Increase employee engagement

Podcast Ep. 137: How to Increase Employee Engagement with Michael Guiler

Increase employee engagement
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Episode Description:

In this episode, Dan Neumann is joined by a return guest and AgileThought colleague, Michael Guiler. Mike has been an agile coach for over 15 years and has experience helping geographically dispersed organizations (in both the business and technology fields) to transform and better achieve their goals. For the last year and a half, Mike has been with AgileThought as an agile consultant.

Together, Dan and Mike are discussing employee engagement and what organizations and leadership can do to improve it. Mike shares 2020 employee engagement statistics, what creates engagement, the differences between managers and leaders (and why this is important), and the key tips on what we can all do to drive employee engagement forward.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Key Takeaways

  • 2020 employee engagement statistics: 
    • Only 36% of people in an organization are actively engaged
    • 50% of the people are “going along for the ride”/are ambivalent
    • 14% of people are actively looking to “get off the train”/actively disengaged
    • That adds up to 64% of the people in an organization are not giving the best they can give
    • The good: The actively engaged employee percentage has been consistently going up year after year since 2009
  • What can we do to improve these statistics? What would make employees more engaged? 
    • People want to know why they are doing what they’re doing, have autonomy over it, understand what the goal is, and have a purpose
    • Don’t micromanage people as a manager or leader in an organization
    • Transition managers into leadership roles
    • Managers in an organization need to make sure employees understand autonomy, mastery, and purpose if they really want to help motivate and engage their people (Daniel Pink’s book, Drive)
    • Managers need to make sure that the organization’s vision is very clear to everyone
    • Ask, “Where are we headed? What are we trying to achieve?” Becoming self-managing and engaging will lead to employee motivation but the goal first needs to be understood
    • If the vision is too big or too far out, employees can’t visualize it (as a leader, you need to break this vision down into smaller, shorter-term goals so that getting from A-Z is understood)
    • The product goal should be tied to the organizational vision
    • If something isn’t fulfilling the goal, end it/throw it away
    • The goal should be shared early, often, and everywhere
    • Share examples of things that were accomplished in the organization that fulfill said goal
  • Managers vs. Leaders (and how leaders can improve employee engagement):
    • A manager is somebody that is task-oriented, activity tracking, and only concerned about their own actions
    • A leader is focused on the “us”/what “we” achieved, improving the environment for those who work within it, and enabling their team to succeed
    • An organization’s duty is to develop its managers into leaders, hire leaders, and foster an environment for leaders
    • Keep in mind the recent shift to the Scrum Guide from “Servant-leader” to “leading by serving”
    • It is important for managers/leaders to create a safe environment for people to engage without punishment/ridicule for making mistakes
    • As a leader, it is important to understand that sometimes good decisions can lead to bad outcomes and bad decisions can lead to good outcomes (so don’t punish, but rather explore this concept and create safety for employees)
    • Leadership is not proportional to the time spent talking in meetings
    • You have to give people the space to talk, explore, and share
    • A tip for giving others space in conversation: Ask yourself before speaking, “Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? And does it need to be said right now?”
  • Tips for leaders for improving engagement:
    • Provide clarity on what the problems are that employees are expected to take on
    • There are many different ways to solve any given problem — as a leader, it is your job to point out the problem and give space to your people to explore the options and solve it their way
    • Create a safe environment and boost engagement in meetings by asking questions, inviting people to speak, sharing the spotlight, resisting the urge to provide answers
    • Emphasize “we” language, not “you” or “I” (i.e. if the team experiences “failure,” don’t place blame on a single individual)
    • Own your own mistakes as a leader

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcript [this transcript is auto-generated and may not be completely accurate in its depiction of the English language and rules of grammar.]

Intro: [00:03] Welcome to the Agile Coaches’ Corner by AgileThought. The podcast for practitioners and leaders seeking advice to refine the way they work and pave the path to better outcomes. Now here’s your host, coach, and agile expert, Dan Neumann.

