Please enjoy this transcript of my conversation Elin Almroth.
This time I'm talking to Elin Almroth, Chief People Officer at Visiba Care about the fact that HR is a strategic partner in creating revenue, a fact that mostly gets lost in an outdated way of looking at how you build a successful company. Spoiler alert, there are some juicy rants along the way.
Transcript of this episode was produced using transcription software with an approximate 95% accuracy so there might be some typos.
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[00:00:00] Lech Guzowski: Well, as you can tell, I'm still learning Italian. It's going surprisingly well, but listen, this podcast is not about languages. It's about creating people focused organizations. And what I normally do is when I connect with a guest on zoom, we had a. Have a sound check, a bit of a pre-show chit chat, and I rarely record those.
[00:00:20] But this time was different. I did record it. And I'm so, so glad I did because I've invited Elin Almroth on the. To talk about her equation. Of right culture plus engagement equals revenue.
[00:00:33] Elin works for Visiba Care. Which is leading a digital revolution across the healthcare sector in Europe, because they believe that digitalization is vital to ensuring that we preserve the quality of our healthcare systems. In the face of changing demographics, we have taken a little while to arrive. At what we are meant to be talking about in our interview for the main reason for our interview.
[00:00:58] Mostly because we've gone off on a couple of tangents on a couple of runs are in regards to the systems, processes, frameworks that we use to build our organizations, which as you've heard me before, I believe there are, they are very much outdated. We also talked about societal pressure and all of that, how we build our organizations, what leaders do and don't do about remote work and how some organizations wants to people to go back to the offices. Full-time rather than opening for at the very least hybrid approach.
[00:01:27] And many, many other things. It was a very enjoyable conversation. We also got a good look at visa card and what it means to have the right culture drive engagement, where that engagement needs to come from. And the importance of that in it's linked to the revenue for the organization and key take away here.
[00:01:48] To get engagement. You need to have it both from your employees as well as from the people above you. So the CEO and the C-suite to really back you for this to be a success. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I and Ellen have enjoyed. Recording it for you.
[00:02:26] I'll just press record because I've got to feed him. As I said, this is going to be quite a few runs before we get into the topic of what we want to talk about. So I'll it would be so you're absolutely right. It's one of the things that I I've been talking about for a long while that the way we structure our businesses, the way we do things is just so backwards.
[00:02:44] And we are clinging on to that sense of control of people, what they do when they work, how they work. So we need to move from assessing people are paying people basically by the hour, because even if you're on a salary and you get the same amount of money every single month, you are still paying people by the hour because you're expecting them to do 35 40 hours or whatever, however many hours it is in the market where you are per week.
[00:03:13] And that is the case. We need to move to results.
[00:03:16] Elin Almroth: that is so interesting because. Even though, like, we are not, as you said, we're not working in factories anymore, which also means that we're working with more complex work. Like most of us have a complexity of the things we do. So then you can't do just by the hour, you can't do that. Like you do dedicated work task for 40 hours a week because you need to think your brain needs space to absorb, to analyze this thing.
[00:03:43] You need to be able to take a lunch run or maybe just a run, take a longer lunch. So you actually have time for a run so you can process everything that's going around. Because if you go from meeting to meeting to meeting, you will never, ever have time to go and create great
[00:04:00] Lech Guzowski: No, that's absolutely right. Absolutely right. To have that mental space. I don't know how many, how, whether it happens to you or that happens to other people. I'm pretty sure it does for me, one of the best times, the best ideas.
[00:04:12] I get is when I disconnect when I'm going for walk, when I'm, when I'm walking somewhere, mostly because then I'm not glued to my phone.
[00:04:18] I'm not on my laptop or whatever. I've got that space. My brain is not being bombarded with input sources. And that's the, that's the kind of the, the biggest thing and the, the issue with the timing's, right? You said it yourself. It's creative work that we do at the moment. And, and we have been for a long while, whereas everything else has set up a cross, sorry to resemble how we used to be in factories.
[00:04:43] Even the process of dealing with stuff at work. You used to be able to come into the factory potent a shift and be done with And go home. And it didn't matter whether you were upset, whether you were anxious, whether you you had problems at home, whether you hated your boss, whatever w sorry, it didn't matter.
[00:05:02] It didn't matter where you could still perform your job to a decent level, because it was mostly physical work. And now it's
[00:05:11] Elin Almroth: the same movement all over same movement every day, every minute. So it's a different like tape available for your brain.
[00:05:21] Lech Guzowski: And now we need to do mental work. It's mental labor, psychological labor, it's emotional labor, the winter quarter.
[00:05:27] And for that you need space. Example. Exactly problem solving as well.
[00:05:31] Elin Almroth: Yeah. And it is growing more than more than like a developer. They job is to solve problems. Come on. You can't solve a problem. You can't even solve your personal problem without analyzing and think, how can you solve a problem that is not into your like personal life. It's someone else's problem.
[00:05:48] And you're hired to solve it. You need space. It's for everything to analyze, to think,
[00:05:55] Lech Guzowski: does it, does. It does a great book. And I've mentioned it a couple of times in this podcast it's called Oh, Christ escapes me now I'm producing great ideas or something like that. It's a, it's a tiny, quick, it's a quick read is I don't know, 30 minutes, 40 minutes. And it's six or seven principles of housing.
