EP 38: How to Cultivate Employees with Jason Lauritsen

How to Cultivate Employees

Farmers are in the business of management—they manage the growth and performance of living things. However, they do things fundamentally differently because they know that their crops will grow to their fullest potential as long as they provide an environment in which they can thrive. That is the model we need in business management. So, in this episode, Jason Lauritsen will be sharing how you can cultivate great relationships with your staff and then use those relationships to impact and motivate. It all comes down to the three keys to cultivating employees: (1) Giving people permission to care, (2) providing a structure for how to check in on your staff, not their performance, and (3) being crystal clear on expectations.

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode

  • How to cultivate staff and create a thriving environment for them to grow. (2:40)
  • The importance of understanding your employees’ needs. (10:15)
  • How to support the well-being of your staff beyond the average working hours. (14:10)

Actionable Takeaway for HR Professionals

  • Create a script for how to have a check-in with your people. (22:50)

Actionable Takeaway for Executives

  • Practice what you preach and model well-being. (23:49)

Ideas Worth Sharing

“Life is too short to work for people who don’t get it.” - Jason Lauritsen Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode

Enjoy the show? Use the Links Below to Subscribe:
















Click Here for Audio Transcript

Traci Scherck: Welcome to talent optimization so today, we are going to chat a little bit about the relationships that we have at work and how we use those relationships to impact and to motivate and cultivate our staff so.

Traci Scherck: With us today I have Jason lawrenson in Jason is a keynote speaker and funny story about Jason.

Traci Scherck: Jason and I actually met at a Wisconsin and SHRM conference I don’t know, five, six years ago, and my question to Jason was.

Traci Scherck: hey Jason i’m in a job that I love the job, but I don’t love the culture in this person that i’m working for is just how do I get motivated so i’m going to kind of you know, hand this off to Jason bouncy Jason welcome to the show and I can’t wait to dig into this.

Jason Lauritsen: yeah thanks for thanks for having me and I do, I remember that conversation, and you know you, you were just we were just kind of resetting on that, as we were warming up here and I, the thing that I.

Jason Lauritsen: You know I get a lot of people, for whatever reason, I think, maybe it’s because of being an HR in the past, or because of my career path, or whatever I get a lot of people ask me questions like that.

Jason Lauritsen: And I know that you know my my response tends to be not what they’re expecting right they’re expecting some kind of some kind of magic.

Jason Lauritsen: amazing advice that will help them like get their manager to pull their head out of the sand and suddenly become a better manager and most often and I think, maybe this was the gist of the conversation, you and I had.

Jason Lauritsen: The feedback or my my advice is often like go find a different manager to work for like life is too short to work for people that don’t get it and there’s plenty of people that do get it so go find somebody that does and life will get a lot better.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, and I think one of the things that I learned in that moment and kind of as we went forward is guess what every single one of us is created.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely perfectly the way we are but we’re not create a perfectly for every job and we’re not created perfectly for every single environment.

Traci Scherck: You know so as we talked today about those leaders that we’re working with what are some of those key things that are important to them about really cultivating their staff and map relationship.

Jason Lauritsen: Well that’s a yeah that’s a big question and I think the.

Jason Lauritsen: You know you really hit the heart of it, which is.

Jason Lauritsen: You know, helping people understand like you know we have to go back I one of the things my work.

Jason Lauritsen: I realized for years and years I spent a decade in corporate HR I have spent time you know a lot of time consulting and writing and railing against broken work processes.

Jason Lauritsen: that’s kind of been a theme for a lot of my a lot of my career has been, how do we unstuck work, and that was because my early work experiences were terrible I worked for terrible bosses.

Jason Lauritsen: and terrible just overall terrible experiences and I knew that this like this can’t be right, this has there has to be something better than this, and so I set out on this sort of crusade or was called to this work, to try to.

Jason Lauritsen: fix things and that led me into a like 10 years in corporate HR where I tried to fix it from the inside, from one organization and then today I spend most of my time on the outside, trying to help managers and organizations fix it but, at the heart of this is a.

