The Modern CPA Success Show: Episode 77
In this episode, Jamie Nau, our host and Summit CPA's Director of Virtual CFO, sits down Josh Jeans, Summit’s People Operations Strategist, and Chris Williams, former VP of HR at Microsoft and current leadership advisor, podcaster, and author, to discuss current HR trends in the marketplace, such as “quiet quitting,” and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this episode, Jamie Nau, our host and Summit CPA's Director of Virtual CFO sits down Josh Jeans, Summit’s People Operations Strategist, and Chris Williams, former VP of HR at Microsoft and current leadership advisor, podcaster, and author, to discuss current HR trends in the marketplace, such as “quiet quitting,” and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jamie Nau: Hello, everybody. Super excited for today's guest. Today we are joined by Chris Williams, and we don't normally pre-show for our conversations, but the three of us just spent 20 minutes talking, which is awesome. I think we have a great guest here who’s gonna bring a lot of awesome topics, because he seems to have knowledge and a lot of different areas. He’s been involved with leadership in organizations for a very long time.
[00:00:40] So Chris, welcome to the show; and why don't you give us a little bit of your background?
Chris Williams: Hi.Thanks for having me. Again, my name's Chris William.s I've been managing and leading teams for over 40 years. I started my career in the tech industry, wrote some software. I've written software that probably almost every one of your users has run at one point or another in their life.
[00:01:01] But I found out throughout my career that my real passion was for building and leading teams, and I worked at Microsoft managing larger and larger teams; I eventually ended up being vice president of human resources for the entire company, 32,000 employees in 160 locations worldwide. It was a big, big job.
[00:01:21] I enjoyed that a lot. Then after I left Microsoft, I've been consulting and coaching with startups and nonprofits and small businesses and helping people become better and smarter leaders. The reason why your listeners might have seen me is for some strange reason, I've become remarkably popular on social media lately with over 175,000 followers on various platforms. And it's been a blast.
Jamie Nau: So, I heard that you're pretty popular on TikTok. Does that mean you do like songs and dances and stuff? Is that what that is?
Chris Williams: I have refrained from shaking my booty at any possible opportunities. That is not something that even my wife would enjoy. So I don't do much of that.
[00:02:06] What I have done, which is a remarkable thing, I've worked incredibly hard to make the production values of my videos. Be very careful and rich and thoughtful and well done. And it's been fun to watch TikTok, which again began as a dancing app or where people were showing pictures of their lunch and holding the shaky camera two inches from their face. People respond well to quality videos that were well produced and thoughtful and had a point to make. And it's been fun to watch that happen. And when I got on TikTok, it was just starting to turn that way. And now TikTok is a really rich source of valuable business information that people who dismiss it as a kid's dancing app are doing themselves a disservice.
[00:02:54] I also post a lot of it on LinkedIn,Twitter, and Facebook. Strangely enough, I didn't expect it myself. I've gotten the most traction on TikTok, which is frankly amazing.
Jamie Nau: I definitely wanna introduce Josh, too, real quick. So Josh isn't usually on this podcast, but since we are going to be talking people and Josh is our people person, we also wanted to bring Josh Jeans on. So, Josh, welcome for the show.
Josh Jeans: Yeah, thanks, Jamie. I never thought about that. Josh Jeans, people person. It’s got the double alliteration there. I’m our people team here. One thing I wanted to mention, Chris, you know, I was engaging with some of your social media; you got a pretty big digital footprint.
[00:03:34] And it may be because the season is turning right now to fall. But as I was reflecting on a lot of your content, I was like, ah, this is crisp. And it's very refreshing. It's pretty different from what you engage with, especially in the TikTok space. And I was like, wow, I feel better after watching these toks, versus I think a lot of times you scroll through TikTok for a long time.
[00:03:53] You're like, wow, I feel pretty terrible. I should go on a walk or drink some water or something. You know, on our people team, I screen a lot of resumes and something I really appreciated, for those of you who are listening, Chris has a really thoughtfully crafted YouTube channel and a video resume that's a little over three minutes long;you packed a lot into that.
So I know what you just shared with us was a tiny snippet because I know the three-minute video I just watched had to be trimmed down from everything that you've done in your past. So I'm really excited to have this conversation because I think you've added value to so many teams with over 40-ish years of professional experience.
[00:04:35] And you seem like a treasure trove of business insight. So I'm excited to move forward with our conversation.