[00:06:10] Great great ideas. And I'm not gonna get into the whole process, but the it's, it's broken down to the elements of brainstorming and kind of analyzing everything. And that's a very crucial part at the start, but the most important thing, and it's related to what we're talking about is the element that at one point, when you've done all your basic analysis on your data crunching and everything else, you've got to build information, creative ideas or brainstorm or whatever you then need to let it go.
[00:06:37] Literally just let it go and leave change, do something completely unrelated, go and do something completely different that engaged at different parts of your brain. Maybe do something it just simply so that your brain has the chance to work. And it's, it also mentioned the fact that one of the, the, the times where people get their best ideas is in the shower.
[00:06:56] Because they are preoccupied doing something else. They're not thinking and it just hits them. And I, kind of go, yes, that's true. It makes perfect sense. Because again, that book was written, probably don't quote me on that, but this goes at least 30, 40, if not 50 years. So it's not a recent book. If you then think about the world that we live in now, versus when it was potentially written, the input sources, w we're con we're connected, which is a blessing and a curse, we constantly get feeds in of information, all sorts of it.
[00:07:25] And that's why brains are overloaded and doesn't have, they don't have the capacity to do its work to kind of just process stuff, analyze, commit stuff from short-term or move stuff from short-term to long-term memory that for that you need sleep. First of all. And if sleep is impacted, that impacts of the creativity.
[00:07:44] Listen, I could go on for about, about
[00:07:45] Elin Almroth: Yeah, but I think it's very interesting, especially if you working as, as the topic, we're going to talk more about if you're talking about engagement and if you have an engaged team, they will not only work 40 hours. If they have an idea during the night or evening, or they see an article, they engage people, they will read it.
[00:08:05] And for that sake is even more important for an employer to take responsibilities, to get the space, the mentality, to reload, to think, to analyze all that things. For the employee to take responsibility off, especially if you have engaged people. That's just it's so key point, I would say
[00:08:27] Lech Guzowski: I was actually talking to a friend of mine last last week, the week before she's a graphic designer freelance. So she works with organizations and she was approached to by a company that she used to work with before to join a new project to do, but to work for them. And she had to quote them.
[00:08:41] And we had a very interesting discussion actually, where, which is related to what you just said is she's not only doing hours of work, designing stuff. looking for inspiration, she's research and stuff. So obviously that's part of it. So it actually can quote a book cause roughly she will know how much time she'll spend on that.
[00:09:00] But is that, is that mental creative process that happens in between when she sleeps, when she does this, when she does that. So how do you quote for that? And she, you need to quote for that she needs and she found a little bit difficult and it's the same thing. As you just said, that our employees are working 24, seven.
[00:09:17] They no longer come in and come out and job done strict boundaries. Now the process is the thought processes come ideas come outside of working hours. So why should people be only paid basically per hour per week or per month? That's again yet another reason argument for doing work and letting people do work based on judge their work.
[00:09:39] I guess it's the work based on results. Not on time.
[00:09:43] Elin Almroth: I guess I can really get that. And still we are stuck in a structure that is created for another time. So it's very hard to break free from, from that. And to, to change that to something else, you can also discuss why are we working five days a week? And why are we free on Saturdays and Sundays?
[00:10:04] Sundays, probably because many people wanted to go to church. I don't know where everybody does listen about their countries, but he's not done many in Sweden where I'm from that people go to a physical church. Absolutely not in a pandemic, but not at all in Sweden, but, so why are the work-life structure that we're going to work with five days a week, be free on those two days?
[00:10:27] If my life would be structured differently, shouldn't I be able to work in different times or should I, for example, be able to create the same result on four days. Cause I did get an extra day rest. And the possibility to think. But, but that's still like, it doesn't really work because we stra, we are stuck in a structure that is not created for our time.
[00:10:51] And we have a few examples in Sweden where they have tried to either shorten the day or have four days, or like for four weeks or four days working days a week. But there's also a hard, how should they, like, how should they be profitable or how your argument about the profit should in the salary below with them.
[00:11:14] But then you go against everything again, because, but we are stuck in the structure.
[00:11:18] Lech Guzowski: we do, but the thing is we just need organizations to, to give it a go and try it because we continue socking. Many organizations, many countries are talking about, so the four hour, four day week, or a five day week, how many hours per day or whatever, again, move to results based. Assessment and and ways of working and part of these problems will disappear because then people will decide how they want to work when they want to work.
[00:11:46] And it will sooner or later level level out in terms of how they need to be paid for that as well, because the companies will have benefits of this. That's the other thing that's that don't think is being considered the pandemic will give us a very good example. So there is huge benefits in organizations not making their employees to go back to the office.
[00:12:03] At least full-time so hybrid, add them at the minimum because they, their, their bills will be much lower. They will only know of Ghana's organizations, multiple organizations who have given given up entire floors of office space, saving tens of thousands of pounds a year. I'm sorry, but if that's the case, give it to your employees, paying the board, or if you, if you weren't okay.
