The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast

55 Remote Work Revolution: Rethinking Culture and Leadership with Chris Dyer

March 18, 2024 Dr Nia D Thomas Episode 55
55 Remote Work Revolution: Rethinking Culture and Leadership with Chris Dyer
The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
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The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
55 Remote Work Revolution: Rethinking Culture and Leadership with Chris Dyer
Mar 18, 2024 Episode 55
Dr Nia D Thomas

Welcome to The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast, where we explore the intricacies of leadership, company culture, and remote work. In today's episode, our host Nia Thomas delves into a thought-provoking conversation with renowned leadership speaker and bestselling author Chris Dyer.

Chris Dyer is a self-made entrepreneur who has dedicated years to learning from the best in business and leadership. Frustrated by the lack of a clear blueprint for success, he embarked on a journey to distill the wisdom of the smartest and most successful individuals he encountered. Through countless conversations, readings, and personal experiences, he developed the 7 pillar strategy - a set of principles that he consistently heard echoed by those who have achieved greatness in their organizations. His unwavering belief in the importance of qualities like listening and effective communication has guided him in building not only a successful business but also a strong and positive company culture. Chris Dyer's story is one of resilience, determination, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Chris shares his journey to leadership and the pivotal moments that shaped his career, from witnessing the 9/11 attacks to implementing remote work strategies during a recession. He emphasizes the importance of self-aware leadership, creating a positive culture for remote workers, and the impact of transparency on decision-making and innovation.

Together, Nia and Chris explore the evolving landscape of remote work, the role of values in organizational culture, and the challenge of balancing cognitive diversity with shared company values. Join us as we gain invaluable insights into the world of leadership and remote work from a true industry expert.

Access Chris's website here

Buy Chris's books here

Support the Show.

Find Out More
Thanks for joining me on my learning journey! Until next time...

Rate and Review
Once you've taken a listen please leave a rate and review on your favourite podcast player. A little word from you means a big deal to me!

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Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast, where we explore the intricacies of leadership, company culture, and remote work. In today's episode, our host Nia Thomas delves into a thought-provoking conversation with renowned leadership speaker and bestselling author Chris Dyer.

Chris Dyer is a self-made entrepreneur who has dedicated years to learning from the best in business and leadership. Frustrated by the lack of a clear blueprint for success, he embarked on a journey to distill the wisdom of the smartest and most successful individuals he encountered. Through countless conversations, readings, and personal experiences, he developed the 7 pillar strategy - a set of principles that he consistently heard echoed by those who have achieved greatness in their organizations. His unwavering belief in the importance of qualities like listening and effective communication has guided him in building not only a successful business but also a strong and positive company culture. Chris Dyer's story is one of resilience, determination, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Chris shares his journey to leadership and the pivotal moments that shaped his career, from witnessing the 9/11 attacks to implementing remote work strategies during a recession. He emphasizes the importance of self-aware leadership, creating a positive culture for remote workers, and the impact of transparency on decision-making and innovation.

Together, Nia and Chris explore the evolving landscape of remote work, the role of values in organizational culture, and the challenge of balancing cognitive diversity with shared company values. Join us as we gain invaluable insights into the world of leadership and remote work from a true industry expert.

Access Chris's website here

Buy Chris's books here

Support the Show.

Find Out More
Thanks for joining me on my learning journey! Until next time...

Rate and Review
Once you've taken a listen please leave a rate and review on your favourite podcast player. A little word from you means a big deal to me!

Nia Thomas [00:00:04]:
Hello, and welcome to the Knowing Self, Knowing Others podcast where we discuss self aware leadership with thinkers from around the globe. I'm your host, Nia Thomas. And join me

Nia Thomas [00:00:12]:
as I talk to today's guest. Today, we are joined by Chris Dyer, who is a recognized company culture and remote work expert. As a former CEO managing thousands people, his companies were consistently named a best place to work. They've also been named, fastest growing company by Inc Magazine 5 times. Chris routinely consults and speaks, and Inc Magazine ranked him as the number one leadership speaker on culture. He has 2 bestselling books out at the moment, The Power of Company Culture and Remote Work, and has been named number 5 on the Leader Schum Power list, a top 50 voice in leadership, a top 40 change management guru, and a top 50 global thought leader, and that's just this year so far. As a keynote speaker, his goal is to inspire his audiences with straightforward delivery, insightful candor, and engaging humor. His talks offer innovative perspectives on leadership to improve company culture and empower organizations to discover new successes.

Nia Thomas [00:01:20]:
Countless companies have unlocked productivity, performance, and profits by implementing his 7 pillar strategy, and I'm hoping he's gonna tell us a little bit more about that shortly. Chris, it's lovely to have you here.

Chris Dyer [00:01:31]:
Thank you so much for having me. Hello, everyone. It's amazing to be here.

Nia Thomas [00:01:36]:

Chris Dyer [00:01:37]:
A fun connection to London. I did a they flew me all the way out to do a training for the Ministry of Defense. Wow. And the night before I was supposed to go in and work with all of them, they had a COVID big outbreak, and I literally did their training from a Zoom in Central London in a hotel.

Nia Thomas [00:01:55]:
No. Oh, so many of it so far.

