Mika Cross 5:00
I pinned on the great rank of captain in ’03 and finished my master’s degree. And, you know, raised my daughter for about a year. I did make the really hard decision to resign my commission, but continue to serve Uncle Sam and the US federal government as a uniform. And so I took all my resources and experiences and human capital and personnel and transition that to the Federal civilian side in human capital and human resources. And I worked in areas like employee management relations, focusing on performance and conduct to work life and wellness programs, human capital, policy, development, diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging, even when it wasn’t DEI and B it was just EO and diversity and transformational workplace practices. After the 911 commission came out and mandated that the US intelligence community specifically start thinking and fast and doing things a lot differently when it comes to eliminating stovepipes and collaborations. So took that expertise all across government and served in places like the United States Department of Agriculture, the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Labor, among many other agencies, before jumping to private industry, working for one of our favorite, fully remote companies flex jobs. So yeah, which is where we met? Exactly? Yeah,

Anne B 6:24
when you just said, Actually, you just said a lot, one thing that really stood out is something that I believe we are truly aligned on, and it’s, it’s a hard message for people to hear, and that is, yes, we are remote work advocates. We have been doing it a long time. Remote work, distributed work, however you want to refer to it, however. I don’t think either one of us say everybody can work remote or everybody should work remote. It is more along the lines of people if their position, if their job allows it, should have the opportunity to be able to work where they’re going to be most comfortable, most successful, the healthiest, because that flows through, and that is a message that has not been well received in certain areas, but I still stand by that. And you being a thought leader in this transformational workplace practice area are also out there kind of saying the same thing. So I’m curious what your how it’s been received from you?

Mika Cross 7:40
Yeah, I was going to say absolutely spot on. And you know, our nation’s policymakers are all really trying to wrap their heads around what this looks like from a design perspective, from a performance and accountability perspective, from an oversight and reporting perspective, in terms of delivery of outcomes and mission when it comes to the nation’s largest employer, the US, federal government. And so I’m a huge advocate of just really taking a look and a step back at the data and what those insights say. And first and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that about 70% of US workers are what you call desk list workers. So these are workers on the front lines, or in industries and occupations that require on site, physical co located on prem, kind of work, whether it be in hospitality, retail trade, education, manufacturing, you name it, or military service, right or on the front lines in healthcare. And so if we take a look at how those frontline, deskless workers are experiencing the work environment in this new, ever changing, dynamic world of work that we are navigating post pandemic, and how they’re faring even when they’re working on site and physically co located with their coworkers. It’s quite interesting, because, frankly, they’re not doing so great, and if you’re taking a look at the instances of worker well being indicators in areas like workplace stress, workplace anxiety, which can lead, if unmanaged, to high rates of worker burnout, attrition, and what that means to organization’s ability to drive performance serve its customers and deliver mission. It’s breathtaking, and so organizations, no matter where you stand, on remote or hybrid or just flexible work at large, really need to consider the human factors that are chipping away at culture and workers relationship with work at all, in terms of how they value and regard what they want out of a workplace.

Anne B 9:57
You just used a phrase. That I’ve not heard, but I recognize what it is deskless workers. So when people have been talking about the remote work industry, the remote work, you know, the movement, what have you? To your point, there are a lot of individuals that they don’t even it’s not an option for them. So a lot of individuals are focused solely on the workers that go into an office and sit at a desk. So they’re making this argument, they’re making this fight. I cannot tell you how many people I know that have worked in the restaurant industry, for instance, for a long time. And I saw so many messages being shared on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, saying, Guys, you know what, if you have a remote work job, if you’re able to work remotely, why are you complaining about having to work remotely? We can’t we are temporarily unemployed, or we are temporarily unable to get income because of this, or our whole world has changed. Restaurants are a great example of that. You know how they had to start putting up barriers between booths and how they had to serve or put everything outside it was life changing. And this is a whole group of individuals, the deskless workers. I love that term that seem to have almost been forgotten in the fight for the ability to work remotely,

