Facing uncertainty can be challenging – being a business owner facing uncertainty is tougher.
Red Direction helps you [fast track and] grow your business – authentically, pragmatically, and resiliently.
Starting the conversation:
In this interview, Jeffrey Harry, Positive Psychology Play Keynote Speaker, discusses how to have more fun by expanding our viewpoint to ensure we walk the talk, work on conflict, and keep initiatives on time. His viewpoints touch on the biggest issues companies face leadership teams look to the future about how to support, develop, and engage every person in the organization. Listen in with host Jess Dewell as she discusses with Harry how he is instilling more play into our everyday work.
How do you build high-functioning teams? Jeffrey Harry, Positive Psychology Play Keynote Speaker, discusses how teams require psychologically safe workspaces, allies, and intentional conversation to achieve more.
Host: Jess Dewell
Guest: Jeff Harry
ANNOUNCER 00:05 This is Uncharted, a series of candid conversations about facing uncertainty. When we are called upon to be courageous, the strength of our leadership is tested, Red Direction has developed the Fast Track Your Business program to help you stay aligned to your business’s true north. Jess Dewell is your guide, just brings you a 20-year track record of Business Excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your path comes from consistently working from the special place your unique true north. Now, here’s Jess.
Jess Dewell: 00:39 Everybody, welcome to this program this Uncharted where I am talking to Jeff Harry. And it’s really important that not only are we talking about the business side of things, and how we’re growing our business, what you hear from all of those business leaders, founders and owners are the things that challenge them and that they’ve worked through and guess what Harry and I are going to talk about. We’re going to take that and we’re going to take that work further and talk about oh, you know, you’ll just have to wait and see. So beyond that, we’re going to go into some of the soft skills into the importance of communication. And the reason I have Jeff share it. Yeah, let me try that again. The reason I have Jeff Harry on the show is because he’s combining positive psychology and play. And he’s with teams and organizations to navigate difficult conversations. Not only does this help companies, leadership teams address their biggest challenges by embracing a play-oriented approach to work. It also helps us show up differently together to become a high-performing team to understand what is healthy and not what is normal and not what is productive and not and not productive, that we can measure only the productive in that we get to create we get to problem solve. And, you know, I have to tell you a little bit more about Jeff, he was selected by bamboo HR and engagingly as one of the top 100 Hr influencers of 2020. Not only that, he’s been featured in The New York Times Mashable and Upworthy.
Jeff, I am so glad to have you on Uncharted with me today as part of the Bold Business Podcast.
Jeff Harry Whoo, let’s go. I’m excited. Let’s go. Let’s go.
Jess Dewell Ah, so we’re gonna just jump right in. We’re gonna jump in. And, you know, anywhere in your career from when you were in corporate to now leading your company? What’s a challenge that you faced that required difficult conversation? And how did you show up? How did you know that that was the key?
Jeff Harry 02:52 I think any, any challenge that I’ve had at a company where we needed to evolve or grow or learn from a mistake, had to difficult conversation had to be had, or multiple difficult conversations. I don’t think you can create a psychologically safe workspace without having difficult conversations, right? And I think a lot of times, we talk a lot about being like, be your authentic self come to work and be your authentic self. And this is like, what does that even mean? Like, what does that mean? Because, because you say it, but I don’t feel it. I don’t feel like it actually show up as me. I don’t feel as if I can disagree with my boss when they have a really bad idea, you know, but actual psychologically safe workspaces where you can do that higher productivity, higher morale, lower turnover. And why is that because people are able to practice actually having a hard conversation with each other? And they know a lot of times that they’re not attacking each other. They’re simply attacking the conflict together, instead of doing it alone. Oh, okay. Hang on, we have to stay right there.
Jess Dewell: 04:10 This shows up in social justice work as well. People make mistakes, people aren’t typically the problem.
Jeff Harry 04:18 Yeah.
