Who likes working in an environment where there’s a constant fear of repercussions when voicing an unpopular opinion? Or where someone else steals your glory? No one, right? It’s way more important to feel safe and comfortable speaking up when something is not right. An environment where it’s okay to fail and learn.
CEO, serial entrepreneur, Forbes contributor, and public speaker Duena Blomstrom joins Sander Dur to discuss psychological safety and a term that she calls Human Debt and what the impact is on the workspace.
What you’ll discover in this show:
– Psychological safety goes beyond Scrum Teams
– For people to step up and create great teamwork, empowerment is required
– Too often discussions on psychological safety are skipped within organizations
Author, Keynote Speaker, Founder, CPO
Duena is the author of the book “Emotional Banking: Fixing Culture, Leveraging FinTech and Transforming Retail Banks into Brands”. She is a serial entrepreneur and intrapreneur, a mentor for start-ups, a LinkedIn Top Voice, named an industry influencer in most lists, a Forbes contributor, a blogger with cutting-edge, unconventional and unapologetic opinion style, an international keynote speaker at industry events, the inventor of the EmotionalBanking™ and MoneyMoments concepts and the Co-Founder and CEO of PeopleNotTech Ltd – a software solution provider revolutionizing the organizations of companies that need to use technology and new ways of work focused on the concept of Psychological Safety in high performing teams.
Sander Dur (host)
Scrum Master, Agile Coach, trainer, and podcast host for ‘Mastering Agility”
Sander Dur is a business agility enthusiast, with a passion for people. Whether it’s healthy product development, agile leadership, measurement, or psychological safety, Sander has the drive to enable organizations to the best of their abilities. He is an avid article writer, working on a book about Scrum Mastery from the Trenches, and is connecting listeners with the most influential people in the industry.
people, psychological safety, team, work, human, happening, managers, conversation, spent, reward, dashboard, feel, big, stuck, habit, world, place, management, pandemic, instance
Sander Dur, Duena Blomstrom
Sander Dur 00:04
Hi guys, welcome back to this week’s episode of the Mastering Agility podcast series. This show aims to inspire you and others by bringing in the best of the business. I’m your host Sander Dur. If you like these episodes, please share them with your friends, your families, your colleagues, your dog, if he’s into that, but it really helps us grow this show. And I would much appreciate it. If you could leave us a review on iTunes, Podchaser, or from whatever platform that you’re listening. People that listened before, know that psychological safety is a common thread throughout these episodes where people feel comfortable, confident, able to bring their true selves to work. And today, we’re going to discuss that more deeply with serial entrepreneur, CEO, author, Forbes contributor, and much more: Duena Blomstrom, and we were already having such a great pre discussion that we just forgot to switch from pre discussion to actual recording. So we’re just gonna dive straight in.
Duena Blomstrom 01:09
I genuinely think. And it’s not only because we live and breathe psychological safety, but because I think that there’s a lever at the at the team level. The number one thing we need to do is get back into finding ways to get that team psychologically safe. And it’s like it’s crucial as a number one thing, it almost be dangerous me why to there’s a lot of talk about it. For instance, if you go down episodes of IT revolution, or any of the bigger conversations, there’s not one that doesn’t mention it Oh, if you if you go to does, every talk starts with we need to talk about psychologically. But if you also look at the same time, in the same breath at the landscape, we’re still the only company measuring it. It’s like, but we’re talking about it every day, like how are we if we’re not so I think it’s really bizarre to me, what’s happening in the community about that in the actual agile DevOps community mind? Do I know what’s happening at large about that, that’s a very different conversation. But in our community, I think what’s happening is superhero fatigue. There, there’s a handful of, you know, maybe 100 people in the world that really have everything clear and straight in their head, right. And they are distributed in different enterprises. And as the great resignation happens, as COVID happens, whatever they just like, they really try the retry, and then all the clinical factors, and then that enterprise can’t really get through kind of delivering anything. And if very rarely, and we have 10s, hundreds of customers and prospective customers. And it’s almost mathematically the same story. Obviously, not something necessarily to say on camera. But the journey we’ve had over the last year and a half is shocking how what the commonalities are, which are this typically midsize big organizations, let’s do HR we needed so that we make X tech product starts however, it starts however it carries on, that’s irrelevant, almost, but they’ll always have one or two of these really true superheroes. I don’t mean the guy that brought it in, I don’t mean the guy that’s paying for it. But just people that are living and breathing agile, and they can totally, you know, keep their mind on the people work and so on. And they when we meet those people, they go like, Oh my god and actual tour, I can actually make them the psychological safety thing. And I can make more of it, like totally give it to me and they are like, we’ve learned over the years to never care about the first and the second conversations because people are just so bloody excited that it’s happening. You’d think we are ubiquitous in FedEx, and whatever, like everyone and, and multiple times it happens to someone saying I’m feeling bad that they they get super excited I want this just makes perfect sense. Like strike all of your l&d conversation strike all of your strike all the other things this is the thing when we this is the thing put them so they go with it too. If they go with it to their team, that