Mika Cross 11:36
absolutely and again, when we look at the data in terms of turnover, attrition, workplace satisfaction, employee engagement, the very workers who are working in a physically co located environment aren’t faring much better. In fact, often they’re faring worse. So this concept and regard for in person work without strategic design and alignment to you know, job performance again, job design outcomes, outputs and customer impact, is going to have even worse of a consequence on the very things and indicators that workplaces are hoping to enhance, and so if not done thoughtfully, if not done strategically, if not done with a data informed approach and a framework by which You can assess, monitor, measure the impact of the work environment as it changes, as it evolves, we are going to be desperate, even more desperate for talent and

Anne B 12:51
it’s ever evolving, right? Because, I mean, if you look at where we were six months ago, a year ago, 18 months ago, every single stage of that were different with regard to how thought process was for workers being able to work and where they are working. So I guess going along those lines, you, as I said, are a thought leader in this in this area. Do you have some examples of successful workplace transformations that you’ve been involved in, and how it impacts the overall organization, and I mean, like the whole organization, down to the individual workers who are directly impacted by the decisions that are being made around the workplace transformation.

Mika Cross 13:40
Yeah, absolutely, you’d hope I have a few examples after let me point to a some that I’ve seen during the pandemic. You might be surprised, too, and this is pulling from, again, the the federal government space, but I have seen organizations like at the US Department, Homeland Security, even at the immigration, customs and enforcement agency, who has given up office space certain pockets and teams of their organizations who do work from a desk and are knowledge based workers, but also serve customers all across the country and in field locations, and do all Out of travel give up their office space and invest in the right resources, in training team, building skill and competency around working across distance, creating culture, collaboration and connection for teams that are not physically co located, coming up with a plan for their strategic leadership to decide on those performance indicators, outcomes and goals, and then measuring against them and having a consistent way to be able to assess and and review the data in terms of impact and work. Course changes. And so not only did they save an exorbitant amount of money, but they have reduced turnover and attrition, which impacts mission. They’ve been able to serve more customers. They’ve been able to get more timely reports when it comes to this was a particular organization in the equal opportunity and compliance space in terms of legal requirements for meeting deadlines and timelines with reporting and case management and more positive outcomes. And so in turn, that saves the taxpayer millions of dollars per year, if you consider that. And they’ve had some wild success stories in that capacity, I’ve also seen approaches for offices of Inspector General in the United States government. Those are smaller organizations that perform oversight and compliance work. They do a lot of case management, a lot of travel, but offer choice in being able to decide if particular people and individuals, based on their positions, even want to go remote, and if they did, they set up the infrastructure for making strategic decisions and aligning that with the data insights and cost savings as well, which in turn resulted in not a one size all fits all approach, Keeping in mind that their workforce is also multi generational, and that not everybody has the same preferences and work styles, that not everyone has the same proficiency with collaborative tools and technology. And so really taking this approach of designing it around the workforce preferences, job requirements and the ability to track data and cost savings as well. So those things have worked really well. Now let’s take it back a notch when in 2010 the Telework Enhancement Act was enacted across the federal government. That’s when I joined the United States Department of Agriculture and was leading the work life and wellness programs, including what we call telework at the time, for the Secretary’s vision of a cultural transformation. So work life and wellness programs and policies were actually a component of this vision of cultural transformation, by the way, for workforce, that was over 105,000 workers at all levels, 3000 different facilities across the globe and in 16 different agencies and mission areas that operated as part of this executive department, by the way, ingrained in 150 years of doing business like we always did, and So taking this radical approach to helping empower program managers, supervisors and managers, but also employees, to understand their individual part in cultural transformation and making these policies even like work, life, Wellness, flexibility, telework, making it a shared responsibility for reporting, for accountability for performance and conduct, really helped drive success. And so at that time, within one year of implementing new updates to more expansive telework programs alone, we saw a more than 5% increase in employee engagement across the organization, you talk about statistically relevant. And so what did that?

