Have you ever heard of an employee-owned company? What exactly does this mean? Is it even possible? Well, for a business that runs on love, that is definitely nowhere near impossible. In this episode, Steve Farber talks to CEO and Co-founder of TiER1 Performance, Greg Harmeyer. TiER1 is an organization that is devoted to helping their clients create high-performing environments by focusing on their people. As such, it is no wonder why their culture has been recognized as the best place to work by Many Best Place to Work List, including Inc in 2017 and 2018. Here, Greg lets us in on how he was able to do that and why it is an employee-owned, high-trust environment. He shares how he keeps that trust evolving with his employees and how they are working to support them to bring out their best talent. Join Greg and Steve in this discussion as they share more about how love threads in a company with loyal employees.
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Creating An Employee-Owned And High-Trust Company With Greg Harmeyer
It is my great pleasure to welcome Greg Harmeyer who’s the CEO and Cofounder of TiER1 Performance, which is an organization that is devoted to helping their clients create high-performing environments by focusing on their people who are responsible for executing the company strategies. He comes out of the technology world. He was at Accenture for a time. He was one of the early consultants at the AF Kelly consulting company. He served on the board of directors of the American Red Cross and has done a lot of great volunteer and philanthropy work in his career.
Here’s why I asked Greg to be a guest on the show. Their culture at TiER1 has been recognized as the best place to work by Many Best Place to Work List, including Inc. in 2017 and 2018. The other thing that I found intriguing about TiER1 is it is an employee-owned company. They are also a B Corporation and were named “Best For The World Honoree” by the B Lab in 2019. They have been on the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list for thirteen years. We’ve got a lot to talk about, Greg. Thank you for being here.
Thanks for having me, Steve. It’s great to be with you. I am excited to talk about some of the things on our plate.
Let’s start broad and work our way in. Tell us a little bit about the Greg Harmeyer story, your background, and what brought you to where you are now.
I started out as a technology consultant in my early years before I was even in Accenture. I started my career in the IT and consulting fields. I fell in love with working with clients. I love working with other organizations and trying to solve their problems. One of the things I recognized early on was technology is interesting, but people are way more interesting in terms of how organizations have success, what it takes to drive growth and change. So much of it is about people and relationships and how they’re treated and how they show up.
That got me into the people space, joined a small consultancy called AF Kelly, where I ultimately met the founder and other founders of TiER1. Through some of those experiences, we gave a lot of thought and energy towards what should a healthy culture look like? What does a great organization look like? What do we want out of work? That was a big driver for starting TiER1. People are always like, “Why did you start TiER1?” Part of it was because I wanted to work for a company that we felt good about working for, and what better way to do it then?
You figured that the best way to do that is to build one.
That was a big part of it. There are some hypotheses and beliefs about what a great healthy organization could look like. We knew that sometimes it’s hard to change an existing, larger organization, so maybe starting one would be the way to do it. In a lot of ways, we’ve talked about TiER1 being a grand experiment of those ideas for many years of trying to test out, how do you become a company that impacts people in a positive way and allows people to do great work and brings out their greatest talents? It has been a driving force behind some of what we’ve tried to do.If you're going to grow, you have to recognize that things will change. Click To Tweet
Tell us a little bit about what TiER1 does, what your offerings are and how you work with clients.
It has evolved over the years. As of 2020, we’re about 250 people. We work on strategy activation through people. We work mostly with mid and large organizations. A lot of our clients are Procter & Gamble, Delta Air Lines and Takeda Pharmaceutical, big companies like that on any strategic initiative that they have going on in their organization. Sometimes it’s acquisition, sometimes it’s new product launches, but all of those strategic initiatives have to do with getting people to align, to believe, to buy into ideas, to know what to do and to behave in a certain way. All of our work is around, how do you make that happen? Some part of it is on leadership, alignment, and consulting. A lot of it is the execution of all those key assets that touch people and help them understand what the organization needs out of them. That’s what we do. There’s a whole layer of how we go about it.
If you had to put yourself into a generic category, would it be consulting, learning and development, organizational development, or all of the above?