Chris Williams: Well, thank you. I'm blushing horribly here. Thank you.
Jamie Nau: So let's start with a topic that we saw you recently talk about that I think is gonna hopefully get us in a couple different directions.
[00:04:53] So we know the market has changed, and COVID changed everything in a lot of different directions. But one of the terms that we heard you talking about is quiet quitting. So do you wanna talk about that a little bit it, and what you're seeing and really just explain that term to our listen.
Chris Williams: Well, quiet quitting is. I actually think it was made up by some manager somewhere who was frustrated with their employees not doing the work that they wanted to have them be done.
[00:05:16] And it's cute. As Josh noted, it's got alliteration and so it's cute, but I think what I've seen in quiet quitting and the great resignation, it’s all somewhat tied together into the same phenomenon, which is, over the last 40 or 50 years, productivity has gone up. But, real wages have not kept pace with that amount of productivity.
[00:05:42] And there's no question that technology has improved productivity, and that has made a significance. But, nonetheless, even with that encounter, or even with that included the product, the wages just simply haven't kept up with it. In addition, managers and leaders have been asking their employees to do more, to work longer hours, to have more devotion to the company with the promise of getting a wage increase or a promotion or something in the future.
[00:06:12] People were getting frustrated because those things were being held out as a carrot, and it wasn't working. And, long before COVID, people were feeling frustrated and particularly younger people were feeling like the market was leaving them behind. And what happened was along came thing C that completely shook the entire job market.
[00:06:32] It sent people home to sit on their couch and think about themselves and what they're doing. And ‘do I really like this?’ And ‘does it make any sense?’ The people who could, at that point, did the great resignation. Right? They decided, you know what, ‘I'm gonna go do something that really is something I'd rather be doing and maybe will pay me more.’
[00:06:55] And, and now, as we're returning back to the office and companies are saying to people, you gotta come back to the office. People are being forced back into a situation that they may or may not like, or they're returning back to the office. They're reminding themselves ‘my gosh, this job has always been a pain in the.’
[00:07:13] They're finding that putting in this extra work just wasn't getting me anywhere. So, I'm just gonna do what I'm being asked to do, and we'll see how it goes. Yes. It's very true that if you wanna get promoted, you still have to put in the extra work. If you wanna get a huge raise, you're still gonna have to put in the extra work.
[00:07:31] But what I think is happening is, the COVID Pandemic shook the market and caused there to be some realization on the part of the employees that maybe they weren't getting everything out of this bargain that they thought they should be getting. So, I think this is, in many ways, really healthy.
[00:07:50] I think the market is sort of reacting to this huge change. I think the pandemic has done all of us a huge favor; it's supercharged the move to remote work in a way that never … It was slowly happening and companies kind of wanted some of it; all of a sudden, everybody had to do it immediately at once.
[00:08:12] And that just completely shook the whole market. And it caused a bunch of companies to go, ‘huh?’ We can do this. And we never really thought we could. It caused other companies to go, ‘oh gosh, I don't like this.’ But, it has done a service to the entire job market in sort of shaking it up really hard so that it can sort of settle out the way it needs to settle out.
Jamie Nau: Yeah, I think that's a great answer. I know from our side, we've seen a lot of that. I think the interesting thing you mentioned was the compensation part of it. Josh and I both experienced this during COVID, but some of the explanations we got for either people leaving or people not accepting jobs was just the first time hearing, “I've decided I'm no longer gonna be an accountant. I'm going to be a priest or I'm gonna do this.’
Not only were people saying, ‘I need to find something that's gonna compensate me more. They were saying, if I'm gonna make this amount anyways, maybe I can find something I really love doing.
[00:09:12] Josh and I can tell you all sorts of stories. How many times Josh and I met and would think, ‘really? That's the reason they didn't accept this.’
That's where we're going right now. I think we definitely feel what you're explaining from our stand.
Chris Williams: And, and what I saw was in the years prior to COVID, it was a very rare individual who would come into your office as a leader and say, you know what, I've decided I'm going to move. I had an employee who moved and left our company; he moved across the country because there were more people of his religious faith in the city he was moving to, and it was important to him to do that.
[00:09:52] That took incredible strength and courage to be able to make that change at that time. COVID all of a sudden shook everything up. So, randomly, all kinds of people could have that kind of self realization and thought about who they are and what they're doing and what they're strong at in a way that just wasn't possible before.
