Released on FEBRUARY 2, 2024
2011’s Horrible Bosses takes the idea of bad leadership to the extreme, but many people can relate to Nick’s exasperation with his horrible boss, Dave. The movie highlights three different types of horrible bosses – so horrible that their subordinates conspire to murder them. Don’t worry – it’s a comedy.
The reality of having a horrible boss, however, is no comedy. Fostering great work environments by focusing on employee experience is the idea behind the podcast, Relationships at Work, hosted by this week’s guest, Russel Lolacher.
Connect with Russel on LinkedIn
Music courtesy of Big Red Horse
Rob Dwyer (00:02.141)
Folks, this is gonna be a fun one because today Russell Lollaker is next in queue. Russell, Professional Talker, how are you?
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (00:11.743)
Delightful, Rob. Thanks for having me.
Rob Dwyer (00:14.345)
I am so excited to have you on the show. Among other things, you have a fantastic podcast called relationships at work, in which you explore leadership and culture and all of the things that impact people in their work lives. But you also have like a real job.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (00:39.99)
Yep, I work in a public service, helping citizens travel and get the information they need. But yeah, that's my regular gig on top of the podcasting and speaking and so forth. But yeah, that's my foundation.
Rob Dwyer (00:56.957)
So we're going to talk about leadership and culture and maybe some employee experience today. I want to know, however, was there a moment, ideally a bad moment, where you recognized how important leadership and culture is?
At work, did you have a bad boss at some point? You don't have to name names. We're not in that business.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (01:30.55)
Um, I've had, no, I wouldn't, I wouldn't. No, I've had a few. I mean, I think everybody at this stage in their career would have had a few. I've had, it's not my light bulb moment. It wasn't my light bulb moment for what I'm doing now, but it certainly, it was the breadcrumbs that got me there. Just like having bosses being in their office and yelling for my attention while I was like maybe 20 feet away.
30 feet away. Meanwhile, instant messenger or walking over to my desk or a phone call would work. Yeah, I've been told that I was replaceable to my face. Yeah, I mean we all, oh yeah, it's magical. It's a fairy tale of happiness leaders. But my big, big aha moment, I was, and funnily enough, how we kind of know each other is I
Rob Dwyer (02:12.797)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (02:28.678)
I was very much in the customer service space for a long time. Speaking gigs, had other podcasts based on that, been in notoriety. I was down in San Francisco on a panel speaking on customer experience. I think it was the Talk Desk conference down there. And I don't know what came over me, but I decided to have just some fun and walk around and ask people, hey, what about employees? Just for giggles.
It was a very customer-centric, but there were a few murmurings of employees and treating employees better. But it was all very, very customer, customer. The glazed eyes rock. This is 2018, when I said, but what are you doing about employees? And they're like, oh, what? Employees, yeah, I guess we should do something. I'm like, my heart broke. It was just such a customer equals money conversation most of the time, and it wasn't really, but it's not a means to an end.
Rob Dwyer (03:22.635)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (03:26.402)
How do you get to that point? And that involves culture, employee experience, and leadership. And that was my aha moment, where I pivoted away from very much, obviously, customers' benefit from the employee experience. But there weren't enough voices around the employee experience. I googled. There were like 100 times the amount of books around customers' experience than there was about employee experience. So I was like, you know what? I want to add my voice to this, because I just hate people being treated badly. And that was sort of my impetus to go down this path.
Rob Dwyer (03:56.253)
Yeah, that is fascinating. And making that connection between how your employees experience what they do on a day-to-day basis and how that impacts customers should be a really easy connection to make for a lot of people. And yet, I still think that it's a struggle, right?
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (04:20.678)
And yet, yeah, because it's not prioritized.