Anne B 18:27
I just want to take a moment here, because, yeah, you said a 5% increase across the organization. The organization being the federal government,

Mika Cross 18:39
the US, Department of Agriculture and, okay,

Anne B 18:42
so regardless, still the US, yeah, they’re part of the government. A 5% increase across the workers in that area of the federal government. My gosh, yeah, that is, I mean, people have a perception of what it’s like to work for a government office and how hard it is and how stressed you get, and all of these things. How in the world was that accomplished across that organization?

Mika Cross 19:18
Well, it wasn’t done alone. So if anyone claims that they did it themselves, which I did not, they’re wrong, and that’s a flawed approach. And so the approach we took was from the top all the way down. You asked about individuals and the impacts there, but also we had a leadership team, starting with the Secretary of Agriculture, who was dedicated and met business when it came to this idea of cultural transformation. So even things like telework eligibility and telework reporting, they were measured, they were reported and they were monitored on a monthly basis. When I tell you. To the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary Vilsack at the time, who’s now Secretary again, by the way, but he would sit down with the agency leads and the sub Cabinet Committee and review the data from those reports every single month. And let’s just face it, what gets measured gets done. Because people started believing that, hey, I’m really accountable for this and I’m on the line. Then we went down from a change management approach. We designed and delivered training for supervisors and managers leaders of people and how to lead telework, flexible, friendly, distributed teams, regardless of location, tactically from performance to conduct to engagement to designing meetings well to designing opportunities for connection and relationship building, and also for accountability purposes and reporting purposes. What’s your responsibility? We also extended that training to program managers. So I mentioned that at that organization, we had 105,000 105,000, employees there at the time, and so 16 different HR departments, you know, that had their own policies and procedures and practices, but had to fall in line with the departments they did not report to me. But what we did was create a monthly program where we were investing time to teach program managers how to manage their programs, help them navigate the reporting requirements, answer questions about policies that they didn’t understand, help them with marketing materials and cross level best and promising practices from their vantage points, because what worked in the Food and Nutrition Service might not work in the animal Plant Health Inspection Service, but we were able to create community by which we were leveraging best and promising practices and also failures, like what’s not working well. And so if a program was struggling to collect data, to report it on time, to help their employees understand how to code their time. We were able with those touch points, not just through training, but through relationships and really coaching to create that infrastructure. And then let’s talk about the individuals, right? So not only did we invest the time and infrastructure to do that properly again 14 years ago, but we also were able to win a lot of awards and recognition on the outside. So this federal agency, to your point, the US government, where it was able to really put marketing backbone, so the investment in helping the organization learn and grow together from all levels, whether that be at the HR director level, the program manager and leader level, the supervisor and manager level, or the individual contributor level, was a part of this cultural transformation. And then there was a marketing arm. So USDA was being recognized marketing. Can we just

Anne B 22:58
clarify for everybody when you say marketing, arm marketing, what to whom? Yeah, well,

Mika Cross 23:05
that’s a great point of clarity, because we did not have resources or money to invest in, like a PR firm or marketing firm or anything like that. It was word of mouth. And so this grassroots level word of mouth from the workforce, as well as the media paying attention to engagement scores, rising investments in nursing mothers, rooms, working worker well being programs, telework, among other workplace flexibilities. Because keep in mind the US Department of Agriculture also includes organizations like the US Forest Service. So if you think that you know firefighters can telework often, that’s probably not the case. Or the Florida strangers

Anne B 23:49
who were incredibly overloaded with visitors during the pandemic, because everybody was trying to go outside or getting a bus or RV and traveling to work, and so the forest rangers and everybody in the

Mika Cross 24:04
park services, so for different, different aspect, but close for a service who services the US Forest, National Forest, and so they also are the ones that take the lead on wildfire fighting. And so, yeah,

Anne B 24:21
which cannot be done remotely as much as we would not be done.

