The Great Resignation, the Great Awakening, the Great Journey to aligning purpose, meaning, and values with our work lives. We have heard many ways to describe the record level numbers of people leaving their current employment. The main reason? People are searching for meaning and purpose, they want to know that their work matters, that they are valued, seen, heard, and appreciated for what they do. Receiving a paycheck is no longer enough, and maybe it never was. After almost 2 years of pandemic, many people have been left wanting to make the most out of life, and since we spend the majority of our adult lives working, the hours we dedicate to our jobs need to matter too.
Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.
YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human
Alex Cullimore: Cristina, hello.
Cristina Amigoni: Hey.
Alex Cullimore: We're back. And we're here to talk a little bit about the great resignation this week. This was a super fun conversation. I think we got to actually just kind of let loose on a lot of things we've been talking about for a while.
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. We get to talk about machines, restaurants, blenders, a few other things.
Cristina Amigoni: We have renamed the Great Resignation to the Great Resolution. Good.
Alex Cullimore: We have a lot of just tips and tricks about how to identify some things that lead to people leaving jobs and what to do about it. And just some funny stories along the way. We certainly hope you enjoy.
Cristina Amigoni: Enjoy. And hope you're listening.
Cristina Amigoni: Welcome to Uncover the Human where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives.
Alex Cullimore: Whether that's with our families, co-workers or even ourselves.
Cristina Amigoni: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.
Alex Cullimore: This is Cristina Amigoni.
Cristina Amigoni: And this is Alex Cullimore. Let’s dive in.
Group: Authenticity means freedom.
Authenticity means going with your gut.
Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you.
Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself.
It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep-rooted and true.
Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be.
It's transparency, relatability, no frills, no makeup, just being.
Alex Cullimore: Welcome back to this episode of Uncover the Human. This week, it's just Cristina and I. And we are here to talk a little bit about the great resignation, the great awakening, the great horrifying realities we've all been awakened to in the last year, whatever you want to call it. Some of the titles are a little longer than others. Welcome, Cristina. I'm so glad we get to talk about this.
Cristina Amigoni: Oh, me too, especially as I'm contemplating my great resignation from Thanksgiving dinner.
Alex Cullimore: I am getting a lot of that vibe lately. I think holidays are supposed to be this great thing. And I think it's a little extra stress this year. There're so many extra unknowns, which we thought we'd be done with after the unknowns of last year where we mostly just kind of resigned ourselves to not doing anything. And now we have to do things and we're like, “Do we have to do things?”
Cristina Amigoni: I like not having to do things.
Alex Cullimore: There was some really nice parts of that.
Cristina Amigoni: There was. And it doesn't help that we've been on this hyperdrive since September. It’s like summer ended and didn't and all of a sudden it's like, “Oh, wait, we've all been asleep for 18 months. The sleeping beauty enchantment is over, the curse is over. Let's all wake up and catch up on 18 months of sleeping.”
Alex Cullimore: I feel like everybody turned that on at about the same time. There was like this year of nothing happened. We were all a little shocked by that. And in the summer, the cases were low. People got vaccinated. There was hope. Everybody got to go out. It was warm.
I will admit, I got so little generally productive or what I would have qualified productive before done during the summer. And then like September hits and you're like, “Oh, my God. This happened faster than I anticipated.” And now you got to like rev and catch up. And I feel like we were not the only ones playing that game.
Cristina Amigoni: No, no, we were not. I mean, the number of people that are starting projects or even thinking about starting projects right now, it always astounds me. And I'm like, “Do you not look at the calendar when you have these big moments when we got to start right now and realize that there's half the time that's possibly dedicated to anything you want to do?”
Alex Cullimore: Yeah. We are putting out a timeline for some projects. And I was like, “Four weeks. I mean, not four consecutive weeks, obviously. Because these next four weeks, no one's going to be around.”
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. It's nice to think of prospects and thinking like, “If they say we want to start, when would you start?” I'm like, “Mid-January, it's probably the realistic timeline at this point.”
Alex Cullimore: And they're like, “Oh, okay, cool. So, six weeks.” “No, no, no, January 2023.”
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Let's be realistic. It's going to take a couple of weeks to get approval. After the approval, everybody's going to be gone. You're not going to get anything done. And then in January, you come back, and you're recovering from being gone. And then wishing you were still gone. And so, yeah, I'd say the end of January.
Alex Cullimore: Yep. Yep. Yeah. And then whatever illness, which – Yeah, there have been like three illnesses going around, which of course, everybody's now like, “Is it COVID?” And we all have to now come to the terms of the fact that it actually often isn't now. There're just other things happening. Good idea to get some flu shots. Speaking of which, plug for the pharmaceutical industry.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Got mine at the beginning of October. Check.
Alex Cullimore: Yep. I'm in my physical and they're like, “Do you really get flu shots?” I was like, “Sure.” And they were like, “Have you gotten one?” I was like, “I have not.”
Cristina Amigoni: And they’re like, “We're ready.”
Alex Cullimore: And then, okay, great. Thanks so much.
Cristina Amigoni: You said yes in the beginning of the questionnaire.
Alex Cullimore: This is exactly like the attitude that I think that everybody's carrying into this holiday season. And I think this is why like everybody struggling with like why is everybody resigning right now? Well, how do you feel right now?
