Jason Lauritsen  00:03

You don’t have to solve it. You don’t have to be the solution. The key is that you cared you listen, you asked, you listened, you cared and you’re offering some kind of help and support. That’s what compassion, inaction looks like. And when you start doing this regularly, you transform your team.

Adam Baruh  00:31

Welcome to The Change, where we share stories and inspiration from servant leaders working to normalize the mental health conversation and increase empathy in the workforce. I’m your host, Adam Baruh, burnout, mental health, productivity and compassion. These are issues we discuss regularly on this show. Today’s guest, Jason Lauritsen is a public speaker, author and trainer that relates his own experiences with these topics, as he works with companies to help them become more compassionate and connected to their workforce. Hey, Jason, welcome to The Change.

Jason Lauritsen  01:04

Hey, Adam, how are you?

Adam Baruh  01:05

Doing well. I want to start off with some condolences for your grandma, I just read that she had passed away. So you know, read a couple comments that you made about her on your blog. And I’d like to start by reading some of if I may… just, you know, have have you share a couple stories and how she inspired and influenced who you are today. So just quoting you here, “Her legacy reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the great Maya Angelou, people will forget what you said people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. To know my grandma was to know what it meant to feel loved. I cannot imagine a better legacy or a more powerful lesson to leave behind.” So yeah, share a little bit about your grandparents. And I know you kind of wrote about them also, in a separate blog. So yeah, just kind of share, you know, what it was like having having these grandparents and how they shaped and informed who you are today.

Jason Lauritsen  02:10

You know, it’s, it was such a gift to, to have them and and you know, I think most people speak fondly of their grandparents, I think mine were particularly unique, at least from my perspective, just because when I, when I think about how I have learned, hopefully or I’m still aspiring to learn to show up in the world with greater kindness and less judgment. And, you know, not not harboring resentments and all the things that I really aspire to like my grandparents were doing it my whole life, like I was watching it and experiencing it. And I remember my, my grandpa, actually a number of years ago, my, my grandmother, because my grandpa was such a storyteller and he’d had all these interesting experiences in in his life. She asked my mom and I if we could shoot some video of grandpa sharing some of the stories so that we would have those as a family legacy. And while we were in the process of shooting this there was I asked him and I don’t even remember what the question was, but it he went back and it prompted him to talk about how when he was younger, he had watched his his, his father and his and his father’s brothers, like they would get into arguments, they would get in these fights. And then they wouldn’t speak for months. Like they would get that he’s like, and he’s like, I just remember thinking that is so stupid. Like, that was so stupid. And I just decided I was never going to do that. And I mean, that, you know, it was just like, it was sort of that simple. Like I’m not going to it’s not worth it. They prioritized relationships, they prioritized care. You know, my my grandma. Probably one of my favorite things during the pandemic was, you know, I skype with my grandma, my 91 year old grandma, we get on Skype and she’s on her tablet, I’m looking sort of upper nose or whatever I just like I don’t know, you hold it however you want on your lap. But we would have these just long conversations. And we tried to we tried to figure out some games to put we could play like the kids with grandma or whatever. But it didn’t matter if it worked. It didn’t matter how long you had, like grandma was just genuinely always happy and interested to be with you. In fact, when I was I had to, as we were rolling into the funeral on Monday, I asked my son who’s 12 The youngest. I said, I’m like or I asked actually all my kids I asked you what man memories do you have of grandma? And they’re great grandma, of course. And my son’s thought for a second. He said, You know what? He said, I don’t know. He said, I don’t know. He said, I just liked to talk with her. She was so nice. You know, what a 12 year old kid who was just kind of, and that was her gift as she was so interested in everyone she met, that she and she would she would, you felt seen you felt like she was really interested in you and your experience, whenever it was just it was she was, they were both amazing people. And I’m, I’m really, really grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from them.

Adam Baruh  05:41

Yeah, you know, I think you and I are probably close to the same age and all of my grandparents have passed away my my grandmother just last year, the beginning of the year 2021. And, you know, she lived kind of late 90s, which was great, but you know, her love of her life, my grandfather passed away, I think it was like, gosh, time goes so quickly. But I think it was like, 15 or so years prior. And you know, I have such fond memories, with all four of my grandparents growing up, they were so active in the lives of myself, my brothers, my cousins, I don’t think I would be who I was today without my grandparents. I mean, it was a little bit of a rough journey, I think for my parents raising us, you know, when we were growing up, because, you know, my parents were very young, but, you know, I always had the rock of my grandparents. And without them, I truly don’t think I would be the person I am today. And you just don’t realize how Time goes by so quickly when you’re younger. And then you get to our age, you know, and we’re left and, you know, it’s like, we are the ones to carry on their legacy. It’s our turn now to, to carry that on, you know, and it’s, you know, I was sad to read that, and it definitely made me think of my grandma. So, um, you know, tell us a little bit more about your upbringing, and where you grew up, and, you know, anything from your childhood that you can remember that perhaps shaped, you know, some of the work and the perspective that you have today?