Jason Lauritsen: What i’ll call a sort of a paradigm issue or a mindset issue and i’ve been talking a lot about this lately, because once I once I realized this or recognize this, it was a big deal, and that is that the model of management that we still that we’re running today modern management.

Jason Lauritsen: is based on this, you know this sort of core idea that work is that works, a contract with employees that we pay employees, for you know we sort of exchange money for output So work is a contract and people are a.

Jason Lauritsen: sort of a means of production of work output and so when you think about those two things and I know that sounds very non romantic non humanistic non HR ish.

Jason Lauritsen: But, but when you think about all of the processes and programs, we have internally the way we manage you think about performance appraisals and job descriptions and all these other things that we do to people it’s really oriented around making sure that.

Jason Lauritsen: You know we’re getting our money’s worth out of these people and that they’re that they’re doing what we’re paying them to do.

Jason Lauritsen: And when performance is off we try to fix the person this broken person we try to fix them we try to make them this you know it’s like fixing a piece of machinery and what I came to realize, is that the word you used was the right one cultivating.

Jason Lauritsen: is exactly the right word and I realized that I grew up in I grew up in small town iowa.

Jason Lauritsen: out in a farm I grew up actually outside of a small town in iowa on a farm surrounded by farmers and.

Jason Lauritsen: it hit me that in this, I mean it hit me much later in life even having grown up but that farmers are in the business of management, they manage the growth and performance of living things.

Jason Lauritsen: But they do things so differently so fundamentally differently, like they know they assume that.

Jason Lauritsen: They know these seeds they put in the ground these crops, they plant are genetically hardwired to grow, they have everything they need to grow and manifest into the.

Jason Lauritsen: The best matt most maximized version of itself as long as it gets what it needs to grow and no obstacles come in, like insects, or whatever it is sort of interfere with growth, so the farmers job is just to facilitate.

Jason Lauritsen: and enable that growth to create an environment work and maximize, and that is that’s the job of management that’s what management that’s the model we need and so really.

Jason Lauritsen: we’ve got a we’ve got a the paradigm shift is from this production mindset that management has been operating on for 100 years.

Jason Lauritsen: And shifting over to what I call a cultivation mindset, where we do exactly what you talked about you realize that people have everything they need.

Jason Lauritsen: If we put them in the right situation, give them what they need they’re going to perform and if they’re not it’s not their fault, it is our fault.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, and one of the things you don’t see farmers do is go out in the field pick the seed up shake it off, make sure it’s growing and ask it 7000 questions, then try to pack it back into the dirt again.

Traci Scherck: that’s right.

Jason Lauritsen: Right you’re not standing on the edge of the field yelling at those plants to grow faster or grow differently.

Jason Lauritsen: or giving them pep talks even like they’re trying to motivate them externally it’s like no they’re going to grow that’s what they’re that’s that’s default setting their coding is growth and performance.

Jason Lauritsen: just get out of the way, make sure they have what they need clear out the obstacles when they show up protect protect to them so that they can do what they were born to do and you’d be amazed by what happens.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely and one of the things farmers do really well is they know exactly what seeds are going to go grow really well in that climate.

Traci Scherck: And they know what is specifically needed, so you know, and I think that you know, most of our listeners are familiar with predictive index and that’s really what we’re doing when we look at the job assessment is we’re saying hey.

Traci Scherck: What type of environments and what type of kind of behavioral traits to individuals need to grow and then we’re matching the people to that job assessment so that they can grow and then we have the way.

Jason Lauritsen: that’s right that’s right it’s in I mean PI, is a perfect example of that because.

Jason Lauritsen: it’s a great point that farmers, the thing farmers, they know a lot about the individual plants that they’re working with right they know the biology they know the science they know the optimal growing conditions they know when.

Jason Lauritsen: is ideal to plant they know what kind of soil needs they have what kind of whatever and that’s really what pi does that for us in a lot of ways right it helps us.

Jason Lauritsen: match the right seat to the right soil type right if we’re going to stay with that analogy and put the right people in the right job, but then it also helps us as managers and leaders think about.

Jason Lauritsen: You know, understanding, their particular needs, I mean I was talking with someone this morning about.

