Join us today for the Interview with Kevin Herring, creator of the 90 day turnaround...

This is the interview I had with speaker, consultant, and author Kevin Herring.  

In today’s podcast episode, I interview Kevin Herring.  I ask Kevin about why he focuses so much on building high-performing teams.  Kevin also shares with you a bit about his faith and how it informs what he does as a consultant and leader. I also ask Kevin about the six C’s of employee engagement.

Join in on the Chat below.

Episode 1358: Interview with Kevin Herring Creator of the 90-Day Turnaround Process

[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Thanks for joining us on episode 1, 358 of the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:00:09] Kevin Herring: I'm Kevin Herring. I challenge you to invest in yourself and those around you to make the world better using your time, your talent, and your treasures to live out your calling. Build the capacity of others to find meaning and purpose at work.

[00:00:22] Create an environment that supports high engagement. And one way to be inspired to do this is to listen to the Inspired Stewardship Podcast with my friend, Scott Maderer.

[00:00:42] I think I came closer to seeing people as As as God sees people as he sees us, you know, I kind of got a glimpse of that and that became very important to me in my life and I have continued to try to develop an [00:01:00] ability to see people that way.

[00:01:03] Scott Maderer: Welcome and thank you for joining us on the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:01:08] If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent, and your treasures. for your true calling. In the Inspired Stewardship Podcast, you will learn to invest in yourself, invest in others, and develop your influence so that you can impact the world.

[00:01:33] Kevin Herring: In

[00:01:35] Scott Maderer: today's podcast episode, I interview Kevin Herring. I asked Kevin about why he focuses so much on building high performing teams. Kevin also shares with you a bit about his faith and how it informs what he does as a consultant and as a leader. And I also asked Kevin about the six C's of employee engagement.

[00:01:55] I've got a new book coming out called Inspired Living. Assembling the [00:02:00] puzzle of your call by mastering your time, your talent, and your treasures. You can find out more about it and sign up for getting more information over at inspiredstewardship. com. Inspired Living.

[00:02:13] That's InspiredStewardship. com InspiredLiving. Kevin Herring is founder of Ascent Management Consulting and a recognized expert in team and business unit performance improvement. He is the creator of the 90 Day Turnaround, a unique productivity boosting program that builds great leaders and transforms any workgroup into a highly engaged, high performing team in just 90 days.

[00:02:39] He is a highly regarded consultant, an executive coach, a published author, and an international keynote speaker. He has been published and quoted in Forbes, CFO, Talent Management, Workforce, and HR Executive, among others. Welcome to the show, Kevin.

[00:02:57] Kevin Herring: Thank you. It's great to be here. Thanks for inviting me.[00:03:00]

[00:03:00] Scott Maderer: Absolutely. We're looking forward to talking to you today. So yeah, I share a little bit in the intro, but I always laugh and tell people that The intros that we share is like the Instagram version of our life, right? It's always just the high points or the, a few nuggets from our life.

[00:03:17] Can you unpack a little bit more about your journey and what brought you to the point where you are today, focusing on building teams, building high performing teams and doing the work you

[00:03:31] Kevin Herring: do. Yeah, great question. That's something I've reflected on myself quite a bit.

[00:03:36] Basically, I have always had an analytic approach to things growing up and whenever we played pickup football games, I was the guy who studied the Bear Bryant plays and just tried to always out think the defense and calling the trick plays and things of that nature, but always looking for better [00:04:00] ways to do things in whatever job I was in as a kid.

[00:04:03] And as I, I got into college and I had jobs. I even had a summer job that I think was really instrumental for me. And that was what I call an accidental self directed work team that I stumbled into one summer. And had just a great experience with that, watching people who were not supervised, who on their own, a very diverse group of people on their own, stepping up and setting goals for themselves and creating record production week after week, all through the summer.

[00:04:35] And. That fascinated me trying to understand what it was about that group of people that enabled them to step up and perform at such a high level without anybody to direct them or guide them or encourage them. Wonderful experience. And I later after college, I worked for a consulting firm that did a lot of work with [00:05:00] building leadership that can create highly engaged organizations and also.

[00:05:06] Had a heavy emphasis on the work of W. Edwards Deming at Deming's work was prevalent and really something that I was always passionate about understanding and applying. And I had the opportunity to work for Magma Copper Company, which was a going through just an amazing company wide transformation, taking it from the brink of extinction to becoming a wall street darling.

[00:05:32] And. I felt like a little kid in a candy store in that organization, the wonderful things we were able to do and what I was able to learn from that I took with me. And I developed a real passion for wanting

[00:05:46] to

[00:05:46] Kevin Herring: create workplaces where people could excel, really contribute at high levels, create something bigger than themselves as a team and see the.

[00:05:57] Fruits of their results [00:06:00] and their efforts. And and so that became a passion for me to find ways that I could do that kind of work in a shorter timeframe, create that kind of transformation more quickly, and be able to do it for every workplace, every team, and help every leader learn how to do that for themselves

[00:06:23] Scott Maderer: out there somewhere right now, as a leader that just heard everything you said, and it's going, yeah, but my team's different.

