Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 131 | February 16, 2021
Positive Culture Change In The Workplace
Culture Transformer, Author
Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. My special guest today is Siobhán McHale, one of the world’s leading experts in culture change in the workplace. Over the past 30 years, she has helped thousands of leaders create more agile and productive workplaces through positive culture change. She is most well-known for steering the radical seven-year culture change project at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) and transforming the organization from the lowest performing bank in Australia into one of the highest performing and most globally admired banks in the world. Her work at ANZ was so incredible, that Professor John Kotter used it as a case study at Harvard Business School. These insider roles have given Siobhán a different perspective on culture change, compared to the views of academics, consultants, and journalists, who are mainly writing on the topic of transformation. The insights she has gained have allowed her to develop a groundbreaking approach to bringing about real and lasting change described in her book, The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change, which has been described by culture pioneer, Carolyn Taylor, as "The most groundbreaking thinking on how to change workplace culture that I’ve seen in many years."
We start off by learning about Siobhán's journey. and why she defines culture as "how things work around here," She tells us how she took ANZ from worst to best. Siobhán explains that culture is co-created, and how important communication is at every level. She takes us through the four steps to positive culture change that she describes in her book and explains what she means by "culture disruptor" As Siobhán said in her book, "Culture change is the hardest work you will ever do,. She explains why it’s so hard and why emotional intelligence and the power of roles are essential to positive culture. We end with Siobhán telling us the most difficult type of conversations she’s had in her life and she gives advice on how to navigates through them,. Dr. Orsini shares an old joke about conflict resolution If you enjoyed his podcast, please hit the subscribe button to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication. Go ahead and download this episode now!
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Siobhan McHale (0s):
Culture is co-created and each part within the organization plays a role in the co-creation of the culture. However, culture changes leader led. So if you want to change the culture, you’ve got to get leaders at all levels, actually, to step into the role, to change the culture in their parts. But what often happens is that the leaders step into their business as usual role, and they delegate culture change to HR. So they say, Oh, well, that’s the soft stuff. That’s the HR department. I’m too busy running the hospital or running my medical practice. I’ll just give that to somebody else. And that invariably is disastrous for the change effort.
Welcome to Difficult Conversations: Lessons I learned as an ICU physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Dr. Orsini is a practicing physician and president and CEO of the Orsini Way. As a frequent keynote speaker and author, Dr. Orsini has been training healthcare professionals and business leaders, how to navigate through the most difficult dialogues. Each week, you will hear inspiring interviews with experts in their field who tell their story and provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate. Whether you are a doctor faced with giving a patient bad news, a business leader who wants to get the most out of his or her team members or someone who just wants to learn to communicate better, this is the podcast for you.
Announcer (1m 26s):
Dr. Anthony Orsini (1m 28s):
Welcome to another episode of difficult conversations lessons I learned as an ICU physician. This is Dr. Anthony Orsini and I’ll be your host again this week. You know, in keeping with our format of combining the best leaders in healthcare and the best in business. I feel exceptionally fortunate today to have Siobhan McHale as my guest this week. Siobhan is one of the world’s leading experts in culture change in the workplace. She is the author of the well-known book, the insider’s guide to culture change. And over the past 30 years has helped thousands of leaders create more agile and productive workplaces. Siobhan began her career as a management consultant at Price Waterhouse Coopers in London, and later with the international Chicago-based consulting firm, Accenture.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 12s):
After a decade as a consultant, Siobhan became the executive in charge of change at a series of large complex organizations. Siobhan is most well-known for steering a radical seven-year culture change project that Australia and New Zealand bank group Limited ANZ and transformed the organization from the lowest performing bank in Australia into one of the highest performing and most globally admired banks in the world. Her work with ANZ was so incredible that it was used as a case study by professor John Kotter at Harvard business school to teach MBA students how to manage change. The insider roles that Siobhan has had gave her a different perspective on culture change compared to the views of academics, consultants, and journalists who are mainly writing on the topic of transformation, the insights she has gained has allowed her to develop a groundbreaking approach to bringing about real and lasting change described in her book.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 9s):
Her book insider’s guide to culture change has been described by culture pioneer, Carolyn Teller, as “the most groundbreaking thinking on how to change workplace culture that I’ve seen in many years” and so well welcome Siobhan thank you so much for coming on today.
