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"Employalty" interview: Joe Mull on how to ignite commitment in a new age of work

Could it be that the era of "hiring the best person for the job" is now over? You might be surprised by the answer!

In this episode of #ThoughtLeaderConversations, Joe Mull, M.Ed, CSP talks about his new book Employalty: How to Ignite Commitment and Keep Top Talent in the New Age of Work and shares incisive guidance that is grounded in research and immediately actionable.

Along the way we discuss questions such as:

  1. “Employalty” sounds like it’s about employee loyalty, but that’s not what it is. What is “Employalty?”

  2. There’s a lot of misunderstanding around what’s really happening with staffing shortages and challenges around hiring. What are we getting wrong about this?

  3. We know that workers are switching jobs like never before, and those who haven’t switched are thinking about it more than ever. Why is this happening now?

  4. What is “The Myth of Lazy” and how is it hindering leaders from finding and keeping devoted employees?

  5. How do leaders and business owners turn their company into what you call a “Destination Workplace?”

  6. You say that every employee in every company has an internal scorecard that determines whether they stay long term and commit to their work. What’s on that scorecard?

  7. Wages are obviously undergoing a lot of scrutiny these days and you say there’s one number above all others that employers have to understand to compete on pay. What’s that number?

  8. This book proclaims that “The era of hiring the best person for the job is over" -- what do you mean?

  9. You argue that a more humane employee experience is smart business strategy that creates a serious competitive advantage for any business. How does that work?

All this PLUS a funny story about how the book came to be!


Series: Thought Leader Conversations  

Sponsor: V2, LLC, expert virtual and hybrid event production,  

Host: Roger Courville, CSP,   




[00:00:00] Roger Courville, CSP: Could it actually be that the era of hiring the best person for the job is over? Well, the book title looks like it's about employee loyalty, but it's not. All this plus a funny story about where it all came from coming up!

Hello and welcome to How To Ignite Commitment in a New Age of Work. My name is Roger Courville, and welcome to another episode of Thought Leader Conversations sponsored by Virtual Venues --where you can instantly scale your virtual and hybrid event production with a blue chip team. Of course, that helps you achieve excellence and results while you focus on something other than tech. You can find more at virtual, but today is not about us.

I'm excited because I know Joe is the real deal because he has run the gauntlet of the certified Speaking Professional designation with National Speakers Association, and that is no small amount of work as I can personally testify.

Joe Mull CSP got a Master's in Education, author of three books, including what we're here to talk about today, Employalty: How to Ignite Commitment and Keep Top Talent in a New Age of Work. Founder of the BossBetter Leadership Academy hosts the popular BossBetter Now podcast recently named by Society of Human Resources Managers as a can't miss show for leaders along with Brene Brown, Harvard Business Review, other great company.

Welcome, Joe Mull. Pleasure. You're with us, Joe

[00:01:28] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Roger. Oh, I'm so glad to be here with you today, man. Thanks for the invite.

[00:01:33] Roger Courville, CSP: You know, it's a pleasure. I love working with fellow speakers cuz you got your bologna together and, any other gaps there should tell us who you are and what you do.

[00:01:42] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Well, you know, I'm a Pisces. I like long walks on the beach. Uh, no, it's not that kind of show. Um, I, you know, the short answer to the question, at least in my professional life is that I teach leaders how to be better bosses and how to cultivate commitment at work, uh, at by day. That's what I do, you know, most of the rest of the time.

I'm a husband, father of three, I've got a very needy dalmatian at home named Flash. Life is good, man.

[00:02:10] Roger Courville, CSP: Needy Dalmatian. I can appreciate that.

Joe, you are a man after my own heart. In terms of thinking like an educator, the book is engaging. It's it's belovedly well -footnoted, meaning, I know you've done your research.

Employalty like employee loyalty, but that's not what it is. Let's start at the beginning. What is employalty?.

[00:02:34] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Yeah, when you see that word, you think employee loyalty. But we are playing a little bit of tricks on the readers. So you know, we've expected that that's been the deal for a couple of years now, right?

That in exchange for employment, we want employee loyalty. We want people to show up and give it all they've got because that's their job. But if you've been leading people for any amount of time, you know, it doesn't really work that way. There are some other things we need to get right. If you want people to.

Join an organization, stay long term and give it all they've got. So the word employee is actually employer loyalty and humanity all smashed together. Employee is the commitment that employers make to a more humane employee experience because that's actually what activates commitment at work.

[00:03:23] Roger Courville, CSP: Mm, I got goosebumps.