[00:06:29] Yeah actually, let me rephrase actually right now, probably there's a lot of leaders out there that are thinking, yeah, but my team's different, what would you say to that leader that's thinking that right

[00:06:43] Kevin Herring: now? Absolutely. That's a great comment because that is in fact so often the case where people say, yeah have you ever done this for somebody in our industry, have you ever done it for somebody with our.

[00:06:56] Product

[00:06:57] or

[00:06:57] Kevin Herring: service or have you ever done with a company our [00:07:00] size or there's always something we're

[00:07:01] Scott Maderer: a distributed team. We're across the whole world or virtual

[00:07:05] Kevin Herring: or weird. Yeah, everybody's different. And the reality is, and we've had a lot of research done about generational differences too, which are legitimate, certainly, but the fact of the matter is that People are the same in the sense that there are some core elements that are critical to any individual, any team creating an environment that will enable them to be fully engaged and passionate about the work.

[00:07:35] Everybody wants to have some degree of autonomy. They want to be able to bring their whole self. You want to have a sense of contribution and satisfaction. At the end of the day, they want to find meaning and purpose in the place they spend most of their waking hours, which kind of sad to say is it work, but it's go ahead.

[00:07:55] Yeah. And so we've done this across the board and so many different diverse [00:08:00] industries and in situations and never had a failure. Every single one has been a tremendous success. And I think that's. That a testament to the fact that there are some core things that really matter in organizations.

[00:08:14] We've narrowed that down to to half a dozen items that we find if we are successful and applying those things, then we'll get tremendous results. And

[00:08:27] Scott Maderer: that's one of the things that at the end of the day, so they're all unique, but they all still all have people in them. Yep. Is that really

[00:08:36] Kevin Herring: a good way of summing it up?

[00:08:37] That's a great way to sum it up. That's exactly right. Cause

[00:08:41] Scott Maderer: I guess like I was a leader senior leader had a team of about 20 leaders that reported to me. And then the folks that reported to them, it was about 150 to 180 people, depending on exactly what the workload was at that particular time.

[00:08:57] And so I've seen some of [00:09:00] that where, you know as a leader. There's challenges always with the team of people that you have. And quite frankly there's a lot of resources out there, but there's not actually a lot of help. That makes

[00:09:15] Kevin Herring: sense. So what do you That's exactly right.

[00:09:17] There's a lot of great information. There are people who share a lot of information in books and lectures and things. But some, a lot of people struggle to know how to. Execute how to implement those things effectively. I think that's our niche. But one of the things that really holds people back is is a myth about employee motivation.

[00:09:41] In fact, there's several myths around that. And one is the idea that. that people need to be motivated. And so we tell every leader that one of their primary responsibility is to motivate the team, motivate individuals on the team. And yet when I get in front of people and I ask them, do you need anyone [00:10:00] to motivate you?

[00:10:00] Everybody says no, absolutely not. I'm self motivated. And I'll ask leaders, what about the people who report to you? Do they need to be so they need to be motivated? And they all say, sure they do. And yet when I talk to those team members directly and ask them, how do you feel about your personal motivation?

[00:10:19] Do you need somebody to motivate you? And they say, absolutely not. And they find it insulting that anyone suggests that they do need somebody to motivate them. And motivating others is really a manipulative exercise anyway, and no one wants to be on the other end of that. So the idea that we need to motivate people is a problem.

[00:10:40] And the other thing is, what do you do when you try to motivate people? Most people come to inherently self motivated at some level. And that's intrinsic motivation. That's not extrinsic motivation. That's intrinsic motivation. We all have things internally that drive us to [00:11:00] want to have a sense of satisfaction when we finish.

[00:11:03] our work at the end of the day. And that drive us to be excited about coming to work. So our role as a leader is not to manipulate or motivate people through some extrinsic means. We're not all people who need something, who need just the right. motivator, external motivator to connect to our to our brains to wire us correctly so that we'll go and do what we need to do or what the leader wants us to do.

[00:11:35] That's not, you don't get passion, you don't get high performance from that, you don't get high engagement from that. What you get when you manipulate people is you get demotivation, you get frustration you get people becoming cynical. But if you can work through that and really look at your role as a leader is not to motivate people, but to create an environment.

[00:11:59] [00:12:00] that enables people to thrive, to be able to apply their self motivation to their circumstances, to be able to build something that's valuable to them internally. That's where you really do the things that help to engage people at a high level.

[00:12:18] Scott Maderer: And I think one of the things that like one of the reasons that I looked at leadership, I think in some ways different than a lot of other folks that were in the same company as me.

[00:12:29] I was always the weird. The weird leader which is not necessarily a bad thing. But because I was a school teacher for 16 years I had already for instance, that what you just said I, I don't want to motivate people, but I can create an environment that is motivational.

[00:12:49] That, that's two different things. Absolutely. I've also seen the connection of sometimes when you start giving extrinsic rewards, you actually replace any intrinsic [00:13:00] motivation. With that. So like you have a kid that loves reading and then you do a reading contest where they win a prize if they if they read enough and all of a sudden that kid that loves reading stops reading for pleasure because I only want to read if I'm going to get a prize now absolutely.

[00:13:18] Kevin Herring: Ed Deming Ed Deming observed that himself and used to say frequently that once you reward somebody extrinsically for something they would already do on their own. They'll stop doing the, that thing unless they get paid to do it. And you just, you take away

[00:13:36] Scott Maderer: it's self motivating. Duh, why not?

