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Create a Culture That Inspires: Organizational Change, Part 1

Create a Culture That Inspires: Organizational Change, Part 1

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 47
  • Learn about organizational change -- including barriers like burnout, stress and disruption -- and how strengths-based companies can become competent at leading change.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Mara Hoogerhuis, Gallup Subject Matter Expert in Leadership, Learning and Change, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 5 of a webcast series focusing on Creating a Culture That Inspires, Mara covered the first half of what to expect in organizational change, including overcoming obstacles -- such as burnout and stress -- and helping employees to be resilient and thrive. She gave insights on how strengths-based organizations can deal with disruption in employees' work and personal lives and can become competent at leading change.

Access Create a Culture That Inspires -- Part 1, and Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11 of the Create a Culture That Inspires series.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

What should I look for in a job/career?

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on May 22, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:18

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want others to discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's actually a link to that right above me; it'll take you to a YouTube page. Sign in and put your questions in the chat room. We'll be covering those mid-show; mid- and postshow today. If you have questions after the fact, you can always send us an email: If you're there on YouTube watching us, there's a Subscribe button down there; get subscribed. Click the "Like" button, too, while you're down there. It just helps us get discovered on YouTube. And if you want to listen to us as a podcast, any podcast player, any app, iPhone, Android, just search "Gallup Webcasts" and you will find Called to Coach there. Mara Hoogerhuis is our host today. She's a Gallup Subject Matter Expert in Leadership, Learning and Change. And Mara, great to have you back on Called to Coach. It's been a while. Welcome!

Mara Hoogerhuis 1:12

Thank you. I'm excited to be back! I think it's probably been over 5 years by now.

Jim Collison 1:17

Well, shoot, we're gonna have to fix that so it's not so long. What does it mean to be a Subject Matter Expert on Leadership, Learning and Change? I think that's an interesting title. What does that mean?

Mara Hoogerhuis 1:27

So my background is in organizational development and organizational learning, and I think a lot about how to shift organizations at both an individual and systemic level. And no doubt that takes a lot of leadership, a lot of learning across the organization, and maybe even a new paradigm for how we think about initiating and adopting change. So I get to spend my days doing, doing what I love best, working with organizations on that.

Jim Collison 1:56

That's great. I love that phrase "doing what I do best," right? We spend a lot of time here at Gallup talking about that. We, speaking of that, we have been going through a series on building Cultures That Inspire, and part of this culture building and inspiring. It's, we know organizations are going to go through change, right, and part of change in a word that's gotten kind of popular and it didn't take a pandemic to create stress in the workplace, right. We've always had changes -- disruption is always a part of the workplace. And so as we think about resiliency, that's a word that's come up a lot recently. And we think of this idea of How do strengths and resiliency connect? I think a lot of people have had that question, Mara. So we're going to spend the next few minutes talking about that. But let me throw that out to you: How do strengths and resiliency connect?

Mara Hoogerhuis 2:43

Yeah, I mean, resiliency is about -- is, in some ways, having the energy and ability to take on what we need to take on. There's probably other words that you think about when you think about "resilient," like, like grit and fortitude. But, you know, that word "energy" really resonates with me when I think about how you build resiliency. And change requires discretionary effort. It requires fighting inertia; we need to do things differently, and that takes energy. And if there's one thing we know about a strengths-based approach to development or leading with your strengths in the workplace, is that that is a source of natural energy. So it's deeply connected to opportunities what I do best, and when we're in that strengths zone, we have more discretionary effort, more energy, and that builds on a lot of the resiliency and grit we need to adapt and adopt to the changes around us.

Jim Collison 3:39

When we think pre-COVID, give us a little -- what, what did we know, like, you know, I kind of mentioned, COVID didn't create the stress. It's been there; disruption's been there. But pre-COVID, what do we know?

Mara Hoogerhuis 3:50

Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, certainly Gallup's been studying the workplace for many, many years. We've been studying resiliency and agility in the workplace. And a connection I want to, want to draw is to burnout. This was something a lot of my clients were talking about pre-COVID, and it is even more important right now, when we think about the crazy levels of stress and worry that people now have. In fact, Gallup studies that and we have seen the level of thriving in the U.S. plummet and the levels of stress and worry increase.

