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Welcome to episode 29 of the Rethink HR podcast, brought to you by bettHR.


In today’s episode, we discuss how your leadership style is critical to the success of your overall employee experience. You’ll learn all about “gravity issues,” how to create your own leadership blueprint, and setting the ideal communication cadence calendar to ensure ongoing dialogue with your team.

Your team’s employee experience blueprint is your one-sheet stating your ideal department culture and experience, with three to five key factors to get you there, noting where you are starting and where you want to arrive (what success looks like). This becomes your guiding document for projects, unexpected requests, change in focus, and more—to keep all of your team members working toward the same experience.

Here is an example from The Employee Experience Solution book:

The calendar includes five key meetings to add on your annual planning calendar now, along with suggestions on the frequency and other meeting types. Adding these items to your leadership calendar will ensure ongoing and effective two-way conversations with your team, helping them feel a part of your overall experience and culture.

Melissa Anzman (00:00): You are committed to creating a positive employee experience through your communication. Cadence will go a really long way to helping your employees feel heard. I'm Melissa Anzman, HR practitioner turned CEO of a thriving employee experience company, but it wasn't all that long ago that I worked as an HR business partner responsible for increasing employee engagement at companies nationwide. And I struggled to move the needle even after trying everything under the sun, fast forward, past many failed tactics and lessons learned. And you'll see how I've been able to crack the code and replicated at companies of all sizes for creating true engagement and doing HR work that matters work that changes the lives of leaders, HR professionals, and employees. By focusing on the employee experience, I created the rethink HR podcast to give you actionable step by step strategies to help you make an impact. If you're an HR leader or one on the rise, who's looking to stop spinning your wheels, doing the same tired activities that aren't driving results, or you want to have a career.

Melissa Anzman (01:09): You love your in the right place. Let's get started. Leaders do play a huge role in the employee experience. And not only within the framework that we laid out and reviewed in episode 28 of the rethink HR podcast, in case you missed it, but also in the way that you set up an influence and leverage your leadership in order to create better experiences along the way. So earlier in my career, I worked with a leader who had a wooden sign hanging on his office wall. And that sign said it is what it is. And as a young type, a ambitious employee, that I was, the sign rubbed me in the completely wrong way. Every single time I walked into his office and saw it, I just got annoyed. I'm like, how are we supposed to make change and improve things and do all the things we need to do.

Melissa Anzman (02:05): If you're telling me it just is what it is. But finally, I, he was a leader. I supported in HR. He was one of my support groups, so to speak and they had a pretty good group and he was a really well liked leader. And so I just had to ask, cause there's no way I thought that anyone would want to follow someone with that attitude. So I asked him, what does that sign mean? It was driving me bananas. What does it mean? And he said to me, well, what he said surprised me. Honestly, his answer was about his team. And for him, it was a reminder in his words to focus only on the things that they can influence and let everything else go. Now, this was well before I also started preaching to all of us to just let it go. But similar concept instead of these things at the company that they couldn't influence that they couldn't change instead of that being a negative thing, which is how I saw the sign of just like stop, stop worrying about things, just move past it for them.

Melissa Anzman (03:14): It was really the opposite. It wasn't a drugging your shoulders and giving up. Instead, it was about focusing the energy and time on activities that were worth their effort, instead of trying to do everything at the same time, especially the things that they couldn't influence now at the same company, maybe you see a theme here. Another one of my leaders used to call these things gravity issues, and he would just sort of shout out gravity issue during meetings. And if you've been on a meeting with me, I tend to pick, I picked up that habit for honest, and I tend to do the same thing. And it was a similar mindset and perspective in that just like the pull of gravity that you can't change, you can't worry and try and force and lose your marbles about something that you can't change. And really things that were labeled as gravity issues were often just ignored and forgotten as we move forward and being a leader, being able to identify what is within your area of influence.

Melissa Anzman (04:20): And what's not, is critically important, not only for your own energy, but also for your own leaders energy to prevent frustration and burnout. So if you're able to set the proper boundaries around expectations, the work, the deliverables and so on, then you can also focus on the activities that directly influence hopefully positively the employee experience. And honestly, whether it's positive or negative, you do have the ability to shape that experience for your entire team, but especially those who report yeah. To you directly. And the work that you do continuously then adds value to the experience because we are focused on only things that we influence. So you are strengthening that bond and connection between the company and your employees creating that end result of true engagement that we all deeply want. And in the same vein, as we sort of think about the employee experience as a whole, there are going to be tons of, of decisions, choices, procedures, projects, and so on that are going to be outside of your scope of influence that are not going to be your decision.