[00:13:38] It's

[00:13:39] Kevin Herring: like you take away that motivation. And in most organizations, the biggest problem is not that people are not self-motivated enough. The biggest problem is that we demotivate them by the experiences we create for them. Right now dimming had it right when he said that. It's the system that fails the individual, not the individual that fails the system.

[00:13:58] And when we. [00:14:00] When we find that people are not succeeding, probably 98% of the time, the problem is not the individual, it's the system that we've forced them to work in. And when we start taking a hard look at the system that we've created for people, we find that There are a lot of things that are simply getting in the way of people being able to thrive and that are demotivating them.

[00:14:25] If we can remove those barriers and help people to find greater success, we'll find that failures become extremely rare. And a good leader has very few failures, very few, I'm not saying never sometimes you do have people do have their choice in the matter, and some people will simply choose to not respond positively to those circumstances, but vast majority of time, we can help.

[00:14:52] People to succeed. And if we focus internally on ourselves and the way that we're leading and the system that we're creating for [00:15:00] people, we'll find that we can be successful almost every time. Yeah.

[00:15:04] Scott Maderer: I found actually a lot of times the problem that quote unquote problems that I would have and problem is not the best word but you get my point.

[00:15:14] Was it so much having quote a low performer, it was having a high performer, but that they did it at the expense of everyone else. And they damaged the morale of the team because of the way they always won they always got everything done. They always empirically you looked at it, but you're like, wow, they're one of the best performers on the team, but everyone else hated to work with them and it's like okay, there's something we got to do something about

[00:15:40] Kevin Herring: that.

[00:15:41] Absolutely. We had a leader in a, in an organization. We worked as we had a leader who was the highest performer in the company. His division always performed at the highest levels and everybody hated him. And at some point the executive leadership of the [00:16:00] corporation sat down with him and said, Joe we appreciate your dedication.

[00:16:08] To the organization and all that you've done to help us to help your division to perform at such a high level. We're making a change throughout the organization. We're, and we want you to be part of it, but it means you're going to have to fundamentally change the way that you lead. And he said why would you want me to change anything when I'm doing so well?

[00:16:28] And they said, because we need to do better and we can't do it the way that you're leading right now. You're capped out. You're not going to do much better. And we have to do much, much better. We've got to increase 50% or better. The results that we're getting from your division and every other division, and that means you're going to have to make some significant changes.

[00:16:50] So we want to be upfront with you about it. And they talked with him about the changes that he would have to make and said, I've never operated that way. I don't know if I can do it. And they said, we think you can do it. We have [00:17:00] confidence in you and we want you to. To know that we're backing you. We're standing behind you.

[00:17:05] We're going to give you all the resources you need to do it, but we don't want you to feel like this is something that you should do, even though you have no commitment to it, we want you to make a clear decision. If you decide this is not for you, we'll make, we'll give you a generous package. We'll make it easy for you to transition somewhere else.

[00:17:24] But we hope you'll decide to stay and and make an effort. to make these changes. And he did, to his credit. He made a complete turnaround. Instead of being the hard nosed guy that created the pressure cooker everybody worked in every day he decided that he wanted to change.

[00:17:45] He wanted to be a better leader. And he began enabling people to bring their best selves to work to take risks and to do things to try to improve productivity and to [00:18:00] build something better, a better workplace. And he made a complete turnaround and was very successful. And I think that is really a testament to what people are capable of doing when they're really committed to it.

[00:18:14] I've

[00:18:15] Scott Maderer: got a few questions to you mentioned earlier the some specific things that y'all focus on, but before I go there would you talk a little bit about your own faith journey and how that kind of intersected with the, how has that related to the work you do?

[00:18:32] Kevin Herring: I appreciate that question because that really drives me a lot.

[00:18:35] I grew up in a very religious home. My parents were both religious, although they, lived in different parts of the country, grew up in a deep one in the deep south and one in the northeast. So pretty different

[00:18:48] Scott Maderer: religious landscapes, actually.

[00:18:51] Kevin Herring: Exactly. Very different, but they grew up in religious homes and grew up during the great depression and Faith was an important [00:19:00] part of their upbringing and they brought us up my, my siblings and I that way.

[00:19:06] And I was really blessed to live in an area when my father was career military, when he retired, we had been living in an inner city, large inner city. neighborhood. A lot of kids for one thing were a lot of kids within age span who hung out, yo were spent playing ball, football, basketball, bas And the interesting thing about this, it was a great group of kids.

[00:19:40] They were diverse in terms of the churches they attended, but they all attended church every week. They used good language. They were just good kids. And I'm not saying we didn't do stupid things and get into trouble because we did as boys. You mean

[00:19:58] Scott Maderer: you were kids? Okay. Yeah, [00:20:00]

[00:20:00] Kevin Herring: we were kids, but nothing malicious, nothing terrible.

[00:20:05] And I think that. I just had a great environment to, to grow up in and being active in church and learning about service. When I finished high school we had an opportunity in a ministry to spend some time overseas and serving and I love that. I learned I was a very shy kid, very reserved and very introverted.