Dan Neumann: [00:16] Welcome to this episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast. I’m your host, Dan Neumann and excited today to be joined by fellow AgileThinker and coaching colleague, Mike Guiler. Thanks for joining Mike.

Mike Guiler: [00:28] And thanks for having me, Dan, but I don’t know why you don’t introduce yourself as Dan the man Neumann seems natural title.

Dan Neumann: [00:36]
I’ve never been one for nicknames. They always seem to be unfortunate and a never, never quite clicked. I think my first nickname was in middle school. Like my middle initials are and the kids decided it’d be fun to make it the letter P instead there was, there’s no biological incident related to that. That’s what I say now.

Mike Guiler: [01:02] Can we get a few of your friends from grade school on the call.

Dan Neumann: [01:06]
Actual friends? I’m not sure if those existed. Yeah. Okay. All right. Oh yeah. We can unpack that some days. Yeah. There’s probably parallels to, um, to work life in there for some people at some point, but, uh, for another day.

Mike Guiler: [01:21] For another day. Good idea.

Dan Neumann: [01:24] For today’s episode, I’m going to ask you not to multitask because our theme is engaging people.

Mike Guiler: [01:30]
But that’s not right. I need, that’s how I engage.

Dan Neumann: [01:36] This is going to be so compelling that you won’t want to multitask.

Mike Guiler: [01:42] And I am always locked into your podcast. So I’m going to do my best.

Dan Neumann: [01:45] Love it. I love it. So, um, engagement, employee engagement, engaging people.

Mike Guiler: [01:53]
Why don’t we do that? So it was interesting. So we were having a conversation with one of our colleagues, Sam Falco, and he mentioned, I saw a survey, but I’ve got to go do a great Scrum essentials class. You might want to Google. So we did. Um, and it was interesting. So Gallup poll we’re on Gallup runs a poll year over year, since I think 2002 and 2020 numbers. I found two sides of a coin here. So the depressing side of the coin, uh, 36% people, 36% of the people in the organization are actively engaged. So I find that number a low, a little low, but okay. 50% of the people are just going along for the ride, but they’re kind of ambivalent. And 14% of the people are actively looking to get off the train. That’s a little scary. So my rough math suggests that 64% of the people in an organization aren’t really pitching in to do, or certainly aren’t giving the best they could give. Uh, so that’s the one side of the coin. The, the positive side of the coin of course, is that that number has actually been going up year over year since 2009. So I’m hoping that our little time together here, maybe we can get a few more of our managers to transition maybe into leadership roles, and maybe we can inch that number up. Um, we can help move that number a little quicker. How about that?

Dan Neumann: [03:13] I like the idea. So just kind of, you know, I dropped my math minor at some point, cause math is hard. Um, but I got pretty close. Uh, but even I can fake it. So if you’ve got a room of 10 people in your average company, there’s a really good chance. Three, maybe four, if you’re lucky are actually engaged, right. Five of them are kind of waiting for, to be told what to do. And you know, a couple of them are, you know, Facebook, Amazon sleeping. Yeah.

Mike Guiler: [03:43] Completely checked out on their favorite job search site, trying to find the next gig. Yeah.

Dan Neumann: [03:49] Because actively disengaged as a whole new level of, I really don’t care. Then you, uh, I feel like you kind of laid to the challenge down right in front of the managers. So, so can we just beat up the actively disengaged people and tell them to pay attention,

Mike Guiler: [04:08] Which is probably what most of us are doing right. Or we’re completely ignoring them, which doesn’t help the problem either. So sure. We can go that route. Um, uh, I don’t think that’s going to help the numbers go up much. Um, we might get them out quicker and get other actively disengaged people in, but it’s not going to really help us so much.

Dan Neumann: [04:30] Are you suggesting we try to address a root cause?

Mike Guiler: [04:33] Well, we might do the five whys thing. Try to get back to what’s really. Our problem could be a good idea. Yeah.

Dan Neumann: [04:42]
And this is a chance maybe to make a nod towards Daniel Pink’s Drive and some of the, some of the, um, impetus of that book about motivating people.

