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Improving Teamwork: Sharing a Common Purpose

Improving Teamwork: Sharing a Common Purpose

Webcast Details

  • How can organizations foster great teamwork and collaboration through their communication?
  • How does effective, transparent communication help connect employees to their company's mission?
  • What is the role of managers in improving teamwork?

Jane Miller, President and Chief Operating Officer at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 1 of a series on teamwork, this episode focused on the workplace before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Jane shared what Gallup has learning in navigating the pandemic. Communication and overcommunication are vital, and the role of the manager is key in building trust and keeping employees connected to their company's mission, especially as so many have been working remotely. Effective, transparent communication from leadership via managers brings every employee in to what the organization is doing and thinking, and helps facilitate greater teamwork and collaboration. It will continue to be important as workplaces move into a post-pandemic mindset.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 17. This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on teamwork. Access Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of the series on teamwork.

When we work from home, we may be individually more productive, but are we collectively? ... Are we doing what's best for the greater good when we're remote, versus when we are together? Because when we're together, we can do some pretty powerful things.

Jane Miller, 30:29

Culture and purpose are closely linked, but they're very, very different. And I think purpose is actually a subset of culture, but you can't have culture without purpose.

Jane Miller, 9:35

The more that [coaches] can work with leaders and managers on thinking about what it takes to bring out the best in every single person, while simultaneously meeting the needs of the market and the clients, that's really what's going to bring focus to the future.

Jane Miller, 42:23

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 April 15, 2021.

Jim Collison 0:21

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others 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 live chat room, and the link is above me on the live page right there. Or -- and it'll take you to YouTube. Sign in and chat with us as we're going along. If you have questions after the fact, and many of you are doing this now, send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe if you're on YouTube. That way you get notifications of whenever we publish anything new. And don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcasting app. I think podcasting actually got more popular during the pandemic. And so if you haven't caught up on that yet, jump in there and get subscribed to Called to Coach. Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Learning and Development Consultant here with me at Gallup, and Jaclynn, it's always a great day when I have you on Called to Coach. Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 1:14

Likewise. Thank you. All right. Well, I'm excited to announce who we have on board today. We've got Jane Miller. She is responsible for creating a high-performing culture that drives customer experience, employee engagement and financial outcomes for sustainable growth. If you don't know, as President and Chief Operating Officer of Gallup, Jane oversees the worldwide operations. She ensures all systems, resources and, most importantly, people are in place and aligned to achieve the goals of the organization. Jane is steadfast in her focus to create a sustainable future as a socially responsible, community-focused organization that maximizes human potential. So we're very excited to have Jane on board today. Her Top 5 are Self-Assurance, Individualization, Belief, Focus and Maximizer. So welcome, Jane! So excited to have you.

Jane Miller 2:09

Thank you, Jaclynn. It's great to be here. It's been quite a while, so I'm excited to be back.

Jaclynn Robinson 2:13


Jim Collison 2:14

Jane, you're, we had you on for Belief, I think Season 2 or 3, early on Called to Coach that, or on Theme Thursday, it was one of my favorite times. So it's always, always great to have you as a part of this. When Jaclynn and I were brainstorming on this idea, you know, we're calling this common, you know, Sharing a Common Purpose, you're, you were the first person in my, I said, "We got to get Jane here to talk about this." When we think about teams and culture and values and purpose -- all those things -- certainly, your, your primary responsibilities at Gallup for what you do for us is to bring all of those. And you just don't say it; you kind of, you do it. Like you do it and you do it well.

Jim Collison 3:01

It'd be easy for me to say that, of course, because I work for the organization, and so does Jaclynn. But I think lots of folks have seen you live this out over the years. I mean, you've been at Gallup forever, right, probably more years than you've been alive, just to be honest.

Jane Miller 3:15

Yeah, yeah, pretty much.

Jim Collison 3:17

Give us, for folks who don't know, just really quick before we dive into the content, can you go back a little bit on your history at Gallup, just from from an organizational standpoint? Give us a 2-minute background on you and your, your runup there at Gallup.

Jane Miller 3:33

To your point, I have literally grown up here. And it's a privately held, employee-owned organization. I think it's always a little bit different than one that may be publicly held. But many of us have been here our entire career and have really been here because of the purpose, because of the belief and because of all that we contribute to society. So I've been in many different jobs over the past 35 years and continue to have a significant amount of fun and passion and mission for everything we do on a daily basis throughout this entire global organization.

Jim Collison 4:05

That's great. Jaclynn and I have been spending a lot of time talking about leaders, and just coming off a leadership series. We know, we really know -- and I think we, we figured this out during COVID -- that building a strengths-based organization is really kind of puts a protective bubble or puts a -- maybe "bubble" is the wrong word; let's use "armor" -- around organizations, right, when we think about teams and leadership. Jane, as we think about the lead-up to COVID, we're going to talk about the, the past, the present and the future during our time here. As you think about the lead-up to COVID, so everything pre-March 2020, and we think about the culture we've built here, highlight for us kind of the importance, as we think about that culture for you and the values that settle in, how important -- how do you see that and how important that is, is that to our teams at Gallup?

