Catch Lech Guzowski on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
Russ Johns: [00:00:10] And it's a great day for the #PirateBroadcast and welcome. Welcome. Welcome. If you're here watching live, drop us a comment, a question, get involved and engaged in the conversation. Also, if you're checking this out in the future, subscribe, leave a rating, all that kind of good social shenanigans that go on. And today we're going to have a conversation with Lech clear across the other side of the world, doing some things that are very interesting. We're going to be talking about, and thank you Lech for being here.
Lech Guzowski: [00:00:42] Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Depending on where people are in world. Thank you for having me.
Russ Johns: [00:00:47] Yeah. Yeah. Before the show, we were starting to talk about some of the things you're excited about and working on, and it's a very important topic right now. And it's about how workplaces are going to be evolving. How the workforce is going to be developing communications, all of the things that take place in the workforce today. So why don't we dive into it and talk about what are your thoughts and what do you see trends and where do you see them moving to?
Lech Guzowski: [00:01:20] There are a couple of trends and obviously everybody is still trying to find their way. There's one thing that has become obvious in the last three or four months. We knew it from early sorry, late last year, but it's most more surveys coming out on what people want in terms of their working environments, their work. Kind of structures, if you will. And there's always been research on this is when are people most productive, how many days in the office or at home is the right balance? And we've had Gallup, who's done this type of research and it says that people are most productive when they work from office, I think two or three days per week. Now there's more service coming out supporting that as a result of the pandemic and people working from home environment for better part of 12 months, if not longer, in some instances. That's the balance that they want. They want to retain that flexibility of being able to manage that time and fit their \\ private lifef schedule around their working life schedule. And I think that's where organizations are going, because with the service and this kind of real life test of working from home or remote work, and if you will, on a, such a grand scale, we've got data of what works, what doesn't work, what people want, what people don't want, what actually organizations want and don't want, or maybe are afraid of. Cause that's an interesting highlight and that's coming out as well. And I think that's the way we do. That landscape has shifted.
Russ Johns: [00:02:45] I was going to say, I was going to say, because a lot of people I talked to they didn't think that work from home was gonna work out very well. And surprisingly, a lot of organizations are now finding that work from home was actually more productive than they imagined. It sounds like that might not necessarily be universal. Is that a fair statement?
Lech Guzowski: [00:03:08] I think there was a lot of trepidation, let's put it that way, for organizations when this was starting. Before the pandemic, working from home or remote working was exception rather than the rule. I was definitely in many organizations, treat it as a perk of benefit for their employees. Now they've proven that it's possible because they didn't have a choice. Overnight in most countries, organizations have to move from, in office to work from home. And then that was no longer perk. It was the only way to move forward for their employees, for the organization. And the challenges now that they face is yes, productivity did increase initially, but then it dropped off. So there was that kind of honeymoon period of people being able to work from home. It's ups and downs and it's now the kind of getting to a steady point when people know what they want, what they don't want, what works for them, for their teams and their setups and their organizations and their teams in general. And I think that's what we need to explore is there's not a rule for. Or for the one rule for this, or for all organizations, I think it's very much individual to the organization, to the industry that they operate in, what they want to set up. It's just finding that balance that they want to go for. They want to move with to go forward with.
Russ Johns: [00:04:22] Yeah, I know, there's a lot of organizations that they might be manufacturing that work from home doesn't work and that's created its own challenges and a lot of office work. Now that things have eased up in some areas and people are going back to home, I noticed more challenges from the people that are having to go back to work, go to traffic, to travel and transport to the office. And so it would be surprising to see in another 12 months what that looks like and how they've adapted to go back cause that's one of the things, I've been a remote worker for over a decade and work from home. And so for me, the idea of having to get in the car and drive to a location in an office and work eight hours, it just doesn't really fit my lifestyle anymore.
