How do you build elite teams and at the same time create a culture where trust and vulnerability are the standard?
Our featured guest Becky Chung, Sr. Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Cielo Talent, tackles that subject and others on this episode of the show.
In this episode you will learn how early stage leaders go wrong, how to build a critical, objective framework for problem-solving, and how transparency is the accelerator to building a culture of communication.
Music Credit: Maarten Schellekens - Riviera
Becky Chung: Building a Culture of Constructive Communication - Part 1
[00:00:00] Dr. Jim: Welcome to another episode of cascading leadership. I am your host, Dr. Jim, and with me, I have who do I
[00:00:07] Dr. Jim: have?
[00:00:07] LB: Your cohost Lawrence Brown otherwise known as lb, your resident, nerd and executive coach.
[00:00:13] Dr. Jim: Hello, lb. Wow. You got all fancy with your title.
[00:00:16] LB: Yeah, I had to add a
[00:00:17] LB: couple. I mean like his, his is so long. I'm like, I gotta add something in here. It's all about the brand.
[00:00:21] Dr. Jim: It's, either I drop in all of that stuff that I said, or I we, haggle over like how long my last name is.
[00:00:27] Dr. Jim: So I think my option works better than the full, last name. So enough of your, shenanigans buddy? So we have another first, like every week, it seems like we're doing another time episode, we have our first teaching episode today. And when you might be thinking what, the hell is it?
[00:00:45] Dr. Jim: Teaching episode? Today's topic. Is on building effective teams with empathy and understanding. So that is a heavy topic and we're not gonna solve all the problems that exist within that title in one day. But I can't think of a [00:01:00] more qualified guest to have on than our featured guest.
[00:01:03] Becky Chung: I'm Becky Chung. I have been in talent management and talent acquisition for the last 15 years currently. I'm the global talent acquisition director for Cielo , which is the number one RPO globally. So we provide recruitment process, outsourcing partnerships to a number of clients around the world.
[00:01:20] Becky Chung: And I'm excited to talk about this topic in particular, because I'm certainly passionate about high performing teams.
[00:01:26] Dr. Jim: I am super excited to have you on and a couple like side notes for the audience to understand Becky is among her many awards and recognitions, the most important thing that the audience needs to know is that she's one of my favorite people in Milwaukee.
[00:01:39] Dr. Jim: So there's that and. I, on a more serious note, she's done some pretty significant transformation efforts. We've known each other for a while across a number of organizations. So when we're talking about somebody who is well versed in transforming organizations, transforming how teams work together, how [00:02:00] teams communicate.
[00:02:00] Dr. Jim: Becky is I, don't know the bees knees. I sound like I'm 80 years old when I say that, but that's we'll go with that. So Becky's super excited to have you on. With that being said, let's get into the conversation. It's gonna be wide ranging, thrills spills all that Lawrence, this is when you throw in some big voice stuff in there in, in, a world where.
[00:02:19] Dr. Jim: Nothing. All right. Nevermind.
[00:02:21] LB: It was humor cause it was absolutely that transition was hilarious. I couldn't think of anything deep voice to say other than a deep laughter
[00:02:28] Dr. Jim: Becky let's set the stage a little bit. And before we dive into the business conversation, tell us a little bit about your, formative experiences, your career journey and how you got to the point that you're at.
[00:02:39] Becky Chung: So I grew up in Wisconsin, Southeast Wisconsin, outside of the Milwaukee area in a smaller community. I am the daughter of two, very hard working hard driven individuals, which certainly has transitioned to me. My father is a former. Farmer and then has gone on to build a really successful career in a global company.[00:03:00]
[00:03:00] Becky Chung: So he's certainly been a role model for me that way. My mother is somebody who's continuously pursued her own education. And so that's really transformed into me just having this hunger and appetite for constant refinement. And I'm one of those weird people who like, doesn't truly pursue accolades, but I just seeing things work out, I just like seeing things be successful.
[00:03:21] Becky Chung: That really motivates me work motivates me.
[00:03:23] Dr. Jim: One of the things that that's important for the, listeners to know is Becky has oversight over a global organization and I have, I've not firsthand, but secondhand visibility into the, amount of effort she puts in to.
