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081 – OCL Skills Transforming Workplace Culture

Listen in as host Adam J. Salgat, talks with Bev Thiel, Executive Director of Kent County, MI Habitat for Humanity.

Bev explains why she and her team have found great value in implementing the Our Community Listens skills. She discusses using the DISC assessment and how her team uses this knowledge to impact the community members they partner with and serve. Bev also discusses the impact the skills have had in her personal life, including creating a deeper relationship with her son through the power of listening. She explains why these skills are important to her as a female leader in her community and how they provide strength in confrontational situations.

Listeners – In this conversation, DISC tendencies are mentioned without a deep explanation. The DISC assessment is a tool we use to identify behavioral and communication styles. Bev refers to herself as having a ‘D’ DISC profile. People with ‘D’ profiles tend to display characteristics of directness in their leadership and communication practices. If you would like a better understanding of the DISC assessment or simply a refresher, please check out this podcast – Listenfirstpod – Epi-038

AI-generated dictation of the podcast audio

Please note that this transcription was completed using AI software.  Occasionally, unanticipated grammatical, syntax, homophones, and other interpretive errors are inadvertently transcribed by the software. Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.

Adam Salgat 0:03
Do you remember the day you found the passion that fuels your life? Or maybe the first date you had with your partner? Or how about the day your child graduated college, there was love, joy and hopefulness of change. Over the years, many alumni have expressed that the our community listens course is life changing in a similar way. And we know it has been infectious for many, something we know you can’t just keep to yourself. So take a chance to share that experience with those in your circle by telling them about upcoming classes. Even if they live outside of a regional learning hub, we now offer a virtual OCL course. When we all learn to listen, empathetically, we can be part of a caring community. Visit our website at Chapman or follow the link in the description of this podcast.

Introduction 1:06
Welcome to the listen first podcast brought to you by the Chapman foundation for caring communities. Our vision and mission is to strengthen relationships and build stronger communities through listening, leadership, care and service to create a truly human connection. Learn and partner with us as we imagine a society in which people care about each other. And listen first.

Adam Salgat 1:34
Hello, and welcome to the listen first podcast. My name is Adam Salgat. And it is my pleasure today to be with Bev Thiele, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity, Ken County. Bev, welcome to the podcast.

Unknown Speaker 1:48
Thank you, I am so excited to be here.

Adam Salgat 1:51
I’m excited to give you the opportunity to share your story about your whole organization going through the our community lessons, foundational course. But before we step into that quite yet, I want to give you the opportunity to talk a little bit about the work that you’re doing with Habitat for Humanity here in Kent County. My experience with Habitat for Humanity, I think is similar to many other people’s where you build homes. And Jimmy Carter’s involved. So I mean, for sure the depth of my knowledge is not very deep. It’s just in that kind of vein. Give me a little bit more. Tell me a little more specifics.

Speaker 3 2:26
Sure. So around 40 years ago, in Kent County, there was a real big decision around how do we provide affordable housing. And so at that time, really, we really founded this organization. And we began working with the with an income level. So we look at folks who are in like the 30 to 80%, ami. So we’re looking at folks who really are low income. And yes, we do build homes for them. We also provide a low interest mortgage or a 0%. Mortgage, we rehab and recycle homes. So we really take an opportunity, homeownership is our deal. That’s what we’re trying to do. There’s a lot of support services that go with that. So we have a full staff team that is working from the point of view of applied for a home, and and training you and giving you educational opportunities around understanding your mortgage, understanding your credit, if you’re going to be in a condo, what’s that look like? And really setting you up to be successful in your home. So that process is a long process. Then we got a group of folks that are building the homes. And so that’s where Jimmy Carter comes in. Right. That’s where we also stayed Habitat for Humanity with Jimmy Carter. And Jimmy Carter is our best advocate. He did not start habitat, but he has been a huge advocate. And we would be remiss to say that that did not move the organization needle right? To have someone like that say, Hey, this organization is doing great work. And, and the community sees it in the way that you’re seeing it, Adam, and that is I get to be on site. I get to swing a hammer, I get to have an opportunity to work alongside and homeowner or homebuyer, right. So part of our process of education is also learning around the construction of your home. You’re in the process of building your home. So understanding what that looks like, you know, from the bare beam, so to say all the way to the finished product, so you have an idea of what it takes to build a home. But you’re also watching the community support you in doing that. So we’re a community member or community partner. And so we’re walking along homebuyers, usually for around 18 months. So this is not a typical construction or residential construction organization. It’s really a partnering organization. So I think that’s how we really look at the work we do. We’re a large producer of homes. We’re one of the larger affiliates in Michigan. So we try to really look at how we do our work constantly in an impactful manner. So how can we continue to build as many homes as possible provide as many housing opportunities as possible, but do that in a way that makes sense for the homebuyer. So again, it always goes back to serving the homebuyer. And I think that’s the connection where our community listens, that’s been impactful for us.