Chris Dyer [00:01:58]:
It was all about remote work, and I thought it was so funny that I ended up doing it remotely and not in person because they had, like, 6 people get COVID or something, and they sent everybody home. And this was, like, all when things were just sort of getting back to normal a little bit. You know? So they were still a little but, anyways, thought that was a funny story.

Nia Thomas [00:02:16]:
Oh my goodness. What's the length of the flight from where you are to to stay in a hotel room?

Chris Dyer [00:02:21]:
10 hours. 10 and a half hours to London.

Nia Thomas [00:02:24]:
20 hours to do a virtual webinar.

Chris Dyer [00:02:26]:
But yep. I mean, listen. I went and got in a car and went to Bath and New York and to Liverpool and to into Wales. I did we did it up. So, I mean, they they paid for me to get there and come home, and I went and did the rest. It was great. I was happy.

Nia Thomas [00:02:41]:
Amazing. So it wasn't all bad.

Chris Dyer [00:02:43]:
Yeah. Yeah.

Nia Thomas [00:02:44]:
Brilliant. Chris, tell us about, your 7 pillar strategy. What what's it all about?

Chris Dyer [00:02:50]:
Yeah. I mean, I probably could fill up the entire podcast with just this answer, so I'll try to be brief. But I back in 2008, there was a huge recession out in the world, but especially United States. And I found myself with 40% of my clients gone. 40% of my receivables gone. Right? And I had to figure out how in the heck am I gonna save this business. And that led us down 2 roads. Number 1, we went remote work to save money.

Chris Dyer [00:03:20]:
We didn't do it because we thought remote work was great. We did it to save money, right, got rid of the building, got rid of all these expenses. But the other thing was we needed to fix our culture. Mhmm. This was the moment I realized I felt like it was on me and me alone to solve all of these problems that we were having. And I thought, this is stupid. It shouldn't be on just me. I should be able to call on my team, and we should be able to do this together, but I had screwed up.

Chris Dyer [00:03:49]:
I had not built the company that way. I had built it to where everything came through my head, and I could double check and triple check and stamp my approval on every little thing because that will it worked in the beginning when we were a small company, but we weren't small anymore. And so I said, great. I'm gonna change my culture. We're gonna do it the right way. What's the right way to do it? Uh-huh. There isn't an answer. There isn't a book.

Chris Dyer [00:04:16]:
There isn't, like, a blueprint for me out there. And I asked and I asked and I read hundreds of books, and I talked to every smart person. And they all told me the same things, but no one had it written down. And that's the 7 pillar strategy. That's the, what are those seven things that I consistently heard from the smartest people in the room, who most successful people, who have great cultures, had great companies, or, you know, maybe, like, it was a great book and they focused on one of those things. Like, for example, listening. Right? There's lots of books about listening, but no one says, hey. You better be good listeners in your company if you wanna have a great culture.

Chris Dyer [00:04:55]:
And so that's what my attempt was, is to help every business leader out there. Whether you're the CEO or you're a middle manager with, you know, 10 direct reports, What in the world are you supposed to focus on if you want to have a great culture? And that's the answer I tried to give everyone.

Nia Thomas [00:05:13]:
So if you could pick one of those 7 to tell us a little bit more about, maybe does one of them under pin everything else? Which one would you talk about if you were talking about it right up front?

Chris Dyer [00:05:25]:
Sure. I'll give you the one that I think is where people often will target as an area of weakness for them, and they often find the most growth by going after this pillar. But to answer your question, there isn't a pillar that's, like, the one that under they all are like if you had a giant Venn diagram, that's where all those circles overlap each other. It would be quite a very complicated Venn diagram. They all overlap each other, all important. K. And, usually, when I work with companies or I go speak, you know, to a keynote, they identify, hey. We're good at these 2 or 3, and we're okay at this one.

Chris Dyer [00:06:03]:
But, man, are we bad at those? Like, okay, Chris. You but it's different for every company. Some are good at listening, some aren't. Right? So but I think the pillar that we should talk about is transparency. Okay. Almost every time that a company is struggling and the senior managers are saying, why aren't our people getting it? Why aren't they doing what we want them to do? It's because there's no transparency. Okay. Those people at the highest levels know everything, but the people below them don't know everything.

Chris Dyer [00:06:35]:
And how can you possibly expect them to make great decisions, have great ideas, come up with innovative, you know, products and services and suggestions and and even just problem solve properly if you don't know what everybody else knows. Right? It's such a basic thing.

Nia Thomas [00:06:53]:

Chris Dyer [00:06:53]:
Right? I mean, it's like parenting. Well, you know, our kids, they come up and they start doing stupid things, and you're like, hey. Don't do that. And they're like, either they ignore you or they ask why. Like, if you could you're like, listen. I did that when I was your age, and I ended up with 3 broken bones, and, like, I was in the hospital. Like, you don't wanna do that. I have knowledge they don't have.

Chris Dyer [00:07:15]:
Thank God employees aren't children. We can have a more, you know, equitable conversation of, like, here's what I did. Here's what we know works. This could get us into trouble. Like, sharing that knowledge is so key.

Nia Thomas [00:07:27]:
Listeners and watchers, we will make sure that there is a link in the show notes to Chris's book. So, Chris, tell us a bit about your journey to being a leader. So in in the in the introduction, I talked about you leading organizations that had thousands of employees. How did you get there?

