• Andy Goram

Liberating Your Talent

"There's a war for talent", or so we've been told, but in Episode 14 of the employee engagement and company culture podcast, Sticky From The Inside, Andy Goram of Bizjuicer, chats to Dr. Maggi Evans, who sees it very differently. She believes there are huge benefits to liberating the talents of your existing workforce and provides some simple, practical steps to begin doing that.


Maggi is a business psychologist, consultant and author of the book From Talent Management to Talent Liberation and in this episode, she and Andy discuss the practical steps that will help you perform your own talent alchemy and maximise the associated benefits for all.


Below is a full transcript of this episode.


A blonde lady and a gentleman discuss liberating talent
Dr. Maggi Evans (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss how to practically liberate the talent in your business.

00:00:00 Andy Goram

Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside. The Employee Engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition, smashing consistently successful organisations from the inside out. I'm your host Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn their lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them and create tons more success for everyone.


This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it.


So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.


00:01:10 Andy Goram

OK, so one of the keys to a thriving workplace is that the people in it feel that they're learning and growing as employees and individuals. Progression and development for all your people, and especially top talent, plays an important role in getting people to operate at their very best and your ability to retain them. But does our usual approach to talent management help businesses achieve that easily, or is there a better way?


Well, my guest today is Doctor Maggi Evans. Maggi is an experienced business psychologist, consultant, friend and author of the book from Talent Management to Talent Liberation. And in today's episode, she's going to share her thoughts on how to really promote and sustain a workplace culture that absolutely does this growth, retention, engagement and liberation of your talent and helps create a workplace culture in which people can thrive.

So, enough waffle from me, let's introduce Maggi and get under the skin of how you can create talent magic. Good morning Maggi!


00:02:18 Maggi Evans

Hey, Andy, how are you doing?


00:02:19 Andy Goram

I'm good mate, thank you. Very nice to see you.


00:02:22 Maggi Evans

And you.


00:02:23 Andy Goram

Thank you for coming on the podcast.


00:02:25 Maggi Evans

Oh, it's very exciting. Delighted to be your guest, Andy.


00:02:28 Andy Goram

Well. I've known you for so long now. You've played such a large role in me being who I am today and we don't have time to get into all of that, thank goodness, but could you just give us a little bit of background to you, what you do and what you're up to at the moment?


00:02:45 Maggi Evans

So, the first thing to say, Andy, is that I'm passionate about liberating talent, and that's the bit... that's really sort of brought my career together, I think. And I do that with organisations looking, as you say, at the talent culture to make it one where everyone can thrive and also help teams to operate as a high-performing unit together and help individuals to liberate their talent.


And it's all about developing practical solutions, things that will really make a difference. Bringing in some research, but helping organisations and individuals to create change so they can all thrive.


00:03:20 Andy Goram

All right, look if I know anything about you, Maggi, it is that you keep it real. You always bring things to life and try and make it as practically deliverable as possible. I know that, and I guess that's where the book came from, right? Trying to sort of help people take practical steps towards delivering this stuff.


00:03:36 Maggi Evans

Yeah, absolutely, I think there's a real gap between the theory and the practice. So, I'm really keen to bridge that gap. To have some theory, but have it... hold it quite lightly so that people don't need to get into the theory to see how they can use some evidence to make a difference and make things better. So, I'm glad that you find it sort of practical and real because certainly, that's the intention.


00:03:58 Andy Goram

Yeah, I look, I can't really deal with anything else. I talk a lot of theory, but I do like the practice. I do like to have things demonstrable and deliverable. I think that's what people really look for today. If you can do that, I think it makes it easier for people to sort of deliver stuff.


Having said all that, what you're really talking about, almost in your book sounds a bit like talent alchemy, like essence of magic, because whenever I have talked to people about talent, and what have you, especially when you think about what's going on in the world today? There's this big message that talent is scarce. There's not a lot of it about, so you've got to grip and hold on tightly to what you've got. Now, you don't see it that way, do you?


00:04:35 Maggi Evans

I don't and I wish now hearing you talk about that, that I chose magic as the title rather than liberation. Because, I think talent magic is brilliant. And I think it is... There's a real frustration and that's what led me to write the book really, with the way that talent management is practiced in organisations, the way we frame it. As you say that there's a scarcity of talent. I see so many hugely talented people every day and in organisations that are full of people with lots and lots of talent.