Well, I mean, you know, the old phrase, people don't quit jobs, they quit bosses, right? Yep. I think there is a, I mean, it's a relationship, right? The old days of you work here and therefore, I'm God. Our history. In fact I know that one of the challenges that employers face is the fluidity within workforces, how quickly people change jobs.

Right. Would you identify that as kind of the primary challenge that they face? Or what is the, the challenge? What do employers miss about what's really happening with staffing shortages in the market now?

[00:04:03] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Yeah, we have this picture of that what's really happening right now is that no one wants to work, right?

That there's this population-wide defect across, especially younger workers, that people are just getting lazier or there's this idea that Covid came along and just obliterated the people's desire to do certain kinds of work. And most of that is not rooted in reality. So we know, for example, That in the past 12 years, the number of people voluntarily changing jobs here in the US has more than doubled.

We had about 23 million people in the US who went and looked for an upgrade in 2010. Last year in 2022, it was more than 50 million people. So what people have called the Great Resignation isn't something that started two years ago. It's something that started 13 years ago, and it's been largely driven.

By people being overworked, being underpaid, and looking for an upgrade to their quality of life. And so for some people, that's an upgrade in pay. For some people, that's an upgrade in commute or a better boss or more fulfilling work or a better schedule, you name it. But workers have been rejecting the ways in which their jobs have encroached into every corner of their lives, and so they're looking for upgrades.

This is what's driving so much of the job changing that's taking place in the workforce right now.

[00:05:24] Roger Courville, CSP: Just outta curiosity, is that what you just described, where you get the phrase myth of lazy?

[00:05:29] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: That you used in the book? Yeah. You know, the idea of the myth of lazy is rooted in the sort of biased generational trope that every group of workers has used to describe the people coming in behind them, right?

You've all heard people say, oh, these kids today, they're entitled or they don't have a great work ethic, and most of that is bunk. We actually found a researcher in Canada who had found instances of this. No one wants to work anymore. Trope showing up in newspapers in North America going back 120 years.

Hmm. So this is a biased generational trope. Right. And I hate to break it to the Gen Xers like me and the baby boomers who are listening to this conversation, but everything you think about the people coming in behind you was said about you when you arrived. And so we have to kind of take a step back and say, What's really happening right now in the workforce?

It's not that no one wants to work, it's that no one wants to work for you. And when, when you turn the mirror inward and you say, okay, if we can't find people to take these jobs or to stay in my company, the problem isn't people. The problem is our company or our jobs. And when you turn that mirror inward, you actually start solving the right problem.

So the myth of lazy is really that we're blaming people instead of fixing work. Yeah, I

[00:06:55] Roger Courville, CSP: had a friend of mine was having a conversation with a friend of mine who is in the professional HR space, and interestingly, one of the things that landed for him was when I equated what you just described with what everybody assumes is true in terms of sales and marketing costs a lot of money to acquire a new customer.

And if you blow 'em out the door, they cost a lot of money to acquire a replacement customer. We just accept that as true in sales and marketing. And yet what you just described is, is in fact what I think is, you know, either often happening or at least is part of the backdrop as you described.

And that goes back generations. I did a study some years ago. I've done a number of studies, but I did a study some years ago about generational perspectives with regard to virtual learning. And interestingly, it was one of those rare times when you don't really get any statistically significant results except one, which was a reverse bias where young people thought that old people didn't get it with regard to technology.

Right. So Right. I think probably gets back to that heart level issue. What is my bias? Or Yeah. Have I bought into a trope? What a killer word.

[00:08:09] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Right. Well, and this is a part of the conversation that I'm having in a lot of places. When I'm doing keynotes at conferences or doing workshops for organizations, I'm consistently being asked, well, what are the generational differences here?

Right? Are workers coming in the door just want different things than we wanted when we got here? And I pushed back on that a little bit and say, you know what? Most people want the same thing. They want to be paid well. They want to be able to do a job that has a manageable workload. They wanna be treated with respect and they wanna make a difference in their work.

They want to be able to work a little, save a little, live a little, right? And that's pretty, that's that's pretty across the generations. But think about. What we in our forties and fifties have been telling our kids in recent years about work. We've been telling them, Hey, listen, it's how you spend most of your waking hours.

Make sure you find something you like doing. Hey, listen, A great boss is a rare treat. If you find a good one, stay. If you have a bad one, get out of there. Hey, by the way, when you get that job offer, ask for more coming in through the door because you're not gonna get it later after you're there. Well, guess what?

They've been listening. So it's not that the generational differences are that different, it's that their timing is different. Our sons and daughters and nieces and nephews are doing exactly what we told them to do, and that took us a couple of years to get the courage to do for ourselves. More

[00:09:31] Roger Courville, CSP: than a couple.