Siobhan McHale (3m 26s):
Thank you, Tony. And thanks for that glowing introduction.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 30s):
Well Siobhan is coming to us from Australia down under, so it’s early in the morning there and late in the evening here. So I thank you for taking some time out. I’m really excited to talk to you today. We combined, every week we try to alternate healthcare and business and the same topics keep coming up every single week. And those are words such as communication, trust, culture, leadership and I’ve been really looking forward to speaking to you. And as I’ve been doing this podcast now for about six months, multiple people have kept bringing your name up. And so when we finally spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago, I knew this was going to be a really great episode.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 13s):
So thanks again. Now I’ve got so many questions to ask you, but I always want to start out the same way. One of the things that I teach when I teach communication is being a genuine person. To be a leader you have to be a real person. You have to have people get to know you, whether that’s your patient and I’m a physician or it’s an employee and a leader. So before we even start, just tell us a little bit about Siobhan. And so we can get to know you.
Siobhan McHale (4m 36s):
I was born in Ireland and as you can probably tell by my accent. And, but I moved to Australia in 1994, actually. And I’ve spent most of my life living here in Australia. I studied psychology by background, but rather than taking the route that all my other classmates were taking, which was more into clinical psychology, I decided to take the less worn path, which was trying to figure out how people can work, optimally, how can they be at their best and highest in the workplace and what actually makes productive and constructive workplace culture. And that was really my passion and where I’ve spent my whole career is this whole exploration of workplace cultures and creating better places for people to work in.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (5m 24s):
One of the reasons why I’m so excited to speak to you is that, you know, I’ve been in healthcare my whole life. I think healthcare right now, no matter what country you’re in is in a crisis. And I can’t speak for other countries. I think the problem with healthcare, if you ask me, is the non-starter of healthcare leadership and healthcare leadership really seems to be lacking. It’s almost like we’re decades behind business, and there’s really no leadership. And there’s a culture of healthcare that is going really in the wrong direction where starting to get away from the human aspect of medicine. Healthcare is not run by physicians, at least in the United States.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (6m 6s):
Now anymore, it’s run by a bunch of administrators and CPAs and people who are telling you what you need to do that has led to in medicine, physician burnout, nursing burnout physicians with the highest suicide rate in the country of any profession is physicians. So this is why I’m so excited to talk to you because I think if anybody needs you, it’s the healthcare sector, but before we talk about it in your book, which I loved you define culture as how things work around here. So just elaborate. Cause we, we have to define it before we can fix it.
Siobhan McHale (6m 42s):
Absolutely. And I think how things work around here is my working definition of culture. And often the big myth about culture is that it’s just about employee relationships and about engagement. When actually culture is much broader than that. Culture is how you design, you fulfill your customer needs, you manufacture your goods, you serve your patients. It’s from Whoa to go. It’s not just about whether employees feel engaged. So I think we’ve got to redefine culture in its whole sense. It’s about the whole functioning of the hospital or of the business entity.
Siobhan McHale (7m 22s):
And often underpinning are at the heart of culture are the passions or the hidden agreements that are actually running the hospital are running the business. And those patterns are often deeply embedded and they’re difficult to detect you become caught by them and they just, the way that things are done. So the first step in culture change is to diagnose those deeply embedded patterns.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (7m 47s):
So let’s talk about this depth. Let’s go over. If you don’t mind telling this story of ANZ when you got there and what kind of the systematic approach that you took when the bank was having trouble so that people out there can learn about what are the first steps that we have to do. So let’s use ANZ as an example of how to turn around a company.
