I feel like we’re stuck in a bit of a rut. The problem is, I think people are afraid of speaking up because they don’t want to rock the boat, or maybe they just don’t feel comfortable enough to share their truths. Thoughts. Now, from what I understand is that this is relatively new.

Previously, they were happy to do that. I hope it’s not because they are scared of what I might say. I try so hard to be the best manager possible. I really want to create a culture where constructive feedback is encouraged and valued and team members feel they can share their opinions. What do I need to fix so that everyone feels safe and motivated to contribute?

Leanne Elliott: Interesting. I, I think the starting place is, when did this change and what was happening in the business at the point in which it changed? It sounds as though you had psychological safety and you’ve lost a little bit of that. I mean, the typical reasons people Don’t feel able to, to share openly is because they’ve been criticized or, um, belittled or humiliated, or, um, just made to feel bad about the feedback they’ve given.

Um, it could be that they’re not seeing the impact of their feedback, that they’re putting themselves in a professionally, personally uncomfortable situation. That’s been, it’s not always the easiest thing to give feedback, particularly constructive feedback. They’re putting themselves out there and they’re not seeing the, the change.

Or the change isn’t going to be communicated with them. Um, it’s kind of like Paula. Um, said last week, you know, if you’re going to make change, change, um, would you say change loudly?

Al Elliott: Yeah.

Leanne Elliott: Um, it’s that kind of thing that if it’s more of a morale drain to ask people for feedback and do nothing with it, you’re better from a psychological perspective, not asking in the first place.

So it could be that, um, I, who, I mean, it could be that something else happening in, in the business, for example, um, if there’s another team somewhere else that there’s been made layoffs, for example, people can sometimes lose a sense of safety from, from that and security from that will be less willing to, to open up through fear of putting themselves in the spotlight.

Um, the only way you’re really going to find out is to ask, but I appreciate it’s difficult for you to ask right now, cause you’re not really getting the feedback. I would suggest that you bring in a consultant. Um, really just to do a, um, a focus group or one to ones, whatever you think, or whatever they would think once they’ve had some chats with you would be better to really kind of get down to the, um, the core issues to why there’s been this change in behavior.

What’s really positive is that as a manager, you’ve noticed this shift in behavior and that is, that is the key in terms of everything, you know, people ask is, how do I know if my staff are burnt out? How do I know if they’re going to quit? How do I know if something’s going on that they’re not telling me about changes in behavior?

They’re your red flags that something is happening. So it’s brilliant that you’ve recognized this, um, but now you need to understand exactly why. That change has occurred. Um, you’re going to have to be very clear around confidentiality. Your expectations are going to have to be managed in terms of what will be shared with you.

It won’t necessarily be the specific. This is the, this is the key moment and reason and event that happened that changed everyone’s mind. It could be people don’t feel that their feedback is being actioned in the most effective way. So you can sort of work with you to kind of, well, these are the steps we can take to do it.

That would be my thought. Um, yeah. It’s either something that’s the relationship, some relationship within the team that’s breaking down, it’s relationship between you and the team that’s breaking down. Um, it’s something externally that is creating fear. So people are less inclined to share, or it’s, it’s, it will stem from some kind of disillusionment that having this feedback is going to have any impact.

So why bother putting the effort into that? Um, but that’s kind of the only way that you’re going to find out. is why you’ve had this dip in, in psychological safety. The other thing you could do it if people aren’t, um, you know, reluctant to give kind of verbal feedback or detailed food back or what we’d call qualitative feedback is try and run some kind of employee engagement survey to kind of see where, um, where these levers of engagement are falling down, um, or are struggling.

If you do already have that in place. Look at the results over the, you know, the six, 12 months that you’ve seen this shift. Um, and more than likely, if you’ve seen a dip, for example, in the quality of relationships, that’s going to indicate a dip in psychological safety as well. And this is why predictive models of employee engagement is so important because using something like that, like the RX 7 and there’s other ones out there, but you’re going to be able to pinpoint Why it is within the team and the culture of the team that is having an impact on the, um, the attitudes and behaviors of the team that actually have an impact on things like creativity and innovation.

Um, so you’re going to be able to track that journey in the data if the tool you’re using is good enough and powerful enough to do that. So that would be my thought. I think at this point, if you’re really, you know, knocking your head against a brick wall with it, um, I’d get some kind of third party in, um, to try and gather some, some insights into what’s shifted.

Al Elliott: Very, very good advice. One last thing before we finish up is, uh, potentially thinking back to something you said maybe about two or three episodes ago, when you first took over that contract down in the South of England and you had that, um, um, I think you called it a shitposting day, but it’s more like sort of a, an amnesty day where you can just sit down with the team and go, right, no, nothing will leave this room.

Whatever you say, as long as it’s with respect, it will be taken on board. Let’s get this out. This thing’s changed. Why? And you’ll have probably a silence for about first 10 minutes, and then you’ll start to find out. And I bet you’ll find that something which was just really simple and no one had thought it through.

And that’s what’s really important. triggered all this. So definitely get in touch with Leanne. If you’re, if you’ve got a problem like this as well, or if you’ve written this letter and you’re listening, which I hope you are, then get in touch with Leanne and book a free 30 minute call. And she will talk more depth and more specifically about your expert about your situation.

Lee, I believe, sadly, we are out of time.

Dr Ryne Sherman: However, we are

Al Elliott: back in just on just under or just over two days time, 48 hours time on Thursday, where we’ve got an amazing guest. guest, a guy called Adrian Lomas. He’s a professional EOS implementer. Um, and he bases everything on something called the traction system, which is a great book by Gino Wickman.

He is such a nice guy. I’ve known him for about 17 years now, I think. And I knew him when he was. Doing really well, and then I didn’t know him when it was going really, really badly, and he was sleeping under his desk. So it’s a great story as well as a great example of a system that can really help you create and run an amazing business.

Lee, anything to add before we say goodbye?

Leanne Elliott: Um, no, but when we’re not recording, I’d want to know why you, um, left Adrian in the dark when he was going through a hard time. Sounds a bit harsh now.

Al Elliott: Um, I, I moved with my wife to Spain.

Leanne Elliott: Ah, my fault. Of course. Blame me.

Al Elliott: 100 percent your fault. Uh, so yeah, we will, we’ll see you on Thursday.

In the meantime, if you haven’t subscribed, please help us subscribe. We’re currently this week, we’re currently number seven in the Spotify charts for business in the UK that comes. From people like you listening on Spotify if you are and clicking subscribe or even better giving us a rating as well and we’ll review because that could really help.

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Leanne Elliott: And the newsletter, subscribe to the LinkedIn newsletter.

Al Elliott: I always forget about that. Go to LinkedIn, search for Truth, Lies and Work. You’ll find the page there and there’s a great newsletter. And also you can carry on the conversation because we bring our guests in as well on this.

You can actually chat to them. Paula’s on there from last week. We will see you next time then.

Leanne Elliott: See you next time then.

Al Elliott: Bye bye.

Leanne Elliott: And work the award winning psychology podcast that helps you do something and that is not the right thing to say.

Al Elliott: Sorry, I stole your line. Son of a bitch. So my line.

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