Mara Hoogerhuis 4:24

So to go back to burnout, even before all of the craziness of what we're going through now, burnout was something organizations couldn't ignore. The World Health Organization had declared burnout as an occupational phenomenon just in 2019. And from Gallup's own research we know 76% of employees were experiencing burnout on the job, at least sometimes. And what are the negative implications of burnout on the job? I mean, there's certainly a lot related to your own personal wellbeing and health. People who experience burnout are more likely to call in sick, for example.

Mara Hoogerhuis 5:02

There's also a lot of organizational implications to burnout. When people don't have any more discretionary effort to give, we see that show up in their performance, and that, you know, snowballs into organizational performance, loss of productivity, safety issues in the workplace, lower customer metrics. So I think the "unlock" of how do organizations support the, the individuals in the organization to be resilient, to have discretionary effort and energy is really important. And, you know, maybe a way to kind of break this apart, Jim, is to even think about how organizations support resiliency and change at the individual level, and then how they support resiliency and change at the organizational level.

Jim Collison 5:52

Yeah. So let's, let's break those two apart and think about that. How do we think -- individually, how do we boil this down, and what should we be thinking about as we're, as we're thinking about people?

Mara Hoogerhuis 6:01

Yeah. So, you know, again, to this notion of burnout, we published a lot of research and a perspective paper on burnout, where we really highlighted some of the big barriers. And so I often think about, before we understand how to make individual and organizational change, we want to understand those barriers. And they are things that are probably common sense, but maybe we're not commonly working against them. Things like unmanageable workloads; things like unclear communication from managers, lack of manager support, unreasonable time pressure.

Mara Hoogerhuis 6:36

And so you think about how an organization might support individual resiliency. A lot of it can be boiled down to opportunities to do what you do best at work. We actually have seen when employees say they have the opportunity to play to their strengths in the workplace, they're 57% less likely to experience burnout frequently. In that research, we saw that when I play to my strengths in the workplace, when I do what I love that gives me energy, it's associated with experiences of greater interest in the work I'm doing; liking the people I work with even more; happiness, enjoyment and progress, which is productivity. So just by positioning people in a -- in a smarter way to capitalize on what they bring, we can reduce the likelihood of burnout and increase the likelihood of resiliency in the workplace.

Jim Collison 7:33

Mara, let me ask you a really pointed question as we think about, we are going into a process of recovery. The world will recover as we're going through this bit. And organizations have a chance maybe to restart or to do it differently going in. What kind of -- when we think about, at the individual level, what would you recommend? Individuals may be going back to new jobs or going back to old jobs that have completely changed or going back to work environments they may not be comfortable with. What kind of advice would you give, or what kind of advice could we give to those individuals returning to something that could be completely disruptive for them?

Mara Hoogerhuis 8:08

Well, you know, frankly, even, even as we're continuing to work right now through the pandemic, this is an opportunity. You know, Gallup, has seen the number of people who like what they do each day dropping from about 27% agree to 14% agree. So I guess I'd break that into two things. One, I'd say, what do we do right now? The return to the workplace is long and ambiguous, and nobody's quite sure. So what do we do right now? I think one thing we do right now is helping people think about how they're managing their energy, not just their time. I don't know about you, working from home, being on quarantine. Time doesn't have the same meaning it did, it did anymore. But energy resonates a lot with me because there's some things I'm doing where I really feel great. There's some things that I just am burnt, you know, tired and low, low enthusiasm afterwards. So I think one thing we could do is manage our energy.

Mara Hoogerhuis 9:07

The way we get work done has shifted right now, and paying a little bit of attention to it could be really powerful. It could be as simple as doing a short kind of time-in-place study. You know, take 20 seconds, think about what you did yesterday. And all the things you did yesterday, you talked to email, or, you know, you had emails; you had meetings; maybe you did some design work; maybe you had a happy hour with friends. List out all those things you did, and then go back through and put a plus or minus if it was something that, you know, increased your energy or drained your energy. And I think the key there is, when you have that insight about the type of work that gives you energy, do more of it. Figure out ways to do more in the current work. And then, to your point about coming back, how do we start to reimagine the way we split our work as a team to allow everybody to do a little bit more of what gives them that energy?