[00:20:34] And I'm still very introverted. A lot of people don't recognize that, but I am. And so it was a bit challenging for me, but I really learned that I love people. I loved everybody has a story and I love to hear everybody's story to, to learn about them at a more personal level. And I found that in doing so, I think I came closer to seeing people as.

[00:20:58] As God [00:21:00] sees people as he sees us I got a glimpse of that and that became very important to me in my life and I have continued to try to develop an ability to see people that way. And so that. I've got a longer term perspective when I'm developing a relationship with somebody and trying to help them, I'm not thinking of just about how to get through this moment, but how I can help somebody have greater joy in their lives, greater satisfaction and to build their capacity to bring joy to others.

[00:21:34] And I think that in leadership, that is such a critical trait that good leaders. really have. They, whether they even recognize it sometimes, I think that those who are able to see people differently, see them at a more personal level and hopefully more as God sees them. They're looking for that inner self and to really get to know that person, [00:22:00] understand them and help them to be successful.

[00:22:03] And if they're willing to make. That kind of effort. They're really going to be tremendously instrumental in helping people to be successful and finding meaning and purpose at work and in their personal lives as well.

[00:22:16] Scott Maderer: Yeah, what one of the ways I always used to try to explain it to the leaders that again, I had leaders reporting to me so I was leading leaders which is always a little has its own challenges but is it's not so much the golden rule which is Do unto others as you would like to be done unto.

[00:22:35] I always told him the goal was to live by the Platinum rule, which is do unto others as they wish to be done unto to go a level deeper and figure out wait how does Kevin want to be treated? What is Kevin like? What's good for Kevin? What helps Kevin? If you can do that Kevin will work for you, no problem and do everything [00:23:00] you need him to do that kind of idea.

[00:23:02] Kevin Herring: Absolutely. Sincerity is key to that. It's not manipulative. No, it's not manipulative. When it's really an effort to help that person to find success, to have good experiences and to build their capacity to bring the same to others.

[00:23:17] Scott Maderer: Yeah I actually and folks that have listened for a long time have heard me talk about this before I'm real careful.

[00:23:24] I actually, I use the word influence rather than manipulation. And to me, there's a difference. And the way I define the difference is manipulation is when I'm going to do something to get Kevin to do something that's good for me. And to do something to help Kevin do something that's good for Kevin. It's not about me anymore.

[00:23:45] It's about wait, let me help Kevin succeed. Now that may end up at the end, make me look good too, but my motivation's not make me look good. My motivation is make Kevin look good.

[00:23:56] Kevin Herring: That's a great distinction. Yeah. I appreciate that. So[00:24:00]

[00:24:00] Scott Maderer: I've, I like the, yeah. And influence often is used negatively too, but I consider influences okay.

[00:24:06] And manipulation is bad. It's back to that. I don't want to motivate people, but I can create an environment that helps them be motivated. That's the difference, but. So you've, you mentioned earlier that y'all have coalesced some things down to five or six things that y'all tend to identify as some of the linchpin ideas I think you called it the six C's when we talked what are those six C's that, that we use or that we look at to help focus on employee engagement?

[00:24:43] Kevin Herring: Yeah. So we have found in our work that there are six. keys of engagement, the six C's that if we do a really good job of providing those to our teams, that we're going to build a great team. We're going to have employee [00:25:00] engagement. We're going to have high levels of passion and commitment, and we're going to have high performance.

[00:25:06] And so the six C's are first three are context, connection, and control. The last three are commitment, communication, and competence. And so basically context is. The big picture do we understand why we're here, what the business is all about and really have a high level business literacy connection is really about my connection to that bigger picture.

[00:25:35] How do I interface with others, other individuals, other teams, how does what I do. impact our ability to accomplish those larger goals that the team or the business unit has to accomplish. Control is about really having the decision authority, the ability to bring my whole self to the job, to be able to use my creativity, my [00:26:00] ingenuity, my expertise, and apply it in a way that I know can really make a difference and a positive contribution.

[00:26:09] Having access to and control of the resources. As well as the decision authority makes a huge difference in my ability to choose commitment and accountability for the success of the whole control allows me to commit and and if I'm, if each individual in the, on the team is committed to the success of the whole what does that look like?

[00:26:36] It means I have to understand the game plan. I have to know what it is that we have to accomplish and have to be. looking for ways to to improve things. And so communication is key and understanding what it is that we have to do to succeed and knowing the key metrics that we need to pay attention to.

[00:26:56] It's, do you think of a sports team is a great analogy for all this [00:27:00] professional sports is a business and it's a, and it's a great place to look for guidance here because. Every sports team builds high business literacy. It's in its nature. It's there. Fans have business literacy about the teams almost as much as the players in some instances.

[00:27:22] So we know what the standings are for that. Let's take a football team. We or any team for that matter. We have a division, we have standings, teams know where they stand, how they stack up against other teams. They know the strengths and weaknesses of the other teams as well as their own. how they compare to each other.

[00:27:38] They have the same kind of data about individual players and they know what's at stake every time they get on the field and play a game. And even in the game, they have a game plan. Every player knows the game plan. The field is marked. I've got a football field. The field is marked with. with markers that tell us how well we're [00:28:00] progressing.