Jason Lauritsen  07:22

Wow. There’s, there’s a lot there. And I, as probably most of us, I I’m still unpacking some of it, but for the most part, I am really grateful for the world that I was born into, I was fortunate to be born into, you know, very traditional, classic, Midwestern family, my parents are still married to this day. They were they met, you know, when they were in college. And I have one sister, so like my wife likes to give me a hard time that I grew up in, you know, Leave It to Beaver kind of model of, of family, that’s sort of the world that I lived in a little bit. And so I grew up in with, you know, the very much the Midwestern ethics of work hard, do the right thing. A man’s or woman’s word is the most important thing that you have, you know, integrity was sort of a bedrock, you, you took care of community, you know, people neighbors looked out for each other, I mean, all of that good stuff. And so there was that foundation of caring and community and sort of that is at, at my heart is sort of at the at the sort of center, I think of who I am today and in my work. And so that is really powerful. I think, you know, the other part that probably shaped me is, you know, also as a result of growing up in that kind of family, there was a lot of things. I have nothing but amazing things really to say about my parents and any of them but just the nature of the culture I grew up in, there was a lot of things that we didn’t talk about a lot of conversations that we didn’t have that I think I would have loved to have had, but we just didn’t have them because you didn’t have those conversations about things that were taboo or difficult subjects. I also grew up in an environment that was really non diverse. I mean, diversity, I like to say in my town where I grew up diversity was whether you went to the Methodist Presbyterian or Catholic church like that was diversity and so my journey to into the world and experiencing experiencing others in different perspectives and different places and different cultures that were completely unique from my own was bumpy and, and awkward and I’ve I’ve screwed things up along the way. And I think all of that journey and and my desire to want to have those conversations I think is really been what you know, you pair those two, those two sort of the two realities of my childhood together I think explains an awful lot about the stuff I try to spend my days making sense of today. And so I’m grateful for all of it that I’m grateful to have had that experience because without it, I am certain that I wouldn’t be here doing what I’m doing today.

Adam Baruh  10:26

Well, let’s, let’s go there. And in going there, you know, and starting with, you know, what you are doing today, I know some of what you did previous and at least in your professional life, you know, kind of kind of guided you towards the work you’re doing today. So take us on that journey a little bit. Maybe starting with kind of, actually, I’ll read something. I’ll begin by reading something that I saw on your website, which I thought was interesting and noteworthy, which you had a passion for. While your passion for fixing management today likely started with your very first and very awkward supervisory job on a corn detasseling crew, and you were just 12 years old. So why don’t we start their own way back? Yeah, I could see how that was awesome, awkward at 12 years old. And let’s start there and dive into that a little bit. And take us on the journey of your professional life and, you know, leading into the work that you’re doing today.

Jason Lauritsen  11:22

Sure. And honestly, you know, calling that a supervisory job was is probably a stretch, but it was I mean, that’s what I was called. And I was paid more per hour. And basically, basically, it allowed me to kind of walk behind the I mean, it’s it’s such a terrible thing right now is 12 years old, or 13, you know, 12 into 13. And it allowed me to basically, you know, spend more time talking to the girls that I thought were interesting. I mean, it was just ridiculous that they even called us that but but even at that point, it’s like what this this this supervision thing is a racket, you just get paid more for not working as much. So it’s not that that’s where it started. And I’m like, I think there’s a lot of employees that probably would argue that that is it’s still a racket, and that that is their perspective of it. But yeah, so I, I think I’ve always been fascinated from early age with human behavior and why people do what they do. And then being able to kind of bring people together to do some incredible things like seeing that happen, or leading groups to do things that I didn’t think were possible, even, you know, starting in high school and even before, and that flowed through with me through college and on and so I was always interested in leadership, I was always interested in humans. And although I got sidetracked by academics, because, you know, the way that we teach people how to find their career is sort of ridiculous. And so I went to school to be pre med and studied a bunch of biology and chemistry and then realized, like, I don’t like being around sick people, like they’re whiny. And they can like I this is not good for me. I am actually me, I’m Empath, you know, so I take on all of that. I don’t I don’t need that in my life. Yeah. And so, so ended up with a bunch a couple of degrees that aren’t of any, like direct value to me. But I left and got a job in sales because that’s what took a test at our Career Development Office or whatever career placement office that said, I would be good in sales and I thought I good as anything else. I’ll go learn business. And so I got a job selling. And ultimately what happened is that sales job ultimately led me to the world of recruiting headhunting. And along the way, every place I worked was, seemed to be dysfunctional. The people that were managing me, I didn’t none of it made sense to me. I’m like this. Like, it was all awkward. It was unhelpful. It was I kept getting put into weird situations that didn’t seem to be at my benefit. They were at somebody else’s benefit. I didn’t understand why they made decisions. And so I was just frustrated over and over and over. And finally, I ended up in recruiting. And so I’m recruiting for organizations, all these different clients that I ultimately had, and I’m trying to find them people and I’m realizing every place is screwed up, like almost all the places that be the reason they’re backfilling a job is because a person left a bad manager. Now I’m having to go find someone who hopefully can tolerate that bad manager for a longer period of time to continue doing the job. But we’re not going to actually fix the issue that caused in the first place, right. And I think that’s where the light bulb started going on for me, was at that moment. And so from there, I would say, I jumped I got into corporate HR. I spent 10 years in corporate HR because I wanted to understand kind of how the sausage was made. And I also I in hindsight, sight, I describe it as my Jane Goodall experience, I had to go into the habitat and live, you know, live in it, understand how corporate America works or take notes, right?

Adam Baruh  15:09

That’s right.

Jason Lauritsen  15:11

And so I got to do a lot of amazing things there and really started to that’s where my passion opened up around, trying to really understand what was going on the relationship between people and work people in their jobs. And that all led back to sort of the vital role that managers play in that and outsize role. And so, you know, that, you know, fast forward to today, I’ve been through some other some other stops along that journey. But really, it’s all been towards the end of, you know, work sucks for a lot of people, it is painful, it’s a necessary evil, it’s, it’s a burden, it hurts their well being. And it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it should not be that way. And so there was a point in there where I decided I was going to try to fix it, or I was going to be part of the solution. And so I’ve been on this, I’ve been on that quest for the last 15 or 20 years.