Rob Dwyer (04:25.421)
We have not, yeah, we've not gotten to a point where all of a sudden everyone is like, oh, focus on the employee and everything else will be hunky dory.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (04:36.766)
Well, I mean, this only shifted, Rob, in the last couple of years with the pandemic. I mean, it was, like I said, I had these conversations in 2018, and now in the last couple of years, suddenly we all are having these conversations because the, it's tipped more from an employer economy to a employee economy. So employers are almost being forced to go, oh, right, leadership that doesn't just involve creating a service and a widget to make money.
we have to understand the path because they'll go somewhere else. They'll be very vocal about what their expectations and their demands are. The pandemic was a litmus test for a lot of leaders, realizing they just couldn't coast on being a leader because it says it in my job title or my job description. They actually had to show up as leadership and there were ramifications for that inaction or action that they took during that time. And that's where organizations are suddenly going, oh,
We have to embrace this better. We're way better than we were a couple of years ago, but we still have a long way to go.
Rob Dwyer (05:40.121)
Yeah, 100%. I do think that your point about the shifting of the balance of power is critical. And the pandemic was a time where a lot of people reflected on the work they do, the environment that they do it in, and does this make me happy or do I feel a...
the value that I want to feel. But I also think that, right, we have the largest generation in the history of, at least North America, that is now entering retirement, and that has shifted the balance of the workforce and how many people there are available to do jobs and...
Certainly we're seeing it here in the US, for those that don't know, you're one of our friendly neighbors to the North. And in the US, we've seen unemployment levels at historic lows. And so that very much does mean that I can, depending on the role that I serve within my company, I can very easily go find another job.
across the street or virtually, I just stay in the same place that I'm at from a physical standpoint but I work for someone else. It's really easy to do these days.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (07:19.294)
I think the definition of things has changed. That's a big thing I talk about on my show, is defining things. Cause we use words all the time, but we don't ever actually define them. And I bring this up because defining work. What is work now? Work is working from home? Is it commuting an hour and a half? It could be both. It could be neither. It's the gig economy. It's a stable public service job for years, government job for years and years. It...
Rob Dwyer (07:32.385)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (07:47.218)
it's changed and I think it's changed more rapidly for us as employees because we see options and I think a lot of organizations don't see options they see what's always worked for them before and so it's really trying to and leaders definitely fall under that going this is how I found success why can't my staff come into work and it's not like you and I are Gen X and it's not like we didn't want
all these things and all these options going up. We just didn't know we had the power to do so or say anything until these millennials and gen Zedders. And I'm like, oh, you can talk back? You can have boundaries? It was jealousy in my voice. It wasn't, you are entitled. It was, I don't want to go to meetings either. Ha ha ha.
Rob Dwyer (08:19.163)
Rob Dwyer (08:28.906)
Right? Ha ha
Rob Dwyer (08:35.693)
Yeah, it's fascinating that work has changed much in the same way or a lot of different roles the way commerce has changed, right? So when I was growing up, and I'm sure this holds true for you, we are... If you wanted something...
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (08:56.59)
Still M, still M Rob, go ahead.
Rob Dwyer (09:03.589)
whatever that was, you had a very limited amount of choices. You could go to the local Walmart or other retailer like that, Target, Kmart, Rest in Peace. You could go to the mall or you could go to maybe some independent shops around town.
That was pretty much it. Today, whatever it is, I can find it. I can find it online at a variety of different places and I can have it shipped to me. And that could be something that's brand new, something that's vintage. It could be, I bought an ice cream scoop that's just like the one that my grandmother always had at her house. It's the old one with the thumb press and the bake light handle.
And I was able to locate that, find it at a price point that I felt good about and have it delivered to me. That has changed the way we demand things has changed. And we're seeing that in the workplace as well.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (10:19.726)
Globalization has been huge, mostly because of convenience. I mean, look at us again, back to the pandemic, we couldn't leave our houses, so everything had to come to us. So we were getting really well-versed in online shop. It was already going that way before and it just accelerated after the pandemic. But it also, as you mentioned, it flips to the workplace too because with globalization also comes with organizations that now are global. All virtual.
but global. And what that brings with it is new cultures, new ways of thinking, diversity and needs for inclusivity and equity and belonging. And a lot of leaders are not equipped to handle a lot of that. It's not their fault. There's so little training for leaders that they're thrown in these positions. They're like, yeah, we'll give you some training in about a year, maybe 10 years, maybe 10, 15 years. And so I feel horrible for a lot of leaders in that they're hamstrung already.