Chris Dyer [00:07:43]:
Yeah. I don't know why. There are many leaders who are made, who are who choose to learn and do it. I think there are some people that, like, came out and were like, hey. I wanna be in charge of something. That was kind of me. Like, I was always the team captain. I was always the one organizing people.

Chris Dyer [00:08:00]:
I don't know where this came from, but I was always sort of in that role. Right? And if I wasn't in that role, I noticed as a child, I was very unhappy.

Nia Thomas [00:08:08]:

Chris Dyer [00:08:09]:
I had to learn as an adult to take a step back and allow other people. That was a real area of growth for me to let them take responsibility, let them be the leader, and me to shut up and just be along for the ride. After years years of being responsible for everything, I'm really happy to, like, take the back seat sometimes now. Right? But as a kid, like, that was a natural thing for me. And it was in that moment before I started my business. So 911 had a big impact on me. I was working for somebody else, and I was in the office very early that day at 6 AM, and I'm watching the planes hit the buildings in in real time. Interesting fact, most people, you know, on the West Coast were waking up to it already happening.

Nia Thomas [00:08:53]:

Chris Dyer [00:08:54]:
And, right, they were asleep. And so I was watching it live, which was sort of an unusual thing for people in our part of the world, And it was like someone had released a spell. It was like, you know, if we wanna go to Harry Potter, it was like someone had me under this, you know, certain spell where, like, I was doing what I was not supposed to be doing. And what that was is I was supposed to be running my own business. I was always entrepreneurial. I always wanted to be a business owner. And here I was taking the safe route because I had a mortgage and a car payment, and I'm working for somebody else, and I'm miserable.

Nia Thomas [00:09:31]:
Yeah. Okay.

Chris Dyer [00:09:32]:
But I'm safe, and everything's okay. And the second plane hit that building, and I went, oh, I'm screwing up my life. Life's too short. What am I doing? It was just this, like, incredible reminder of we don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow, and I'm not gonna sit around any longer. So I literally quit my job that week, and by November 1st, I had started my company, which I had until I sold at the end of 2021.

Nia Thomas [00:10:00]:
And tell us, what did your company do? What was your area of interest?

Chris Dyer [00:10:04]:
Yeah. So we did background checks and drug testing. And, essentially, this is very American thing, not so popular, in the UK. But we did you know, if somebody was applying for a job, you know, were they telling the truth on their CV? Were they you know, did they really go to that school? Did they do they have a criminal record that might be problematic? And, you know, there are certain types of people we don't want to be working with children or have access to your bank accounts. Right? So we did that work. And there's a if you're a private company, you have to do it privately versus if you're a public company, you get the government's database. But that's what we did, and we started with just 2 employees. And when I left, we had I had 45 direct reports and 45100 people and independent contractors working below me.

Chris Dyer [00:10:48]:

Nia Thomas [00:10:49]:
That's amazing. Yeah. I guess in the UK, my my background is in early years preschool children. So our disclosure and barring service is very, very important to us. That work is is really valuable. Talk just a little bit about your thoughts on self awareness. As everybody knows, the this podcast is about self awareness and self aware leadership specifically. How do you define self awareness?

Chris Dyer [00:11:11]:
You know, I I think I go back all the way to Socrates, which is self awareness is the notion that I don't know everything, and I probably never will.

Nia Thomas [00:11:25]:

Chris Dyer [00:11:26]:
Right? I'm gonna keep walking down a path that is infinite. In fact, I will die long before I ever get any real distance on that path, and that I am always learning. There's always something for me to discover along that path, and that there's never going to be a moment when I'm walking on that path, and I go, oh, that's it. I've learned it all. I've got it all. If if everything is figured out, I know it all. I've memorized every fact. I mean, it's just not gonna happen.

Chris Dyer [00:11:55]:
Right? But we're okay with that, and we're okay with this. It's always about learning. It's always about getting better. It's always about teaching and helping others. And I think if you every leader I've ever met where I would call them, I would sort of phrase them in the way that you you ask the question. They're they're lifelong learners. Right? They are so self aware that they I I have I have brought up Harry Potter twice now. I don't know why.

Chris Dyer [00:12:22]:
But there was a really funny line in one of the Harry Potter books where they talked to Harry's uncle, Vernon Dursley. And one of the wizard says, what you don't know would fill volumes. Right? It it would fill a library full. It was like and it was a really it was a funny, like, burn. It was a joke. But, like, what I don't know could fill a universe full of library. Right? And I I know that, and I'm okay with that. And I need my people to help me, and I need every resource I can.

Chris Dyer [00:12:53]:
And I the moment I meet someone who thinks they know it all, I I'm out. Like, where's the door? I'm gone as quickly as I can.

Nia Thomas [00:12:59]:
Yeah. And I absolutely agree with you, and that's why my book is called the self awareness superhighway because it's an ongoing journey. Absolutely agree with you. So what's the fit between self awareness and self aware leadership and culture? Because the the the research that I've done suggests that you have to have leaders who behave in in a way that they model their behavior that they want see, and that effectively drives the culture. Is that what you're finding out in the world? And and what else does does that include in terms of self awareness and culture?

Chris Dyer [00:13:34]:
Yeah. I mean so if we think about, culture in a couple different ways. Right? So the the CEO or the senior leaders, they are setting the direction. They are saying, hey. We're going over here. This is this is who we are. This is what we do. If you wanna use the full ship analogy, this is this is where we're going.