Yeah. I never grew up with any form of counseling. I re, you know, personal or otherwise. And I remember going, Hey, oh yeah, I can negotiate coming in. I can negotiate a signing bonus and I can negotiate what would happen on exit when I'm even coming in the door. Hmm. That took me a long time to figure out, so.

I don't know if that's just a Gen X thing

[00:09:53] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: or Well, but it's also meeting this moment that we're in right now where we have more opportunity for people to upgrade or for people to leverage their experience and the demand for workers than we ever have before. And that actually goes back to this whole myth of lazy conversation.

Right. Unemployment in the US is at record lows. There are only three months in the last 50 years when it's been less than it is right now, and we continue to add jobs to the economy at a breakneck pace. We are recording this on the day that the latest jobs report from the previous month just came out and again, it beat estimates.

We're adding 18,000 jobs a day to an economy that already has. 10 million unfilled jobs, Roger. If you took every unemployed person in the United States right now, and you gave them a job, there would still be 5 million unfilled jobs tomorrow. And so workers have more opportunity ever before to upgrade.

So the mindset shift that has to happen is that there is no staffing shortage. There's a great jobs shortage because if you're offering great jobs, you're not struggling to find and keep great people.

[00:11:01] Roger Courville, CSP: You used a phrase in chapter two that I loved becoming a destination workplace. How do leaders and business owners create that kind of ethos or culture?

[00:11:15] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Yeah, so in this book, we married together a lot of the social science research around employee engagement and what activates commitment psychologically with what's happening in the labor market at this moment in a post covid world. And we, as part of that, analyzed more than 200 research studies and articles on why people join an organization.

Quit a job in a previous organization or decide to stay long term with an employer, and we can say with conviction that you will easily find and keep devoted employees if you win in three areas of the employee experience. We call them ideal job, meaningful work. And you said one of them earlier. Great boss.

And we can unpack each of these dimensions a little bit because each of these factors a little bit because there are dimensions to them. But that's my one sentence answer to the question. How do you become a destination workplace? Or where does commitment come from at work? It's ideal job, meaningful work.

Great boss. Mm.

[00:12:18] Roger Courville, CSP: Is there one of those? Mm. Ideal job. Great boss. Meaningful work. I just took 'em out of order, but it's okay. Is there one of those that is kind of just near a dear to your heart that you see, I mean take it outta the research realm and I think like an academic too, but take it outta the research realm.

Is there one of those that's near and dear to your heart going, man, I really feel for these people, they, I wish they would get that right.

[00:12:43] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Yeah. Well, when you did that very generous introduction of me in bringing me onto the show here a few minutes ago, you mentioned my podcast, which is called Boss Better.

Now you mentioned our Leadership Academy, which is the Boss Better Leadership Academy. You asked me, who are you, man, and I said, I. Teach leaders how to be better bosses. Like that's the deal. An employee's boss is the single most influential factor in their employee experience and whether they care and try.

And so that factor alone to me is the nearest and dearest to my heart because as you said earlier, people don't quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. And yes, we have all the academic research to tell us that that's the case. But we have the stories of all the people in our lives as well that we've talked to who have decided to stay someplace that they love working.

It's probably because they have a great boss or they've said, I need to get outta here and go do something else. Why the boss is probably a factor there too. So, you know, those three factors of ideal job, meaningful work. Great boss. We've gotta get them all right. But if you can only get one, right, let's work on the boss factor.

[00:13:55] Roger Courville, CSP: Let's take that to the next level down, or maybe I'm gonna ask if there is a next level down. Yeah. When it comes to the boss factor, is there something in particular that that boss does or doesn't do? Is it a function of helping that person feel valued for who they are as an individual? Is it some other recognition or form of connection?

Just outta curiosity, what's that next level of what makes

[00:14:24] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: a great boss? Well, and you've, you've teed up beautifully here Roger because it allows us to unpack each of those three factors of ideal job, meaningful work, and great boss. So you're right, there are dozens of things that leaders have to do well and get right for someone who works for them to point to them and say, man, I've got a great boss.

We think the three most important are trust. Coaching and advocacy. So trust, do I grant trust and do I earn trust? Do I give people the freedom and the creativity they need to thrive in their jobs? Do I let them fail? Do I let them get to their work product in their own way? At the same time, do I demonstrate competence and caring in such a way that I earn their trust?

So trust is the first sort of magic ingredient to the great boss factor. The second is coaching. Which, if you're thinking of somebody standing on a football sideline with a whistle in their mouth is not what we're talking about here. Coaching for leaders who are listening, many of them know this already.