But you bring up a great point, is that with globalization, new challenges come for organizations that are trying to compete with what customers are demanding. And that comes with its own challenges of, OK, well, time differences. Well, just how you show up. What does aggression look like at work versus ambition? That could be different definitions based on your culture. So yeah, it's definitely a new world for many organizations.
Rob Dwyer (11:26.367)
Rob Dwyer (11:43.258)
Rob Dwyer (11:47.909)
You used a word just now when speaking about leaders, and that's being equipped.
I think that most people, regardless of their role, whether they're in leadership or not, I firmly believe they want to do a great job at work. And leaders and leadership, Leadership is a skill. It is a learned set of skills. It's not a skill. It is a learned set of skills. Can you talk about some of the skills that are often
things we haven't yet learned when we're first thrust into a leadership position and the common mistakes that come out of not being equipped.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (12:38.706)
think it's an interesting one because There's a lot of leadership skills that are also superhuman skills and we talk about them and this is why leaders have a bit of a challenge is because we put people in positions of authority or influence that are maybe really good at the job but not so good at the leadership piece but because they did a job real good or they fixed a problem for me that one time
they should be in a leadership position. It's the Michael Scott problem from the office, right? He was an amazing sales guy. So he rose to the level of his incompetence, as my mom would say. Like he could not go any higher because he wasn't a leader. He was, and we have a lot of organizations where that it fits that bill as well, is that we don't ask questions in the job interview about other leaders that they created, about the impact they had on the culture or the employee experience.
Rob Dwyer (13:09.206)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (13:35.858)
It's just, in this situation, did you still deliver the thing? Even though you came over to Champion King Challenges, could you still be the person that gets me what I want when I want it? So we look at leadership as this other thing in organizations. Ooh, employee trust, trust-driven leadership, service-based leadership. Sure, they're all fun little keywords to say and do, but at the end of the day, it's all same skills we have as human beings.
We have people talk about, can you build trust in the workplace? I don't know, do you have friends at home? Do you have family members that will listen to you? It's the same stuff. It's the same skill set. We call them soft skills. God, I hate that. They're human skills. Soft just makes them lesser than, than hard skills in comparison. But to be a leader, we have to lean into what it is to be human. And the two best things we can learn is self-awareness and situational awareness in that order.
Rob Dwyer (14:09.885)
I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.
Rob Dwyer (14:20.074)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (14:33.366)
We have to know who we are, and then we have to know who we work with and around, and what impacts there every day. I do a presentation where I talk about the impacts of leadership, good and bad, that they may or may not even know about. And one of the key things is that environmental assessment, that understanding of what's going on in the world. Even though we have no influence on those things, we still need to be very aware, because our staff, our teams, are showing up impacted by it.
And I labeled like nine things that were happening in the world, economic issues, family issues, like all these things that could be happening at home that could absolutely impact the leader. And I'm like, and this is just Tuesday. Like this is just the world as it is right now. And as leaders, we have to understand that those humans are coming in with these thoughts on their brain. There's no such thing as a split between work and life. And as leaders, we have to understand that our impact, but also
Rob Dwyer (15:15.505)
Rob Dwyer (15:25.317)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (15:31.51)
the impact that's already impacting them or we're horrible leaders. So what skills do they need? I think they just need to understand what it takes to be a better human. Look at the skillset they're already really successful at with their friends, their partners, anything they have in the workplace at home that they could bring into the workplace about being curious about, oh, curiosity is a big one. Not knowing everything, active listening. These are all the skills that help you have a better partner at home.
And yet, and yet, when we walk through that door, when we turn on that computer, suddenly we're a different person that looks at humans differently, it never made sense to me.