Mika Cross 24:26
And so also consider, we have the Foreign Agricultural Service who are in different countries, serving and supporting there. We have the Food and Nutrition Service who are on the front lines in farms and agriculture all across the country, in plants and food plants, inspecting the safety of our food that you and I eat every day, um, or the airports, making sure that things are not being smuggled and brought into this country, whether they be, you know, foreign animals or plants or things that could potentially be invasive. To our infrastructure. Those positions can never be done fully remotely. But guess what they can have? They could have a degree of flexibility.

Unknown Speaker 25:12
They could have, I love that.

Mika Cross 25:15
They could have different work schedules. They could have support to employee well being and wellness programs, they could have access to employee assistance programs, which helps them, from a concierge perspective, deal with family emergencies, trauma, grief, things that come up or even help in my case, when my kids were little, help me find daycare during the summer, when the kids were out of school. So those kinds of programs when integrated well and when promoted well and when taught to all levels of the organization in terms of if you’re a supervisor or a manager, here’s what you can lean on and leverage versus if you’re an independent contributor. This is what’s available, and we’re going to help and support you, but you have a responsibility also to be judicious of your time and to make sure that you’re still performing and all of these things. But it really did end up with a cultural transformation that was the vision. It was only one component. Keep in mind, there were many other components to this transformation. But can you imagine, back then, this organization, this large, leading the way across the federal government, having the right measures, the data, the insights and the return on investment calculations to show the rest of government and also employers across the country that this can be done and can be done well. And it’s not a one size fits all approach, love, love

Anne B 26:38
that we say that all the time. I think I love where this is going, because I think a lot of people don’t have that bigger view that you being in the role that you have been and are. Can see the whole picture across an incredibly long, large structure or organization. But then have to think about how to drill down into so many different areas. It is a large project to look at strategic workplace transformation across any organization, be it small, startup, enterprise, you know, tenured, what have you. And I think if everybody could understand or even see that kind of journey map that you have to really dig down and create, they would be overwhelmed and shocked by what has to go into that. So as we’re thinking about that, you mentioned how training leaders and program managers, which was a huge aspect of success or failure in any organization when it came to remote work. But can you talk about the role of leadership, specifically when you’re looking at this strategic workplace transformation, and how they can positively impact it or negatively impact it. Really, I

Mika Cross 28:05
think it depends on the organization and the organization’s culture, but I often like to frame change around two simple things, what’s in your control and what’s

Anne B 28:18
not the life lesson that’s not just a workplace transformation lesson children, what can you control? Right?

Mika Cross 28:27
I think we’ve learned that most parents, especially mothers, can appreciate that concept. And then the other bucket is my favorite, which is the Eisenhower matrix. You know what’s important and urgent, and if it’s not an urgent and important, how do we shift the other priorities so that we’re focusing on the most high value work? And so when I think about culture change, and you know people, it’s so hard, it is hard, it’s difficult, but you know what baby steps are, still steps forward, and we all have a part to play. So I think starting with the concept of building trust and confidence around the fact that if you’re investing in a change, whether it’s a change to your policy, your procedures, your practices, your initiatives, what are the purpose? What are our values? How do we live our values through this change? And how do we see ourselves? And what are our responsibilities, either if you’re a leader or if you’re an individual contributor, because everybody has a part to play, and then the messaging pieces to that so equipping people to feel empowered that they can control the things they can control, and that they have support resources and a community of peers across the organization for when things aren’t going the best look. Let’s keep it real. If you think that every leader is read in and bought into this focus on return to office in the ways that many organizations, private or public, are doing it, we all know that’s not the case. Yes, but many of them are going to have to implement those policies regardless. So what things do you have in control that you can do to make this a little more palatable? Well, let’s think about it. Can you approve other work schedule flexibilities? Can you design together time for that meaningful in person work and think about how to create space for connection, team building and innovation. Can you cultivate cultures of psychological safety where we really embed this concept of instrumental assistance, helping each other out and catching each other up, especially if we’re not all working at the same time, at the same place. Can you help recognize hidden bias on hybrid and distributed teams in your own self and lead by example? Are you investing in intergenerational skills to communicate and collaborate better? That’s a good one. Yeah. And can you listen? Can you make room to listen to the pain points, the suggestions, the feedback, and even if you can’t control the result and respond to everybody’s idea and suggestion, can you help them be a part of the change, or help empower them to connect with resources to help you make the workplace run better from their perspectives. So those are little, small things that make a big difference when you’re talking about workplace and employee engagement.