Jane Miller 4:56

Well, I think it's integral. And I think that we were very fortunate that we had a strong culture going in, because it naturally builds an additional level of resiliency in individuals and in teams and ultimately in the organization to make it through pretty rough times where there was a lot of fear, a lot of unknowns. And by having a close culture, where people could rely upon their strengths, be open about their weaknesses, be transparent, it really allowed a different level of collaboration, and ultimately, performance, that people could rally behind each other, rally behind the purpose, the mission and everything that our clients needed, the market needed, and figure out a way to, really a path forward -- a path out of what were some pretty dark times as an organization.

Jim Collison 5:43

In that, when, when we think about the armor built -- the pre-armor, getting ready for this -- and we think about, you know, culture and values, if there was one thing you could point to -- and you could do, two, if you need to -- but if there was one thing you look back and say, "Man, I am glad that we got that right." What was that? And then how did we get there? Like, so maybe a two-pronged question.

Jane Miller 6:07

Yeah. Well, you know, I think that really what it came down to was, and probe me on this a little bit, but I think it was the overcommunication. So again, we, a few of us began to see this unfold as early as January. And part of that was because we were sitting in Omaha, and Omaha was one of the only, I think it's called biocontainment units, in the country. So we started getting COVID patients long before the rest of the country was even aware of from a media perspective, and could begin to see. In addition, we saw what was occurring in China. Therefore, we could mentally prepare, using basically Strategic to say, We don't know what's coming, but we know something's coming. So let's start overcommunicating.

Jane Miller 6:47

Our research showed early on that overcommunication through managers, so that managers could truly relate to each person at a different level and meet them where they were, because everybody was experiencing the same storm. But they literally weren't in the same boat. I know that that's a popular quote, and I absolutely love it. And strengths really helped each manager think about where each person was in each of those boats, to help make sense of the experience that was beginning to occur, whether it was emotionally, psychologically or whether it was financially. Some all of a sudden didn't have jobs because the world changed. Others were busier than they've ever been and more productive than they'd ever been.

Jane Miller 7:24

So managers really had to navigate, you know, who was having waves crashing up over them, and who was smooth sailing. And I think that the communication was an integral value as a part of our culture to say, We're in it together. Now, let's figure out how each person contributes to what it means in coming out of it.

Jim Collison 7:44

Jaclynn, you've, you've watched this transpire too from the outside. Anything, anything you'd add to that, filtering it through kind of what we saw from a customer standpoint as well?

Jaclynn Robinson 7:55

Yeah, that lands so well. And it goes right back to that communication point that you just brought up, Jane. I think we saw that, even as employees at Gallup, that we were receiving frequent communication via emails and through town halls. And so we always felt like we, like it was very transparent, and we knew it was coming down the pipeline. And then at the, kind of the front-line level, as we were coaching and working with other managers, I think those that overcommunicated, they found that it was easier to start navigating through those, those rough waters, and that the team was still very cohesive. But those that weren't communicating, or leadership wasn't maybe communicating with them, really struggled.

Jaclynn Robinson 8:34

So I think you're hitting the nail on the head in terms of, Were they already a strengths-based organization beforehand, where they were connected to the mission, and they understood and appreciated each other's talents? But then were they communicating, as soon as things started to, to get a little gray? Or it was OK, what's coming down the pipeline? So I think, even at Gallup, if we didn't know what we didn't know, there was still almost a plan in place to say, "OK, if we don't know what we don't know, if we go this way, this is what will happen; if we go this way, this is what will happen." And I think we did that so well.

Jaclynn Robinson 9:07

And I recognize that other organizations, the managers or leaders I was coaching, it was either/or; you know, they either overcommunicated or they really struggled with the communication piece. And it felt like a lot of kind of lost souls, so to speak, within the organization that were saying, "Where are we going? Where are we heading? What's our purpose? How am I contributing?"

Jim Collison 9:30

Jane, you want to add anything to that?

Jane Miller 9:32

Well, I was just going to chime in, because I think we're, you know, culture and purpose are closely linked, but they're very, very different. And I think purpose is actually a subset of culture, but you can't have culture without purpose. And we, I think, when people join Gallup, in particular, and any of the other exceptional organizations -- and there are so many that we work with -- they choose in many cases because of what the purpose and the mission is. But what then has to happen with culture is how it plays out in daily communication, how it plays out in daily actions really.

Jane Miller 10:05

Because culture at the end of the day is how we do what we do, and why we do what we do. And that is demonstrated through management and leadership, and then how individual associates and individual contributors are able to make decisions on their own on a daily basis that allow them the empowerment and the encouragement to know the right answer. And I think that that was one of the beauties is that it continued to reinforce and affirm what people needed to do, as it related to really their own values and their own strengths, so that they could carry on throughout, throughout the entire pandemic.

Jim Collison 10:38

Jane, how important, you know, you know, 2 years ago, we started, we wrote a book, It's the Manager. And we, we've, I think we've known that. I've sensed that, being a manager at Gallup for the 14 years that I've been there. I've certainly sensed -- we, we kind of always knew that; we wrote the book around it, have been talking a lot about it. But going into the pandemic now, as we think about the actual, it's now March 2020, we're headed in. How important was it for, and what did you see in our managers or in managers around this purpose in their response to this? So give us a little critique of what you saw from the outside looking in and how managers responded.

Jane Miller 11:16

You know, it was clearly to me the most important group to get to immediately and to stay in touch with immediately. So I made a point of making sure that every other week, I was with almost every single management team throughout the organization, to say, Is there anything you need? Do you understand where we're at? And we were overtly open about where our challenges were, what we could see, what we couldn't see. And essentially created a 12-step plan to say, Here's how we will move through this and progress until we know exactly where the revenue and the business is coming from.