team goes and it’s even worse because they see their team getting excited and going like oh my god, this is a thing we can do this and they see actual numbers grow going up in terms of psychological safety and then they see that reflected in their KPIs in their throughput in their whatever it is they’re measuring. Right so they’re like even more exciting than they take those numbers to be internally the working HR or or a CEO or some more system CEO and they they are stunned by the worlds they run into and sometimes they try so many times it as I said they eventually go like you know what, if this I cannot and we literally have a trail of of superheroes and advocates after the horror but it’s not just for us don’t use it probably useful to them because they tried all that extra and then eventually they they go to a better place where it’s not that painful. But I just I don’t actually know what to tell you what the answer is. Because if we keep losing superheroes as well, on top of everything as assets organizations as as the Agile world, I don’t actually think that these things can be driven. I don’t think we have enough momentum at the team level that we can leave without the superheroes still pushing, you know,
Sander Dur 05:26
I agree with everything that has a little bit to do with our pre discussion pre to the recording itself, where it has a lot to do with the job that you’re hired for. And we were discussing putting this into the job description as well, right. I mean, you mentioned, people are hired, for instance, to do Java, and they’re gonna stick to doing the Java thing, but we rarely discuss it been, at least I’ve never encountered it so far, was going to be my impact on the team, what I’m hired for what’s expected of me to work on team dynamics. What would your ideal situation be with this?
Duena Blomstrom 06:06
My ideal situation in a world where our kids are going to go into an Agile team, is when they are told, we expect you to code for 50% of your time and to look at yourself and other people in the team for the other 50% of the time, maybe not, maybe that’s not the right proportion, I don’t know what the exact proportion is. But undoubtedly, people need to be told from the beginning, look, this is not a one and zero job. This is a one and zero plus the dynamic of your team job. So I need you to recognize things in yourself, I need you to see things in others, I need you to do physical or non physical but exact work on the team, I need you to have times that you do that deprioritize tickets that your Scrum Master goes, No, we cannot even you can’t get another ticket. You’ve never spent 10 minutes meditating, or you can’t for this one PR request, because we never had that team action that all of us where we talked about our kids, whatever it is that that thing needs so that they grow the data there. First of all, there are the work on the team is huge, there’s so much to be done, there’s so many things we have to learn because no one went through school and came out of it being a specialist on what emotions are or how to deal with the emotions of others. So we have to make that up that the lack of education of that lack of habit of we have to then kind of pick up the ball on it and start kind of making it into a practice and not understanding that it’s useful and we are remunerated for it we are we have permission and we are supported in doing it. So as I said, ideally, in a world in where we are serious about the people work, we will be faster and more performant. It’s almost like anything else that you do, that just doing a ticket that’s technical, or just doing an operation of it or a logistics is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things because it’s not going to keep you moving, it’s not going to give you performance, it’s not making you sustainable, it’s only fixing that one ticket. So ideally, we would make the human work central to our work or at least very firm part of our work. Ideally, we would then start splitting into what does this mean to us, right? What what are the what are emotions? Like one on one without emotions? Where do I fit? What do others fit? What are the components of a good team? What do we need to see happening between us we need to be flexible, we need to be learning, we need to be open, we need to be emotionally tight with each other. Those are things that when you split them like that, you can then work on them just in the same way that you would stop smoking or you would be able to not be afraid of spiders, whatever it is that you need to work on can be worked on. Once you have separated and accepted you have to do the work. So it’s a big ask, these are people again, that we have put through school and then paid so that they do something else is what they think. But realistically, no one can fix these things. For us, it isn’t something that a child could they could help, they can be supportive, they can give us materials, they cannot be in our heads and make us in that meeting. Remember that this guy in the corner is now seething or this other person just wants us to die and it’s never gonna happen. I mean, you know, that’s very everyday that happens right in every team. So if we ignore it, and if we don’t start doing this human work at the team, everyone in a conscious fashion, we’re not gonna get very far.
Sander Dur 09:37
Do you feel then that for instance, any organization should have a therapist or psychologist as part of the offer that they get, because especially in a more macho culture, more male dominant culture where emotions are not easy to show and people are very reluctant to be open about feedback things that they like as as well as get really honest giving, giving feedback and receiving feedback, it’s a hard thing to do. And it took me personally a while for really a to be open to myself and to see myself or the way that I act and the way that I act towards others and the way that I am perceived by others, it’s a hard thing to do. And we’re not going to get out of that, that whole embodiment until we have a specialist working on that. And that’s not for instance, someone that’s, you know, an Agile coach or someone else. Therapists, on the other hand, are more specialized on that.