Anne B 31:30
I want to dig into that a little bit more, because there’s so much around whether it’s remote hybrid in office, there are so many different things that go into building culture and organization, especially, especially during a transformation time period. But before we go into that, I’d like to give everybody a little chance to get to know Mika. So I know Mika seen the show. She knows that this is our, our, this our, that section. But for our new listeners, Mika and I are going to get a random word, two random words or two random phrases, and we have to choose. There’s no I don’t want either or I want both. Here we have to choose and explain why. So we’ll both do it. The first random phrase or words are, see what we get, beach or mountains.

Mika Cross 32:31
Oh, that’s a hard one. Main we have it all.

Anne B 32:35
I would be both, but the rules say no, both. So I’m gonna say which one are you gonna go with

Mika Cross 32:43

Anne B 32:46
I think I’ll go with beach as well. Now, here’s the for those of you who don’t know, a lot of you do. I just spent a little bit of time in Alaska, which, like where you are, has both, right, like there are mountains, there are beaches, there’s everything, but the most relaxing part of that journey was going to a beach, building a fire, and just sitting there for hours. And there’s something about being on a beach, hearing the water, that almost reduces your blood pressure by, you know, five to 10 points immediately. And I think that’s what it is about a beach versus a mountain, which has its own great characteristics, but that’s why I picked beach. What about you?

Mika Cross 33:30
Well, you know, there’s science behind that, my friend, I actually just read an article about the fact that if you spend even just five minutes near water, that it can, it can reduce stress and anxiety during your day. And so I actually live on the Maryland Chesapeake Bay like literally, you can look out my home office and see the wings. She

Anne B 33:55
has the best freaking view I have ever seen. It’s amazing. So yeah,

Mika Cross 34:01
but I have to say also that I grew up in a lake town right on what’s called push all lake in glenbourne, Maine, outside of Banga, if you’re a Stephen King van. So water was a part of my life growing up, you know, I swam in it in the summers, I skated on it in the winters, we made little boats and all these things. And so just water was a big anchor for me, no matter where I was. And I feel most connected to water kind of makes sense if you think about it, because what are our bodies comprised of? And so when you think energetically,

Anne B 34:37
for me coffee,

Mika Cross 34:41
when you consider energetically, what’s flowing through our human bodies, in terms of turning energy into thoughts and creativity and all of those things. For me, I feel most flowy when I’m near water,

Anne B 34:55
yes, and it’s just I feel like I’m in more. In control of my my soul, my being, and everything so. So there we have it. We’re one and one right now. Yeah, phrase or words are city life or country life.