[00:10:13] I think the next four or five years are gonna be incredibly exciting to watch companies figure out the mix of hybrid work and remote work and in person; the mix of people who wanna push really hard and the people who are just gonna do what they need to do because they want to have some better work-life balance.
[00:10:32] I think there's gonna be a really interesting few years where the working world rebalances itself, as we sort of settle out of the huge shock that the whole work world was put through.
Josh Jeans: I love that example you gave Chris, and it brings to mind for me, I think a lot of people in this reshuffling have realized, ‘maybe I was compromising a little more than I had to, and I don't have to compromise quite as much.’
[00:11:04] You know, we've got people who are on our team because during the pandemic they realize, oh, My job has gone remote. I really do wanna live close to my family so my kids can grow up with grandparents, or I wanna live in a city that's closer to activities that I like–living in the mountains or at the beach, or where people are more politically aligned with me or ideologically aligned.’
[00:11:30] They got to make those moves. And then, when their jobs started going back in person, they're like, ‘I need to find something that's indefinitely remote so I can stay in this place. that I enjoy more.’
Chris Williams: There's another side of this too, which is that it used to be that jobs were fairly sticky. Right? You would only get a promotion if you had seniority and some time in the job; it was difficult to change jobs because you had to worry about transporting your health insurance.
[00:11:57] It was frequently the best way to get a raise, through longevity. And now what we're seeing the younger people have it. Also people look down on resumes that had six or seven jobs in it. None of that is the case anymore. Right? Health insurance is far more portable. Often the better way to get a raise is to go to some place else and get a raise.
[00:12:21] And nobody looks sideways at somebody who was in a job for a year or two and then decided to go somewhere else. And so a lot of that changed and provided the flexibility that wasn't in the job market before.
Josh Jeans: I'm curious, Chris, to know, in your experience as a leader in kind of speaking to leaders, some portion of your organization who really is that driven-type person who really wants to get to the next level and wants to go above and beyond, do that extra step, stay late, whatever that means, kind of have the broadened strategic vision. And, you've also got people on your team who maybe their great passion lies with a nonprofit that they're on the board for or with their kids or their family.
[00:13:08] That's where they want most of their emotional and mental energy to go, but they still wanna do the job that they're assigned to do. How do you move forward supporting those two seemingly really different sets of motives on the same team?
Chris Williams: I think, I think you're actually understating the level of the problem. In fact, I think one of the things that separates a good leader from a great leader is a leader who is tuned into the needs and requirements of each and every single person on their team. So, I talk to leaders all the time about not only the kinds of things you were talking about, which is recognizing what energizes people and what gets people to want to be there and participate.
[00:13:51] I don't think the person who is completely dedicated to their job and then leads and goes to work at a nonprofit is not a great employee. Right? They can be perfectly wonderful employees during the time that you've got them. So, what you need to do as a leader is make sure you recognize and understand that.
[00:14:09] And when they say I've gotta leave early because I need to go do something, you say, ‘sure sounds great.’ And you support them in doing that, but it goes even further than that. I think great leaders go all the way down to the level of communication that employees need. One of the things that many managers struggle with, for example, is having a difficult conversation with an employee and different employees respond to feedback in different ways and the smart manager tunes their message to those people in that way. So there are some people, for example, who are old crusty veterans, and they've been around a long time. And if you come to them with the sort of the sandwich approach, the soft, ‘you're really doing well, but we've got this one issue we'd like you to work on.’ They will eat you alive. What they want to hear is ‘tell me what the problem is? Just be straight with me. Tell me what it is straight up.’
Then other employees, usually it's very often new employees who are tenuous, and they're not sure exactly if they're doing the right thing or not.
[00:15:12] And if you come at them with some really hardcore feedback, they will freak out and often go cry in their office. So you need, as a leader, to be able to tune your message to the person that you're talking to. So not only should your message be different, but the kinds of things that you need to recognize in each employee, ‘what’s the thing that keeps them alive?
What is the thing that they really wanna pay attention to? What is the thing that motivates them to be here? And, you're right. Some people wanna be a manager. ‘I want your job someday.’ Right?
That classic old line. There's some of those people, and you should figure out a way to support those people and figure out a way to give them your job at some point.