Duena Blomstrom 10:36
I don’t think so. I don’t think we need a therapist, I think we need all of us. And when I say we, I mean, me, you developers, every project owner, you name it, right? Everyone, we need more willingness to say what all do I need to learn. So I can do this thing myself. I am a big believer in the fact that understanding your emotions and the emotions of others is not requiring a PhD is not requiring especially is requiring enough open mindedness to go like, what all do I need to learn. And then kind of, I don’t know, a month of looking at these things in detail, and then the other month to make it into a habit. I genuinely think it’s really that simple. And it takes willingness. So I think I’ve seen this a number I think I’ve seen this, everything we work with, who ends up using our toys starts from a place of this is not for me, I am not a mini psychologist why I hate this. And look, we sympathize with them. I’m known. I’m known neurotypical, I’m on the spectrum, I hate every bit of small talk, every piece of conversations with humans is difficult. I get precisely how developers felt, believe it or not, I completely get it I empathize completely. That said, it’s something that can and should be worked on. And it gets better instantly. As soon as you start putting the work into it. We’ve seen teams go from as I said, No, no, absolutely not. I am busy, I am booked, I am doing important things. I am not in the mood to be doing things that some other people should be someone should come down and make me feel better, someone should come fix our team, not me, because I have another day job and look at all my to dues, right. But once they and that’s it, that’s what we call the team resistance, once they get over it. And I firmly believe the only thing that gets them over it is one showing them data, which is why our dashboard is practically just throwing data than this is how you’re doing on flexibility. This is how your team is doing on learning. So very clear numbers and data that they can see going up or down. And secondly, most importantly, giving them the tools to do this work themselves. Because these therapists that you’re mentioning, they haven’t it’s not like they, you know, they have this mythical knowledge or some rings, they kissed and then now they can come. They’re literally using these stories that you and I can use just as well, right. So as soon as you give people data and tourists, and they start going like oh my God, I am a meanie, psychotherapist, despite being a Python developer, I didn’t know this, I can fix myself, I can fix you guys, we are now more performant. As soon as they see that feedback loop closing and they see performance increasing because they’ve worked on the human work. That’s what makes it stick. That’s what makes people willing to keep doing it. So yeah, I don’t think we need to set up this, we just need to put more work into it.
Sander Dur 13:29
And that’s gonna take a while because it’s really easy to play the blame game. It’s always the other one’s fault. It’s never my fault. And as you know, it’s really easy to just throw things over to shut and right now it’s my neighbor’s issue and it’s not mine. Do you really have that introspective level is very uncomfortable.
Duena Blomstrom 13:50
Very, very true. And we are again, very sympathetic to the plight, it’s hard. It’s very hard, but it is hard. In every other self improvement work anyone is doing right? It’s not easy. No one kind of goes into the gym one day and comes out with a six pack. And a bicep doesn’t work like that. It’s a lot of work. Anything that we want to make better takes work and is difficult, but we do it because we know what the benefits are. Equally, we’re going to do the human work. And we’re going to see the benefits translating into our performance. And incidentally, we will care enough about our performance, then we would want to be putting all the investment. So I truly believe people who have taken Agile to heart are a special breed of people, they have the need for growth and self improvement in built. So we don’t need to spend a lot of time going like why you should be better. People know that. Whether or not is there to do to become better or not, is where the rub is. Once you get over that rug by showing the data entrusted into performance. I think people are we now have teams that went from absolutely not to can we do to Team actions a week and why Do we have only one hour? Why can’t we do a whole day talking about nothing but our families. And so they went from no to let’s do this full time maybe and only because they see that translating into results. So it’s amazing to start seeing movement and, and to witness people almost in tears to say that oh my God doing this thing that we thought was horrible, and it is about the humans or whatever is not only not useless, but it’s horribly transformational to my dread, to my burnout to my not being able to be at my best to all of these brokers, we have been actually being our top performing HR people.