Siobhan McHale (8m 8s):
Yeah. So the first thing we did when the CEO John McFarland got there in the early 2000s, there was a lot of noise. There were a lot of, there was bank bashing and the media, there was a lot of noise about how the banks had behaved badly. And he had turned the company around from a financial perspective, but he knew there was more work to do and that he had to fundamentally change the culture and restore the faith and the trust of customers and the community in the bank. So we started out step number one, we had to diagnose what was really going on and uncover and have those difficult conversations about what was the reality. And one of the things we noticed was a big pattern that was running the organization, where the people in head office had stepped into role of order givers, and they were giving the directions, they were in charge.
Siobhan McHale (8m 60s):
They thought of themselves as in control and the 700 branches where there were 40,000 staff, they were in role of order takers and they saw the job is just taking the orders, almost a victim mentality and just going through the motions. And when I walked into these branches, what I saw was paint peeling from the walls, customers standing, shuffling and long queues and not getting the answers that they needed when they eventually got to the top of the queue. So the passion or the hidden agreement between head office and the branches was that you’re to blame for the poor customer service. So each part was pointing the finger at the other and saying, no, you’re too blame for the poor customer service, no your to blame for the poor customer service.
Siobhan McHale (9m 46s):
And meanwhile, the bank had the lowest levels of customer satisfaction of any bank in the country. So yeah, it was absolutely abysmal. So the first step we took was to see the roles that they were taking up and to use the power of role reframing. So this is one of the things I talk about in the book, the remarkable power of role reframing, which you can do at an individual level, but you can also do at a collective level. So we reframed the role of head office from order givers to support providers. They would be the enablers providing all sorts of IT services or HR services or risk services or strategy services to the branches.
Siobhan McHale (10m 32s):
And the branch’s role was reframed from order taker to service provider to the customer is essentially, and this role reframe was supported by a whole lot of processes and system changes. But this new operating model that we put in place really was the trigger for a massive transformation. And within seven years, we had gone from the worst performing bank in the country in terms of customer satisfaction, to the number one bank in the country in terms of customer satisfaction and also the number one bank in the world on the Dow Jones sustainability index.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (11m 12s):
Wow, that’s incredible. You know, one of my favorite quotes is “the biggest concern for any organization is when your most passionate employees go silent”. And it sounds like that I truly believe that I see it in all these toxic places that I’ve worked or people that I speak about. Once you start silencing the people on the ground, I guess it’s game over
Siobhan McHale (11m 34s):
It is game over. But also what happens is that culture is incredibly powerful. So you can have a person that has one set of values and beliefs outside the hospital system. And when they walk into that hospital, they are captured by the culture they are captured and they step into these roles inadvertently with all the best intentions, they can just step into roles instead of caregivers, we’re administrators, that’s our role is to financially balance the books and they haven’t got the interest of the multiple stakeholders at heart. So the first step is to see that pattern that is running the organization and naming that pattern and seeing the roles that different parts are taking up because often what happens is people say, Oh, well, it’s the administrators they’re to blame their fault, but they don’t see how the pattern is co-created by multiple groups or multiple parts in order to be sustained.
Siobhan McHale (12m 33s):
So diagnose the patterns is the first key step in culture change.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (12m 38s):
I’ve found that when I do a lot of patient experience, what you do, I do on a different level. It’s walking into a unit of a hospital that has having difficulty with their patient experience scores, which is the same as customer experience. And when we start speaking to people, what we used to do is we used to train the doctors in one room and train the nurses in another room. And what I invariably got was the doctors saying, we’re really good. We’re really nice. We’re really sweet. But the nurses, they just ruin everything. And then the nurse would say, Dr. Orsini, I’m doing everything I can, but that doctor comes in and he, or she’s just a jerk. And so they just, like you said, they’re pointing fingers.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (13m 19s):
And so now what I do is I make sure that they’re all in the same room and we train them together and we give each one of them, a license to give positive and negative reinforcement. But it is kind of like that, right? Everybody says, it’s not me, it’s you?