Where the gap is, is that the organisations aren't very good at tapping into that. So, lots of it goes to waste. And that's criminal. We really need to help individuals tap into more of their potential and help organisations tap into it too, and then we all win.


00:05:18 Andy Goram

So, is there something fundamentally wrong with the traditional approach to this stuff that starts on that premise that it is scarce? Or is it the way that it's handled that makes it appear scarce? What do you think?


00:05:32 Maggi Evans

I think there's lots of things that feed into it. So, there was a very sort of well publicised book about the war for talent, and that whole metaphor has started to frame the way we do things, and the way we think about everything, and so gradually, overtime I think people, in particular people in HR, have been kind of driven into this mindset, there's a war for talent and a focus on the people who are the high potentials and also real focus on following set processes. So, to do talent right you have to have lots and lots of beautiful presentations. You have to put people in boxes according to a 9-box grid, whether they're high performance, high potential or not. And there's lots of sort of rules around how you use it, and one HR director gave me a brilliant quote that, “we've got so wrapped up in the process, we've forgotten the purpose”, and so my mission is really to reignite that. Why are we doing it? In organisations if you're not doing something that's going to manage risk or drive competitive advantage, why are you doing it?


And a lot of talent management has kind of got wrapped up in that you do it, because we've been told it's the right thing to do. And people have lost sight of what organisations really need in terms of talent. And that's really where talent liberation comes in, to reset that frame. To say, look, there's a different way of looking at this and that will help us liberate talent instead of trying to manage and control input in boxes.


00:06:57 Andy Goram

Amazing! There's two trigger words for me in all of that. Firstly, purpose. Yes, we love to talk about purpose on this podcast, but we're looking at it in a slightly different context today, which is fab. And the second one is HR. And I will annoy people in HR with my uneducated perspective on this stuff, no doubt, but at the moment, I almost feel like, HR can come across like a bit of a lost Department. With lots of other departments, kind of moving on and changing the way they're looking at things and embracing new things, sometimes it feels to me like HR is sort of lost in a little bit of limbo. That's why I'm really interested to hear your view on this talent, magic, talent, liberation, and what can be done.


Now, in your book, I think you talk about sort of four key areas around, bringing talent liberation to life and it starts with having a look at what HR are doing. So, what is it that that good HR people and departments can do to liberate more talent going forwards?


00:07:57 Maggi Evans

Yeah, I think it's really interesting. I think... I come across loads of brilliant HR people and I also come across people in HR who are hugely frustrated. Who see the potential of what they do and can offer the organisation, but feel kind of a bit trapped by all of the expectations and a bit like Project management that went through a huge shift from going through the traditional project management to the much more agile approaches. Finance has gone through a big shift and lots of other parts of organisations have gone through shift, and I think HR is now absolutely ripe to create a similar shift in what they actually do.


And I think the organisations that I work in, where HR is really working well, they're very strategic. They look at the organisation, and they recognise it's not just one map for the future, but there's lots of different scenarios. And you know, like if the last 18 months has taught us anything, it’s that we can't predict the future, and so the smart HR people are very good at actually understanding that and saying, what they need to do is prepare the workforce for lots of different possible futures. So therefore, the way they approach their work is not just following a plan, but it's actually emergent and it's responsive and they're actually getting real time data on what the organisation needs and helping them in the short term and helping them plan for the long term.


The other thing that the smart organisations are doing in HR is not just focusing on the high potentials. If you think how many people are in most organisations, the high potentials maybe represent 10, 15, 20% depending on where they put the benchmark. But actually, if you could shift the performance of everybody else, so the 80%, and shift their performance up, that unlocks far, far more benefit for the organisation than the high potentials, who might be nicked by your competitors anyway. So, the smart HR people are not just focusing their talent strategy on the high potentials. They're looking at a much more inclusive approach. They're recognising it's not just about those individual heroes coming along. It’s about how teams operate. It's about actually having access to a wide range of people, whether they're employed by the organisation, whether they’re contractors or not. So, it's sometimes called the talent ecosystem, so having that wide range of people that they look at instead of just the high potentials, and by having that they can be more emergent and response.