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. That's a great question. And I love Brene Brown's two-word check-in that she does before every single meeting to actually figure it out and allow the space and start creating this safe space to share how people feel. So how about we do that?
Alex Cullimore: That sounds great.
Cristina Amigoni: How are you feeling right now, Alex?
Alex Cullimore: In a two-word check-in, this month and this week has been absolutely insane. That being said, I get to do a lot of enjoyable things. So if I was to marry those two, my two feelings would be overwhelmed and hopeful at the same time.
Cristina Amigoni: And what I like about that is that you can have very contrasting feelings at the same time. And we usually have way more than two at the same time. But it's good to kind of have that.
Alex Cullimore: I think two is a great challenge for that reason, too, because you can't just say like, “I'm fine. I'm good.” It's like telling me one out of 10, and everybody's like seven. I don’t think I need something more nuanced than this. It's nice to have two, but it forces you to think just a little farther, and then acknowledge those other interesting things that are always there, too. So in that regard, how are you feeling?
Cristina Amigoni: My two-word check-in, tired and energized.
Alex Cullimore: Absolutely. Understandable. And seemingly a dichotomy.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Yes, indeed. It's like there's so many things, great things happening that I have the energy to do them. And burnout is always in front of me, because I know I'm going to tie her out. And at the thought of everything that needs to be done, I get tired, even though I'm not tired yet
Alex Cullimore: I've been feeling that personally. I feel tired and energized all at the same time. I feel overwhelmed on the hope that it's easy to kind of piece of art with some of this. And we can definitely talk about our personal experience on this. But I'm also interested when you – Cristina Amigoni: Tired and energized, or pieces?
Alex Cullimore: Or just any just, I don't know, this, this great resignation, feeling everybody's kind of got this mix of, I don’t know, restlessness and enough energy to do something.
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, I think so. I think it's pretty common with a lot of people right now. I think it's the 18-month Sleeping Beauty slumber. It's definitely coming to an end. Like people are excited that it's over. And yet they've found some things that they don't want to go off. So that's one of the things that's coming up as topics in coaching and also conversation is there's all these things I want to do. I want to be able to double down, but I also don't want to give up this other part of my life that energizes me because it's not the grind.
And so I think the realization that life is not guaranteed, the future is not guaranteed. And so really thinking and living with this, after I retire, I'll get to do this. Or next year, I'll get to do that. The pandemic has definitely completely changed our view, or at least for some people, our view of, “Well, next year, may be another pandemic.” So do you really want to put that off?
Alex Cullimore: Yeah. I think for me personally, and I hadn't thought about this until now, that idea of like the future is not promised. Like we don't know what's going to happen. I always assume it usually feels like it's said in the context of people sometimes having tragedies happen, they die before you anybody thinks they should or would or there’s no pre-existing causes or whatever. And I think that's definitely part of it. I mean, there's certainly a significant mortality to COVID itself. But beyond that, we also lost so much of just life and connection and things that matter to us and things that we found out because we couldn't do them were important. And that was weird, too, because it's like the future is not guaranteed, but not just in a mortal sense, in being able to do what you want to do. That might just not be available in a month.
In Colorado, the first case of COVID was like March 2020 and there’s like March 5th. And then two weeks later, everything was shut down. I mean, the speed of that happening is incredible. We kind of saw it coming, but still like you can see it coming from the news. There are all kinds of places closing down and it had already been in Washington and you knew there was a possibility. But until it really happens, and it happens so fast, I don't think I expected it or understood what it would be like. And I don't think any of us expected it to be years. We all kind of treated it at first like, “Oh man, better stock up on food for the two weeks that we're going to sit inside.”
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, it's true, it's definitely changed the perspective of like I no longer get to do something when I want to do it. There're things that are way beyond my control, way bigger than I am. And part of it is being a parent. You kind of give up the rights to do things when you want to do them and how you want to do them as soon as – Well, for women, as soon as you're pregnant. Let's be real.
But this is magnified, because then even with kids, with small kids, or smaller kids, we finally got to the point, I'm like, “Okay, they’re seven, they’re 10. We can travel easily or more easily. So we can go wherever we want.” And then the pandemic hit and I'm like, “Can we?” And now that they're old enough to actually enjoy where we're going, we can’t go?
Alex Cullimore: I remember, recently I talked about it. We felt like we were kind of feeling more introverted. Like we wanted to connect more. And write when we got to the point of really acknowledging that and being ready to do something about that, wanting to go out and network more and just be part of events more. There were no more events. Suddenly, when you're ready to do it, like, “It can't happen. And that I think is a little bit – Personally, that felt a little shaking, like, “Oh, right.” It's one of those things that lingers in the back your mind like, “Well, I'll do that when ….blank. I'll do that soon. There's a time I'll get that done. Oh, there's a future area in which that will be possible.” And that is the future that felt like it wasn't suddenly promised wasn't there.
Cristina Amigoni: Well, and to circle back to the great resignation, I think that's where this focus on people wanting purpose is coming from. People want to know that they are recognized for the effort they give, especially because it is the grind, and it is burnout. And there is a lot of extra work and extra hours and doing things that take you away from what you would like to do most of the time. And so it has to have meaning. And even if it doesn't have meaning 100% of the time, it's nice when it's at least appreciated.