Jess Dewell: 04:19 Right. And that’s what I heard you just say in a different way. And so I want you to repeat that, again, in your own words, because the importance of what that means that the people we work with aren’t the problem. They’re there. We’re the team that gets to tackle the problem together. However, you said that was brilliant. And I think that that is a place to spend a little bit more time and dissect for our audience. Yeah. Because I think what I what I meant by that is like, are we attacking each other? Or are we addressing the conflict that is separate from us? Right. You know, and I think a lot of times, we, you know, my friend Eric Bailey always says you either go into a conversation either to understand or to be right
Jeff Harry 05:00 But you can’t do both. And everyone’s trying to do both or just trying to be right. And if you’re going into a conversation trying to be right, you shouldn’t have that conversation, you’re not ready to actually have it. You know, and I think a lot of times we tell these stories as if we’re the hero in our own story. And everyone else is the villain, because it just fits with, you know, our storyline. And we have to be, we have to be a little bit more mature about it, we have to be like, where do we want it? To get to? We have to be betrayer. I know, where do we actually want to get to together? Yeah, where I am trying to come from a place of empathy. And I’m actually practicing active listening, where I’m not wait, that’s simply waiting for you to finish. So I can respond. But I’m listening to you actually, what you have to say. And then I’m reflecting back what you have to say, so that we make sure we’re on the same page.
Jess Dewell: 05:57 All right. You know, it’s interesting, because all of the conversations that we’ve been having recently on the podcast, have included some element of active listening. And I’m curious, do you have ideas or thoughts about what is making that so important right now?
Jeff Harry 06:16 Wait, ideas about why
Jess Dewell: 06:17 Yeah. Are there triggers? Are there changes? Are there trends out there in the world? That it’s like, oh, there’s something to this active listening we’ve been hearing about for decades, and we’re gonna do something now.
Jeff Harry 06:29 It’s, it’s, it’s so hilarious, because it’s like, it’s what we learned as kids. You know, be kind. Be gentle, be understanding, you know, I was just in a clubhouse room the other day where they were like, how do we teach our kids to be more kind, and I had to hop on the stage and was like, we have it all wrong. It’s the kids that are teaching us how to be kind because we’ve forgotten it, we’ve, we what we have to realize is what, what historical trauma have we experienced, right? at work? And what are our triggers, so that when we’re actually going into a conversation, and someone says something that reminds you of like, some toxic person you interacted with at your last job, that you don’t get triggered, and you start attacking that person thinking they’re Chad from your old job, because they’re not, you know, we have to, we have to deep impact a lot of that. So like, recognizing your triggers, actually practicing active listening, you know, showing up to, to understand instead of trying to be right, you know, not assuming so much assumptions, so many assumptions like this, that this is, this is how this person feels, why don’t you be curious as my friend Lauren Yo, is talks about? Right? Why don’t you be curious and actually ask them where they actually stand, right? I recently was in a conversation, I lean more politically to the left and this person that I was talking with, heavily on the right, and she is like this pretty known well, YouTuber, you know, and we hopped on her YouTube Live, and the whole goal was to try to understand each other. We were on the, we were on YouTube Live for three and a half hours. And what I learned from that was like, Don’t assume don’t conflate someone else’s ideas with her ideas of being like you all are in it together, you know, and actually come from a place of empathy and understanding, because a lot of the pain that they’re suffering, you are also suffering, too. And you can connect on that.
Jess Dewell: 08:31 So I want to talk about the fear. There’s a fear of difficult conversation. Oh. And I think about that because it doesn’t matter where we’re at, we have a fear of repercussion. And with your HR background, you know, I get that. There, there are things that a company has to do yet, there are things companies that don’t do. And that’s something that you and I share in common. We’re talking about the messy parts of work, we’re talking about how when they’re messy, they don’t necessarily stop or take away, they can actually be additive. And so how do you encourage leadership teams to think about things from a place of, it’s okay, that we have fear? When we know where we’re going, and we’re clear about it, we can make it through. Is there more to it than that?
Jeff Harry 09:26 Yeah, I mean, I’m my friend Keisha put me on to an acronym for FEAR, which is False Evidence Appearing Real. And, you know, I think from that standpoint, first off, we tell a really great story that prevents us from taking the risk right? Now, the risk actually might be true, you might have that difficult conversation, and you might get fired from it. It’s probably very unlikely, but I don’t know your situation, right.
So you have to obviously be like and know… Where, and no, but here’s where focusing when you are having a difficult conversation and not attacking someone’s character, but actually addressing behavior. When you’re talking to someone, you’re like, hey, Chad, you know, when you’re in meetings, and you cut off Jess, and Jeff, in meetings, the impact you’re having is you’re communicating to us that you don’t want us to speak. Is that your intent? Because that’s a different way of saying it than being like, Chad, you’re a horrible person, you know, you’re a toxic person, and I want I hate you, right?