[00:12:27] May make sure that for they working four days a week, May pay the same salary, but at least you're saving the money on the cost. If the organization feels hard done by, by the situation. So I I'm trying to recall or not recall, but I was talking to Lou kites the other day or the other week he was on the, on this podcast.
[00:12:44] He's from a company called REDICO in the UK. And they've gone through this cultural revolution a few years ago and where they, where they got rid of every possible structure. So they're very relatively flat self managing everybody approves their own holidays targets and things like that.
[00:12:58] Fascinating. Listen, fascinating. Listen to the point that we had, normally these episodes of our 45 minutes, that one was an hour and a half. So it was actually two episodes. And the one thing that Luke said, those probably the fundamental difference maker in this situation was introducing the flexible work and butts.
[00:13:16] It was treating people like adults, trust that they know what to do, and they'll do it. And then you don't have to worry about anything else. So people, you know, work whenever, how wherever they want and however they want and providing they deliver on the agreed targets, happy days.
[00:13:33] Elin Almroth: Yeah, we actually have, like in my company, we have three like cornerstones when it comes to culture and leadership and how you build engagement. And he's asked you to set clear expectations, trust they are adults and supportive leadership. If you have those three, like you can succeed with remote work. It doesn't matter where you are.
[00:13:54] You will have engaged them, please like daddies and self propelled employees, which also means that they will deliver great results. If you just have support delivered, as you had clear expectations and trust, I think that is there, like that is the cornerstones. If you want to build a
[00:14:12] Lech Guzowski: It's often been, it's often kind of positioned as if, you know, the employees can't do the remote work and there's a blocker because we don't trust them, things like that. And multiple other reasons. I actually think the, the, the main reason behind this whole situation, I wanted to go back to the office that employees come to.
[00:14:31] It's not the employees. It is the leadership elite leadership teams. It's just, they can't relinquish that control that they've got there. And I understand that it's very, very difficult, especially if it's a small business or if it's a family owned business or privately, it's your baby. Obviously you want to, you want to take care of it and make sure that things are done.
[00:14:48] So you want to be in close control of it. But it's that I think is the number one reason is that managers or leaders are finding it very, very difficult to just to just treat people like adults, first of all. And second of all, trust them. That they will do their own job, but that trust is a Workspot fine.
[00:15:05] So it's the leaders that need to go actually, you know what? We need to do a lot of work on not micromanaging.
[00:15:11] Elin Almroth: I agree with you to some extent, really, but, but also I think it's like when it comes to remote work, it's like, I would say, I, I personally would prefer like a hybrid that is for, that is individual based because we are talking about individuals. Some people are great of working remotely. They really work much better with it, but we also have quite few that can't handle.
[00:15:40] Maybe like they need to speak with people they need to meet, they have better ideas and, and that is some points. That actually is proven that like to have workshops and creativity, that that's paws are much better when you meet in person. So for those occasions, everybody needs to come in. But for those days that doesn't need to have that.
[00:16:04] You don't need to meet anyone. You have, please work from home. If you, as a person deliver better at home. And if you are happier working remotely, or if you just feel more engaged, do that. But I think you need to have like once again, expectations and trust and relationship, what is best like that is between the leaders and the employees.
[00:16:26] What are the best. Combination for you as an employee. What makes you and some, in some cases as well, it's important to think of the team also, thus the team, like even if you prefer to work from home or remotely, maybe your team is really needing you to be for some creative reason ID we send need you, even if you don't maybe need it for yourself, but maybe from the team.
[00:16:52] So a hybrid I think is absolutely the best thing, but I also think that it's yeah, it depends on the individuals or what do you think?
[00:17:03] Lech Guzowski: it has to be a dialogue. I fully support what you said. I went on a rant there earlier, but you're absolutely right because I've firsthand examples. Of my friends one of my good friends, massive extrovert, massive extrovert last year, struggled a very big time. Having to be at home for so many months because not being able to go and go to the office, he was working remotely anyway, cause he's a, he's a web developer, but the fact that he couldn't do anything outside of the fat, because obviously the UK was in absolute lockdown.
[00:17:32] That was really difficult. So you're, you're a hundred percent, right. For me, it is about the dialogue. It's many organizations, again, I've seen asking their people or what do you want and having that, dialogue and it's going great. Others are asking it and actually not doing anything with it, which is possibly even the even worse thing to do, have a discussion.
[00:17:52] What works for individuals, what works for the company, what works for the teams and just figure out a solution rather than just going, we're going back to the office
[00:18:00] Elin Almroth: Yeah.
[00:18:01] Lech Guzowski: no, no discussion is enough again. And I've seen many individuals going actually, you know what? I'd rather work remotely. I'd rather do hybrid.
[00:18:09] Is it possible? And organizations go now everybody's going back and forth. Individuals are going. Okay. Here's my notice. And they leave and I'm going, yes,
[00:18:17] Elin Almroth: And if you take it from your friend's perspective, I can really think like a super extrovert person. It could be good for that person to work from home once a week to don't get the distraction to get focused and maybe like, but they need to be able to get the energy from somewhere. And I think that's combination, like we have a few super extrovert.