It's also, and I know we'll talk about this later, because culture is massive. The smart HR people are not just focusing on ticking boxes, they're not just focused on formal processes and or, "Oh! this time of year, this is the rhythm, this is the cadence. This is what we need to do.” They're actually much more talking about creating a culture of thriving and learning. And the other thing which also links into culture, so we can talk about it later, is about the... not just the organisations needs. Talent management has all been about what the organisation needs, but Andy, you know more than anyone, that actually to be sticky as an organisation, you've got to actually meet the needs of the individual so they can thrive. So, it needs to be personalised and it needs to be flexible. And there's big moves towards that, I think, as a result of Covid, of having much more flexibility. And the smart HR functions are really harnessing that to say, “Yes, we need to actually have really different contracts. We need to be open to finding out how we can get the best for people”. So, it's emergent and responsive. It's inclusive collaborative. It's about thriving and learning and personalised and flexible. So that's a big shift for HR mindset, and that's where they can unlock the magic.


00:11:39 Andy Goram

Yeah, I get that. That's really interesting, especially on that process stuff. And I think this is where my clumsy way of saying that HR feels a little little lost to me, is that, this almost conflict between the individual, personal, tailoring, if you like, and the established well-known process and procedure has not necessarily found itself working together very well. If the workforce needs are kind of changing and the environment is changing, then the processes and procedures that back it up and make it make it work need to change. And I think this is, for me at least, where I'm really interested in that summary you've just talked about, emergent, responsive, personalised and not just about the guys who stand out. Because how do you know? I mean, there could be people in there who have yet to uncover talents because they've never been put in a situation where a latent talent can show itself or develop. So, putting people in situations where there's opportunities to do that is surely an opportunity for the business as a whole, not just the individual?


00:12:45 Maggi Evans

Yeah, absolutely, and I think it's really telling a lot of the processes that organisations follow for talent management were developed back in the 1950s. At a time when the future was more predictable. When I started work, I was working in an engineering company. You knew how many apprentices you needed coming in at the start, 'cause you knew how many were going out at the end. In that situation, then maybe there can be a benefit in focusing on your high potentials, because your organisation is predictable. It's stable. But right now, we don't know what talented people we're going to need for the future. We need to have a huge amount of diversity there, so depending on which direction the organisation goes in, how the economy evolves, how technology evolves, we've got people that are agile and ready and able to help fill those gaps. So, people who are high potential in one scenario, may not be high potential in another scenario, so it's not a label that the individual carries with them. It's very context specific and therefore we need to have very different approaches so that we are flexible to meet a very different environment.


00:13:48 Andy Goram

Yeah great, I totally agree with that and then as you just lead onto, if that's HR, what about the role of the manager, then? The line manager in in producing talent or, performing alchemy with talent. What's their role?


00:14:06 Maggi Evans

The brilliant thing is, even if the organisational context isn't as you want it, even if your HR function haven't really grabbed hold of this change of mindset to talent liberation, instead of talent management, line managers are in a phenomenal position. They can, and they do; lots of line managers are brilliant at this, they can liberate talent in their teams.

So the context might not be what you want, but you can create your own microclimate. You, as a leader, can absolutely help individuals develop their talent, and I've borrowed some language in the book and I write about it and in sessions that I run with people, about five habits of leaders as liberators and clearly I’ve borrowed Steven Covey.


00:14:46 Andy Goram

Oh cool.


00:14:48 Maggi Evans

With his habits of highly effective people, but why change something that works?


00:14:53 Andy Goram

He has done a little bit of work in this area, Maggi, it's OK. Yeah sure.


00:14:56 Maggi Evans

Yes, I pinch some of his habits and this is based on a lot of the research that I've done about, why is it that some managers are a catalyst for people development? Why is it that some managers absolutely bring out the best in people and others, people just sort of stutter on by? They just kind of cope, they survive. They do their job, but there's nothing... there's no magic. There's no alchemy. So, I've identified sort of these five things.


So, if I go through them, there's the know your team, catalyst for growth, feedback and feedforward, look to the future and work in partnership. And they're actually really simple things that a leader can do every single day.


So, I don’t know if you want to go through all of them Andy, or you'd like to do a pick and mix? Which is your preference?