I would say a little bit of all the above. It’s an intersection between an organization development consultancy, training and development consultancy and a design agency. We bring a lot of principles of design in the broadest sense, but certainly visual design and creative engagement of people and experienced design into our work. It’s this intersection of creativity, technology expertise on human performance and adult learning.
For instance, if a company has a new product rollout and they want to make sure that their people are aligned around it, and they’re going to execute on it to their fullest capacity, will they reach out to you for help in that?
A common type of initiative we would work on new product launches, helping salespeople, customer service people position and support the new products. We do a lot of onboarding work. We do a lot of leadership development work. We do anything that has to do with how do you get people to perform at their best within the organization.
Going back to the TiER1 origins story that you started to share with us, what are your Cofounders’ names?
Kevin Moore and Norm Desmarais.If you have high trust in an organization, it's amazing what you can do. If you don't, it's amazing how difficult things are. Click To Tweet
You, Kevin, and Norm got together and said, “Let’s build a company that we would like to work for, that has the characteristics that ring our bells.” What are some of those characteristics? What did you strive to create?
A few of the principles that were behind our desire to start something where we wanted to work at a place where people could bring their talents and do their best work. We’re unencumbered by bureaucracy and red tape, a lot of autonomy and trust to allow people who were passionate about their work. We have a high-performance environment. People who want to work in the field but unencumbered. A second thing was we wanted an environment that had a positive impact on people’s lives, where you didn’t feel like going to work was a drag, but it was a part of who you are as an employee, also on the people around us. With our communities and clients, we want people to walk away from their relationships and their experiences with us and feel better for having been a part of it. There’s this theoretical richness to the relationships that mattered beyond the transaction of the work.
How did you build that in from the get-go?
From the very beginning, we started out trying to create a high trust environment. We are creating a space where people could come in, you hired people who are passionate about what they did and gave them the room to grow. We are supportive of each other when things didn’t go right. As you know, in startups, things don’t go right a lot. We spent many years and most of them were our own fault, but we learned to live with the issues, challenges and mistakes that were made. In our view, the only thing that mattered was that you got it right in the end. We always had to be committed to getting it right in the end, but we believed that punishing people was never a good strategy. These were investments in people’s development. We started with that kind of mindset. I think a lot of small companies start with that mindset. What happens sometimes is once you start scaling and growing, those ideas get strained. When the tension of the reality of challenging clients and situations sets in, the relationships become further apart by the sheer number of people so trust starts to get pushed upon.
You started out by hiring passionate people, giving them room to grow, supporting them in each other through those times making mistakes. You’re right. Startups have a scrapbook of the ten greatest screw-ups before we knew better. Is there anyone of those that you remember that you’d care to share with us as a cautionary tale?
I don’t know that there’s anyone that seemed like they were daily back then, but what we learned is how much people will come to support you. We saw that from every direction, in a community, people around us and even our own people who didn’t even often know how stressed and how bad things were, but were super dependable. That rooted in our culture, this idea of being dependable for others and showing up for us.
You pointed to one of the biggest obstacles that any growing company has, which is you start with these wonderful ideas and culture you want to create. You hire the right people. You’re close to each other because you’re close to each other. There aren’t that many people to keep track of, but you guys have also been on that Inc. 5000 list for many years, which means you’ve been in growth mode for forever, almost. How have you done it? Have you been able to maintain that culture that you originally set out to create? If so, how have you done it as you’ve continued to grow?
I would like to believe we have been able to maintain it, but a better way to say it is we’ve been able to evolve it. Culture is not static. You have to continue to develop as you bring new people in and they’re in different geographies and the way you work changes. You have to be comfortable with that. You’re always in this state of becoming something more and not be fearful of it. If you’re going to grow, you have to recognize that things will change. That’s part of growth. It’s an organic thing. If you grow, by definition, you change. Knowing what do you hold onto deeply has been a core thing because the structures, the process, how we communicate changes.
All of that has to, but knowing what the core is all about. It is probably a trait, but it doesn’t get enough attention is how critical it is to build trust in an organization and how trust is even built. I don’t think there’s enough intentional thought to that because if you have high trust in an organization, it’s amazing what you can do. If you don’t, it’s amazing how difficult things are. I would say that’s the one common thread that we’re always conscious about.