Jason Lauritsen: You know the the this whole transition that we’re living through in terms of of the evolution, to the new the new normal of work, whatever that means the new world of work and.

Jason Lauritsen: She is someone who desperately craves being in person with people like she desperately wants to be in the office, because she gets so much energy off of in person.

Jason Lauritsen: interaction and yet you know we’re now increasingly living in a world where in person interaction is being highly undervalued and so we’re having a lot, you know a lot of just it’s a very different world and so.

Jason Lauritsen: If you don’t recognize that this person needs that and find a way to get that for her even if she’s in a remote setting or a distributed work environment if you can’t fill that bucket.

Jason Lauritsen: she’s always going to underperform she’s always going to be disappointed and so.

Jason Lauritsen: It is really about understanding, not only the overall matching to the right place, but then really making sure you understand their needs and can and can deliver to those individual needs of each individual once they’re in the role as they’re growing and performing.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely and i’m just going to go back to our farmer analogy again because I think it’s a great one right.

Traci Scherck: there’s times, where the environment doesn’t necessarily provide what’s needed we’re in the middle of a drought or whatever else right, but yet we’re going to put the sprinklers out to ensure that they get enough water.

Traci Scherck: And you know when we know specifically what our employees need and that’s what I love about the behavioral assessments, because it will specifically tell us here’s what your employee needs are you doing it and let’s reflect on it right.

Traci Scherck: You know that we can really look at that and say.

Traci Scherck: Okay, now we know what we need, but we also know what we need to stop doing, because just because we may need that as a manager doesn’t need doesn’t necessarily mean that our employees do that.

Jason Lauritsen: Absolutely right and, and so I think I will I will sort of.

Jason Lauritsen: I think we need to expand into that so there’s there’s a piece of this that’s around.

Jason Lauritsen: We go so wrong so often, and again I mean the same person this morning was telling me how.

Jason Lauritsen: she’s engaged in this thing with her boss, where they’re you know they’re going back and forth and her boss thinks like working from home in perpetuity is the greatest thing ever.

Jason Lauritsen: And she’s like No, it is not the greatest thing ever you know, like but it’s because her boss is projecting her needs or assumptions on everyone else was something that gets in our way So yes.

Jason Lauritsen: But the other thing that if we if we take it, then a step further, is.

Jason Lauritsen: The difference in the farming analogy, and I think why we have to extend it to the idea of cultivation, more broadly, is that.

Jason Lauritsen: You know, with plants and you think about plants and fields right there’s a very it’s a much more simple equation right it’s a handful of needs and essentially all of the all of the factors are out in the open your they’re known and you can see them and they’re sort of.

Jason Lauritsen: Whereas with human beings it’s a lot more complicated because it’s like.

Jason Lauritsen: You know, we only get to see into a little part of their lives and we get to see sort of how performance is manifesting in that part of their lives and so.

Jason Lauritsen: Even when we have things like pi and some of those tools that tells us part of the story that tells part of the story about what we need to do when they’re clocked into work.

Jason Lauritsen: But the beauty of humans that’s different than you know plants or you know that kind of living is a weekend talk to them, we can.

Jason Lauritsen: monitor, we can have these conversations about what’s going on and what their needs are, and I think honestly this, this is why I, you know i’m really bullish about what we’ve seen happen around well being.

Jason Lauritsen: about how you know, we had well being sort of wrapped in this corporate wellness Program.

Jason Lauritsen: packet and tucked away in the corner and we bring it out once in a while to peek at it to make ourselves feel like we’re doing something nice and then we put it away again.

Jason Lauritsen: And well being got thrust into the forefront, because suddenly it became really evident that, like the stuff that happens in all parts of our lives, this stuff that happens.

Jason Lauritsen: You know the tapping does individually, how we feel how well or unwell, we are in it as human beings in our entirety of our life has an enormous impact on how much of my capability talent.

Jason Lauritsen: Resources I can offer to you as my employer and so, if you don’t go upstream and cultivate and try to think about my needs as a human being in relationship or health or financial or spiritual or whatever that that looks like.