Adam Salgat 5:12
Well, let’s talk more about that. Thank you. First of all, though, for giving me a kind of overview and a little more detail, because it is great to hear just the work that you’re doing. So when it comes to the connection to our community, listen, let’s kind of start from the beginning for you. How did you hear about it? How did you hear about the foundational course and what intrigued you when you first started?

Speaker 3 5:31
So I found out from one of my former colleagues at where I used to work, and she felt like it was important for me to listen to go and hear a little bit about our community listens, I’ve been in a leadership role for the last 30 or 40 years. So it’s been important for me to always understand where I come from, in OCL lingo, I’m a high D. So it requires a lot more from me. But I didn’t really understand until I sat in this information and seminar, how impactful it would be for those that I walk alongside. So I could see that it was going to help me be a better listener communicator. But what was more impactful was, how was that message being received? How is it being received for many, many years I had, it didn’t matter what assessment I took, I was always following in whatever the lingo is around A D, right? I was always falling in that. And to be honest, as a female leader, sometimes that comes across pretty negatively, I never had the opportunity to learn how that behavioral tendency was being heard, and how I might take that message and soften it to the listener, but on the same and really reflectively listening to what folks were saying to me. So that opportunity, I had that opportunity in 2017 Seems like eons ago, right. And so with the team that I worked with, at that time, we made the conscious effort that all of the leadership team in that organization in my branch would go through it. And one of the most impactful things that happened in that space was we then start talking about confrontation, because typically in confrontation is where the worst of you comes out. Right, right. And

Adam Salgat 7:21
it’s an uncomfortable situation. So oftentimes, it’s high stress, emotion is I logic is low,

Speaker 3 7:28
logic is low, and you are after what it is that you needed from that space. And it was there. Once we realized what happens to us were in that space, it helped us begin to understand how we might better run even a simple staff meeting, how folks may need time to process and putting them in the box and making them make a decision today is not the best use of a the skill set they bring to the team. So two things have to happen, right, you have to be able to identify that they have to be able to speak that truth. And when folks can really say this isn’t a good or a bad thing that I’m this way, it helped us make decisions much quicker. So very quickly, I realized the impact in an organization. So when I had the opportunity to come to habitat, and now be in really the leadership role, right? And when would that have been? That would have been for me three years ago. So I’m pre pandemic. So right before the pandemic, we got half of our organization through OCL. And so we held it was strictly our team here they came, did it on site for us, and ran half of our half of our team through it, pandemic kind of got in the way. And then recently, we finished the rest of our team. So right now today, 94 95% of our folks are through the art community listens program

Adam Salgat 8:49
and 95% have a rough number around 50, folks, 50 folks, and then also when we’re talking about those that are employed with habitat is that a mix of full time employees and part time employees

Speaker 3 9:01
or it’s our entire workforce, so we may no determine a workforce. So in that workforce, it’s fascinating. We have folks who are executive level, you know, accounting finance, we have retail associates, so they’re working in our REITs restore location. We have construction folks. So we have a really huge variety of people. But the one common denominator is they’re all forward facing and talking to people in the community all of the time. So understanding best how we communicate seem to be the way to go for our organization.

Adam Salgat 9:36
So I know you already touched on this a little bit but I want to ask, why did you choose to bring this to the organization and partner continuing partnership with Chapman foundation to bring in

Speaker 3 9:48
I think it for me it was the personal connection. So from the time that I first went through until I was able to bring this staff team through I had so many encounters with people would People would say things like, I don’t know what to expect, or you’re not what I expected or, and to me that was a feather in my cap that I was a leader who was listening, I was a leader who was trying to be reflective, I was taking time to make a decision, I was trying to hear all sides of things, and at the same time being decisive. So I think in this in the lens of now, I met a new organization, where the number one complaint I heard, and the number one area for improvement was communication. I don’t feel information coming down. And I don’t feel information coming up where stories I was hearing all the time. So to me the logical than experiences first, let’s understand how we communicate. And let’s also understand what it takes to actively listen and reflect back. Because I think the conversations are happening, I just maybe they’re not being heard.

Adam Salgat 10:55
I’ve spoken with a couple of your employees today already had the opportunity to chat with them. And they both definitely expressed a change in culture, just a positive attitude, the ability to communicate and think about how they’re communicating both of them very self reflective and thinking about how they’re going to take these skills and improve the people that they work with directly. But I want to hear from you tell me, what changes have you seen in the organization as a result of sending your team through our communications course?