Rob Dwyer (16:09.485)
Yeah. You reminded me of, I'm going to talk about my experience with a bad leader.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (16:16.514)
Rob Dwyer (16:21.625)
You talked about, right, all of the things going on in the world, and it's just a Tuesday, right? And there are always things going on, some of which we can be aware of because they're worldwide or they're far reaching things. So economy, what's happening in another country from a political situation, these are things that we can all recognize. There are also things that we may not have insights into that are happening within.
an individual's family situation or financial situation or whatever that case may be. But I remember vividly walking into work on 9-11. I worked at a mortgage company at the time. I had seen kind of what was going on when I was at home, getting ready for work. And then I get in and...
all just kind of talking about it. It's, you know, it's kind of the early internet days. So you can kind of, you can find news on the internet. Some of the people listening to this have no idea what it was like in the turn of the century with the internet. But there is just a lot of talk going around, right? People are really having a moment. And I'll never forget that the guy
managed our office came in and was like, it doesn't matter, get back to work.
Rob Dwyer (18:02.209)
And his focus was very much not on the human aspect, to your point. His focus was, this is a business, we make money, go make money. That's the job. And it doesn't really matter what's happening outside of the job. And that was like a feeling of, yeah, no, like, this guy does not care about me. I am just a means to an end.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (18:30.158)
Rob Dwyer (18:32.661)
And I think you can take that and apply it more generically to how we interact with each other. And are we considering all of the things that impact how people are feeling on a day-to-day basis? Some of those things in our control, some of those things in our influence, and some of those things completely out of our influence or control. But just recognizing it is a great start.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (19:04.11)
And neither one of us is saying that the job isn't important or results aren't important. It's just not everything. It's just how do we get there? And that's the human journey of getting to those results. Productivity over humanity is not going to retain employees.
Rob Dwyer (19:10.897)
Rob Dwyer (19:23.981)
No, no, it's not. This is not, Relationships at Work, by the way, you've been doing this podcast for a couple of years now, give or take a little over two years, I think, is that right? Just over two years. Can you talk about maybe one of the most interesting conversations that you've had on that podcast and kind of what you got out of that?
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (19:36.154)
Just over two years. Yeah, yeah
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (19:50.274)
Oh my goodness, that is impossible after 130 episodes. I will say, I mean, I've been unbelievably grateful for the guests that I've had on the show. You've recommended some phenomenal guests that have also been on my show as well. You've had some of my guests, Doug Rabold was on your show recently, who was a huge favorite of mine because he was the first one that talked about neurodiversity.
in the workplace on my show. Diversity, equity, inclusivity, that's an interesting one because we throw the words around, again, we're back to these buzzy words and you get a cookie every time you say it, but it's important to actually know that it matters and it actually means something and it's not just a poster on a wall. And I've had some phenomenal guests, just to go down that path, where we talk about it absolutely how important it is to talk about it when we come to talk to race, but it also is important to talk about
Rob Dwyer (20:15.553)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (20:45.09)
background and we pigeonhole diversity into this is what we envision diversity to be. A person that's not, that doesn't look like me. But it's not just looks, it's also neurodiversity versus not versus but neurotypical or introverts and extroverts or and in leadership we try to do the easy thing a lot of the time because we want to you know make it iterative and repeat it over
Rob Dwyer (20:46.461)
Rob Dwyer (21:02.557)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (21:14.782)
It's easier, it's quicker, we can move on to the next thing. But to get people to stay, you have to understand them as people. And that's important to understand their backgrounds, their economic situation. When we talk about diversity, I think that was the biggest mind opener for me, was that it is not just this, you know, a thing that is not me. It is so many different aspects, ways of working, racism.
Rob Dwyer (21:38.373)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (21:44.766)
um, ageism, it's, uh, you know, sexism, it is all these things that come at the workplace because we are surrounded in humans that I don't think we take seriously enough. And with the sheer number of DEI priorities and programs that are being removed or taken away in a lot of organizations when they haven't even got to a level of integrating into their operations or their culture scares me quite a bit. And, and we also ask those that
Rob Dwyer (22:11.27)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (22:14.502)
are different to champion these things. It's like, but where's the people that are the problem should be championing these things? The people that are resistant should be the ones championing it, not the ones that are like begging and pleading to be seen when they shouldn't have to. And I think that's been the biggest, I've had numerous guests talk about challenges women face in the workplace, challenges LGBTQAI plus.
have in the workplace. The fight to have employee resource groups be meaningful and matter in the workplace. Yeah, that's probably been, I've had a few guests talk about different aspects of that. And that's been very eye opening to me, not that I didn't or wasn't aware, but just it solidified it so much for me is that this is an area that we need to pay way more attention to, so that we don't have to think about it because it's just part of what we do.