Adam Baruh  16:08

So what was that like when you started? I mean, you would had the Jane Goodall experience, you had your observations, where where did this new journey start for you? What were you, you know, what role did you put yourself into? And what were you trying to learn and achieve? And, and, you know, change?

Jason Lauritsen  16:26

Well, I think, what was happening, what happened along the way actually was I was while I was doing that work, this crazy world of blogging came came into existence. And so I started seeing some people blogging, and people writing and some things. And so at some point, I thought, this makes sense to me, I’ll start blogging, I’ll start writing and just sharing, you know, sharing some of the things that I’m observing some of the things that I think could be done, I was working my thoughts out, through writing and sharing that with the world and it was a good place to kind of outlet my ideas, I had so many ideas that it was not healthy for my teams. And so it was a way to kind of outlet my ideas outlet outlet, my frustrations without getting in trouble at work. And I think that that was part of it. The other thing that happened along the way is I had developed kind of an interest in through some volunteerism, or whatever I had been asked to do some speaking to speak in front of some groups. And it woke up a part of me that I had forgotten about which, you know, I was a drama geek in high school, and won awards and speech and all of this. And so I’m like, boy, this feels good. I like this. And then I was able to kind of marry those two together along the way were in and I remember in 2000, probably around 2001, or two. So about 20 years ago, now, I had a conference reach out to me, purely based on the title that I had posted on LinkedIn, and matched their conference name, it was a talent acquisition conference or something. And they invited me to speak. And I was like, no, like, we’ll pay your way you can attend the car, or maybe the I don’t know, maybe they just said you can attend the conference for free. And then I was like, Okay, I get to speak, and I get to attend the conference for free, super win. And so I did that. And that was where it all kind of unlocked for me. I went down just shared what the work that we were doing and how we were doing it. And the feedback was amazing. And that kind of set me on a path where it’s like, I’m really good at telling these stories. I’m really, I’m good at teaching and sharing insights I’m good at. And then over time, I began to realize that I had a talent for helping people understand kind of the complexities of what was making this not work and helping them find their way through it to a better way. And so that led to more writing and the writing the books and the speaking and all of that. And eventually, I had to make that my full time job as opposed to a side hustle.

Adam Baruh  19:03

Yeah. Well, that’s a good problem to have. So I’m curious, you know, what were some of the observations that you were making? What were some of these insights and things that you were writing and speaking about? What, talk to us a little bit about? You know, yeah, I guess really just those observations that you were recording?

Jason Lauritsen  19:21

Well, I think there was two buckets that they fell into broadly. One was, you know, here I am, I’m an HR executive. I mean, I started in a director role and then I moved up to kind of a head of HR before I left. And everywhere I went, I was crossed three organizations. I was appalled by how terrible the HR processes were, like they just, and not only how terrible they were, but they were inhumane in a lot of ways and so, you know, I can go back and find you. You know, find you things I wrote about how the performance appraisal was an inhumane part. SS long before that became sort of a popular thing to say in the rest of the I mean, long ago, so I was railing against these, these stupid systems that we had in place that were actually making work worse for people. And then the other side of it was I think about the interactions, you know, manage manager leader interactions, and just how badly we messed things up often at work. And it was simple, you know, it was just because we forgot that there were human beings on both sides of this conversation we’re about to have or this process we’re about to have like, this is, this is another human being, and they’re, they’ve, they’ve got feelings, and if you criticize them, it’s gonna hurt their feelings, and they’re gonna get defensive, and that’s probably not going to probably not going to end well. So you really think you need to be criticizing them all the time. Or, you know, if you wouldn’t talk to your, your mom that way or your spouse or your best friend that way. Why do you think it’s okay to talk to someone like that at work, you know, those kinds of things jumped out at me. And then there was also some beautiful moments, you know, I was just actually reflecting on this really this moment in my career, that was sort of a I think, an inflection point, honestly. I remember I had this woman that ended up being my best boss I’ve ever had. But early on, when I was hired, I was a I had been an entrepreneur for most of my career. Or working as a sale in sales or being an entrepreneur which makes me like really hard to manage like trying to you know, write a write a Bronco without a saddle, right? When I came in, I was a bull in a china shop, whatever analogy you want to use there, but And so but I knew how to get things done, right? That is just sales is what’s the fastest way to the sale, what’s the fastest way to close the deal. And so I was getting a ton of stuff done my team, I had to turn to right a team that I had to turn around, I was doing all this stuff well, but I was creating all kinds of chaos with my peers, my peers did not like me, I was making them uncomfortable the pace at which I was doing my work. And the pace at which I was engaging and moving throughout the organization made them really uncomfortable. They did not like it, I was upsetting the status quo. And so they were constantly complaining to my boss. So every one on one, like, well, you know, this person’s complaining or that person’s complaining, and my boss keeps, like giving me this feedback. And I remember this day, I distinctly remember sitting there and having this conversation, I mean, my and it was miserable. I hated my one on ones because I knew this was coming. And I’m like, I’m doing my job. Everybody loves the outcome, the outcome were the are my internal customers are happy. And yet my peers are the ones like making everybody miserable. And I finally said to her, I’m like, what, what is like, what’s more important? Like is, is making progress more important, or keeping my peers comfortable? And more important, like, what what is it? Because I’m confused? I don’t know. And the conversation we had, after that question, changed everything. Right? Because her job got better, my job got better. Everything changed. Because she like it’s it changed a perspective and, and she’s like, You know what, you’re right. Like, we need to, we need, I need to show up differently. Now, she also gave me some coaching, because I was not being a great teammate to my peers. And so I’m like, I can live with that. I can be a better teammate, but I’m not okay with like, play down to make them more comfortable doesn’t work for me. And so she’s like, I get that I can, I can fix that area, we had this conversation changed everything. That’s the conversation that we needed to have. And I realized how often it is that managers and leaders aren’t getting to the conversation that really, really matters. And it’s hurting their relationship with that person. It’s hurting their performance, it’s hurting their team’s performance. And so I got really interested in how do we get people to the conversations that matter more often and more quickly at work, because that’s where the real breakthroughs are. That’s what really matters.