Lech Guzowski: [00:05:22] Unthinkable, isn't it? Once you go into that I've moved to proper work from home, remote working and being able to dictate my own working hours and working days for that matter a couple of years ago. And every now and again, I'll still sit sipping coffee in the middle of the day or on the Wednesday in the sunshine because it's summer where I am and think about I'm lucky that I have this and now there's a lot that I would trade to continue having this. Talking about what you mentioned in terms of that remote work and the working from home is not for everybody, I can't help but think about the meme of an airplane where there's a whole, obviously the picture of the entire plane and all the passengers and just a comment the pilot is speaking to everybody. Hello, welcome on board everybody. I just want to let you know that I'll be working from home today, but obviously it's not going to work if you're an airline pilot, if you work in a factory, so it's every role. It's not for every organization that has to be said. So you have to find these allowances, but there's one thing I urge every business owner and leader in an organization. Kind of people who get to decide these things to answer, to think about. If your people have worked for your company for the past 12, 18 months, and they've succeeded, your company is still operational. Things were delivered. Things were right. You have to really ask yourselves, what are they going to feel? How are they going feel treated by you if you now say, okay, let's go back to the office everyone without asking them what they want. Because they've proven they can do this. They've proven that they can work, collaborate effective and inefficiently from home in this remote setup. If you just forced them in without asking them, or please don't create an illusion of choice that you're asking them, but you already know where you want to do and you're going to force them in one direction or another anyway, just ask them. But if you are in that place where you get to decide to be sure that you're not under pressure, because that will, there's nothing that will break trust and kind of employee satisfaction, happiness with the workplace more than such an exercise.
Russ Johns: [00:07:23] Yeah, that's part of leadership is actually asking for your opinion and then listening to your opinion, right?
Lech Guzowski: [00:07:33] Yeah. Very true, because you've it...
Russ Johns: [00:07:36] I'll go ahead and finish up.
Lech Guzowski: [00:07:38] I'm very mindful of a lot illusions of choice that we create day-to-day and especially in leadership. And I think that's something that we really need to look closely at. That you create the people have the autonomy to make decisions, but actually when it comes to it, they're being pushed down certain routes to deliver a project, to, to finish a project or whatever it might be which basically becomes micromanagement. And people just feel cheated. Very often they don't know what's going on. They don't know what emotions is they can't put their finger on it. But if you're stuck in a situation where you can't put your finger on an emotion of what's going on, do consider that whether you've essentially been pushed into kind of a certain situation where you've had an illusion of choice but actually had no power over any decision that was being made.
Russ Johns: [00:08:19] It's surprising too, how many people are resistant to going back to the office? I've heard a lot in the polls and in the public eye that there the employees feel they're very productive and they feel like they've done their work and they've done everything that they need to do. And now it's, going back to the perk of staying at home, it's like, why are we having to be forced back into the office? What's the reason to be forced back into the office, even though we've proven this we've stood up we've made it happen. We've made it work. And now why are you forcing us back? So that's another, I think something that we need to think about and reflect on as a community and leadership has to think about that as well.
Lech Guzowski: [00:09:09] I definitely agree with that. I think some people do want to go back to the office. It's people who like I've got a lot of extroverted friends who have been really struggling because on top of the fact that they were forced into working from home, they didn't have the usual opportunities that go with that. The usual benefits of being able to work from any coffee shop, they want to be able and need to be able to travel anywhere in the world they want and continue working, obviously that wasn't possible. So everybody was closed with, in those little bubbles that we've had. On the other thing is, there are elements of collaboration. Face-to-face meetings that you can't replicate in a virtual environment. So that's beneficial as well. So it's about finding that balance, what works for for your team, for your organization and are some really good examples of what that might look like. I urge people to look at what HubSpot is doing, what Dropbox is doing. Some really positive stuff. Also on the negative side, look what apple has done. And that's a negative that they had backlash because they assumed people want to go back to the office. They forced everybody to go back to the office three days a week. And Tim Cook had that massive fire in his hands that he had to put out because you have to track back and actually, deal with that situation. Be people said, it's actually, no, we are happy working from home. We want that flexibility. And yes, we miss our people, our friends, our colleagues, but we continue working effectively and collaborating in fact virtually. So it's not that we don't want to go back. Just ask us because , the way it was done, everybody, not unanimously, but a lot of people are saying it lacked a lot of empathy on Apple's behalf. They didn't really ask people what they want.
Russ Johns: [00:10:36] Yeah. And I think Salesforce said, hey we're never coming back to the office. Everything's virtual and it's working out just fine. I wonder what the impact is going to be longer term on the property management and the real estate market as workplaces evolve and change and scale back because there's a lot of buildings that are sitting virtually. Is that anything that you're studying or investigating in your work?