Speaker 3 11:25
I think initially, so we just finished a class last week, right? And so initially, what happens in an organization is you’re self identifying I’m an EM, and I’m an SMC. And then, you know, that’s what’s the good, bad, and with those, right, so that’s the first thing that happened in our organization. But the second thing that happened in the organization that I hear constantly is I’m flexing, I feel myself flexing more, or I’m reflective listening, or people stopping one another, to say, hey, I don’t think you heard me right, or what I’m hearing you say. And those are, those are huge components of listening. And if we can do better internally, then we can obviously do better externally, when we’re speaking with those who partner within the community. So what I’ve seen is, and I’m super excited about next level, is taking that time to get the whole organization on track. And now saying, Where do I Where do we, as an organization need to brush up on this as an organization, but personally, and I, I have always been excited about, I think how it felt to understand what I was going through, I can remember my OCL class where I realized that when I went home at night, I would look at my family and say, Enough, I’m exhausted, I make decisions all day, I talk all day, I just want to come home. And I don’t want any thing that’s really effectively shutting down your family. But what was happening was I was flexing so much and it was identifying that this is how it is when I’m working among people who are different than me. So looking at my day differently, not cramming meetings and not taking time to reflect and allow reflection, and not pushing so hard that in this space, we’re going to decide something today, rather than this space, we’re going to process and get all of your questions out there, and then allow it to happen. For someone who leads the way that I do is in in change. That was monumental in not only what was happening at work, but what was happening at

Adam Salgat 13:49
home. Yes, and that is definitely an angle that I want to talk about, as we and we’ll come back to okay, because just hearing you mentioned, it brings to mind every time I talk to somebody about this relation or about this Communications course it there’s always things that makes an impact outside of the workplace, we often start this Communications course thinking about the workplace lens, but it almost always ends up going into our personal lens and exactly what we’re doing in our personal life.

Speaker 3 14:18
Well, if we can make our employee a better human, then they’re not only better human at work, but they’re a better human in the community. And as a community organization, that’s that’s what we’re after. And so, and then, if Life’s good at home, we kind of talked about that earlier, right? Like if if your morning starts out great, then your day is great. So if life is better at home, because you have a better understanding of how folks may or may not react, then it just makes your entire what when you come to work it makes it a better experience as well. So for for having the ability to provide something that allows people to grow is something that was so super important to me. And so when folks leave habitat, I’m only hopeful that they can carry that skill at them. And I don’t look at as a training we provided that is integral to habitat. It’s just to give community in general,

Adam Salgat 15:13
great human connection. Yep. Yep. So you’ve mentioned this, though a few times. Before we get into the personal side any deeper, you have mentioned, about Habitat being a community organization. How have you seen this translating to the people of the community, the people that you serve?

Speaker 3 15:29
So I think one of the things that personally internally we saw start there is our ability to understand our homeowner, our homebuyer. So folks come in, we have language barriers, we have entire we look different sometimes than our homebuyer, we haven’t had the experiences, we haven’t walked in their shoes. So if we can stop for a minute and not translate, our thoughts cannot translate how we feel this should go. But better listen to the need of the homebuyer, then we can make that experience less bumpy. But we can also make it meet their needs, right. So the experience should feel like a partnership. We are a charity, but we are also trying to provide a space in in an area that’s really touchy. And that’s equity and housing. Right. So we all know the history of equity and housing. So we know that the folks that we serve have already gone through a lot to get where they are today. And the ability to be a homebuyer is very important. And so if we are mirroring and using a lens of communication, where we’re trying to better understand, then all that that can do is build a stronger organization and at the same time, can build a better a better community. So what I would love to see now that we’ve gotten our organization through OCL, and we’ve had some community partners join us in our last class, would love to be able to bring some folks in that are habitat, homeowners to experience an opportunity to understand better, because what we try to do as an organization is build capacity around our homeowners. So we have a group of folks who do neighborhood engagement, who are out most of the day, talking to homeowners talking to neighbors, what a great opportunity to give them this, this knowledge and this packet of information, to just be able to better understand even themselves, and then have a better conversation at home. So for me, it’s it goes way beyond just these walls, it really has to be something that we’re willing to put out in the neighborhood. And I want, I want to be that. So I think for habitat, it’s just it. It just makes sense,

Adam Salgat 17:51
right? It sounds like biggest skill that you guys may practice is listening with empathy. Can you touch on that a little bit?

