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Claudia Williams
The Human Zone
Engaging Your Workforce
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Claudia Williams is an executive coach and a powerful public speaker utilizing tools like Positive Intelligence and her signature Frientorship® Academy to help CEOs and executives make better decisions, build better companies and teams, and lead more fulfilling lives.

Claudia is an executive coach, a Vistage Chair, a speaker and a workplace trainer. Through programs like Positive Intelligence and her signature Frientorship® Academy, Claudia helps leaders make better decisions, build stronger teams and companies, and lead more fulfilling lives.

In this episode

Claudia Williams of The Human Zone explaining why your workforce gets unengaged and disconnected, There is no emotional connection. There is no purpose for what they're showing up to do every day.

Employees become disaffected when they feel the employer doesn't care about them and the things they believe in. Paying well and providing great perks and benefits may be necessary but it's far from sufficient to inspire your workforce to go the extra mile for your business. There is a shift with employees going from fun to purpose. Claudia points out the key question is are you living up to your mission and values - your staff will hold you accountable by whether they stay or go. Interact with your staff using this 4 step process: talking; listening; engage; and act. She provides a 5 step process you can implement to create a more engaged workforce. Listen to the end for an attractive gift from Claudia.

Engaging Your WorkforceClaudia Williams
00:00 / 31:56

A glimpse of what you'll hear

02:32 The problem with disaffected and unengaged workers is that there's no connection between the staff and the organization.

04:38 When employees don't feel their employer cares about them and about what they care about, they will become unengaged and a liability for the employer.

07:18 Money and perks aren't what employees are really looking for.

09:33 The simple answer is to talk to your staff and find out what's important to them and then action it!

16:26 How you benefit from an engaged workforce.

20:26 What you need to do to get your employees engaged and committed.

24:30 Learn about Claudia. Email Claudia at

Episode Transcript
(Note: this was transcribed using transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast.)

Centricity Introduction 0:04

Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of Centricity, Jay Kingley.

Jay Kingley 0:43

I'm Jay Kingley, co founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to another episode of our Best Kept Secret show where I'm happy to welcome Claudia Williams, founder of The Human Zone. Claudia helps leaders make better decisions, build stronger teams, and lead more fulfilling lives. Welcome to the show, Claudia.

Claudia Williams 1:06

Thanks so much, Jay. It's great to be with you.

Jay Kingley 1:08

Claudia, one of the things that I have observed in talking to so many business owners is the struggle they are having superficially at retaining their talent, but their real struggle is how do they engage their workforce? They are all so frustrated with having so many of the people that are part of their team, look at their jobs as something they do from nine to five. And they're only doing it because they got bills to pay. They don't like it, they would quit working. If they were able to they in the minute that clock strikes five, they shut off work, they don't spend one more second thinking about it. And they will not turn it on again until they show up for the next day. So these folks really are the representatives of the business to all the external constituencies, not to mention other internal departments based on how big the businesses and these people are unengaged they're disaffected and they are at some level, massively underperforming that potential compared to having a workforce that's highly engaged. So you are somebody who spends, you know, your your professional time looking at this issue. So my question to you is, why is such a struggle?

Claudia Williams 2:44

And the struggle is real, right? And we know who these people are in the organizations because we hear them say, yeah, that's not in my job description. When they're asked to do something, right? They say no. And the problem is, there's no emotional connection, there's no purpose to what they're showing up to do every day. They're not connected to the company. They're not connected to the people there, that the word disconnect is real. And it's why if they see a billboard for $1,000, sign on bonus, somewhere else, they'll jump for a little bit more money somewhere else, because there's just no real connection. No, why no feeling for the company, with the company at the company.

Jay Kingley 3:41

Recently, I had to go to a imaging center to get an x ray for something. And what was remarkable Claudia was there was a huge line of patients waiting to come in. And the Center had two front desk people. And there was a long line and they could have cared less. They were busy gossiping, they're busy looking at their phones, the fact that people are taking off work to come in to get what they've done was not their problem. And you could just see how everybody in line was getting more and more agitated. As they got agitated, they became more aggressive. The more aggressive the the fewer the customers became, the more standoffish their front desk, people were, it was a horrible experience. And if you were the owner of that Center, you know, that is not how you get good customer reviews, and there's lots of competition. And it wouldn't surprise me if the next time around, people are looking for other alternatives. So what do you think is behind the reason as to why people employees would behave this way?