[00:15:55] And there are other people. Who, as you notice are gonna, for one of a better term, quiet quit, right? They're gonna do something else that is more important, and you need to figure out how to support them, too. So a smart leader is flexible in the way they communicate, in the way they support, in the way they correct, in the way they encourage, which is completely different for every single employee.
[00:16:18] And, and, you know, I'll be the first one to tell you, that's one of the reasons why I tell leaders that you really don't want to have a direct report team much bigger than about six or eight because it gets really complicated.
Josh Jeans: I'm glad you said that. I was gonna ask, what does that look like?
[00:16:36] One of my strengths finder is individualization. So, I love getting to know somebody for who they are, what motivates them, but you're exactly right. I think setting a cap on it because you can't do that for 30 people. Well, There's just no way, or you won't be able to do anything else in your job if you're doing it.
Chris Williams: In point of fact, you will do it.
[00:16:56] You will do it badly, right? And if you have to distribute your attention across 30 people, you will just not do it well. Right? And, you might as well not have done it at all. I'm a firm believer that every leader should have a team of people around them. And that number I've seen people do 10 or 12.
[00:17:17] They are Herculean tasks. It’s a team that's 5, 6, 8, whatever, that you can gather around a table or around a zoom that is comfortable, and you can all talk together. That's a great number. And that also allows the leader to be able to know each person and tune the message to each one of those people in a meaningful way.
[00:17:38] What that also requires you to do, though, is to have faith in them to be able to do the exact same thing down to their team and down to their team. If you're a CEO, you need to surround yourself with a C-suite that is talented and smart and that understands and works with individually and that each one of them has a team that they are talented and smart and they know how to work with. What you're trying to do is build an organization that has those characteristics.
Jamie Nau: I think that's exactly where I was going with it; too. You were first describing it and I thought it made a lot of sense. And then Josh's question came to my mind as well. And now that the follow-up question is something that we're actually doing. So, I was exactly guilty of what you said, where, prior to a couple months ago, I was overseeing a team of way too many people and it was me. I felt like I was not doing good at it because I didn't have the time to get the personal touches that I used to.
One of our scaling up models is to add more of those management people that can do what I was doing at a direct level. So, I think the big part of this training is training future leaders. So, do you wanna talk a little bit about how you go about training future leaders?
[00:18:57] I'm not the one talking to all of our CFO. We have a CFO leader that's talking to them, and I know they're doing just as good of a job or they're doing it the way that they're getting that personal touch.
Chris Williams: Well, there's two levels of training that matter, right? There's the mechanics of doing whatever it is that you're doing.
[00:19:14] It's the, I'm a CFO, and I understand how to read P and L statements. And I can understand the difference between this, that, and the other. There's the technical management of the job at hand, but then there's also all those soft skills. I have looked at 150,000 ways for people to go to a workshop and learn soft skills or read 17 different books, and, to be really honest, none of them seem to have much of a half life.
[00:19:46] People leave the meeting, and they're all charged up and they know what they're gonna do. And by Thursday, reality has hit them in the face and they've gotta fire somebody, and all the things they learned about are gone.
[00:20:00] So, one of the things I'm a huge fan of is making sure that, if you are a manager of managers, you have a close enough relationship with that person that they can come to you and say, ‘Okay, I need to fire Charlie on Thursday and I'm not really sure the right way to do that. Can you give me some suggestions on how I might be able to handle this? What does that conversation look like?’ And that you can have that conversation.
That's another reason for not having too large of an organization, but you also need to have a relationship with your employees so that they're not afraid to come to you with those kinds of questions.
[00:20:35] ‘Look, I don't really know how to fire people. I've never had to do it. Can you help me? And one of the things I do in my consulting business is, I help managers who are stuck in a situation like that, where they're worried they can't go to their manager and talk to them about those kinds of things.
[00:20:54] I try to provide that third-party perspective. ‘Hey, I've seen people, fire people this way, that way, and the other way. And the first two blew up in their face, and the last one, this is how it tends to work, but the long answer or the short answer to that long answer is that, what I've found happens is some experience is what teaches you.
[00:21:18] Many of these things, you have to have stepped on the bee to know that they hurt when you step on them. And, you also need to have resources available to be able to go talk to someone else about it. I'm not a huge fan of the one-mentor model where you tie yourself to a single human being. But, I am a huge fan of people being willing and open and understanding the need for mentors, needing people you can sit down with and talk to and ask questions about.