Sander Dur 15:42
And that’s amazing to hear, especially people wanting to talk about this for it for a full day, you brought up an interesting topic, the comparison with the gym. Now I just literally wrapped up an article on how implementing Scrum is the same thing basically as losing weight. There, there are a lot of similarities in there. But the most important thing is the consistency. Like if you look into people’s in January 1, January 2, January 1, they’re closed, January 2 gyms are filled to the brim with people having their New Year’s resolution, they’re going to quit smoking, they’re going to get into the best shape of their lives. They have the biggest motivational levels. But a month later, gyms are completely empty, what makes it so hard for people to stick to those resolutions to pierce to persevere. And to keep that consistency. What’s so hard
Duena Blomstrom 16:35
habit implementation towards. As soon as we understand something is necessary, we then have to hurry up. I think if we’re serious about improvement, and create a habit, I think that’s a lot more important. I say this to my kids and stuff, I don’t care what gains you make at the gym in the first two months, I care that you go, even if you go to what you do in a coordinate, go, just do that first part, first and foremost, make sure that you’ve implemented the habit of the regularity in the consistency that you’re talking about. That’s the bit you have to do. The other parts growing, your muscles are going to come once you have a cabinet in place, almost the same thing, if you wish with the human work, right? We the way we’ve constructed our dashboard is its work tool. So the way I say it, in ideal world, you have your JIRA on half your screen and your PMT dashboard on the other half. Because the reason those tickets moved a certain way are immediately directly reflected on how was our flexibility? What do we impression managing not afraid to tell each other when we fucked up? What exactly happened, right. So those two things are completely connected, but you’re not going to see it on your screen, until you realize that this is a ticket that needs to be on your board every time it’s part of your day to day work. Even if you hate the idea of doing the paperwork, the first thing we insist on with every team is to have some form of commitment that they will do three or four actions, that’s all we want out of them just prompts you to do three or four actions. And then if you hand on heart don’t want to do anything anymore. That’s on you. You’re really like the your resistance is too great, you’re in the wrong place. Mentally, you just want to die. We can’t fix depression. It’s not we’re not a mental health to who we are. It’s a work tool. If you do this consistently, three or four times, you start seeing the results that will move you further. So habit implementation is a very well studied part of positive psychology, it is as simple as getting online if you wish and figuring out how many times do I need to repeat this action before my brain goes, Oh, this is a thing worth doing. And then the first thing you need to focus on is not how good of an action you do, how many minutes you spend in meditation, how what kind of value listen to Deepak Chopra, or you listen to your special app that you found in a corner, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do the thing, enough times that it becomes a habit. So I think the key to consistency is to first and foremost become intentional about creating a habit and do that one first.
Sander Dur 19:00
Awesome. Is there in the tool in the way that you work? Is there anything tied together with positive assimilation, for instance, and I don’t want to compare people to dogs, but also to kids, when we’re training dogs, or when I’m teaching my kids and helping them go through very scary situations, there’s always always something positive, connected to those behaviors. If you teach a dog how to sit, there is always a treat next to it. If I helped my kids through a tough situation, it’s always about how good it was for them. how proud they could be for could be of themselves and those kinds of things. How do you work with people do with other people? Do you work with that positive affirmation as well?
Duena Blomstrom 19:47
Very good point, right? Because there’s always been this debate and we’ve spent a lot of time researching if we should be employing the very classical carrot and stick conversation or not at all. And we spend We’ve had a good few design Sprint’s on the topic of rewards for instance, which is, which is a mini part of what should be happening. So as we said earlier, what should really be happening in my view is that one day, every enterprise will be smart enough to remunerate people and compensate them for this hard work of doing the people want before then, and since we are lightyears away, because for now we are in the rock era where people should just go back to their caves and type from the specific, we were places. So we’re so far behind, it’s, it’s likely as before they will be compensated. But in the meantime, we need to do something so people feel recognized for these efforts. If I’m honest, the data in itself is a lot of recognition. So the fact that they want to see how the smiley face becomes a smiley face from like sad face, or how your Trend arrows are going up or down in the dashboard, those are really satisfying. It’s shocking how much satisfaction people are deriving from a tiny arrow. But beyond that we spent a long time trying to figure out is there a way to reward them differ in a different way. And of course, the compensation or rewards is always very complicated, because you want to make sure you don’t reward the wrong type of behavior, you want to make sure you don’t make people produce a behavior with with with the need of reward only, but because they have some other type of intrinsic motivation, it’s a complex topic. That said, we for instance, eventually settled on Team rewards, which they sometimes agree on together. They’re very simple things we only give people I don’t know, I believe for the most part, we give them Amazon rewards which are digital, here’s 10 bucks that you can buy another book with, if you’ve done X, Y, and Zed, I don’t want to go into what because it took us a long while to make sure that they can’t really, we don’t want our people gamifying the dashboard, right? We don’t want them to give us answers just to get the Amazon reward because that would be silly. We want them to genuinely see the value in the work, but also get something out of it. Because as you say, reinforcing that behavior positively is really important. So what we do right now are minor rewards. But what we say very openly to people is we will battle we will go to work for you, we will battle the organization for you. And we will tell them to bloody pay you for this, we will insist we until you do the work and you show them that connection between your work and your HR KPIs, we can make them pay you for it. So it’s they know they are implicitly helping the bigger reward and the bigger compensation conversation by bringing that data and doing their work.