00:15:40 Andy Goram

Well, yeah, I mean, I tell you what it's really interesting, when I talk about things like purpose and listen to guys like Zach Mercurio on mattering and what have you... you know the whole knowing your people, making them feel significant and what have you, is really important. But I think in the context here we're talking about a deeper understanding of your people. So let's just dive into that for a little bit, because I think this is about knowing your people when they're at their best, or knowing your people when they're at their worst, and what that looks like. Am I right in that?


00:16:16 Maggi Evans

Yeah, absolutely. And it takes time. You need to take time to think about it. So, often I think as leaders it's very easy to take your team a bit for granted, but this is kind of getting under the skin and in the same way you might think about your product strategy, or you might think about your customer, this is getting under the skin of what is it that really drives and motivates this person. What is their potential? And there's sort of four prompts that I suggest people use. And yeah, really simple, practical, as we said at the beginning... What's this person like at their best? What are they doing? What impact are they having? What are the triggers for them being at their best and how much the time are they spending at their best?


What are they like at their worst? And again, what are they doing? What's the impact? What are the triggers? How often? And then a really interesting question, what needs to happen or what needs to change for them to spend more time at their best? Because that's your opportunity. That helps you understand how they can actually maximise performance and drive more in their current role and what could they do more of in the future? And you as a leader will have insight into this, but you're only really going to have half the story. So, you need to engage in this conversation with the individual to ask them what they feel like they're like at their best and help them develop that self-awareness and self-insight to understand about their impact and their triggers. You need to understand what really motivates them, what they want to do in the future. It's all about a real relationship. About having time together about listening about genuinely wanting to understand. We can all listen if we want to. So, it's about going into those meetings and say “in the same way I want deep insight about my customer, I want deep insight about my people.”


So, it's then actually looking and understanding that person, and rather than making assumptions and maybe having biases about that person, it's actually spending time thinking about it and looking at what they want, what you see, collecting data, collecting evidence, having conversations, so you really do know them, and they know themselves.


00:18:23 Andy Goram

I totally get that. That sort of authentic conversation is really important, and I guess that also leads into that area that you mentioned about feedback and feedforward. And I know you... I think you referenced a bit of Kim Scott in there. Can you just kind of dig into that for us, for a little bit?


00:18:45 Maggi Evans

People really struggle with giving feedback, and I really like the radical candor approach, which is about, “challenge directly, care deeply” and some simple models that people can use to help them to give feedback more effectively. So, what's the example? What effect did it have? What do you suggest the person changes?


00:19:05 Andy Goram

When it comes to the Kim Scott stuff and the radical candor, I get the premise. I struggle with the radical. Because the radical feels like not me. It feels aggressive. And whenever I talk to people about feedback as a manager, you know you owe it to people, to not walk on by. And I know as a Dionne Warwick, myself, in the past I have worked on by this stuff and I've regretted it. Maybe not immediately, but certainly in the medium term, because I've let something slide, right? But the point for me behind the Kim Scott, radical candor stuff is that you are picking up on the good stuff and the bad stuff because it's coming from a good place. Because actually... you want that person to be the best that they can be and you owe it to them to feedback when things have gone less well, as well as it is important to feedback on the things that they're doing brilliantly. So yeah, I tend to sort of like frame it as you know, compassionate candor, because it reminds me that it's coming from a good place, as opposed to the radical, which feels like to me, overly aggressive. But that's just my personality.


00:20:21 Maggi Evans

Yeah, it is. I think you've got to find your own voice and giving that sort of feedback and what matters is that the message doesn't get diluted down. Because there's nothing worse than somebody having a blind thought and keeping on going in with the same approach and nobody told them. And it's just not kind, as you say, it's not compassionate.


00:20:41 Andy Goram

No, and I think the bit that you're absolutely bang-on about, is the clarity. You know, let's not have any misinterpretation opportunity here. Let's make it really, really, really clear, but you can do that in great language and you can do it with compassion, but let's not cloud the issue. Let's make it very, very, very clear because then people have something tangible to hold onto and think about, right? And hopefully, take action on.


00:21:05 Maggi Evans

Yeah, absolutely, and I think that's the sort of feedback piece, and for me the feedforward piece is about looking to the future. So, it's about maybe that suggestion to say next time alongside having a plan for the meeting it would be good to get other people input into what they would like to get from meeting and to be responsive to their needs, or whatever it might be. That's sort of the feedforward about the change.