Jim Collison 10:03

Yeah, I've been, I've been spending time. So I've been in the same spot now 10 weeks, same spot, where my world combines. So my personal life and my business, the, you know, my, the the business side of things came together into one. And so 10 weeks of that gets a little exhausting. So last week, I spent some time doing what you just said, and thinking like, what kind of things give me energy? And solving problems and fixing things, from a computer hardware standpoint, is one of those things I really enjoy. So I started thinking about problems: What do I currently want to solve here? And it was amazing that just that shift with, I could feel my personal energy change, as I would get excited about OK, here's something new, not some of the same things I've been doing. So I've had to intentionally make that shift. Is that the kind of shift that you're talking about for people is just taking that initiative to say, OK, I need to do some things differently and find those enter those spots of energy -- is that what you're talking about?

Mara Hoogerhuis 10:58

I think that's a great example. And, you know, your example shows how any individual can own that for themselves. I think another way of, you know, building resiliency to change is having a little agency inside of it. And so, as an individual, I could definitely do that for myself. As a manager, I could also multiply that for my team. If I'm having these conversations with the group, and then being smarter about how I delegate work, now we're delegating work, not just to get it done, but even more importantly, to keep the team energized, to keep the team engaged, to keep the team resilient and contributing. And that feels like a much more powerful way to delegate work than just "Who has free time?"

Jim Collison 11:38

Yeah. In the second part here, in this session, let's just talk about teams, because we want to dive in. We've talked about the individuals, but at the organization level, how do you build that kind of that muscle memory or that agility and flexibility that needs to be built in at the team level?

Mara Hoogerhuis 11:54

So I love the term "muscle memory." I mean, I think this is something that's not going away, and so if we can build a capacity to deal with change and be resilient and agile, that is an element of culture that will lead to success. In fact, we've seen that in terms of more, you know, thriving resilient cultures endure during good times and bad times. So, you know, how do you do it? Well, the biggest barriers that we found in our work around agility that get in the way of flexible, resilient, agile cultures are things like leaders and managers having an insular viewpoint or a lack of knowledge; structural issues like silos and hierarchy and bureaucracy; risk aversion, etc.

Mara Hoogerhuis 12:40

And so I think even underneath all of how that manifests is perhaps this mindset of fear of losing control and resistant to new ideas and allergic to change. And so how an organization deals with that, I think you've got to address -- adjust the mindset a bit and think about how decisions are made inside an organization. The way decisions used to be made -- kind of slow, methodical, from the top and then being pushed down, just doesn't work in an environment that is so prone to be disrupted and change so frequently. So I actually distill it down to decision-making and, as an organization, how do you increase the decision-making speed and, and distribute decision-making authority down to the grassroots level, so that local teams can react and own change as well as initiate it; not just waiting for the powers that be to roll out the change plan.

Jim Collison 13:42

Some organizations have experienced this disruption already. So they may have had some of these symptoms before that was causing burnout in their organizations, and they were having, you know, they were having their own -- holding their employee problems and turnover, right. This has given them the ability to kind of wipe the slate clean or start over or try some new things. What kind of -- as we look at organizations that may be in the middle of this disruption right now, what would you say? Or what's some things they could do to begin to kind of start over or do something new, right? What, what, what advice would you give those managers?

Mara Hoogerhuis 14:18

So, you know, a big tenet of a strengths-based approach to development is being more interested in what's led to success. And I think a lot of organizations have seen how quickly they adapted, how quickly they shifted to this work-from-home. And these organizations would have been the ones prior that said, you know, No, we're not agile, or no, we don't -- we can't do that. And so I think there's this kind of unique moment in time right now where we have all -- our reality has shifted. And so now our beliefs can shift. In fact, that's one of my favorite sayings from some change gurus I follow like, like Peter Senge, that changes in reality precede changes in belief. We're in the middle of a -- of seeing that something we never thought could happen could happen. So I'd encourage organizations to figure out what they did that allowed them to be so nimble in response to this crisis. To study that, figure that out, and then keep that. Cultures are always changing and evolving. So there's no reason that you can't keep that element of the culture that just emerged in this crisis. And go forward.

Jim Collison 15:28

When we think about leading change as a competency, like something that we do, not just respond to, because I think for the first few weeks of this, we were just responding. But when it becomes cultural, and it really gets embedded, what does that look like? I mean, what does that mean?