Claudia Williams 5:05

There are a lot of reasons why. So if people, if employees don't feel like their company cares about them, or cares about the things that matter to them and matter to them in their communities, then why should they care about the company's customers? Why should they care about their work and put their time and energy into the work to serve the customers, if the if they don't feel like the company cares about them, you know, into. To counter your story. And because I'm a very curious person, I bought a new car recently. And and I'm looking around in the people at this car dealership are so happy, and they are so overboard on the customer service. And so I'm sitting there with the finance guy. And you know, usually when you're talking to the finance guy, it's kind of a wheel and deal thing. It when you're buying a car, it's it's not a great experience for a customer. And I'm sitting here having the best experience. And so I said, you know, I'm so curious, everyone here seems so happy. Do you really like your job this much? Or are you just really good at your job? And he said, not I really like it here. In fact, I left here once, and I asked to come back, and they let me come back. And I said, Why? Why do you like it so much. And he said, "This is a family. We're family here." And that conjures up so much emotion. And he said, and you know, we really care about this place. And we really care about our community here. And they do so much for us and so much for the community. That's what people want. And so he realized when he went somewhere else, that not everybody's like that. And that's why he wanted to go back. And so that's what people are looking for. And that's what they need, and expect and want from their place. And that's why I as the customer had a great experience buying a car.

Jay Kingley 7:11

So what I'm hearing you say, it's more than a paycheck. It's more than having free food in the break room, having a ping pong table, or any of those little perks. It's where the staff feels that their employer is in alignment with what they feel is important in their lives, what they feel is important in society. And is this a reason we are seeing more and more companies, if you will be enforced by staff to speak out on issues that the employees feel are important?

Claudia Williams 7:56

Yeah, so you nailed it, Jay. So here's here's the shift we've seen over the last, not only the last couple of years, but really what I've seen over the last decade. So we saw companies for an especially started with the big companies that said, Hey, come work for us, because we have ping pong tables and big screen TVs. And we're fun. We're a fun place to work." And and that was attractive for a little while until we're working so hard. We don't have time to have fun. Right? So it seemed like a way to get people in the door. But people still weren't staying there. Because if we're working all the time, we're not using these fun things. And so the shift really what went to feeling and hey, companies, how do you feel about the things that matter to us, we want to know where you stand on social justice matters. We want to know where you stand on the environment and taking care of the environment. We want to know that you're taking the money that we're helping you make and you're reinvesting it in the places where we live. So what are you doing from a philanthropy standpoint? What are the causes you care about? Are they the same causes we care about? Because that matters to us to do we have a voice in where you donate the dollars? Are you asking us these questions? So these are the things that employees want to know. And so they will for candidates, they're gonna research it and for employees, they're they're looking at you and saying, you know, do you care about us? Because this is what you do? Do you care if we need time off from work for certain things? Do you trust us to get the job done really well because if you give us a little bit of space, we will fall on swords for you. But be there for us when we need you to

Jay Kingley 9:56

So almost a shift from fun to perfect is in alignment with what is important to people in their lives. So that sort of begs the question, you know, given the scope of the problem, I'm a business owner, I'm a business executive, what do I do?

Claudia Williams 10:14

The answer initially sounds so simple. Talk to your people. Ask them what matters to them. Right? So the first place to start is start having conversations if you really don't know where to start. So talk to people get out there and walk around. If you are in a workplace where people are showing up in person walk around, ask people, what matters to them. If you're in a hybrid or remote work environment, make those phone calls, get on those video conferences and have conversations that way. And, and companies have their company values, right? Are you? Are you actually clear on what those behaviors are? That live up to those values? And are you living and breathing those behaviors? Or do you just have a bunch of words that look nice on paper, because your people are watching to make sure that you actually are living up to those values and, and they're going to hold you accountable. And the way they'll hold you accountable is whether they stay or go and try to find another company. That means what it says, And in so look at all of these things holistically, and then listen to them. Because another mistake that a lot of companies make is that they'll talk and they'll conduct surveys, and they don't do anything with the information. So have the conversations, conduct the surveys and do something with it. So you don't have to build Rome in a day. But little things that you can do, and have the conversation to say we heard you. And we might not be able to do all of this at once. But here's where we're going to start, you know, the first thing we're going to do is we're going to choose an organization to donate to that matters to you. And here's what we heard matters to you. Right, so that could be the first thing and then it's like a staircase that you're building over time little by little. And then they'll hear you. And they'll see it happening. And they'll feel it and they'll start talking to each other. And so there are so many great things that you can do that don't have to be huge. And by the way, don't cost a lot of money like big screen TVs and revamping break rooms, a talking show goes a long way.