[00:18:41] And even like for the before, depending on like, we worked quite a lot remotely because we are a flexible company and we don't mess your time and we don't mess your exactly, like when you start your working hour and when you quit, it doesn't really matter. As you said, it's about the result, but some individuals, actually, we have said, you need to work from home at least two days a week because you can't focus.
[00:19:02] You don't have the capabilities to focus when you're at the office and they agree. And then you have the conversation around that. So I think it's it's once again, the dialogue about it.
[00:19:12] Lech Guzowski: it's, it's definitely a dollar it's having an it's figuring out what, what works for people and let's face it. We're not going to be able to satisfy everybody on both sides, leadership team of company, team, or individuals. So, but it's about finding striving to find that rather than just doing things the way we've done it.
[00:19:29] One of the reasons.
[00:19:30] Elin Almroth: And no, but I, I, I know you wanted me to do, to bring to the podcast, some struggles and one of them are just in this subject, we have grown if you're from around 45 employees and deal around eight employees during the pandemic. So it's almost a hundred percent increase in people. So. Like half of our staff have never worked at the office have never met their employees or their colleagues.
[00:20:00] I mean, so for me, like the struggle we are now, because I want to be that flexible company. I want to bring a culture where we have, you can work wherever you want from wherever you want, or at least like, as long as it works from, for the. Company and the team, et cetera. But like, I want to be that company.
[00:20:19] I want to grow the company. I want to create like the new way of seeing. I want to ask you, we talked about before the structure of the industrial revolution, we don't need that anymore, but then it comes to the, but we have more than half of them read the, have another next to each other. They don't know how they are.
[00:20:40] Like, I really wanted to get to know each other because a part of our culture is to have fun, to support each other, to really build a closer relationship, have a lot of both like parties of the works, but also friendship relationship, exercise together. Because we think that when you have those. Like private conversation with your colleagues then is when magic starts like coming up and you get a lot of great ideas.
[00:21:07] So just struggle we are in now to just combine these two, you have a goal where you really want to be a flexible, new thinking, entrepreneurial role, business and company, but I still want them to get to know each other. So how do you do like an and here, like I'm going and I'm leaning towards, I haven't made my decision yet to be honest, but I'm leaning towards do just like the hybrid and start, like, we want you to be at the office at least three times a week.
[00:21:41] If. You don't have another agreement with your manager because we have people that can't handle working any day remotely. They need to be at office. We have a few people that I would say need to be at office, but I have even more people that really don't should be at the office. Cause they asked your friend are really extrovert, but like they maybe should be at the office once or twice a week.
[00:22:06] But I like, I'm struggling with that because I had a half company that has a no the rest of it because they haven't met just working remotely. How would you do well? How do you have, like, how would you handle this?
[00:22:18] Lech Guzowski: I was actually going to Doug. I was going to ask you that question, how you doing it? Cause I've, I've got a few things that I've been doing with my clients and they have the exact same problem. How would you bridge that gap? Because you have to in the office, when everybody's that you leave it there on devices, you occasionally have some sort of meets ups gets to get, get togethers and things of that, but you work, you leave it to happen organically.
[00:22:40] So people kind of mix the water cooler moments, the interactions here in that. And that's, if you, if you've got this situation that you've handled, that you've hired half of your staff, current staff numbers, It during the pandemic and they've never met in real life. They don't have, they haven't had those water cooler moments to build relationships with other people.
[00:23:01] So actually this is on the part of the organization. It requires a lot more effort to orchestrate these and they have to happen. And a lot of people don't like it because they feel it feel a little bit, you know, structured and they're not organic. So they feel a bit odd, but there's more and more organizations who specialize that.
[00:23:19] And there's more and more resources to be able to do that where you do have to create these virtual environments than not the same and trust building is an important element of any team. And what will take, you know, a couple of months in real world to build trust of just relationships and being around each other probably takes twice as long in the virtual world, because it's not the same.
[00:23:42] So you're not alone in that struggle. It's in terms of actual initiatives, Each their own everything's going to work differently for that for, for different organizations, depending on what team you got, what industry you're in and the type of personalities you have as well, all kind of feeds in to that.
[00:23:58] So you're saying that you're thinking of doing hybrid model, which is great, but then in terms of actually trying to bridge that gap in terms of bringing those people in and building that team, is there anything in particular that you've been doing so far, you're planning on
[00:24:12] Elin Almroth: Yeah, I want like one of the goals and we are working with goal-setting tool or module that calls archeology one I'm like though girls is like, everybody like should want to go to Delphis like the office should be like an amazing place. To be so you really want to do, then we have a lot of different things we can do like of the different dynamic to really ensure that they want to come back.
[00:24:37] But that I think is one key. But during the pandemic where I've done a lot of things, so of course, as you said, like remote after works that works in one way, but I think like, Hey, you can, like, we learn quite a lot during the way to take, if you have an hour off to work, don't make it longer than an hour.
[00:24:55] You don't need it. Cause people will be tired, but do that, but talk, take a part of that to do break out groups and have a discussion. Or what was your nickname when you grew up, did you, did your parents call you anything or your friends? Why did you have that nickname? Or what are your like favorite month of the year?