Jane Miller 11:47

But I think it was a way to develop, first, transparency and then, trust, that allowed them to feel like they could say what they needed to say in their own words. Because I think if you have too many canned statements that comes out from leadership, it doesn't have the sincerity or the stamp of each of the managers. And each of the managers are really running their own little teams and their own little businesses, and need to feel like they can translate it in their own words and have confidence that it's going to stick. And so I think that that was one of the most important things was really helping managers, again, make sense of experience, of where we were and what we had to do, and that we had hard decisions in front of us.

Jane Miller 12:21

You know, I read an article a few weeks ago that a lot of people don't talk about, that the most difficult part of management is having difficult conversations and then letting people go. And in the middle of a pandemic, there was a lot of that. And so they really had to go through and understand and have the competency to have the confidence, while, most importantly, being super caring. And I think that that was maybe one of the best things is it really showed everybody's care. And that's a critical part of our high-performing culture is that we're also a high-caring culture. And I think that came out in spades throughout all the pandemic.

Jim Collison 12:57

How important -- you referenced a 12-step plan. And, and when it first came out, I was, I didn't, I didn't realize how important that was going to be. But from a senior management perspective, how was, how important was that that you had it kind of already preplanned out, and we could track and follow it as we went along -- there were no surprises?

Jaclynn Robinson 13:17

Yeah, it created a lot of stability, a lot of stability.

Jane Miller 13:21

Well, that's funny that you say, "No surprises," because I have Adaptability [No.] 33. So basically, I don't like surprises. I want to make sure that we kind of know what's always coming. And with Strategic No. 6, it means that I have to have a backup plan for backup plan for a backup plan. Well, because we didn't know what was happening with the economy, we didn't know what was going to happen with our business, we had to keep saying, "OK, what happens if this occurs? What happens if this occurs? And what happens if this occurs?" And then make 3 to 10 literally different plans. So then that's what constituted the 12-step plan.

Jane Miller 13:52

And I think it's always better for humans to say, "Here's what we can all be fearful of together; here are some things that you don't need to be fearful of." So that we just, you know, draw a line in the sand and say, "Yeah, there are some scary things in front of us. Let's own that, and we'll be in it together. And then here are the things that we shouldn't be scared of. Here are the things we can just knock out right now."

Jane Miller 14:11

So really, it was a way to, again, have the transparency. I love everything about business. I love everything about leading a business as it relates to, again, our purpose and mission, or our "Why" for why we exist as an organization. But at the end of the day, you still have all the mechanics that go into a business. And first and foremost, you've got to take care of your best resource, which is your people. So the 12-step plan was intended to make sure that our people knew where we were in this journey -- the good, the bad and the ugly, really, and how they fit into it and how they could help play a role in getting us all through it. And that was, I think that was what made it valuable was it gave people a road map.

Jim Collison 14:52

Jane, how did your own Top 5 play into that, as we -- you know, you, you alluded to a little, a little bit, but it's March. You're thinking, "I've got to lead through this." By the way, I never had any doubt, from, just from the outside. Like I was, you know, but talk about it from your own perspective, from your own Top 5. How did you -- what do you lean on? How'd you do it?

Jane Miller 15:14

Well, I sometimes say Self-Assurance is one of the most misunderstood strengths. And I think some of you have heard me tell the story before that I didn't even believe I had Self-Assurance. When it first came out in 1999, I went running over and said, "There's no way I have this!" And Don [Clifton] said to me, Dad said to me, "Do you know what you do well, and do you know what you don't do well?" And I said, "I do." He goes, "You know what your weaknesses are?" I said, "Yeah." And he said, "Can you let go of things and let other people be better than you?" And I said, "Absolutely." Well, that was the epitome of Self-Assurance in this case, because in leading with Self-Assurance, nobody, myself included, knew what was coming. We didn't know what the next day was going to hold, let alone the next week.

Jane Miller 15:52

So you have to have that inner compass, that true north. And that's a part of Belief as well, combined with Self-Assurance, that says, We're just going to start moving and through relationships, and each of the different leaders, let's talk about how we're going to do this. Obviously, it wasn't all, you know, cupcakes and roses. It was clearly having some tough conversations about what part of our business needed to change in order to continue down this journey.

Jane Miller 16:17

So Self-Assurance really said, Who are the people I need to help me? What are my weaknesses so I can get other people to help me fast? And pulling those people together. And then the Belief in the purpose and the mission -- that we have so much to offer clients, we knew that clients were going to need us more than ever through this, whether it meant that it was -- maybe not in April, but for sure, by May and June, and they did. Clients hung in there. They were back big, especially by June and July, and really needed to know what was happening with the future of work. Also, simultaneously, what was happening as we were going through it, really in helping create exceptional workplaces in a very, very unprecedented -- of course, the most popular word of the year -- time. So Self-Assurance and Strategic, but really with that core Belief right in the middle of all of it.

Jim Collison 17:05

William has a question in chat. And Jaclynn, I want to throw this to you as well. But let's ask Jane first. So William says he's curious, did you meet with manager teams as individual groups or as large groups? Did you feel like your communication would be better or worse either way?