Melissa Anzman (05:33): However, these, most of these will also not kind of land where you want them to, the decisions may not come out in a way that you think, yeah, you know what, that's exactly what I would have done. I'm laughing because I'm thinking of like some of the most egregious decisions that came down to me and I was just like, yeah, no, like I never would have chosen that. And then of course, when it comes back around, you're like, see if someone went to listen to me, but I digress. We definitely have to be clear on where we can and where we cannot influence decision makings, but there's reframe of gravity issues, or it is what it is, is really helpful as you create your own experiences and set your own leadership expectations and help your team do the same by making part of your leadership mantra that we're going to only worry and do and focus on things that we have to in order to achieve the results that we need to.

Melissa Anzman (06:36): So in addition to your scope of influence, your leadership capabilities are really an important part of the overall employee experience agenda. When we think about what creates these things it they're like what makes you as a leader so important for your team for your direct reports and so on. There's so many intangibles, but it's really comes down to who's on your team, making sure that we have a diverse and inclusive set of team members so that we are not only learning from each other, but also bringing to the table the most important parts of the puzzle, which is all of them, but also helping our own leaders become fully formed deliverers, that they become true leaders who can influence the experience as well, because the best leaders we see that they're the best leaders because of the wake that we've they've left behind because of the leaders that come after them.

Melissa Anzman (07:42): Now, of course, we all come out of our, our little cells become managers as fully hatched perfect leaders in the world, right? I laugh because I've yet to meet someone who does that. But as long as we're able to include what we learn as leaders and help our other leaders develop, we're critically self-aware and we stick to those gravity issues, being things we let go. So we let them go. We're able to then take our own practicing leadership skills, flex the right muscles and help our own team grow beyond it. And this is a reality check because listen, we need people with different skills on our team in order to have a fully functioning team. And we also need to make sure that as we lead and as we shape our leaders behind us, that we're able to focus on the experience first and foremost, without any type of negativity, intentional or otherwise seek being in.

Melissa Anzman (08:50): Now, we thought it's important to know. As I mentioned, you have arguably as a leader, one of the biggest influences on shaping your employees experience. So being intentional, how you apply the employees, experience, framework, the know feel, act, and touch is going to make your job a lot easier and create more engaged employees as a whole. And here's the thing you can do this. You can be intentional about it, even if your company isn't great or intentional about it on its own. So let me tell you about something that happened earlier in my career, it's called a blueprint. So I was responsible well for doing communication campaigns for large companies and so on. And I was introduced to this concept of a communication campaign blueprint. It was this one page document that outlined the communication campaigns, the blueprint of how we'd get there. And so, yeah, and since then, even that job was there.

Melissa Anzman (09:47): I say dreadful since then, I have used the concept of a blueprint, this one page guiding lights, speak to create where we're going for my team. Now though, I focus it on the employee experience. Here's a sample in the employee experience solution book, and you can download your own copy if you want to. So just let me know and just check out the book for that. But the whole point here is we want to create one guiding light, one purpose, one document that encapsulates what our teams, employee experience should be, what the culture is that we want to make. So we have our trans, our transformation statement, our overall employee experience statement at the top. And then we create our four steps of how we get there, what we want our experience to be, and like how these buckets that we're going to get there, what we're committed to as a team to achieve that.

Melissa Anzman (10:45): And so at the top, we have our mission statement for our culture statement, I should say for our team. And here's where our experience is. And here's what we want it to be. Then we add the three to five things of how we're going to get they're in between. And we won, include where we are now, where you're starting and where you're ending, what success looks like. So that we know when we get there. And I have to tell you, I do this with every team that I lead and every single time I do it, the team loves it. We create it. We say these are our focus areas and it gives them a solid thing to say, Hey, am I in check with our experience? Or am I at a check or does this project meet one of those focus areas? Or does it not?