[00:25:15] Or like giving some personal and context to that? So we'd done that one part that we did. That I'm very proud of actually, because we have a lot of conferences we do always do like two conferences a year. One is weighed in and one remote or like in the, in the, like going outside to Europe to do in and out of the country, we're traveling somewhere.
[00:25:38] Of course we couldn't do either this year. So we did, we invested quite a lot of money in it too. So we hired a real studio and then like, and we, at that time, we were around six, 10 police. So we are not a big company, but we hired. And so we have lots of staff that just work the way to tie TV did really like a great production in videos, did games.
[00:26:03] We like invested in it. And that is what I want to do. I think it's the important thing or the winning in this part, you can't just wing it. If you do something remotely, you need to invest the time and effort to really make it like, it's great. You need to have a high level on war, what you want to achieve and also invest the money and time and effort to, to make it happen.
[00:26:30] I think that's the most important thing. Then we do a lot of things with leadership. The small thing that is maybe the most crucial things, but are the small things that Dustin really like take a lot on money effort, but in leadership, The micro course to just as a manager, not to micromanage, but just picking up the phone, not writing in email or slack or text message, just picking up the phone and giving a call and say, hi, how's your day.
[00:27:02] How was your weekend? How's your day going? And just as a manager, even if it's for many manager, doesn't come natural to be very personal and very fluffy in there, like, but really gave it based on themselves. Yeah. I have this struggle with my family or my son is doing that, that moment. How's it going?
[00:27:21] Just to be personal and just also, because when you're a person and as a manager, you get more and you can really see how your employee are feeling. I would say that is the key when, to be honest, even if it's small, but to make the manager to do that.
[00:27:37] Lech Guzowski: One definition or the knots we call it actually one way of describing a good leader that I've heard while by that I really like is that asking somebody how they are doing and actually caring about the answer.
[00:27:51] Elin Almroth: Yeah. The caring about the answer is so important and like, no, that's a no brainer for you and me, but for many managers is like, you need to listen. And also something I have been needing to remind most of my like union managers, because we have grown quite rapidly. So I have a lot of managers that are like first time manager, I just new manager, our company.
[00:28:17] So for, for me, when I'm coaching, those managers is just, you need to be quiet. Just be quiet and listen, if you are quiet and just, don't try to fill up the silence. If you just have quiet, the answer will probably come. If you ask the question and just a quiet and listen, you will get so much out of it and that'll be something that's has really worked, especially remotely.
[00:28:42] Lech Guzowski: Hmm, definitely. Definitely. You you're right in what you said before as well that you, you need that structure. The, if you work remotely.
[00:28:50] all these engagement events, this team, these team building ones, they needed to be done properly. And it doesn't, that doesn't mean you have to spend loads of money on that, but you has to be done properly.
[00:29:00] And, but there are so many amazing engagement tools at this moment. I'm a software services that you, you can, you can subscribe to get your people involved and, and there's, there's, you know, 10 to a dozen at the moment. And in terms of asking that question, it's. Yes it again, but that's the work that the leader needs to do.
[00:29:21] They need to kind of sit, ask the question, as you said, and sit back and be comfortable with the uncomfortable silence and sometimes asks the, ask the questions, just to drag that person a little bit, to encourage them a little bit, to say something and then just be quiet, just see what they said, but that's another yet.
[00:29:39] Another thing that I often mentioned is that managers and leaders don't get trained to be good leaders. They just get promoted because they used to do their job very well. And they now, and they don't. And often the, the situation that they are put into is they don't have time to do that because we, we get that structure yet.
[00:29:57] Again, elements, structure that is wrong because we get leaders who have a lot of strategic responsibilities that they need to carry out with minimal time for actually being good leaders. And it should be the other way round.
[00:30:12] Elin Almroth: yeah. Should it, and that is once again, I think it's like the organization, it's the, like, see that chief people officer like HR is their responsibility to ensure that the manager has potential to be leaders. They are not just managers. They need to be leaders and they need to help people forward. And I think it's so crucial, especially in the times on the years we have bind us to really have, have great leaders on board because if you don't like people will leave and I'm like, I'm so lucky that like we have had one resignation during the pandemic.
[00:30:55] And I like I'm real. I know, like it's It will happen. I know like resignation will come, but I'm so happy for the leaders because they had done an amazing job in just keeping people engaged and satisfied. And he's also means like two to another defense. On another side, we are working towards healthcare.
[00:31:18] So we are really making an impact on the pandemic. So that also bring, brings engagement. Then we are measuring our engagement in a tool called winning temp and they are like, so we have actually a more higher engagement during the pandemic than we had before. So I'm very happy about that, but we are of course helping the healthcare to be better.
[00:31:40] So it's quite mind to be easy in this time.
[00:31:44] Lech Guzowski: That is very interesting thing that you said, because then that probably brings in purpose that people are motivated by the fact that they are working towards a and with healthcare organizations or within that industry. And people do recognize the importance of that. And I think there is a massive element to that of being powered by purpose basically, or they gave that's that's that's fascinating. Okay. You know what we've, we've got on the phone. Fantastic. Sort of semi ran. So my discussion with Joe, I really enjoy, we, we did have in mind, a couple of other things to talk about. I'm pretty certain we won't be able to do everything, but we'll, we'll see. But the one thing that I really wanted to talk to you about is because I often say, and I believe that organizations should put people.