Coaching is a very specific kind of interaction that leaders have with team members, where you're mining people for their insight, their creativity, their ideas. You're asking them the right questions in the right order to create self-actualization. Coaching appears to have a magical impact on the employee experience.

And then the third dimension of the great boss factor is advocacy. And this is the word we use as a kind of catch-all for all of the things that leaders do to demonstrate that they don't just care about the employee as a commodity, but that they care about them as a human being. So what does an advocate do?

They act in someone's best interests. So I don't just care about the tasks and duties of your job, I care about your overall career and its trajectory, whether or not that includes. Our company that you're working at right now, it means I care about you out who you are outside of work and the way that your job impacts your life outside of work.

And at the very least, it means I care about and know about your story. Who are you? Do you have a family? Do you have interests, hobbies, talents, gifts? So all of that Roger sort of bakes into the pie to make that great boss factor work.

[00:16:36] Roger Courville, CSP: Chuckling internally because one of the lines that I used to use when speaking was when was the last time your boss made sure you got to the gym today? Yeah. And people would chuckle because, you know, because it wasn't that kind of way. Mm-hmm. Interestingly, I think. You're describing the exact opposite.

In fact, I'll even put an exclamation point behind something that you just said. When was the last time your boss said, I got your back? Even if that means you grow out of this job and move on to a different organization, right? Yep. Like, whoa. Really just outta curiosity, here's another phrase that used to come outta my mouth, and I'm curious if this.

If this fits into your paradigm, which is, you know, mine comes from the world of learning. Most of my clients were learning and development organizations. Yeah. Hr, human capital. And I would remind people that we're always looking for the magic, for engagement tour interaction. Or how can we get people to, you know, not quiet, quit.

And I would just say, remember people. Die for a mission, they go to war for a mission. Is there something about what you're doing that, that people would do for free and mm-hmm. You know, frankly, people, I'm just curious, what is that relationship of trust coaching and advocacy to, in a sense, the manager or boss brokering the relationship between the employee and the company and whatever the vision, mission, goals of the company are.

[00:18:19] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Well, you, you just hit on that second factor of meaningful work, right? So we know that what one person finds meaningful about their work will differ from the person sitting right next to them. But when we get a couple of things right around the employee experience, there's a pretty good chance that most, if not all employees will find work meaningful.

And what we write about in the book, the dimensions, if you will, of this meaningful work factor are purpose. Strengths and belonging, and what you're talking about Roger is purpose. Do I believe my work matters? Do I believe I'm making a difference in the lives of others? Do I have line of sight between even the most mundane tasks of my work and the way in which it is?

Having an impact elsewhere. And yeah, bosses play a huge role in creating that line of sight and telling those stories and helping people feel valued. And so that purpose is one of those core ingredients in meaningful work. The other two strengths and belonging are parts of the employee experience that we know people need to have in order to want.

To do great work and want to stay with an organization. So strengths is really about do I get to use my unique talents and gifts in the work that I do? Is there alignment between how I'm spending my time and what I'm good at? When that's the case, we unleash more creativity. We find our work more fulfilling, our work is more meaningful.

And then that third dimension of belonging is really about who I am doing this work with, and the degree to which I feel like I'm a celebrated and accepted member of that team. You know, we've known for years that people will forego a new opportunity elsewhere. A lot when they find that they really like the people that they work with.

People will say, I, I just don't wanna leave this group. Uh, at the same time, it's not just about comradery and connection, it's also about inclusion. Right? It's also about being accepted for who I am, uh, feeling like I can be celebrated. For that, and it's not just because inclusion is so important, but because we know that exclusion is so cancerous to the employee experience.

So this is why so many organizations. Are investing in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging training. It's why they're committing to making sure that employees are able to participate in employee resource groups, for example, or that people from all walks of life are represented across the org chart in an organization.

Because belonging is such a powerful force, not just in commitment, but in retention. So all of that together sort of rolls up to this idea of meaningful work. And when we get that right, people will give it all they've got. So

[00:21:01] Roger Courville, CSP: the little teaser at the top of the show. Let's not keep 'em waiting any longer.

The era of hiring the best person for the job is over that my friend is a pro provocative statement. Tell me what you're

[00:21:13] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: thinking. Well, the second sentence is you now have to create the best job for the person. So there's a massive recalibration taking place around how work fits into people's lives, and it's due in part because people have been overworked, they've been underpaid, they're burned out.

Then a global pandemic came along and took an. Already exhausted workforce and just broke it. But also we've seen that leaders and business owners still don't understand and engineer the conditions at work that lead people to love what they do and who they do it with. You know, one of the things that I'm fond of saying as a speaker, and it seems falsely reductive, but it just ends up being so true, is that people generally do a great job when they believe they have a great job.