Jay Kingley 12:45

So what I'm really hearing, though, is maybe four things. So I'm hearing, you start by asking, talking, but you've got to listen, and then you have to engage. And then you've got to act, and you've got to really go through all four of those steps. And you've got to do it genuinely. So that people believe that you are as the employer in the business, you are being authentic, and you really do care. Now that to me doesn't mean that everything that you hear from your staff, you have to do that all the sudden, you know, the inmates are running the asylum here. But I think that's why the Engage piece where you can have real meaningful dialogue. And you can explain, perhaps what are what is the context and maybe broader issues that constrain or drive you to do what you feel you need to do. But I don't think it's the oracle on high approach anymore where, you know, you've I've asked and you you've listened to what you've had to say, Now here is my decision move on. And I don't explain it. We don't discuss anything that really works by eating this engagement, and then agreeing on a plan of action and getting the buy in from your staff. Does that make sense to you? And is that something that you would advocate or do you think that there's a different approach you should be taking?

Claudia Williams 14:19

You're right there with me, Jay, it's like you're inside my head. Right? So we're never going to please everybody. We can't make everyone happy all the time. But I think if leaders can be transparent and honest about where they are, and why they are where they are, right. That's what people need. People want to feel heard. And when they feel heard, they can let go. Often of this, of this. I have to be right kind of thing. If They feel like they're being listened to. And they're, they're being heard. And they feel a sense of community where they are, oh, they're way more likely to stay there. Because when when companies are throwing some dollars at things to solve problems, right, oh, we need to, we need to really keep this person. Let's give them a retention bonus. So this is I see this a lot. We're getting them a retention bonus. So what does that do? Okay, I'm going to accept a retention bonus. And that means I'm going to get $10,000 to stay here for six months. So what happens? I have $10,000 in my pocket, and I'm looking for a job for the next six months, am I really engaged in the work I'm doing for this, for this period of time? No, I'm focused on my job search. But thanks for the $10,000, you just put in my pocket it, it really doesn't make sense. "You're paying me $10,000 To look for a job oh thanks!" So that kind of stuff doesn't work, the stuff that works is let's be real, let's be transparent, let's have honest conversations about where where we are and where we want to be, and how we're going to get there together as a community. Because when we do that, we'll do better work, we'll work harder. And who wins in the end, the company wins the customers win the employees are having a great experience they'll deliver for your customers.

Jay Kingley 16:33

Yeah, I mean, I think what you're saying is right on the money, you can't buy or compensate your employees to, to be engaged, you can't compensate them to be all in on your business. And the truth is, you can't really compensate them to even stay with you in the long run, you can do it as you as you point out for a short period of time. But as soon as that requirement, as soon as that deal expires, then your talent, of course, is on to the next thing, and you're going to be worse off for it. So if we have as a business, somebody who adopts what you're telling them to do, which is basically to, to talk and to listen, and to engage and act, if I'm that decision maker, what's this going to mean for me, as for example, the business owner, or business executive.

Claudia Williams 17:32

So for for the actual business owner, or the person at the top, the first thing that happens for you is that you get to spend way more time in the space where you should be playing, you get to spend way more time working on your business, being a strategic business planner, focusing on where you want to grow and take the business because you get to get out of the weeds of sort of having to do all the work in the business. Finally, right. So the, what I see happen so often is that the presidents, the CEOs, the founders, they keep getting sucked down into the weeds, because the business isn't working the right way, because of turnover, because people can't get to play in the right spaces below the founder, president CEOs because the business isn't working, right? Because they don't have the right culture. And so when you get the right culture in place, you are finally lifted to be able to work on your business so that you can focus on growth and strategy. Do you want to? Do you want to acquire new business? Do you want to grow organically? Where are you going to go with this business? You can finally play in that space.