Chris Dyer [00:13:54]:
This is our path. This is our cargo. This is why we're doing what we're doing. Right? Are we delivering sugar? Are we pirates? Or whatever that thing is. Like, this is who we are. Right? And then you have the leadership in the middle, which is ultimately there to reinforce that and to help and to push that to every every part of the organization from internally to externally. And then you have the people there to hopefully be rowing the boat in the right direction and to be bringing their energy and their creativity and their strengths to that endeavor. But what's interesting is, like, learning and and all those things that we're talking about are so important, but they're, in some ways, table stakes.

Chris Dyer [00:14:38]:
And that's the minimum you gotta bring to the game. Right? That's the minimum amount of money you gotta bring to show up. This is your table stakes. You better show up and be that kind of person, because, like, my 7 pillar framework learning is not even one of those things. It's assumed you're going to be that type of person Okay. Right? To at least be good. If you wanna be great, here are the things you have to work on. But if you at least wanna be a good manager, you better be somewhere.

Chris Dyer [00:15:04]:
You better be a lifelong learner. You better be really focusing on those things to to keep your people around for any length of time.

Nia Thomas [00:15:12]:
So how do you make sure that people within your organization or your company really understand what an organization is about? How how do you make sure that the values that an organization has really feeds through from the leaders of that organization or from the strategy from your corporate strategy to your leaders to everybody else in the organization?

Chris Dyer [00:15:32]:
Yeah. So, I mean, we have to define them. We have to talk about what our values are and what our purpose is. I mean, go back to Simon Sinek's work. Right? Start with why. Why are we here, and what is it we're trying to do? And it's not to make money. That's a necessary thing that we typically need to do or fundraise if you're a, maybe, a nonprofit. But, like, there's a there's a purpose.

Chris Dyer [00:15:53]:
And so what is that purpose and what are our values? And then we have to keep talking about them. We have to hire leaders that are passionate about those values and that purpose. And then those leaders need to go hire more people that are passionate and and care about those values. And then we have to keep talking about them. It can't be, like, one time on an interview, and then we never talk about them again. There's on some wall somewhere. Right? We had our values and purpose identified, and it was on every slide internally. It was on.

Chris Dyer [00:16:26]:
We would bring it up in company meetings all the time. We would have people share why maybe something happened in the organization, and they talked about how they could use one of our values as a way to sort of interpret their response and what they would we were constantly you wanna call it marketing, you wanna call it propaganda, I don't care. But you have to be constantly educating and reminding people about this stuff, or they start creating their own realities and their own cultures and their own or bringing their own separate values, which are great. Everyone has their own value system. Right? But there's, like, the overarching company value system, and you better be connected into that somehow in a healthy way. If you, as an employee, look at your values of your company or you don't think they're living them, get out. Go. Because you're never gonna be happy.

Chris Dyer [00:17:20]:
Right? But the company has to do a good job of being very consistent in communicating.

Nia Thomas [00:17:25]:
I think what what I heard is that if you're reinforcing it both explicitly and subliminally, that helps to make sure that you're living it and you're living your values all of the time.

Chris Dyer [00:17:37]:

Nia Thomas [00:17:38]:

Chris Dyer [00:17:38]:

Nia Thomas [00:17:39]:
You mentioned hiring a few times as you were talking there. How are you finding that people are making sure that people who hold those values and have that right idea about the culture of an organization through recruitment processes?

Chris Dyer [00:17:56]:
You know, we have to be careful because what we don't wanna do is tell everyone, hey. Our values are accountability and, you know, I don't know. Whatever the things are. Let's just say accountability is one of them. And then you start asking them, well, do you care about accountability? And tell me the 5 ways that you care about accountability. Employees are just gonna weave that labyrinth to try to get the job. Right? The this is not really what we're talking about. We took the approach of, we just wanted to communicate to them.

Chris Dyer [00:18:26]:
This is what our values are. We're not asking you to regurgitate back to us that you agree. We did tell them, you need to decide if you think this is a good value system. If you want to work for an employer, whose values are these? That's up to you. But be fair warned. When you come in in the organization, we care about these, and we are going to lean on these all day long. So we didn't try to get people to, probably lie at some point. Right? Or, like or give us some crappy answers that made us feel good that we were hiring someone that way.

Chris Dyer [00:19:04]:
And and I think most importantly, we weren't filtering out people with different voices. Yeah. Right? Because I want people who think differently, who maybe have different personal values, but are okay with what the company's value. At least they know what they are, and they're okay with them, and they're willing to reinforce them every day with us, but they're gonna bring their own value set. I mean, one of my top five values is travel. That has nothing to do with anything we ever did in every company I had. Right? But, like, for me, travel's a value. Like, I'd love to get on a plane.

Chris Dyer [00:19:38]:
I'd love to meet new people. I'd love to try the food and the cultures and, like, you know, that's just something that's a personal value. That's never gonna connect to the company value, but that's okay. Right? So we wanna make sure that we're not filtering the wrong people in that situation. I think that was our that was always our fear, is that we would just get the same person over and over and over again who would just nod their head yes and lie to us and tell us what we what we wanted to hear, and then did whatever they wanted behind our backs.