Sander Dur 22:41
Beautiful. Now tying this together with people stepping up and being open a to themselves will also be able to work on the team, Team Performance team level, it requires a level of psychological safety. I mean, if there are leaders or managers around them, that will tell them off or will use their their gains for their own commands. How do you get to a level of psychological safety? Maybe we should talk about what you see as what psychological safety is and then how we could go there.
Duena Blomstrom 23:18
Right? So the definition itself is very clear. So we are meant to be in teams where we never feel afraid to speak up. That’s the most simplified version of it, meaning, we are not afraid of taking risks. We are never impression managing, which is the dark side of psychological safety, meaning we’re not calculating in our heads, how do I appear to others? Am I taking a risk in being honest and authentic or not? Am I then having to manage my image to my peers, and so on. So as soon as you do any of those things, then psychological safety drops when you are able to always, always, always speak up, even if it’s uncomfortable, even if it’s difficult. Even if it’s unpleasant, then you know, you have psychological safety. So that’s the very simplified definition. But obviously, there’s smarter ones out there. Now, with that definition in place, if you have it. And if you have this level of psychological safety, obviously, we all know this, you go faster, you can do more things. Just ask Google you can’t have performance without it. But so like you said, What does that mean? Right? Well, where where does that leave? I think is the question. And we spent a good because we’ve been building this for two and a half three years, we’ve seen the definition of theme being the first thing you have to have clear before you can have psychological safety. And it’s it sounds so basic and like we shouldn’t have this discussion, but it mathematically is a discussion every time even in the smartest of organizations even in the the only ones that have a very clear are the ones that are also incidentally doing amazingly well. So your Google or whatever, they’re very clear water demons. Everywhere else. The definition of a theme is ridiculous. The fluid and they don’t know how fluid it is, until they end up having to get an invite for that team for our dashboard, it ends up the can of who all is in this team is kicked so far down the line that it isn’t until we have to actually send the invite the people go like, Oh, what do you mean? So is this person that’s a support person in our team or not? Is this guy that’s like a team leader, but kind of a technical leader from somewhere else? Are they in our team or not? Should they see our dashboard? That is literally the moment of truth is, should they see the dashboard together? Should they do a team action. And it’s been amazing to me everyday what people think are or aren’t themes and side note that the place where there aren’t themes at all is at the top, the higher the topic, the less of a team that is, the less people you can invite into a dashboard. Let’s put it out. So once you know what psychological safety is, and then once you figure out who you all your teammates, and we have to remember in the HR world that we are very privileged, we very often work in squads in tight knit situations, but most other places have none of that, right. They have some diffused line of management’s and people you sometimes meet with additional, you couldn’t tell anyone else at the dinner table who your teammates, right. So in our case, because it’s clearer, my feeling is everyone in the team that has a direct involvement in the definition of the product is who is a team, right? So that’s my that would be my ideal team is where, from product owner to the person that I don’t know that’s support, they they are in a team, they can see what’s happening because they have ownership of the product. But that’s obviously a pipe dream. Because how many people have real ownership of the product at the team level, it’s a whole other conversation back to it. But once you know what psychological safety is, once you know what the team is, that’s when I think the best way to preserve it and to work on it with the right tools like ours is to then keep it at the bubble level at the team level. That is the only thing that’s going to kind of ensure that you have the integrity of that dynamic is if what you’re doing as a team it once you’ve taken this work for yourself is not important is not checked, is not used for some managers, presentations and corner. Big and we are adamant about this, we’ve lost multiple huge deals over the years, because we do not make a reporting tool for hire management to parade around. They don’t need to know what you are doing at your team level, you’re the ones doing the work, you’re the ones who need to know anyone else is just curious for no reason, or is trying to gain gain some political capital, I don’t care what they’re doing, but they don’t need it. So we don’t expose data at any other level, you need to know you see it, no one else. And that alone, the fact that you can see and you can trust your bubble where you do the work, but human work tightens your understanding of psychological safety and create more of it because it’s a safe space, where you can have these conversations about how you feel when you care about the guy next to you. And when you together, make things happen.
Sander Dur 27:59
Now, a lot of times when I read articles on psychological safety, the main focus is on teams. So teams have to be psychologically safe, rightfully so. But how does it work for management? And especially for higher management? is psychological safety just for teams? Or should they feel empowered and psychologically safe as well?
Duena Blomstrom 28:20
Who isn’t in a team?
Sander Dur 28:22
Now, that depends on your definition of a team. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations that I work with still see a group of people simultaneously working as a team, right?