[00:21:46] And that's where you can avail yourself of your manager. If they're a peer who may have been through similar experiences or a third party like myself or yourselves, being able to avail someone of the kinds of experiences that they need.
Jamie Nau: Yeah. So my follow-up question to this is, how much of that is access versus personality?
[00:22:08] And what I mean by that is, is the reason they're not going to me and asking, ‘Hey, I have to fire someone. Can you help me with it because they can't find me or is it because they don't think that I'm approachable or is it one in the same? like if you give them access, you show more approachable.
[00:22:23] So I'm curious, in your consulting, which of those do you find to be the problem?
Chris Williams: I think it is a trust problem more than anything else. Right. In most situations, most managers, if one of their employees comes to them and says, look, I really need a half an hour of your time. They will figure out a way to get a half an hour of your time.
[00:22:43] Particularly if the person makes it clear that this is something important that they want to talk about. If you're constantly wasting my time, I'm gonna be a little hard to get access to. But most employees, most managers will listen if an employee comes to them and says, I really need a half an hour to talk about something. Can we do that?
[00:22:59] Then that access isn't the issue. The issue is that they worry that the employee or the manager who is talking to their supervisor worries that if I go in there, you will think I'm an idiot. You will think, I don't know what I'm doing and what the manager, the supervisor, or the C-suite person, that person on top needs to do is to say, Hey, no, look, I struggled, too.
[00:23:23] I was no good at doing, you know, hiring, firing people when I first did it. And so here's what I learned. And there needs to be a trust level there. I think it happens particularly the higher up you go in an organization. The more people think that their persona, their representation of who they are, they're afraid to show that to their boss because they're afraid their boss will think they're not capable or not worthy of it.
And to have that level of trust between you and your boss is essential and almost all of the creation of that trust is on the person on top. They have to be vulnerable.
[00:24:05] They have to be accepting. They have to be willing to say, Hey, tell me what your issue is? Oh, well, I don't know how to fire people. Oh God. I never knew how to fire people, too. Let's talk about how I've done it in the past and how that might work. That level of trust is something that you need to establish.
[00:24:23] And again, this all goes back to, I know you as an individual; you and I have had individual conversations in the past where we know each other and we can have that kind of a conversation.
Josh Jeans: I'm curious, Chris, to know, and this may be a two part question, what do you think is the normal timeline for a healthy relationship to get formed between a manager and a direct report where that trust is built?
[00:24:50] Because obviously it's not gonna start on day one. Like, oh, you work under me now you're reporting to me in this new position. You trust me and. Second to that. How long is it normally?
And if you're in a position right now where you're leading people and realizing, this is not happening for me, I don't have these kinds of bridges of trust built in my relationship.
[00:25:15] What's the first step that I take to start making that happen, to get us on the right track?
Chris Williams: I think if you work for somebody and within 3, 4, 5 weeks, you are not feeling any kind of a connection with that person, there should be hairs on the back of your neck standing up, and you should be a little bit worried about whether or not you've established any kind of a relationship with that person.
I would say right away is too slow because that's the ideal scenario, but people are busy and you're never gonna get the kind of time that you need to be able to do it. But I think three or four hours of conversation with someone should be enough time.
[00:25:57] So if you have a weekly or a biweekly one-on-one with that person, and you've had several conversations, you should be able to have a conversation. The problem that is the sticker in both of those is that the two of you will end up, particularly on both sides, you end up in a dance of vulnerability.
[00:26:18] The person underneath is worried about feeling naive, and they want this person to trust them that they've got their job completely under control. I got this, don't worry about it. I got it under control. So showing some level of vulnerability is scary.
[00:26:35] The person on top doesn't want the person underneath to think that this person, you know, ever didn't know how to do their job. Right? So, both sides have to do a very delicate dance of, ‘Hey, no, it's cool. Come to me. We'll talk about this. We'll make it work.’
And both sides have to do that. If you are stuck in a scenario where you've got somebody who refuses to let you in, I have found that you can shake that tree loose with an honest question about, ‘Hey, I'm trying to get your opinion on this thing.’
[00:27:08] How come I can't get you to give me a real honest answer on that or push back. Hey, are you sure? That's the way you really would do that? In many cases, that will shake the person on top enough to have a meaningful conversation. Now I will be honest with you.
[00:27:30] Some percentage 5, 10, 20% of senior leaders just have that defensive wall up, and it will never come down and you just end up having to need to turn to somebody else, either a peer or an outside person or whatever, and you can't get past that wall of vulnerability or whatever you wanna call it.