Jane Miller 17:20

It's an excellent question. I did both. So I literally went through, I would say we have about 12 very large groups of 80 to 200 people each. And then I went through with each of their management teams, so 5 to 12 people at a time with their leader, and just answered any questions. Because what was going on in technology was very different than what was going on within administrative support, for example, or what was going on within accounting versus consulting. So the differences across the business were great. And if you didn't have the individual meetings -- Individualization is [my] No. 2 -- and sometimes I, my Individualization comes out more in systems and processes in how it affects people. So I segment the groups to think about what's most meaningful and relevant to each of those groups so that we have clear-cut communication. But simultaneously, we would have the large group of managers together as well, so they could hear some of the common general messages, to know that they were all getting the same message at one level -- the most important messages -- and then how it was individualized by team, based on where their business was.

Jim Collison 18:27

Jaclynn, have you heard anything as, in your coaching work with our organizations, have you, have you heard any best practices around that? This, in this communicating with teams individually, large groups? Have you heard anything?

Jaclynn Robinson 18:41

I have. And I would say that has been the best practice -- exactly what Jane just expressed -- that I've seen in organizations as well, where they're, they're talking at the more broader scale. And then from that level, the managers are taking it down to the teams and really being clear on, This is what's happening across the board. This is how it impacts us. And let's talk about, let me open the floor to you now and get your feedback. What are you still concerned about? What questions do you have? You know, Do you understand where your value is and how you're continuing to contribute?

Jaclynn Robinson 19:13

I think that question arose a lot for people as we were at that, the ground level in learning and development is hearing from people, Am I still offering value? Am I still contributing? Am I connected to the, the ultimate purpose of the organization? Has our purpose shifted because of what's happening in the world right now? Especially with people working remote, you're not always on site, so people don't know if you're contributing value or not. And I think the more clarity that managers had from leadership, and then take the managers having the clarity to then bring that to the individual contributors was a game changer for a lot to go, OK. Now I know the, I know our purpose still remains clear. I know how I contribute to that. This is the value that I bring.

Jane Miller 19:59

And I think people want to see what messaging is in common for the entire organization? What messaging is in common for their team or segment of the business? And then they still want to know, But what's in it for me? And what matters for me? And am I OK -- to your point. So it's as if we've got to move between at least 3 to 4 levels of types of communication to gain the transparency and then, ultimately, the trust.

Jim Collison 20:23

Jane, two questions in one here. Lisa asks, Who was involved in developing this 12-step plan? (Not to be confused with the other 12-step plan, by the way!)

Jane Miller 20:33

I didn't even know there was. But yeah, I heard that. I heard that afterwards.

Jim Collison 20:36

It sounds like Jane's Strategic knows how to do it. But what other groups provided? And then I, and then I want to ask you the question, How did you feel -- so we put this together, and that communication goes downstream, right; it gets communicated out. Do you feel like there, it was coming back to you as well? Were you getting the right amount of input you needed back during that communication cycle?

Jane Miller 20:59

Let me start with that, because --

Jaclynn Robinson 21:00

That's a great question!

Jane Miller 21:02

It's an excellent question. You know, I think a lot of people don't realize, but leaders need feedback -- good, bad or otherwise. I wanted it all, and I got it all, and better than ever. And I appreciated it immensely. As a matter of fact, I started saving it all, because I think it was so evident of both either, you know, affirmation, or, in some cases, fear. Not really, there wasn't, there was a little bit of anger in some cases, but not much. But I, I was getting great feedback. Not only do I listen to it, and ask for it, because I believe in opinions counting. And I'm very open about I want to hear if you're not OK with it, too. So yes, people would write back like crazy to say, Thank you for this communication, or But what about this? So it was huge. And I wish it was, I wish that happened more often, by the way. So that was good.

Jane Miller 21:51

Let's see, the 12-step plan, really, I'm going to, it, it was a management committee effort, which meant that each of the people who are responsible for different areas were always putting their input in. But from a business perspective, the CFO and I, really -- Jim Krieger and I -- needed to sit down and begin to structure it as it related to where the business was growing and where it was not growing. And then go back and forth with collaboration as to, How do you feel about this? How do you feel about that? with a group that was about at least 12 to 14, and then it would expand to about 25. And then we would expand it to all of the managers, which were over 100. So it's kind of an accordion effect, in and out.

Jim Collison 22:33

And you did feel like you were getting the, what you needed, that you were getting that feedback that you needed to be able to then make the next set of decisions?

Jane Miller 22:42

Oh, yeah, because it was, you know, I always say, "Conflict causes clarity." And one of the beauties is, with best friends at work, we are very open with each other. And so we can say some, you know, there were times where people were like, "But I can't cut that many people; so-and-so has to cut that many people." And I said, "Their business isn't shrinking as much as your business is shrinking," or "Their business is growing. We've got to make sure that we've got the right talent in this area." So there were some really tough conversations that were emotionally hard. But because we have the long-term relationships and the in-depth relationships, we can say some hard things and patch up and keep going relative to getting underneath what that discussion needs to be.

Jim Collison 23:22

Did you ever feel like that communication was forced or was out of the ordinary? Or had the culture work we had done in the organization prior to COVID just lead to that natural accordion of communication back and forth?