[00:32:32] Before numbers. And by, by that, I mean, it should, the organization should be focused on looking after their people creating the right environment for their people, instead of just focusing on sales targets. And I mean that sincerely and I believe that's the right thing to do. And I always clarified the enemy that, that it's not that sales are bad.
[00:32:52] You need to focus on sales because without sales and money coming into the organization, you don't have an organization in the first place. So you have to make sure that you do that. It's just a question of what is your main motivation, because if money's in the sales is motivation, you will treat your people differently very often as disposable kind of objects.
[00:33:12] If you, for lack of a better word,
[00:33:13] Elin Almroth: But yeah, from my perspective on that, like, you can't have, like, you cannot have sales numbers if, even if you don't focus so much on the employee, but you won't have great sales numbers, if you don't focus. So like that is the curation I think. And that is actually one of the reason why I started to work at VC vocab because it's like having an amazing CEO that's really just dumped, like when you're working in HR, you meet a lot of CEOs that says like, yeah, we care about the employees, but they don't really do anything about it.
[00:33:49] When I got, when I went on my first interview, we were 15 people that was more than three years ago. So 15 employees and the CEO wanted to ensure that we never. Lacked focus of their employees. So you wanted to hire someone that was dedicated to really work with this cause. And this is where I so agree with them.
[00:34:13] Like their equation is if you have engaged employee, if you're focused on your employees, if you have a great culture engagement, you will have great sales numbers. Like you can't be a second successful company, if you don't focus on the employees. So why should you focus on the sales targets first? Yeah, you can, but it's just like, you shouldn't do it the other way around because if you have the people in focus first, then you will have great sales numbers.
[00:34:44] It just want to prefer that. Daddy's my like honest opinion. I will tell out story, like the thing into my grave. Like it's just, that's the truth is my, what I highly highest believe in that equation.
[00:35:00] Lech Guzowski: I couldn't agree with you. More aides. You, you, you can bring in sales without focusing on your people. You will function, but then you'll have high staff turnover, half high sick leaves and all, exactly, exactly high costs or whatever, whatever costs means doing it the other way round. Yes, you will probably have equally high costs because you have to invest in your people in engagement, in retreats or all sorts of things or most of all developing your people.
[00:35:27] So they continue to grow, creating the environment where they can upskill themselves, paying them the right money for that. But then the upside to that is, as you said, rightly the sales are going to go up and there are countless, countless examples of this being the case. It's, it's, it's baffling that organizations still go on on, on a week.
[00:35:49] We can't do that because X, Y, Z, it doesn't work that way. And, and if I hear, when I, when I hear answers like that, I'm just devastated. I'm going, we still have work to do. And I'm not sure whether we're going to be able to undo all of that and our lifetimes, but hopefully for our kids and grandkids, we were creating a better world.
[00:36:07] But this is precisely that reason I wanted to talk to you is what it is from your point of view, from an HR, from, or as a chief people officer and your team, how do you drive that people first attitude that creating the right culture and that engagement for that equation to basically add up. To revenue.
[00:36:32] So let's, let's break it down. What is it that you kind of, the initiatives that you do you focus on, or maybe what you, what is it that you don't do that works?
[00:36:42] Elin Almroth: I, I have a few key things that I want to Garth spray. And like, you need to have a CEO that drives it. Like I'm doing a lot of the work and the strategic around it, but you have to have a CEO that will stand and really believe it and go for him, be an ambassador for what you think. So that is one part you need to have someone in like the people organization that are in the management team.
[00:37:14] It like in the upper highest of like, When it comes, if you, on the same level as the CFO, as a CCO seep it like every, like you need to have one someone that have that perspective because it's, as you said, as is more important than to have the sales perspective. So why shouldn't it be in the management team?
[00:37:37] So now I think when it comes like the last five to 10 years, we have stopped seeing a great big change in this, but it was just a few years ago where it wasn't like obvious that that person should be in the management team or like in the ha ma like leader board or whatever name you take it. So that is one key factor, but like most do that.
[00:38:01] So here you have the third part that I would say maybe one of the most, most crucial things. All right. Companies or most companies, because we haven't talked about clear expectations, most company halves objectives, what is our long-term target? They have ambitions like big ambitions or what are like the leading star?
[00:38:23] Where, what companies should we bring? It can be around. Yeah, mostly like we're going to help X, Y set customers doing this and that, but in this, and what as we do have is like one hour, absolutely. Long-term ambition. We have three, one is around customers. One is what I would, it doesn't matter. But the thing is, is one of them is that we should have the world's most engaged team.
[00:38:56] So one of the longterm goals should be dedicated to the organization, to the teammates. Cause that is so important. And that's, that's a signal to everything that we do. The employee that's working towards, the customers are equal importance at. The customers just to have that clear and you need to have that you can't just have sales targets on your long-term ambitions because you always, every day are working towards that goal.
