Are you tired of wasting time in unproductive meetings? Host, Dr. Diane Hamilton, talks with CEO and Founder of Lucid Meetings, Elise Keith about productivity and how to achieve successful meetings every day. She reveals to us what makes a bad meeting and how we can turn it around for teams to effectively and efficiently work together. Furthermore, Elise uses The Great Game of Business as an example to further discuss some great systems to use in growing your business.
On the other hand, CEO and COO of Thor Projects, Robert And Terri Bogue, grace the show to dive deep about what keeps people from excelling: burnout. They share how people get burnout and provide pieces of advice and effective tips in overcoming it. Giving a peek into their book, Extinguish Burnout, Robert and Terri help people identify the things that are burning them out silently and learn how to deal with them to become even more effective.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Elise Keith and Robert and Terri Bogue here. Elise is the CEO and Founder of Lucid Meetings. She does some amazing things to make meetings better. Robert and Terri Bogue are coauthors of the book Extinguish Burnout. They’re also CEO and COO of Thor Projects. We’ve got some interesting conversations.
Listen to the podcast here:
How To Run A Successful Meeting With Elise Keith
I am here with Elise Keith who is the Founder and CEO of Lucid Meetings. She’s also the author of Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization. She’s a regular contributor for Inc. and other publications. It’s exciting to have her here. Welcome, Elise.
It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
I was looking forward to this because you write about things and talk about things that I’m interested in. Productivity is a huge issue in the workplace and you talk about wasting time and things that can break organizations like that. I researched curiosity and it’s an impact on productivity. Everybody’s trying to be more productive. Before we get into wasting time and unproductive issues, I want to know how you got to this level. What’s your background? Give us a little bit on that.
Nobody is born interested in becoming a meeting expert, that’s for sure. It wasn’t a childhood dream or anything like that. I had the opportunity to enter the work world as we do and go to lots of meetings. I discovered that in some organizations, they were clear, well-structured, positive, exciting and energizing. In other organizations, they were a train wreck. I had the opportunity to watch in one of the organizations where the meetings were a train wreck. What happened when they chose to change how they met?
I worked for many years where I died so many deaths by PowerPoint, I can’t even remember. I left and I started at the bottom. I left pharmaceuticals and I went into lending. I remember having my first meeting working as an account executive at this bank. My boss was a woman and we’re still friends to this day. She got up. The meeting was maybe a half-hour long. I left that meeting and I go, “I learned something.” I couldn’t believe that it was a useful thing. She told me what I could do to make my job better. It was a group meeting. It wasn’t just me in the meeting, but I had never had a meeting where I felt like I got anything out of it for the last many years. I was excited that a meeting could be useful. It’s such a sad state of affairs of how many people have meetings just to fill time. Do you find that happens a lot?
There are a lot of reasons for bad meetings. A lot of them have to do with a misunderstanding of how to work together effectively as teams. You see a lot of meetings pop up in organizations where people have known high expectations, they want to do a great job at achieving their goals, wowing their customers, meeting those deadlines or whatever it might be. The stakes are pretty high, but they don’t have clear authority, they don’t have a clear sense of autonomy and how they can go about meeting those expectations. It’s a perfect recipe for high stress. If you’re in this high-stress environment, what do you do? You either turn poisonous, which you see in a lot of corporations, all the backbiting, the politics and all of that or you try and take action. The way in which that action manifests a lot of the times in the larger corporations is they send a bunch of emails and they call some meetings so they can get control of the situation and make stuff happen. It’s a lot of flailing. Conversely, when you get into an environment where they have designed their meetings to embed the cultural values that are important to them and help people achieve their goals, it’s an entirely different experience. It’s almost magical.
It makes sense why you’re doing what you’re doing. People want to know what they do, how it ties into the goals of the company. A lot of people don’t ever find that out sometimes, at least in my experience. Your Ask the Meeting Maven column has a lot of interesting stuff on it. I was looking at your site and I saw you had some great templates, which I found fascinating. The first one of your templates was how to run a board meeting using Robert’s Rules. I always get a kick out of Robert’s Rules because it either upsets people or it doesn’t, they love it or they hate it. What’s your opinion? Why do we need Robert’s Rules?
Robert’s Rules is a fun and fabulous story to look at because it causes so much angst for modern boards. We’re working with a group that’s a modern board for one of the Canadian indigenous tribes. They use Robert’s Rules for their board meetings.
Can you explain what it is before you even get into the story? Some people don’t even know what Robert’s Rules are.