Nia Thomas [00:20:11]:
Yeah. And I think that's something that organizations are are really trying to get to grips with is how do we make sure that we employ people who who will support us in delivering our values whilst we're still ensuring that we have cognitive diversity within the organization. And I think that's a really tricky, tricky to join at those lines between those needs of an organization.

Chris Dyer [00:20:32]:
Just like that long walk we mentioned, it is a struggle and it is a path, and you're never gonna get there all the way. It's just at least you're pointing somewhere and you're trying your best.

Nia Thomas [00:20:42]:
Yes. I guess you have to keep trying if that's what that's what your organization wants and that's the direction you wanna head into. So tell us about remote working. You said that you were in the world of work when remote working became a new thing. Where do you think we are now?

Chris Dyer [00:20:57]:
Well, it really depends on where you are in the world, I think, at some level. But let's talk about what's what happened, what's good. Remote work and and COVID specifically. Right? So, I mean, I took my people fully remote back in 2,008, and we hid it from everybody. And it wasn't till a few years before the COVID that we finally started admitting it because it wasn't such a a bad thing.

Nia Thomas [00:21:21]:

Chris Dyer [00:21:21]:
We always pretended to have an office somewhere and, like, you know, it was a whole thing. COVID happened, and it democratized work for people. So most managers had hybrid work. They could choose to work from home. They may had to go to a different office or go visit a client or hop on a plane. They were doing hybrid anyways, but the average employee had to go in an office, had that very structured assembly line mentality of you're at your desk at 9, you don't leave until 5, and all that stuff. Right? So we democratized it for for people and allowed so many companies and leaders to realize that their people could be wonderfully effective and get do a great job and and can continue to do that, whether it's remote or hybrid or as needed. We've seen organizations go the other direction, but I I and I know there's a lot of frustration in the in the world of remote work around this, but I would say, are more people working remotely today than they were a few years ago? Absolutely.

Chris Dyer [00:22:33]:
Has has this movement moved forward in a very positive way? Absolutely. You know? Are are people able to, like, take their kid to the doctor for an hour and come back to work and not have to take a whole day off and waste an entire day, which they could have taken a vacation and said, absolutely. Right? So I think from that perspective, it's gotten a lot better. The technology got because it had to in such a short period of time, got a lot better. So we're in a pretty good place. I mean, I never would have thought that everybody would have had a taste of remote work. Like, just about everywhere in the world got some taste, it felt like. That's that was, like, 20 years of progress in in a year.

Chris Dyer [00:23:15]:
Right? So I think overall, if I look at it, the wheels the wheels of progress move very, very slowly, and we actually got them to speed up a little bit during a short period of time.

Nia Thomas [00:23:26]:
Yeah. I was thinking, I worked for an organization back in 2004 to 2,007, and we worked in a remote way and we had PDAs that never connected until you plugged your your computer in. And we didn't really talk very much about it because everybody else was in an office. Then there was this huge gap in the middle until COVID, and then, as you say, the big bang of COVID and the digital explosion was was quite something else. How can leaders make remote workers feel part of something, make them feel part of those values in the fabric of their organization?

Chris Dyer [00:24:00]:
Well, so we talked about how to create culture, talk about culture, where that lies, but I think the biggest place where culture occurs is in meetings. Mhmm. And so this is also where we can help our people connect and feel good about the culture and be reward those behaviors that we want from from people in that way and maybe discourage those behaviors that we don't want. And that all happens in meetings. So I'll tell you right now, if you're a leader and you're having the same meeting over and over and over again, you're doing it wrong.

Nia Thomas [00:24:39]:

Chris Dyer [00:24:39]:
You keep calling a 1 hour meeting every single time or a 30 minute meeting every single time. You are screwing it up, but don't worry. I'll help you. We have the answer. I'm not gonna criticize you without giving you some suggestions. What we found was that people felt more connected when our meetings changed, and and so we did a few things. Some meetings, we democratized to where anybody could call the meeting. It wasn't just the leader could call the meeting.

Chris Dyer [00:25:09]:
Now you might ask a fellow employee to meet with you or your boss to meet with you, But really does, like, somebody just say, hey. I want to meet with everybody on the team. I'm I'm going to call the meeting. I'll invite my boss, but I'm gonna call the meeting. Unless you're running, like, scrum or something, like, that's not a very normal occurrence. And so we created this meeting called a cockroach meeting, which is 15 minutes long. It's about one topic, optional for people to attend, and anyone could call the meeting. And you always start on time.

Chris Dyer [00:25:42]:
You never go over 15 minutes. Right? In fact, the goal is to end early. We used to have about 45 cockroach meetings going on a day at the company. They averaged about 8 minutes, and anybody could call them. Right? If you invited me to a cockroach meeting in an hour and the topic was, I don't know, how do I do this thing with my podcast, and I can't come, I just tell you I can't come. I'm sorry. I got I'm already busy. I got too much work to do.

Chris Dyer [00:26:09]:
It's okay. But that person can get the information they need. So

Nia Thomas [00:26:15]:
I've got to ask, why is it called the cockroach meeting?

Chris Dyer [00:26:18]:
Ah, good. If you have a cockroach in your bathroom, it's a small problem. You may not wanna be the one who cleans it up, but it's a single small little problem we can deal with. Right? We I can quickly clean up the cockroach, throw them away, put them in the toilet, whatever. Like, it's small problem, and it's done.