[00:28:00] So we have first down markers we have yard lines, we have goal lines, we have a scoreboard we have all kinds of things that tell us whether we're succeeding or failing and help us to make adjustments. And the interesting thing about that is we have the big picture, right? We have context and we have connection.

[00:28:21] We know how we need to work together as team members to be able to accomplish the goal to execute the game plan. And so when something happens. where a play is broken, for instance. Let's say there's a a missed pass or a ball is bouncing around the field. And I'm a lineman. I don't normally handle the ball, but there's a ball bouncing around the field.

[00:28:45] What's my commitment? What's my accountability? Am I committed to the success of the team to winning the game? Do I have as much accountability as the running back or the quarterback or the coach or any other player on the [00:29:00] team? A good team and a good team. I absolutely do.

[00:29:04] I'm every bit as committed. I'm every bit as accountable as anybody else. And so when that ball's bouncing around the field. I know that if I can I need to pick it up or jump on it or something. I need to do something that gives our team an advantage. And so when you think about the workplace that everybody goes to every day and you think in the, in those, in that context, how much of that do we have?

[00:29:33] At work, we have almost none of that, right? And most workplaces, you have almost none of that. We, people are business illiterate, illiterate. Often they don't even know what product they produce at the end of the day. They have some piece of it and that's all they know. They don't have a connection to each other.

[00:29:49] They don't understand how they need to work together. And I have a great tool for that. We'll talk about, but I there's a way that we can really connect people closely together and [00:30:00] align them as a unified team toward common goals. So we, we give people the ability to apply their expertise to jump on the ball to run with it or decide what to do with it.

[00:30:16] We also communicate the things they need to know what's at stake and to be able to make that kind of a decision. It's do if you're in a basketball on a basketball team, is this a time where I need to call a timeout? Or do we need to keep running the play? Is this a good time to do that?

[00:30:35] A bad time to do that? People need to have that understanding. And then we get to competence. And the competence is important from a couple of standpoints. One is. As a team of people all committed to the success of the whole with the control and the commitment to, to execute also need to then integrate the managing and the doing of the work.

[00:30:58] In other words, everybody [00:31:00] needs to have the ability. To know how to manage the work and not rely on a leader, formal leader to do that for them. And and so competence means learning how to manage the work as well as to do it, and also have a broader understanding of the work that needs to get done and be able to.

[00:31:19] work together as a team to accomplish those things. Those are often new skills for people to develop. We actually didn't, we actually had five C's for many years, and we would talk a lot about competence and at some point. We debated whether we should add that as a sixth C because we felt it was important, but when we asked our, when we asked clients about it how it fit in Overwhelmingly people said it, it actually does need to be part of it.

[00:31:50] It should be because we're spending a lot of time working on developing team competence to execute and learning how to. Integrate managing and doing of the work. [00:32:00] And so we did end up adding that as the sixth C and found it was very critical to the success of each team we worked with what I

[00:32:09] Scott Maderer: think is interesting, at least what I've observed, and you can tell me whether you've seen this in the teams that you've worked with is a lot of times we, like when a manager is making a hiring decision or we're doing that, we're looking at competence as if that's the key.

[00:32:25] Deciding factor do they have the skillset? Do they know how to use Excel or do they know how to use the tools that we need to use? Have they worked in this field before? Those are all competence questions. Yeah. And we'll spend 90% of our time looking at competence and maybe five or 10% looking at what amounts to things that would be indicators of all of the rest of these are they have they been a good team player?

[00:32:50] Do they facilitate communication? Are they committed or those sorts of. of things. And the same thing, even once they become a member of our team, a lot of times, I think [00:33:00] we spend a lot of time and effort on if they just knew how to do the job better, everything would work. That's the solution to the problem.

[00:33:08] When a lot of times, A that's not the solution and B a lot of times it's not even the problem.

[00:33:15] Kevin Herring: No, that's exactly right. And I think that's part of the challenges that often And I think some popular books have created this myth, but there's the myth that everything can be boiled down, down to skill or will either they have the skill and they're not motivated to apply it or they don't, or they're motivated, but they don't have the skill or maybe both.

[00:33:41] But, that so grossly oversimplifies what people, the environment people work in and what it takes to be successful. That is such an inaccurate description because it's not about skill or will. If you understand that people inherently are [00:34:00] self motivated the will is diminished when we demotivate people because the environment we put them in and and skills can be developed.

[00:34:10] And the other thing about competency, I'll just comment on this is when I worked for the consulting firm I mentioned right out of graduate school, we did, we ran assessment centers for leaders and I became passionate about assessment centers. I still think that's one of the most wonderful technologies for.

[00:34:29] Helping people to understand what it takes to be successful. And I'll tell you why. It's not just about competencies. We think we're pretty good at identifying the competencies people need to be successful. We're actually pretty lousy about it. In my experience, we are really not very good at it. We can get a few core competencies that everybody needs for a particular role.

[00:34:52] Identified. We're okay with that, but anything beyond that is, is really a crapshoot. [00:35:00] And what I found is that there were people who had come through the assessment center. And we would be assessing for certain competencies and they would not even apply the competencies that have been identified for that role and be highly successful at accomplishing the task.

[00:35:20] They would leverage other companies, other strengths, figure out another way to do it, figure out another way to do it and do it very well, acceptably. They didn't create any problems from it. They didn't damage relationships with it. They did an excellent job with it. And I found that People are incredibly adaptable and and it goes back to the work that was done by I can't think of the name.