Adam Baruh  24:15

So I want to stay there a little bit, because that’s super, that’s a very interesting point that you raised. So number one, I’m curious, your perspective on why you think it takes organizations so long to get there, what, what’s it what’s in place, maybe just historically traditional business model that in your perspective, that, you know, that causes organizations to take that long to really recognize where the communication needs to be? And then secondly, you know, what are some what does that communication look like? How can how can that get injected? You know, I know this is the work that you do today. So talk to our audience a little bit about how they can in their own organizations, you know, get to that, that level of communication better Aren’t quicker?

Jason Lauritsen  25:00

Sure. Well, the reason it doesn’t happen is because of a legacy of management that is built around really thinking of thinking of their job as enforcing a contract with the employee, right? My job as a manager is to make sure you deliver on what we’re paying you for, at a base level. And then HR has trained and I hate to pay to beat up on HR, it’s not their fault. It’s a legacy they and they inherited, and they’re doing, you know, they have good intentions, but we have for decades told managers that you need like, stay out of your employees personalise, right, you don’t be friends with your employees, you don’t get involved in that you’re not a counselor, you’re not a whatever, if your employee has an issue, you send them to us, we have people to handle that. And so the the manager was really, you know, it was like mad running a roomful of machines, right. That’s throughput, productivity, efficiency, that’s what we wanted. And so that’s why that’s the legacy we have. That’s how most managers have been trained. And so it doesn’t even make any sense to have some of these conversations. It just, there’s that. And I think the reality that most people are conflict avoidance, and really don’t know how to have good healthy conflict. And so when you ask real questions that elicit real answers, sometimes you’re not going to like the answers you hear, and you’ve got to be okay in, in having that conversation, because that’s the conversation that matters the most. And so that’s why it doesn’t happen. I think, I think the gift of the experience of the last two years is we’ve learned that no longer this isn’t no longer a relevant model, right through the pandemic, if you’re not able to have a conversation with your employees about what’s going on, beyond where your your team was struggling, you probably lost people that are underperforming, you’re you know, they’re miserable. You don’t know what’s going on. Because, you know, when people got sent home, or people were working in different circumstances, stress was dialed up, they felt unsafe, all of these things, if you can’t sit down and have a conversation with them about that kind of stuff. We know what kind of it’s had terrible impact for people, it’s had killed team performance, it’s killed morale, it’s caused people to quit and leave the workforce entirely. And so we know we have to be more involved, we have to be able to have a conversation with people about, about things that are difficult, that are uncomfortable. And so the way the what I teach is that there is there’s one technique, one tool that is the most effective way to do this. And it’s the check in the check in when done correctly. If you’re doing if you’re checking in with your people the right way. Often, it gives the opportunity for that employee to have the conversation with you that needs to happen. The most. And the most simplest way that I teach this is well, let me back up, say people check in right there. People will say, Well, I’m already checking it. Like, that’s a good start. I’m glad you putting the time and energy in it. But a lot of times when we check in we say something like, Adam, how are you? Right? And I did it at the beginning of the of the webcast today. And you said, I’m well, off we wait. You know what I know about your well being as a result of that answer. I know nothing. I know that you were ready to get into the podcast. And so we’re gonna keep moving. And it wasn’t fair for me to ask you that question probably at that time. But that is that is what we usually get you ask somebody how they are they say, Fine, busy. Whatever, maybe you get a once in a while, but that’s a really honest response. But even then, what do you really know, you know, virtually nothing? And generally, it’s, I know, you don’t really care. So I’m just going to give you the short answer. And we’re off to the next thing. That’s how it goes. Here’s the change. Super simple. It is when you check in with someone, you can say, Adam, how are you today? scale from one to 10, 10 being I couldn’t be better one being couldn’t be worse. Where are you at? Madam? How are you today? One to 10?

Adam Baruh  29:15

Truthfully, I’m probably about five.

Jason Lauritsen  29:18

So tell me about that. What’s on the like, what’s working? What’s what’s on the positive side of that?

Adam Baruh  29:23

Well, on the positive side on that. I’m having the opportunity to speak with you today and which is great. And you know, my business, we’ve done a lot of stuff to turn some things around that were challenging in Q1. And so I’m really encouraged by that. And so those are, those are the and my daughter is graduating from college in San Francisco next week. So I’m about to head out of town up to the Bay Area. And so that’s exciting. That’s amazing.

Jason Lauritsen  29:51

That’s amazing. So that that all sounds really good. So tell me about what’s on the other side of that. What’s what’s the gap between the five and 10 What would move you towards an eight or a nine? What’s holding that back?

Adam Baruh  30:04

Yeah, so truthfully, like, yesterday was a challenging day. My, my wife went to go take this class that she wanted to do, and which was fine. And I’m super happy to support her. But it meant, you know, I had basically back to back to back to back meetings all day yesterday, and then at five o’clock, had to take the kids to their swim lesson, and then came back and the dog was not, and feeding the kids bathing the kids playing with the kids, and, and then my wife came home and she she wasn’t feeling well. And she was throwing up. So. So that’s, you know, that has added that impacted the score.