Conventional wisdom will tell you that it’s easier to build and maintain trust when you have a smaller group of people. By now, I would hope for that it’s conventional wisdom that we all want organizations of trust. We all want cultures that are fundamentally anchored down in that feeling of reciprocal trust between management and employee, and employee and employee all the way across the board. The bigger company gets the more I hear that, it presents as an issue. You hear it in small companies too. It’s because there’s no place to hide and it becomes obvious when there’s no trust there.
If you can extrapolate from your own experience with growing TiER1 and from the work you’ve done with clients, if somebody is reading our conversation and they’re struggling with that thing, especially in the pandemic where people don’t have the benefit of sitting down in the same room and breathing the same oxygen. What are some of the things that we should be paying attention to, to make sure that we keep evolving that trust and it gets better and deeper over time?
There are a number of things that hold true no matter what size you are. Transparency is a huge one. The more you can share with everyone, the better. If you can share everything, even better. It’s not because everybody cares about everything, but because they know there’s nothing to hide, it helps build some of that trust. The second thing is the recognition of the dynamics of trust. We all know that it’s a delicate thing. It’s hard to build trust and it’s incredibly easy to damage it. Every action and every situation of tension and issue, how you handle it can be something that builds stress or it can be something that creates significant damage. Having leadership across the organization that’s hyper-conscious of that, not just in the business of solving the problem in the process, we’re always in the business of creating this asset of trust or not.
Everybody plays a role in that. I think a critical thing of any healthy culture is creating an environment where people believe that they are cared for as a person. If people believe that and it has to be true, it’s not an artificial thing. If people are truly cared for and feel it, that raises trust considerably. If you look for the situations in times like this year, transparency and explicit communication are big because a lot of times, you don’t know the answers. In some organizations, that causes people to not communicate. We don’t know exactly. We don’t want to say the wrong thing. We don’t want to say, “We’re not sure what the answers are,” which can often be a mistake. Sharing what you know is critical to the development of trust as well.
I was on a webinar for a Fortune 100 company. There were 400 leaders online and their Senior Vice President who kicked off the session said something like, “Our people, your people, our collective people need to feel valued because we value them.” That always comes down to what does that looks like. How do you show people that you value them? It’s not enough to say, “I value you.” It’s not a bad thing, but what should that look like? For you guys, one of the ways you do that is you’re an employee-owned organization. Quite literally, everybody is valued.
Everybody’s an owner and that helps. That’s one dimension because we are an employee-owned company. Everybody has a stake in the success of the organization. One way you show value is you truly engage with people and listen to them as to where they are and all along the way their ideas, interests, and struggles. When I say you, there has to be leadership throughout the organization that has that mindset, especially when you’re talking about a scaling organization, it’s never about one person or even a small group of people. It is what is felt. I always say that about our culture. It is what the people around you feel. You are responsible for our culture, not me. It is how you make others feel. Part of that is demonstrating that we are interested in people being a part of it for the long-term. We talk a lot about long-term thinking in our organization. Things are not about the transaction. They’re not about winning the project. They’re about the long-term impact, but those all have to do with helping create a sense of a person belonging and being valued.
I’m assuming that that’s the same thing you’re helping your clients with. Is that thematically consistent in all the work that you do? Are there other certain things that you’re hoping that every client embraces, regardless of what project they’re hiring you to help with?No matter what size your business is, transparency is a huge one. Click To Tweet
I would love to say that we have clients bringing us into work on these explicit things all the time and it’s not the case, which is okay. They bring us in for all kinds of reasons. Our clients, as you would imagine, as every company, they’re across a spectrum of cultures and in terms of where they’re at and their own organizations and the trust levels that exist or don’t. When we step into them, we bring these mindsets and beliefs into our work. Sometimes, it’s explicit because we’re asked to. Other times, we think we have a chance to influence, to help shape and help get them to pause and think, maybe operate a little bit differently. It’s rewarding when you see progress on those fronts.
On the surface, it could sound like different things to say, “Come, help us with a product rollout,” versus, “Come, help us build trust in the organization.”