Mika Cross 35:19
Oh, I definitely would think country, but I don’t like it too rural. I like little small I’d say rural metropolitan areas. I don’t necessarily think of them as country, but there are places where, like, you can walk to the grocery store, you could walk to the bank, you could walk to happy hour and get a cocktail or ride your bike or something. I like to be close enough to people, but far enough away where I have a choice,

Anne B 35:49
like for the days that I just don’t like people. I want to be able to still do things, but participating with humans if I’m in an okay mood and they are on my good side, so this one’s hard for me. I initially, my initial gut reaction was neither, like the previous one was both. This one, my initial reaction was neither, because I I’m not really the city life is too busy and it’s too I loved it when I was younger, but now it’s like, Calm down already. You know, need to just kind of maintain some some order and some semblance. But I there are times that I love visiting a city country life. It’s almost complete opposite. In my mind, when I’m thinking about it, I like this. I think similar, like cities that have, like, a small downtown city area where you can walk, you can go have coffee, you can do these things, you can visit, but you have to live far enough out that you’re not engaged by that. Would that? I think that would maybe qualify as country. I think lean more towards that, yeah, yeah. As I’m talking it through with you, they

Mika Cross 37:04
were on the same page, my friend, we usually

Anne B 37:07
are, which is awesome, even when we aren’t with everybody else and we’re making debates and going forward on things, we’re generally aligned. All right. Last one, oh no, we can’t do that one. No, I think we need to skip this one, because now we have to, okay, well, praise yourself.

Mika Cross 37:30
Okay, working

Anne B 37:33
remotely, or working in the office, definitely

Mika Cross 37:37
remotely. Come on. Who are we

Anne B 37:42
like? I don’t think we could do this one. It’s a kind of a given. But I think that brings up a good point. The reason that I am so successful and I like working remotely is because, even though I have this space that I have put together that works for me. I am not here all the time. I travel. I go visit people. I work at other offices. I just spent two months going to, you know, visiting my son out of the country, going to visit friends. So working remotely, but not in my box at home, I’m out and moving because, thankfully, I have a job that allows me to do that, and that’s, I think that’s the big piece for me, is the ability to move where I want to move and continue to work. So yes, on the remotely, but just want to make sure everybody kind of hears that, that even if you are a work at home or a work remote individual, how can you fit that movement into your life so that you don’t feel trapped in a box in your house?

Mika Cross 38:56
That’s a really important concept. And I think likewise, I schedule together time, you know, and think about it. Mean I’m in right when I’m doing keynotes events, when I’m doing training, I’m facilitating team building workshops. I love that. I love being together in person, because we’re designing that time for intention and purpose, and we’re designing fun. I always build fun. I have to have fun. There’s science behind it. So my favorite thing is bringing teams together, teaching them how to work better together. And then, if your preference is to do deep work on your own, having the ability for those positions and those workers that can participate in that kind of, you know, flexibility to be able to do it, but then also helping to design that together time for when it makes the most sense and when it creates the best outcomes, not to just sit in an office alone jumping on Zoom or. For, you know, going meeting to meeting that’s not intentful design for together time. So, yeah, I think a combination of both, but primarily I do my best deep work remotely.

Anne B 40:15
So I love that. First of all, thank you for participating in this or that. Always have fun. Always learn things about people. I love that our last question and the conversation around it fed back into what we wanted to bring it back to that was unintentional. These truly, these are random guys. Y’all know that done it for a long time, but tying back into that culture conversation. How? Or I mean, it’s so important maintaining that strong company culture is so important, but it’s so challenging when, when you’re either fully remote or partially partially remote, or, more importantly, kind of where we’re talking about during a workplace transformation, keeping and maintaining that culture is incredibly difficult, but so important. So what are some practical steps? Typically, I would ask for leaders, but I’m going to change it up here, because I think that it’s I think culture isn’t just about what leaders do, it’s what everybody does, even if you’re not the decision maker on how the culture is being driven or what you’re doing, your participation, how you react, how you respond, is driving the culture. So what are some practical steps that leaders individuals can do to foster that engagement and community during a workplace transformation.