They use their average rules for their board meetings, which are these formal parliamentarian rules about who can speak when, how many people have to be present, how you raise things, who can vote and all of this stuff. It’s structured and controlled. “All in favor say aye. Those opposed abstain,” that kind of stuff. These folks were managing a tribe whose primary concerns were fisheries, custodianship of the native lands, the care of elders and all of these things. They weren’t parliamentarian by trade in their day. They said, “This is hard. It’s poisonous for us, but it’s what we do because we’re a board.”
I shared with them the story of how Robert’s Rules came to be. Henry Robert was an engineer for the US Army Civil Corps. He was operating right at the beginning of the outbreak of the Civil War. What he decided he wanted to do is he wanted to prevent the Civil War. He hosted a meeting at his church between slave owners and abolitionists. He’s like, “We’re going to get everybody in dialogue and we’re going to try and find a peaceful way to resolve this conflict so that we don’t have to go to war.” It went badly. It was not a successful outcome. The meeting devolved into all kinds of bloodshed, fisticuffs and he was mortified. He left that experience saying, “I will never do that again.” Throughout the course of the Civil War, he traveled across the US. He ended up in Seattle and the San Juans and doing all this stuff. While he was doing that, he looked into the rules used by parliament, like the British House of Lords and whatnot.
That had come out of the early days of the Lutheran Church, like the early days of Protestantism when you were first getting people involved in decision-making in the church and not just the bishops. They used these ancient formal rules for how you bring together people to make formal decisions. He simplified them, codified them and then wrote this little book called Robert’s Rules of Order. In the world where he was living at the time when you brought people together in a community to make decisions, it was still at that time where they needed to be two to three arms lengths away from each other because that’s the length of a drawn sword. He’s writing rules for people who might hurt each other. They’re about controlling situations where people are likely to end up in honest to goodness of violence. How do you make a decision when you’ve got that thing going on, which is not the case for more modern boards? That’s not our situation. Our situations are different. Since then, we’ve evolved all kinds of mechanisms.The key to an effective virtual meeting is you start with a well-designed meeting. Click To Tweet
They keep Robert’s Rules so much. How come?
It’s in the books. That’s the one thing. The biggest reason people use Robert’s Rules is they don’t know what else to do. They haven’t been trained on how to lead a meeting and their bylaws say you need to use Robert’s Rules. They just, “I don’t want to screw it up,” and they follow the rules.
Do you think they should keep it or is there a better way?
Robert’s Rules are helpful for ratifying legal decisions. You should never make a decision that way unless you’re in one of those groups that are the kind of group that Henry Robert was dealing with at the outbreak of the Civil War. There are situations in our modern world where we have to bring people together who are not about polite dialogue and they have to make decisions. That should never be the case inside our organizations. That should never be how we’re designing our companies and our teams. For those things, looking to some of the examples coming out of the work that Cisco is doing, the great game of business and all of these places where meetings are a critical tool for supporting and driving team success, which is what we all care about at the end of the day anyway. We want successful teams that solve problems and do magical work. That’s where the focus should be.
You’ve got these templates and that was an interesting story. I didn’t know about Robert’s Rules. That’s one of the templates. I don’t want to get so caught up in these templates, but they’re great. You have How to Run a Cross-functional Weekly Update Meeting, How to Run a Daily Leadership Huddle, How to Run a Decision-making Meeting (Anytime), How to Run a Formal Board Meeting. You’ve got all these great things to help people. I’m curious if there’s one that people want more than anything else of the things that you offer. What do they struggle with the most that they go to these templates for, do you think?
Here’s the switcheroo key and it answers your question. There are a certain set of people who come to us because they’re in the situation you described in your first business. All the meetings are terrible. We hate meetings. Meetings are awful. What do we do? We talk about that situation as the, “We’re all stuck down in this terrible hole digging. What do we do?” For those folks, what we can do is we can say, “Stop digging.” That’s where you see most of the advice on meetings come out. It’s things like cancel bad meetings, use an agenda, manage your time, all the basic best practice stuff. That can start to get you onto solid ground again.
The real key to success is when you design a sequence of meetings that takes you from your intention as a team or as a business and walks you through how you’re going to meet every week, every month to then achieve your goals. Our most popular template by far is a sequence of four different meetings that leadership teams run that set their strategy for the quarter and then help them manage the execution on that strategy so that they are solving problems as they arise in real-time. They’re adjusting the strategy as they get new information and they’re dedicating the time to go through some robust critical decision-making when they need to on a regular basis. They’re celebrating who they are meant to be in terms of their values and their appreciation for each other as people every single step of the way.
Are those four separate files? Do you know what it’s called?