[00:03:40] Dr. Jim: Transforming this organization from where it was to where it is now. So I don't think you can put in that sort of effort if you weren't passionate about what you wanted to do. So it's great to have you here and, thanks for giving us that, background.
[00:03:53] Dr. Jim: When I think about building effective teams and navigating the communication [00:04:00] culture that needs to be built. For you to get to the point where your teams are effective. There's a pathway there that we're gonna spend a lot of time exploring, but before we start on that pathway, I think it's important to set the stage.
[00:04:13] Dr. Jim: In your experience and you look at dysfunctional organizations.
[00:04:17] Becky Chung: Sure.
[00:04:17] Dr. Jim: What are the hallmarks of dysfunctional organizations that you've commonly seen?
[00:04:23] Becky Chung: One of the most important things. If you're gonna have a team that is truly gonna work towards a common goal is you have to have trust. If you have any behaviors that. Undermine that trust that take away from that trust, it's gonna be incredibly hard to move forward. And that's one of the things that I really try to establish with my teams.
[00:04:44] Becky Chung: And that's something that regardless of where someone lives in the world what their experiences are. That's just a core need people have is that security that I'm in environment where I can believe what's being said to me, I can trust the circumstances I work within. And so I think if you [00:05:00] can't give people that security that they can trust what's happening around them, you will never get their full attention and their full energy towards your goal.
[00:05:09] LB: Yeah, absolutely. I think that studies have shown that one of the most valued, I think the most valued trait about a leader is trust and loyalty. So I think your spot on there
[00:05:21] Becky Chung: The most important part of trust is vulnerability, right? Is my openness. And I believe in being honest about who I am and what I bring to the table, which means I am not perfect.
[00:05:31] Becky Chung: I am me. I'm going to bring my flaws to work. I'm gonna bring my emotions to work. I'm gonna bring what I am good at to work. And so as a team, we need to be aligned in that and supportive of each other. And that means. If I see you doing something where I think you're making a mistake, I'm gonna say something and I'm gonna ask for the return and that's one of the principles that I've really developed in all of my teams to have them be high performing.
[00:05:53] Becky Chung: Is that open dialogue because if you can do that, you gain so much more
[00:05:59] Dr. Jim: You, work [00:06:00] with teams that are at various levels of maturity in terms of their professional career, . So I understand what you're describing as far as what's necessary, but getting to the point where you can actually execute those conversations.
[00:06:13] Dr. Jim: It, can be it's, difficult. Scary. yeah, it's scary. It's difficult. You, have no idea or frame to, to figure out how is this person going to react to it? What are some of the things that a leader can do? To lay the groundwork to have that sort of conversation.
[00:06:30] Becky Chung: I think the first thing is new leaders often think they need to have all of the answers and that's actually not true as a new leader. Your job is to know the questions, to ask to understand where to look for solutions, but it's not to have the answers. But when you look at the types of problems that occur you have simple problems that are yes or no, you have complicated problems, which might require some additional input. And then you have very complex problems where there is no answer and you're gonna have to test and try things.
[00:06:59] Becky Chung: And so [00:07:00] I think as a leader, learning that those are the types of situations you're in and being able to step back and say, Is this a simple problem that I should know the answer because I've seen it before. There's other demonstrated successes to rely on is this complicated where there's a couple options and we have to figure out the best one, or is this truly a complex situation that we just have to figure it out as we go.
[00:07:21] Becky Chung: And a lot of what we're experiencing in the world today is that complex situation of nobody really knows the answers. We've entered a new way of working and we're all navigating this together. And so I think for new leaders in particular, but even senior leaders just accepting that you don't have all the answers nor should you.
[00:07:39] LB: To some degree that's empowering, right? If you, there's a lot of pressure to feel like you have to get it right. If you think that you have to have the, answer and you're hitting on so many things, but I'm. I read a lot. And so my nerd's gonna come out here, but two two things that you said.
[00:07:55] LB: Came out that from a reading standpoint the [00:08:00] transparency and the vulnerability piece is very Brene Brownes.