Duena Blomstrom 28:32
A work group and the team are two different entities. That’s exactly what I was hoping to get out of it too different than today’s you know, you have this, the best example of that is a board. Right? In a board. People go made sure that they spent a week thinking what suit they’re going to be wearing, that a lot of emails being exchanged over well, lunch is being catered from. There might be an agenda floating about, but maybe not. The vast majority of the time is spent with just some senior human who used to have passion and brains and these days is just going through life, showing up and giving a report. That’s what happened. I’ve been hundreds of ports conversation, that is literally what’s happening. People show up the poster to each other. They do all the impression management they can muster in one go. They tell each other how amazing they are and what they personally did. And the other guy stands up and says what they’ve done. And then everyone goes home. That is a work group. At most. It’s more like a presentation place, right? So what we really want is the opposite of that. We want people who all are working towards a certain goal. We want people who have the same willingness to make something happen. A couple is a team. A family is a team and good teams feel like family, right? That one where we all are invested in making this thing happen, right? So to bring the work group to a theme lever, that’s the second degree the end of it is psychological safety is very circular of a conversation. here and to a friendly answer your your question. Managers slash tech leads slash anyone that’s there in a team with their own team in terms of what they’re making the product that the baby the thing that they’re together making. And then they might be in a workgroup with other managers or other people on their line. I even hate the idea of a line like, anyways. So they are in work groups, and they are in teams. They need psychological safety with their team, do they need it at the work group level, it would be nice, they’d be a more efficient or group level that’s closer to a team, they should have it. But if they can’t muster it, then that’s fine. But the same principles apply, then you become tight enough? Did you start working on your dynamic and you create psychological safety? If you don’t feel you need it, because you’re only over there to show your suit and posture, then you never need psychological safety at the top? No. But if you are any kind of manager, in particular servant leader, you are just one of the team. So you need to have your psychological safety where your team leaves.
Sander Dur 31:07
Do you think there’s a difference between a leader and a manager?
Duena Blomstrom 31:11
Oh, absolutely. And here’s the really fun anecdote. My little one is 11. He’s on the spectrum. And he gets like really focused on various things sometimes, right? What his latest area of focus is, he has found a Coursera management course from the London Business call, which cost me 100 quid for him to attempt to click around, I was convinced to drop it immediately. But he seems to have stuck with it for like he’s in week two, or three or something. And he’ll tell anyone who wants to listen, what the difference is between a manager and the leader. And how it doesn’t matter. The difference doesn’t matter. And I remember thinking, I need to look into this. Why have I let the child the first, the first ever kind of rapport he has with the idea of business is through something I have not checked. So hi, friends, then an hour or two trying to figure out what they’re saying. And what they’re saying is innovative and super bright, which is from the get go, they say, there is a big conversation about managers being associated with micromanagement, and command and control and leaders being people you want to follow because you feel inspired. And you’re they are a beacon of amazingness. So what we would like to say is, and this could be genius, but I haven’t spent enough time talking about it, what we would like to say is, let’s not focus on that difference. Let’s call it whatever you like. Let’s call it lead during, let’s call it management, if you want leaders, if you want whatever you want to call it, these things are twice interchangeable because what we’re talking about is the way you relate to people if you need to help them be managed. So they very smartly blurred the lines completely right. So we like in the Agile community to go like not stop doing command and control. Do servant leadership. Don’t be bloody stupid. This is why you’re sinking our ship with your ridiculousness, right, which is true, that’s not untrue. But it’s also not helpful. Because people feel like they have such a humongous leap to make for most one. I’m a micromanager of these 100 people of 10 teams, it took me an act of God to even get here I kind of get how people are but doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I keep an eye on these factors, right? So from that to do to the Remove blockers read the motions of and continuously smooth the path of these other humans. It’s a huge leap, and you don’t see anyone out there awake at 6am Going like how do we make that late? How do we make this reeducation effort? How do we make sure that no one does that there’s no l&d effort in the world currently, I believe, if I’m wrong, I’d love to be wrong. That says, You know what we’re going to do, we’re going to take our micro managers and transform them into servant leaders, there isn’t one and that tells you how how, if we are if we don’t start doing the right thing, church. It’s, we’re asking people to make a leap from remember what they taught you in business school about keeping an eye on them and making sure you have line of sight and they are typing on their terminal and not on Facebook. Well, that thing doesn’t work anyway, you need to stop that thing. You need to start reading their faces, and you need to put them together in a room and make sure they have what it’s a huge to do. And in particular, because most of these people like you know, they used to be just a really good technical person that has now become a people manager. And they eventually embraced this counter intuitive must keep an eye on my people line of thought. And now we’re telling them that wasn’t even good enough to forget that altogether. Just do the right thing by your humans. It’s a huge leap. So yes, there’s a difference between managers and serve and leaders. Yes, there’s a difference between command and control and server leadership. But that difference Need a serious piece of re education of all humans with enough empathy mind to go like, this is a big piece.
Sander Dur 35:08
A leading by example is a big part of that as well. Especially when when teaching courses on Scrum and soda and I have managers in there, nine times out of 10, I get the question, What am I supposed to do? I’m a manager. Now what I’m going to do now, I think setting that example setting that environment of safety fill the environment, as well as psychological safety is the main thing. But where do they start?