There’s a blog post associated with it, which is The Four Meeting Agendas that Drive Strategic Execution. People download either individually the four or five templates or they get a pack. They say, “I want all of it and I want to run it like this.” That’s the thing where we have people come to us and they’re like, “We’re having this problem. We’re having terrible meetings. We canceled all of our meetings as much as we could because we knew they were terrible and we made it so we only do one meeting every two weeks for three hours.” This was their solution. They were like, “We thought it’d be wonderful. We’ll solve our problem. We’re not wasting our time.” What they found instead is they would get into these three-hour meetings where they were talking about all kinds of random things. Nothing quite got decided. They would go around in circles. Some things they were too late, they’d missed. Some things they didn’t have enough time or energy to give the attention it needed and their morale dropped further. It was worse. They adopted this a sequence and it was a game-changer. They’re totally in a better place.
I’m sure you’ve probably seen Tripp Crosby on my show, but he did that Conference Call in Real Life. It’s one of my favorite YouTube videos of all time where they show all the things that would happen if you had a conference call in a real setting. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to look that up on YouTube. There are many things that happen in virtual meetings. Do you deal a lot with virtual settings? Is yours good for any setting?
The key to an effective virtual meeting is you start with a well-designed meeting. If you don’t know how to be clear about the purpose and connect people in a human way when they show up and all of that, then your virtual meeting is absolutely not going to function either. Our company, Lucid Meetings, was originally founded solely as a virtual meeting software company. That’s still a large part of what we do. I was on the panel of international experts on remote meetings for a large tech organization in Europe. The keys to taking meeting success and then adapting it for the virtual world, there are techniques to that. There aren’t as many techniques to that as there are to doing meetings right in the first place.
The problem I find in meetings, at least in higher education meetings, it was all about the next meeting. In the last meeting we talked about this and the next meeting we’re going to talk about that. It was sandwiched in. Where’s the meat? There is the beef, there was nothing in the middle. You would continue to work about things that never happened. I found that it happened a lot when I was in college. You’d get on these teams where you’d have to create events or a product together. I ended up writing all the papers for everybody because I couldn’t take the meetings. I’ll write it. I’m sure you get that in the real world quite a bit. People do all the work because they can’t take these meetings and so you get burnout. How do you get the people to recognize that they’re having meetings to have meetings and nothing’s happening?
People tend to recognize that they’re having meetings to have meetings. They don’t recognize what to do instead. The key to learning effective meeting practices is much like any of the other areas we have in leadership, which is finding the stories that help and sharing the models. One of the stories that we’ve been sharing that is applicable to the work that you do is about how Cisco is working to increase employee engagement. Employee engagement highly correlated with overall business performance and also a good human thing to do. Inspired by the work of Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, Cisco went ahead and they ditched all of their old school performance management work. They stopped doing the cascading goals. They stopped doing regular monthly and quarterly reviews with employees as their way of identifying high potentials and moving them up the ladder and all of this stuff.
They found that they weren’t getting a good return on that. They said, “Instead, what we want to do is we want to find ways to make it so that every employee can say, ‘My work is challenging. I’m surrounded by people who share my values and that I trust. I find meaning in my work and I believe in my company.’” These are pillars of engagement. They experimented with all kinds of things. What they ended up finding out that work reliably was a weekly check-in between the team leader and the team member. It works like this. Every week, the team member sends in writing the answer to two questions. Here are my priorities this week and here’s where I need help. The team leader goes and has a conversation with that person about there check-in answers.
It’s one-on-one and not in a whole group setting?
Exactly. They’re using data because they’re Cisco and they sit at that intersection of the digital and the human, and they can. They’re experimenting with and working through data and they found this simple answer that had an obvious impact on engagement. That was an amazing experience because they were able to take that tiny, regular, simple practice and improve engagement across 15,000 teams globally.
It brings into my mind the meetings I’ve had where instead of one-on-one with your team leader or whoever, especially on the conference calls because I worked so many virtual jobs. It’s like, “What have you done this week?” You go in a circle and everybody talks about it. They’re hoping in that setting that you’re going to learn from somebody else like, “They’re doing that. I should probably be doing that.” You’re not hearing what other people are doing in the Cisco example. Does that have an impact? To me, listening to what everyone else was doing was super boring.
One of the things you can see when you start to look at meetings as tools that we can use to drive success. You’ll see that there are sixteen different types of meetings and you can put them together in different sequences to get different results. That one-on-one is one of three meetings that work together to drive engagement. The one-on-ones are simple to describe, easy to implement. The other one is the team meeting. They’re like sitting around listening to everybody talk about themselves. It’s not productive, it’s not engaging, high-stress and it doesn’t drive the kind of results that you want. That’s where Cisco is experimenting next. There are other companies that have nailed that one.