[00:08:04] Becky Chung: Yes. So fantastic.
[00:08:05] LB: I appreciate that.
[00:08:06] LB: And then the second one was when you were talking about this open dialogue and, being straight up with someone the other one that it, that.
[00:08:15] LB: It invokes Kim Scott in radical Canor yes. So
[00:08:18] Becky Chung: both women who I think are admirable and definitely people should read what they write. Yeah. And truly who I model myself after Kim Scott is great and I think she's at a ten in her radical candor. I like to be at about an eight
[00:08:31] Becky Chung: it's like, you gotta find your own style, right?
[00:08:33] LB: .
[00:08:33] LB: Yeah, absolutely. But you're right. That that was a, key takeaway. As I talk about that text, oftentimes people a hundred percent to your point are like, Ooh, I don't know if I could do that. It's about being authentic.
[00:08:45] LB: You cannot be radically candid in trying to be someone else. Like it's, you'll fail fast. But I think it's a great call out in terms of you are an example of those texts
[00:08:55] Becky Chung: And one of my favorite ways to approach some of those difficult conversations. [00:09:00] So backing up, Jim, you said like, how do you build this?
[00:09:03] Becky Chung: There's some foundational work and one of the things is it starts in the interview. So I hire people in with this expectation that this is the environment that they're gonna find I'm gonna commit to this and that they want to commit to that as well. And so one of my favorite questions to ask somebody is, tell me a time you told your boss they were wrong.
[00:09:19] Becky Chung: Do you have that kind of bravery because I need the people around me like that. And culturally, that's been a hard question to get some answers to because in some regions that I work with individuals that's not acceptable. So it's trying to find ways to really still continue to cultivate that and respect those cultural needs as well.
[00:09:36] Becky Chung: And so maybe it's not telling your boss they were wrong particularly, but tell me about a time that you came forward, that a solution was wrong. So we sat that stage and then also I do talk about my leadership style and what that's gonna mean for them and what that's gonna look like for them.
[00:09:50] Becky Chung: And that does mean I'm gonna ask you that if you see me falling on my face, you tell me and know I want that. And that if I see you falling on your face, I'm gonna tell you [00:10:00] because I care.
[00:10:00] LB: I, wanna say one thing I know it's, Jim's turn,
[00:10:02] Dr. Jim: Disallowed.
[00:10:03] LB: Jim can tell you that's actually one of the, that's one of the reasons that when we started working together, that I actually hired him because I had the confidence that he was actually going to do that.
[00:10:12] LB: And over time, You are so much better as a leader surrounding yourself with people who are going to see the gap and help you fill that gap. So I used to say famously that I hire people that I believe have a skill set that I don't have to help shore that up. That I will actually have opportunity to learn from them as well as offering them an opportunity to shine in what their level of expertise.
[00:10:39] Becky Chung: Yes, absolutely. And that's one of my favorite things in how I build teams is I intentionally look for people with different experiences. I find that it brings so much more to the table. And one of the things we also talk about in the interview process, because I think that's so important for setting the stage for what someone will find and then.
[00:10:57] Becky Chung: Reiterating that as they onboard. And [00:11:00] then as they go through their journey is I am intentional in bringing on people who will find their space to shine. And we're gonna figure out what's not natural for you can call it a weakness. I like to say what's not natural. And we're gonna try to find somebody who can help you with those things that aren't natural.
[00:11:15] Becky Chung: We'll try and build some buffers. So it doesn't get in the way and inhibit your success. And then we move forward.
[00:11:19] Dr. Jim: When we talk about building effective teams or building high performance organizations we're, starting at the talent attraction side of the equation.
[00:11:28] Dr. Jim: One of the things to, to lbs point and also your point, Becky philosophically, like lb had that point of view that Hey, I want to hire people onto my teams that. That offset some of the gaps that I might have as a leader. And when I was building teams, I've always built teams with the intention that everybody I hire is my replacement.
[00:11:47] Dr. Jim: Because my purpose in building a team is to hire a group of performers that will rise to my level. And by consistently doing that over a period of time I will [00:12:00] also rise. So when we talk about servant leadership and that mentality about. How do you move forward in the world? How do you move forward with your teams?