Does that make any sense?
Josh Jeans: That definitely does. I like that you say, it's appropriate to kind of put somebody back on their heels, not in an aggressive way, but just to say, ‘Hey, I can tell that this is kind of like a rehearsed answer. And I'm really trying to actually learn from you, I know you're a person, so I know you've screwed this up before.
[00:28:20] Like, give me the real advice, tell me about when you know, this fell apart before cuz I don't need the rehearsed polished answer. I'm not trying to take your job today. I'm trying to learn from you.’
Chris Williams: Right. And I think one of the things that happens is it's often a game of chicken. It's often a game of who's gonna be vulnerable first.
[00:28:40] That's why I like to teach managers to be vulnerable. First to the employee because that opens the door. I mean, oftentimes, if you can do that immediately, you will get this huge flood of relief on the side of the employee. Oh gosh. I'm so glad I can have this conversation with you and we can talk openly and honestly about that.
[00:29:04] But sometimes as an employee, you have to be the one to sort of poke the balloon and say, ‘Hey that sounds like I've read that in a book, too, but that doesn't feel like the way we really do that around here. Or that doesn't feel like the way I've seen you do it in the past or anything like that, that just sort of questions a little bit.’ And sometimes you can shake them and break that balloon.
Josh Jeans: That just seems like a really authentic way of managing up, saying I'm trying to set a new norm in our relationship and it feels risky to me to do it, but it feels a lot better than like you said, the 17 business leadership books I read.
[00:29:47] I have the theory, but I have to be able to, for lack of a better word, bleed in front of you a little. In order for us to start building trust again.
Chris Williams: There are a thousand gimmicks for building trust. Right falling back into each other's arms or, you know, all of that.
[00:30:07] There's a thousand gimmicks for building trust, but only, I said this in one of my videos, the only authentic way to build trust is having gone through stuff together and come out the other side. Right? So, that's just the only way it happens. You can try and manufacture it.
[00:30:27] You can try and follow some book and get there. But the only thing that really works is you and I have gone through something that was hard and difficult together. And we did it side by side and we came out the other side. You had my back, and I held up my end of the bargain and we now both trust each other that this is gonna work.
[00:30:47] That's the only way trust, authentic trust gets built. And, both of you have to be willing to give a little in that scenario in order for the trust to be established.
Josh Jeans: Yeah. That helps me not begrudge adversity, too, to know we could have a healthier team on the backside of this than if we just had smooth sailing the whole.
Chris Williams: In fact, going through stuff is incredibly healthy, and it takes the leader most often in those cases to say to people, ‘Hey, it's okay, we're going through some stuff. This is hard. Don't let anybody tell you that this is not hard. This is hard. We're going through this. Come on.
[00:31:29] We can do it. And once we get out the other side, we're gonna be okay. And then it's important for the leader, once you get out the other side to acknowledge, ‘Hey, we made it out the other side; this is cool. We have done this. All of a sudden, you have this just flood of trust on everybody's side, and things will just sing from there on out.
Jamie Nau: That’s definitely a key takeaway for me. I'm thinking back to CFOs I've trained or seniors I've trained or that I've worked with. And, I think that there are certain situations in our job that when you go through one of those things together,when I help a CFO onboard a client and I'm sitting there every step along the way, and this client is a little bit tricky and we get through it.
[00:32:09] And now this client, we have a great relationship. Not only do we have a great relationship with that client, I now have a great relationship with that CFO because that CFO has seen us work together and we've worked together on getting a client through a tough spot. So I think it's a well point taken.
[00:32:23] And that's definitely my takeaway from this podcast. I'd love to hear as we're getting close to the end of the time here, I'd love to start with you, Chris. And one final thought for our listeners when it comes to everything we talked about here. We've covered a lot. We probably could cover a lot more in a whole nother podcast, but I'd love for you to give just one final thought for our listeners when it comes to people.
Chris Williams: Well, I think one of the things that everybody, every leader needs to understand is, everything we've just discussed. I recoil when I see people in tech. Or people in your line, in the accounting world, who, when they interview people, focus on those hard skills and their ability to reverse a doubly linked list or be able to balance complicated books or whatever it is.
I worry when people focus on those sides of the skills too much. I mean, yes, of course, at the line level, you need to make sure that people can actually do the job they want, but once you get above that first-level management position, it's a completely different job.