One of my favorites is companies that use a system called The Great Game of Business and they have this practice called the weekly huddle. I saw this best when I visited Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. This is a group of businesses that are food-based businesses. They have a roadhouse, a chocolate shop and all kinds of awesome food, things that they do. Every one of their core businesses in the whole satellite of businesses runs this weekly huddle meeting where they have a big board on the wall that has all of the numbers on it. Here’s the revenue, here’s the salary expenses, benefit expenses, how much we spent on pickles, and here are our customer satisfaction scores. Their books are 100% totally transparent.
Does everybody see everybody else’s sales and all that?
There are no hiding numbers. I went and I sat in on one of these meetings at the roadhouse. As an outsider, they were totally transparent. I was there. I knew what their revenue was like that week. The meeting is led by an employee who volunteers to run it for a month. In this case, it was a waitress. She was the facilitator and she first ran an icebreaker. They all answered a question about whether they thought it would snow again. The icebreaker is some connection ritual at the beginning of a meeting is about creating culture. It’s about belonging. It’s about coming into place.
They walked through all of the numbers and they updated the numbers in real-time, but the management didn’t do that. There were different elements of the staff that were responsible that month for different numbers. The person who reported in front of the house revenue was a hostess. One of the people reporting on expenses in the back of the house was a dishwasher fresh out of high school. Every single person in that group understood how their job contributed to the bottom line of the business success. Every single one of those high school students and whatever brought them to that job could read a balance sheet.
It’s interesting because I work on a board for a restaurant alliance. I see that they need a lot of this assistance in all industries. That’s coming home based on my experience that we want everybody to have a say. The thing I’m wondering about is if you put everybody’s numbers up and somebody’s at the bottom. How does that impact the people at the bottom?
They had a number of other practices in place for that kind of thing. First of all, they weren’t Sally’s numbers and Fred numbers. They were expenses, revenue and sales. They were, “Here’s what we took in, in terms of we had this many diners come through and whatnot.” They all knew what the targets were. They also do some forecasting so they have a sense of what their targets are meant to be and how they’re doing on targets. As each person reported the numbers, they did a little bit of real-time problem-solving. “This one’s down, but we can increase it by pushing more pickles. Pickles are on sale. Move those pickles.”Meetings are a critical tool for supporting and driving team success. Click To Tweet
The thing that was critical beyond the icebreaker and beyond the ownership for results that you would see across every level of that business was then they would do moments where they read out stories of success. Customers could leave surveys on the table. At one point, they readout, they said, “Our overall survey score is a 3.8 out of 5, but I want you to know this one where Nancy went and helped a table and they had come back from a trip to the hospital where they had been through their final chemo round and they had sweet potato fries for the first time in a few months. Nancy treated them extra well. We wanted to all shout-out what a great job Nancy’s done in making their lives better.” The whole room burst into applause and Nancy cried a little bit. That is an entirely different weekly team meeting. It’s beautiful. Our values, our business results, what we celebrate, who we are as people, what we’re trying to do, solving real problems in real-time, you can do that. You can do that on any team.
I could see why people would definitely need to hire you to come based on my experience. That’s what you do, you go help these companies. You have your book. You’ve been on podcasts. You have the templates that you offer and all these things that I’ve talked about. If somebody wanted to hire you, you’d come and look at what they’re doing and help them. That’s basically what Lucid Meetings do.
What we strive to do is to give people the perspective and the tools so that they can continue to help themselves. I can come in and help somebody figure out how to run a meeting, but that is no way, shape or form going to be the last meeting. Buckminster Fuller had it totally right. He said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.” You want to create a new model that makes the old model obsolete. If you can find things like how Zingerman’s runs their meetings, Cisco uses their meetings, Pixar or some of the great sports teams, there are beautiful examples of people coming together to do amazing work when they are in the room together.
I had Amy Edmondson on my show who has a great TED Talk about how they came together to get the Chilean miners out. She talks about teaming versus teams. We can do it in the right settings. It’s too bad it had to be in a desperate situation that those guys were able to work together. What you’re doing is important and a lot of people would like to know how they could hire you or read your book or find out more. Is there some link or something that you’d like to share?
We’re easiest to find, my company and me at LucidMeetings.com.
Everything’s there. Check out her templates, they’re unbelievable and great. The book is awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show. This was so much fun, Elise.
Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure.
Overcoming Burnouts With Robert And Terri Bogue
I am here with Robert and Terri Bogue who is the CEO and COO of Thor Projects. They’ve also coauthored Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery. It’s so nice to have you here.
It’s nice to be here. Thank you.