And so if you're out there trying to fit other people into a preexisting schedule, position way of doing work, and it's the same as it has been for decades, you are operating with a set of rules and beliefs for a world that no longer exists. The truth is that the organizations who are not struggling to find and keep devoted employees are the organizations who are innovating around what work looks like for people nowadays.

They're looking at remote and hybrid options. They're looking at four day work weeks. They're reinventing benefits packages to give people things they actually need related to childcare. For example, family leave, for example, what's happening right now in the labor force and really has been driven for more than the past decade.

Is that people are recalibrating how that job fits into their lives and they're making decisions about where and when and how they work that are really focused on quality of life. And the companies that have figured this out that have said, you know what? We probably can't expect people to work 46 hours a week, but also answer texts and emails and phone calls at night and on the weekend.

We can't keep foisting the work of three people onto two people or even one person. We actually need to scale back a little bit and actually make sure that people. Aren't running at a hundred percent all of the time every single day because we're gonna wear them out. And so this idea of creating the best job for the person is really around creating alignment between, we want you to be able to come to our organization and give it all you've got.

Make a commitment to us. But in order to get there, we're gonna make a commitment to you. We're gonna make a commitment to providing an employee experience that doesn't dominate your life, but compliments it.

When you

[00:23:48] Roger Courville, CSP: go into an organization as a trainer or consultant, right, as a subject matter expert, what do you say to the person who says, you know, I'm just a manager or director here. I can't change the systemic structure of this organization. You know, what am I gonna do? I can't rewrite their benefits package,

[00:24:07] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: right.

Right. You know, one of the things that I talk a lot about are what we call spheres of influence. So this blueprint that we write about in the book of Ideal job, meaningful work and Great boss, is essentially the internal psychological scorecard that every employee in every job and every company on planet Earth walks through the doors of their job with every day or remotes in to their job with every day.

And if we know what's on that scorecard, and we think that we do now, what we have an obligation to do as a leader is to lean into the areas that we have the most influence over. Right? So if I'm talking to a room full of CEOs and executives and senior vice presidents, I'm probably talking a lot about that ideal job factor.

Which is really made up of compensation, workload, and flexibility. And what are your institutional and organizational policies and opportunities to innovate around compensation, workload, and flexibility. That's their sphere of influence. That's the stuff that they can attend to and change and innovate around.

The other things we've been talking about here, Roger, meaningful work and great boss. Purpose, strengths, belonging, trust, coaching, advocacy. If I'm a frontline leader, I have a massive impact on those experiences for employees. So if I'm talking to a room full of frontline leaders, I might say, yeah, your ability to influence pay scales, for example, might be limited, but you have a lot of impact on whether someone believes that their work has purpose, whether or not they feel a sense of belonging on their team, whether they're experiencing coaching, whether they're experiencing advocacy.

And so what I encourage leaders at all levels to do is to take a step back and through the lens of this scorecard, figure out first, what are we doing well already, what, what am I doing well already as a leader and some simple assessment can help us figure that out, whether it's, you know, formal assessment in terms of surveys and data collection, or it's conversational and anecdotal assessment through one-on-ones and stay interviews and focus groups.

But we can get some clarity around what our employees are already getting. And then maybe where our gaps are, and then leaders at all levels have to lean into their spheres of influence to fix what needs fixing. When

[00:26:24] Roger Courville, CSP: you see organizations doing remote, right, what's going on?

[00:26:32] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: What are people doing right when they're doing remote?

Right? Yeah. And we're still learning what remote right. Looks like. Right. You know, I remember shortly after COVID landed, the c e o of Microsoft said, we just experienced two years of digital transformation in two months. And it was

a perfect one sentence way to capture what happened, right?

We have so many people, even now, who are in remote work circumstances that maybe didn't even exist. Three, four years ago, and it was driven by the fact that it was necessity for a lot of folks. And what we're hearing Roger, and I know that you know this already, is that in some places who have not been able to pay a lot of attention to how we create connection and camaraderie in a remote workplace, workers are feeling disconnected or there's a disconnect between the people who are gathering in the office and people who are scattered at other places across the country.

I am a big advocate of two best practices around remote work. One is making time in remote environments for people to find things in common with each other that have nothing to do with work. Now, sometimes people experience this as cheesy icebreakers and team builders, and we have to be careful that those things aren't obnoxious and that we don't overdo it.