Speaker 3 17:59
When I first came, there was definitely we felt that we were very empathetic. But we weren’t translating that into any conversation, or we weren’t sharing that in an educational fashion. I guess we knew what we did. We knew what people needed. But we didn’t give people the opportunity to have a deeper conversation around us. So when you equip your staff team with the ability to listen, it drives deeper discussion, it changes what we’re talking about. So I can be sitting in a meeting I just was when we’re talking about this would be the easy solve, right? We could build more houses if we did this. But here’s who we serve. What is our what is our mission? And what is the lens and what is our feeling behind that. And for us, it’s we want to make sure that they’re walking alongside of us that we’re not dragging them dragging folks along. And the only way you can do that is with empathy, listening, and then reacting and, and really being not just reactive, but really saying this is how we’re going to solve these issues.

Adam Salgat 19:13
Someone once said to me, meet them where they are, take them where you want them to go, right? So you can’t just meet them. Take them it’s you gotta you gotta meet them where they are. So you got to listen. Right,

Speaker 3 19:26
right. And then it’s and then the hardest part is hearing. You know, so we can listen, but did we hear it? Did we give them an opportunity to reflect on what they said? Are we reflecting back what we heard because so many times when I talk to folks in the community, I’m having conversations all the time, housing is not an easy situation. Some folks don’t want a habitat home next to them or they’re not understanding what we do. Right. And so it’s reflective and saying this is what I just heard you say Say, and when you’re really open and honest, that’s when you have the ability to say, Oh, wow, that that’s not how that was translated. But if I walk away from a conversation, just listening and not reflecting back what I heard, because what I’m hearing too is sometimes positioned to what I want to believe. And it’s when we when we stop, and we listen to what you believe, that helps us walk together.

Adam Salgat 20:24
One of my co workers at the Chapman Foundation, Mickey Gibbs mentioned that you, you take to heart the DISC assessment here at Habitat for Humanity. Talk to me about that.

Speaker 3 20:36
So I think we’re very transparent. And so that can be that can be handled a couple of different ways. So I know during the training, there’s a lot of time spent around, just No, this is behavioral tendencies. And this isn’t your personality. And this doesn’t define you and all of those things. But at the end of the day, when you first get that you’re sitting there trying to determine is this really me, and you typically are poking holes in the things that you don’t want to be true about

Adam Salgat 21:02
you? Right? This is can be natural, natural human behavior.

Speaker 3 21:06
I am I am not like that is where we, where we typically go to. And so I think the beauty of the program is allows you to keep diving deeper into that you started having community conversations with coworkers family, and they’re nodding their head saying, Well, yeah, I kind of see that in you. What I’m, I’m hopeful when we do that. And being a de sometimes, you know, I get ready for that. Well, you’re already in this in the same respect. I think that what, what we need to do and where we spend time is don’t put me in that box, because I could be a very high D. But when we’re in a conversation, and I exclude myself from that conversation, because I’m trying to listen and learn. I’m taking on a different, a different pose, right. And so I think what we’ve learned is, there was a badge of honor, depending on where you worked in the organization, or what you were. So if you were in the social service as part of what we do, you felt better being something if you were in finance? Well, of course, you’re. And if you were in leadership, it made sense. What was really impactful for me is I came from an organization that was a nonprofit organization. And there were only a couple of DS out of about 200 people that went through and wow, it’s not typical for nonprofit to have really high D’s. Right? Good point. Yeah. When I came here, though, with a mix of employees, we have in construction, we have warehouse. We have, right, all of a sudden, I was like, I have compadres, here that are that are ds, and it was, for me, it was helpful in understanding because I didn’t sit in this leadership role. And well, that made sense. Rather, it was, this is just how my mind goes. So when I go to that space, helped me get out of it. And so when we share what we are, and it’s not a requirement, but it happens quite frequently, it tends to happen in a space of that I need you to hear me say I’m this because I am not connecting with you today. And I know that you are this di SC that’s how we’re using the lingo. But more importantly, when you’re sitting in the staff meeting, and knowing where people are coming from helps you better identify what needs to happen in that meeting today, right? Sarah made me this. Shell made me this. Gail made me this before we even begin, it helps us position it so that everybody’s communicating. So I think that sharing of where you are in the desk is a hugely important component. And like I said earlier, I got in and many opportunities I’ve had, what I never had the opportunity to do was learn how to best be in that space. And listen, and when is the right time, right? Because I’m the decision maker here. Ultimately, if there’s a tie to be broken, I’m probably making it. So how do you best do that? And that is being reflective of those around you?

Adam Salgat 24:10
Well, that sounds awesome. And I know the couple of staff that I talked to, they talked about the ability to share their profiles and the openness and how that helps them connect with each other. So

Speaker 3 24:22
we thought about before COVID hit, we thought about putting our putting like DS and eyes and SS and C’s and were like right outside our door. So like it would be a constant reminder. I think as we come back one of the opportunities we have now that we’ve been through this process is now we’re beginning to say to our friends at Chapman foundation is like as we move forward, what kind of lunch and learns and different activities can we do? Where as an organization we’re now we’re empowered with a lot of information, but now we need to embed it in our conversation. It’s an how we how we Style Me meetings. So we use a very strong operating system for how a staff meeting runs, how we set our goals and how we set our vision to me that now there’s just a marriage of of the two, because it’s founded on open and honest. And when you’re talking about communication, if you’re open and honest, then we can hear each other.