You’re welcome. I was looking forward to talking to you guys again because we ran into each other. All of us spoke at SHRM’s big event in Vegas. We had a chance to run into each other to chat. I got to learn a little bit about what you’re working on. Since I know your background and some people might not, can you guys tell a little bit about how you got to this point?
Our background is a little varied. I started out in healthcare, been a nurse for many years and a clinical nurse specialist. We’re looking at ways to help people be more effective. Rob has been in organizational change and technology and this came out as that sweet spot between us. We both struggled with burnout and found ways through it. As we were sharing this information with someone else, they’re like, “You need to do a presentation for us in six weeks.” Rob came back and said, “We need to write a book first.”
Did you do it in six weeks?
This is quite a book too. This isn’t a small book. This is a lot of content. Your marriage survived and that’s good. You’ve got great content in here. I want to get into some of this. Robert, you created Thor Projects in 1991. What is that exactly?
We do consult for projects and a lot of that originally was technology helping people implement things like SharePoint and ultimately transitioned into doing more work around organizational change management and how do you get people to communicate and collaborate better. That’s one of those things that we noticed is people couldn’t communicate and couldn’t collaborate if they were burned out. If we couldn’t get them engaged, there’s no way to improve the situation far.
Things have changed in so many industries. I know you guys helped healthcare facilities in different areas. I can remember when I was a pharmaceutical rep, the change that I saw when I worked in that industry of how much was coming into being teams. I got more burned out from dealing with teams than anything else. I had the territory to myself and then I thought, “If one person is good, let’s double the number of people and then twice as many people will call on doctors.” Eventually, there were eight people doing what I was doing and that burned me out. It’s interesting to look at what burns people out. Let’s talk about that. How do you define burnout, first of all?
Burnout classically has been defined as exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. Folks feel like they’re overwhelmed. They’ve got too much going on. They feel like they can’t change anything, which makes them a little bitter. At the end of it, you get to that inefficacy, not feeling like you can make a change. That is core to what drives burnout to happen.
How is that different than low engagement?
You can have burnout and low engagement. Low engagement is we’re not bought into where the corporation is going and we don’t buy into the organization’s got our best interests at heart. They show up and go through the motions. Burnout is a little bit more like you can’t come up with that motivation. You feel like you can’t get there. If you were to look at Marty Seligman’s work, the old stuff that he and Steven Maier et al. worked on where they discovered learned helplessness. Burnout is a lot like that. In fact, I reached out to Marty and we’re talking about it. Burnout is this thing where I don’t feel like I have any control over the outcomes so I’m not going to bother to try or I’m working hard and I’m not getting any results so why do I continue to beat my head up against the wall?
I find a lot of the culture of the company ties into a lot of this. No good deed goes unpunished by some companies. The more you want to work, the more they give you without pay. Is that a big factor that you’ve run into?
It’s all about whether you perceive you’re getting results. We have this bathtub model that makes this a little easier to understand.
If you think about a bathtub and that’s your personal agency, and when your personal agency or your ability to get things done is empty, that’s when you find yourself in burnout. We find that results, support and self-care fill our personal agency and each of these has a valve, we can increase or decrease how much we add to our bathtub. We don’t want to ask for help. We don’t want to accept support. We’re resisting the ability to fill our bathtub. The other side of the bathtub is the drain and that is our demands. What we don’t often realize is demands also have a valve. You can say no and you can renegotiate your demand so that if you get given multiple things to do, they can’t all be top of the list. How do you negotiate? The thing that’s most important to your employer, it’s at the top of the list and some of those other things can be pushed aside or given to someone else.Burnout classically has been defined as exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. Click To Tweet
That’s an interesting thing because you say to say no. Do women have a harder time saying no than men? Have you found any differences?
Yes. It’s sometimes harder because women tend to feel like they need to try harder and prove themselves more. That may be very much because of what we tell ourselves in our heads. There’s a lot of, “I’m not good enough,” that we tell ourselves. That’s not true. We have to look at what are our real results, what’s going on, and that doesn’t always match what we tell ourselves.
What’s interesting about this, your analogy with the bathtub, I talked to another guest who had an analogy of a swimming pool. The body was the analogy, what you put into the swimming pool will turn it green. If you put the same thing into a body, it will turn it. It’s interesting to get real-world things in our minds to look at how things impact us. It helps us perceive what’s impacting us. I studied perception and I look at your book because it was chapter three. You guys talk about perceived results and how we perceive results can be different, male and female. You wrote about a lot of things in that chapter. Are perceived results something that is impacted by the culture of the company? What impacts our perception of our results?