Mike Guiler: [04:57] Right. So intrinsic values, right. So what really motivates an individual and, uh, what, what Daniel has learned and shared through scientific experiments, right? Is that it’s not really money. We can throw money at people, then that’s so much helpful, right? We like money. We all need a certain level of money to, you know, to do what we need to do. But after that, it doesn’t really motivate us. Right. So, you know, Daniel talks in terms of, you know, people want autonomy, they want to be able to control their own destiny. Right. They want mastery. They need help making, getting to that level where they really know what they do. And they know it really well. And then ultimately purpose. They need to know what the goal is. So if you give me as an individual, a purpose, a goal I want to need to get here. It gives me the skills and the training so that I can master what I’m doing. And then you kind of get the heck out of my way, watch what happens. So, you know, that’s a great place to start, you know, am I not micromanaging people, but am I giving them those three things?

Dan Neumann: [06:02] So, and so, and two filler words for those of those, for those people that are in Toastmasters, he had two strikes against me right there. Um, and, um, as the third one, I am out, but our friend Daniel well, so that’s a place to just put a pin in, in Daniel pink, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I think there’s some good YouTube videos on that. People can listen to some research behind that. And that’s the purpose of putting the challenge at the manager’s feet. And the leaders in an organization is because most team members can’t for themselves create autonomy, other than quitting. They can’t create mastery necessarily if they aren’t given support for the organization. And the purpose is again, it’s something that the organization needs to clarify in that I believe is why you’re kind of throwing the gauntlet down for a manager types.

Mike Guiler: [06:57]
Uh, absolutely. Right. So, you know, our managers, you know, organization, if you really want to help motivate and engage your people, right. You’ve got to understand those things, but then you’ve got to also make that vision very clear. So you need to talk to, you know, I really want to engage people. I really need you to be in agile and Scrum specifically, where are we talking about self-managed teams? Right. I need you to be self-managed, but it doesn’t do us any good to just say, go off and be self-managed right. That doesn’t work. Right. We have, but we need to, we do need to make sure that everybody understands that’s our goal, right? So that’s, it’s that vision it’s that we’re talking about that. So we talk about that and then we also say, and this speaks directly to, to Daniel’s purpose, you know, where are we headed? What are we trying to achieve? Becoming self-managed and engaging will get us to a place. Well, what is that place? Right? If, if we don’t have a goal in front of us, people will just gonna, you know, is what it boils down to.

Dan Neumann: [08:01]
I’ve seen a pattern where Big bosses, for lack of a better word, feel like there is a vision, there is a purpose in somehow as it filters down, it either becomes diluted or simply gets lost. Or there’s a belief that we said at once. Why don’t, you know, I sat at once period. People should know it, and that’s just not how these types of things work.

Mike Guiler: [08:29] Right. And, and to build off of that, sometime that, that big vision, and, and they’ve done a good job of saying it and they keep saying it, but it’s so darn big. It’s so darn far out that I, I, I have troubles getting from, from A-Z that, right. So sometimes as the big boss, you need to break these down or help them see a way from a, to B, to C, to D to get to Z. And so that can be right. So smaller, shorter term goals. And again, in the, in the Scrum world, we talk about the increments, right? So that’s, that’s a great way to do that for them.

Dan Neumann: [09:04] So having a product goal that is aligned to an organizational vision, having sprint goals that are steps towards product goals with increments that demonstrate, indeed, we’re moving this way. And if something isn’t fulfilling the goal, then you can kill it. We made it, we made an increment. It was terrible. Let’s throw that away. That’s okay. In fact, it’s probably desirable in some cases.

Mike Guiler: [09:32] Because we learned about it very quickly. We went, Ooh, not a good thing. Let’s kill that. Let’s start again. Or we just need to pivot off of that. Maybe it didn’t completely, wasn’t completely horrible. So we’d pivot from it.