Jay Kingley 18:52

Now, what about the business itself? How does having an engaging committed workforce drive your business metrics?

Claudia Williams 19:01

Let me give you an example. So there's a company that started at the beginning of 2021. And, and focused purposefully on a culture campaign for this year. And the way they did it was that they created pods and and went from a very siloed organization and said, we have to we have siloed teams, we're not working together. People are punching the clock, they're now talking to each other. So they created pods, and they pulled people specifically from each department and created teams and they created challenges. Fun things for them to have to do to work together every month to achieve they had to they had to build chairs, for example, out of some fun material, whether it was cardboard or popsicle sticks or something they had to do a fun activity to yogether, they brought them together for a two hour training and development opportunity together in their pods each month. They were purposefully bringing them together for vulnerability for learning and development and for fun, and they had to get to know each other. And they were they were talking to each other and learning from in with each other in new and different ways, learning about how the work that each of them does impacts each other, like ripples. When you toss a rock in the water, they got to know each other, they became much more of that family and really began appreciating each other. And this didn't take tons of time away from work. But what it did was they began working smarter together more efficiently together, saves time on customer projects. So they were getting work done faster for their customers, their customers began sending them more work, they won more bids, success, they were more successful on their bids. 2021 ended up being their best year ever in business, and they didn't lose a single person.

Jay Kingley 21:10

So I think the most of the business owners that I know that are listening in today, are probably saying you've put a pretty compelling argument out there. This is something that I would love to do a whole lot better on. You've given me the sort of the strategic things I need to accomplish. Let's talk tactics. What are the key implementation steps that a company or organization needs to take to make this habit?

Claudia Williams 21:39

Start simple, right? So truly keep it simple to begin with. You can create your own survey, start with something simple, like Survey Monkey, ask five simple questions. Do you feel connected to your supervisor? Do you feel connected to the people you work with every day? What do you love about working here? What do you wish? What's one thing you wish we could do differently here? You can start by asking just a few questions. And they're they're emotion based questions, right? This is not a satisfaction survey. And this is a how do you feel about us survey? And so you can start there and start by gathering some data and look at what the data tells you? And then say, okay, what are we going to do with this information? And start by doing one or two things. And then each quarter, ask a couple of follow up questions and say, Okay, what are we going to do with this. And to the point, you said earlier, Jay, act on it, right. And then the key is this communication. And it's a very purposeful culture campaign, and have somebody own it. So you have somebody in your organization, who owns this culture space. And it is a it is a priority, it's a designated organizational priority. For this person for a team this person creates, every leader has a stake in it. Every leader has a responsibility. Every leader has a stake in this and every leader plays a part in it. And there's so many little fun things you can do through different forms of media, short videos, text, messages, emails, switch it up, keep it fun, and it's all about building that company community, for your people. And and at first, don't feel you might you might get a little bit of a you know what's going on here kind of response from people because you're doing something different. Don't stop, right? Don't stop because you get a little bit of a pushback from folks because they might not believe, you know, or pick up what you're putting down. Keep going keep doing it because it's the consistency that will drive the connectivity and the engagement.

Jay Kingley 24:20

Well, thank you for really giving us a way forward to do better on with this critical issue of getting employees engaged and retaining our talent. We're gonna take a quick break. And when we come back, we're gonna learn a bit more about cloud. Are you

Centricity Introduction 24:41

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Jay Kingley 25:40

Welcome back. We're talking to Claudia Williams of The Human Zone. Let's find out that more about Claudia let me start with asking you, what are the pain points that you solve for your clients? And why do they need you to get rid of the pain?

Claudia Williams 25:58

One of the biggest things I help leaders do Jay is get out of the weeds and play in the right spaces. And, and I help them sometimes they don't even recognize that they're in the weeds. So when it comes to those founders, presidents CEOs, I coach them, I helped them understand where the pain points are in their own organizations and get them playing in the right spaces.

Jay Kingley 26:26

Every person listening to our show will be will all agree that when they look to work with a firm or an individual, around some area of expertise that they need, what's really important is not what necessarily that person does, but how good they are at doing it. So I'm going to ask you, what makes you great at what you do?