Our perception of our results is a lot based on our background and what our expectations are. You could get a 3.8 GPA and you can either be thrilled because that’s great or you can be disappointed that it wasn’t a 4.0. The way you set your expectations and the way that you allow yourself to see the wins you’re getting. A lot of times, we’re hardwired biologically speaking, evolutionarily speaking to look for negatives. It takes some effort to think about this didn’t work out exactly the way I wanted to, but the end results still work. The organization still made money, people were still helped. We sometimes will focus on that negative rather than perceiving the positive outcome that we get.
That’s typical in many situations. I know if I get students reviewing my courses, for example, you can get everybody loves you and you get one person that is a little cranky and that’s it. That’s what you focus on. It’s hard not to because we’re a perfectionist sometimes. What you’re talking about ties into my work in curiosity and what I found in terms of assumptions that we make and how much it impacts our curiosity. When you were talking, I was in another session talking about the importance of curiosity and if we tell ourselves so much stuff in our head, you have that voice that never goes away. Is that part of what you work on is helping people change that voice of how we perceive things and what we tell ourselves?
One of the things we do is we talk about that voice. The interesting thing is that’s the voice we hear no matter who put the idea in our head. Here it is our voice. We believe it to be the truth because why would we lie to ourselves? Find a trusted friend and ask them, “I feel like I did a horrible job at that. What did you perceive?” That friend may be honest and tell you, “You did an amazing job,” and you get to choose whether you believe them. You have to verify what’s in your head and start being able to tell yourself. Does the evidence demonstrate that what I’m thinking is true or that what I’m thinking is I’m being hard on myself and need to be more compassionate?
A lot of us, sometimes it helps to tell yourself what you would tell somebody else. You’d always make somebody else feel better, wouldn’t you? Make them see it realistically. It’s sometimes hard to take our own medicine. That can lead to why we get burned out. You talk about how people get burned out. How do we help them get out of burnout?
If you look at the most basic model, if you look at the bathtub model, the way we help people get out of burnout is right where we were. It was talking about in terms of helping them better understand their results and better shape the results they’re getting. It’s being more proactive about encouraging people to seek support. A lot of organizations, as managers and leaders know, we don’t know that somebody needs something because they’ve not told us. Are they getting more intentional about asking employees and peers, “What do you need from me? How do I support you? How do I make sure that you’re successful?” Encouraging self-care and wellness is a big kick that everybody’s like, “There’s all these wellness programs and everything.” Beyond the wellness, looking at trying to help people understand that taking care of themselves is important.
You’re on a plane a lot. We’re on a plane a lot. You always hear the flight attendant saying, “Put your own mask on first.” That’s contrary to the way that we have always been taught. It’s always been, “We’ll take care of other people. If you have leftovers, then you can take care of yourself.” That’s absolutely backward to what we know about how burnout works and how to be effective. The last little bit is as a manager and a leader when I’m working with folks here, I often forget that I need to take away something if I’m putting something else on the plate. There’s no free room. There’s no room left. I’ve got to take something off the table and I often forget to do that. It doesn’t mean that you have to take it off forever. It can be I defer it, like we deferred some things until next week because I put some other things on this week. Having managers and leaders be intentional about helping people fill their bathtubs, about limiting the demands that they feel like they’re effective, that’s a good way to start. The other thing that Terri started to touch on was grounding in reality and aligning your expectations and your results.
Even our expectations, sometimes the things we expect from our self, if you start giving time to all the things you expect yourself to be and do on what does that mean? You’re way over anybody’s 24 hours and we all have 24 hours a day. How do you make your expectations realistic?
That’s subjective too. Everybody is capable of different things. Do people often compare themselves to others and then get hard on themselves because they can’t do more? Do they sometimes slack because they see other people not doing more? How do you know how much work to do?
Expectations in individual tasks and individual activities, there’s a lot of difference in capability and the skills that people have. That’s part of your personal agency. Where we see it that it causes burnout more frequently is people want to hold on to multiple aspects of their personality and they have expectations around those aspects of their personality that they can’t meet. I’m a husband. I’m a father. I am a business owner. I’m a community leader. I’m all of these things. When you add up my expectations and activities for all of those things, I can tell you they add up to more than 168 hours in a week. A lot of the expectations are less about individually saying, “I should be able to rewrite this report in two hours, four hours or whatever.”
It’s more about overall the way we see ourselves and how do we come up with a realistic set of expectations for what we can be and what aspects of our identity. We have seven children and our daughter who bought the house next door to us had a water heater go out. My evening was consumed, at least part of it, with putting in a water heater because that’s what you do when you’re the kind of dad I want to be. What happens is people put all this together and their dad and they are all these things. They add all of their expectations and the activities they’re going to get to and it adds up to more than 168 hours and then they go, “Why am I tired? Why can’t I get this all done? Why can’t I be the father and husband? Why can’t I do all that?” It’s because it doesn’t add up. The math doesn’t work.