Jane Miller 23:38

Yes and no. So I would say, Never waste a crisis. So I think it became an opportunity that you know, sometimes -- and I heard this from several leaders, actually, and there are many articles on it as well, but -- you don't, it's a little bit like a pilot. That they're flying on autopilot and doing everything as well as they possibly can 95%, 98% of the time. But you sure want to make sure that if the plane starts to go awry, you've got a great pilot, you know, 2% to 5% are pilot in that 2% to 5% time. Well, the same thing happened with COVID with leadership is that people really had an opportunity to step up in a way that they wouldn't normally have without a crisis. So the crisis actually showcased more and more great leaders, great managers throughout the entire, I think, world, right? All of a sudden, we saw people we never saw as leaders throughout the world that were really able to maneuver at a whole new level. And I think that was very, very cool for leadership. On the other hand, it means that hopefully, they'll have other ways to showcase that when it's not a crisis.

Jim Collison 24:41

Stress testing is really what happened, right?

Jane Miller 24:45

Yes, exactly.

Jim Collison 24:46

These got stress-tested. Jaclynn, in the work that you're doing, were you getting that sense that organizations were really being stress-tested, and some were doing maybe better than others? And Jane, I'm gonna ask you for some examples as we move forward here in a second, but Jaclynn, are you, were you feeling that, as you were out there with other organizations?

Jaclynn Robinson 25:03

Yes. I think, just for the most part, many did see that obstacle as an opportunity. Because more innovation ended up happening. There's a lot of creativity of how do we shift gears and do things differently -- especially in going back to what we talked about initially, when we, you know, kicked it off today. If they already had a strengths-based culture, or a solid culture of communication, trust, relationships and partnerships, where you could feel free to communicate your fear or your paranoia, or I'm burned out or I'm overwhelmed. If they had that foundation first, then they were able to maneuver so much more efficiently through this.

Jaclynn Robinson 25:44

But we all saw, even in our research, that engagement ended up increasing, because whether you had that communication initially or not, COVID forced it, and leaders were kicking into high gear, and they were overcommunicating -- you know, March, April, May --

Jane Miller 25:59

That was beautifully said.

Jaclynn Robinson 25:59

It was amazing to see that. And then I think we saw a little bit of a decline because the communication kind of trickled off, and maybe we can attribute some of that to, are we opening up? Are we not opening up? But then it just increased again, to go, OK, we've got to, we've got to kick this back into high gear. So I think across the board, it's done -- the one --

Jane Miller 26:04

It's gone up.

Jaclynn Robinson 26:22

Maybe a positive, yeah, that's happened for COVID is communication's increased.

Jane Miller 26:25

Huge. You know, the only thing that we saw that's not great is, of course, that wellbeing and engagement used to have a linear relationship, and now they're going the opposite direction. So companies have a huge opportunity in front of them to really change the trajectory of individuals' wellbeing, and overall, their company wellbeing because that's not working for a lot of people -- which is a little, we have yet to explain what's exactly going on, because people are more engaged; work is a respite for many people, right? Because they're loving the productivity, they're loving the focus, and all the things that are, that are working very, very well, because so many companies are having so much success.

Jane Miller 27:03

On the flip side, though, that wellbeing is leading, the lack of wellbeing to the stress, the burnout, the worry that still has to be managed, or we won't end up with the strength of humans that we need. We need them to use their strengths so they get that strength back, right?

Jaclynn Robinson 27:18

Yes. I'm glad you brought that up. There's a an article I was just reading and they're, they're coining vacations now as "workcations," because people are still working on vacation. So they're still engaged. They want to keep doing what they're doing. But they're not taking that mental respite or spiritual respite that they need to just take a moment, take a pause, refresh themselves and get back to work. So I think that's where it goes back even to our friendships and partnerships in the workplace to say, Take this meaningful experience for yourself. Take that pause. We've got you covered; we have your back. Yeah, so it's gonna be interesting to see what ends up happening down the pike.

Jane Miller 27:54

You know, it's anybody's guess moving forward. So now we're really back to where we were a year ago, in a very different way -- in a positive way. But I'm calling it the great global work experiment. Because some people, some companies are enforcing, You will be back in the office 5 days a week. Others are saying, You don't ever have to show in the office again. But it appears the majority are saying, for those who can, in, in knowledge workers and white-collar workers, that there'll be a hybrid work schedule, where you need to show some days, but you can stay home some days. And it's really anybody's guess as it relates to, you know, I think some of us believe that there's no doubt that when you have the relationships, it creates the innovation, it creates some, some of the additional intrinsic parts of work that are so important when you are present in the office.

Jane Miller 28:39

But what is the right amount of time to be present that matters relative to the ultimate productivity? Nobody knows. That's everybody's guess. Some companies are saying you've got to live within driving distance of a hub. Others are saying you can migrate anywhere, excuse me, in the world or anywhere in the country. That begins to change what's going to happen to compensation in the U.S. primarily, maybe globally, because all of a sudden those who are flocking to small towns. According to one of our polls, 48% of Americans wanted to move to rural America. Well, rural America is also small mountain towns. And it's just completely changing the dynamics from an economic perspective, from housing to jobs to cost of living overnight. So the next 2 years are going to be fascinating to watch in terms of how all this plays out.

Jim Collison 29:26

Jane great, great question around this from the chat room: What would you say to an organization that did not communicate well at the start of the pandemic? And let's just say things didn't go well, like whether it's communication or whatever. And there's maybe some distrust. What would you say as we you know, in your leadership, what would you say to coaches who may be helping these organizations or organizational leaders who might be listening to this. Is it too late?