Alex Cullimore: Yes, that's exactly it. And they aren't even metrics on this. I need to find this metric again, because it really both anecdotally felt true and still shocking to read was the idea of like there are – It was actually only like, I don't know, a handful of gratitudes, like five gratitudes expressed a year towards an employee. Like thank you for doing that. That increased retention some like 50%, 60%, 70%. It was something insane. I have to go find the actual stat on it. But these are the small things that we look for. And we, I think, stepped a long way away from for a long time and kept pushing away. And in a similar vein of like there'll be time for that later, like, yeah, maybe they'll feel acknowledged later. I'll celebrate my employees or my team later. And now, we know there was a – And we now know that that later may never come or there may not be a possibility of that. And it's hard to make the sale of please continue to show up at this office that you may or may not feel the connection to or feel the purpose with. Just because previously, everybody used to show up. I don't see why you're not doing it now. Like, well, we all change as people. We all just went through this, and are going through this. I say it like it's in the past tense. This is a continual like process.
Cristina Amigoni: Well, and that's the thing, the great resignation. What's happening now, it's not a trend. It's not something that's going to go away in a couple of months when everybody's been vaccinated or not vaccinated and the virus somehow disappears or mutates or whatever happens. This is the beginning of the tsunami. This is the beginning of – It's unacceptable. I no longer want to work when I'm not valued and appreciated and I don't get to utilize my strengths, and I don't feel like I have a purpose. Because the reality is I could die tomorrow. And then there is no later.
Alex Cullimore: Yeah. I like that tsunami metaphor as well. Because for tsunamis, there's usually some kind of warning. They talk about how animals suddenly run away. Elephants run away from the shore and everything. I think if we look back, we could probably cleanly identify a lot of elephants running past us in the other direction before this tsunami. This was coming. And we knew it was coming. We just couldn't address it.
And you and I have talked about that, too. When we started to say we wanted to be able to help people. We wanted to be on the culture and improvement side of things and do chief people officer in activities and make sure we could make sure people felt this connection. And we were looking at the market and wasn't – Before the pandemic, there wasn't as much interest there. There was curiosity. People kind of knew about this. Like it felt like people had acknowledged there were a couple of elephants running. But I'm sure it's not a tsunami this time. And then we were kind of like, “Alright, well let's build some other things. And we'll get back to this when the markets were ready for it.” And then the pandemic happened. And suddenly the market was ready for it.
Cristina Amigoni: Then it was a stampede.
Alex Cullimore: We weren't just doing consulting projects to fill the time. We were consulting on culture.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Definitely a stampede happening. And it's not slowing down. And I don't imagine it will slow down anytime soon. Because there is flexibility in our opportunities, the remote reality of things has forced by the recognition that looking at the back of somebody's head, does not mean that they're working. And the whole like, “Well, we're paying for an office. So we want the chairs to be warm, because we're paying for it.”
The way I see it, it's then saying, “Well, I have a house with a kitchen, therefore, I should never eat out at restaurants, because there’s a house with a kitchen. You should never go on vacation, because we have beds. We're paying for beds in the mortgage. We're paying for the house. So no, there shouldn't be any vacation going and sleeping somewhere else.
Alex Cullimore: Yes. And that's a perfect metaphor, too. Because what's the real argument? Like we have one office and we're paying for it. So you should show up. Well, I have a way you could save some money.
Cristina Amigoni: Exactly. Get rid of the office. Rent a conference room every time you want us to come together.
Alex Cullimore: Yeah, it feels harder to make that sale. And there are some great interpersonal connections. I work a little bit hybrid now. And it's nice to be in the office occasionally. There's just you get that interpersonal connection. And it's not that it's not nice. But that flexibility is what I think people now understand as pretty vital. It was a shock. And it was hard to take advantage of I think when it first started, and we were all working at home, and we didn't know how long it would last. And there were a thousand other concerns on our minds. But when it started to settle into more of a normal, and I think that took enough time to where we could feel a little safer and, literally, I think up until this summer, I think then we started to look up and say, “Okay, now I can put my head above the water. What do I really want to do?” I had so many balls in the air. How many am I going to really pick up again?
Cristina Amigoni: Once we're past the I need to do whatever to survive mode, we can have the bigger spectrum of things and figuring out like, again, like if next year another pandemic hits, what do I want to do this year? Not after this or after that. And that's what it is. So again, to us it's not a surprise that there is a great resignation. Been waiting for it. Have been watching the elephants go by and preparing for the tsunami. It's not going away. So putting your head in the sand, not going to make it go away. It's not one of those, “La-la-la-la-la-la,” and all of a sudden everybody's back and happy. You could hope for another economic crisis. Probably wouldn't, because you're dealing with other problems, not just people leaving.
Alex Cullimore: Weird way
Cristina Amigoni: Yes, it's here to stay. And it's the time for change.