How do you feel about multitasking? A lot of people get freaked out about multitasking and other people call it attention switching. I probably am not what people would agree with doing because I do a lot of multitasking on things that don’t require my full concentration and that’s how I get things done. I’d probably get my hand slapped for that.
Here’s what I would say. There are some tasks that do not multitask well together. One language processing center in the brain, you can’t listen to something and read something else. That doesn’t work. However, talking to a friend and doing a mindless activity like cooking, if you’re good at cooking and you know the recipe, that’s mindless. Multitasking in those ways is fine. You should take advantage of every moment that you can possibly extract. You hit a limit to that. There’s only so much stuff you can sack. We’re doing the identity exercises with folks and we’re asking them to identify aspects of their personality and their identity. They will say, “I talked to my friend that I drive home at work, from work I can’t count that time twice.” I’m like, “Count it once and don’t worry about the other one. There are still 168 hours. It doesn’t matter.” We typically find people who are over 100 hours negative.
How do you get negative? Because you’re doing things at the same time and you’re counting it twice?
You get negative because of your expectations and the activities that you want to take exceed the available amount of time.
You didn’t do it. It’s what you think you should be doing.
Your expectations and your results are so far apart. Neither one can be based on reality because we can’t do something 300 hours a week. There are not 300 hours in a week. How do we adjust our expectations to be something that we can meet?
Is there an intuitive sense of how to do that? I am not great at a lot of things, but I always have this sense of how much I can do without becoming overwhelmed. I don’t take on things if I don’t think I could do it. Do you think that’s a skill or a natural thing that you’ve learned through a time where that’s an experience thing?
When Frozen came out many years ago, there was a song, Let It Go. One of our daughters who struggles with this, she holds on to things too tightly. She can’t let go and she can’t say no. She’s doing a wonderful job. She’s doing much better. That’s the aspect that might allow you to be successful at it and other people not to be.
You’d probably say no and realize you can’t do it.
I want to do A and I want to do B, but I can’t do both, so I’m going to do B. I have to let A go. Maybe I don’t climb Mount Everest, but I get to do all the Inca pyramids or something. You are being able to make those choices and recognize that you’re making choices where you’re definitely giving something up.
You mentioned identifying personality before. What things do you have them to identify their personality?You get negative because of your expectations and the activities that you want to take exceed the available amount of time. Click To Tweet
We tell them, “If you can get access to MBTI and DISC, go ahead. Go do that.” They’re a little bit like horoscopes in that they’re true for everybody. The thing that we ask them to do is identify the aspects of their identity. When I said father, when I said husband, those are aspects of my identity. Those are anchored parts of how I define myself. It’s those that come with a set of expectations. As a husband, I expect that I will have time available for Terri. As a father, I expect that when they call me and need a water heater put in, I’m going to do that. Those are expectations and there are certain activities and depending upon where you are in life. What we’re coaching folks too when we’re having this conversation is there are certain aspects of your identity that you can make more aspirational that you want to get to versus definitional. In other words, they don’t define you necessarily.
I’ll give you a personal example. I’m a licensed pilot, but like many pilots, I don’t fly as much as I want. I made a decision that at this point in my life that flying is aspirational. I have my license and all of that, but I can’t dedicate the time and energy to it that I would want to make it a core part of who I am because it takes too much additional time. I don’t have it. When we’re working with folks on identity, we’re mostly working with folks on identity about what are those aspects of who you think you are and then how much do those cost you in terms of time each week or on an average week?
When you talk about that, you got into blind spots, which a lot of us have. I was looking at your perspectives on perspective chapter on that. It’s interesting to look at the blind spots that people have about themselves. Do you think it’s easier to see everything about other people? Is self-awareness harder than understanding others or vice versa? What do you think?
You can look at someone else and you can say, “You’ve overcommitted,” and you can tell your best friend exactly the three places that they’re putting most of their time. If you look at yourself, typically we’re not as good at that. I’ll come home from being somewhere and I’ll say, “I’ve talked to six of the seven kids.” If you think about it and you talk to them for ten minutes, you’re already over an hour. Think about that when you’re doing it.
There are many things that can fill your schedule like that. What do you do in that situation?