[00:12:07] Dr. Jim: The intent here is, as you're building the team, you really have to orient yourself to What's the end game for you is the end game for you to create as much opportunity for the people that are underneath you and push them up. Whereas the end game for you to. Get yours and then whatever happens with everybody else is, what happens.
[00:12:27] Dr. Jim: So there's a mindset component that comes into it. I wanna loop back around to something that you said, Becky, you said that the, one of the traps that you see new leaders fall into is the fact that when they're confronted with a problem, they automatically go, or at least they reflexively go into problem solving mode.
[00:12:44] Dr. Jim: And I'll raise my hand right now that being a typical guy, as soon as a problem is put in front of me, I go into problem solving mode. So how do you build the discipline to back off of that instinct to solve the problem? and [00:13:00] really ask the right question to figure out what is the right problem to solve.
[00:13:04] Becky Chung: So I
[00:13:05] Becky Chung: would say it a little differently because you want to enter into problem solving mode. What most leaders tend to do is try to move into solution identification mode. And so if you step back and you just ask the right questions of saying, okay, let's convert.
[00:13:19] Becky Chung: What is the problem we're trying to solve? That's a hu monumentally powerful question. One of my favorite leaders. Frequently leverages that question and it's always so powerful because you assume so often you're aligned on the problem and you're not. And sometimes it's three different problems you're trying to solve and you need to be able to step back and say, okay let's go through the data.
[00:13:40] Becky Chung: We know the information we have and figure out what's the part we don't have and then start to work through solutions. But that, natural tendency to say, I have the answer. You have to really work the, muscle. And I'm not gonna say I still don't struggle with this sometimes. This is natural human behavior.
[00:13:57] Becky Chung: But to step back and just say, okay am [00:14:00] I clear on the problem? What are the things we've tried? Why haven't they worked? What could we do? That's a different format of that. Who else might have the answer or similar experiences and start to bring those groups together?
[00:14:13] Dr. Jim: So your, point on defining the problem and defining the correct problem. That's great. And I think one of the challenges that I'm trying to figure out, or I've I've been confronted with is what if there's disagree? Between what the actual problem is, how do you build agreement and consensus because you're gonna need that before you figure out what the go forward direction is.
[00:14:35] Becky Chung: So typically if you don't have alignment on a problem I like to believe in facts and feelings and it's usually cuz emotions get in the way. And so ego gets into the way and being able to strip out that emotion and really drill into the data and the facts and then also being comfortable, naming someone's behavior.
[00:14:53] Becky Chung: That's one of the most powerful tools I've found in my toolkit is just to be able to say, Hey, I'm picking up on some [00:15:00] defensive risk defensiveness right now. Or I feel like in this moment, you're not seeing the actual issue because of your own emotions. And that's fair. Let's take a time out and come back.
[00:15:12] Becky Chung: If you get out of a heated conversation, sometimes it is hard to step back and go, okay, rationally, what is actually happen? And my husband who is incredibly insightful will often say to me, if I'm having a rough day they're just trying to do their job too, cuz this is about interpersonal conflict.
[00:15:28] Becky Chung: And so just that recognition of saying this person at the end of the day, this isn't personal. Most people care too much about themselves to really think about others. And so being able to step away from that and go they're just trying to get to an outcome. Clearly I'm the blocker.
[00:15:42] Becky Chung: So let's figure out how I can stop being the blocker.
[00:15:44] LB: It was interesting because I was thinking about what Becky was saying about facts versus feelings and really having these conversations around.
[00:15:51] LB: People needing to be clear how they're coming off. And so my probably arguing my favorite two words today are [00:16:00] emotional intelligence. think that's something that is so critical and that's what you are addressing here is that the awareness that you have to basically embrace what someone else's disposition is.
[00:16:14] LB: Yes. And at the same time, Like the way in which you approach the other person's disposition means that you have, to have a good awareness about what you are about where you are as well. And, as you had mentioned your husband saying everybody is just trying to get it done as well.
[00:16:31] LB: And, maybe we that causes us to, to look at it differently. So that's really exercising that emotional intelligence. I am. Listening to how you're saying how that comes into play.