Jason Lauritsen: you’re going to pay the consequences, and so I think it’s a great thing that we’ve brought well being to the forefront, and I think well being actually.

Jason Lauritsen: is probably the model for management going forward at least that’s one of the things that that.

Jason Lauritsen: i’m advocating for is that sort of well being moves out ahead of everything, even ahead of performance I think in terms of if we want to maximize performance we’ve got to be serious about well being of the whole human.

Traci Scherck: And I think so much of well being is also just the knowing right, I know, one of the things we were kind of joking about as we were getting warmed up was.

Traci Scherck: You know, one of the things that covid has brought forward is i’ve been serenaded with twinkle twinkle little star I know cats names I know the dog that sleeping in the corner.

Traci Scherck: You know I know all those things that are happening with my clients and employees that I never knew before because guess what life is happening 24 seven.

Traci Scherck: And not just those eight hours that we’re working because you know we bring the whole person to work.

Traci Scherck: And when we know what’s going on, you know.

Traci Scherck: And are curious about that so we’re that individuals comfortable, we can then help to navigate some of that well being and some of its you know within the work and some of its not right so some of its within that our talent pathways inside of our organization.

Traci Scherck: And some of it is just knowing what’s happening so that we can be aware of it, and also adapt as well, so I guess what are your thoughts on that.

Jason Lauritsen: I think it’s even I think it’s even farther than that, I would say that you know when we go resetting back to the production versus cultivation mindset and model of management.

Jason Lauritsen: You know, in the production model that we ran you know HR got sort of sucked in to be an unwitting accomplice to this whole this whole setup of production, and so we had things like.

Jason Lauritsen: You know you don’t bring your personal life to work you don’t become friends or become too close to the people that you supervisor that you work with.

Jason Lauritsen: You know all of this stuff work related became a sort of i’m doing air quotes with my fingers work related what’s work related what’s not you leave your baggage at the door.

Jason Lauritsen: All of this stuff is built around the idea that, like no you’re just a means of production employee.

Jason Lauritsen: I don’t need all of that nonsense just come in here do this stuff and then go home and I don’t want to know about the rest of that the problem is.

Jason Lauritsen: That now we’ve come to realize, not only do we want to know.

Jason Lauritsen: But I think we need to be more aware and actively involved in supporting the well being of people beyond those work hours cultivation sort of helps us recognize, you know I.

Jason Lauritsen: i’ve been talking a lot about well being lately, and they keep using you know, I have a lot of examples I fall I go back to, but I think.

Jason Lauritsen: We all know this at a personal fundamental level so.

Jason Lauritsen: you’ll like on the day I remember in my early 20s I did a you know I participated in a starter marriage i’m kind of a slow learner on things, and so that was my warm up marriage.

Jason Lauritsen: And I remember when it was falling apart was very young, it was falling apart, and I was a hot mess, like, I could not.

Jason Lauritsen: I couldn’t concentrate I couldn’t think I didn’t care about anything other than what was going on there and there’s a lot more to the story i’m not going to share with you today it’s not that kind of podcasts but.

Jason Lauritsen: It was it, I was distracted so I took days off from work because I knew I couldn’t do anything.

Jason Lauritsen: Right, you know we all know what it feels like to try to work when we’re sick, I mean when I was a work hard play hard guy early in my career to, and so I a lot of days I do work i’d go out.

Jason Lauritsen: With my friends to the bar and then i’d show up hung over the next day, and when you’re hung over you don’t do your best work when you’re.

Jason Lauritsen: Trying to educate your kids at home, at the same time you don’t do your best work when your marriage relationship is strained or your caregiving you can’t do your best work because.

Jason Lauritsen: Like half of your resources are being pulled to other things, your energy your attention you’re just trying to survive half the time and so when I show up to work when I clock into my PC when I get on that that zoom meeting or I show up to the hospital, whatever it is.

Jason Lauritsen: 50% of what I have to give or 60% or 70% is already gone it’s already spoken for it’s already depleted, so no matter how great your talent optimization optimization program is.

Jason Lauritsen: If i’m showing up with only 40% to offer 30% offer you can optimize all you want, but you’re never going to get more than 30 to 40% unless you help me resolve my well being right.