For me, one of the other things about feedback is recognising there are kind of two types. There's a type that's in the moment. And it's quick, and it might be, you know, coming out of the meeting and talking about what went well, what didn't go so well? What would go differently next time? And then there's also the much more planned reflective feedback that may be pulling together some themes that have emerged over a period of time. As a leader, you've got a responsibility issue team to give them both types. So, the type that's immediate and the type that is pulling together what I've noticed how you're managing your stakeholders, as a theme, for example, rather than how you managed that particular individual in that meeting. So, I like to think of it as that sort of in the moment and more planned.


00:22:13 Andy Goram

And you mentioned the individual there, so far, we've talked about the HR Department and their responsibility, the line manager, and that person’s kind of responsibility and duties with regards to talent, liberation. But there's stuff that we can do ourselves as well, right? So where do we fit into the picture?


00:22:32 Maggi Evans

Yeah, absolutely. There's loads that we can do to help liberate our own talent. And again, like I said about the leaders, if the environment isn't right for them, they can still do something themselves with their teams. And for you as an individual, if you've not actually got the right leader, then you can still do stuff. And one of the first things you can do, is think about how you can learn every day. So what is it you can do on projects to keep learning? What can you learn in team meetings? What can you offer? What can you do through some coaching? What new responsibilities can you have/take on board?


00:23:05 Maggi Evans

So I think, for me, when it comes to liberating your talent, learning is at the absolute core of it, and I think there's a lot about recognising that we’re talented in different ways. So, it's finding out more about yourself. What is my talent? What is it that really drives me? What is it that makes me thrive? And there's a diagram that you may remember from the book, about thriving at work. And when we thrive at work, it's because we're engaged, we're fulfilled, we’re productive, we’re resilient and we've got learning as well. So, it's that sort of combination of learning and also being engaged. But there might be times in our career when we say, actually, you know what? I've got other stuff going on in my life. Right now, thriving isn't where I need to be. So, I might need to be maintaining, because I don't need lots of stretch. Yes, I want to feel engaged, but I've got other things that I'm focusing on.


So, if I think back to my own career, you know classic example. When the kids were young, actually, I didn't want to push myself as much, and that's more of a sort of conscious decision to be maintaining. There might be times when you're trading. You know there's loads and loads of learning going on. But you're not engaged, because actually, you're getting you're trading... you're sort of, you know, trading for the future. So, you might be going through exams, or, you know, training as an account and training as a doctor or whatever. So, you might do some of those things. And sometimes when you're say younger. My first job was on a pig farm. Did you know that, Andy?


00:24:34 Andy Goram

Well, no, I didn't know that.


00:24:36 Maggi Evans

That was very much transacting. I went in and mucked out the pigs. I got my money. That was it. So, I wasn't expecting to thrive in that workplace. So, I think part of it is thinking about what you want from your work. Where does it fit into your life right now? Do you want to be thriving or is there something else going? Then you can start thinking about what you want from your career. Where’s your career come from? Where do you want it to go? But you need to spend some time thinking about it and there's books out there that can help you to develop what's called sort of employability. There's a friend and colleague of mine, Philippa Dengler, who's written some great stuff about employ-agility, and how you can actually develop that for yourself, to make sure that your career is resilient and you're ready for whatever scenario your business or other businesses go through. So, I think, thinking about yourself, thinking about what you want from your career, and I sometimes call it the career incident room, collecting lots of evidence and information, asking yourself questions to just know yourself better, and then you can start thinking about what are the themes about my career so far, and where I want to go next?