Lech Guzowski: [00:11:04] Not necessarily studying, but it is a topic that I am considering because I'll walk past a lot of office buildings that are being built and I'm thinking poor timing because they obviously have a while on their hands before they are ready. But the other thing that really interests me is the impact on the property market. Because if you think about it, all of a sudden we will need houses, apartments that are larger by at least one room because everybody needs an office.. A home office. And that's another reason why certain people do want to go back to the offices is because they don't have that space. And actually working at home is problematic because they've got family and not enough space to have to work to focus and to work and focus comfortably. So you will need instead of a two bedroom flat, now you will need a three bedroom flat. And majority of the flats that are being built, they tend to be two bed flats. So the cost goes up. So you would be spending probably 15 20% more on the property if you were going to buy or if, even if you're renting. So that's gonna have an interesting knock on effect and something that obviously there's going to be an issue with supply because the demand is going to be high, but the supply is going to be much lower. And that's not going to change overnight. And there's in many countries in Europe, there's already a housing crisis where the people in power, whoever is pulling the strings, they influence the supply and demand because that creates there's the developers that build properties. They don't have any incentive to build more and quicker because that means they will earn less, but that's for another podcast.
Russ Johns: [00:12:32] That's an entirely another subject. So tell us, how did you evolve into this subject of business and leadership and understanding the workforce and how the future of the workforce is evolving and where it can go? How did you start down this path? And what's your background?
Lech Guzowski: [00:12:54] I'm a project manager by trade. That's technically my second trade. My first trade was being an English teacher. And that's what I've studied in my first university degree, but I've never really gone into that that role. But then I went into marketing and project management and so on and so forth. And I really enjoy that because that really suits my personality and how I am as a person in general. But there's one thing I've very quickly realized when managing projects. For me, the success for delivery of a project wasn't down to deadlines and timescales and resource and things like. Of course those things are managed, they were important, but what made or broke the success of a project where the people, how they collaborated, how they work together, how they communicated with they have trust and psychological safety and things like that. So I often said that I manage egos on different projects because it was all on occasions. It was like herding cats. It was one of the other on another occasion I was based the linchpin between teams and departments, they just didn't want to talk to one another. And I was forcing it. I hate meetings. I hate unproductive meetings, so I tend to limit the amount of them. But then I found myself often actually dragging people into a meeting. So they will talk to one another because otherwise it's something we'll just take for forever and a day. And that got me really interested that inadvertently, I found myself a lot of the time doing all types of workshops to improve communication and trust within teams. And along the way, I got introduced to Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, all these people who have some real great ideas of how they how we can do things. And then just yeah, it was a hobby that the beginning of last year, I thought, this is the opportunity I'm taking a plunge into this and see how it goes. And very quickly developed, obviously the pandemic then started literally about two months later which was a blessing and a curse at the same time, because all of a sudden everybody's remote which was a good thing because everybody's easy to reach. But there's also so much new stuff that you have to learn. And there's a lot of moving grounds, even when we're talking about that. Going back to the office and so on. Should we, shouldn't not meet there's a lot of still like quicksand. We don't know where we stand. So that's how it's evolved and the future of work. I always think of the term future of work. I'm not sure whether I agree with it, cause I don't want it to be the future. I want it to be now, but that's my impatience talking. ButI'm definitely motivated to be the part of making it better for future generations, because I think there's a lot of stuff that we need to undo in terms of our business practices that stem back from the seventies and eighties and how we did things. And we continue to do them now, but just not working with those tactics and those strategies sorts of work back then. But they've got very little place in today's world. And it's going to take a while to undo that. And I want to help that process. I want to help undo some of those business practices that we've introduced, so that future generations have a better opportunity to thrive and be really good at what they do in the best environment that they can can flourish.