But we need to find small, effective, powerful ways that don't take a lot of time for people in virtual environments. To connect and find things in common. Maybe you and I figure out we have a mutual love of running or fishing, or we have kids the same age and oh our sons both play soccer and that's gonna give us a chance to access each other's humanity in a way that goes ba beyond the tasks and duties of other people's jobs.

So that's one best practice. Are we making time and creating opportunities for things to find for, for people to find things in common with each other that don't have anything to do with work? The second best practice. Is really around understanding that even in a fully remote workplace, you still have to gather in person every once in a while.

So I just had a conversation with an organization in Chicago that has employees scattered all over the country and 80% of their workforce is full-time remote. As we were talking about how to connect people together, connect people to the company, we ended up talking about how twice a year feels like a really good cadence to gather people together in person for a one to two day in-person retreat.

And I would say that only about 50 to 70% of that time should be spent on actual work. Mm-hmm. Like we wanna make that valuable. We wanna do mission-oriented work, but let's take maybe 25 to 45% of that time and actually use it for people to laugh together and get to know each other and just be gathered together.

Because you do get some things in person, Roger, and you know this, that we don't necessarily get in a virtual environment. Totally. We've seen research. That tells us that when people gather together, we can accelerate creativity and innovation and connection and relationships and comradery. And all of these things are important ingredients both to the employee experience and to the goals and mission and objectives of a company.

And so I am a big believer that. Some kind of hybrid work arrangement is probably the best kind of arrangement right now. There's a lot of dialogue taking place between, well, how often is the right amount? You know, we see companies who are giving workers now a chance to work from home two days a week, but we want you in the office three days a week all the way to, like I just said let's gather twice a year in a formal kind of way while building in some informal connection time.

Yeah. This will be.

[00:30:14] Roger Courville, CSP: A little bit of me thinking out loud, but I, I'm gonna use different language. Yeah. I'm gonna reflect back to you what I think I heard. Yep. And tell me how it squares with you. So when I'm thinking about how to help people take their offline conference and move it online, right. It's three days, multiple sessions, got vendors or whatever, One of the, one of the most frequent mistakes that I see is packing in too much content.

Yeah. Now, one of the things that you described was being careful with icebreakers and things like that, and a distinction that I would make is what I think of as formal versus informal. Which is formal is, okay, we're gonna do this icebreaker in, you call it speed dating for teams or whatever, and now people meet each other and talk about what their favorite ice cream is, or,

[00:31:04] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: right, right.

Or that kinda

[00:31:05] Roger Courville, CSP: thing. Informal is just giving space for us to meet each other at the water cooler. Or if you're at a conference, we happen to take that afternoon break. And we're refilling the coffee and grabbing a cookie, and I meet you and go, oh yeah, you're from Chicago. I was born outside of Chicago, or whatever.

That Yeah. Thing is, and that only happens as far as I can tell online or off when you give some space. Yes. So to me, if there's, one of the things that, that I think I'm taking away from what you just said or reflecting back to you where I think we're on the same page, is that, that some form of. Bringing people together online or offline might be facilitated with some formal game or something that, that connects people, but we still need to give them space just to have space and let happen.

What happens when people are in the same space virtually, or you know, on site or online? Is that an accurate kind of way of thinking about what you were just talking about?

[00:32:07] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Yes, I think we're very much aligned. What my observation would be, and I'm interested in what your thoughts on this are, is that in virtual environments, we're so used to, as soon as there isn't formal structure or a reason to be there, it's time to log off.

And I'm gonna move on to the next thing. So we can create space in virtual environments for that informal interaction. But I still think we have to create prompts of some kind. We have to create some kind, give some kind of direction. Structure feels like too big of a word here, but if you're creating space, In order to overcome what's already a natural tendency to disengage immediately without structure, we need to have some kind of prompt, something that gives them a chance to connect in that open space that you're creating because it does happen more naturally in person, right?

We're both standing in line at the coffee shop, in the hotel lobby, or we're mingling and sitting around the table while waiting for the projection. To get fixed, but in ahead of the presentation and we start talking about things that we find in common with each other, that doesn't happen as much.

Virtually people just bail out on and move on to the next thing, and so, Space yet, but maybe a little space. Yes. But maybe a little bit more intentionality is needed to make that space work. What do you think? I, well, I would agree, and

[00:33:34] Roger Courville, CSP: that's probably where we could, it depends ourselves, you know, into oblivion, right?

There is a, I think it very much depends on you understanding. Who your crew is and what is the context they're coming from. Because what you just described is people, you know, move from offline to online very frequently what they do is they mimic what they've already seen, which is sadly is like, you know, uncle Bill's, info bar over PowerPoint webinar.