Siobhan McHale (13m 35s):
Yeah. You can get all sorts of dysfunctional patterns depending on what the culture is. And again, it’s not one size fits all. So every organization, the culture is unique as a thumb print. And it’s also assessing what type of culture do you need for this particular business? So this particular practice, and that’s not always a one size fits all. As I said, sometimes it depends. It depends on the context. It depends on the challenges depends on the client base that you have.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 5s):
My grandfather used to tell me about an old Italian saying that I love that says the fish rots from the head down. And it’s usually often the leader that causes it. Is that true that you find that really it starts with the leader on whatever attitude or culture there is.
Siobhan McHale (14m 21s):
Culture is co-created and each part within the organization plays a role in the co-creation of the culture. However, culture changes leader led. So if you want to change the culture, you’ve got to get leaders at all levels, actually to step into the role, to change the culture in their parts. But what often happens is that the leaders step into their business as usual role, and they delegate culture change to HR. So they sell that’s the soft stuff. That’s the HR department, I’m too busy running the hospital or running my medical practice. I’ll just give that to somebody else. And that invariably is disastrous for the change effort because the change ends up being seen as HR has responsibility, the line managers, the general managers at every level, just see it as something that’s off to the side.
Siobhan McHale (15m 10s):
That’s nothing to do with them. And you don’t get what I call leader led change without leader led change. It’s usually the benefits will not be realized.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 19s):
Yeah. Do you find that, you know, I get a lot of hospitals that call me and say, my CEO told me to fix this patient experience to fit the culture here, but I don’t have a budget. I don’t have a staff. It’s all me. And he, or she said to me, fix it. I don’t know how to do it, but just go ahead and do that. So I guess if the CEO or the head of the company is really not totally vested in it, it’s going to be difficult.
Siobhan McHale (15m 44s):
Yeah. It is going to be difficult. And often the fix is seen as a technical fix. So many managers try to fix it with processes or policies worked in one organization where they had a safety problem and they implemented about 5,000 different safety policies and nothing changed. In fact, the safety incidents got even worse. So you can help to change the culture with policies, procedures, and systems, but you must also change these patterns or these agreements, these hidden agreements between the parts, because otherwise people find work arounds. They work around the new process, the new tools, the new system, and nothing really changes on the culture goes back to it’s old ways.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (16m 30s):
And it all comes down to how important is the leader to be able to communicate well, because that’s what this conversation is all about, is about conversations that leaders have. How important is communication at every level in order to fix this culture that’s gone toxic.
Siobhan McHale (16m 46s):
I think it’s critical, but I often say communication on its own it’s communication from what role. So I worked with one CEO who was in an infrastructure company and he wanted to create a better, more commercial, higher performing culture. And he had a teleconference with his top 200 leaders. And afterwards he was really frustrated and he said, Siobhan, I’m really frustrated. Nobody on the call said anything, and everybody was just waiting for the call to finish so that they could get back to their jobs, their day jobs. And I said, what role do you, so they’re not really changing anything. We’re not becoming higher performing we’re not becoming more commercial..
Siobhan McHale (17m 29s):
We’re still losing money on our key contracts. And I’m really quite upset about it. And I said, what role do you think that your top 200 leaders are in? And he thought about it for a while and he said, Oh, they’re just in business as usual role. So they’re just involved delivering business as usual. And I said, and what role do you think you’re in? And he said, Oh, I’m in the change leader role. You’re the one change leader and they’re in delivery business as usual role. And as soon as he saw that, he called a conference and brought them all together for a two day event and he reframed their role. And he said, I’m the change leader, but now I’m also inviting you into the change leader role.