[00:35:50] I got the wrong name in my head, so I can't come up with it. But anyway, there was a book written, a study done about strengths. And and I [00:36:00] think the conclusion of the study was that people are often better off not focusing on their weaknesses, trying to build their weaknesses, but finding better ways to leverage their strengths.

[00:36:13] And I think we still need to, there's a balance there. We still need to work on things that are important for us to develop that we're not strong at, but but it makes a great point that we often really downplay our ability to be successful. Successful by leveraging the things that we're already good at in new and interesting ways, right?

[00:36:34] Scott Maderer: It's the difference between and we all have them every business has I won't say every most businesses have some set of standard operating procedures and you know I always looked at it as There are some things that yes You need to define and say this is how you do it because there's a reason that it's done that way Right a lot of other things.

[00:36:56] It's like actually this is the outcome I want This is [00:37:00] what it needs to look like, and these are the parameters for it. How you get from A to B, I really don't care. At the end of the day, as long as A turns into B... That's okay. There, but you, and the trick is knowing the difference between when you need to qualify it and define it and when it's okay to let it be more outcome based.

[00:37:20] Kevin Herring: Yeah. And back to your point about hiring, the interesting thing is that I may have zero experience doing that previously. I may have never had this opportunity before, but because of my experience I can be adaptable. I can figure it out and have a great outcome. And we exclude people who have the ability to do that when we focus too much on specific skills and specific experiences.

[00:37:47] Scott Maderer: Yeah. Yeah. That's the beginner effect that there's often some value to having somebody who's never done it before come in and look at it because a lot of times they'll suddenly cut seven steps out and it's Oh wait, [00:38:00] we didn't actually need those anyway. But we've done them because that's how we always did it.

[00:38:06] We always do it. That, that's the old we've had I, we would do that where we would have people come in and look at processes and all of that. And you would discover that there were steps in your process that you were doing because five years ago, There was a point to those steps, but that point went away.

[00:38:28] That department went away or that need went away or that particular you're still creating a paper copy and putting it in a file, but nobody's ever looking at it. It's then why were you creating the paper copy?

[00:38:40] Kevin Herring: Absolutely. I once worked at a place. I had a person that worked for me that spent days every month.

[00:38:46] We're producing a report that went out to all these leaders in the division and no one opened the report Nobody opened the report and we didn't know that at the time But I saw how much time it was taking and I asked [00:39:00] her how long you've been doing this is well The ten years I've been here I've been doing it and it was done before that and I said, do you know if anybody looks at issues?

[00:39:07] I have no idea I said what would happen if we stop producing the report or at least stop sending it out? And so we did a little test. We, I told her to produce the report, but don't send it out and maybe send out a notice and saying, if we're not just sending it out automatically, if you would like it, let us know.

[00:39:24] Nobody responded. And we did that for several months. And finally, we had one division leader, one leader in the division call us and and ask why he wasn't receiving it anymore. And the reason he was concerned was because. He was afraid that something had happened, that he was losing his job, or he was

[00:39:44] Scott Maderer: cut off from the team.

[00:39:45] Have I been demoted? Have I been taken off the distribution list and didn't know it?

[00:39:49] Kevin Herring: We saved an incredible amount of time by, through that experiment, by just Yeah, there's

[00:39:56] Scott Maderer: actually a great book that has come out recently called Hack [00:40:00] the Bureaucracy. And it's a woman who's worked within the government and bureaucracies and all of that.

[00:40:05] And for instance, one of the, if you remember a number of years ago, the VA had this huge restructuring and suddenly became much more efficient. Because the VA, the Veterans Administration was always notorious for. An example of a bad bureaucracy where nothing ever happened, even though it needed to.

[00:40:24] And she's the person that actually did that. And one of the things she points out is that, that same sort of thing, that there were there were lots of processes being done and the department that was receiving the report was complaining because it wasn't in the right format or whatever.

[00:40:43] And The group that was producing the report really wishes they could have done it a different way, but thought this other group. demanded it that way they just never talked to each other and sat down in a room and went, Hey, wait a minute we can make both of our lives [00:41:00] easier if we just do this way.

[00:41:01] So that happens a lot. For the leader that is out there listening what are a couple of quick tips? We've talked about a lot of things, but what are a couple of quick tips or where would they start if. They're wanting they're hearing all of this and they're like, okay, that sounds good.

[00:41:20] I want to start looking at it. What are a couple of places they could start

[00:41:24] Kevin Herring: looking? Yeah the first two C's are a great place to start because everything builds on that. And so the first thing is build context and connection in your team, teach your team the big picture. And I suggest I tell people if you can do a field trip, if you can walk them around the.

[00:41:44] site, or if that's not possible, if people are remote, then maybe you bring in somebody in the organization from operations, maybe somebody from marketing, maybe somebody from finance, but you have people come in and build business literacy. Teach [00:42:00] people about the business. Who are we in the grand scheme of things?