Russ Johns: [00:15:43] It's always nice to be able to excel in any environment where you're working. And projects, I want to say good morning to a good day and say hello to the community here. Elise is in the house. Good morning, Russ. Yeah. Luis is a good morning Lech and Russ from groovy Los Angeles. Jenny Gold in from Colorado. I'm excited to hear the conversation with Lech and Russ. Thank you so much, Jenny. Good morning, Denver, Colorado. Yes, Sarathy says hello and good morning to all. Lech you comrades. Fantastic. Oh, and Russ Hedge is here. Good morning. Neena Perez, good morning. Thank you so much for being here. And then Jenny says, good morning, Russ Hedge. Then Russ says, workplace culture is so important. Things are changing, but we still need each other. We are better together. Absolutely positively. I agree with that. We are better than the other good morning, Jenny. Sarathy says Hey Jenny and Russ Hedge. We've got lots of conversations going on here, Lech. Luis says, egos, exactly. I've seen great ideas shelved due to administrative egos. That's so true. Sheri Lally. Hey, good morning, pirates. I want to talk a little bit about leadership and what leadership means today, because with so many changes in, potential shutdowns, again, another wave of virus and things coming out and people getting sick. What do leaders have to deal with right now? And where do they need to put their focus in on the workforce, as it relates to home and office, balance and asking questions. Where have you seen some good examples of leadership taking a stance and making it better?
Lech Guzowski: [00:17:37] I've seen some really good examples of leaders actually becoming leaders and moving from being taskmasters or to-do list managers. Because there's that one thing, that one prerequisite for remote or from working from home setup or hybrid setup, whichever you are in, you need for that set up to succeed. Because if you've got a manager who constantly checks on you and micromanages your work, that's not going to work. it's just simply not going to stick. People need autonomy. People need to be treated like adults and people need to feel that they're trusted to make the decisions that they need to make, to deliver on their agreed objectives or chaos or whatever it might be. I am a big believer of managers not being managers, but they're being more leaders or coaches in that kind of capacity. And I've seen it work a number of times. There's one example that comes to my mind. I've interviewed Luke Kite, who's the head of culture at REDICO. They are a UK based SEO agency and they've gone through a cultural revolution a few years ago where although they didn't attempt to aim to do that in the first place, but inadvertently you become a self-organizing company where basically you've removed all types of structures and all types of managers. And in the traditional sense, obviously they still got people that some people report to, but the role of a manager is to help the person grow and do their job. So looking at what do you need to be able to be successful in your role. What obstacles can I remove for you to be able to do your job? What development do you need to excel in your role to move to the next level? That's the structure that they've introduced. And for many organizations, for many people I speak to they go like no managers, no structures. People decide when, how, where, how many hours they work a day, a week. They have unlimited holiday that can take whenever. Chaos. That's what a lot of people react with and yes, for the wrong organization and for some people for the wrong people, it is, it can be chaos. It does need a fair bit of implementation time and kind of trial and error to see what works, what doesn't. But for them, it worked beautifully. They've grown year on year 2019 or 2020, I can't remember now, they've been voted the fourth best place to be at in the UK and I think they've been also voted one of the best European, small SEO agencies. The proof is in the pudding and there are more and more organizations that prove it works.
Russ Johns: [00:20:03] They're doing something right. So that's a self managing company?
Lech Guzowski: [00:20:10] Yes. Self organizing set up structure, the different terminologies about basically the principle is it's a relatively flat structure. Everybody comes you're obviously grouped into teams, but yes. And you do have a person who is equivalent in to comparing it to the old structures, your line manager, but their responsibilities completely different. They're no longer responsibility because you are responsible for setting your own goal of what you want to achieve and how you're gonna achieve that providing your feeds into the wider goals of the organization. And yeah, people like using it. And there's one thing that Luke said that one of the biggest changes in him and the senior leadership team was to treat people like adults and believing the best in them, but they will make the best decisions. . And my first reaction was so how high was your staff turnover? Because this setup doesn't suit them. Because some people just prefer to have somebody behind them, not nagging.
Russ Johns: [00:21:02] I need the checklist.
Lech Guzowski: [00:21:03] Exactly. It does require a lot of independence and it surprises me. I don't remember the figure, but it definitely wasn't high, but he has heard of organizations where they've done that. Other organizations have done that. And yeah, the term, the turnover was 30, 40%. But it wasn't as a result that they were laying people off, it was just like people started saying it just doesn't fit me. That's right. That's fine. This is the way the organization is going. If you want to stay, you're more than welcome. We'll help you out. If it doesn't work for you, that's fine. Go and look for another job. We'll support you in the process and it's that kind of employee people relationship that's really neat.