Jane Miller 29:51

No, it's not too late! You know, really, they can start at any point and, again, I believe it starts with the manager. It is the manager, and leaders need to have those open convrsations and bring managers together to talk about where some of the perceptions are, the obstacles are, the realities, and then go out and communicate and open up and, you know, have some of those realities exposed and talk openly about how we resolve them and how we move forward. Of course, at the base of it is always thinking about how each individual plays into that bigger picture, and how the managers bring people together for the greater good.

Jane Miller 30:26

I think that'll be one of the challenges moving to the future, too, is that when we work from home, we may be individually more productive, but are we collectively? So we have to say, Are we doing what's best for the greater good when we're remote, versus when we are together? Because when we're together, we can do some pretty powerful things.

Jim Collison 30:46

Jane, have you learned anything personally on communication during this time, now that we're so different? I mean, we're different, right? We all went, we're kind of this, we're kind of in that hybrid spot now, sort of -- we're probably still more home. Was there anything you changed personally about your communication over the course of the year, knowing that not everybody's on campus, or, you know -- ?

Jane Miller 31:09

Well, I don't have Communication in my Top 10. So I can't just ramble on anything, believe it or not -- maybe I am right now because it's a hot button. But I've learned to rely upon a lot of other people. For example, we put a survey out this week to say what other communication do you want or need right now? Because there's a time and a place when you think you've said it all, and yet there's somebody or several in the organization who feel like they need more information. And there's others who feel flooded, like they're drinking from a firehose, and "Don't give me any more information!"

Jane Miller 31:38

So it really is, my change has been, again, I almost become, oh, because of my Individualization, I'm like, are we giving enough? Are we giving too much? And I'm always trying to balance that. And I think sometimes I drive them crazy because I'm trying to get to the bottom of what everybody needs, and we can't possibly solve that. But we can get closer to it by saying, What information will help you do your job better? What information will help you get more information to clients or be better with clients? What information will help you be more productive? So it's just a matter of asking, even more than we used to.

Jaclynn Robinson 32:11

I love that! You keep hearing the theme of communication and feedback, welcoming feedback as a leader.

Jane Miller 32:17

Oh, huge.

Jaclynn Robinson 32:18

And that's something that, and that goes back to having trust in your team and having trust within the organization. Some things that we sometimes see and work with organizations on is, Are you, as a leader, are you allowing managers to provide feedback to you and share out their thoughts, the team's concerns and thoughts, and get the feedback so that it's not just sitting at the top, but we're making sure that we're hearing what's coming from the bottom too. So I wanted to call that out. Because I think that's, that's key in an organization is that feedback, Jane.

Jane Miller 32:50

For sure. For sure.

Jim Collison 32:52

Jane, when we think about, you know, a common purpose, we think I think about best friends at work. And Diane asks this great question: Is there a concern that if people are working more hybrid, will they have the the availability or the ability to develop best friends at work without that person there, you know, without it being in person? Any thoughts on that?

Jane Miller 33:11

Well, I think it's much more difficult, especially for those who are brand new to the organization, to really form a bond just over Zoom or just over Teams or just over WebEx. Whereas if you've been around 10 years or 14 years or 20 years, you have those best friends that you'll make sure that you have an intentional contact and relationship with, whether you're hybrid, whether you're remote, but it is more difficult. I think we've all found that it's more difficult in the last year to stay in touch. It's a different kind of -- we're all tired of Zoom happy hours; we can't wait to get back to the to the regular ones or in-person meetings. So I, you can, you can do it over Zoom. It just takes, it's just more difficult. It's more fun in person, right?

Jim Collison 33:51

I don't, I don't know, to be honest. Like, listen, and I'm the --

Jaclynn Robinson 33:55

Coming from the Woo too.

Jim Collison 33:57

I'm the Woo guy, right. But I have transitioned. I really have enjoyed, because I can do a happy, a happy hour with anybody in the world.

Jane Miller 34:06

That's true.

Jim Collison 34:06

At any time. And, like, it has, it has actually opened up a world of, I was, I was scheduled to meet with a happy hour with a Gallup employee right at the beginning of the pandemic. And we moved it virtual. And we have met every Friday during the pandemic because of that.

Jane Miller 34:22

That's cool.

Jim Collison 34:23

And have fostered a really great relationship, right? And so, I don't know if I'm willing, like --

Jane Miller 34:28

Well, but OK, but that's your Woo in action. And so you've been very intentional about it. And I think that that's where the trick will become is for those who aren't as natural at it, it's going to be even more difficult. And of course, there are people who, to your point, Woo or no Woo, have found a contentment in being home, either because they are more productive, or because it just, it's a safety zone as well, for lots of reasons. So, again, it's a big old experiment that we're just gonna have to see how this whole thing unfolds. But we have seen a dip in some best friends at work, team by team, and I'm not quite sure where it is in the global database; we'll have to look that up. But I think that will be one of them that'll be challenging.

Jim Collison 35:06

Jane, Can you think of -- and this is George's question -- a specific example of maybe exceptional teamwork, as you think about the last year? What -- do you have a story, you could tell us, just from your point of view?

Jane Miller 35:17

I do. I wish I could go a little bit deeper on it. But I think the thing that surprised me the most was how we did not miss a deadline. We did not miss a beat. Once everybody was told on the 13th [of March 2020], Go home, take your laptops, and everybody's going to start working from home, you know, one of the, there were so many critics out there in general, across the world, that would say, "Well, how do you know people are productive enough?" Well, because they're meeting deadlines. Because they're not only getting all the work done that was planned, but they're going above and beyond and able to do extra things.