00:25:48 Andy Goram

I think that's very interesting, I mean two things spring to mind and the pig farms are great example because, not everybody wants to climb a ladder of the career, right? They don't. And so, what we're saying is, we're not saying to everyone, “you must do this”, but I think for people who are looking to grow and develop, these are some good steps. These are some good pieces of advice to kind of take on board. And what's surprising is how little time people have taken or are afforded to do that inward reflection. I'm working with some fabulous people at the moment on a sort of emerging leadership course. And the first module has been all about getting to understand yourself, and it's been revelatory for people to be able to spend a considerable amount of time being self-indulgent enough, in a good way, to think about themselves and try and understand a bit more about themselves and their motivations and the sort of leader that they would like to be. And it's been amazing to be on the other side of the mirror, if you were, watching people kind of make the journey of “Well, I'm not very comfortable sitting here thinking and talking about myself” to almost seeing the penny drop in front of them, when they realise some bigger insight about themselves that they never quite had put my finger on before. And then what that spurs them on to do. And to me, that's how I relate to what you talk about here. Taking responsibility for your career at the time when it's right and it does start with that authentic look at yourself. You know, don't come up with some weird theory that you think others are going to want to hear. Be true to yourself, because at the end of the day it's only going to benefit you if it's authentic.


So, on that topic of reflection, I don't know whether you still remember Maggi, but I said at the start of this podcast that you've played a large role in helping shape my own career, really, when you were facilitating the leadership course that that I was on. And you ran a visualisation exercise, where we all had to draw two things. One picture of where we thought we were as leaders today, and one picture of where we wanted to be in the future as leaders. And I still remember that picture. It's an incredibly powerful image that I will never forget. And it's not because I'm an expert artist. Far from it... This is a daft, narcissistic question, but do you remember my picture?


00:28:24 Maggi Evans

It's interesting. I don't remember the actual picture. I remember the words and the emotion.


00:28:28 Andy Goram

Hmm.


00:28:31 Maggi Evans

So, I remember the image of you describing the image to me and it being very, very powerful. So, I've done that exercise with lots of people and some people connect. And I think you could really see that you'd connected with your image on a very deep level, and when you do that and you create that sense of that possible future, it's phenomenal at driving your behavior to it to work towards it because your brain sees that you can achieve that and really connect with that's where you want to go. So you start taking small actions to help lead yourself towards that and it's amazing and it's wonderful that it has had such an influence. I've got various features from my life, that when I've done that activity, that have absolutely shaped the direction I've gone in next.


00:29:15 Andy Goram

Yeah, I'll never forget it and I thank you for the exercise, and I guess I try and pay it forward now by doing it with other people. And you can see in their eyes, when it's worked, for sure. And now I would like to think that maybe in 15-20 years’ time, they've got the same recall or it's had the same effect on their career as the exercise that you did for me, has had. So, thank you for that.


00:29:43 Maggi Evans

You're very welcome.


00:29:45 Andy Goram

I would encourage everybody, no matter how awkward it feels, to take some time for that inward reflection, because it can seriously unlock some stuff. It really can.


00:29:54 Maggi Evans

Yeah, and so when you've done that you can identify some other options you might feel really fed up in your job, but actually by doing that reflection you might identify there are ways to do what's called job crafting, so to actually adapt your role. To do, move the things that you enjoy and make sure you're doing things you love every day. Uh, there might be ways of actually engaging your line manager in your longer-term sort of work plan, and I think you're obviously right, so not everyone wants to climb a ladder. I sometimes refer to career as a laboratory because in the same way we spoke about the mindset for HR needing to shift, I think sometimes our own mindset about our work needs to shift, and if you think about it as a laboratory, your job is a series of experiments. You’re learning new things, you're collecting new knowledge and then that will help you go into another experiment.


It may not all be progressing upwards. But it probably has some sort of theme. So, as I said at the beginning, my theme of my career is probably about liberating talent, and if you can find that theme by that self-reflection, you can go and do some brilliant experiments and add to your knowledge base and add to where your understanding of where you might want to conduct some further experiments. And I think that's quite a powerful way of thinking about it.


00:31:04 Andy Goram

Yeah, absolutely love that. Love the laboratory idea. That's going to stick with me for a long time now. I can just picture Bunsen burners and various other bits and pieces. Liquids bubbling away in my brain.


This is all great stuff and it has, I'm sure, huge benefit to individuals, teams and organisations, organisations and you mentioned the culture effect before, so I'm guessing the culture impact is kind of our fourth piece that we will want to bring forward today. So where do you see the whole culture piece fitting into that jigsaw?