Nia Thomas [00:26:34]:
Right? It. Okay. I got it.

Chris Dyer [00:26:36]:
Now there's another meeting called a tiger team meeting. Now imagine if there was a tiger in your bathroom.

Nia Thomas [00:26:42]:
Okay. Right. Yeah.

Chris Dyer [00:26:43]:
I'm Much bigger problem. Right? Now it tells everybody, long meeting, big deal, lots of support, lots of preparation, post and pre to the meeting. I mean, we're we're gonna have a handful here. This there's a tiger in there. Right?

Nia Thomas [00:26:59]:

Chris Dyer [00:27:00]:
Totally different reaction. And then we might

Nia Thomas [00:27:03]:
have sharing this with my team tomorrow. I think they'll again they'll have those 2.

Chris Dyer [00:27:07]:
Yeah. And it's and these are all in the book. And so Cockroach is great because it's like, hey. I got I just need, like, your quick little help. Just help me really quick. You know? How do I do this thing? Or or the client called, I have no idea what to do. And so what we did was we removed that them waiting for their team meeting, waiting to meet with their boss, or having to make a bunch of calls, calling their team members one at a time. Hey.

Chris Dyer [00:27:38]:
This client called I don't know how to do this thing. I don't know either. Why don't you call Jane? Call Jane. Jane, I'll do this thing. I don't know. Call Jason. They spent their whole day running around with their heads cut off trying to find a solution. Instead, invite everyone to this 15 minute meeting.

Chris Dyer [00:27:52]:
Now we all connect, collaborate. There's no how's it going, how's the weather, what your kid's up to. No. It's, hey, everyone. Thanks for being here. Client called, I don't have to do this thing. One person goes, you know what? I think one time we tried this. 3 other people go, I got no idea.

Chris Dyer [00:28:08]:
Hey. But we should probably talk to Tom and see in in IT. He might have a great idea. Okay. Cool. Now I know where I should go for my next call. Done. You don't know how empowering that is for people that they got their problem solved in 8 minutes when people are telling me it would take a week or 2 to find out what they're really supposed to do.

Chris Dyer [00:28:28]:
And your client's waiting and waiting.

Nia Thomas [00:28:31]:
And and you're right. Doing that in a hybrid way means it's pretty much instantaneous. If people are available, you all dive onto a call, you sort out the cockroach, and then you can all go back and do what you need to do.

Chris Dyer [00:28:43]:
All that should work. And then But if, let's say, you're gonna get a client who's gonna double your business next month, we might wanna call a Tiger team meeting, and this would be called by a manager or a leader. And we're gonna have an agenda, and we're gonna have, you know, hey. What do we have to do? And this department's gonna report, and this department's gonna I mean, it's a big deal. Right? Totally different focus. That could be an hour meeting. That could be an all day off-site. Right? And the so the focus is there.

Chris Dyer [00:29:12]:
Now we also had ostrich meetings, which was help me get my head out of the sand, which, of course, ostriches don't really do that, but we all know that imagery, which is just I don't know how to do something. Does anyone know how to do a pivot table in Excel? Uh-huh. Ostrich meeting at 1 o'clock. Whoever knows how to do this, please help me. I I don't know. Or and they might be like, hey. Go we'll be in the meeting. Here's the link.

Chris Dyer [00:29:33]:
You can learn it on Excel. Well, I don't yeah. But I'm having a hard time. Can someone show me? Okay. Cool. Hop on the call, whoever's there. But, also, other people are exposed to it. They go, oh, I don't know how to do a pivot table.

Chris Dyer [00:29:45]:
I would like to learn how to do that, and they hop on the call for 15 minutes. And now they just learned. Right? So we have all these people bouncing around the organization like we would in the halls of a company, collaborating information, exchanging ideas, having a moment to to to talk to other people, and we start creating the stickiness of culture through our meetings.

Nia Thomas [00:30:08]:
It was interesting as before we got onto the call, I was thinking about what is culture, and it and I was thinking it's all the bits of glue in between the strategic objectives that we set ourselves in an organization. So culture is glue, people. It's glue.

Chris Dyer [00:30:24]:
It's glue. And it and it better be sticky. It better not be that crappy post it glue. It better be, like, really good glue. Right? We want, some good stuff in there. So And then Yeah. I really think meetings are are what we need to do.

Nia Thomas [00:30:36]:
And, Chris, you said the descriptors for these type of meetings, you said they're in your remote workbook? Or They're

Chris Dyer [00:30:42]:
in both the books. Remote workbook and the new one, the Power of Company Culture second edition. They are both in there.

Nia Thomas [00:30:47]:
Amazing. So if listeners, watchers, you want to find out more, make sure you go to the link in the show notes. So, Chris, if you're new to doing this, if you're new to leading a hybrid team, what are the things that you need to do to start with? What are the things you've gotta do first to really set up your stall or set up that groundwork?

Chris Dyer [00:31:08]:
So, a few things I suggest for all hybrid remote leaders, especially. 1, make sure that we are being equal. There's some equity about how we meet. So if we're hybrid and we have some people out of the office and some people in the office, everyone should log in to their Zoom or Teams or whatever they do. I don't like it when 3 people go sit in the conference room and 2 people dial in, and the 3 people are having this side conversation before they get on and another conversation after, and the people who are outside the office don't get that. It's better if we all show up, we all have the same meeting together, and the same platform as much as as possible. Sometimes it's not logistically possible, but when everyone is pretending we're remote, essentially, we have a better outcome.