[00:42:03] Why is it important for me to come to work? Why does besides the fact I need the job what is it that I'm here to accomplish and what does the company need to do to be successful? How do we stack up against the competition? One of the, one of the, when I worked for Magma Copper Company, the company that was going through the big transformation, one of the most Powerful things I think that we did was to educate all employees from management to those who are breaking rocks in the underground mine about the business and to find out that here are all these companies that mine copper.

[00:42:44] And we're in the same industry. Some are much larger than us. We're, we were a mid tier company and and we saw how we stacked up against all these other well known brands. And what about smaller companies? Where do they fit in? And [00:43:00] what do we have to do to compete? And what's smart for us to do to compete effectively and what gives us advantages.

[00:43:07] And we talked about those things. We learned those things. And then we found that that we could do things that helped us to be more competitive. And so that connection now, what is it that I do and how does that impact the bigger picture became important. And we started having conversations in individual teams about.

[00:43:29] Where we're where we have problems and how we can overcome those. And so people were constantly finding ways to improve to the processes, to be more efficient and to reduce our costs. And it was amazing the things that frontline employees were coming up with all the time. And we began breaking industry records and many parts of the organization, sometimes on a monthly basis.

[00:43:54] I think the power of people is just huge when we do those things. So [00:44:00] competence I'm sorry context and connection is a great place to start. And connection is we have a, we call a little kind of a speed dating exercise. We tell people get your team together have them meet one on one with every other member of the team.

[00:44:18] And for 10 minutes, 15 minutes a Have them do a couple of things. One is have them Tell each other what they do, even though they think they may think they know, and it's obvious they'll probably learn something new in that exercise. Find out what it is. That people struggle with to do what they need to do in the organization.

[00:44:41] What are the challenges they face that they get frustrated with? And then have each ask the other, how can I help you? So we want to create a culture of service. Ask, how can I help you? Make that a standard question. And as a leader, you should do the same thing, but ask me, how can I [00:45:00] help you? Have them learn to do that for each other, not demand.

[00:45:03] from each other. Give me this. You need to do this for me. But to ask, how can I help you? And have them do that for each other and make promises around those things to make commitments to each other. That's one of the most powerful ways to create a highly unified, focused team, working together, collaborating, cooperating, doing the things that help that team to excel.

[00:45:25] It's a great place to start.

[00:45:28] Scott Maderer: So I've got a few questions that I like to ask all of my guests, but before I go there, is there anything else about the work that you do that you'd

[00:45:34] Kevin Herring: like to share with the listeners? Yeah, I think that it's critical for leaders to understand. themselves as leaders. And we talk a lot about stance.

[00:45:48] What is it? What is my stance about people? My stance about people is that I believe they're basically. Unmotivated, undependable. They need someone to motivate them, to check up on [00:46:00] them to guide them and help them to do the things that we need done in the organization. If I have that kind of a stance, then I'm going to be a high control, low trust leader.

[00:46:11] And I'm never going to have a high performing team because I'm never going to enable those six C's to happen. On the other hand, if my stance is that people are inherently self motivated, they're trustworthy, they want to do a good job, they're they really want to contribute to the organization, to the team, then I'll treat them differently.

[00:46:33] I'll be a lower control, higher trust leader. And I'll treat them as such and I'll find it a natural fit for me to go in and apply those six C's of engagement and build a high performing team. So I think that's a it's critical to understand where we are in that question. And because if I'm, as I said, if I'm A high control, low trust [00:47:00] leader.

[00:47:00] I'm never going to, I'm never going to create a high performing team. The question is now, what do I do about that? If I'm willing to shift my thinking because I see value in operating differently, operating more to the other side of the spectrum and be a a high trust low control leader, then it'll be easier for me to apply those six C's of engagement.

[00:47:27] If I can't get there, if I just can't believe it, because my experience is such that I'm entrenched, then I'm going to have to decide if I'm willing to take a leap of faith. And that may be all it takes. I maybe have to say, look, I don't buy into this. I'm very skeptical. I find it difficult to believe that I'm going to have that much more of an impact if I operate differently.

[00:47:51] But. I'm willing to give it an honest chance. I'm going to try it and I'll give it a fair shake and see what [00:48:00] happens. If you're willing to do that. You're gonna find that you're gonna get great results. You're gonna find it easier to implement the succeeds, but you got to confront Your own challenges in that your own inability to change your stance

[00:48:20] Scott Maderer: So my brain is inspired stewardship, and I run things through that lens of stewardship, and yet that's one of those words, like leadership, that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

[00:48:30] So when you hear the word stewardship, what does that word mean to you, and what is the impact of that meaning had on you?

[00:48:36] Kevin Herring: I love that word. I was heavily influenced by Peter Block's book, Stewardship, and That just really resonated with me. That notion that stewardship is a trust. In other words, when we take a role, we have a trust.

[00:48:57] Not just to make sure certain things get done in the [00:49:00] organization, but we have a trust in terms of the people that we're entrusted with. And to me, our stewardship is about building the best team, helping that team to be successful, helping them to be able to grow and develop. And be in a position where they can then in a sense, in essence, be a light to those around them to build those around them.

[00:49:24] And so if I see that as my stewardship as a leader, then I also understand that my primary role is to build the capacity to increase the capacity of the people on my team to contribute. And to bring their whole selves to work and then to help them do the same for each other and for others outside the team.