Melissa Anzman (11:29): Which means I'm saying no to it. It's something that the team can refer back to and say, Hey, like, where does this fit here? And how am I doing here? And then it becomes a conversation like as to do we need to change something up is something they not working. We have this new priority. Do we have to swap it out? Or does it actually fit in to the experience we're trying create on the team? And this is really what I use to create a working culture within the culture of your company. So this is that culture for your team itself, the, where we state our leadership goals, our employee experience goals, our culture statement for just our team. And then it's something that we refer to early and often to ensure that we are doing the work to meet our point of arrival to meet what success looks like.

Melissa Anzman (12:25): So if you know anything about me or about better in particular, you know, that I'm all about communications, particularly communication as being a core and critical component for a successful employee can experience like this is the core of what I do and what I personally care about, of course, metrics, which, you know, I'm obsessed with as well, but metrics help us evaluate our communication and experience success. So that being said, I really want to talk to you about your communication cadence as a leader. So how you as a leader create the right cadence or the right for your employees is really important to shape the overall ideal employee experience. So what I want to share, I should say, like, what I think this would, you should think of this as is like an ideal employee communications, cadence calendar, try saying that fast five times, my friends, I would recommend that you build out the right calendar for you, including these things that I am going to share today.

Melissa Anzman (13:33): It is just an example, but this is how I built out my calendar. And a lot of my people who work with me do because really, really works. So again, it's just a suggestion, but if you're not sure, or if you're having some employee experience or you're probably calling it employee engagement, errors, or issues, this is where I want you to start. And how we build our calendar is we start at the individual level and we build up to the team. So he fear is at a minimum. What I would recommend. And the goal here is to create a collaborative environment so that your team feels heard, listened to in the loop and supported and doing a cadence calendar is the way to go. Because if they feel these things, if they feel connected and engaged with these things, the outcome is a positive experience, which gets you, those engaged employees.

Melissa Anzman (14:27): So at the individual level, the first thing is I want you to set up one on one meetings. So at a minimum schedule, recurring 30 minute meetings, at least every other week with each of your direct reports and those meetings need to have a agenda. It should not be like a, Hey, what's going on? What's up? What do you need to talk about? Maybe it's not that informal right now, although some of them are, but I want you to set up this meeting seriously. I want you to create a little bit of a formula so that each meeting is effective and you feel productive. Both of you feel productive. And also if it's a productive meeting, that means you aren't going to skip out or delete them or move them or skip and whatever, when you have something better come along. So there's six parts to this meeting and it's a free flow.

Melissa Anzman (15:19): Like, so feel free to move the parts around. But I have found that, like, I start in this way and we just pull the conversation through. So we start with the macro experience or goals with the team or the company's experience or that high level goal that you have, then you want to talk through urgent items that need to be discussed or direction needs to be provided, followed by updates and knowledge and sharing things to keep an eye on. After that, you want to move into the team member updates, whether they're excellent or poor performance issues, feedback, and so on, followed by any company updates that need to happen and be discussed. And then you open it up for open discussion. So if you follow this framework, not only is it going to be a quicker meeting, but it's also going to be more effective and efficient for all who attend.

Melissa Anzman (16:07): So for you and for your direct report, and both of you are going to feel looped in with everything that matters. And by giving your direct reports, something that they can create ahead of time and it's reliable and consistent. They're not going to feel unprepared when they come to the meeting and they're going to keep all that fluffy stuff that non-urgent stuff off of your desk. Now we want two way communication here. Cause that's what makes this type of meeting works. And that's really the key. So it's not, you know, them talking at you or you talking at them, but what it is, it's a more structured meeting where we have a lot of things ready to talk about, ready to get action upon and moving forward. We're not just being fluffy because listen, if it's fluffy, we tend to now want to show up and we feel that they're a waste of time or what have you.

Melissa Anzman (17:03): And then you delete it because you're like, we don't need to meet this week. I just heard from you and so on. And when you do that, when you cancel or skip a one on one, your employee feels as though they are not valued, that their time is not valued, which is the last thing we want to do. So create some structure, use this framework, but don't let these one on one meetings, at least 30 minutes, at least every other week fall off of your calendar. Now I'd prefer to do these either face to face or via zoom. Honestly, I don't like anything face to face. So if it were me personally, I would say, let's do a zoom call. But I'm saying this because you want to see the person's face versus just a phone call. I have had millions. That's like the true number.