Dan Neumann: [09:44]
You would say making it clear and sharing it. So frequency of sharing different formats, you know, once isn’t enough, it sounds like.

Mike Guiler: [09:52] Definitely not. Right. So all the above, so early often everywhere, uh, you know, if you can put it up on, on TVs in the in the break room or those kinds of things, how awesome is that right. And it should be on the board behind you, right. So we’re all virtual still. So maybe you’ve got the virtual background and there’s the goal and you can turn around and go, Hey, look behind me. There it is. And just keep making it very clear to everybody what, what our goal is.

Dan Neumann: [10:22] And I love it when people can make examples of it or share examples of it. Here’s an example of our vision becoming a reality. Here’s how we did some good in the world. If that’s the kind of thing your company wants to do.

Mike Guiler: [10:37] Absolutely right. Specific examples of, and we did this and that’s how this embodied that goal, or brought that goal to life. How cool is that? When people can go, Ooh, I, I get it there. There’s, there’s our goal. And there are steps we took and look what we did, how awesome is that?

Dan Neumann: [10:53] I was on a board of a not-for-profit and they were really good at the storytelling part, how that group impacted somebody’s life in a meaningful way. And in fact, sometimes they’d have look here is, you know, Joe, and we’re going to tell the story of how we help Joe and his family. And Joe gets up and Joe says, this is how you guys helped my family. And of course we shouldn’t turn the donors upside down, shake them to see what falls out. I mean, but so there’s that, but it’s still a, um, it’s a way to attach people to it, you know, dollars given is nice. That’s accounting story points. Okay. You spend a dollar yay. Spending a dollar is not hard. We collected a dollar. That’s a little harder, but how did those dollars impact somebody’s life? And maybe just change the world a little tiny bit. I feel like leaders are too busy talking about sprints and velocity and blah-blah-blah. And did we increase our velocity? And did I mention velocity? And this is your episode, a couple back with Sam Falco about velocity and all the perils of that. But let’s talk about how the thing we did is going to make somebody’s life better.

Mike Guiler: [12:04] How cool would that be? That’d be cool. It turns it into something real, something tangible, something that might motivate you, right. Ooh. I have a purpose. Let’s go buy that thing. Just might.

Dan Neumann: [12:16] A feature that changed somebody’s life. That’d be cool. So, um, managers, especially in the middle of that from a, an engaged person type of perspective.

Mike Guiler: [12:29]
So for me, you know, there’s, there’s a lot to be said about managers and leaders and how they’re very different. And that’s one of the things organizations that really want to engage people need to think about. So for me, if I define a manager, it’s somebody that is very task oriented, probably it’s, I’m going to deliver something. Um, the worst ones I could care less about the people that I manage. It’s all about me and what I did, uh, leaders are the exact opposite, 180 degrees from that, right? It’s about us. It’s what we achieve. It’s how did I enable them, make an environment for the people below me, beside me, around me, above me, doesn’t matter, to succeed. And so one of the things that an organization has to do is so how do I develop? How do I help grow, hire, acquired? I don’t care, right? Leaders, people that are going to build an environment where others can succeed, because when we all succeed, we can achieve those amazing goals and purposes that we’ve set out for us.

Dan Neumann: [13:41]
So moving from task orientation and activity, tracking to visions and outcomes and enablement.

Mike Guiler: [13:53] And building environments where people can succeed, right? The, the, the grower analogy, right? You’re growing tomatoes, right? You don’t come in and start screaming at them because you needed five tomatoes. And the stupid plants only created three. It doesn’t work right. Well, why did it only create three? Well, because not enough sun, not enough water, fertilizer needs to be, you know, it’s about building the environment so that plant can grow and deliver what you need. Uh, it works for us humans as well. Right.

Dan Neumann: [14:24] Crazy talk and I’ll save the segue to why we just bought a tomato plant instead of just buying the things at the grocery store, like normal human beings.

Mike Guiler: [14:32] Cause those tastes bad.