[00:39:27] Every employee wants to see that they working, moving towards the right direction. So if you don't have that and they don't have, like, I'm going to be a great colleague and I'm going to have my teammates and my friends to be the best they can be, then like, you need to have that reminder. So that is a statement from the company to set that as a long-term goal, we're going to have the world's most engaged team or however you want to, to, to type it.
[00:39:53] So that I would really want to say and how we are working on it is. Well, like, as I said with OCAS, so in every like OKR cycle, every team are setting, what are we going to do this quarter to ensure that we are the best team we can be and how can we do, and can we set the target to ensure that other teams can get and get the support they need or get to be like, what can we do in the company level to ensure that we are a great team, so we can be an amazing place to work and have an amazing place to work.
[00:40:27] So, so dad goes like it's the, it needs to be set on a strategic level, but you need to break it down. So every employee also feels that have a responsibility as well as the managers, so that I will say it's a structural level on it. And to give like, I think too to break it down. Like one more that also is important is to build a culture.
[00:40:53] When I started at receiver, we were around a bit less than 20 employees and people around that, like we knew we had a great culture, it was fun to go to work. We love that. We looked forward on the Sunday evening and we really looked forward to the Monday morning to go back to work, to go to the office.
[00:41:16] And we had, when we had visitors to our office, they were saying, yeah, something about the culture, something like you can't really touch it, but it's something that is great. So when you grow and we knew because we wanted to be an amazing place to work a great successful company. We already knew that and we knew we're going to grow, grow and recruit a lot of people.
[00:41:37] So new people would come in, but also when you grow the dynamic Shen it change. So we want. And when then, so early to say, what are our culture? What, what, what is it that we do that makes this a great place to work? So what I did was we had a lot of workshops where every employee here is so important, everyone needs to be involved.
[00:42:03] What are we doing? That is so great. And is there something that we should do more of? So what we did with that, we created our values and our values is nothing that is just put on a paper or at the wall. It's something that we are living. So when it comes to giving feedback, we give feedback, according to our values, when it's like everything, like we're when we're given praise and when we are like celebrating things, and this is something like from.
[00:42:35] As you, I think we mentioned it a bit, like in the beginning, when you want to get something like you need to push it through, it's a bit awkward and you need to just do that to ensure that it gets in. So now I know, like I'm an absolutely highly ambassador of other values, but I'm not driving it. The employees are driving it.
[00:42:57] We are like, it's just happening. That's our values are there. So it's like on our, like in in the recruitment process, in the onboarding, like even in the salary review, are we living the values because that is so important to, to just ensure that we are a great team. Yeah. So I would say like it's strategic level, but also to really ensure that you have like the foundation to work with it, that I would say what's that.
[00:43:28] So to your question,
[00:43:29] Lech Guzowski: It was very long-winded essay like, and so I absolutely loved this. See, there's one thing that is missing from podcasts and people listening to you only listen to you. They can't see, I've got the benefit benefit of seeing you now. And just to bring you a little bit closer to the listeners throughout her little rant, Ellen has just been so animated.
[00:43:54] Her body language is all over the place. Hands kind of everywhere. Yeah,
[00:43:59] You could send us that passion probably in her voice as well, but it's just looking at it. It's just that one element that is missing from podcasts. And then I, I can, I can see. How much you believe in that? I believe in what you're saying, and I'm on board with you on all of that.
[00:44:15] There's so many things that we could get into there's one fundamental thing, because the I've seen this with clients, with organizations I've been on the receiving end as an employee of values and mission. And they're all being nice and great, but their posters on the wall, nothing else. And it was so depressing.
[00:44:36] And if you've got people who, who do need values, who, you know, like the ones that you suggested mentioned that work for you for visa is that you will lose them. If you don't give them that, those values, that purpose, that mission or whatever it is that you want to call it. So they can be fully engaged.
[00:44:53] You'll lose them. Because whether they realize it or not, that's what powers them and that's what they need. So that's, that's one thing. The other thing is you mentioned at the very, very start, and I think it's, it's, it's crucial to all of this, but I've, I've, I've asked, I like to ask you about what you would do or what would you suggest if you don't have that?
[00:45:11] And that's that CEO backing that you've mentioned that is so fundamental that if you don't have that from your C either CEO or your C suite level eh, people, what, what what'd you do and be doing everything best in the world. You will have to have some very, very difficult conversations because at very best you will be in a situation where at least they're willing to listen to be convinced.
[00:45:33] They might not believe that, but if you prove it to them, they'll be good. How do you tackle that? Because I'm pretty certain, that's the number one question that people will be asking is that you, in a great situation, you see your higher G with that in mind, fantastic. Most organizations, most organizations, more people, most people in your positions or other similar positions who want to have that change, don't have that backing.
[00:45:53] What would you say they do?
[00:45:55] Elin Almroth: I just, I get to, to start with, I feel for them, I've been there myself in previous roles and very carefully picking out. The organizations I'm working in, but sometimes even if you are picked, the manager will pick someone that you have a great, like, believe in and like management can change. So you can absolutely.