Meaning yes. They don't come with the expectation that, oh, there is a social aspect to this, which they get Yeah. Naturally cuz they use Facebook or LinkedIn or something like that. Meaning if you know that they're gonna show up with a certain set of presuppositions, I would wholeheartedly agree.

The question is how do we get 'em from point A to point B? Point A might be, okay, I need to understand where they're at. Point B. And to be fair, some companies are now. They just get it. Yeah. On the flip side of going, sometimes they

[00:34:33] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: don't. Right. And I think it depends too on what is the culture of. How frequently people are asked to gather remotely, right?

If I, we have so much, you know, you've probably heard the expression zoom fatigue in recent years, that PE people are sort of, um, rejecting the expectation that they participate in full-blown virtual environments unless it's absolutely necessary, and I think we will see resistance to stuff that doesn't have a lot of structure or requirement.

To it if we are constantly asking people to gather in these virtual environments for every little thing, whereas if we can do a sort of trimming of the fat, if we can figure out how to be more efficient with some of the formal structure stuff and the meetings and the touchpoints that happen on Zoom, we buy some of the emotional capital that we need to ask people to participate in some of these less formal things, even if it's something like.

Taking 10 minutes in the middle of the meeting to put everybody into breakout rooms three at a time and saying, it's 10 minutes of coffee time, right? We're gonna take a coffee break, go get your coffee or your beverage of choice of your, you know, it's one o'clock here. Maybe it's not an adult beverage yet, but, you know, go grab a, a snack or a coffee and meet back here for 10 minutes of coffee time and you're gonna be randomly put into a breakout room with two other people and.

If you make a case in the organization for why that is just as important as all of the other initiatives or work product that you're spending time on and you ask people to commit. Even if they don't agree on the surface that it's how they wanna spend their time, but you ask them to commit and to give it a chance, I think you'll find that people will come along with you on those kinds of initiatives because they recognize that that connection's important.

[00:36:27] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah. You used the P word earlier purpose. What you just described was giving people the why for them, their little 10 minute coffee break in the middle. Or whatever the little nudge or bump you are gonna give them. I've been sadly preaching that for a long time in virtual presentations and, and that kind of thing for a long time.

If we want people to engage with us as presenters, we're gonna lose them really quickly. If we do things that might technically be some form of interaction, like put up a poll if it doesn't serve a purpose, right? Mm-hmm. And not just a mutual purpose, as in, okay, now I know something about you, but it. Done well can create momentum.

It's like, oh, now I see how, the way that I answered that poll relates back to, and there's a purpose because

it's mutually beneficial as a, as a form or a tactic with regard to the conversation and Right. You know, we, we don't have time for purposeless. Stuff, right? We're used to changing the channel.

Indeed. I don't like the cho, I changed the channel.

[00:37:33] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: I heard somebody say recently that you have to remember in our virtual environments, nowaday nowadays, you're not competing with your old meetings of the past that were in person. You're competing with Netflix. You're competing with how people engage with a screen and how they've been conditioned to engage with a screen, and so absolutely.

We've gotta be really thoughtful about how to make that worth their while and engaging in ways that are different than in person was before. So

[00:38:00] Roger Courville, CSP: I'm gonna, for those of you who are watching as opposed to just listening, I'm gonna slide up a cover, uh, an image of the book in question. And of course, you can connect with Joe at joe mole m u or

But Joe, I'm just. Curious. I've kind of saved this one in my back pocket, but you mentioned that there is a funny story about how the book came to be. So I'm just, I'm just curious -- what's the funny story about how the book came to be?

[00:38:30] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Well, you will appreciate this Roger because this book was born after a podcast interview that I did, and you know what?

I don't even remember what show it was. And I'm kind of glad because I would, I would not wanna go back and listen to this interview because I remember that I was having a really robust conversation with the host about where commitment comes from at work. This is the work that I've been doing for nearly 20 years.

And we had this really rich conversation for about 30 minutes of all the things that leaders and employers need to get right to nurture commitment at work. And we'd covered so many different things. And near the end of the podcast, the host said this. He said, all right, Joe, let's get you outta here on this.

Let's put a nice bow on this for everyone in one sentence, where does commitment come from at work? And I went, oh, well, Boy, you know, I don't think I can give it to you in one sentence. You know, as we just talked about, there's a whole lot of things you've gotta get Right. And then Roger, I proceeded to recap our entire 30 minute conversation in the world's longest run on sentence I.

I don't know if you've ever had the experience. Oh, I've never made any of those mistakes. Yeah. You start talking and you hear yourself talking and it's like you can't stop talking. And this massive word salad is just falling out of your face. And that is what happened to me on this interview. And afterwards it bothered me and I kept thinking about, why does that bother me?