Siobhan McHale (18m 13s):
What are you going to do to create a more performance driven and commercial culture within your part of the business? What is your plan? So he reframed the role and the agreement between them, the agreement was they had an agreement was that the CEO would do the change and we can just focus on what we’ve always done.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (18m 32s):
Yeah. That’s a great point. So there’s people out there listening right now, going, okay. I want to improve my culture in your book. They’re hoping right now I can feel it. They’re hoping that I’m going to get some, really some concrete advice from Siobhan. And so in your book, you talk about the culture disruptor and the four steps to positive culture change. So if you don’t mind take us through that. So this whoever’s on the other end, listening to this with their piece of paper and pencil, trying to get some notes, of course, by the book, that’s the best way to do it, but can you take us through those four steps and what you mean as the culture disruptor and that some practical advice?
Siobhan McHale (19m 8s):
Yeah. The first critical step is to diagnose. So it’s a little bit like a doctor. You’ve got to diagnose what’s going on in the culture and you can do that by getting multiple perspectives. So you can’t just talk to one part, you’ve got to talk to multiple parts and figure out what is going on. So mid-block a, and Zed, R and Z is there. You might call them. I walked in there and I was told the people in the branches are the problem, they don’t know how to serve customers. Imagine if I had gone in and put, you know, thousands of people in the branches on a training course, we need to improve your customer service skills. What do you think would have happened would have created even more noise and more discontent.
Siobhan McHale (19m 50s):
But what we did was see the passion of the branches or enroll of order taker. The head office is enrolled of order giver. There’s an agreement between them that they blame each other. We’ve got to reframe that we’ve got to change the operating model. So rather than focusing on the individual is how do you change the operating model and reframe the roles of the parts within the organization, and then enroll your leaders. The third one said, there’s reframing and there’s breaking the pattern. So every day the leaders have to be seeing that pattern of blame and breaking it. Often we collude with the pattern we say, Oh yeah, I really do agree that they are the problems.
Siobhan McHale (20m 31s):
So people pick up on that stop the bland game or whatever the pattern is. Don’t step into that yourself. And then the fourth one is you’ve got to keep your foot on the accelerator and you’ve got to consolidate your gains over the longer term. So many management teams that I see, they go away for a couple of, they have the off-site, they have lots of ideas and brainstorming two weeks later, they’ve run out of steam. So do less three priorities at a time, get those completed and keep your foot on the accelerator for the longer term.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (21m 4s):
I think that’s so important when we do patient experience programs, we do something really silly after everyone is trained. There’s a phase four of our program called see something, say something. And we allow everyone to take the program, allows themselves to be open to criticism in a nice way. And they also allow themselves for positive feedback. So we have these little stickers. Siobhan that just say it’s all in the delivery of the programs, call it to all the delivery and you can give the chief medical officer of the entire hospital and nurse would hear a doctor have a beautiful relationship and a nice conversation. The nurse will give the doctor this sticker that you used to get excited about when you were three years old, going to the pediatrician and this 65 year old man will get so excited about getting the sticker, but it keeps it going.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (21m 57s):
And if someone does something that maybe is not with the culture that we want, the housekeeper can say to the doctor, Dr. Orsini, it’s all in the delivery, it means I call you and that keeps it going. So keeping your foot on the accelerator, I think is a great way of saying that because you fall back into your old patterns don’t you.
Siobhan McHale (22m 14s):
Yeah. And I love that example of one of the ways to fuel that journey because it is a bit like, and marathon it’s a long journey is to get feedback, get that positive energy. And what I love about that story as well is that every body is co-creating the culture. So it doesn’t matter where in the organization where I’m in the hospital, they are, they see themselves as part of the culture journey. One of the things we did today and say, for example, was we implemented a value called lead and inspire each other to, rather than the leaders will be the leaders and inspire people know it’s lead and inspire each other.