Jane Miller 35:47

So one would be our technology team of 200 people continued to push out every single feature and function and launch that they had planned on time or, or in advance. Then the other one was, we had a group of about 20 people come together and do COVID research that was just miraculous. They came together and said, We're gonna figure out how we research everything under the sun, and get different articles out and begin to get to clients as fast as we can with what's going on, in current work and in future of work. And it worked absolutely beautifully. So there was all kinds of really cool opportunities.

Jane Miller 36:21

We also went virtual with all of our classes, and maybe many of you know that. So we were all in-person around the globe. And we all looked at each other and went, Oh my God, what are we going to do if we don't have classes? And we instantly moved them, thanks to Jim, thanks to Benjamin, Jaclynn, there were so many involved. We saw trying to do it with just one little brief class and we said, We're going to take that whole thing and run with it. And thankfully, we did, and it's worked beautifully. So there's tons of examples that just make it so cool.

Jim Collison 36:50

I felt like we got hyperfocused.

Jane Miller 36:53

We did.

Jim Collison 36:53

Like you mentioned earlier, you know, don't, don't let any good -- how did you say that?

Jane Miller 36:58

Never waste a crisis?

Jim Collison 36:59

Never waste a crisis. That that created a hyperfocus that, like we saw in the engagement numbers, Jim Harter, who we had on on a session later or early this year, had said, you know, There's a rallying effect to that, to, to engagement. And it kind of wanes on the end. Jane, how do we keep that focus? Like, you know, I'm afraid we're going to return back to a hybrid world that will only be as good as, like, as hybrid is, right, and that we lose some of that focus. As we think about creating purpose, what are you thinking about in the next year of keeping that focus intact?

Jane Miller 37:37

Well, if you've got a couple hours, Focus is No. 4 for me. And many times I say it's just tied for No. 1. If I would have guessed, I would have said it was actually No. 1. In the last 24 hours, I've been dealing with that a lot, actually. Because I'm beginning to see it a little bit. And I want to continue to "beat the focus drum" stronger than ever, that we don't get out of our guardrails or out of our lanes and become all things to all people. It's really important we continue to do what we do best, individually with our strengths and our teams, but also as an organization.

Jane Miller 38:09

So I do think organizations have to continue to say, What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? What are our opportunities? And what are our, and what are our threats? And continue to move that focus ball forward. And maybe now is just a time because we're in kind of almost that in-between, where everybody's gonna be vaccinated soon. And everybody's wondering, What's next? What's next? Well, we're going to continue on the same path and figure out what we can add in, and maybe what we take away. But focus is absolutely critical. So it's kind of the next unknown, the next door we've got to open and say, Stay the path.

Jim Collison 38:43

Jaclynn, how would you consult on that?

Jane Miller 38:45


Jaclynn Robinson 38:46

I was just thinking --

Jane Miller 38:47

Good question!

Jaclynn Robinson 38:49

I love the response, too, and I think, as we coach leaders, if they lack that focus or clarity, who do they have around them -- going back to powerful partnerships, who's on board that can help support them and lean in? And maybe they see a vision, but they don't quite know how to frame it up or put it in words. So who's around them that can help them put some milestones in place, so that that bullseye is there and it's very clear, not just in the leader's head, if they're visual, but to everybody across the board and that messaging gets out.

Jane Miller 39:22

Maybe you and I should talk this afternoon.

Jaclynn Robinson 39:25

I love high Focus. Maximizer-Focus in my Top 10, so that lean thinking is everything to me. But I think that's what, that's what employers are looking for right now too, and, and management's looking for to deliver to employees is what's coming next.

Jane Miller 39:41

Yes, for sure.

Jaclynn Robinson 39:42

So that clarity is key. And if a leader feels like they're, they're, you know, wobbling and they have a number of different ideas, How do we really frame that up and make sure that we've got one focal point? And who do you need around you to help support you if that's the case?

Jane Miller 39:58

And that was perfectly said, and I think that's one of the challenges, because I think I see it. But when I know others don't, you've got to get past the, So are we disagreeing? Are we not understanding? Or how do we, how do we create the commonality and either agree to disagree, or figure out where that focus lies? So it's, it'll be a challenge.

Jim Collison 40:19

Early in the pandemic, my manager, Matt Mosser, pulled me aside and said, Look, we're not recruiting anymore. And you guys know -- half of my job had been recruiting, right. We had done a lot of, a lot of programs around that. And it allowed me to really kind of hyperfocus on, on our webcast infrastructure. And we ended up, I mean, it, it just worked out --

Jane Miller 40:38

It's a great story.

Jim Collison 40:38

Really, really well to be able to create this content in a way. But I don't have -- you guys have this, but I don't have that Focus. Like I am, I am, I have high Arranger and high Adaptability. And so I can be all over the place. I learned, and this is where I don't, I don't want to lose this in the pandemic, that I really had to lean on other people. Like I really had to borrow, you know, in this case, I had to borrow Jaclynn's Focus to get the first quarter of these things done, right. They don't just magically happen. It takes someone being responsible for it.