Duena Blomstrom 35:36
It is the main thing. But is it also good enough? No, I have a big bone to pick with industry that says, Here, read this new article and show vulnerability. And now you’re doing it now this is it. This is what you need to do to get psychological safety is you need to be a vulnerable leader. Just go ahead and be open, right. And I shudder to think of all these people who have stepped over their instincts and just showed up and were like, Oh, look, I put on 20 pounds over the pandemic. This is me being grown and open. Isn’t this amazing? Now we have psychological safety. It’s nice. And it’s fun that we think it would be that simple. But it’s very far from the truth because the human leader cannot whoever they are, however vulnerable, however open however nice, they can’t make that team have a dynamic. The only place that that this can happen is by the team through the team at the team level. So team needs to work on their own dynamic that said, yes, they have to start somewhere. But I don’t, I don’t actually think and this is a good point, I will write an entire article about this and guaranteed eight people are going to want me to die right away. I don’t think showing vulnerabilities with a with a team leader needs to do I think they only what they need to do is they need to bombard their people with the facts as to why they need to be doing this work themselves. They need to backtrack, instead of showing something they need to show them how they ended up believing that they need to show that so that they themselves start showing up.
Sander Dur 37:09
What how do they start with that? Because people will start looking at their, at their manager and their leader like we were supposed to do this thing. We we’ve done this course in Scrum. But now we all of a sudden we have to change to Bjarni you’re not doing it? Like how do you match, get on the same page when it comes to the expectations.
Duena Blomstrom 37:31
Have a come to Jesus moment with your people. I keep saying this, I cannot believe that people don’t do it. And you know what I get why they don’t do it. There’s no time. There’s like there’s other things or whatever. Once in a blue moon, you need several things you need bitchfest, which is what we call one of our place, which is you all sit down and you structurally complain together about the things that you need to get out of your system. Once you’re done, you spark those. After that you need re humanizing exercise, there’s no other way to put it, where now in particular, after you’ve been cooped up, sit in the same place physically, if you must, in a spy, if you will, which is very gross. But you might be wanting to do that. Wherever it is, wherever it is sit in person somewhere and do a proper team restaurant a come to Jesus, do we care about this place? Why do we care about this place? Because I’m trying to put my kids through college or because I believe that having green fuel is important. Whatever it is, why do we care? How do we care? What’s our purpose? What do we do? Where is our structure and clarity? And how the hell do we show up for this work? All of us? Why are we doing that? Where are the facts of why it must be bloody vulnerable? Why are the facts of why Scrum works as compared to everything else at all attempting to go back to Jesus and do these team raid launches as many times as necessary.
Sander Dur 38:45
Now I’m stuck with the image of being in a spa with my team.
Duena Blomstrom 38:50
I knew, I knew that it would throw people but it happens so many times lately that I mean, absolute shock.
Sander Dur 38:56
You’ve had you’ve been working with teams that went to a spa?
Duena Blomstrom 39:00
Oh, yes, absolutely. They absolutely do.
Sander Dur 39:03
Well, I don’t think there’s much more of a level of openness than being on naked together.
Duena Blomstrom 39:09
Yeah, men are very willing to do that. But they’re not willing to tell each other how many kids they have.
Sander Dur 39:16
I’ve got three and has been a challenge when it comes to psychological safety as well, by kids. I think that’s that’s the toughest part of this whole pandemic. My entire family had COVID Back in December. And we had we were quarantined for two and a half, almost three weeks COVID in itself in this family at least there are people who had a lot worse. Over here it was okay. The toughest thing is being stuck together continuously and not being able to just go out for a walk clear your mind. And I guess that’s also what teams sometimes have as well that they’re not even able to speak their minds out of fear of repercussions or whatsoever and it’s With with being stuck with kids continuously out of the fear that you’re gonna lash out, set the wrong example, that they’re gonna look at you as a as a, as a horrible father, which would be my worst nightmare.
Duena Blomstrom 40:14
But they do that anyway, someday you need to accept that. Anyhow, no matter what you do
Sander Dur 40:18
But the difference, though is that they’re stuck with me. Other people could change their jobs. So that’s, that’s the upside? How do you think this is gonna go down? Because you were talking about the great resignation? In our prior talk? Which maybe that’s a better question, what’s your hope? This is going to look like?