Alex Cullimore: It's also fascinating because there's so – Like we all got the chance to explore some of these tools too. There're so many tools to do something else and to do a little bit of your own thing. And it's not to say that any of it is just easy to immediately set up and everybody can just run their business tomorrow. There's always the transition. There's always just the difficulty of figuring out what that means and what that's like. And there's pros and cons to just jumping out on your own. But the availability is there. There're tools, you can use Legal Zoom to go incorporate in like 20 minutes. You can use Squarespace to put up a site that has a shop. You can go use Stripe to accept all your payments. You don't have to know code. You don't have to know how to process payments. You just add these components to pages, you've got a business online, you can do whatever you want to do. And as long as you deliver an idea that people are willing to pay for and you can market it and you do all the other pieces that go into a business, you can do something with that. And so it's hard. It's harder to tell people why would you take that risk when the risk is seemingly getting lowered, or the amount of effort is lowered to take the risk?
Cristina Amigoni: Very true. And the risk of changing jobs, again, there's more jobs than people filling them. So it's not that difficult. Some industries are much more difficult than others. There's no doubt. And it's never fun. And it takes a lot of energy and a lot of effort. And there's a lot of people that are looking and being turned down. It's not trying to make it super easy, but it is easier. There are more jobs than, for example, after the 2008 economic crisis. And so – Or 2001 economic crisis. So there actually are jobs to apply for, rather than no jobs. And there's options, like you said. Like you can start your own side gig. You can find something local.
The amazing piece that you actually mentioned to me yesterday or this morning was how it's not just, I guess, the people looking for different opportunities who are the employees, or even like the middle managers that are jumping ships. It's the CEOs. And that's super fascinating, because that tells you something about how this is a much bigger and core problem than just people don't want to work.
Alex Cullimore: Yeah.
Cristina Amigoni: I'm sure every CEO that's been a CEO kind of wants to work.
Alex Cullimore: Yeah. They wanted to get to that point at some level. So what changed for them? And I would love to hear from people who did make that change, because there have been some big changes at top levels that you pursue for a long time. But when that's taken away, when the future you thought was possible is no longer possible, or you realize that it's fragile and it's not some kind of guarantee, it does change things. What do you do then? And that's, I think, whatever he's wrestling with a little bit. And then as companies wrestle with how do we help people? How do we retain people if that's what's happening?
Cristina Amigoni: Indeed. And what amazes me about the “people don't want to work statement”, I understand we all look for justifications. We all look for reasons for things to happen. And when they are shocking, we come from a scarcity, we've lost something point of view. And once we pause and actually think through it, even if that were true, it can be 100% true that everybody that's resigning just doesn't want to work. Even if they were true, how is it helping anyone who's attached to that reason with getting people back? Because I don't see how that's going to help the situation. You're still not going to have employees.
Alex Cullimore: How many times have you been able to shame somebody into doing the thing you wanted them to do? Did that work?
Cristina Amigoni: Exactly Yes. And so have the internal conversation. Go through the emotions. And then go find solutions. Make it a place where people want to go to as opposed to a place where people want to leave. It's like the office thing. I love going to the office. I miss not having an office. I would never go five days a week. But the two days a week were a great balance for me. The human connection in-person is very important. I think things really do happen. Magical things can happen when that's in place. And people will come to the office when there is a culture of wanting to connect, as opposed to forcing people in the office to create the culture. That's the opposite. It needs to be flipped.
Alex Cullimore: You can either create Stockholm Syndrome, which keeps me off for a bit. Or you can create a culture of resentment, which is going to shoot you in the foot in the long run. And it's a good point, too. Like why not build a place that people want to be? Like if there are people who don't want to work, you 're not going to get them back anyway. And if they do want to work and are just looking for something else, can you offer it? And if you can't offer it for them, can you offer it to other people that will still be helpful to your mission, your vision, the company and enforce it?
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. In a way, it’s like the entertainment business, or the hospitality business. It's like you don't go to restaurants. You go to the restaurants you choose, because you have a good experience when you're there and you have good food. Now when you have a bad experience, you never go back again. So you wouldn't expect the restaurants to force people to show up by stealing all the food in the grocery stores so they have to come to the restaurant. Like, no. They create an atmosphere. They create food. They create an experience that people want to have multiple times a week sometimes if it's that good and that convenient. Well, office and jobs and companies need to be the same. Your customers are not just your customers. They're actually your first customers are your employees. Make it a place where people want to be and you won't have to worry about office, not office, great resignation, hiring faster than people are leaving to the back door. None of that happens if you actually focus on making it a place that people want to be. And honestly, the only way to find out is to ask them. I don’t know if I should say quieter or louder. It's not brain surgery. It's a task.
Alex Cullimore: Yeah. And it's a dialogue. It's not that you’ll ask, they'll have the perfect answer. I mean, when was the last time somebody asked you like, “Oh, what's wrong?” And you had just this perfectly eloquent answer not only for what's wrong, but what could be done about it. I mean, that's not really how we operate. We operate with like, “Oh, man, I don't feel great about this.” And then if you've done a lot of introspection, I suppose you might be able to very quickly identify why you don't feel great about this. What might be the cause? And for yourself, what might be solutions? But that's a tall order. And that's not something that can be done every time even by people who are able to do that occasionally. And it's usually not done quickly. And you have to be willing to have a little bit of the patience of asking. I need to know what kind of things you are feeling. Okay, I'd love to talk a little bit more about that. And that takes the courage to be like, “Ooh, I totally see what you mean. We might have overstepped it here. I can see why how we phrase this in this meeting, or how we express our company values might feel like an obligation that everyone feels uncomfortable with or something.