Dan Neumann: [14:34] What they say. I like my genetically modified stuff. So managers shifting from tasks to leadership. And I like one of the shifts that was made in the Scrum Guide recently, uh, which was to shift the phrase, servant leader isn’t in there anymore, which I always found a little hard to wrap my brain around a small brain and servant leader just didn’t quite click for me. Like what, what does one of those actually do? Uh, but I, the new phrase and I was leading by serving and I’m like, oh, that makes a lot more sense.

Mike Guiler: [15:10] So I’m a waiter. Is that what they’re where they’re saying, no, that’s not that at all.

Dan Neumann: [15:13] If that’s what the team needs. Okay. Possibly. And, um, but that act of, of leading by serving, you know, making sure the team has served those around you, those above, below and beside, as you were saying.

Mike Guiler: [15:33] If, if we don’t create an environment for our people to succeed and we think we can just, you know, bring out the hammer and Buncombe, it’s no wonder 64% of the people in our organization aren’t particularly engaged. Gosh, it’s not that hard when you think about it in those terms. Right. And we look at our leadership or our managers, it doesn’t take long to figure this, this game out.

Dan Neumann: [15:59]
There’s access to the vision. That’s one of the things leaders can provide. There is access to other people. There is access sometimes to funds, resources that are not people, you know, right. The actual physical resources. Okay. And then let’s talk about making it safe for people to engage without getting smacked on the nose of the newspaper.

Mike Guiler: [16:26] So let’s talk about that. Yeah. So, so put yourself in that role, play that for a little bit. Right? So, uh, my leadership, my managers are transitioning to leadership. They’re talking about becoming maybe self-managed they’re building environment. I’m starting to dip my toe into that. And I’m maybe new to this. And I, we decided the team, or I decide individually, go a little bit left and it doesn’t work out so well, well, if our leaders then take out, roll up the paper and smack us on the nose, it won’t take too many of those smacks before we go, wait a minute. I don’t want to play this game anymore. This is not working for me. Why don’t you just tell me what to do and I’ll do that. And so we need, as, as, as leaders, we’ve got to build an environment where there’s a level of safety that we understand and we make it clear to everybody, again, below, above, and around us that we’re going to fail sometimes we’re going to stub our toes. Now I’m not going to let you, uh, you know, cut off your leg and bleed to death. That would be a mistake. We kind of need you. Um, but I do have to make some room for you to, to learn and for you to experience, oh, that’s why that didn’t work. And that’s okay. Um, back to the, the increment, you know, we build something. It wasn’t right. Well, we learned from that, you know, there, there aren’t really any failures, as long as we learn from just happened. If we consistently fail time after time after time, okay, maybe we need to take a step back and go what the heck’s going on here. This is not a good thing. We don’t want to be there, but we got to have a level and we gotta make it make room for us to stub our toes.

Dan Neumann: [18:17] I was introduced to the book called thinking in bets, making smarter decisions when you don’t have all the facts, which sounds like a kind of a thing we do in agile software delivery, right? And as organizations, you don’t have all the facts. It’s a book by Annie duke. Who’s a professional poker player. And one of the interesting insights she made was sometimes you make a good decision and the outcome is bad, right? That doesn’t mean the decision was bad. It just means I made a good decision and stuff happens probably Stickley. And it was a bad outcome. Sometimes people make bad decisions and get good outcomes and not confusing the decision-making quality with the outcome quality. And I think that’s a place where leaders can, um, explore. They may be, maybe we did a thing and it was the right thing to do and stuff happens. And we got stuff.

Mike Guiler: [19:16] Bad things happen to good people sometimes. And it’s just the fact and okay, well, you know, are, maybe we can, we can reflect on that and learn maybe from that. But sometimes things just happen, right? COVID hits things happen, right? Lots of organizations don’t exist today after COVID, when they were just fine before, because something happened.

Dan Neumann: [19:39] So as leaders then making not equating the failure by default to a bad decision was made a mistake was made. Now stuff happens, stuff happens. So be curious about the stuff and try and figure that out. Um, so leaders lose leadership proportional to the amount of time spent talking in meetings.