Mika Cross 41:47
I think first, it’s reminding people that they are stronger together and together doesn’t have to mean physically co located, so finding opportunities to do things together in a way that makes sense for organizations and reminding them the power of connection, so that could look like a 25 minute trivia session around your company’s history. Or in the federal government, we actually have Historian’s Office in some really old organizations and agencies, and so inviting, maybe the Historian’s Office to come lead a fun trivia session around the history and evolution of your organization. It can remind people where we came from. It allows us to have a little bit of fun together. It brings back some of those archetypes and reasons why our agency or organization exists, or what your service delivery option is, and why we got here and again, it inspires a little bit of fun, which always helps enhance camaraderie and team building across teams. Other things that can work well, especially when leaders are already burnt out and dwindling resources and time and bandwidth is again to harness that power of community. So could we turn our own workforce, our own employees, into consultants and help advise us and how this is working, that could look like a culture council with volunteers. I mean, chances are you can look across your team and know those people who are extroverted and love to connect. Like to come up with ideas. Want to inspire engagement and have suggestions. Give them the opportunity to lead some projects and ideas to bring people together and rally around this concept of change and transformation. It when you strengthen connection across your teams, you get richer dialog. You create a space for greater innovation and collaboration. You’re building that culture of psychological safety, where people feel safe and connected to be able to ask the hard questions, poke holes in things, and also identify areas of weakness or failure and learn from them. So any chance you get to start with the basics of connecting people, might be a monthly mentoring session. We did that with the US. Census Bureau during the pandemic is creating this mentoring Mondays. It was one Monday a month. The topics came from the workforce and what they wanted to talk about career pathing. How do you get promoted? Can we hear from our executives? Can we come up with a book club, whatever it might be, and have it focused on that as a group and as a community, and then bring more dialog and input and conversation around the next one to help shape what we talk about next. It was a light lift for leaders, and it helped open the doors to more conversations, so that you know, as they are transitioning to this return to Office strategy, it sets up the right infrastructure and relationships for being able to voice concerns, ask hardcore. Questions, and sometimes relay the information that people might not like or want to respond to, but they trust that you’re going to give them full transparency around why decisions are being made and what we need to do to implement it, and know that the doors are open for listening. So I think that multi prong approach also if you consider, again, the intergenerational workforce, in the sense that we have four to five generations working together at any one time. Many organizations welcomed their new early career as Gen Z during a time where we were primarily fully remote for you knowledge workers. And so they may not have had the benefit of establishing those strong relationships in person before transitioning to remote. They were hired like that. So how we think about integrating people from a cultural perspective, from a mentoring perspective, and I don’t just mean senior to Junior, but peer to peer as well, reverse mentoring, those are all wonderful opportunities to leverage the skills that you have on your team, rather than by tenure or seniority. And so those are just some examples and suggestions. You know, I think that work really well when you’re implementing a change strategy across an organization.

Anne B 46:12
I love the the culture Council. I was just talking to someone the other day who is in the process of, or in the early stages of what they’re calling a culture club. Same thing, different name, when one of the biggest hurdles that they were having is that they were so like, I really want the culture club. Let’s get let’s get going. Let’s get going. We want activities. What are y’all doing? And not putting your own ideas as a leader in there to drive the conversation, but trying to pull things out of the individuals who are knee deep in the actual day to day work life. So first of all, would love to hear your thoughts on that, because a lot of leaders would just say, y’all aren’t doing it fast enough. Here, let me give you some ideas book club Well that may not interest them, and they might not be able to kind of get to that point of thinking of suggestions yet. So your thoughts on that, and then two follow up. What I mean when a culture Council, Culture Club is put in place, what types of initiatives or activities do we see that it or do you see that have been most prevalent from these types of of teams? Yeah.

