Today is Step in the Spotlight Day, which is the perfect segue to today’s Q&A. Step in the Spotlight Day was first celebrated in 2008, and its aim is to encourage people to sharpen their skills to attract attention and grow their businesses. Recently, I connected with James Schofield from Nova Scotia, Canada, and invited him to appear here on my Blog in a Q&A discussion about leadership, onboarding, and the employee experience. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.
James Schofield is an experienced business coach with a specialization in Human Resource Management, specifically in the areas of Talent Attraction and Retention. He is a Partner at Roman 3 Solutions, Inc., where he leads Roman 3’s implementation team, helping organizations identify and develop a productive, profitable, and inclusive workplace culture.
QUESTION: How do you explain the importance of creating a positive EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE to leaders who sit too high atop the C-Suite to understand?
JAMES SCHOFIELD: This is a common struggle in most workplaces, and we are asked this all the time. How do you connect organizational culture and the employee experience to business performance and outcomes?
One of the ways that we articulate that connection is something we call Productivity Insulation, which is the idea that organizational productivity and performance is only as efficient as how well you have insulated it. Like insulation in your home, if you do not invest in the things that will keep it well insulated, then your heat seeps out through your windows, doors, roof, and foundation. The key with poor insulation is that the expensive problems it causes do not show up as an item on your household budget. They are hidden expenses that make everything else so much more costly.
With productivity, the costs that come with poor insulation are things like slow and unreliable work, opportunity costs of not having the talent you need to take on new projects, customer loss when dissatisfied employees provide unsatisfactory customer service, replacement and on-boarding costs of high turnover, over budget and over deadline change management, etc. Just like the issues with home insulation, the problems caused by Productivity Insulation don’t show up on your balance sheet.
A business lives and dies by the people in it. Anything that requires people is dependent on the employee experience to be productive and efficient. This is something that the C-Suite knows, but sometimes they need to be reminded of how important the connections are.
TWEET THIS: A business lives and dies by the people in it. ~@JamesFromRoman3 #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog
QUESTION: What elements do you think are critical to create a successful ONBOARDING program?
JAMES SCHOFIELD: Clear expectations and belonging.
One of the most important parts of starting a new job is to clearly know what is expected of you, and how success is measured. A common mistake that many workplaces make is expecting employees to figure out for themselves where the boundaries are, and how their coworkers and supervisors will measure their efforts. There is a lot of anxiety that comes with unknown expectations and a lack of transparency of how your efforts will be measured and assessed.
As for belonging, part of onboarding should be about the organization getting to know you, as much as your getting to know the organization. Encouraging people to share their thoughts and ideas, allowing for their unique perspectives, a chance to show their skills, and an authentic respect of someone’s true self. Too many organizations expect assimilation. The idea that “To ‘fit in,’ you need to look like us and sound like us. You can have different thoughts and perspectives, as long as you keep them to yourself.” This can be support thorough clear and transparent commitment, followed by authentic actions that actively encourage psychological safety.
QUESTION: How can a CEO/President be an effective brand ambassador?
JAMES SCHOFIELD: By demonstrating Authenticity, Integrity, and Transparency.
 When a CEO is authentic and sincere, it makes them more trustworthy and relatable.
 When a CEO is willing to not sacrifice what is right for what is easy or what is popular, it allows people to trust and respect the CEO. Consistently making the right choice, especially when it is the tough choice, builds respect and even those who may disagree on what constitutes the “right choice” can respect your ability to act with integrity.
 When a CEO is willing to be transparent and encourage others to do the same, it makes the general public more accepting of their organization, warts and all.
 When we see a CEO or brand ambassador who consistently acts with integrity, is being authentic, and is transparent, they naturally create a pull, a desire to be a part of what they’re doing. People are far more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt because we can trust that they are telling us the truth.
QUESTION: There is a new title in the C-Suite: Chief Happiness Officer. What do you make of this, and can it, or should it, become standard in all organizations? Or is this just marketing buzz?
(Here's the article:
JAMES SCHOFIELD: There is a lot of great research that links happiness to better productivity and work. The work by Shawn Achor comes to mind. But the mistake that companies often make is that happiness is the complete equal to motivation, enthusiasm, and productivity. When the harsh truth is, it’s not. Happiness is a natural by-product of workplaces where people feel included and engaged in their work. But happiness alone is not the same thing. You can be happy and complacent. Or happy and unmotivated. Happiness cannot be the final goal, but a milestone along the way.
So, my opinion is that the focus on Chief Happiness Officers is benign at best. My concern is that it is emblematic of how poorly we understand how a workplace culture is built. I will admit that it is a step in the right direction, showing the importance of the employee experience and that it is valued by senior leadership, but I’m concerned that it is style over substance.
QUESTION: Which leaders inspire you, from business or history, and why?
JAMES SCHOFIELD: If I’m being honest, I am not inspired by business leaders, celebrities, athletes, or personalities. I have been very fortunate to have many people in my life who have had a substantial impact on who I am, and living up to the faith they have placed in me is a source of inspiration.
I know that’s a bit of a non-answer, but actions, not people, inspire (me at least). That being said, there’s a great, recent example, of one person whose actions I admire, and that is author Brandon Sanderson. He is a fantasy author and recently had his popularity skyrocket after launching the most successful Kickstarter ever, when he raised something like $40 million.
Due to his immense success, he has been approached by many companies wanting to gain the rights to distribute his works (I believe it was specific to audio book format) and offered him 100% of the proceeds in order to draw more people to their platforms (where industry average would be around 40% or something ridiculous). He used his influence not to negotiate a good deal just for himself, but instead, he negotiated that all authors who used the platform would get a higher percentage, effectively increasing potential earnings for hundreds if not thousands of aspiring authors.
This I respect, and these types of actions do inspire me to operate my business in a way that does good for others.
QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): “Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others.” What does this quote mean to you?
JAMES SCHOFIELD: To me, it means that you don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to pretend to be infallible. Your job is to empower others. A good leader does not demand the spotlight, they shine the spotlight on others.
TWEET THIS: A good leader does not demand the spotlight, they shine the spotlight on others. ~@JamesFromRoman3 #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog
My thanks to James for sharing his employee experience and leadership insights and for appearing here on my Blog.
Connect with James at these links:
Company on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/roman3
James on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JamesFromRoman3
James on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamespschofield/
Image Credit: Daniel van den Berg via Unsplash.