Melissa Anzman (17:46): It's really not, I don't know. I've had a lots and of one on one calls via phone, and I will tell you they are boring and they're not effective. And I can't read what's going on either. They can't read me. I'm multitasking. I'm not in it to win it or I can't read them and they're doing the same. So lead a good meeting, make sure it's structured and make sure that it's effective and effective meetings mean we have an agenda. We know what needs to be talked about. We go in with some clarity around that and we know what we are walking away with. Okay. So after one, on one meetings, I personally love a skip level meeting. So a skip level meeting is where you as a leader, meet one on one with the people who report to your direct reports, that's going to skip level is, and having that one on one time with your employees, your team leaders, employees who report to your leadership team.

Melissa Anzman (18:42): So hopefully that makes sense. So if you're a VP and you have directors reporting to and managers below that escaped level would be you meeting with the managers. And I'm not really sure why a lot of people don't do these. They are like one of the best sources of information for me and have been for years upon years. And yeah, it takes a little bit of time. It takes some effort to set them up, but they are, have always been well worth the time and effort. So what you're going to do is you are going to have the skip person. So have the person, not you and not the leader, the one who, you know, skip level, come to the meeting with their own agenda. And it doesn't have to be as structured or formulaic. In fact, you know, during these, I like to leave him a little bit open and I tell them, Hey, I want you to bring whatever topic you want, whether they want it.

Melissa Anzman (19:29): They want to share ideas. They want to get a pulse on things. They want to share culture. These are all things that you are going to take a lot of information on, but it's up to them to really have the agenda, to bring what they want to bring to you. And it's really fun for them. Like they get a direct line to you, which doesn't happen and you get some information from them. So definitely highly recommend skip level meetings, at least twice per, per year or quarterly. And you just have to skull schedule 30 minutes at most. You can definitely do shorter if you want, but 30 minutes works and here's the thing. They get to come to the meeting with what they want. So we're just there to sort of listen and have conversation if it works for them. And if you have team members who feel a little uncomfortable, or it's a little scary for them, you can totally create some questions or ideas beforehand, but really you want them to drive the conversation so you could see what's happening outside of your purview.

Melissa Anzman (20:31): So you can hear about all the cool things that are going on, that aren't making its way to your desk and also understand what's really important to them that you need to know about that you're likely not hearing. Okay? The goal here is for you to have that con that conversation have them feel like they have insight into you. And also you getting some information from them. After that, the next set of meetings I want you to be including in your cadence calendar is meetings with your direct leadership meetings. So like those who report directly into you having a meeting with those, these are all those people who report to you to come together as a team in a meeting led by, you usually take about an hour and are held at least every other week. Now the goal here is for you to lead this meeting, provide focus, clarity, and updates, whether it's for your company, the team projects, sharing news, having open discussion and perhaps the most important part, creating an environment where your team members get to participate as teammates. Now, this meeting is more about action. What's going on? What needs to happen? What do people need to know? And so on, these are not round Robin situations. These are not, I'm going to point to you and you're going to talk things like that is not effective by the way. And nobody likes those kinds of meetings. So the long rambling or that one person who just won't be quiet gets the stage. Okay? So we're going to come with an action focused meeting,

Speaker 2 (22:04): But really help build

Melissa Anzman (22:06): Leadership of Brown, the room, help understand and share information and knowledge with what's going on across the board. And you want to come with an agenda. Now, this meeting is when you're probably having, and I know people who have them weekly. I know people who have them, you know, three times a week, or even daily, it's up to you. I don't know daily, unless you're in sales and need, you know, whatever. But that being said, these meetings are so helpful for other people to understand what's going on outside of their little silo and also so that your leaders are hearing the same information at the same time. So as we move up the cadence calendar, next we're moving from individual to larger teams. So the next one would be the all team meetings. All team meetings are sometimes referred to as town halls or all hands meetings.

Melissa Anzman (22:58): The premise is the same here. Everyone who reports up to your group and organization is having one meeting joins one meeting. Usually it's via a web conference or zoom these days. And it's really about sharing information at the department level. During the meeting, it's like these top level updates for your organization. You can totally change the agenda and flow and purpose as you need. But I want you to always, always, always be sure that you include an open ended Q and a forum. So either people can ask them live. They can submit them beforehand, like an actual town hall meeting so that you can provide answers to questions of what is top of mind for people in the room and by doing so you're always helping improve the employee experience because that employee feels heard. They feel like you want to hear from them and you can tie everything back to your own leadership experience, blueprint that you've created.