Siobhan McHale (22m 54s):
So leadership exists at all levels within your hospital, within your organization.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (22m 58s):
So you’ve done a lot of consulting when you come in and you’re in that first phase where you’re just watching or observing, you’re gathering data when you’re trying to fix culture. And there’s someone, maybe not the top leader, the CEO, but maybe somewhere down the line who is really resistant. I’m sure you’ve come across that many times where they’re not interested in culture change. They’ve been doing it this way. They don’t want to change. And I guess they could even sabotage the whole thing can’t they?
Siobhan McHale (23m 25s):
Yeah. Once you’ve got to realize is that one individual actually represents a part of the culture that is very valid. The culture that exists today came about for a very valid reason. It doesn’t exist in isolation. It came about because if help the organization in some way to adjust to its context, and you start to appreciate that there is a valid reason within its context, why that culture has served the organization in some way, for some of the stakeholders, then you start to appreciate that one individual actually represents probably they’re the tip of the iceberg. There will be more people who think like that, but actually that way of thinking.
Siobhan McHale (24m 10s):
So for example, I worked in a construction company where they were very relationship focused because they had grown up in a soft contract environment where all they had to do was to deliver the project, build the bridge, and they got a hefty margin on top. So what became important in that culture was the relationship with the client. But after a while, the environment shifted to a hard contract environment and actually the culture needed to become more commercial. You couldn’t be giving away favors for free to the client because you’d end up with a budget that was in the red, the project that was in the red, but yet they were still acting like that. They were doing lots of free favors for the clients without charging for the work as if they were still in a soft contract environment.
Siobhan McHale (24m 56s):
Now getting them to change. Why would they change? The client thinks I’m a nice guy. I liked being the nice guy. The clients always asked me for favors for free, build the wall over there and move that pipe three inches. Or could you fix up that leaking valve? And I’ll always do those extra favors for free. So we had to take those people on a journey and reframe their role from relationship managers, to basically commercial leaders who are managing the budget and the relationship with the client and showing them if we continued like this, the company would go out of business, but you can see why they acted in that way. And there was culture, there was a rational reason and the culture always has an internal logic within its context.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (25m 42s):
That’s a great point. I quoted you and your book. You said, culture change is the hardest work you will ever do. And it sounds that way, but can you expand on that? Why is it so hard?
Siobhan McHale (25m 57s):
It’s hard because it’s not a technical task. I think if you want to, people want to build a bridge. There’s a blueprint. If you want to create a budget in an Excel spreadsheet, that’s been done before some technical tasks, you can sit in a room with a few individuals and you can solve for those problems. Whereas culture change is complex. It’s adaptive. There’s no one blueprint that can guide you because every single situation is unique. And it requires a whole range of adaptive skills that leaders haven’t been taught. And this is one of the reasons that I’m so passionate about culture change is that I see in the workplace that leaders are trying to figure this out through trial and error.
Siobhan McHale (26m 39s):
They haven’t been given the toolkit for culture change. And yet we talk about it as one of our greatest assets. But when you ask people, well, how do you change a culture? How do you manage your culture? I haven’t been given a toolkit. So it’s a bit like doing an operation without having the right gear, the right tools.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (26m 56s):
How important is that emotional intelligence? Because that’s the hot topic right now, emotional intelligence for the leaders. Is that something really important? Do you believe that you can teach any leader to be an effective leader and to move culture change in a positive way?
Siobhan McHale (27m 11s):
Of course, emotional intelligence is important, but also I think what we need to appreciate is the power of role and the role that you’re stepping into and giving you a simple example. If you wake up in the morning and role of husband and you speak to your wife and say, good morning, then you might walk down the card or you meet your children. You step into the role of parents, your behavior changes. Then you go into work. You’re the director of a department in a hospital and you step into another role. Then you meet a colleague. You step into role of colleague. Then you are in a meeting where you’re negotiating that piece of equipment, medical equipment for your department. You step into role of negotiator that evening. You go out for drinks with some old school friends, you step into a different role again.