Adam Salgat 25:23
Let’s talk a little bit about you specifically, first through the workplace lens. And you’ve touched on this a few times. But is there a particular skill for yourself? That comes to mind? I’ve heard you mentioned listening, I’m guessing that it’s something that jumps out for your role. Is there a particular skill that comes to mind that you identified with and maybe that you use more,

Speaker 3 25:44
I would say the confrontational piece is where I confrontational skills is where I, where I spend a lot of time, gotcha. So I know what it can feel like to come into my office, right. And so there’s a presence of being in my space, especially when we’re going to have a difficult conversation, or you’ve come to me, and you have something difficult to bring. So really understanding who’s in that space and how they tend to behave or how they tend to take information in how they process information is important. So for me, that’s the lens of knowing, knowing who you are, and how, what your behavioral tendencies are. So I, I go into most conversations, knowing what I want the end result to be, it’s how you get there, that has to be designed for the person. So yeah, so it’s, it’s really saying, I know this is going to be a different conversation. So preparing ahead of time, felt really good to me, it felt really good to say, I’m gonna have a conversation with Greg today. And here’s what I know, goes wrong with Greg and I’s conversations normally, and this is going to be a difficult one. So how do I get Greg in here and relaxed understanding that this is a conversation today? Nothing, nothing. And I think that’s the difference in when you’re having a confrontation, I sometimes attributed to being a female leader. So I was in a situation last night where as a female being the only female in that space, I just get ready for it, I think in a different way. And now I, I tend to say, oh, there’s confrontation, how am I going to respond, and it’s coming from the space of being intentional to say, that message, you may just have landed differently on me because I’m ready for it. And so I want to be able to have that happen with staff, what, what I don’t want to have happen is when we’re in that space, and having a really difficult conversation, I don’t want them to shut down, I want them to be heard. And I but I want to be prepared for that. So that we can have direction to it. And I think when you talk about the confrontational skills, it gives you direction, so that how are we going to when this happens, this is the impact that I’m seeing in the organization. So instead of this just makes me feel bad, really saying this is the impact of what we’re seeing today in your actions, helps the person not only internalize it two, oh, I’m bad. Rather, it’s this is what others are seeing. And is that what I want folks to see?

Adam Salgat 28:24
Right? Right. Have you formally stepped through an FBI statement? In the last three years? Yes.

Speaker 3 28:32
Yes, yes. And so I think, the, the, when we, when we got together as a team, and really determined it was the direction to go, I was writing it down all the time, you know, like, you know, because it was like, Okay, I got it, I gotta go through this, we might show up at meetings with things in our hands. And I think that that’s okay, because that shows that we’re trying to lean in and listen and learn. But I find it all the time. And remember that I was new to the organization three years ago. So I walked in here being an entirely different style of leadership than than then who was before me. And that was, that was great for me. I had met the person we’d had conversation, we realized that I realized that and when I realized for the was going to be different for the organization. So you have to be able then to say it’s, I see what’s happening today, I would hear constantly, aha, now I figured out why you’re here. I don’t really know what that means. But what I mean, what that tells me is Okay, now we’re communicating,

Adam Salgat 29:32
right? They’re connecting with, you’re doing, you know, they’re picking up on a change. That’s what that tells me anyway, is that they’re picking up on the change. And the likelihood is if they’re willing to say that out loud to you. It’s a good change in my mind, otherwise, it might not be saying it out loud to you.

Speaker 3 29:47
Right. And I think there’s, yeah, there’s all that opportunity. And I think I’m hopeful that that’s happening and all of the little meetings that go on here. And so I you know, unfortunately for us a pandemic hit right so gave us a disconnect there for a while. But during that disconnect, I think we were much more intentional about what a video conference looked like what a phone call looked like, because we weren’t having any human connection. So there were times where I was having phone calls to have phone calls to talk to people about what was going on and how they were feeling. And without and, and once you know, your employees, you you know where there’s even comfortability in that right? So someone’s walks in your office, you know that they’re just ready to go to town, you know, somebody who is a D, we don’t we all need to talk about anything other than what do you want to get done today. But there are folks in the organization who just needed human contact. And so having that conversations and saying, what’s going on today? What’s let’s get away from the work thing? How are you doing? We wouldn’t have been in that space, if we hadn’t realized that different folks make up this organization. And not everybody thinks like me.