Melissa Anzman (24:02): And of course, don't forget to recognize employees for their accomplishments during those town halls. Now, like there are definitely, there's definitely ways to hold them good and ways to hold them bad. All right. Like, so I can get into it cause I can pick a meeting apart, like none other, but the cadence for these at a minimum should be every other month, if you're having them quarterly or annually, you are losing the game. I personally try to have them monthly sometimes like during really busy months, we do every other month because we have to do client work and it's an hour and all those things. But I really think for an positive employee experience hearing from the top boss of the group, hearing from you, at least once every other month is critically important. If you wait too long, you're a, nonentity no one cares about you or what your word is when it comes down or they're not hearing the same thing.

Melissa Anzman (24:59): So they're filling in the gaps for you. Okay. And the final one I want to recommend is one that I would love for you to add to your rotation. Maybe it's the HR and me, but that's called talent management review meetings. So this is something at a high level that HR typically manages, or it comes from, but it doesn't have to be, this is something you, as a leader can do. And something you should be doing. Talent management review meetings is when your direct reports come to a table together, block a bunch of timeout and we discuss all the talent in your organization. Now there are a lot of components to having a great talent management review meeting, but once you've done it once it's really easy to continue it in an ongoing basis. Now I'm not going to dive into super details here because there are a ton of them.

Melissa Anzman (25:49): But if you want to know how to hold these meetings for your own self, you can go to better.com/tmr. So that's B E T T H r.com/tmr short for talent management reviews and get a guide on how to hold them for yourself. Now these are at a minimum annually and that's usually the HR run ones that are part of the merit review process or succession planning or what have you, because they do take a lot of time. But I would say that if you can do it at least twice a year, you're going to really reap the benefits of it. You're going to understand what's going on with your talent. You're going to be able to better plan out succession planning and moves and rotations and opportunities and so on. So I'm pushing for, yes, I'd love you to do it at least once a year, but I really like you to add it to your leadership cadence calendar twice a year.

Melissa Anzman (26:44): If you can. Now there's a bunch of other meetings that you can consider based on what works for you in your availability and your team needs and all of that fun stuff. So it could be things like daily Hutter huddles, or all leadership meetings where you would bring not just your direct reports, but anybody who's a people manager on your team to the call. There's key talent calls and so many more options. But the point here is, is that in order to create and build relationships with your employees and create an effective employee experience, it's about teaching them the right communication cadence, and this cadence that you have, just like we talked about those gravity issues above you can control, and it should be reliable scheduled, predictable, and on point, because to do that, you're going to be able to have better results down the road.

Melissa Anzman (27:38): So the communication in theory, it doesn't take a ton of time. All you have to do right now is plan out what is going on the calendar, do it, do it now for the next quarter, do it for the next year. As you plan your annual plan, get it on the calendar and plan at least a quarter in advance. If you can, you can definitely move things around. But knowing that you are committed to these types of two way communications, that you are committed to creating a positive employee experience through your communication, cadence will go a really long way to helping your employees feel heard, listened to, and that they have a voice at the table. This podcast is brought to you by better microsites with your HR budgets being cut and you being on the hunt for ways to do more with less. Why not consider a total rewards or benefits microsite to not only increase your employee experience, but also deliver increased value at half the cost.

Melissa Anzman (28:40): We all know that your off the shelf benefit administration website is extremely user unfriendly, lacking customization, easy to find information, a crazy firewall, and the missing search function all at an extremely high cost. Better microsites are a hundred percent designed based on what your employees need to know your branding and your information, improving the speed in which your employees can find that critical benefit information while seeing mostly connecting with your enrollment vendor. And it's ready quick. We need just about six weeks to get you up and rolling just in time for annual enrollment, learn more about better microsites at better.com/microsites. That's B E T T H R.com/microsites. Thank you so much for tuning in for this episode of the rethink HR podcast. For more information, including show notes and resources, please go to rethinkHRpodcast.com/ 29.

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