Jason Lauritsen: All right, so I think, so I think organizations can’t it’s not just about even knowing, we have to get really comfortable having conversations.

Jason Lauritsen: But if an employee is struggling with whatever it is a kid you know some to do with their

Jason Lauritsen: marriage is struggling or they’ve got some other health issues or whatever like we should not only want to know, but really be actively involved in wanting to support them, because it is it ultimately comes back to a performance issue for us.

Jason Lauritsen: And so they’re not whole and well and thriving they can ever give us their best.

Traci Scherck: Right absolutely I think that this is where we get into the conversations to how do we do it right.

Traci Scherck: Because I know we’ve had so many conversations about hey, we know that these things are going on, we know that there’s cycles of life.

Traci Scherck: And as those cycles of life are happening, how do we make it.

Traci Scherck: Okay, the individuals can have these conversations.

Traci Scherck: And yet, at the same time, be able to handle the thing and have some grace with handling the thing and then also know I don’t have to worry about the specific job that’s happening right now, and yet there is a performance aspect of it, so how do we do an anvil i’m really curious.

Traci Scherck: about your take on that.

Jason Lauritsen: One I think that’s, that is, the that’s the question and we’ve convinced ourselves that.

Jason Lauritsen: Again, and this is actually it’s it’s generally in defense of the production model that we’ve built we’ve convinced ourselves you can’t do both right don’t get too close, because if you get too close you get soft.

Jason Lauritsen: And then you stop worrying about production or you start worrying stop worrying about performance and it I don’t buy that at all because i’ve seen it i’ve seen it both happen both and so there’s two.

Jason Lauritsen: Two or three things off the top of my head that I would say, are really important in terms of, we can only get so deep but number one.

Jason Lauritsen: If you’re an HR leader or you’re an organizational leader, the first thing you have to do is, you have to give people permission to care.

Jason Lauritsen: We have, we have to have an explicit conversation and give people explicit permission as managers.

Jason Lauritsen: Like it’s okay it’s okay to care it’s okay to ask questions Okay, if your people need to talk to you about.

Jason Lauritsen: stuff like their relationships falling apart like you’re not there, you know.

Jason Lauritsen: People will say well i’m not a counselor i’m not their counselor this isn’t about being a counselor it’s about being a decent human being about caring it’s like thinking like.

Jason Lauritsen: What would I do if this was my best friend if this was someone I was really close to and they were having this going on how would I support them.

Jason Lauritsen: Like that be, that person like be that person so give them permission to care number one because half the time if you just demonstrate care.

Jason Lauritsen: ask a few questions and listen and let them just talk that alone goes a long ways knowing somebody cares will actually listen and wants to help.

Jason Lauritsen: can go a long ways towards someone feeling like there’s hope feeling like they can do something that sort of thing so that’s number one.

Jason Lauritsen: Number two once you give people permission to care, give them a basic structure and expectation around how to check in with their people.

Jason Lauritsen: Really basic stuff and check ins are different than one on one conversations one on one conversation should be happening regularly too, but those are more focused on performance.

Jason Lauritsen: check ins are checking in on the humans and there’s a lot of different ways to do this, how are you in fact that I have a I have a.

Jason Lauritsen: cheat sheet on how to check in at my website, we can put the information in the.

Jason Lauritsen: Show notes, I can go check it out, but it’s just a downloadable basic thing, how do you check in but it’s you check in with the human, how are you.

Jason Lauritsen: how’s your head how’s your heart how’s your health there’s lots of different ways to do it, but you ask a question and it’s not about performance, not about how you coming on that project it’s not about any of that’s how are you and finding out and just listening.

Jason Lauritsen: and asking follow up to know how they are so that’s The second thing The third thing where it connects to performance.

Jason Lauritsen: Is that we have to get, and this is something that seems so obvious, but we do so poorly is, we have to get crystal clear on expectations.

Jason Lauritsen: that’s where 90% of performance failures can be tracked back to a lack of clarity about what is expected and it’s not just what is expected in terms of I expect you to produce.