It is rare that someone would come to us that explicitly, but what they will say is, “We need a more innovative culture,” or “We need a more agile, adaptive culture, or organization. We’re trying to shift to a different way of working.” When you peel back, you find trust is at the center of your ability to do those things. It will show up in like, “We want to create a more engaging onboarding experience where people feel connected while they’re saying some of these same principles apply. We want to create stronger leadership.” We’re like, “Let’s dig into it. It’s not just a matter of training leaders. It’s about helping create an environment where leaders can thrive and make an impact.” It gets woven into the work.
If a client wants to do those things, they’re going to ultimately have to come to terms with how well are the underlying dynamics working or not. In my experience, a client will bring a consultant in. I’ve been on the receiving end of this. I’ve witnessed it a lot over my many years or so of doing this kind of work. A client will say, “We want to build a better higher performing team dynamic.” You then go on and you start to do the work. You peel it back and find that the underlying issue is that person that invited you in to fix the team dynamic.
These are the things that perhaps you personally need to work on. A lot of times, I would like to think it doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but I’m not convinced about that. There’s this moment of truth, where that person is either going to reckon with it or give up. They still want the result, but they don’t want to do what’s necessary on their part to make that result happen. They thought they were hiring you to teach those people how to do that.
When they’re faced with it, oftentimes, the result and the response is, “I don’t want to do that. You can’t make me.” They’ve always been this way like, “Look how much success I’ve had and you’re asking me to change. Forget it.” Do you guys run up against that kind of dynamic in your work? If so, because you’ve been doing this for a long time, do you think senior leadership is becoming more or less receptive to the people, the personal dynamics necessary to implement technology, strategy and everything else?
We run into those dynamics and a related one, you particularly see that on strong leader organizations, mid-size companies where there’s a strong, dominant personality. Maybe they were the founder of the company and that becomes a critical piece. You see it in larger organizations too. In larger organizations, the other thing I think you see is the complexity of their historic culture and bureaucracy that sometimes drive systems a different direction than where they say they want to go. Either way, we do wrestle through these realities of culture change is complex. If you want to change the culture, you’ve got to change leaders. That’s what makes it hard. All of us as leaders are flawed. We’re humans.
We’re on these individual growth journeys of our own trying to lead journeys of an organization. It is a challenge. I do think there’s a great deal of awareness to it. I would say in my own experiences in the past, more organizations are awakening to the demand for a healthier culture that’s more vibrant. It quickly becomes clear that it is leaders that create that. Simply recognizing those realities is important, but it starts with senior leaders. At least their willingness to be vulnerable and look at themselves as part of the situation, as much as anything.
In years, vulnerability has become a word that we’re hearing more in organizations. A lot of it has to do with Brené Brown’s work. There are a lot of people that have been talking about this for a lot of years that near leaders need to be vulnerable. It ties into transparency and personal transparency and everything else. It’s become one of those things that I’ve always been sensitive to, which is when something becomes a buzzword or part of our business lexicon, there’s a tendency oftentimes to confuse the use of the vocabulary word with the actual thing itself. If I’m good at talking about vulnerability and how important it is, I don’t have to be vulnerable because people will think that I am. There’s always this gap between buzzword and behavior.
For example, empowerment was a huge buzzword for many years. I used to do a riff on this and some of my talks were about what empowerment is supposed to be as giving people discretion and control over their work. What it looks like in a lot of places is, I wave and waggle my fingers at you and I say, “You’re empowered. Go out there and make decisions. Before you make any decisions, check with me and don’t screw it up.” Over the years, more people have come to understand what empowerment means. Are there any of these human dynamics that you’re seeing where there is still a gap between the language that you see companies use and the behavior associated with it?
It is true with vulnerability. It’s still true with empowerment in a lot of ways. It’s easy for us, as leaders or anybody, who’s been competent at what they do and had success in what they do to recognize what is theoretically good, but in their own situations, do it differently. It is like, “I need to create space for other people, but in this case, I know better than that person does and they’re not sure what they’re doing.” There’s always an easy human nature rationalization of those things. That’s the tension that fights against creating the cultures that we sometimes want because the big risk and vulnerability you have to take are like, “I don’t agree with what that person wants to do.”