Jason Lauritsen  30:47

I can I can feel that I can feel it over here. So, so. So I thank you for sharing. But you see how same question that conversation opened up. If I Was Your manager, I would follow up then, with some additional questions. Probably, I would say, No, that’s, it sounds rough. It sounds like you got a lot going on. Is there anything that I could do to help? You know? And you might say, well, I don’t know. It’s like, Well, is there anything? Is there anything like with your schedule? Is there any meetings that I could take off your plate or something that would be helpful? Because it sounds like you’ve, you probably could use the extra time? And you might say, yeah, that’d be super helpful. But you can see like that, what did that take? 15, you know, took us all of a couple of minutes. And we went right to the thing that was most, like, biggest the biggest issue right in front of you, especially from a well being perspective, which is what that was about. And in this is the thing that is the I think the lightbulb for a lot of managers and leaders is that the fact that you’ve got all this stuff going on with the kids and the dog, and then your wife’s coming home, and she’s sick. And now you’ve got that going on, which means you’re carrying this extra burden. Did that have an impact on your work today? Oh, yeah, of course, right? Because you got all this stuff to deal with. And you’re thinking about it, you’re worried about your wife, you got stuff to deal with, the kids probably had to move around the schedule, glad we were still able to pull this off. So thank you for that. But this is the this is the magic of changing up that check in just a little bit. Because when you add that one to 10, it all takes one to 10. And suddenly, now you’re telling me a lot of information. If you had said I’m a nine, I would have been like that is amazing. I don’t think I’m at a nine so can you like tell me like what, give me some highlights, like what’s going on in your life? And you would have went on about your daughter and whatever. And I’d be like, That is fantastic. I’d ask you questions. Now we’re building connection, I’m learning about you and what you’re passionate about. Right? I wouldn’t have known anything about your daughter had I not asked the check in question. Now I know a little bit more about you than I did before asking that question. If you’re at a to exact thing. That’s a different thing. Right, like, Man, that is that’s, that is rough. That’s a bummer. Man. Is there anything going on that you’re comfortable talking about? And then the key is when you asked that follow up question is just ask it and then shut up. And listen to that. And just let people give it to you. And then like I said, the next step, the key the money is then what can I do to support you? How can I help? or would this be helpful to you? And then that’s that’s, you just learned where they at, you got to the probably the most important thing you needed to know that day, you demonstrated compassion by listening, demonstrating care and showing support. And then you can get on to whatever the rest of that conversation is. And that can all happen in five minutes. Especially once people learn to trust you. And so I think the check in is, by far the most powerful thing you can master if you really, really want to move the needle on this. And what I’ll say is that the biggest challenge back to your first question, I think the biggest challenge behind why people struggle with this often is they’re like, Well, I’m not sure what to say, if someone says, you know, I have an issue. If I’m a two and I’m just struggling with depression. What do I say? And the simplest thing that I will offer up is, what would you say if it was your best friend on the other side of that conversation? What would you say to them? And they, oftentimes I in fact, I had somebody asked me this just the other day, and he said this. He said, Well, what if you check in and they say, like, they reveal that they have whatever, they’re struggling in their marriage. Right? And you’re their manager, like what do you suppose but I’m like, Well, what would you do if it was your if it was your best friend and he’s thought about it and he’s like, Well He asked if I could, if there was something I could do, or if there’s anything I could do to help, I would certainly offer that up. Or if he was wrestling looking for something or wrestling with like, I need to find a counselor, it’s like, well, would it help if I, I can ask around and see if I can find you some resources to do some research, you’d offer to help them. You don’t have to solve it, you don’t have to be the solution. Right? The key is that you cared you list you asked, you listened, you cared, and you’re offering some kind of help and support. That’s what compassion, inaction looks like. And when you start doing this regularly, you transform your team.

Adam Baruh  35:35

Yeah. And so happy that you raise that point on asking, and especially the listening, because I think as managers, we really, historically have had a hard time doing that. And yeah, exactly. To your point, it’s like, if somebody reveals something, knowing that you have the answers, not to solve the problem, people aren’t coming to you to solve their problem, they’re just looking to make that connection. And, and to know that they’re understood a little bit. And another thing I read on your, your website, and you know, it’s right on point with what you’re talking about right now is, you know, really to unlock that, that compassion, you need to give managers permission to enter into this different kind of relationship with their, with their staff, where they, you know, deeply care about people. And, you know, historically, and you even touched on it before, you know, there was this traditional idea that as a manager, you shouldn’t be friends with your employees, you shouldn’t get to connected personally to what’s going on in their lives. Such a, I don’t know, I just look here May 13, 2022. It just doesn’t relate anymore.