[00:49:47] That stewardship principle becomes very important. There is a, I read an article years ago about some of the legacy companies in the fortune [00:50:00] 100 and some of them take this approach seriously where. The board feels like they really have a sacred trust. For taking this business and hand in handing it to the next generation in great shape and prepared to serve those who will benefit from the products and services provided by that organization.

[00:50:22] And so when they select a CEO, it's. Usually somebody who's been with the company a long time, they're always selected from inside. And and it's an understanding that, that they're passing along this trust to them. It's not for, and about that individual, it's for the larger organization for the greater good.

[00:50:46] And as a result of that, they've been able to to. survive and thrive for hundreds of years. And I think that that concept is pretty critical for us as leaders to, [00:51:00] to think of ourselves as having a more than just a job, but a stewardship for the organization and for the people that are part of our group.

[00:51:10] Scott Maderer: So this is my favorite question that I like to ask everybody. Imagine for a minute that I invented this magic machine and with the machine, I was able to pluck you from where you are today and transport you into the future, maybe 150, maybe 250 years. And through the power of this machine, you were able to look back and see your entire life.

[00:51:30] See all of the connections, all of the ripples, all of the impacts that you've left behind in the world. What impact do you hope you've left

[00:51:36] Kevin Herring: behind in the world? That's a great question. I tend to be a pretty generally optimistic, positive kind of person. I think that's just my personality.

[00:51:46] But this is one thing that I sometimes get cynical about. I always think that when you die I still believe in an afterlife, but people forget you, they have. They're things that [00:52:00] they're dealing with and and and so I, I always figure that I don't worry too much about what people will think longer term.

[00:52:08] I just try to be the person I need to be and do the right things. But but you make a great point. If I were to look back, what would I want to see? What do I think is important? I'm pretty driven by results. I really feel like I, I get a thrill and I mean that honestly, I get a thrill out of.

[00:52:29] working with a leader or working with a team and turning it around, making them, helping them to work more effectively together, to have a much, much better experience and to be able to produce at a much higher level and to do things that people thought were not even possible. I get a thrill out of that and which is part of the reason why I love this work.

[00:52:52] And so I think when I look back, I really want to see that I've been able to [00:53:00] create greater joy, help people to create greater joy in their lives, to be able to do the same for others.

[00:53:11] To expand that. And that's really what my passion is. And I hope to be able to see that, continue to see that as I get older, looking back and seeing those results accomplished. So what's coming up on the roadmap for the

[00:53:30] Scott Maderer: rest of

[00:53:31] Kevin Herring: the year? Yeah. We've made a, we've made some big changes for years, we were just an in person consulting company and for a long time, I've wanted to take what we've been doing in person and expand it to more people that to build the leadership capabilities at a more rapid pace.

[00:53:54] And I felt like there was another way to do it and to transfer. Our expertise to [00:54:00] people more readily. And so that's what helped led us to create the 90 day turnaround. And that was to help people take these six C's, build their capacity as leaders, to implement them in their teams and to build their own leadership, and at the same time, build their teams and the individual members in the team.

[00:54:18] And that's why we've shifted to more of a, or of a hybrid model where we do a lot of. Virtual consulting individual one on one and group coaching along with providing digital materials that that support the work. And we, so we're now able to reach a much broader audience, be able to help more leaders to do the things that we've been doing for them and now be able to do that for themselves.

[00:54:51] You can find out

[00:54:51] Scott Maderer: more about Kevin over at assetmanagement. com, but that's A S C E N T M G T for [00:55:00] management. com. Of course, I'll have links to all of this over in the show notes as well. Kevin, is there anything else you'd like to share with the

[00:55:06] Kevin Herring: listener? Yeah, I think that this is a great journey for any anybody who really wants to be a leader to take.

[00:55:14] I just I encourage people to really start, like we said, take those first steps, build context and connection in the team. And I talked about that sort of speed dating exercise. I put that together into a tool. And that tool I created an easy to remember URL because I knew we were doing a podcast and so if you go to superchargemyteam.

[00:55:41] com, that's pretty easy to remember superchargemyteam. com. It'll take you to the website, but it'll also take you to where you can get that free tool and start using it with your team. And I'd love to hear your experiences. using it. So superchargedmyteam. com, great place to be [00:56:00] and pick up that tool.

[00:56:02] And you can also access articles and things that we've written to help you with your leadership journey. Awesome.

[00:56:07] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for that. That's a great resource for folks that are out there listening. And of course, I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well. Thanks for

[00:56:14] Kevin Herring: being here today. Thank you for having me.

[00:56:16] Appreciate it.

[00:56:23] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for listening to the Inspired Stewardship podcast. As a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this episode please do us a favor, go over to inspired stewardship.

[00:56:46] com slash iTunes rate, all one word, iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the [00:57:00] podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed. Until next time, invest your time, your talent, and your treasures. Develop your influence, and impact the world.

In today's episode, I ask Kevin about:

  • Why he focuses so much on building high-performing teams... 
  • His faith and how it informs what he does as a consultant and leader...
  • The six C’s of employee engagement...
  • and more.....

Some of the Resources recommended in this episode: 

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I think I came closer to seeing people as God sees people as he sees us.  I kind of got a glimpse of that and that became very important to me in my life.  – Kevin Herring

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About the Author Scott

Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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