I’m okay explaining to them why, but if they insist upon doing it, I’m also okay letting them go and then helping them. If it screws up, I am not blaming them. I’m not saying, “I told you so,” but rather being there to support them. That is where it gets challenging. That’s where you start to get more trust built and more growth. That’s a space and it’s related to empowerment, which is a critical element because many organizations want to be more agile, more adaptive, more client-centered, and more responsive. All those things require letting go of stuff and letting other people do the work.
Intel had an adage for quite some time. They still refer to it at least occasionally. They call it disagree and commit. The idea and the culture were if I have an idea, your job is to tear it apart and be critical of it. If I’m your boss and I say, “Here’s what I think we should do,” you have every right in the world to disagree with me on it and we’re going to kick it around. When all is said and done, I’m still going to make the decision. When I make that decision, the agreement is that you commit to it. Disagree and commit is a wonderful concept. What it looks like with some leaders is, “Okay, go ahead. Disagree and now commit.”
We have a little bit of inverse that’s related, but one of our principles is the person closest to the client makes the call. It’s not necessarily the most senior person. In fact, it’s often not. That same principle of dialogue will happen because the second principle we have is to check your thinking. Don’t go and make the call without checking your thinking with someone. They might check their thinking with me. I may have a different viewpoint, but in the end, it’s still their call. That’s a hard principle to hold to. It’s an easy one to talk about. It’s a hard one to live with. Another example of what you’re asking, “Where else do we see this?” I think you see it in innovation spaces a lot. Everybody says, “We have to be willing to fail. We have to have a culture that allows for failure.” How many companies are good at doing that and how many leaders are because the pressure that they feel from their company is questionable? That’s a difficult space. Everyone knows you’re supposed to do it, but being able to do it is another thing.
Every business book that you will ever pick up says that we should encourage people to try and make mistakes and support them in their failures. You guys strive to do from the beginning of TiER1. Conceptually, that’s a great thing. If I tell you, “Go ahead and make a mistake.” You then do and then I spend all my time trying to figure out, “What is wrong with you? Who can we blame this for?” All of this stuff is much easier to talk about than it is to do, but that doesn’t excuse us from trying to do it, myself included. You mentioned a couple of the principles that you guys operate by. Do you have a set of articulated principles or values?
We have both. We have an operating model called dynamically distributed authority. It’s this idea that authority is distributed and it’s dynamic and contextual to the roles you’re playing. We have some basis for what that operating model is built upon. One of them is this idea is that its principle-driven, not policy-driven. We don’t have a lot of rules, but we do try to articulate principles around many of the things that we do. I cited a couple to you and others, this notion of measure to align. We use data a lot, but it’s not to beat people up.A critical thing of any healthy culture is creating an environment where people believe that they are cared for as a person. Click To Tweet
It’s to align on expectations so that you and I are talking about the same thing, and we can look and say, “What were the actual results of something?” We use principles a lot to drive our thinking. We also do have stated values and this notion of values and action, which ultimately look like principles like, “I’m in the game. I am all in. I’m part of this all the time. I’m not standing on the sidelines judging others. I bring my whole self to work. I’m not a different person at work than I am at home.” These are some of the principles that we try to bring in to help give people a perspective of who we are and how we think about things.
We may be getting a little bit into the weeds, a little nerdy on some of this, but what’s the distinction that you’re making between values and principles?
We articulated our values years ago as a framework of the things that defined the boundaries of what we care about. For us, it’s like high performance and relationships, accountability and fun. These are generic words. Some people would be like, “This could be anybody’s values.” For us, we’d say, it’s the intersection of the six that provides a boundary, high performance and relationships. We’ve got to do great work and in the process, people have to have high-quality relationships in the end. Those are frameworks of the things that we care about. Principles for us are more insights that help us shape the decisions we make. This idea of the person closest to the client makes the call rather than having a hundred rules about who has what authorities that simplifies them into an elegant way to make a decision.
Can you lay out for us what the principles are?