Nia Thomas [00:31:58]:
Oh, that's really interesting because it's something that we do in my organization. We do have hybrid meetings. So there may well be a room where there's 4 or 5 people, and there may be 10 people on the call. But I've never thought about it in that way. I've I'll I'll put that question to the team, see what they will think about it.

Chris Dyer [00:32:13]:
Yeah. If you have to do it that way, then just make sure the rule is let's not talk about anything about the meeting until our teammates are on board.

Nia Thomas [00:32:23]:
Yeah. I can see them.

Chris Dyer [00:32:25]:
But you will have this sort of social tie and we will a a lot of people report, and they come in. They feel like they're in the middle of the conversation. They're not starting in the beginning like everybody else is. And so now they feel disconnected. Right? And we can easily eliminate that by just changing how we're meeting. Number 2, and this is always the most controversial thing I say. I think that anyone who is leading a remote or hybrid team needs to stop having 1 on 1 calls.

Nia Thomas [00:32:55]:
Okay. Tumble over that.

Chris Dyer [00:32:56]:
Here's the exception. If someone's struggling, you're trying to coach them, they're on a PIP, I mean, they're gonna maybe get fired, there's an HR issue, Of course, go have your 1 on 1. If you're working with them directly on a project and it's just the 2 of you, of course, go have your 1 on 1. But I think that 1 on 1 call with your manager, hey. Let's, this week, talk about your goals and how you're doing and blah blah blah blah blah. First of all, those meetings are generally pretty repetitive and pointless. Your boss ends up canceling them half the time because they get busy and they push it to next week. Most people, when I say that, they roll their eyes and go, oh my gosh.

Chris Dyer [00:33:34]:
My boss cancels my 1 on 1 all the time.

Nia Thomas [00:33:36]:

Chris Dyer [00:33:37]:
And so they have that time fixated on their calendar, but then it's not valuable, or they report that it really wasn't nothing happened. Bosses, on the other hand, say they get stuck having to make all these decisions. They got their employees that come to them and say, oh, I finally get you an hour of your time. Here's the 19 things I need you to make a decision on now.

Nia Thomas [00:33:56]:

Chris Dyer [00:33:57]:
And they weren't ready for that. They don't have the information. Maybe they need to talk to other people. And so it's a really bad decision making matrix. Instead, have all of that in a team meeting. Have that why not get your so I used to get my 5 direct my, like, 5 senior people together once a week, and we would do a call together. We would all support each other on our goals. We would all talk about what we're what's working and where we are struggling and what's happening.

Chris Dyer [00:34:26]:
So as a group, it's sort of like converting from individual therapy to group therapy. Yep. Right? Yeah. Sometimes we need a therapist that that things are going bad, and we need to talk to somebody 1 on 1. But most of the time, what we need is group therapy. Right? It's better to get other people's opinions and collaborations and experiences and hear how they're dealing with things and give them support and to feel better that we're not alone in the world. That that's kinda what we need more in the in the workplace, especially in remote and hybrid. So shifting to this, let's let the team help each other.

Chris Dyer [00:35:00]:
Now we're collaborating, we're talking, I can as the boss, I could answer questions, give give answers, give decisions with the whole group there, and knowing that we're here. Or also removing gossip and politics. A lot of times people would come to my one on ones, and they were like, oh, did you know what Tom did? I I won't be the one to tell you this, but I heard Tom did blah blah blah. I don't wanna hear that stuff. You have a problem with Tom? Go deal with Tom. And if you can't get it resolved, then I will pull all 3 of us in and we'll have a meeting. But don't come and, like, play that game with me. I know what you're doing.

Chris Dyer [00:35:35]:
Like, there'll be sort of those bad behaviors sometimes. In a group setting, they don't do that.

Nia Thomas [00:35:40]:
Mhmm. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Chris Dyer [00:35:43]:
So it also takes the pressure off of the leader to be the coach and to be the one to solve all of their problems and instead puts them in the role of being a support mechanism. Mhmm. Right? Not every leader is a great coach. Not every leader has all the answer. Not every leader can do all of that. They feel overwhelmed and stretched and and just and so let the group do it. Right? Uh-huh. That also brings in transparency.

Chris Dyer [00:36:10]:
We all know what each other's goals are.

Nia Thomas [00:36:12]:
Yeah. Okay.

Chris Dyer [00:36:12]:
We all know what we're supposed to be focusing on. Right? We all know how we're doing, and so there's really good transparency there. We're not hiding anything. So that's a big shift for people. But when I was I trained, like, over 200 organizations during COVID on remote work. Mhmm. And the meeting types was their most popular thing they would add and they loved them. They begrudgingly would try the no one on one thing, and they would go kicking and screaming and then come back to me 2 weeks later and say, you've just saved me hours.

Nia Thomas [00:36:44]:
Oh, wow.

Chris Dyer [00:36:45]:
I've just got my life back. Right? I can actually get work done during the day. I'm not having to take it home with me and do it at night because I'm not on 10 back to back to back to back one on one calls all day. Yeah. So it's very empowering for the leaders.