You have to set boundaries and decide where it is that is important. It might be, “I can’t talk to you right now. I’m happy to talk to you about it this evening.” How do you balance because that is hard to see where your time goes and at the end of the day you go, “I didn’t get anything done.” You don’t feel efficacy. You don’t feel effective. When you start looking at, “What did I do? Where did my time go?” You find that you can change what you do so that you can be more effective. That’s how you balance your demands.
Some of the effective leaders out there like Steve Jobs had Wozniak and so on. You have each other working together. I’m curious if your personality types are the same, complementary or different? What’s your MBTI and DISC?
My MBTI and I’ll give it to you not in a quick way. I sit near the line on IE, but I am an introvert. I am fairly strong and so I’m intuitive. I’m a fairly strong T, thinking kind of person. I am also an incredibly strong J. That’s my Myers-Briggs.
I’m going to go to Terri’s Myers-Briggs.
Rob is one of these people that anybody he meets, he does a Myers-Briggs. I’m going to let him do my Myers-Briggs because I purposely don’t worry about it.
What’s Terri’s then?
She’s close to center on IE. She is intuiting, but not as much as me. She’s an F, not a T. She said, “I feel things out.” She’s also much more of a P.
The JOP would be an interesting thing to work together to me of that whole.
It has its moment.
A J, for those who don’t know as much about Myers-Briggs or people who, if you give the task, they do it right then. They’re more structured. The Ps might be more spontaneous. That is always an interesting combination, but we found some of the best leaders work well if they’re complementary. Maybe it’s good that you’re not identical in that respect. How about your DISC?
I’m a DI and she’s an ID. They’re close, within about fifteen-degree spread. As you’re talking about Myers-Briggs, one of the things that I believe about is that there is something called an adaptive range. I’ve been a consultant for a long time. Even though I’m a strong J naturally, there’s a clicking off in the back of my head at all times. I have lots of clients that are P’s so I have developed a great deal of adaptation for things flowing the way they flow. What I’ve found is the best leaders that I’ve encountered are people who are adaptable to the people around them. This is a J kind of meeting, so I’m going to behave like a J or this is a P kind of meeting so I’m going to behave like a P.
That’s why understanding Myers-Briggs or DISC or any of them, whether you buy into the science or whatever behind them, it’s understanding what you’re not and what others are is critical to success. For me, I got 100% T, I had a zero F. When I went through the Myers-Briggs training and they said all the things that Fs like, that was like, “Why would you like that?” In my mind, “I don’t want you to make me cookies,” whatever it was they had for examples. They like things based on their values. Apparently, I don’t care about my values. It’s interesting how I was all facts and figures type of person. Once I realized that other people aren’t that way, it helps. What your book does is help you realize that there are things you don’t know that is burning you out. That’s what I was getting to with all of that because a lot of people could get a lot of help from your book. They probably want to know how they can reach you and get your book and everything else. Can you guys share how to do that?
The website is ExtinguishBurnout.com. You can get the book on the website. You can also get an online course on the website. There are free handouts on the website.
Articles are posted every week. There’s plenty of stuff there to help people, even if they’re not saying, “I’m committed. I’ve got burnout. I need help immediately.” Even if they want to explore that. The book is available on Amazon and every other place that you’d expect to find it.
This has been so great. Thank you to Rob and to Terri Bogue. You guys have been great. I appreciate it having you on the show.
I’d like to thank both Elise and Robert and Terri, all three, for being on my show. It was such a great show. If you’ve missed past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. You can listen to them. They’re on iTunes, iHeart, everywhere you find podcasts. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Lucid Meetings
- Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization
- Ask the Meeting Maven – column
- Robert’s Rules of Order
- How to Run a Cross-functional Weekly Update Meeting – template
- How to Run a Daily Leadership Huddle – template
- How to Run a Decision-making Meeting (Anytime) – template
- How to Run a Formal Board Meeting – template
- The Four Meeting Agendas that Drive Strategic Execution
- Tripp Crosby – past episode
- Conference Call in Real Life – YouTube video
- The Great Game of Business
- Amy Edmondson – past episode
- Thor Projects
- Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery
- Amazon – Extinguish Burnout
- iTunes – Take The Lead Radio
- iHeart – Take The Lead Radio
About Elise Keith
Elise Keith is the founder and CEO of Lucid Meetings, the author of *Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization* and regular contributor for Inc. and other publications.
Lucid Meetings provides services, software, and resources that help thousands of organizations worldwide implement a system of successful meetings.
About Robert and Terri Bogue
Robert and Terri Bogue are the CEO and COO of Thor Projects and co-authored Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery. Thor Projects was started in 1991 by Robert Bogue. It was the wild wild west of technology. It was new, confusing, and expensive.
Few people really knew how things worked and they weren’t the folks that came out to help most organizations.
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