Russ Johns: [00:21:36] Absolutely. Absolutely. What kind of companies, is there any companies that mind in their structure and their way they do business that you admire?
Lech Guzowski: [00:21:46] Oh yes, there are a few, so REDICO is the SEO agency that I've mentioned would be one of them. There are a few others. There are U S based, one of them is called, oh my God, the name now escapes me. They are a digital agency as well. And they've been featured... Next Jump. Next Jump they're called. And they are the forefront of being a DDO. What's called the DDO would stands for deliberately developmental organization, which would basically put people first. And I'm not sure whether they still have that role, but they used to have the role that you cannot be fired for performance related problems within the org. You can disciplinary potentially. Yes, but performance. Now you can't be, they'll do everything to help you. So that's one of them. That's really one. The other one is John Chapman's organization. And again, the name escapes me, but basically he introduced the concept of heart counts instead of head counts. So you think about you when you need to let people know. You don't think... head count is just an anonymous objects that you use that term to separate yourself from it being a human being. But if you think that human being has a heart, you think about heart counts. And I thought really liked that because the decision to fire somebody or let somebody go because the business is underperforming will be much tougher for you. And you probably will be more pushed to make different decisions to do everything you can do, both save the organization and the people, because obviously if the company goes under, the people will lose their jobs anyway. So you have to find that balance.
Russ Johns: [00:23:18] There's always balance. I'm curious in the remote work and working from home statistics, have you found any evidence that some of the people or is there a percentage of the individuals. Because they're not traveling, they're not in their car. They're not commuting to work that they're actually working more at home than what they used to.
Lech Guzowski: [00:23:39] Drastically more. I don't have the statistics to hand, but I can tell you that because the boundaries between work and personal life are, I don't want to say non-existent, but the very least very blurred. It's easy to say I'll work another 10 minutes and that 10 minutes turns into half an hour. And so what I've noticed in some organizations from some talking to people that there is that pressure for overperformance and this is unfortunately usually appears in organizations where there's a fair bit of toxic culture because it's toxic behavior, basically, where if some people, parts of the team or the whole organization now doesn't have to commute, it's an unsaid expectation that they will work. They will work that commute time, which you think about, it's a bit backwards because we're already most countries overwork. Anyway the concept of in at least in the UK I think it's 37 and a half hours away week. That's the working week. That is just but a number, nothing else. I don't know a person who works that. Most people work more and I think that's backwards. I think we need to go away from that and we need to move away from the working by hours attitude. We need to move into a goal based mindset. So basically, judge people by the results that they deliver and it's up to them, how they do that.
Russ Johns: [00:24:58] Yeah. If I can get my tasks done in half the time, why shouldn't I be rewarded for it?
Lech Guzowski: [00:25:03] Precisely. And I know a good friend of mine mentioned that to me the other day that she does 300% of their targets, because she's just quick at what she does. And I was like, okay, that's really good for you that you have that. But then that begs the question, if other people are doing a hundred percent of that target in eight hours, and you're doing 300% in eight hours should you be doing that much? Should you be paid more, should begin more or should you work less? Yeah. Should you work three hours instead of eight? If you just work your norm, happy days.
Russ Johns: [00:25:35] Yeah. Yeah. This is fascinating subject and I really appreciate the you being here. And so how do people get ahold of you? How do you like people to connect with you?
Lech Guzowski: [00:25:47] Best way is LinkedIn. Although LinkedIn's messaging system is a little bit difficult to maneuver and apologies if somebody messages me and I don't reply. Potentially is because it's just dropped down the list somewhere and it's difficult to recall that information, but LinkedIn is probably the best way to connect. Alternatively by email, which is Lech@Human.pm. That's probably the best way to do it. If there's something that you want to discuss. But if you want to connect, I highly encourage people to visit me on LinkedIn. I also host a podcast on leadership and culture, if your audience is interested in that because obviously they listened to your show, they might be interested in that and that's called We Got This because I believe that together we can solve a lot of problems. So if you just put that into Spotify, apple podcast I'm sure it will come up.
Russ Johns: [00:26:36] Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you everyone for showing up, joining us live on the #PirateBroadcast™. And as always, #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree, so you #enjoytheday. Thank you everyone. Take care.
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