Rob Dwyer (23:11.717)
It's an interesting point that you bring up in that having a DEI-led effort, we often choose someone whose voice we are saying, hey, we need to hear more about your voice. It's possible, and I don't know if this is the case, but it's possible that in doing that we are...
not putting the kind of support behind it that is required of leadership to say, I'm not someone, right, I'll just use me, right, I'm a straight white male in my mid-40s. That's about as non-DEI as you can get. I think as what most people would consider that.
But by lending my support and my voice to those kinds of efforts may potentially draw more attention to it and get people to listen. And that hasn't, I think in most organizations, been the path that they've chosen to go to lead those efforts.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (24:35.702)
The challenge is, it's like that whole women in tech panels and they're all white men. Like that's a blaring obvious challenge. The challenge that comes a lot with is that it's sort of this middle ground. So having a woman champion, you know, equity in the workplace, sure, absolutely. But also it shouldn't be just.
Rob Dwyer (24:41.839)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (25:02.018)
on them to be heard and felt. But at the same time, if you give it to a straight, white, middle-aged male, they'll be like, oh, here's another example of you not giving a woman an opportunity to speak for women. So it can be seen from both aspects of it. And not to say that I'm exactly in the same realm you are, and not to say my voice isn't important, but it's been the only voice for so long, the pendulum needs to swing, we need to hear, I can shut up for a while.
Rob Dwyer (25:02.844)
Rob Dwyer (25:17.079)
Rob Dwyer (25:26.831)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (25:31.83)
You know what I mean? And we need to get to a collaboration space where I would like to see the DEI championing done in partnership, not thrown specifically to, well, I should do it because I'm not that, so I should be championing voices that aren't mine, but also the voices that need to be heard, we need to hear from them. So I'd like to see more of a collaboration, and not only a collaboration,
Rob Dwyer (25:41.341)
Rob Dwyer (25:53.7)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (25:58.67)
given influence and support and the resources to actually foster change. And looking at it as a long game and not, well, we have some money this quarter, let's throw it at that for now. And yeah, let's review. It's a long game. This is how we, change takes years, not a quarter, like I said. So yeah, I'd like to see more collaboration more than anything.
Rob Dwyer (26:25.525)
You work in the public sector. I wonder if part of the challenge in the private sector is that change takes years, but my financials are reported every quarter. And are those two things at odds with each other?
Or having spent time in the public sector, I think, what, 13 years or give or take? Do you, yeah, for you, do you find that the same challenges exist and it's not a public versus private sector thing, it's just a thing?
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (27:03.518)
Oh, for me? Yeah, about that.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (27:14.462)
It's just a thing. People are people, no matter what you put, whatever P word you put above it. We all have deliverables. We all have what success looks like for our organization. We all have cultures. We all have ways of working. So no, it's, it's not different. The speed of work is different based on the industry you're in. It's based on the culture in which you work. It's what the leadership models. So I, you know, I.
I understand there are different ways of working, but unless you're in both areas and have an understanding that every industry has some similarities, I've got experience in the private sector. I talk to a lot of people in the private sector. My relationships at work is all about the private sector. But it's also about the public sector because it's about humans. So it's universal in what leadership is leadership and they're leading humans and those humans.
Rob Dwyer (28:01.745)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (28:10.11)
are just there to do the best they can. And it's just a question of how leadership is either making it easier or harder to show up every day. And does that leadership even understand the impact they have every day, which is what my show's about, is leadership impact and understanding it. So yeah, I don't see there being much of a difference because there's just some universal truths of how people need and want to be treated.
Rob Dwyer (28:19.269)
Rob Dwyer (28:34.353)
So I think one of the things that I would encourage the executives at any company is to foster equipping new leaders. But let's talk about the new leader that's in an organization that recognizes, I don't really know what I'm doing. And I don't have a formalized way that's being provided to me a path.
to learn the skills that I need to learn to become a better leader. What advice do you have for that person?