Siobhan McHale (27m 55s):
So in each one of those interactions, you’re still your same authentic Tony. You haven’t changed. You’re still Tony, but you have changed your role and your behavior has changed as a result. Even people who are not great listeners are you, haven’t the greatest IQ I’ve worked with them to say, in this situation, you have to step into role of listener. Now they might say, what are you think? And what do you think? And what do you think that might still be very directive and controlling, but they have stepped into a different role and the role has influenced their behaviors. So I think if we can think about role in the workplace, rather than trying to change who we are and our personality, which is very hardwired, I think we can get a lot more, a lot more change with less noise by reframing role.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (28m 42s):
I believe it can be taught teaching communication. There’s so many people that I come across to just I’m told this person’s a lousy communicator, but it can be taught. And I think, as you said, that particular role may be something that he or she struggles with, but with time you can teach it, right?
Siobhan McHale (29m 0s):
Yeah. Oh, I think you can. And I’m the first step in that is exploring with that person. What role do they see themselves in? And often if they draw a map of that role, it turns out that they see their role purely in technical terms often. So they see themselves as I see myself as a doctor and a deep expert in this specialist area, and I’m helping patients and I’m doing operations or whatever it might be rather than seeing their role in terms of the culture leader in the hospital or in the business. And if they frame their role in that way, then it’s, Oh, if I’m a cultural leader, then I have to do a whole lot of other things that I haven’t been doing. I’ve got to engage with people.
Siobhan McHale (29m 40s):
I’ve got to communicate. I’ve got to keep people updated on where we’re at. So reframing their role can be a first key step, as well as giving them the skills. But often that is a huge impetus on the change journey,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 54s):
Putting them in a position to succeed rather than a position that they’re gonna fail or bound to fail. Now, next question I have is you’ve been an insider or you are an insider, but you’ve also done some consulting work. What are the advantages to accompany that, of having someone inside the versa consulting and what do you find to be easier or harder? What’s the positive and negatives of each one when you’re coming in.
Siobhan McHale (30m 18s):
I think as an outsider, as an external consultant, which I’ve spent half my career, as you have a great advantage, because you can see things objectively, you can see the passions often that people within the organization have become blind to. So you can go in and say, Oh, this is the way it works. And that’s the way it’s happening. And they can go, wow, that’s such a revelation for us, even though it’s so resonant for us. So that’s the big advantage of being an outsider. And often you can name things that it’s more difficult to do as an insider, but as an insider of which I now am. So I’ve been the executive in charge of culture change in a series of multinational firms. One of the great advantages of being an insider is that you’re on the journey over the longer term.
Siobhan McHale (31m 3s):
So one of the things that I found a bit frustrating about being a consultant was flying in and out and you not really on the journey, you’re just coming in and out and flying in and out and not really doing the change just coming in and advising. So being an insider, you roll up your sleeves, you’re in the middle of the change storm and you’re making it happen with the other executives. And that’s very satisfying.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 27s):
So positives to both. Yeah. I find sometimes as an outsider coming in and doing some consulting work, that it’s easier for me because when you’re inside and it’s your home, what’s the old saying the shoemaker’s wife has the worst shoes. And so sometimes when you’re an insider and you have relationships, sometimes you’re not taking this seriously, but as a consultant, also, you leave and you don’t know what happens afterwards, or you worry about what happens afterwards.
Siobhan McHale (31m 54s):
Yes that’s a very good point.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 56s):
I have one last question. This has been great. And so very practical advice. And we’re going to put your book on, on all the show notes. And again, I highly recommend it. I think I warned you about this question because I asked everybody this question at the end, the name of the podcast is difficult conversations. I ask every guest at the end, what is the most difficult type of conversations that you’ve had in your life professional personal, and give us some advice on how you navigate through those.