Nia Thomas [00:36:59]:
That's an interesting thing to think about, especially when you have organizations that mandate 1 to 1 meetings. And I think, certainly, my 25 years in the world of work, I I'm indoctrinated into having these supervision sessions and 1 to 1 sessions. That's that's a lot to think about. Something that I'm interested in, your thoughts. We are hearing far more about organisations who are monitoring their staff and saying we want you to come back into the office because we want to see you. We want to know that you're doing stuff. Yes. I'm not seeing the balancing, data or the stats that says the productivity is going down and that actually people need to be seen and watched.

Nia Thomas [00:37:40]:
What are your thoughts on that issue that people have as I need to see you?

Chris Dyer [00:37:45]:
Yeah. The overwhelming data says that productivity and performance and profits all go up with remote work. Mhmm. There are examples where that is not true, but that tends to be because there's a larger cultural problem. When they say they want you back in the office because they wanna see them, watch them, all of that, that's the old command and control. That's the old, you know, I don't know how to manage correctly, so I'm gonna manage by watching you. And we we know that doesn't work. We know that doesn't isn't needed.

Chris Dyer [00:38:15]:
Now there there are absolutely good reasons to be in the office and be together. There are times when being together, creating that connection is important. There are times when the job that we do, we can do better together. Maybe we're inventing, maybe we're coding, maybe we're you know, literally, you you you gotta hold and touch the thing that we're talking about because we're trying to figure out how to make it bet. Right? I mean, no one on a Formula 1 team is working on a car is doing it remotely even though there's all this technology. I mean, they're, like, they're holding the thing. Right? So there are reasons, but most of the ones we're hearing in the news are just veiled attempts to either reduce their workforce without calling it a layoff and forcing people back, and it's just a trip because they know some people won't come back. They lose that headcount, and now they don't have to say they did a layoff.

Nia Thomas [00:39:08]:

Chris Dyer [00:39:08]:
Number 2, they just don't know how to lead people. 3, they have expensive office buildings that are empty, and they just Yeah. Some senior leaders are sitting in an office by themselves, and no one's there to tell them how good and smart they are or laugh at their stupid jokes, and they want people around. So the data overwhelmingly says it's remote work is better.

Nia Thomas [00:39:27]:
So the last question I'm gonna ask you before we say goodbye for today is what is the future of remote work?

Chris Dyer [00:39:35]:
What is the future? I think it's gonna be segmented. So there's there's the digital nomad, you know, entrepreneurial single person, not single as in married, but, like, you know, the one one woman or one man show, they've always existed. They'll continue to exist, and I think they could continue to expand because there's so many countries offering these remote work visas and things like that. So that's a population that may continue to grow and and and democratize work around the world for people to be able to say, I'm gonna go live in Thailand or Croatia or whatever. For the general population of people, there's going to be that segmentation where there are definitely employers who are remote work friendly, remote work first, hybrid, whatever that may be. It will probably be 10 or 15 years before the real data comes out that those companies absolutely kicked everyone else's butts.

Nia Thomas [00:40:32]:

Chris Dyer [00:40:33]:
Right? So you

Nia Thomas [00:40:33]:
think it's gonna be a a very much a a 50 50 kind of picture out there?

Chris Dyer [00:40:38]:
Yeah. I mean, you have you have the some really, really big companies saying that people have to come back. We can't possibly do it. You have Navita, which is like this. They make little microchips, so, like, a $1,000,000,000,000 company. And the other day, the CEO was like, I don't care if people work home work from home. Like, that's cool. He's like, they do the work.

Chris Dyer [00:40:55]:
We have good metrics. We know if they're doing a good job. I don't care where they work. That's a very liberated mind saying something like that from a $1,000,000,000,000 company. And yet we have other organizations doing not even half of that going, we can't see you. We can't possibly manage you. Right? And that's Yeah. There's there's a huge difference there.

Nia Thomas [00:41:15]:
Yeah. I think that polarity between the two opinions, I'm finding quite, I suppose, bizarre, but also interesting to watch from, the world of work and seeing how that's gonna develop. Chris, it's been a brilliant opportunity to have the conversation with you. Is there one thing, one nugget that you would like to leave with people just before we finish?

Chris Dyer [00:41:35]:
One nugget. Boy, you gave me a tough one. I think the one nugget I might leave with everyone is what you focus on grows. So if you want something good to keep happening, go focus on what's good. Go focus on what your best employees are doing, what great employees are doing. Go focus on that. Get curious and talk about that. If you focus on what everyone's doing wrong, that's just gonna get worse.

Chris Dyer [00:42:01]:
Right? So what you focus on always grows.

Nia Thomas [00:42:06]:
Amazing. Thank you very much, Chris. It's been really interesting having a conversation with you. For today, Chris Dyer, thank you so much.

Chris Dyer [00:42:14]:
Thank you.

Nia Thomas [00:42:16]:
Thank you for joining me on today's episode. Please remember to leave a rate and review on your podcast platform because a little word from you means a big deal to me. You can also sign up for my newsletter on my website, knowing self, knowing Join me next week when we discuss self aware leadership with thinkers from around the globe to generate kinder, more respectful, and creative working relationships through reflection, recognition, and regulation.

Nia Thomas [00:42:47]:
Looking forward to having you on

Chris Dyer [00:42:51]:
my learning journey.

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