Jason Lauritsen  36:48

It doesn’t. And it’s, it doesn’t it never did. It never did. But we were trapped in systems, or we were kind of trapped in some some best practices of the past that had worked to some extent. I mean, a lot of the a lot of the management practices of the past are created when employees didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. You know, you showed up and you needed the job. And and that was kind of and the expectations were fairly low. And everybody you knew was being treated the same way at work. So you just did it and you took it. It wasn’t that it was optimally working. Well, it just though that was the standard. That’s how we built it. And, and I think today, we just are in an entirely different world. And it’s not even so much just about, you know, sometimes you get talking about this can sound like a kumbaya kind of message of, well, we’re just all about, you know, what are we what are we running here, we’re just running a place to make employees happy and feel good. It’s like, well, if you understand how creativity works, if you understand how innovation works, if you understand how you a lot of the work that we depend on today, in a lot of modern jobs depend on unleashing human ingenuity and human creativity and the ability to problem solve and all of those things. And you can pretend like it’s not true, but all of that is attached to not only our individual well being, by the degree to which we are physically and mentally and otherwise healthy. But it’s also I mean, our emotional health. Our our emotional energy plays an enormous role in that. And so when we’re not feeling cared for, and we have decades of employee engagement research that even says this, when we don’t feel valued or cared for, appreciated those things at work, we aren’t as engaged, which means we don’t do as high quality, we don’t perform as well. We’re not as loyal and we’re less likely to stay with you. The data is there. So this isn’t a new thing. I think it’s just we’ve had this jolt to the system. And I think we’ve also learned that it’s okay. You know, when we wade into, you know, through the pandemic, we were forced into a lot of managers had to have conversations they never had before, right with people that they never wanted to have. But they were I think surprised by like, wow, okay, this, this was okay. And when you get into that kind of relationship, and you build deeper trust, you build deeper connection. It makes everything at work easier, not harder. It gets easier to talk about the hard things it gets easier if you know you need to address a difficult topic when you have a good relationship with someone and then they trust that you have you’re interested in them. You care about them, you have their best interest in mind. It actually is easier to give feedback. It’s easier to coach. You know, my wife gives me feedback all the time. I don’t worry about it doesn’t get me bent out of shape. Because I know that our relationship is solid, like nothing is at risk. She is only given me this feedback because it’s in my best interest. And that same thing can be true at work, but you got to build the relationship.

Adam Baruh  40:14

Yeah. Yeah, I know about that sort of feedback. I also get it all the time. Shell for super helpful. You know, just to touch on that a little bit. Yeah. I mean, there’s been part of me in the past that, you know, I’ve been reactionary to it. But I really have been working like, in an explicit way to, to understand that it’s coming from a place of empathy, where it’s like, hey, you know, that I’m not perfect. There’s things that could be doing better. But I’m glad you touched on that, because this is kind of a segue that I wanted to make a go into the pandemic, and I understand you had, you know, some experience with with some pretty significant burnout during 2020, during the pandemic, and you kind of credited, I don’t know, if it was a friend of yours, or a boss, but somebody who just kind of, you know, checked in and just kind of see how you’re doing. And, and also, I remember reading, you had made that recognition that Yeah, yeah, you were burned out, things weren’t looking good for you. But, you know, it required you to kind of check out for a couple of days, which was going to put a burden on your wife, and you were concerned about that. But she stepped up and was completely okay with it. So tell us a little bit about that experience. And you know, how, how your friend or colleague kind of stepped up as well as your wife for you.

Jason Lauritsen  41:40

Yeah, again, back to the power of the check in, you know, my friend was seeing or, you know, she, she was noticing, you know, which is a big part of demonstrating compassion is noticing, you have to notice that someone is struggling. And she was noticing, actually, even from a distance that she she’s like, something is going on, something isn’t right with you. And so she scheduled a call, and we got to talking and we were sharing, and she said, Do you have time on niche? Like, do you have time on your calendar to take some time away? Because she had been through something similar. And she’s like, I think it might be helpful. She was gently nudging me, based on what she was hearing me say, and that planted the seed in my mind. And so I started thinking about it. And I started kind of trying to figure out what was happening. And, you know, long story, I realized, like, I was experiencing burnout, I had never, in my life that I recall, had any sort of mental health challenges. I mean, sure, I’ve been sad or lonely, or, you know, whatever, at different times, just regular emotions, but never anything like this, where I didn’t understand really what was happening. You know, my emotions were sort of flattening out. I wasn’t feeling joy. I wasn’t feeling much of anything. And it was scary. And so I finally I said, I, you’re right. I said to my wife, I said, I think I think I need to like, go retreat for a few days, and try to try to work through this figure out what, you know, just have some time. And she was like, yes, yes. Because, I mean, she was the one. I mean, she’s probably the bearing the brunt of it. She knew I was struggling for a while. But you know how hard it is to the people you’re closest to, to? They don’t, they often don’t want to hear it from us. It’s harder to be the one that says Are you okay? forcefully enough that it sort of gets their attention? And so when I said, Yeah, I, so I took three or four days, I think it was four days and went away. And thankfully, I was in a place where, and I’ve had enough, you know, I had enough tools and support that I knew at least a good place to start to try to put myself back together. And fortunately, it was really helpful. And then I had to change some habits in a lasting way to make sure that I stayed in a good place when I came back. But it was that support and those check ins. My wife had been checking in with me, but I don’t know that I knew even I don’t think I even knew how to be I mean, that’s the thing about mental health, right? Sometimes you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s it’s a it’s a slow burn. And I don’t know that I even knew enough to tell her. And so it was it was a pretty, it was It was eye opening. I mean, it was an amazing experience, because for me, it was the first time I think I really truly had a deeper sense of understanding for the complexities of mental health and why it was so important. Such a big deal. I mean, I think I intuitively, I understood it at a intellectual level. But I don’t think I ever really got it until going through that. And it certainly created a different level of compassion and understanding for me,

Adam Baruh  45:07

you know, because I’ve experienced definitely the same thing. And, you know, for me, what I can recall is, I have and I continue to have, although I recognize it, now I’m working towards it. But a really difficult time. When I know, I’m like, yesterday, at the end of the day, I was 0%. Like my, my health meter, I was done. And I have a really hard time asking for a break. Because I feel guilty about it. And perhaps a little bit shameful that I that I got to that place where I let myself get that low. You know, it’s, especially, you know, when you’re married, you have children, you’ve got so many obligations, I think a lot of people have a real difficult time saying, hey, I need to I need to take a break, I know this is going to put more of a burden on you. Is this okay? You know, why? Why do you think it’s so hard for us sometimes to ask for help, when we need it?