We've seen parts of that occasionally come up where company values will be like, “Always be learning, or always be doing this.” Like when you say that always, it really creates almost an obligation that's impossible to meet. And then there can be just extra layers of shame, or just a difficulty attaching to the mission when you're like, “I don't think I can succeed at this.”
Cristina Amigoni: Indeed. Which brings up where you brought up this morning, which I'm still so fascinated by. It's the whole human and machines thing. And I'll let you explain it, because you do a much better job than I do.
Alex Cullimore: I was just thinking about, we talked about how like – I mean, and we've talked about this many times even on the podcast. Like you can't treat people like machines. They don't just come to work and they do exactly what you tell them to do and they'll do it for exactly how long you tell them to. And you can tell them just to give 100% all the time. And then you're done. Like some kind of machine. And the more I thought about that, the more I realized we actually don't even treat our machines that way. Nobody runs their car at full rev all the time without being like, “Yeah, this is probably bad for my car.” You’re not just going to leave your garbage disposal on because it's convenient. Nobody's running a blender constantly. You give breaks. You allow them to recharge. You know that you can't just run your computer at full capacity all the time. Anybody who has 50 Chrome tabs open at any given time knows that, knows you can't just leave that open forever. That will eventually plummet. You use the available resources. And you can't just constantly operate at 100%. And so we can't treat people like machines. But maybe we should if we thought about how we treat our machines.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Right now, it sounds like treating people like machines will go a long way to preventing the great resignation.
Alex Cullimore: And maybe that's a valuable thing to take away. I mean, we at some level, are almost like machines in that way. And that there are certain capacities we have and can meet. And it might be harder for us to report those to you. But I mean, how many times that happened in a software application where some error happens, you don't know what it is. And so it becomes more frustrating because you’re like, “I don't know how to fix this.” Like that's kind of what you're doing with people when you burn them out. You've reached this point where they're like, “I can't even give you output anymore. I don't know what's really wrong. I don't feel it anymore. And I can't feel connected to this.” It's very hard to diagnose or change Cristina Amigoni: Well, and then when there is an error in your software program, you invest in figuring it out and fixing it. And you bring in experts, and you spend the money, and the time, and the resources. And whatever budget you had goes out the window, because now this needs to be addressed. And yet with people, it's like figure it out. We don't need to invest in you. You just show up and you go above and beyond all the time, which also made me wonder as I was driving home from our lunch, it’s like when's the last time I expected my car to go above and beyond its capability?
Alex Cullimore: Yeah, always. I expect it to be exactly capable.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. I have a battery life on my electric card of 320 kilometers, 320 kilometers. And everyday I walk in and I’m like, “Come on. Make it through 350, 350 today.” That's what we’re expecting. Above and beyond the 320. Come on, I want to see the 350 mark.
Alex Cullimore: That’s the perfect metaphor. Yeah, like I told you what the capacity, is like when Apple tells you your iPad or iPhone is only going to last its charge for eight hours. You don't just sit there all disappointed every time it's seven hours and 50 minutes when your iPad does. Like, “Oh, I really thought we'd get to eight hours and 30 minutes this time.” No, it's pretty much max capacity. We all know you're probably not going to get the max out of it.
Cristina Amigoni: And you may insult it. You probably want to shame it. Of course, you realize that you're solving an inanimate object. But you don't expect it to then wake up the next day and be like, “Okay, I know I didn't get you the eight and a half hours yesterday, but I'm definitely going to do it today, because you were so upset with me yesterday.”
Alex Cullimore: Oh, you speak for yourself. I have a phone in my closet that I have left in there. It can come out when it knows what it's done.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes, exactly. So yeah, I wouldn't mind if we treated people like machines a little bit more.
Alex Cullimore: That is truly a sentence I never thought I would hear you say.
Cristina Amigoni: I know. I keep saying people are non zeros and ones. And I'm like wait. But maybe we should treat them like they are zeros and ones, because we respect the zeros and ones way more.
Alex Cullimore: And what is the asterisk that we all automatically understand on every Apple ad? They’re like you can get up to eight hours of battery life. Asterisk, depending on usage. People have batteries. Recharging them might not be as easy as plugging in unless you know how the recharge works and you know how to create that fulfillment, that purpose, that connection that gets that battery charged. And that's maybe a little bit more personal, but it doesn't mean you can't invest in exploring that. And it is an interesting question as to why not invest in that.
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, why not invest in it. And to continue the machine and zeros and ones metaphor, I just thought about the fact that most of the time when we do something on it, an iPhone, or a laptop, or even a blender, anything that's out there that's technology or electronic. 99% of the time, if it doesn't work, it's user error. Like that's the joke. It's like the error that you finally figured out is between keyboard and brain. It's the hands that that's something that we're supposed to.
So if we actually look at what's not working with people at work or in teams the same way, then when something is not working the outcome from the team, from the person, is not exactly what you expected. Why don't we look at the user error? Not the people on the receiving side of the outcome that we're supposed to blend your pesto ingredients. The people that expected that to happen without plugging the blender in. So the leaders, the managers, the organizations. If the organization is the one that's not providing the right tools and the right environment and not turning on the electricity in the house before plugging in the blender. Well, why are you blaming the basil for not chopping up?