Duena Blomstrom 40:43
A very complex question. I have no exact prescriptive answers, I think we have this is the most basic thing about the pandemic is we have lived a shared reality in very different personal ways. So if you look at this, the best example of this is, I think, if you from the outside, it feels like Europe and America went through different phases, right? At least at the very least at different times, we feel like we had three dropdowns, they feel like they had one or none or whatever depends on where you are, oh, that is huge. The simulated Australians have been locked all together for 18 months, or whatever it was. So very different ways of reacting to it very different realities. And yet the exact same one, the exact same enemy, the exact same issue, same reality, different incarnations of it. On top of it, if you layer personal circumstances, and you layer, your work circumstances, and you layer what situation your team happened to be in, and then what that team became as the pandemic continued. The experiences are as many as people to dri difficult to kind of broad stroke anything. I am surprised that the great resignation, how fast it came about how strong it was, how no matter how many of these articles want to tell us it doesn’t matter how big of a deal it is, I am surprised I thought it would happen. We all kind of could tell. But the the extent of it, we couldn’t tell. I think similarly, we’re going to be surprised at the fact that hybrid will undoubtedly be the norm for the rest of eternity. Any company that has no knowledge in there to do and technology in there to do will never be able to insist the human sit down in front of a visible desk in their offices anymore. Not gonna happen. They might do because they want to they might this myriad of other complications. But realistically, hybrid will always be the norm. What’s more interesting, more interesting, I think is has that come with a conversation on flexible or not. And many places it hasn’t doesn’t many places came with no conversation, because it’s like a, it’s like this organizational leaf blown by the wind of whatever is the new regulation that’s being announced on TV, and they will kind of figure it out afterwards. But they have lovely hand sanitizer prepared for the people should they come back to the office. So outside of those people that are doing that, which is bankrupt strategy, everyone has spent some time thinking of it, but not enough thinking of what does flexible really mean? How does that really translate into outcomes? How do we break that down back to our HR principles? What are we really trying to accomplish? And and also, very importantly, now that humans are serious about themselves, their care, their mental well being? How does that translate into our team dynamic as well. So because those big conversations haven’t happened, the way that people come back, or leave or stay is going to depend on all those factors. So I have no overall answer. But what I do know is, we have undoubtedly proven the POC of working from home, that doesn’t work, we’ve made an amazing leap that could have taken us two generations otherwise, we have to build on that all of us anyone with with the realization of it has to do their part to build on it and go like also, I am human because I need x, y and Zed and we as a whole as a group are human. So we should get X, Y and Zed it is the time to stay claims in terms of of our humanity and our, our our work. And if we miss this boat, and we settle into a new reality, where it’s kind of hybrid kind of not this cost kind of a mixture in between command and control and no discussion about anything else. We would have missed a serious boat. So if anything, I feel like we have a serious generational. If you wish, heavy duty to the next ones, we have to realize on that, like we’ve we’ve got enough momentum that we have to get it over the line with some of this human that is being reduced. If we’ve missed the moment, it will be really tough going forward.
Sander Dur 44:47
It’s gonna be a challenge. It’s almost it’s the same thing with for instance, the concept of self management, where we introduced Scrum or any other agile framework. He goes you’re now going to be self managing, you’re going to be deciding how it works, but no one ever discusses the concept was self management really means and I think that’s the same with with this how is this going to look like? We don’t know because we do not discuss this. I do like the to see what’s going on that were traditionally I was supposed to tell and sell myself to an organization, right? Why should you guys hire me and that was going to be the other way around. Okay. They’re duaner We’re here as an organization to pitch why you should choose us it’s going to be the other way around. And that I do feel is a really cool thing.
Duena Blomstrom 45:36
Exactly. Yeah, undoubtedly, that’s an amazing way. That’s one big way, which is a complete with, we’ve all walked away from wooden language enough that we can now have some serious conversations, whether we’re going to capitalize on it and do those serious conversations or not, remains to be seen, I hope we would.
Sander Dur 45:55
Maybe our listeners are having great ideas of how this should look like. Having that said, Where can people find you as the last question, Where can people find you? Where can people interact with you.
Duena Blomstrom 46:05
So I do some speaking stem, so there’s a bunch of it on WWE dot know that, like that’s a throwback from the 90s do an upload from that calm, but obviously, what I would like people to look at is either our newsletters on LinkedIn, which are the future that are on Wednesdays and chasing psychological safety on Monday, and Tuesday’s or our website, which has the fundamentals of psychological safety at people are not tech.com. And obviously just chat to us. A demo alone will let you know how far away you are from getting psychological safety in your teams and how far you are from something to load your human that.
Sander Dur 46:43
Awesome. Thank you very much. I really enjoyed the skill in this discussion. Thank you very much for being here.
Duena Blomstrom 46:48
Same here. Thanks a lot for having me.
Sander Dur 46:53
I hope this episode was useful to you guys. Again, if you like this stuff, if you liked the series, share it with your friends, your family, your colleagues, your dog is into this stuff. Help this podcast series growth. Now again, thank you guys for listening to this episode of the mastering agility podcast series. A fresh new episode coming to you next week. See you guys then