Jason Lauritsen  46:08

There’s a lot of reasons I think, for that, I think, rather than trying to unpack why I mean, what I have found to be more helpful is to reframe the situation, because, you know, from your situation from, from your point of view in that situation, and I would say sort of my situation was similar. Number one is your when we’re operating like that, so when I was in burnout, you know, my ability to support and contribute to the family dynamic here was diminished, which meant that my wife was having to carry a heavier load, as she wasn’t saying that to me. But, you know, I, if I’m only operating at 40%, that means she’s got to make up that gap. And so she’s making that up. And so me not asking for help or not sort of doing something to address that is actually creating a burden on her, it wasn’t fair to my kids, right? Because they’re missing out, I can’t be the data I want to be for them, if I’m not caring for myself. And so that’s one of the things that I think for me, I’ve had to shift. And I mean, the best analog for that, it’s similar to how I try to help managers think about dealing with people on their teams who might be who have become sort of behavioral challenges or have become toxic or are underperforming. A lot of times managers will kind of avoid it. They you know, they don’t want to deal with the conflict, or they just said to overlook it, and they kind of let it go on. And they’re using the hope strategy, hoping they’ll just get better hoping they’ll wake up one day and things will be improved. Because they don’t want to make it you know, they bought into a narrative like I don’t know this, this employee is going to get even more upset if I address this. But what they’re missing is that there’s an entire team around them that are suffering, because they’re not addressing the issue that’s right in front of them. When you don’t address that employee, it creates a burden. The other team, the people around have to deal with, they have to live with that attitude or toxicity, they have to pick up the slack usually that they’re leaving behind when that employee isn’t performing. And so it’s like, you’re not addressing the performance issue with the employee, only for the employee, you’re addressing that. For the rest of the team, you’re protecting the rest of the team. And so I think that’s the same mindset that I’ve I’ve, I’ve shared and I think about for myself, and I’m no mental health experts at all. But I think about like, if I’m not caring for myself, then that means the people around me are going to suffer. I can’t give to them what they should deserve, and expect of me. And so that makes it feel less selfish. This isn’t a selfish thing. I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for them. And the most caring thing I can do for them is to take care of myself so that I can be my best to take care of them to do the things they need of me. And that’s true in all areas. So so I don’t know why people I know there’s a lot of reasons people don’t ask for help. But I found that making that mental switch that this isn’t selfish. It’s actually the complete opposite of that. When you make a decision to prioritize your your own self care and your own health.

Adam Baruh  49:24

Yeah, I mean, and like you just said it demonstrates compassion. When you demonstrate that compassion outward, it’s also demonstrating that compassion inward as well. I want to switch gears for a little bit and talk about your book unlocking high performance. I see it there on the shelf behind you. Tell us about the book. You know, where did the idea came from? When was it published? And you know what, what you focused on?

Jason Lauritsen  49:49

Yeah, so the book is now been out. To be honest. It feels like I think it’s four years now. You know in CO Over time, it feels like 100 years ago. And then again, it feels like yesterday. So I don’t I don’t even have a sense of time and space anymore. But the book, this book is actually a sort of my opus, I guess, based on what I’ve learned through the last 20 years of trying to unlock this, this puzzle of how do we create a more human workplace that, that supports employees being able to perform at their best, while at the same time creating an experience that acknowledges that organizations are made of these beautiful, complex, messy human beings, and how do we create a more human organization for them, because when you do that, that’s when you can really unlock their best, that’s when they will give you their best and bring their best. And so that’s really what the book is about. It’s about how to create a performance management system that is rooted in understanding humans, so that you can get really dialed in on what their core needs are, and how to support them effectively, so that they can then do their best on behalf of, of your organization and your customers.

Adam Baruh  51:16

Yeah. And I also saw and unfortunately, this episode, when it gets published, it will be after the fact. So you know, unfortunately, we we don’t have the ability to promote it, but you are presenting or speaking at work human live next week, I understand in Atlanta, leading a session on compassion, a new core competency of management. So tell us about that. And you know, what you’re going to be speaking about, what are some of the concepts that you’re going to be presenting on? Sure?

Jason Lauritsen  51:44

Well, actually, we’ve covered a fair amount of of that today, we’ve already talked a little bit about, about compassion. And we’ve talked about the best tool of compassion, which is the check in. And that’s going to be a lot of what I’m going to talk about in the gist of that session is are sort of the root of that session, and why compassion isn’t a management competency is that in this world, and we’ve hinted at this, but I’ll say it directly. Now, well being is this, this continous idea, this this, this reality of individual well being is something that we’ve been overlooking for forever at work, for the most part, organizations might have had a wellness program sort of tucked away, where they encourage people to stop smoking and eat more broccoli and get more steps. But I’m talking about something much bigger, which is well being is the science of human thriving, it’s understanding that, you know, what is it we have core needs as human beings that when they are met, that we can do our best and be at our best and give our best. And when they are unmet than we are diminished, we are some out you know, so you can think about there’s lots of different models out there, physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, whatever, you can find all sorts of models that unpack it in different ways. But the, at the heart of it is the same thing that we have core needs as humans, that needs to be met. And so when we, when those needs are unmet, or when those needs are challenged, what happens is your what you described your health battery, which is exactly kind of how I talk about your well being battery is diminished. And when that well being battery is diminished, your capacity to perform is diminished. You show up in the morning, if you showed up if you were still this morning at 0%. When you rolled into work, Adam, you’re I mean, you might as well write off the day, I’ve had days like that, right? It’s just the work is not going to be good. It’s not going to be inspired, it’s going to take you forever to get work done. Just not good. Doesn’t matter how great your work experience or your colleagues are or anything else. If your battery’s dead, doesn’t matter. And the problem is we live in a world where people’s well being is under assault. Totally. Right. We have I talked to a guy this morning who’s dealing with his his father’s at the end of life. And so they’re dealing with that his 90 something year old mother in law who has Alzheimer’s is moving in his house within his wife. He’s like, I I’m not able to give much energy to anything else right now. Yeah. And that is the reality. And if we don’t as organizations understand that, that’s the reality. Everybody has their own reality of what that looks like. If we don’t start helping our employees manage those things, giving them tools and support to manage their well being then when they show up to work, they just got not much to give us they I mean, they’re diminished. And so if you want to unlock the greatest opportunity, you have to improve performance at work is to really get serious about well being and the way you do that is Teacher managers to be compassionate. And the best way to do that most effective is to teach them how to check in like we just talked about teach them how to check in early in Often and regularly and that will start moving the needle right away.