Mike Guiler: [20:00]
Well, something that right. And I would suggest to you that, that that’s more on the manager side of the house, right? So, so one of the things, if you’re looking for an organization for people to engage, right, you’ve got to make room for it. You’ve got to give them the space to, to explore and to talk and to share. Um, that doesn’t mean that you leave a giant Boyd. Uh, cause I mean, we, you know, you can learn to swim by being thrown in the deep end. Probably not a great idea, uh, but you could do it. Uh, but the, the leaders have got to give space in the room for people to share in a talk and maybe ask probing questions. Curiosity is great in that environment because it allows you to ask questions. And if you come with the, uh, curiosity mindset, you might learn something as a leader, you might have you might’ve been thinking the whole time got to go where I gotta go, where I gotta go. Right? Oh, they’re talking about left and you go, Ooh, I didn’t think about that. Let’s could work. Let’s try that left is good. You know, so, but you got to let them talk. You gotta, you got to encourage them. You got to give them room. And then sometimes you’re going to have to ask some probing questions and pull some things out. Because especially if it’s a cultural issue within your organization, people will sit there and just be really, really quiet because they’re waiting for that big title in the room or the guy that’s got the tie or the gal has got the, you know, the suit jacket on whatever it is to talk. And so sometimes awkward silence or a probing question, and then getting out of their way.

Dan Neumann: [21:31] There was, I think I’ll get it right. There was a general three step guideline for deciding if something should be said, and I believe it was something like, does it need to be said, does it need to be said by me? And does it need to be said right now? And I’m like, man, that is good. Right? I’m no master of it. I screw that up all the time. Uh, but I think it’s a really interesting thing for leaders to think about. Is it, is it the right thing? Do I need to say it and do I need to say it right now? Maybe it’s a private conversation later. Maybe you leave room for somebody else to say it. Maybe it doesn’t need to be said at all.

Mike Guiler: [22:14] Right. And then I liked your example. Maybe it’s a private conversation. So you made space. There was a conversation. Maybe somebody went a little bit left and okay, that’s fine. Let’s go there. Let’s see what’s happening. Maybe on the side we come back and I’m having a direct conversation around. So help me understand in the left, help me understand, you know, maybe this, maybe you discovered that, oh, well there was information missing and that’s why, you know, now we need to have that conversation. That’s cool. Um, this also comes back to, you know, the previous conversation, rolling up the paper and smacking people on the nose. Right? If you make space and somebody starts to go left and you smack them, well, guess what? They go very quiet. They’ll go in the background again. That’s just human nature. Uh, except for those, some of us, right. We smack man never happened. Exactly. Hit me again, boss hit me again.

Dan Neumann: [23:10] So leaving some space for conversation, uh, those that have had the pleasure to work with me in person, but I tend to instigate for visualizing things. I know, right? Pleasure. It’s the same ones who like being whacked on the nose. Okay. Got it.

Mike Guiler: [23:31] But I’m one of them though, by the way.

Dan Neumann: [23:37] But there’s, blah-blah-blah becomes a thing that happens. And so many times a simple visual on a piece of paper, a sticky note, a photo of a mural or a Miro remote like, oh my God makes, make all these words tangible.

Mike Guiler: [23:56] That, that, that could never work. What are you talking about, man? That’s just not possible. You know, four or five stickies on a board somewhere. Now we could spend 25 minutes talking about that. No terrible.

Dan Neumann: [24:12]
And visualizations don’t work for visions either. Right? That’s simple, a simple picture of the vision that would never work

Mike Guiler: [24:18] That couldn’t possibly be successful.

Dan Neumann: [24:21] Probably an Eagle soaring over a lake. Isn’t probably what you want at this point. But some visual, a little process map, like connect the dots, literally connect the dots for people. Yup.

Mike Guiler: [24:34] How powerful is that? It’s awesome.

Dan Neumann: [24:38] As an exercise, the reader that they can let us know. So what about pointing people to the problem or adding clarity about what the problem is they’re expected to take on.