Adam Salgat 30:57
So that’s a really interesting point that you make having the majority or a good portion of your staff through this before the pandemic and then being separated out, had you not? What can you What do you think it could have been like, because not realizing that those high eyes need some type of human connection deeper or different than a D? I mean, it could have been quite different.

Speaker 3 31:20
I think we would have been in a space of not. So we we made a determination that we’re going to we’re going to make it through this right. So however, however, we did it, we were going to do it. And so we had a fractured workforce, right. We had some people on site, some people working in retail locations, at some point, we had nobody working right in the beginning. Yeah. And so you have this, the initial thing we had was fear, like, what’s going to happen? And I couldn’t even answer that. I think the first two to three weeks, everybody was home, I didn’t know what was happening. But if we hadn’t been in this space of being able to say, particularly Gail, who you talk to today, I know Gail needs a ton of human connection. And if I hadn’t talked to Gail, in a couple of days, there was probably something wrong. And so allowing these allowing this time to just have conversation got us through a really uneasy time, I reflect back on COVID. And think about just me personally, who I was worried about not just in my organization, but in my family, carrying that burden worrying about my son and my husband, who had to continue working, what that meant, what they were bringing home, right. And so you have all of those dynamics going on, if you can’t be just who you are, during that time, if your expectation is to be on that computer and get the thing done, then we’re not being true to what we as an organization are going to, and actually what the whole world went through.

Adam Salgat 32:44
So you mentioned it a little bit before, and you just mentioned your son, your husband, I want to talk now about how the skills have made an impact in your personal life, whether that be at home with your son and husband or just friendships, relationships in the community. Talk about that.

Speaker 3 33:00
So I when I when I first discovered, like who I was around OCL, it was really interesting. I’ve to turtle as I said early when I got when I would get home at the end of the day and be so tired, right? Um, but I knew there needed to be more to that. And so I, like most people would practice my skills on my family. Because there first of all, it’s easier. But I would notice things around listening and I would notice things around really tendencies with more with my kids, then I wasn’t hearing them I was projecting maybe or I was making assumptions, or I was, so it was really my son through a career change with me. That was the very first time that I heard him. And it in a while. Why What was I seeing with Ty was he was fearful. Because all of a sudden mom wasn’t working. And what did that mean to him? Right? Because that’s where we all go is how does this affect me? When I started talking more, it that was my initial it was really more around, how were we as a family? How are we going to continue to do the things we were going to do? And then how did he fit in? And what what did this all look like? So for my son, it was me taking the time to make sure that he understood no matter where he was that he was a better listener and a better communicator. So as he started to go through some relationships, he would always he would always own that maybe he wasn’t the best communicator. And that’s okay. But you can’t always put yourself blame right? You have to have folks that are open to that style of communication to what we would joke about constantly was Ty would say you just OCL Acme and that would be we would just have a conversation that felt different than any other conversation. It wasn’t no you can’t do this today. It was more reflective on on where he is. For me, I have a driven daughter who, you know, when she went to go to college, she had her post it notes and I knew what I was supposed to do. That’s when you still mailed in applications. And she didn’t have to think with Brooke. She just she just knew what she wanted to do. She also was not much of a communicator. So I never really knew what was going on in Brookes head. But I knew enough to know when and when not to have a conversation, right. Ty was like this kid that like just didn’t know he wanted to do so I started projecting Brooke on him like Why aren’t you Why aren’t you instead of letting Tybee where Ty wanted to be? Because Tizen individual antis? 1819 20. And he’s discovering and just because he doesn’t know what he wants to be today, doesn’t mean he doesn’t he’ll never He won’t ever know. Right? So as you project onto your children, like your thoughts, aren’t you not listening, and not being reflective? So I spend much more time on reflection with Ty. He’s the kid that will say to me, you’re asking me all you, all you do is ask me questions. And it’s because I like conversation was difficult. So now it’s more How do you feel about this? Versus a yes or no? What has done for Ty and I is ever really deep relationships. So when he’s going through the hard things, it just comes out now. It’s not a probing question thing. There’s a there’s a trust built there. That’s different. Some of it can be maturity, and but some of it is, I believe, listening. So think for that’s been super helpful. Or empty nesters now, so we’re stuck together my husband and I right. It wasn’t that it was nothing more than the earlier you talked about your kids, right? How much time that takes every day. When you’re when you’re together the and without the kids, all of a sudden you’re rediscovering like, what did we used to talk about? Or what did we share in common outside of kids. And so for us, that’s been pretty cool. But if I hadn’t, if I had always projected on someone, this is my personal opinion, what I wanted out of that conversation, then they weren’t getting what they wanted out of that conversation. So reflective is something I use much more at home. confrontational skills, I don’t, but reflective listening is really much more and then realizing when my family is flexing to meet me to just happened the other day in a conversation. I was like, Yeah, I probably just kind of bullied my way through that to get what I wanted. And so being being empathetic to like, wow, you know, maybe I need to just listen more. And let’s, let’s walk this together. So I just can’t imagine anyone going through OCL that doesn’t have an a total life experience different in my work relationships. So one of our neighborhood partners went through OCR with us. And she and I work together on a committee. And it’s been interesting to watch us go back and forth with who’s doing what work. So she called me left me a message I was in a meeting. And she realized that we weren’t gonna have enough partners to have a quorum at the meeting. So should we cancel the meeting. And I can listen to those on my, you know, like, on my messages on iOS, and I saw it and so I just shot her an email and say, Yeah, we probably should cancel the meeting. So she’s like, Great, can you do this, this and this, and I was like, if I’m in a meeting, but I can do that. And then I’m done. Right? I’ve, I’ve cancelled the meeting through email. So I’m done. She says, wow. So just so you know, I decided to call everybody then I called the location we were supposed to meet to make sure everybody knew. I never would have thought of it. And she finished it up with well, I’m, uh, so I would do that. Um, and I, so I felt like I needed to do that. In that moment, her realization, my realization, and her realization was, this is why we work so well together. Like we we cover the thing, if she didn’t feel like she was doing any great service. It’s just how she wanted to make sure she talked to the people. Yeah, I’m over here, just like, well, the meeting has been canceled. So yeah, no, the meetings cancelled if you didn’t check your email. That’s your own. Right. But but she was we weren’t judging each other on that. It was that realization of this is why we this is why this works. This is why we haven’t turned to the folks and say, Hey, we’re only supposed to do this for a year. It’s been three, because it’s worked. And so I think that’s a piece of understanding too, that it’s okay to sometimes just have that behavior. As long as we each know why we do what we do. I found it fascinating that she said that and I we laughed and talked about it later. Like this was so cool that we know