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (29:15.222)
Get a mentor, find a mentor, and it doesn't have to be within the organization you work. I love the idea of virtual mentors. Simon Siddick can be a mentor of yours. Brene Brown can be a mentor of yours. It doesn't need to be somebody you know or somebody you talk to every day, but it does mean you have to learn. And you have to take, this is where self leadership comes into it. As I mentioned before, organizations, I mean, the example you give is universal. It happens everywhere. So,
Rob Dwyer (29:42.141)
I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (29:43.934)
If you want to show some leadership, it's not sitting there crossing your arms going, yep, I'm waiting for the next course they're going to pay for. You literally aren't a leader. You are sitting and waiting to be led. So if you want to be a leader and show leadership, that comes with that self-awareness where you have to learn. You have to foster your own professional development because it's not necessarily going to come at you. Every organization's different. Some...
do give that training. Some do have leaders that prioritize professional development and continuous learning, but that's not always the case, nor is it varied. Some organizations will have a very stringent, this is what leadership is, and it isn't real leadership. It is their definition of leadership. So I think to be a good, strong leader, you need to have a bigger view of the world. You need to have a bigger worldview, and that comes with different perspectives. That comes with different experiences that you're not necessarily gonna get.
in the role you have. So having a mentor in your organization so you can understand the culture and what success looks like in that organization, because your definition of leadership might be different than their definition of leadership, but going out and finding community online through podcasts like this one or my own podcast, that's where we learn and open our minds to looking at new ways of working and new ways of leading. So I think as an emerging leader, as a new leader, we have more work to do.
other than just learning what's in the job description. We have responsibility and accountability as leaders. Whether our organization believes that or not, we do.
Rob Dwyer (31:18.449)
I love that. I want to talk about Twitter. So a little bit of background. Your background is in communications, social media management. For a long time, you managed social media at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for British Columbia.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (31:45.738)
Yeah, you got it all. Yeah.
Rob Dwyer (31:47.553)
So can you tell me just kind of your, I think this intersects a little bit in the communication and leadership, the changes that we're seeing in social media, some of that specific to Twitter or X as Elon has now branded it, what has your experience been?
with that as a medium for communicating with customers and or talking about leadership as we've seen some changes.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (32:30.754)
So you've tapped into a bit of my background in the sense that, so my view on leadership and my perspective, it comes from a communications lens, not an HR lens, but a humanity leadership communication lens. And one of, I've done some work before, even in government before in consulting and so forth around social media. And I'm not a social media guy. I'm a people guy. And
We just have these new tools called social media that allow us to interact and exchange with people. Twitter's X is no different. I've done a lot of speaking gigs actually around building public trust. The thing is, is that public trust is... It is what it is based on who you're talking to. X has got a lot more profile because of the vitriol on it.
It's definitely gone more of little moderation. So I look at it as two things. One, there isn't an alternative to Twitter or X. There is not. There's threads, there's a whole bunch of other platforms that are good, that are great to varying degrees. But the people that already are on Twitter are on there and don't plan on leaving. And that doesn't just come with one political viewpoint or one way of looking at the world.
I'm not a big fan of umbrella statements when it comes to Twitter is a horrible place. I'm never going to go there again. As you hear from a lot of people. It is for some, absolutely. It's horrible for other people. Speaking as a cis white male, it's a lot easier for me than it is for others being on that platform. So keep in mind, I'm speaking it from a very privileged position. But when it comes to getting information out as an organization, private or public,
Rob Dwyer (34:09.803)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (34:22.046)
It is just another channel to understand where your audience is. Where are your customers? If they're on it, you're using it. You can have very normal, honest conversations on there, but to avoid it, I think, is not understanding who your audience is. You're thinking about yourself and not thinking about others. In my experience, it still was very powerful, even with the change over.
Rob Dwyer (34:27.67)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (34:49.79)
Was it great? Did it have new problems? Absolutely. But it wasn't the only place we spent our time. We looked at other platforms because audiences want information differently. They wanna consume information differently. They wanna engage with your organization differently. So you need to embrace all the tools. X is just one. And maybe blue sky will finally be a thing. Maybe threads will really be a thing. Maybe mastodon will actually be easy to use.