Mike Guiler: [24:54] What a great place to start, right? So as a leader, you might come in and say, well, this is our hurdle, right? There’s 15 different ways to solve it, but this is a hurdle. Let’s talk about options. Let’s, let’s think about that. Let’s dig in, see what’s happening. Um, more often than not, I would guess it, especially if this is your first few iterations of this attempt, uh, there’s going to be really quiet in the room. So, you know, as the leader, you’re probably need to start asking some probing questions, getting people to think, getting people to start to engage, uh, trying to maybe invite some of the people that are even further disengaged because you will probably have in the room, a couple people that are used to, or more willing to openly talk, great, get them going. But then how do you agree, gauge everybody else and help bring them out and ask maybe some pointed questions or, or some questions where, you know, the person in the background, that’s really their area of expertise. Let’s help bring them out. So, you know, again, making that environment where people can talk and for heaven sakes resist the urge to, well, this is our hurdle. And if we did a, B and C, we’d solved the hurdle, what do you think they’re all going to shake their head. Yes. Uh, unless of course it’s the person that likes to get smacked on the nose and you’re done, your hour meeting is done in two minutes and you feel like you’ve done a great thing. And all you’ve done is reinforced all the negative behaviors

Dan Neumann: [26:26] The additional thing I see getting reinforced there is that’s your solution. So if I just do your solution, guess what? I won’t get in trouble.

Mike Guiler: [26:34] If it fails, exactly. Right. Wait a minute. I did what my leader told me and it didn’t work must be their fault. Right.

Dan Neumann: [26:43] Which is the safety part. So then maybe exploring as we get towards the back part here of our time together, the ownership of it does the manager and or leader maybe the same person own what’s happening or is the team in motivated to, and actually taking on the ownership.

Mike Guiler: [27:04]
Right. So there there’s a great technique, right? So as you’re starting to move into, you know, self managing teams and engaging individuals, that can be really scary, especially at the beginning. And, oh, I don’t want to own that because boy, if that goes poorly, you know, okay, that’s a bad, you know, it’s not a bad thing is going to happen to me. So maybe we, we broaden it out and we start talking about the team owning things, right? Uh, in Scrum, we talk about that all the time, team ownership, you know, we succeed and we fail as a team, not as an individual, we all bring our skill sets together. So transitioning that the mindset to okay, as an organization. So our Scrum team, for example, we’re going to own this thing and we’re going to self-manage and yeah maybe two or three people with the team were, were spitting out ideas. And we figured out we’re going to do a D and F to get to Z. Awesome. But as a team, we own that. Not, not as an individual, not as those three people, but as a team and our leader can, can feather into that beautifully. Right. So we failed or failed too strong a word, right? We didn’t, we didn’t reach where we wanted to go. We didn’t hit our goal. That’s okay. We didn’t, it wasn’t them. It wasn’t her. It was us. And now in totality is a group. We’re going to figure out what to do next, to get to there.

Dan Neumann: [28:26]
I lived a cautionary tale on ownership, uh, in my past. And it looked a lot like, here’s your goal? And we understood the goal. And we looked at that and we said, boss, there’s no way, like, there’s no way, but we will try. And we started trying, we sprint sprint sprint, and we, we tracked our progress towards the goal with actual working software. And it was a gloomy picture. It was so bad. It’s like, well, we’re moving slow. The off shore teams, not moving at hall, literally zero working software, a few sprints. And we said, we’re not going to make it boss. Then we didn’t make it. And boss gets up in front of the room and he goes, I’m physically sick you missed the dates. Okay. Now part of that 14% of the actively disengaged. Cause I got LinkedIn on a resume to work on. Life’s too short. I don’t need to get hit on the nose and kicked in the ass at the same time. Just like this was fun. I’m not doing it again. Yeah. Yeah. Just tell me what to do next time please. Yeah. You know, just, uh, yeah, if you need me, I’ll be over. Thanks. It’s a challenge with leadership, you know, being clear that we hopefully own this thing and there was no shortage of warning signs, you know, what do you do about the warning signs? Is there another path we might take to get there? A shortcut? Yeah. Maybe we hold our nose a little bit and uh, drink the yucky tasting water.