Jason Lauritsen: You know 1500 widgets during this cycle or expect you to accomplish these things but there’s also clarity about how.

Jason Lauritsen: sort of this is how we go about doing this is how we work and that can be behavioral expectations, it can be expectations and sort of work, quality, whatever that is.

Jason Lauritsen: The golden rule of management that I preach is if it matters write it down.

Jason Lauritsen: So get crystal clear if it matters to performance or how you’re going to think about measure performance you write it down because, when people know what’s expected of them.

Jason Lauritsen: They know that you care about them and you’re checking in on on them in terms of the human part of it, they know like that that.

Jason Lauritsen: You know you’re checking in and you’ll help them win things with the stuff that really matters to get them feeling more well and more and more thriving in their life generally.

Jason Lauritsen: guess what they’ll go make happen the stuff that that you’ve decided to make happen you don’t have to do a lot about that, and when they get stuck they’ll come ask you for help, because you know they know trust you and they know you care about them.

Jason Lauritsen: three simple things do those three things and the rest of the stuff will get a lot easier.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, because that’s developing that emotional loyalty right.

Traci Scherck: For sure that that’s back and forth it’s built on trust we’ve got a great relationship.

Traci Scherck: that’s built there and then from there, we know that we can the manager then knows hey I can trust them to get that thing done that I don’t have to spend my time there either I can go over and do this other thing.

Traci Scherck: Thank you so much for those three steps and really clarifying that you know so as we kind of start to close what I love about those three steps is it’s crystal clear and.

Traci Scherck: You know, we have two different kind of listeners and our podcast and so i’m going to have you maybe rephrase this a bit from our whole.

Traci Scherck: conversation but what’s one key actionable takeaway for our.

HR listeners.

Jason Lauritsen: I would say, I mean, I think.

Jason Lauritsen: actionable I would say, probably the most powerful thing you could do is create a script template script for managers, for how to have a check in with their people and in in built into that is where you give them permission.

Jason Lauritsen: To have the conversation you clarify that it’s really about checking in on the people you let them know this is not about performance do not ask about performance.

Jason Lauritsen: This isn’t about a you know, an update meeting it’s about checking in on the person understanding, where they’re at and then offering asking how can I help.

Jason Lauritsen: that’s it if you were to create that create it and get it out to your people to your managers given permission to do it and give them a way to do it you’ll be amazed by how much of an impact that will have.

Traci Scherck: BONUS points are for you modeling it and showing that it’s okay to do it.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely absolutely.

Traci Scherck: And then what’s that takeaway for our for our CEOs and our in our executive listeners.

Jason Lauritsen: I think that’s what you just said, actually is money for the executives I think it’s more important for the executives to practice what they preach right to to walk the talk when it comes to.

Jason Lauritsen: Well, being you need to model well being you need to model what it looks like to care for people.

Jason Lauritsen: The executives at the top of the organization often are the people whose well being and performance are most overlooked.

Jason Lauritsen: Because we just assume that they’re fully cooked and they’re capable and they don’t need to be cared for and I know I know they’re struggling from conversations i’m having with them, because of the burden they’re carrying as well.

Jason Lauritsen: So as executives as a CEO care for your people show them what it looks like.

Jason Lauritsen: You know, ask them do the check in with them prioritize their well being get crystal clear on what you expect of them.

Jason Lauritsen: Because through that then they understand what that looks like and then they can cascade that down to their people and so really starts with you make it, you know show them what it looks like and feels like and then stand back and watch.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely that collaboration is a huge piece of this being successful, so thank you so much for sharing with us today Jason and working our listeners find you.

Jason Lauritsen: easiest places my website just Jason Lawrence dot cp,e, you can i’m sure you know, look that up if you can spell my name which you can find in the show notes or description.

Jason Lauritsen: punch my name into Google you’ll find lots of ways to find me my email is Jason at Jason lauridsen dot come, if you want to reach out directly i’d love to hear from you.

Traci Scherck: awesome thanks so much and be sure to join us within our talent optimization foundation program as well, where we do have our webinars twice a month that really dig a bit deeper into each of these topics so thanks so much for being with us today.