I shared a few of them. The thing about it is we have principles in a lot of different situations. What I shared is some of the operating principles we have. One of them is to embrace the assignment. You might not love the work that’s being assigned to you, but we are a consulting organization. There’s something to be learned and delivered from every situation you step into. Those are some operating principles. We have principles around other types of situations. For instance, we have a model for how we support individuals. We call it a Personalized Associate Experience or PAX. One of the principles is to find a yes. If somebody needs support on something, we may not be able to do exactly what they want to do, but we can find a way to say yes to it. There are a number of different contextual situations that we have different principles articulated for.
That’s a hell of a principle. We could all benefit from the practice of that one, especially nowadays. What a wonderful practice to try to find that yes. You hit a little button for me. You said something like, “You may not love the work you’re assigned to, but you need to embrace it.” Let’s explore that word. I have it on pretty good authority, my internal intel of the inner goings-on at TiER1 that you have been known to use the word ‘love’ from time to time and talking about your business, your employees, and your colleagues. Is that true?
It is true. You’ve written a book on it so you know more about this than anybody. We probably share a common belief there and how important it is.
Talk a little bit about that. What does love mean to you in the TiER1 business and business as a whole?
It is a big word. It means a lot of different things to different people in different ways. One notion is the idea of the well-being of the individual is of primary importance in and of itself. Before we worry about how they’re performing and what the value they create in the company, the well-being of the individual is of primary concern to all of us. We want them to know and feel that, but even if they don’t know or feel it, it’s still true. A related idea is we sometimes talk about this conditional employment, unconditional compassion. If love for us means we care about you as a person, independent of what it means to the organization. We’re going to have unconditional compassion for you as a person may not mean you work here forever.
That may be the right thing. That may be the loving thing to help you realize this is the wrong place, but if we start with an authentic care for you as a person, everything is better as a result of that for all kinds of reasons. Some of which we’ve started to talk about, there’s greater trust in the organization. There are greater commitment and greater engagement. Our work overall is more meaningful. We’re making an impact on people’s lives. That is a central thing. From our viewpoint, there’s a principle of organizations that exist to serve people, not the other way around. Sometimes companies and organizations get lost in that, that the people are fortunate to work here and have jobs. From an individual standpoint, that may be true and probably is true. The organization exists as an act of service to others, and others may be customers and certainly our customers, but they’re also employees who are customers in a different way. That notion of love threads through all of that.
At least the stereotype is, why do you think that many business people get a little squirrely around that language in the context of business?
We’ve been indoctrinated into an economic system that has steered us away from it. You’re seeing certainly a dialogue, if not, a reckoning about that in the past years. If you go back, we have a capitalist mindset and I am a capitalist through and through, that was driven by shareholder results, pure and simple. There was this belief that if we have an objective focus on that, then that’s all an organization has to do. I don’t think that’s true, healthy or even realistic because if you want shareholder results, you have to have a focus on others. In years, there’s been more realization, but most leaders were indoctrinated in a mindset of like, “It’s all about the business. It’s all about the bottom line. It’s all about financial results.” Everybody here is in service to those financial results as opposed to everybody being shared.
There’s an implied, if not overt, mindset that says that those are mutually exclusive, that you have to do one or the other. It’s either a bottom-line focus or creating an environment that people love working in as if somehow those are at odds with each other. Whereas, if I could be presumptuous as to quote myself, “Love is Just Damn Good Business.” What does that mean? It means if you operationalize, it’s good business, which means it reflects on the bottom line all the way down to shareholder value. That’s what I’ve seen in my work. I have a strong opinion about that, but when you guys go into organizations, it’s not necessarily about the vocabulary words.
You may not be using the vocabulary words, but what you’re helping your clients to do is to create that environment of value and trust. When we start calling it love, in my experience, it raises expectations. It doesn’t make it soft and fluffy. It makes it more difficult because that’s a much higher, more difficult standard to live up to than “good performance.” How about performance that your clients are going to love that sets the expectation way higher?