Adam Baruh  55:03

Thank you for that. There’s, there’s one last question I want to ask you, which is about the importance of vulnerability and leadership. So can you talk to us a little bit about that relationship between management and, and leadership, and why it’s important to show that vulnerability where I think the traditional business model has really not promoted that concept.

Jason Lauritsen  55:31

Sadly, sadly, one of the legacies that men have left on work, I think, as a as a general rule, because of our weird weirdness with vulnerability, culturally, but I think I always have to go, when you talk about vulnerability, you always have to go to, you know, the, the experts Brene Brown, and I know Brene, you know, I’ll never forget when reading about how, you know, she talked about that, you know, courage and vulnerability are two sides of the same coin. And I’ve always found that to be so interesting, because we value courage. And we promote courage, and we, we celebrate courage. But the truth is, you can’t demonstrate courage, without vulnerability. And so one of the pathways to being more courageous is to be willing to show greater vulnerability. And the, the thing, from my own experience, and I am no expert on vulnerability, I just know from my own experience, and from the managers and leaders I’ve worked with over the years is that people are so frightened of vulnerability. And yet, vulnerability is what draws people to you it vulnerability is when the people that you lead the people you manage can start to relate to you, it’s when they start to recognize their, their struggles and their path in you. And it allows them to start opening up and connecting to you differently. And if we’re going to be able to support employees in this new world of work the way that we want to, it’s going to require vulnerability, if you’re going to learn to demonstrate compassion, if you can add vulnerability on to that. So when someone shares something with you that they’re struggling with, and then you can say, you know, I feel you I’ve, I’ve been through something similarly, and you can share your own experience, and they can connect and relate and feel not alone, in the thing they’re struggling with. That is an incredibly powerful way to lift people up. And so the advice I always offer to managers and leaders on vulnerability is that if that’s uncomfortable to you, start with baby steps. Start with little things, start with a little self disclosure about stuff that feels safe, safer to reveal, start with baby steps and just work into it, and let the results show reveal themselves, your people will be drawn to you when you start to do it. So incredibly powerful. So thank you for asking that question.

Adam Baruh  58:07

Yeah, I mean, I just find it so interesting that I think traditionally, vulnerability has been looked at as a sign of weakness. You know, but really, when you think about it, it demonstrates such incredible strength. It does. So yeah, so Jason, so tell us were tell our audience where people can find out more about you and get connected.

Jason Lauritsen  58:30

Sure that, well, there’s several places if you can spell my name, you can, you’ll be able to find me. My last name Lauritsen. So if you put Jason Lauritsen into the Google’s, you’ll find lots of places one of the places is my website, which is just Jason lauritsen.com. You can reach out directly to me via email jason@jasonlauritsen.com. Or I’m pretty active on LinkedIn as well. So if you want to, in fact, I think Adam, that’s where you, you and I connected and so find me, I love hearing from people love connecting. If you have questions or looking for resources, please reach out.

Adam Baruh  59:06

Well, I can’t tell you how enjoyable this conversations been. I learned a lot. You know, I definitely picked up you know, the check in is so powerful. And for sure I’m gonna be you know, one of the things is I’ve kind of delegated the check in to my managers to, you know, checking in with their team. And if completely now recognize, I mean, I should I need to be doing that too. I need to be reaching out and just seeing how everybody’s doing. It’s kind of my role as a leader. So thank you for that tidbit. And for being my guest here today.

Jason Lauritsen  59:40

Thanks for having me. Adam really enjoyed it.

Adam Baruh  59:42

Jason Lauritsen is transforming management as a keynote speaker, trainer and author. He liberates managers from outdated and inhumane practices, so they can cultivate human potential at work and improve people’s lives. His experience ranges from startup CEO to Fortune 1000 Exact Give. He also spent several years leading the Best Places to Work program for an HR technology company where he gained deep insight into some of the best workplaces in the world. Jason is the author of two books, unlocking high performance, how to use performance management to engage and empower employees to reach their full potential and social gravity harnessing the natural laws of relationships. You can read more about Jason on our website, eiqmediallc.com/the change. Our theme song and sound engineering was provided by Shane Suffriti. You can listen to more of Shane’s music at www.shanesuffriti.com. If you have a story to share about making a difference in the lives of people you lead, or if you want to tell us what you think about our podcast, send me an email at thechnge@eqimediallc.com Thank you all for listening. We’ll see you next time on The Change.

EIQ Media, LLC  1:01:00

The Change is produced and distributed by EIQ media LLC. Elevate your emotional IQ with podcasts and constant focus on leadership, mental health, entrepreneurship and more.