Rob Dwyer (35:12.109)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (35:20.242)
Um, until that's no, of course not. I I'm an optimist. I'm not a realist, but I have aspirations of being an optimist. So I think it's really understanding who your audience is and making decisions based on what their needs and their wants, where they want to engage with you. Rather than going crossing arms and go, we know better. We're crossing off that. But also keep in mind, we're going to go back to the employee experience here. Understand what you're putting your employees through.
Rob Dwyer (35:21.93)
That's not gonna happen.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (35:49.546)
while being on these platforms. I found Facebook to be more horrible of an experience for employees sometimes. People feel more comfortable being extremely personal attacks on Facebook than they were on Twitter. I don't know why, but that was some of the experience that I've seen. So understand that you're putting employees through the hate ringer, the fire hose of hatred.
Rob Dwyer (35:49.821)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (36:16.314)
About your brand about something that's beyond your control But it is a communication channel. So I think it's not a gut reaction conversation. I think it's a strategic conversation and And I think more organizations need to understand how they engage why they engage I think that's always my favorite is when people like we're gonna be on Twitter. I'm like, but why? Because everybody's on it or my boss told me to be great try to figure out a strategy around that to be successful
but you have to figure out the why. And X, Twitter just falls under that conversation.
Rob Dwyer (36:52.921)
You hit on a number of things that I think organizations can struggle with. And coming from a contact center background, the channels that we choose to engage with our customers is a critical one. And I don't think we often think about the impact that has on the employee. Sometimes we're focused on the customer, or we're focused on the idea of, I need to be a good employee.
accessible everywhere as a brand, right? All the channels, just give me all the channels and I will be on them all. And that may work for some brands, but it's not for everyone, and it's not for every brand. And if you're not thinking about your point, the why, first of all,
experience that the employees are going to have communicating back and forth through that channel, you're setting yourself up for potential failure and disaster.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (38:05.134)
The mental health impacts that can be felt by employees that are basically being yelled at every day. I'll be honest, I used to work in a call center and I was the front line to that information center. We would transfer people to the complaint department. The complaint department was the sweetest gig in the organization and I'll tell you why. One, they got paid a little bit better. But also two, when people pick up the phone and they're angry.
they will throw all their anger at you. So by the time they get to the complaint center, they're good. They're actually relaxed. They're okay. They've got it all out. So it's that frontline underpaid staff that just got all the hate. And the complaint center gets to get all the love because they have a problem to try to fix as opposed to being yelled at and demeaned for 15 minutes.
Rob Dwyer (38:41.574)
Rob Dwyer (38:57.353)
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (39:02.198)
because I couldn't transfer you, you had a fire hose of information to get out of you as a customer. And I have to listen, I'm there as a customer service agent, but then like I said, you transfer it out, it's like, I'm like, yeah, I'm glad I got all of that. So, but thinking about the mental health that I impacted me and I have to take that home and I have to then engage with my partner, my kid, however that is in the workplace. Yeah, yeah, means to an end, right?
Rob Dwyer (39:16.825)
Rob Dwyer (39:31.181)
Yeah, it's very difficult too because you probably weren't equipped with the same ability to address the issue or resolve the issue, right? I imagine the complaints department could do things that you couldn't do.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (39:48.694)
They were empowered. That's why they also made more money per hour than I did. Yeah, thankfully I have a long background of being a bartender and working in restaurants. So I'm used to people being unhappy to varying degrees. So I'm able to take it, but you're right. Not everybody's equipped skillset wise, empowerment wise to feel like they make a difference and instead feel like a punching bag.
Rob Dwyer (39:52.135)
Rob Dwyer (40:15.377)
So we've talked about what a new or emerging leader can do if they don't have a clear path. Let's talk about someone who is at an organization and wants to establish some tools to help their leaders be successful.
But perhaps they're not being provided a budget or they may feel like there's going to be some pushback against this. We mentioned earlier some of the looming pushback that is happening around DEI efforts, right? So sometimes there's pushback at the highest levels to some of the things that some of us think are really important and will help our organizations.