Jim Collison 41:09

And so leaning into that, leaning into that Focus and that Responsibility. Jane, the executive team and the management team at Gallup was, I think, did a great job of bringing that focus on a very regular basis to us, and keeping it. And I, and I would love -- I mean, we got 2 or 3 years of recovery ahead on this. And we're not out of the woods, right, we've got some work to do. As you think about our coaches, and just in the final minutes, kind of before we wrap this up, if you were to give our coaches some advice, Jane, on how they, going into these organizations, are working with leaders right now, how do we help them keep that focus? How do we push this recovery forward? What kind of advice would you give them?

Jane Miller 41:49

I think it really does come back to, you know, when I think about exceptional workplaces, it's all, it all revolves around, literally, it's the manager, strengths, engagement and wellbeing. And how do they work with leadership and/or with managers in thinking holistically about what each person needs to do and bring to the table to develop their potential and have the greatest possible performance that multiplies, so that the managers are multipliers, that really leads up to the best company performance for the market and for the clients. And the more that they can work with leaders and managers on thinking about what it takes to bring out the best in every single person, while simultaneously meeting the needs of the market and the clients, that's really what's going to bring focus to the future, I think.

Jaclynn Robinson 42:39

That's so well said! Oh, my gosh. And then just thinking about the, the managers, one thing that comes to mind, as you were mentioning that is, sometimes they might get stuck in their minds, because they're hearing the communication from leadership. And you can get so lost in the day-to-day that you assume everyone already knows, and you forget that your team might not have that information. And so it gets stuck at this middle level. So going back to it's the manager, I think, having and holding managers accountable to communicating or, as coaches, if we're reminding them, you know, this is something you're familiar with, you see it every day. But that messaging and communication, remember, might not have been trickled down to your individual contributors, to your team. So, communicate, communicate, communicate with your team to make sure they know what you and the leaders know.

Jane Miller 43:27

And one more thing on that. Sometimes, and this is what I'm learning, is sometimes it's just anything. Like it might even be, How are you today? It might be a joke for the day. It might be something you know, nonwork-oriented, just so that they know you're out there in cyberspace, on Zoom or on Teams. Whether you're in the office or at home, or wherever you're working from, just let them know you're thinking about them. Let them know you're alive. Let them know that, you know, you care about what they need -- any of those kinds of things.

Jaclynn Robinson 43:53

I love that. And that goes right back to the question earlier, What do you do if there's distrust in the organization? Those are perfect examples of how to slowly rebuild the trust as the manager continues to just check in authentically with the employees.

Jim Collison 44:07

Jaclynn, why don't you take a second and thank Jane for coming.

Jaclynn Robinson 44:11

Thank you!

Jane Miller 44:12

Thank you!

Jaclynn Robinson 44:13

This was great. You were just the perfect person to have on board. So we are so happy we were able to acquire some of your time today.

Jane Miller 44:21

Well, thank you guys. It was very, very rewarding and fun. I love talking about this.

Jim Collison 44:26

Jane, I'll say, you say you have it -- low Adaptability, but we kind of last minute asked you to do this. And you were like, "Yes, I'll clear my calendar. I'll, I'll schedule this." So even though you say you have low Adaptability, you, you, you made that place --

Jane Miller 44:38

I make it work through Strategic somehow.

Jim Collison 44:41

Yeah. Well, we appreciate it. And let me just say, Thanks for your leadership and your guidance. It's not just you at Gallup that's doing this. There's a whole team of leaders that are doing this as well, but certainly you're the face of that for us. And, and we appreciate your, like, I don't feel like you even skipped a beat; you're as optimistic and as energized -- like I don't, like you went through a 15-round boxing match, and --

Jaclynn Robinson 45:09

And all that came through was hopeful, stable, compassionate.

Jim Collison 45:13

You don't even look like it. Yeah, well we appreciate it.

Jaclynn Robinson 45:19

You carried us through well. We appreciate it.

Jane Miller 45:21

Well, thank you guys.

Jim Collison 45:22

Thanks for your, thanks for your leadership. And maybe, you know, a year from now, we'll follow up with you and say, Hey, now that we know -- we've been doing a lot of those here on Called the Coach, now that we know. So thanks for coming on. You guys hang tight for me one second. Let me just some reminders. We'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we have available now in Gallup Access. And we continue to build out resources that are available to you there. That just gets better. Jane, to your point, quietly, while everyone was worried about a pandemic, our tech team made Access pretty great. So yeah, so if you haven't checked it out, if you haven't checked it out in a while, head out to and sign in. And there's all kinds of great stuff available for you there. If you're interested in coaching, master coaching or you want to you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, send us an email: We'll get you set up on that as well. Don't forget, the Gallup at Work Summit is coming up June 8 and 9. And by the way, they just announced last week, if you sign up, we're gonna send you a little swag box -- a physical --

Jane Miller 45:57

And it's cool!

Jim Collison 46:17

A physical swag box, no matter where you are in the world.

Jane Miller 46:20

I saw it yesterday. It's really cool!

Jim Collison 46:22

Super cool. It's gonna have the new wellbeing book in it. So if, yeah, if you were thinking, like, Oh, I need to get that book. Join us for the Summit. And you'll get the book in advance of that coming out. So June 8 and 9: We'd love to see you there. If you want to find us on social, and there's a lot of great things going on in social right now if you want to stay up to date on everything, just search "CliftonStrengths" there. We want to thank you for listening to us today. If you're listening live, we won't do a postshow. Thanks for coming out. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jane Miller's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Self-Assurance, Individualization, Belief, Focus and Maximizer.

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

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