[00:46:16] And I can be put in that situation. I really hope not, but absolutely. And I think you need to, and I think we have a lot of like statistics and research that coming up on this subject, but you need to be very clear on the numbers of like to do like a pro or to just try to break it down. To ensure, like if we do this investment, I think, or what, what this believes or what we can do where this is is X, Y, and set, you need to break it down and make it.
[00:46:51] I know that like, people question is fluffy and it's hard to, but he's not that hard to break down. It's two numbers you can do. Right. And like, it's a great lot of help, all that to just trying to just get like the key numbers and like key equations on what things costs that is not like you can't, you can do it.
[00:47:14] But I think like, it's, you also need to invest that time, too. To speak the same language as the person you want trying to sell your ideas to. And I know like I have never, ever like, had to argue for, for, for a lot of things. Like if I have an idea, I have the trust to run and do it, and I'm super grateful for that, but I haven't always had that.
[00:47:40] And then in the, to really break it down and try to understand what the other person is coming from, and also trying to be, see that like the solution of it and be a part of the solution. But I feel for everyone, it's a great struggle. I so frustrating to don't get your points through, but one step at a time and try to figure out how the other person are thinking.
[00:48:06] And what once again, that we talked about earlier, listen, listen. And if you listen to them, they will listen to you most likely. And if they don't listen, then you said, I have listened to you for 10 minutes now I demand that you listen to me and if you don't get that respect, then you have another problem.
[00:48:25] Lech Guzowski: I'd really love to spend probably several more hours talking about this and trying to get to the bottom of how, how to tackle this problem.
[00:48:33] to provide my listeners with an answer to, to do this a magic wand or a sledgehammer. Whichever you prefer to, to solve this problem. I genuinely suggest that people, if, if you don't mind, if people get in touch with you directly and arrange a
[00:48:51] Elin Almroth: of
[00:48:51] Lech Guzowski: To pick your brains.
[00:48:52] Cause I think that will be far more beneficial than me trying to unpick everything that's been going on. There are lots of resources and I, a couple come to mind. There's been an anchorman who I had on the podcast as well. She told us she talked about a number of interesting tactics that can be used and she's based in Sweden as well.
[00:49:11] And Stockholm there's. Then Shannon Stewart that I've had on. And she had a very, very similar situation where she was facing. If I remember correctly kind of the revenue based model of trying to prove it to senior management of how to, how to take that, how to tackle that situation. But that's going to be on the podcast.
[00:49:27] There's, there's many more, many more that people can, can listen to. I've actually got, and this time talks about trust. I'm in the process of reading it because I'm interviewing Henry Stewart in a couple of weeks time. And he's from happy. Yeah,
[00:49:42] Happy, happy manifesto. It's a fascinating book. And he got me in the introduction, you know, the first few sentences of it I'm sold.
[00:49:48] And he does talk about that trust element that you need to get rid of control and pre-approved certain things and just let people do their thing. And. I'm pretty certain because Luke height, again, to mention Luke, he mentioned Henry to me and he introduced the book to me. And I know that he must've been inspired with that because the way he's been he's done the work with Radiko.
[00:50:11] It just proves that it bloody works. If you do let people be adults and just treat them that
[00:50:15] Elin Almroth: Oh,
[00:50:15] Lech Guzowski: So it's an amazing, it's an amazing, I'm really, really? looking forward to talking with Henry. And I think there's gonna be an amazing things coming out of it. One thing that we didn't do because we launched straight into our, our conversation.
[00:50:29] Another rant is I actually didn't get to ask my usual first questions for all my guests. So rather than asking it at the start this time, I'll ask it at the end. When you, when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
[00:50:41] Elin Almroth: Oh, I wanted to, to drive that the ice cream truck. I don't know if you're out of that, but in Sweden we have, I've had going around once a week as selling ice cream. And that was like, if you all like below 10 years old, that was my goal to just sit in that truck and drive and sell ice cream to kids now.
[00:51:06] No, I know why I should never drive a truck. I would be too lonely and I'm not that great of a driver either. So no, it's not a great idea, but that was my dream job. Absolutely.
[00:51:19] Lech Guzowski: that is amazing to see. Normally I am able to draw some connections and parallels between what people wanted to be when they were little to what they w to what they do now. The only thing I can draw here, I have to say is, tell me if I'm wrong is because for me, I selling ice cream is making people happy because That's. something that people do really like.
[00:51:41] So I th I think that that kind of element of looking after people and spreading joy through ice cream is the only connection that control with what you do as a chief, chief people officer. Does that feel
[00:51:52] Elin Almroth: it great. Yeah. That's great. Yeah. Oh, I didn't even think about that connection, but it's almost the same thing I do today, but just I'm, I'm I'm doing, I'm giving out different things, but the, if the goal is to get the same joy.
[00:52:10] Lech Guzowski: well? Fantastic. I'm glad. I'm glad that we, that you've arrived at this point. It's been an absolute joy having a chat with you. Thank you very much for, for joining me. Thank you very much.
[00:52:18] for sharing your thoughts, but also being a great running partner. It has been absolutely absolutely fabulous.
[00:52:24] Elin Almroth: Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be speaking to you. It's as you said, it's super engaging to just dig down and dig deep into this kind of questions. Thank you so much.