So we have to, again, be focusing on addressing behavior and how to attack and character. Then secondly, and I talk a lot about this of like, I do it from a play standpoint, you know, because I consider play the opposite of perfection. And perfection is like rooted in shame and ego. And we’re always trying to be like, well, what, what are the perfect words to say, in order to have navigate this conversation? There are no perfect words, you’re gonna make mistakes, you’re gonna make so many mistakes. But what is play? Play is messy. Play is experimental. Play is curious, you know, when, when I’ve facilitated conversations around race, you know, when people are like being racist by accident, like just microaggression just being curious and being like, Oh, I didn’t know that was offensive, I’m now learning. It’s okay to have those mistakes as part of it. Because one thing I keep saying all the time at work is, in football, you practice all week for a three-hour game, but in work, you had no practice, no practice and having a hard conversation, no practice and how to manage your lead.
You know, how many managers do you know that have gotten promoted? Because they did the last job? Well, but they are horrible managers, because, and they have no, they have no training in it. So of course, this manager then can facilitate a difficult conversation between two individuals or between themselves and someone else they’ve never practiced before. So when we’re running our workshops, it’s, we’re creating a playground, or a practice field where you can practice. How does it feel? How does it feel to sit in the awkwardness? What am I exactly going to say? Let me try that. Oh, no, that doesn’t feel right. But let me try this, okay, maybe this is so that when you actually leave our workshop, you’re like, I can do this, I can actually do this, this is not going to be as hard as I thought it would be.
Jess Dewell: 12:23 I find this fascinating because it’s true. And I get brought into fixed culture, I get brought in to break through growth barriers. And there to tend, actually, that’s not true. I get brought in to, to attack and get through growth barriers. And it turns out, it’s all about the culture, every single time, every single time. Because the, the, the talent that we have, doesn’t fully show up. Because of those, I call them unwritten agreements, do you have a phrase for that, that you use? That’s different than an because under agreements? It’s what we do, not what we say?
Jeff Harry Yeah.
Jess Dewell Yeah, right. And I don’t know if you have a phrase like that, when you’re talking about play. And when you were, when you were giving the example about the meeting, and the behaviors that we have. So as a, as a person that carries authority in an organization, and even and, and maybe more importantly, as a person who doesn’t carry authority in an organization? How do we fully show up in a way that we’re not getting burned, yet, we can still evoke change because we happen to have an awareness that we know could help? And it doesn’t matter if it’s the higher level or the lower level, we see it and we want to help How do we do that?
Jeff Harry You have to identify who your allies are, who are the people that actually agree with you. And then when you’re doing that, then you approach it from a standpoint of impact, right? Hey, for example, when we’re I’m running a workshop called dealing with toxic people at work through play with my friend Gary, were right. And we were like, you know, when Chad, I know Chad, for example. It’s been really toxic. Now, if you go to your boss, and you just tell him that that’s not really helpful. But if you go and go, Hey, you know, Chad, I know he brings in about a million dollars a year in revenue because usually, they’re the brilliant jerk, you know, and Simon Sinek talks a lot about this of like, the Navy SEALs will never take the brilliant jerk, regardless of how much how athletic how strong how smart the person is, because it destroys the team. So when you go to then you’d be like, I know Chad is, you know, bringing in a million dollars, but he also caused for people to quit last year, which cost us $1.5 million. That’s the impact that’s happening. Are we okay with this? Are we okay with this affecting your bonus and my bonus, you know, when you’re speaking and from that standpoint, you know, again, talking about impact, that’s how it actually is presented in a way that is much more powerful than just simply complaining for the sake of company.
Jess Dewell: 15:00 Oh, um, you know, that’s interesting. Cy Wakeman. Is this, is this … You know CY?
Jeff Harry 15:07 Yeah. She’s awesome. Yeah.
Jess Dewell: 15:09 Okay, cuz I’m in her life is Messy Mastermind for this year. And I’m loving the work that she’s doing. And she actually talks about the detriment of the open door policy. Because what has been found is it’s a complaint department. Yeah, complaints don’t help. And what I hear you saying is, so I’m building on what I’ve learned, and what you’re bringing to the table. And what I’m going to reflect back to you is that I’m hearing it’s important to practice. Look, I’m practicing one of the things too, by the way, reflection back, make sure I understand. It’s important to practice. It’s also important to recognize if it’s weird, it’s probably the way forward.