Mara Hoogerhuis 15:43

Yeah, I mean, a com -- a competency, in layman's terms, is a kind of a functional demand of the job, right? It's something you got to be able to do. And leading change is now one of those functional demands. It's not a "nice to have"; it's not something you outsource to the Change Management Office; it's not something you wish someone would do more for, for you. It is a key functional demand that leads to excellence in every single role. And I think, you know, to really sustain this as a cultural element, organizations have to prioritize leading change as a competency. So, you know, that means setting the expectations that this is a competency; helping develop and coach people to bring up more new and clever ideas, to pivot quicker, to distribute leader authority and empowerment; and then hold people accountable for it. You can put these -- you can put leading change on your, on your 360. You can talk about it in performance reviews. You can reward and recognize it for the change agents among, amongst us. And I think, you know, when we put that level of intentionality on something as an organization, it tends to be a reinforcing, virtuous cycle.

Jim Collison 16:56

And how can strengths help with that, especially when we think about what I -- doing what I do best every day? How could that accelerate that or at least assist in some of that building of change and making it a competency?

Mara Hoogerhuis 17:09

So I'm, you know, preaching to the choir here. I know we all, we all know we have unique ways of being and doing. And we know that a strengths-based approach and the CliftonStrengths tool is not meant to be a disqualifier and tell people what they can't do; it's meant to be an enabler and a qualifier. And that's how I merge a strengths-based approach and competencies with my client is the competencies as the functional demand or the, the path to excellence are the "What." And then we start to look at who people are, and your strengths as the "How." So how I lead change might be different, based on how I'm hardwired, than how you lead change, Jim. But I think the goal here is to help everybody find their path to being that, that change leader inside the organization.

Jim Collison 17:56

We've spent a lot of time over the last year talking about the role of the manager in this, and I think, when we think about leading competencies, I mean, it really comes down to the manager to make sure this is happening at the team level. As we think about maybe our structure out of strength, Strengths Based Leadership, right, those 4 Domains of Leadership, any advice or some tips you could give managers as we kind of wrap up this section, to kind of think, How can they use their own themes in the context of -- even the 4 Needs of the Followers to push this stuff through? Give us a little advice on that.

Mara Hoogerhuis 18:29

So it's about finding the unique contribution that only you can make, where we need to give you the "game ball" so you can, you know, play the winning shot. And so I think about, you know, those people with Relational strengths, who are so savvy about, about people. Feelings are are hugely involved in change -- feelings of loss and fear and happiness and excitement. And I think those folks who lead with a lot of Relationship Building can be attuned to that, help others feel better about change, acknowledge the emotions that happen with change.

Mara Hoogerhuis 19:03

You know, our folks with a lot of Executing talents are the engines, and they can, they can really be the power behind change initiatives to make things happen and are iterated.

Mara Hoogerhuis 19:15

You know, for the, the folks with a lot of Influencing talent, I think broadening involvement is a key strategy for change. In fact, we're going to dig into that more in the second episode. And so, gosh, sometimes Influencers know a lot of people, and they're able to bring networks of people together. And that's hugely important.

Mara Hoogerhuis 19:34

And then lastly, you know, around, around the Strategic Thinking Domain, there's a lot to make sense of when we're going through change. There's a lot of information and data and reasoning and logic, and those folks can help us kind of map out some of the key elements that help us make sense of the Why, the Where and the How.

Jim Collison 19:53

That puts a really nice framework on this as we think about concluding it. Any other final thoughts on this idea of resiliency and leading through change?

Mara Hoogerhuis 20:04

I guess my only thought would be going back to, for yourself, thinking about how you lead through change as a leader. Think about what you need to let go of to let others step up and own. I think when we think about a culture that really is change-adaptive, it means we've got to have a lot of trust and empowerment in other people to make the right call. And so as a leader, your value is more in multiplying the number of people on your team who can make that right call than just being the savior yourself.

Jim Collison 20:38

That's great. In other words, using your team to magnify your own, right? Super great. Well, we're looking forward to the second part of this. If you're listening live, stay around. If you're listening just on a podcast, just go to the next one. But with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now in Gallup Access. Go to If you have any questions, you can always email us: -- a great way to do that as well. If you want to follow, if, maybe you're just like, Oh, wait a minute, they do these live? Yeah, we do. And we'd love to have you join us. It's way more fun live. So head to Follow us there, and you'll see a complete list of all of our podcasts and webcasts that are coming up here in the future as well. If you want to join our social communities, head out to If you're not a Facebooker -- and that's OK if you're not -- head to LinkedIn, "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" there as well. Want to thank you for joining us today. Again, if you're listening live, hang around for Part 2 of this. If not, just hit fast forward and go to the next one. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Mara Hoogerhuis' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Strategic, Maximizer, Relator, Responsibility and Arranger.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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