00:31:42 Maggi Evans

We all make up the culture. So as an individual you can influence the culture. As a leader you can influence the culture. As HR you can influence the culture, and I think thinking about the culture that you can create that helps everybody liberate talent is really important and can have much more impact than thinking about formal processes. So a culture that where people talent is more likely to be liberated is one where all people are valued. So everyone’s contribution is recognised and valued, and there's a sense of partnership between what the organisation wants and what the individual wants, and that's sweet spot is the way of releasing that magic. A culture that liberates more talent is one where there's a real focus on learning, a recognition we can't predict the future. And that's where we need to keep on experimenting. We need to keep learning and that that becomes really, really valued and celebrated.


So, as you know that you can do things and to encourage that reward, recognise and celebrate behaviours you want. So then practical things to come back to, that organisations can do, is celebrate leaders who are brilliant at liberating talent in their team. Celebrate individuals who do sideways moves in order to learn more. Celebrate individuals who actually do more learning, who engage in learning, and who think about the future. Celebrate the HR people who have challenging conversations with the other leaders in the business about what future scenarios they might need to prepare for, how they can broaden the talent ecosystem. And actually, all of those things create an environment where people are more likely to have their talent liberated. And educating and helping us, supporting individuals to do that reflection that we just mentioned, to have that time, that space to understand themselves, so they can take accountability and can really drive things forward for themselves and take on their responsibility alongside the organisation, taking on what they can do. So I think it's about a shared purpose to come back to the purpose comment, of everybody recognising that for this organisation to thrive, it needs to be constantly learning. It needs to be constantly evolving.


And I love... I've just been reading the Simon Sinek book about the infinite game. And the infinite game is about... It's not just about an end goal and winning. You know how to win at being the best at customer service. What's the measure is actually about is staying in the game. And it's about creating a culture where everybody says in order to continue to thrive, we need to be focusing on learning on valuing people, on diversity, on teams, on collaboration. And those are the things that actually make an organisation really successful.


00:34:30 Andy Goram

Well, look 100% on that. And I think the benefits of having a culture like that are well documented not just on the, I guess, the feeling that that people have, the talent... Actually, the financial benefits both positive, you know in terms of growing revenues and what have you and getting more productivity from from the business but also on the other side of the coin of you know lower recruitment costs for one, right? All those good things that all help the bottom line.


I mean, we've, we've talked about clarity. We've talked about direction, we've talked about equipping line managers, and we've talked about the sort of behaviours and organisational integrity, if you like behind those great cultures that we would all like to be part of again as we go forward, so that's fantastic.


As always, I'm now looking at my timer behind this podcast, Maggi and I’m going “Blimey! You're running out of time!” So look, this is the part of my show where we try and summarise, practically all the myriad things that we have talked about on some little colored sticky notes, OK? And so, if you were to leave behind three sticky notes, that would help people begin their laboratory of liberation of talent. What three pieces of advice, would you leave behind?


00:35:49 Maggi Evans

Great question and I love the sticky notes. First one would be “don't follow the crowd” and that's because just 'cause everyone else is doing something doesn't make it the right thing to do. So, focus on the actions that add value.


00:36:02 Andy Goram

Lovely.


00:36:04 Maggi Evans

Next, one every day learning. So, there's lots and lots of everyday activities to learn. Whether you're a leader helping your team or you're an individual, keep learning every day. Doesn't need to be expensive, increases engagement potential performance and builds learning agility.


And a question that comes from Aaron Dignan's book “Brave new work”. Brilliant question. Ask your people, "What stops them doing the best work of their lives?"


00:36:31 Andy Goram

Oh good, good question.


00:36:33 Maggi Evans

That's a good question, isn't it? And then obviously, don't just listen to the answer, but do something about it to help more of your team, get to their personal best. You will unlock so much talent by doing that.


00:36:44 Andy Goram

Amazing three lovely simple sticky notes that people can take away and do something with. Maggi, we haven't had nearly enough time to scratch the surface of liberating talent, but I think we've left people with enough to think about, for now.


Thank you so much for your time. Really, really enjoyed our conversation and can't wait to see you again very shortly. You take care.


00:37:07 Maggi Evans

Yeah! you too Andy. Thanks very much. Take care.


00:37:10 Andy Goram

OK, that was Doctor Maggi Evans and if you'd like to find out more about some of the things we've talked about here, including Maggi's book, then please check out all the details in the show notes.


00:37:21 Andy Goram

So, that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something, maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards.


If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps.


I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the sticky from the Inside podcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.