Claudia Williams 26:53

I call myself a recovering attorney. So by way of background, I began my career as a labor and employment lawyer. And I was in private practice for a long period of time. And then I went in house with The Hershey Company. And in there, I got a crash course in business, I traveled the globe, I worked in China and Dubai and Singapore and Malaysia, Canada and Mexico. And so I have this broad global perspective on business and on people. And here's the thing, in the work I did, a lot of times by the time something came to me, it had blown up. And so I was working in reverse order and putting timelines together. And what I could see over and over again, was a very similar pattern. There were breakdowns in communication, there were breakdowns and accountability. And there were so many opportunities, that that's what prompted me actually to really want to leave the practice of law and get into the space that I loved, which, which is this coaching and counseling space that I play in now, I spent a ton of time doing that as a lawyer. And so now I get to be on the front end, preventing and hoping to prevent what I saw on the back end as an attorney. So I get to coach and I get to do the strategic side of the work and tee businesses up for success. And and and I still have that risk profile. But I get to I get to use it to inform and help shape rather than litigate.

Jay Kingley 28:36

That's such a great segue into my next question, which is this. I encourage everyone listening and watching the show, to go to LinkedIn, go to Claudia's LinkedIn profile, you'll see her education, you'll see her career path, some of which he has alluded to, and I am sure you will be as impressed as I am Claudia with your background in your track record. But here's my question for you. I'd like to know whether it's from your personal life or your professional life, what would most explain why you're doing what you're doing?

Claudia Williams 29:19

I think I had my first coaching session when I was 14 years old. And at a I have a had two wonderful parents. They're they're no longer alive. But they were wonderful individuals and as a married couple, you know, it was just it was toxic. And, and I'm the youngest of four girls. And there's such an age gap between my sisters and me that when I was 14, everyone else was out of the house at college or living life already and and I sat my parents down and I said, I really think it's time for the two of you to get a divorce. Let's figure this out. You know, Dad, I'll figure out if mom stays here. I'll figure out how we can make arranges for me to spend time with you. But you know, let's let's just be honest about what's happening here because this isn't working. And we need to figure out something different now. And they looked at me and they like Claudia, why would you say something like that? And, and I said, "You're kidding, right? This really doesn't work, the police show up occasionally at my home." That's, you know, that was my life. And so this is just, this is nuts. And my parents were very old school Italian Americans. And my dad was like, two people have to be in the house until kids are out of the house. And, and I said, there's a better way to do this. And they weren't budging. And that really shaped me. And as an adult. I know. That was that was my first coaching session. And I can I could see the bigger picture. And I just, I always could see the bigger picture, even if people around me couldn't or wouldn't.

Jay Kingley 31:02

A very heartfelt story. And like so many of us, it's these types of things in our lives. That happened to us when you're young, that shape us as we become adults. Thank you so much. Yeah, sharing now, you I think, have talked about a very compelling subject. I think it's an area where people need a lot of help, they need a lot of perspective and guidance. So I'm sure we've got people in our audience that would love to reach out to you to continue the conversation, what's the best way for them to do that?

Claudia Williams 31:39

Just go to And all of my contact information is right there.

Jay Kingley 31:45

Fabulous. We will put that information in our show notes and into our video for those who watch on video make it really easy for you to reach out to Claudia. Now, as I have mentioned to you, I think you've added so much perspective, given us so much insight. And as longtime listeners to our show would be the first to tell you, that is necessary, but that's never sufficient for Jay never sufficient for us, the audience, we always like a little bit more. So no, sorry, not sorry. Gonna put you on the spot here. I want you to offer our listeners a little bit of a gift as your way to thank them for their time and attention.

Claudia Williams 32:38

Okay, so if you reach out to me, tell me that you met me on The Best Kept Secret show and let's have a 30 minute free consultation. Let's get to know each other a little bit. But just make sure that you tell me you met me on this show.

Jay Kingley 32:54

Well, thank you. Come on, guys. Let's take advantage of this very kind offer advanced the discussion on how we can better engage our employees so that we get the ability to realize the full potential from our business. Claudia, thank you so much for being such a wonderful guest on The Best Kept Secret show to our audience. Let's continue to crush it out there. Until next time.

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