And I thought, you know, my answer wasn't wrong. It just wasn't concise and. Boy, that's a problem, right? We don't serve leaders and organizations well, if we can't answer that question, where does commitment come from? At work in a single sentence? We should be able to tell people clearly, succinctly, get these couple of things right, and you're gonna be doing okay.

And so, That was really the birth of this book I set out to find his one sentence answer to the question, where does commitment come from at work? And you heard it earlier, uh, it's the whole framework for the book. Commitment and retention appear when employees are in their ideal job doing meaningful work for a great boss,

[00:40:37] Roger Courville, CSP: I'd say You heard it here first, folks, but you didn't. Where can we get more of you? Tell me about your podcast. Tell me is there a better place to find you? Your book you as a potential speaker, trainer,

[00:40:55] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: consultant. Well, thank you. That's very generous Roger. If you go to my website, which is my name, Joe Mall, j o e m u l, you'll find me there if that's really hard to remember.

We also have boss better, which takes us out to our email list and our podcast, which is also Boss Better now. So whatever is easiest, uh, for you to remember dear. Listeners joe or boss better And the book is available anywhere you get business books, right? You can go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or any of the big places.

Or we also like supporting independent, local, independent bookstores, Roger. So we tell a lot of folks that if you go to, you can order the book there and they will source it from your local independent bookstore.

[00:41:42] Roger Courville, CSP: I love that. I love that. Final question. What questions should I have asked you that I haven't asked you?


[00:41:54] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: what questions should you have asked me that you did not ask me? I mean,

[00:42:00] Roger Courville, CSP: we got Pisces. Yeah, on the beach Sunsets red wine.

[00:42:08] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP: Uh, goodness. What questions should you have asked me that you did not ask me? Roger, you're too good at this man, cuz there's nothing that is springing to mind. I'm trying think about. The conversations that I've had on a lot of shows lately, cuz obviously when you've got a book coming out, you sort of do the rounds and you, uh, do a lot of media and this was one of the shows I was most excited to be on because you are so good with the people that you invite on and you're having such thoughtful focus conversations about things.

I knew we were gonna have a great time. Um, how about I ask you a question, what can I do to support this show and the great work you're doing for thought leadership? You know

[00:42:48] Roger Courville, CSP: what? Believe it or not, this is a bit of giving back because you know, our crew is a bunch of old timers who have a ton of experience in the space.

We got blue chip clients that all of whom you'd recognize, and at the end of the day, it is trust and word of mouth. Right. We can't compete, you know, there's a dozen of us. We can't compete with multi-billion dollar companies in the space now. Yeah. So, Really, we thought, well, what do we do? We know a lot of stuff and we know a lot of people.

Let's start talking to people. Yeah. And actually have it not be about us. And just hold conversations with people that are smart, that have something to give. And you know, people, podcasting of course, is taken off and. You know, people listen to Joe Rogan for three hours, maybe they'll gimme 10 minutes

[00:43:35] Joe Mull, M.Ed., CSP:

Yeah. So, well, and, and I'll tell your listeners what I told you at the beginning, which was when, so right before Roger hit record, we were talking about all the different moments in our professional lives when we have intersected. And I told Roger, I remember years ago going to a conference and he was presenting on remote presenting before anybody had ever heard of Zoom. I told Roger that he was teaching other people in this space how to do this really well with a level of Polish and with a level of intentionality before anybody else was doing that. And then I show up here today on his podcast and. The level of polish and graphics and engagement just in the first five minutes of the show.

If you're listening to this while, you know, walking your dog or during your commute, you didn't get to see any of that, so you should hop over, uh, to his YouTube channel or Roger. You could tell him wherever to see the video, but it's really well done and it gives you a flavor of so many of the different things that I know Roger does for his clients.

[00:44:37] Roger Courville, CSP: Joe, thank you so much and I, I will probably butcher the long version employee is the name of the book, how to Ignite Commitment and Keep Top Talent in a New Age of Work, Joe, j o e m u l I really, seriously hope you give this guy a little bit of your time because. If there's one thing that I can promise you, I know what the ethos is by those who succeed in the, you know, of those who succeed in the speaking business, and particularly those that are part of National Speakers Association.

And it's, it's not how can we compete, it's how do we create a bigger pie. And I know that Joe didn't get to be a C S P without doing a lot. Of giving and serving and making sure that other people win. So Joe, thank you so much again for taking the time to be here. And thanks to each and every one of you for hanging out with us for this period of time.

Glad you've joined us for yet another episode of #ThoughtLeaderconversations.


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