Siobhan McHale (32m 26s):
So often some of the most difficult conversations are the ones with CEOs where they are, co-creating a culture that’s not working or certain stakeholders. So one example was then that ahead of an infrastructure company. And he was trying to create this culture of accountability and he was failing. And I had a meeting with him and I could see that he was really struggling with this culture of accountability. And when I walked into the room, I could see he was really annoyed. So I said, Oh, what’s up Ben? And he said, Oh, I’m really annoyed. Because, so what’s been happening is that all of us, Tim, the head of marketing three months ago to put a billboard on the top of the building, on the rooftop to advertise our services in the area and this billboard still hasn’t appeared and it’s three months.
Siobhan McHale (33m 18s):
And it’s just another example, Siobhan of a lack of accountability in the culture, rather than thinking on, in a difficult conversation here. And I have to give him this feedback. What I did instead was say, well, who have you spoken to then about this billboard? You know, this miss deadline for the billboard. And he said, I’ve spoken to the head of finance. That’s spoken to the head of HR. I’ve shared it with the head of X, Y, and Z ed person. Instead of talked to a whole lot of people about I’m really annoyed. I said, yeah, but have you spoken to the head of marketing about it, Tim, the head of marketing. And there was a silence, anyone he went, no, and his jaw dropped and he looked at me and he said, Oh my goodness, I’m part of the problem, the passion.
Siobhan McHale (34m 6s):
And I just looked, I didn’t have to have the difficult conversation. I had to ask the right question. And often with my work, I’m looking for what’s going on right now. And how is that happening? And what is your role in that and how, what conversations have you had? And the penny drops. So rather than me thinking the stress of I’m going to have a difficult conversation, now I’ll just go in and I explore what’s going on. What’s whose role is that? What role are they in? What role are you in? And it emerges.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (34m 41s):
Yeah, I’ve loved what you just said, because the old saying is, let them think it’s their idea. And I do this in my book. I talk about the four pillars of conflict resolution. And at the end, that’s number four is let them think it’s their ideas. There’s an old joke that I’ll share with us. As we part there wasn’t a comedian and he was doing a show and he had a big audience and he was talking about marriage. And he said, how many people here have been married 20 years? And a bunch of people raised their hands. Then he says, 30 years, 40 years, he gets the 50 years in this very old couple raised their hand. And the comedian says stand up. And so they stand up and he said, 50 years. That’s amazing. Can you tell us what your secret is? The man puts his chest out the husband and he says, she makes all the little decisions and I make all the big ones.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (35m 29s):
So the comedians, that’s interesting. Give me an example of a big decision. And he said, I don’t know, we haven’t had one yet. So there’s a great example. Is she let him that he was in charge the whole time. I’ll part with that. Siobhan this has been really a pleasure. Like I said, your name always kept coming up and I was so pleased when you said yes, your book is amazing. We’ve got to put it on the show notes. I think culture is so important right now, as I said, six months of doing this podcast, culture, trust leadership, communication comes up every single episode. It’s so important in your professional life, but it’s also important in your private life, the culture of your house and how things run there.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (36m 12s):
And so I’m really glad that you were able to give some really practical advice to the audience. And what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you. Probably LinkedIn, you can follow me, connect with me on LinkedIn. That’s fantastic. And we’ll put all those links in the show notes in case you’re driving. I don’t want you to stop or pull over. So we’ll put that all in Siobhan. Thank you again. Really appreciate you coming on.
Siobhan McHale (36m 36s):
Thank you, Tony, for having me as a guest and for all the great work you’re doing in the space.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (36m 40s):
If you like this podcast, please go ahead and hit subscribe. If you want to hear more about The Orsini Way and the programs that we do here, you can reach me at Dr. Orsini@theorsiniway.com. Siobhan thank you. Have a great day. Appreciate everything. If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe button and leave a comment and review you. To contact Dr. Orsini and his team, or to suggest guests for future podcast. Visit us at TheOrsiniWay.com.
Dr. Anthony Orsini
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