[00:16:41] Becky Chung: And it's such a good
[00:16:41] Becky Chung: point, cuz you're touching on one of the things I really believe in.
[00:16:44] Becky Chung: And one of my principles is to honor where a person's. I really try to exercise that act as often as I can and that's empathy, but that's also just letting go of my own pre preconceived notions, my own thoughts, my own judgements. And just saying, this [00:17:00] is where this person is at in this moment. And I need to meet them there.
[00:17:03] Becky Chung: And as a leader, that's been incredibly powerful for me in being able to work with my teams and to help understand that in this moment, this is where they're at and whatever that is personally, professionally because of work demands. If I can at least respect that honor that put that before my own needs, I'm gonna be able to pull them up .
[00:17:23] LB: as you think about the, philosophy that you're breaking down for us. One of the things that comes to mind is, that as you help newer leaders is there any sort of a framework and, I don't mean necessarily in a tech in a technical way. Sure. But is there any sort of a framework or a standard go to that you have.
[00:17:41] Becky Chung: So I do absolutely recommend people to check out bene brown. I do recommend that they look into radical candor because I think those are very powerful messages to receive empathy. Honesty. The other piece I really like to help leaders understand is that if you want to change behavior there's actually a [00:18:00] method that you have to go deeper than surface level.
[00:18:02] Becky Chung: So a lot of times first time leaders will manage to an outcome. And so I'll just pick on. Productivity for example. So you, aren't making X number of widgets. And so I'm gonna go tell you, you need to make more widgets. That's it. That's the end of the conversation. That's not actual dialogue and understanding what's going on.
[00:18:20] Becky Chung: So then you go, okay, I, your behavior, so you go from outcome behavior, your behavior is. You don't seem high energy or engaged or focused at work. So you manage that. I need you to be more focused at work so that you get more widgets. You haven't actually gotten to the problem yet, because at the core of that is a belief.
[00:18:39] Becky Chung: And if you can speak to someone's belief and change and influence that belief, then you can actually change their behavior, which then drives their outcomes. And so I was recently having a conversation with a leader who's. Incredibly concerned with be being perceived as a micromanager. And so I'm having to just really help her understand what micromanagement is, but why her belief around that is [00:19:00] so core to her and really digging into what's driving that belief.
[00:19:04] Becky Chung: What's behind that belief. What's the fear. What's the lack of security she's feeling to try and unpack that so I can get a different. Those are the kinds of conversations and those are the things I'm trying to teach her to do with her own teams so that she can get the results. And I've been really successful in seeing that applied through leaders to their teams and that the results then do follow
[00:19:25] LB: Here's my scientific response. Boom.
[00:19:27] Dr. Jim: I, couldn't have said it better LBI. I'm sitting here in the chat, just I don't squeeze often and that's a technical word. Squeeze. But I'm, literally sitting here going, oh my God. That is so much gold . Yeah. You're you're winning the hearts and minds of nerds all over the world.
[00:19:43] Dr. Jim: Becky keep going. One of the things that I'm trying to figure out as we're talking about this stuff the, stuff that you're talking about. It's, great, but it sounds pretty advanced to me. So if, I'm talking to a early career person sure.
[00:19:59] Dr. Jim: Or an early [00:20:00] leader, How do I get to the point where I have the space or maturity or discipline or whatever word you need to have these sort of conversations? Like what, do people need to be doing who are earlier in their career to mature in this way to be more productive in their interpersonal communications and relationships and, business conversations.
[00:20:20] Becky Chung: I would say that the starting point is understanding the principles and reading about emotional intelligence. The most impactful leaders are, do have really strong emotional intelligence because at the end of the day, that is how people operate. That is the framework that drives all of us is our emotions.
[00:20:38] Becky Chung: We aren't machines, we are humans. And with that comes that. Really studying, understanding. Taking assessments to know more about yourself. What is your disc profile? There's Myers Briggs, there's a thousand different assessments. Learn that about yourself and learn it about others so you can operate differently.
[00:20:57] Ethan: Tune in next time for the conclusion of our [00:21:00] conversation with Becky Chung...