Mika Cross 47:37
Oh, these are such good questions. Some of them are loaded, um, okay, um, first and foremost, you know, it’s my strong recommendation never to have hazardly put together something where, you know, we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that it sticks again. I like to lean on data so as much as you have insights, whether it be from HR analytics, whether it be on complaint cases from Equal Opportunity and Diversity, like, are you having large volumes of hostile work environment complaints? Are there age discrimination complaints? Is it sexual harassment? Whatever it may be, take a look at where your time and resources and money is going in terms of mitigating some of these workplace conflicts. Again, maybe shift and look at, if you have exit surveys, what are the reasons why people are citing that they are leaving. And then, of course, if you have annual, quarterly, monthly engagement, employee engagement, pulse polls, take a look at that data and the trends. You could even invite those who want to be a part of the culture council to dig into those data insights that are publicly available to come up with a strategy that is aligned to the data insights of what is going on with the workforce. The next piece is to take a look strategically at all the goals and objectives that are going on that are often stovepipes. So sometimes you might have employee engagement under HR. Of course, you have diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging under EO and diversity. So like you have, you know, diversity, hiring and career pathing in one place, and employee engagement and employee wellness in one place. And you know, they’re they’re all over the plates. What if you came up with a strategic mapping to the goals and objectives and all of the ongoing priorities that at the senior most leadership levels are being focused on in terms of resources and time, and then you created a idea map around what you would like the culture council to accomplish what the workforce wants the culture council to accomplish. Maybe invite managers and supervisors to weigh in, if they had their druthers and the culture Council were to focus on X, Y or Z. What pain points could this council help solve from the lowest level of supervisors to. The highest level of leadership, then you start coming up with a strategic roadmap that makes sense and value out of their time and resources, ideas and initiatives. Otherwise, you’re going to be throwing a book club at people when they don’t the last thing they want to do is spend more time doing things that aren’t aligned. Maybe it’s a book club on leadership or career development or intergenerational skills. You know, it’s a specialized way of bringing that up. And guess what, folks, if something works now, it might not be the same thing that resonates in 236, 1218, months for the workforce. So you do have to continuously iterate and create these channels of open communication so that you can listen and respond to the feedback, and that you’re not wasting time and resources in places that aren’t meaningful for your workforce.

Anne B 50:52
Mika. Two more questions. One, why would somebody reach out to Mika? And two, how would they reach out to me?

Mika Cross 51:04
Great questions, I think the why I do have a broad perspective and background, and while I have specialized expertise in human capital and HR, you know, again, traditional disciplines around performance and conduct and training and professional development, what I really bring to the table is a quick understanding of being able to get to the root cause of culture issues and workforce issues and come to solutions also because of that broad experience and able to connect organizations, policy makers, change makers and leaders with the right sets of tools and ideas from organizations that have done things really exceptionally well. So I think that’s the biggest reason, of course, with a dose of fun and a relatable human approach to design, of whether it be training, professional development, keynotes, events, workshops and workplace policy support and how right now people can keep up to date with me on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, so feel free to always reach out there. I also have a little website which is in need of a refresh and will be refreshed this year. That is Mika, cross.com m i, k, a cross.com and of course, you can reach out in any other capacity that you like, through social media handles as well. Thank you for asking that Anne

Anne B 52:31
absolutely and and as Mika was talking, we flashed all of those things on the screen, all of the links, all of the items that are different ways that you could reach out to her. Mika, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for helping me today to overcome our tech issues and for sharing some incredibly valuable information to our audience.

Mika Cross 52:50
Thank you for having me. Anne, it’s always an unexpected journey with you, my friend.

Anne B 52:54
That is why we have the name. It has absolutely been an unexpected journey for myself and all of my peers. Thank you everybody for joining us, and we will see you again next time. As we wrap up the episode, we would like to take this time to thank you for joining us this week on unexpected journey. Our guest information will be linked in the episode description, along with a link to our host website, Annebibb.com and our sponsors websites, remoteevolution com, ethosupport.com and yourcohort.co please don’t forget to like, subscribe and share on your favorite podcast app and on our YouTube channel so that you Never miss an episode and we can continue to bring them to you. Let us know your thoughts on what we discussed in the comment section, and once again, thanks for joining us. We hope to see you again next time on Unexpected Journey.

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