What can I do if I'm in that situation to help support my emerging leaders and maybe do it on a budget?
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (41:27.086)
I think the best resource you have, and people are going to hate me to say this, is your time. Because one of the hardest things we have for great leadership is, I'm too busy. If you're too busy, you're not a leader. You are being pushed around by a calendar. You are jumping to one meeting to the next. You're not leading anybody. You're being led. You're a commodity.
And we fall into that trap because unfortunately, things need to get done. Great. Not leadership, not modeling leadership. So I think the most important thing you can offer a team, first off, is your time. One of the most impactful things I did, I led a team of 12 years that didn't leave. It was the exact same team for 12 years. We had one of the highest retention rates in the entire organization, if not the highest retention.
And one of the best things that I could do for them was offering them my time and my attention when they needed it. And also when we scheduled it. So I was very accessible. I've said this and I'll say it again. An open door policy. The least important thing in that sentence is the door. It's about psychological safety. It's about the door can be closed. Like.
My door was always closed because my voice carries. I have a big voice. So I closed the door all the time, but my team knew they could knock on the door. They could make funny faces in the window to get my attention or they could just come in. But I think we need to, and That comes back to time. So we would schedule regular half hours, one-on-ones, two-on-ones with my co-manager where it was the employees time. Not my time, not my time to dictate, not my time to what we talked about.
but their time to have conversations about professional development, what was bothering them, colleagues were driving them nuts, how they saw the organization going, how they saw the team going, what courses they wanted to take, whether it had anything to do with work or not, stuff that was going on in their lives. But it was their half an hour to just have. And even though we talked all the time, they just valued that half an hour.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (43:43.926)
because I made it available to them. I tried canceling it a few times going, does this really work for you? Do you find value? All the pushback. They're like, no, I wanna reschedule it when it doesn't happen. I don't wanna wait till the next time. They found it so valuable as a human talking to human conversation that was beyond the day-to-day, beyond operations, beyond deliverables, beyond what actions we need to take or professional development, checkbox, checkbox. It was two humans that worked together and like working together.
that want to get to know each other. So I think the first thing you can offer is time. And The second thing you can offer is your ears, um, is listening, situational awareness that comes not only in those times where you're talking, but just watching your team work together, see how they interact with each other. Where can you help? Where can you stand the hell out of the way? Where can you remove obstacles for them?
They may not be that communicative. Like I said, they could be introverts. They may not communicate in the same way you are. But as a leader, you need to know your team and how they work and how you can serve them. Not serve up, serve your team. And last, if anything, I will say it's about understanding you can only control what you can control. There are so many toxic workplaces out there. However, as a leader, your team doesn't need to be a toxic environment.
As a leader, you can try to protect that team. You can create your own culture within a team of two, within a team of 15. How you show up, why you show up, what success looks like, all to serve the masters and the vision and the mission of the organization. Sure, you have deliverables, but what you can influence and control within your sphere, understand that is huge. And that can model behavior for others, or it can't. People will decide what they want to listen to and model. That's up to them.
But you can do this where you're helping your own team and building relationships with other like-minded people in other teams within the organization. And there's great organizations where you still might need to do this to make it more personal for your team specifically. So I think those are three things we really can do to really shift leadership within our own area.
Rob Dwyer (46:02.933)
I absolutely love all of that. And I have to tell you how much I have valued my time that I've gotten to spend with you today. It is an honor and a privilege. If you don't already subscribe, please check out Relationships at Work. It is.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (46:15.406)
Me too, Rob!
Rob Dwyer (46:29.549)
a fantastic resource for established leaders, emerging leaders, people who want to think about how they are performing within a leadership role and what they can do to be even better. It is full of insightful moments and you get to listen to this guy's voice. It's pretty amazing. Thank you, Russell, so much for joining today.
Russel Lolacher (he/him) - Relationships at Work (47:00.174)
Absolutely my pleasure, Rob. Thank you so much. And thank you for being such a supporter of the show. And I'm a Rob fan by far. So thank you so much, sir. I love what you're doing. And I'm thrilled that I was able to be a small part of it. Thank you.