I agree with that. The use of that term and that idea of love does raise the expectations. It gets people’s attention. It’s a deeper thing that you can’t throw around. You’ve got to think about what you’re saying. I’d probably say I’ve only started using it in conversations inside our organization, but without fully recognizing that at the time. That is why I felt like we have to have a deeper discussion of what we’re talking about. What we are talking about is putting people at the center of our work. Work is not a transaction. It is something that is deeply humanistic and we have a chance to have an impact on people’s lives. If you start with that point now, this is more central and important than ever. In a good way, a lot of companies have risen to the challenge. I’ve been impressed to see how many organizations have stepped up, but putting the human being at the center of what work is about as opposed to all the specifics to transactions. If you do that over the long-term, you’ll get a lot of things right.
I’m curious. You say you started using this language years ago internally at TiER1. When people at the company first heard you use those words, do you remember how they responded?If you want to change the culture, you've got to change leaders. Click To Tweet
I got a lot of immediate positive affirmation. I wrote some things about it and at a company meeting, I talked a little bit about it. The concepts touched people a little more deeply maybe than other languages that had been used. It gets more deeply into the human aspect of what we’re talking about. That’s one of the reasons it’s a powerful word, a powerful concept and a powerful belief.
Is it fair to say then that the overall response was primarily positive versus shocked or negative?
It is fair to say that about the explicit response. I can’t say if there are people who were uncomfortable and saying like, “What’s he talking about?” that didn’t come forward. That could have happened as well. Sometimes that will happen. As well as anyone, a part of being a leader is you have to be willing to continue to move the conversation and dialogue and mindset forward.
I know it’s a rather generalized answer. You’re not going person by person and saying, “Yes, no.” In terms of your own experience, because you know how it is when you communicate something, you get a hint as to whether or not you’re connecting. I can’t prove this, but I’m going to make an analysis here. I would bet that the reason you had a more positive response when you used that language for the first time is that people already saw evidence that it was true in the environment that you had, in the way that you lead, in their experience of working with TiER1. If you were an asshole to people and started talking about how important love is, then you got to get a different response.
I’d like to believe that’s true as well and I think it is. As you know, the humanity side of it is important too. We’ve got a good, loving and caring environment. We don’t get everything right. I certainly don’t and across the organizations, we don’t. That’s a part of it too. The notion of love is bigger, it’s forgiving too. There’s grace involved and we don’t have enough grace in our world now.
Love looks different at work than it is at home. That’s obvious, as you said, it means different things to different contexts and all of that, but there are some parallels. For example, if you asked my wife, there are times where she probably wasn’t particularly happy with what I did, but it’s fair to say that she still loves me. It does transcend that and there is such a thing as tough love. There is such a thing as the dynamic between love and compassion for an individual and love for the business.
Sometimes those two things don’t line up and I might need to liberate somebody to find their passion elsewhere because that’s the best thing for them and the best thing for the organization. It’s complex, but I’ve got to tell you, Greg, I love the facility of language that you have and that your team has where you’re taking these principles and you’re taking meaningful, deep dynamics of humanity and framing them up in a way that makes beautiful sense in a business context. I want to thank you for spending this time with us. If somebody wants to connect with you and learn more about TiER1, where can they find you?
Our website is TiER1Performance.com. My email is the easiest way, which is G.Harmeyer@TiER1Performance.com. I love this conversation, Steve. I love exploring these ideas with people because it helps shape our thinking and our growth and the way we move forward. I appreciate you having me and the input from others as well.
Our readers are passionate about this subject. That’s why they tune into the show, not because they think it’s a bunch of crap, but it’s because they want to understand better how to do it. I imagine you’re going to have some great conversations with people. Thanks for being with us. Thank you for tuning in to this episode. Until next time, do what you love in the service of people and love what you do.
About Greg Harmeyer
CEO of TiER1 Performance Solutions focused on delivering knowledge management, change management, talent management and learning solutions to large commercial and government organizations.
TiER1 has been named to the inc. 5000 list of the country’s fastest growing privately held companies for five straight years and was winner of Best Places to Work in Cincinnati in 2010.
Specialties: e-Learning, Change Management, Talent Management, Leadership, Knowledge Management, Program Management, Consulting Services, Management Consulting