Adam Salgat 39:48
and it’s great that you guys kind of being able to talk about it, being comfortable talking about it and then seeing how it balances the organization out well. In this case, not an organization but a relationship. Yeah, and it balances out for everyone who’s involved. You know,

Speaker 3 40:04
I think we all spend a lot of time now in this space of saying, I wonder what I wonder what Adam is. I wonder what Carlos is. I think we do that a lot. It’s fun. I know. You spoke with Gail earlier. And I don’t know if she shared with her her team is the spectrum. She’s got a DI SMC sitting there. I think that’s the team like that is the 80. Right. Like if you you know, if you’re able to work in that space of understanding each other’s needs, what you can accomplish is beyond just beyond what you’ve even envisioned today. And so I think there’s a, there’s a paying attention to, as you’re bringing people on your team, how are they going to compliment? But also how are they going to push you is another way of looking at it?

Adam Salgat 40:49
I am a high us. Okay. I mean, that’s my highest tendency is, but I’m kind of spread across as I see. Very little D. But I’ve always found that interesting. Because I can handle decision making and things. And I’ve talked to Mickey about that. And she said that’s it’s not to say that you can’t it’s just because your D load isn’t. She’s like, plus in certain relationships, you’re going to kind of flex and in certain situations. So yeah, I was like, Yeah, but I know my need is almost always the people first, like, having a podcast is I mean, it’s kind of obvious. I like to talk to people.

Speaker 3 41:30
I think that’s awesome, right? And I do think I think people get caught up in I’m a f so I, you everyone in this world makes decisions. It’s your comfortability doing that right? And what you need to make that decision what you need to feel before you make that decision.

Adam Salgat 41:48
Like at home with decisions, I’m always like telling my wife, we’ll get all the information that we can possibly we’ll get everything, we’ll learn everything we can, and then we can make a decision on where we want to go what we want to do, like when it comes to potentially buying a home, building a home, whatever we whatever it is, because that’s been big conversation for us. And she she’s good with that. She’s not a big decision maker herself. But she cares about you know, making sure it’s the right decision, right. But actually being the one to say yes or no. Is, is hard for her, that’s a hard flex.

Speaker 3 42:21
For us who sit in that D world, we need you to slow us down. It’s only when we’re open to, to hearing that. That’s the relationship we have to have. So the beauty of having an organization go through this is people already know your tendencies, right? So if they’re strong, and they can say, here’s where you’re going. Or I don’t think that’s the conversation today for us as a leadership team, the five folks who are the leaders of the organization, that’s the space we’re in constantly, we now have a true conversation around something, and and making sure that folks have been able to bring forward and folks have identified to okay, I’m just nervous about this. Like, I think I’m just now trying to talk because I’m nervous about it. That is to me that you could that could not be more open and honest. Right? I’m not comfortable in this decision. And so it’s saying, Okay, well, then I hear that what do you need? Right? We need I just need you guys to move ahead. I’m good. I’m just nervous about it. Other folks saying, I don’t think we have a whole day. I don’t think we have all the information. I think we have to stop.