Alex Cullimore: If you happen to buy a blender with a European outlet on it and you have no European outlets in your house, like, yes, it might not be the fit for that blender. That blender might have to go find a different house. But you don't blame the blender and then just try and force it into the outlet, because it's still not going to operate.
Cristina Amigoni: And your house is going to go up on fire. So I really wouldn't do that.
Alex Cullimore: There’s that too.
Cristina Amigoni: Which in a way it’s what's happening right now with the great resignation, the great awakening, is like the setting up fires. Fires are everywhere.
Alex Cullimore: Yes. And to bridge the metaphor with one that you've used before a few months back. If you want to bring this from machines into more living beings without getting all the way to humans, we talked about that with flowers. If your flower doesn't grow, you don't blame the flower. You change the environment. You give it some more water. You changed its light. You put it in a different room. Whatever you needed to do.
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, exactly. So we can start treating people like plants or treating them like machines. Now we should stop treating them like we are being treated.
[00:32:39] Alex Cullimore: This is a very fun topic to somewhat rant on, frankly. But it's also there's a lot of hope to be had. There're so many things to connect, because we are people and there's a huge advantage to that. Your people, you can connect, we can feel a shared purpose. It is incredibly important to find that. I mean, if you think about a machine that's running and it's not working. Ignore that it's not working and expect it to get better. It's probably going to get worse. You might get a couple more miles out of your car after that check engine light comes out. And that's fine. You might. You will for a bit. But you also know there's something wrong eventually, and you can hope for as many days as you want in a row that is not today. But eventually, something's going to go wrong.
And so what do you do? Right? That's where it becomes important to make that investment. As you're saying earlier, it has to be like why not make that investment? Because at some point, you're going to have to. What's the phrase? Do you either make time for your health, or you will spend time on your illness?
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, it's true. And people leaving, that's a check engine light. Actually, that's the car stopping. Check engine light was on before then when there were all sorts of employee surveys and engagement surveys taken. And then whatever was coming back was ignored or blamed on, “Well, that team complaints. Everybody else is fine.” That was the check engine light. The team complaining, or the first couple of people leaving two years ago before the pandemic, that was the check engine light. Now your car is just leaving you on the highway.
Alex Cullimore: So exit interviews are important. It's important to kind of gather like, “Well, what are the frustrating parts?” Not just because it's some HR formality that gets filed into a cabinet that nobody ever reads. But you have a real chance postmortem and see, “Okay, what are the patterns here?” If you read a few exit interviews that have similar themes, what are the chances that everybody there is lying?
Cristina Amigoni: That's true. And there's a big push on, which I completely agree with, for retention interviews. Like why are you only asking employees how they're doing their job when they resigned? How about you ask them how they're doing every single month? Every single week? Isn't that what one on ones are supposed to be? To actually check in and figure out how somebody is doing?
Alex Cullimore: It's a good point. There's so much to be learned from reflecting not only on the failures, but on what's going well, because that's what helps with having some employee surveys throughout a year, not just when people are leaving, or when it seems like, “Uh-oh, the employees are upset.” Like there's probably a reason for it. There probably were check engine lights. It's easier to find these things if you have some employee surveys ahead of time.
So I guess we're getting a little bit into the area of things that could have, should have, would have been done. But if you're in a company and you want to be able to help this, what are ways that you see that we can help with? How do we help reverse this trend? What can we do as a company to help people and help them stay and help them understand that this is helpful for them and helpful for us? And we're all in this together?
Cristina Amigoni: Well, you mentioned earlier, conversations. Create a dialogue. Create a dialogue where people feel heard. And you give them a chance, and then something is done. And you can even ask them, “Well, what should we do about it?” “Great. I understand. Coming to the office five days a week is not ideal. Understand. And what are you suggesting? What can we do? What would work?”
Leaders don't have to have all the answers. It's not possible to have all the answers. And it's not possible to read minds. Nobody expects them to. One way to retain people is to make them be part of something. And to make them be part of something is to get them to provide their opinions. To get them to provide their strengths. To get them to proactively participate, because they were asked.
Alex Cullimore: Yes, 100%. And the other important thing to remember as leaders is that it's not only about not having all the answers, but understanding that, 100%, a lot of people will be – Or maybe already angry at this point listening to this that, “Well, I’ll never be able to please everybody.” No, you 100% will not. That will never happen.” But people aren't actually that unreasonable. You might occasionally run across people in life who refuse to accept anything less than everything perfect for them, and they'll be very upset about anything less. Those people don't tend to work well on teams. You probably don't have – Probably not working particularly effectively with your other employees as is. So work with the people that will want to work with you.
Anybody that I have talked to you, especially if you get them in a non-defensive state, are happy to say, “Yes, I understand that wouldn't be possible. It'd be great if we can move towards this in the next couple of years.” We can't jump to that. But I appreciate you're looking into this. Like getting that ownership, getting that buy-in and having that conversation so people know you're focused on it. You're not just leaving it out there. And then checking in and being like, “Hey, we're working on this. I'd really love your opinion on this. Because you'd mentioned this is important to you. How can we help with this? This is something we started. We don't know if we're seeing the results we wanted. But let's talk.”