Jeff Harry 15:50 Yeah, exactly.
Jess Dewell: 15:51 I’ve kind of been hearing you since that. And if I say that, what does that like? For you?
Jeff Harry 15:56 Yeah, like, if it’s uncomfortable, yeah. Like, if it’s something both exciting and scary, it’s probably the place where you need to be going, right? And I think there’s the other point of Oh, was I gonna say? You have to recognize as a team leader, where your responsibility lies. So here are the questions that I would put onto a team leader, right? To see A, do you have a psychologically safe workspace? How do you find that out? Ask your staff, do they feel comfortable saying anything to you, you know, in the workplace? Ask also ask your staff, what’s the culture? Like? How would you describe the culture? What are the unwritten rules that we actually haven’t written down? Right? And then another thing that you could ask that’s a really great question is, what is something you’d like to share that you’re actually scared to share with me? And do that in a meeting. You know, or do that, you know, one-on-one and see how many people actually tell you? Because if you can’t even ask those questions, you don’t have a psychologically safe workspace. Ask yourself, what am I have that?
Jess Dewell: 17:08 And so I’m going to flip that around to not only from the team leader, I’m going to flip that around to every single person in a company. Can you feel like you are welcome? And it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, or you bumble around or you can say what needs to be said, you know, can you talk about what we do? And how it’s different than what we say we do? And can you go to somebody, even if you don’t know if they agree yet you don’t know if they’re your ally? Can you face that fear and move forward? Hopefully, with an ally, or even at another, by the way, this is something where reaching out to you or me or somebody in a network to go, I don’t know who to talk to do you have somebody I could talk to about this? So I know who to approach my organization? If I don’t know who my allies are there. I think that’s also a key, if I, if Am I willing to take a step toward being able to share?
Jeff Harry 18:02 Yeah, yeah. And if and to go a step further and be like, well, what’s the benefit of infusing play into the workplace? Yes, you know, even Johnson always says, like, you’re the future is where people are having the most fun. Where are they? What were the organizations that are thriving in 2020, Tic-Tock, Clubhouse, Hulu, Disney Plus, why? Because they were willing to take risks. They were willing to be adaptable, they were willing to be resilient, and they were willing to have hard conversations. And here’s why I say that. Because if you’re not having difficult conversations, you are going to become the next blockbuster. If you’re not bringing shared humanity into the post-pandemic, workplace, people are going to leave, they don’t want to be there anymore. And if you’re talking about like the additional benefits of play, look at Google’s 20% rule. They give their staff a fifth of their time to pursue whatever meets their curiosity, as long as it helps Google. What has come from that program? AdSense, which pays the bills, Google Meet, which many people use Gmail, which all of us use because they allowed their staff to play. This is, this is when you’re able to create psychological safety and give freedom for people to pursue their zone of genius, the thing where they forget about time, the thing where they get into the actual flow when you’re giving that opportunity, lower turnover, higher morale, higher productivity, but also the best ideas possible coming out of the workplace. Right now. I think there was a study recently found that most top executives like VPs, like right underneath top, top brass, I think 85% of them said they don’t share their best ideas. So most of the products that we’re using right now are the mediocre version of the products that we that it could be.
Jess Dewell: 20:02 It’s hard to make me speechless. I did not know that.
Okay, people listening in, you’re listening to the Bold Business Podcast, this is Uncharted with Jeff Harry, I have to tell you, we are going to take this conversation further into the Fast Track Your Business today platform that Fast Track subscribers do get to access through their true north. So hang tight, here the rest of the conversation. And if you’re not part of the Fast Track Your Business Today program, think about what you’ve heard Jeff say today, and imagine what he’s gonna say next.
Announcer 20:44 You’ve been listening to Uncharted. Fast Track Your Business subscribers receive access to a vast set of resources, including extended conversations to this and other Uncharted episodes. Visit FastTrackYourBusinesstoday.com. Your preparedness and the right perspective is absolutely necessary when you find yourself somewhere Uncharted. Special thanks to The Scott Treatment for production assistance