[00:33:30] And it's way important that the kinds of things that you're talking to people about are the, so the kinds of soft skills and recognition of other people and those kinds of things. The thing I look for, the thing I want when I'm interviewing people and looking for people on my team, I wanna know, are they smart people who are learners and can adapt to a wide range of situations.
[00:33:56] If you can somehow discuss that in the conversations that you're having with them, they're somebody who is passionate about learning things they know and understand what they're trying to do. And they have communication skills that you're looking for. If that's what you've got, you can teach them how to balance a spreadsheet, or you can teach, those things are teachable.
[00:34:20] The kinds of things that are hard to find and incredibly valuable are this adaptation, this vulnerability, this ability to learn those soft skills are the things I think people should be looking for. Many companies over index on a whole lot of the technical part of their job. That just really isn't what the job is all about. Right?
Jamie Nau: That's a great point. I know Josh and I are involved in a lot of interviews and we've talked about that. What are we looking for? And that is definitely something that I know, especially in a CFO-type role, I mean, a CFO position, people come with a lot of different experiences, but what you're looking for is, are they a constant learner?
[00:35:01] Can they adapt? Can they really apply what they've done in the past to this future job? So that is great feedback for our listen.
Chris Williams: It has gotten just stunningly more important in the last five or 10 years as the pace of things changed just incredibly quickly. Again, just as we were talking about in the very beginning to circle it all the way back around.
[00:35:24] The leaders who can figure out how to manage remotely are people who have figured out how to learn to do that. Nobody knew how to do it, or very few people knew how to do it well, but they learned and adapted and figured out how my management style works remotely and how it doesn't. And you want people who are that kind of flexible and can manage in a dynamic situation.
Jamie Nau: I definitely agree. All right, Josh, I'm gonna throw it over to you. What is your takeaway from this interview, and then also any final thoughts for our listen?
Josh Jeans: Well, you know, I think something that really stood out to me about what you just shared, Chris, is, or the image that comes to my mind is thinking of people that we hire in the short term, when I'm thinking of the next one to two years.
[00:36:09] They're gonna be an individual contributor and some people will wanna stay there. But I think really my takeaway is wanting to emphasize, where's this person gonna be in five or 10 years because the chances are, they're gonna be a people leader and that's gonna be the biggest lift of what they're doing in their day to day life and job, if they want to keep moving up, growing in influence, kind of growing in the footprint of their role.
[00:36:33] And you're exactly right. As they move more and more into people leadership, some of those technical skills are important to have, but their rank of importance in that person's job and their day to day life fall significantly. So it makes me want to think, how do I on the front end, when it comes to recruiting and onboarding and training staff, kinda lift my eyes to have more of a 10-year perspective on who are the types of team members that we have, that we can develop into really effective people leaders, in addition to people who can do their job really well.
[00:37:09] But I think that you kind of helped me tilt my vision up a little bit more from the one to two year to that five to 10 year strategic length.
Chris Williams: Exactly. And, it's important to remember that much beyond that first level of manager or two where, the people will wanna make sure that you are worthy of the respect because you know how to do the actual mechanics of the job really well above that.
[00:37:38] Once you get above that first or maybe second level management job, what people are recognizing you for are your communication skills, your ability to lead and set a vision and chart a course and encourage people and correct things. And those skills, I don't know about you, a CEO you can ask them about balancing a spreadsheet, but, but the vast majority of their job has nothing to do with the actual plumbing of what their business does day to day. It's setting a vision, charting a course, moving the company ahead as a group. That's just something that happens all the way up the chain.
[00:38:24] It gets bigger and bigger and bigger as you move up the chain of any organization. And I think recognizing that in people early is a core company value, something that companies can really excel at.
Jamie Nau: Yeah, definitely. You were a great guest, Chris, and I can tell that because I'm gonna go back and listen to this because this entire time I wanted to be taking notes, but I also wanted to be engaged.
[00:38:48] So I'm gonna have to go back and listen and get all this on. Give this all on paper, but if our listeners wanna find you, what's the best place to find you.
Chris Williams: find. I'm at clwill.com. And you can go there and see all about me and find links to things like my social media pages, with all the billions of people who are following me.
[00:39:06] And also talk to me about working with me if you want to. Great.
Jamie Nau: I appreciate both of you guys' time. I think this is a great episode. Thanks a lot.
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