Mike Guiler: [29:59] And talk about it. Right. And maybe the leader can lean in and go, well, what if we did that? Could that possibly work? Let’s, let’s spitball around ideas around that, um, back to your, your, your point, right? Hopefully the leader was radiating up and out. We’re in trouble. We’re not making it right. This isn’t looking good. Right.

Dan Neumann: [30:24] If you did it, wouldn’t be a cautionary tale,

Mike Guiler: [30:26] But there you go. Right. And help. That’s what this is all about. When we start to look at it as from a, a we perspective, not a me, not a them. I don’t know. Uh, you know, or in us right now, we’re talking now we’ve got something to work with now we will all begin to pitch in.

Dan Neumann: [30:46] Yep. Make the picture clear. Help people connect to how they can contribute for sure. Any parting words of wisdom on engaging people and don’t say no. I noticed you were saying Zed. And I was wondering when you became British.

Mike Guiler: [31:03] Well, you know, um, worked with a lot of great people in Britain. So there you go. Um, so this is really hard because probably the hardest thing, especially for our managers that have grown up with no, no, I tell them what to do because that’s what my manager did. And quite frankly, maybe that is what your current manager does today. This is hard. It takes time. You’re going to fail. You’re going to stub your toe. That’s okay. Keep going up when you step your toe own it. Just as simple, sorry guys. And gals, I screwed that up. I threw you under the bus. Guess what? Let’s go. And I’m gonna throw me under the bus now. Right. Own it. Because I think, you know, if you make a mistake, that’s okay. If you own the mistake and you own it publicly, I’ll be right beside you the next time, because I’m going to pitch in because that’s the person, that’s the lady I want to work with. Right. That’s cool. Do that.

Dan Neumann: [32:04] Thanks Mike, for the reminder that it takes time and when one, the screws this up own it, hopefully don’t do it again or do it less so next time and then move on. So thanks for that. And thanks for sharing on the whole theme of engaging people.

Mike Guiler: [32:20] Appreciate it. It was great time again, Dan.

Dan Neumann: [32:24] What is on your continuous learning journey right now?

Mike Guiler: [32:26] So, uh, last time we spoke, I was reading, uh, tribal leadership, uh, by, uh, Dave Logan. I’m still reading tribal. We were to ship by day broken. Not because it’s not a good book, it’s an excellent book, but highly recommended. But because I’ve discovered that I really, really, really like pickleball. And so all of my non sleeping non-working time has been invested in pickable.

Dan Neumann: [32:51] So you didn’t apply tribal leadership to your pickle ball

Mike Guiler: [32:56] Some way, because we, we, we built a tribe, right? We now have our local group that that’s organizing itself, managing and coaching each other. So it’s something there’s something there to apply, uh, on the shelf is, uh, Jess Humble’s lean enterprise. That’s the next one.

Dan Neumann: [33:14] Any specific takeaway from tribal leadership that, uh, maybe kind of dangle out there in front of people.

Mike Guiler: [33:21] So there there’s a journey there, and you can see a clear path of, of tribes going from if you will, from zero to 60. And I had never kind of put that together, that there was a path and, and human beings go through a series of steps. So, and, and I haven’t made it to the part of the book yet where, where Dave starts telling me and how we can accelerate that. So I’m looking forward to that. So definitely worth the read.

Dan Neumann: [33:53] And I’ll be curious to see if at the end, it’s something to the effect of it takes time and you’re going to screw it up. Thanks again for taking time to share, Mike.

Mike Guiler: [34:05] Thanks for inviting me.

Outro: [34:09] This has been the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast brought to you by AgileThought. The views, opinions and information expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and the guests, and do not necessarily represent those of AgileThought. Get the show notes and other helpful tips for this episode and other episodes at

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