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, it's true. And that being heard is really what people want. That already opens the door to so much more than before was just a wall. And it's true. Most people are very reasonable. Most people, if they know they may be asking something that's not possible, they'll even start the sentence that way, saying like, “Hey, I know this is probably not possible. But can we talk about how we may get close to that, or some alternatives to the same outcome?”
The other thing to remember, which is all about the listening skills, is that most of the time we don't even know what it is that we want, because we can’t articulate it. And so the dialogue, the conversation, the listening, the digging, really unearths stuff that we even say we want. Like we could just say, “I just want to come to the office three times a week,” for whatever reason.” And then as you dig deeper, and you actually talk about the experience in the scenario and figure out the motivation, and what would happen when you're in the office? And what would happen when you stay home? That answer could be completely different. You just don't know, because I don't know. I'm being asked something that I haven't even thought about yet.
Alex Cullimore: And there's so much power in that leading with curiosity. Like I don't know. You might not know. Let's just dig into this a little bit together. Because we're both kind of discovering something here. Not only is it you will learn a lot more, because you'll get a lot more direct feedback. It's an expression of trust to say, “Yeah, that totally makes sense. I understand that that might be frustrating. What are ways you feel that? What are other parts to that? What are the things you think might help?” Because talking through that is sometimes enough to just address it, especially if it's something that has just felt like, “I couldn't talk about this for a long time. I have been feeling this for a while, but I didn't feel like I could bring it up. I just didn't feel like it would fit the culture. It wouldn't be received well.” If you can have the courage to lead with that curiosity, and it's not easy, but if you have that, and you want to see what people are really feeling, you're going to get a better answer. And they will get there too. It's a coaching exercise. It's walking with them to a solution and understanding what they're really asking for.
Cristina Amigoni: And that’s how you get buy-in, is when the solution is made by everybody involved. That's when you get buy-in. It's a lot harder to walk away from something that you've helped build, where you've had your opinion, opinion provided. Some people still will. You can’t help it. But it's definitely a lot harder. And providing a neatly packaged solution without asking and doing the work and opening up for dialogue first, it's literally like telling someone, “Hey, let's go out to dinner.” And you chose the restaurant, their food, how long it's going to take them to digest it, where they sit, how they're getting home, how they're getting back, and what they're drinking, and what the conversation is going to be. And like who's going to sign up for that?
Alex Cullimore: That’s a lot of work.
Cristina Amigoni: It’s a lot of work. When all you could do is like, “Hey, how about we have dinner? Let's figure out together where we want to go. And then I get to order my own food. And participate and not have a script on what I'm supposed to say in the conversation.”
Alex Cullimore: That's a great analogy. I love that. That's the perfect way of thinking about like bit of a two-way road here. And it's okay. And I think the other thing that we probably level sets of expectations on from a leadership point of view is that this is going to take persistence, especially if trust has ebbed a bit in the organization or in the specific relationship. It's going to take a little bit of persistence for people to believe that you do have interest in what they're saying. That you do have – And so it might feel like when you ask the first time and you try and address something, “Well, that was a waste of time. It didn't come to fruition.” Okay, but how many times have you immediately suddenly felt – You didn't trust somebody and then they did one good thing and you’re like, “Well, it’s all good. I'm good. We're fine.” It's not really how trust works. It's okay to have some time to build that. If you're willing to put in the persistence, you'll either find that the other person is not willing to come the other direction. Or they will. They just need to warm up to the idea that you mean it.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. And then it takes maintenance. So it's not a metal. You don't get to the point of like, “Well, we had the conversation once. Now we're good for the next 10 years.” No.
Alex Cullimore: Done and done.
Cristina Amigoni: It’s like you kind of have to keep having the conversation. You cannot have to keep asking the questions. Keep asking for their opinion. Just because I get to choose the restaurant the first time, it doesn't mean that you get to choose the restaurant, the meal, my conversation, what I drink, and what I wear the next 15 times.
Alex Cullimore: Yeah, this is going to sound like the most trite thing to say. It's just a human relationship. It takes some give and take. You're going to inevitably step on each other's toes a little bit sometimes. But if you have that foundation of a little more trust, a little more forgiveness, a little more focus on, “I still want to focus on his relationship with helping you, helping me.” That's the basis that allows those misunderstandings which are truly unavoidable. They will happen. That's the only thing that will keep you going after you will stub your toes, step on your toes, occasionally bump each other.
Cristina Amigoni: So here are some solutions for the great resignation. I'm sure there's a lot more.
Alex Cullimore: Yes. Step one, listening. Step two, persistence. Step three, think about purpose and ask people about that purpose, because you're going to learn a lot about purpose and what it means to different people if you have that conversation. And when you don't have that conversation, I would love to have that conversation. I love talking to people about purpose.
Cristina Amigoni: And what does it mean in daily life? Because everybody may have a higher purpose that they're more in tune with. And so then the next step is like, “Okay, what does that look like? What does your day look like? What do you need for that day to give you purpose?” And what happens on the days where the purpose is not there? Or it's a lot less? How do we mitigate that? How do we correct it? How do we address it the next time? Because not every day is going to have purpose. Some days are going to be days where you’re going to be like, “Man, today sucked.”
Alex Cullimore: And that's okay. And that's actually a really good point. Putting the action plan of like how do we see that we're doing this? How do we feel like we're making progress on this? And how do we acknowledge that even though it won't happen every day, we want to take corrective steps and we want to identify when that's not happening. And not feel like it's throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Not be like, “Now, I was feeling perfect for 10 days straight. The 11th day, I didn't feel it. It's over.” There's some delicacy there. And it's easier to have that, I guess, nurturing for each other. Yeah, I want to help you with the purpose. I know this. Hey, we really need help on this project. I understand. And acknowledging. Like I understand we've talked about this. This one is not so much up your alley. I'd love to get you involved just for a little bit because we are short-handed right now. And it would really mean a lot for these reasons. You can get that buy-in. You can get that expectation setting. But it takes having that conversation even just so that the person feels heard that they had the original complaints or originally said, “No, this isn't something that I like doing.”
Cristina Amigoni: Well, the most successful ways that I've found, getting buy-in, especially in projects and initiatives and engagements, is to not again create that perfectly packaged roll and boxed where, basically, your dialogues for the next four months are even scripted. But it's to bring the project, the ask, the problem, the engagement to the table to the people that you have some clue may be interested and may have the right skills and ask them, like, “Is this of interest? And if so, which parts would you like to fulfill?” It's amazing what comes up.
Alex Cullimore: And why wouldn't you want to have a team that works that way? That's so much easier to work than you having to decide every time a project comes up? How do I get people to work on this? And how do I ask them to work on this? How do I decide who's going to work on what? Well, you don't have to be alone in that decision.
Cristina Amigoni: And the beauty of it is that if you do enough time, you create that trust. So that when you do have projects that are not ideal, like you mentioned, you still get volunteers, because they'll know that the next time around, they'll get to use their strengths. And this time, they can suck it up for a little bit on something that it's not ideal for them or they don't like to do. But they love the atmosphere. They love the culture. Again, they're choosing to come to the project, as opposed to checking Facebook while on the project that somebody else imposed on them.
Alex Cullimore: And people will much more happily do that even if it's not something they want to do if they want to do it for the person. Think about all the important relationships in your life and how often you would happily bend over backwards for somebody who has been there for you who seems to trust you, understand you, you trust them. I would happily step outside of doing things that I enjoy doing, doing the other things that are bringing flow that are especially meaningful to me. I will happily step outside of those if I have that good relationship. It's just so much easier.
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, same here. I think every formula where I've successfully stepped out of my comfort zone, it wasn't because I woke up that morning and decided to do something that I may hate. But it was because I thought about who I would get to work with. Who do I get to connect to as if I step out of my comfort zone in this? Yeah, that's worth it. Regardless of how many failures I'm going to have, whether I'm going to like it or not. I get to work with those people. I wanted that.
Alex Cullimore: And that ties into purpose, too, because you're making a purposeful decision. Not only is it just a purpose that could be connecting with these people, or just you're enjoying the people you work with. But you're making a purposeful choice, and you feel the purpose and the drive and the autonomy, which are huge motivators for humans.
Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. I was recently talking to Nicole, our friend Nicole, and she mentioned how she realized it's not about the work. It's about the people. Where she's gravitating towards is working with people she really likes to work with. The work changes all the time anyway.
Alex Cullimore: Yeah, it's going to be different.
Cristina Amigoni: Sometimes it's going to be the same project with the same requirements, different clients. One day is great, the next day is horrible. It's the same skills, same type of project. Doesn't mean anything. But who are you getting to do that with? What kind of team are you going to be with on the days that it's not the best project? That it's a horrible project.
Alex Cullimore: This is a common theme in life that is so common, even Dr. Seuss had said it to kids from an early age in The Cat in the Hat. He says, the cat, point says something to the effect of when worse comes to worse, and we all know it will, and he talks about what you do with this. Because we all know, inherently there will be bad times. And that's okay to lean on. We are not trying to make a culture that is so perfect that there's no bad days. There's always going to be days where things feel off. Something just doesn't jive. Somebody’s just had a terrible week and brings that into work. And it's going to happen. We all know these things happen. And it's okay to not try to be perfect about it. And maybe that's something that leaders can help themselves with a little bit, too, is not feeling the pressure to make something perfect. It's to make it improve and to make it improvable, because everybody wants to be part of it.
Cristina Amigoni: Well, hopefully we've resolved all the great resignations problems by now.
Alex Cullimore: The great resolution.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. The great resolution. There you go. From resignation, to awakening, to resolution.
Alex Cullimore: Thank you, guys, so much for listening. I hope it was helpful. And please feel free to contact us with any questions, especially about great resignation. This is one of our favorite topics, because we feel like we're watching a tsunami. That's pretty fun.
Cristina Amigoni: And we saw the elephants.
Alex Cullimore: And as good a way a tsunami could be.
Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Thank you.
Cristina Amigoni: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo podcast.
Alex Cullimore: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Lara; and our score creator, Raechel Sherwood.
Cristina Amigoni: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts.
Alex Cullimore: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas or questions. You can reach us at podcast wearesiamo.com, or at our website, wearesiamo.com, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. We Are Siamo is spelled W-E A-R-E S-I-A-M-O.
Cristina Amigoni: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others and always uncover the human.