Adam Salgat 43:35
Yeah, let’s see what have we thought about this angle. And when

Speaker 3 43:38
you’re when you’re a someone who likes change, and likes a challenge and likes to keep moving in a direction, those are not the words you want to hear. So it takes a strong team to say that’s what we’re going to. That’s what we’re going to do today and also identifying that for some folks around the table know, no matter how they identify, behaviorally, it’s a bummer that we’re not moving ahead. So articulating the why right always saying, You know what? Here’s where, here’s, here’s what I think you need to hear. Is that what you heard? We didn’t say no, we just said not now. So think there’s just so many aspects of leadership that with really good communication, but better listening, you’re only going to achieve more.

Adam Salgat 44:21
You said something in there that I want to quickly reflect on is we didn’t say no, we just said not now. I feel like that. I say that to my children. Almost daily.

Speaker 3 44:34
For sure, right? Just a little funny tidbit there. It’s the truth. No, I remember my mom saying oh, maybe and I always knew that was no, you know, I mean, you just you just knew when your mom was really just give you know feet and yeah, you’re right. So I want to have that relationship or you understand that I’m serious. If I were gonna say no then it’s no it’s like a hard no. Right, you know, but if it’s a not now we just got some work to do to get there.

Adam Salgat 45:01
Right? Right. And you’d likely want to most of the time, but it just isn’t in this moment. Yep. So you kind of brought this background work. And that’s where I want to wrap up. I want to hear what are your thoughts? What’s the future moving forward? What’s the plan continuing to utilize the OCL skills with Kent County Habitat for Humanity.

Speaker 3 45:20
So first of all, I have to say we love our we love our OCL team, right without without the without Dana, Mike and Mickey, like, this just wouldn’t be a reality. There’s a trust there with my staff, that what goes on in that space is a safe space, a brave space, but also a learning space. So we’re now through we’ve got the vast majority of our folks through, I’m hopeful that as classes open up across the across the state more that we’ll always have someone attending OCL will make it we are making it a requirement of your first 90 days of employment. So we want to get everyone through. So we’re committed, we’re committed to that we’re committed to working with in our own system. And then we’re committed to training that middle manager. So some of the folks you talked to today, and you will talk to today are our middle managers who who really need much more time spent on communication and vision setting, because they just haven’t been in that space to be to communicate Down and up. And we know that so most organizations here whenever you do an employee engagement, survey, communications, the worst. So we know that so we want to do better. So we’re committed to making sure that our staff goes through OCL. We’re committed to being a community partner. So I talked a little bit about the training that we did here, we provided the training and invited three other organizations to join us to get in. Yeah. So for me, if someone hadn’t come to me, in 2017, and said, I think you need to hear this, I, I wouldn’t have taken the jump, it’s important for me to be able to say to other folks who are in my role, I think this could change your organization. But what I know is it’s going to change your life. So if I have that opportunity in the role that I’m in, that’s important to me. And then the next step is really say, how do we integrate this deeper, one of the most important things that we went through was not confrontation skills, but it was when I’m totally stressed out, this is how I respond, because that’s typically what happens in a meeting when I’m not being heard. And your traditional staff meeting just as that’s what happens, right? So I’d love to spend some time there understanding, for example, there’s an expectation in most meetings, I’m just going to always be like, who they think I am. But there are times when I can feel threatened, I can feel hurt. And I don’t, I want the conversation to be around what we’re trying to accomplish, not feeling like someone’s being attacked or threatened. And so spending time in that space of this, when this hat when you say this, or when this happens, this is what happens to me. And we all need to be ready for that, that was impactful for my team that I think will be impactful now. So we’re 100% committed, I will offer trainings, as much as as they feel they could they could use our space. I just think the opportunity is beyond the normal opportunity folks get as they’re going through educational. And you know, we do all the training in the world around how to lift appropriately, how to use a nail gun safely. But that’s not the deeper training of who I am and how I act as a person.

Adam Salgat 48:34
But I typically wrap up each conversation asking our guests to give a key takeaway, what’s kind of a key takeaway of our community lessons.

Speaker 3 48:44
I think that first of all, our current environment of listening and understanding and giving people an opportunity. I think we project a lot of right now. It’s, I don’t, I don’t want to listen, I just want to be heard. I think those are two different things. I think saying exactly how I feel sometimes is not is not the message that someone is able to pick up. I believe as an organizational leader, I have an opportunity here to make folks we’ve said it a couple of times better human right. And so that’s important to me as an as a leader in an organization, anytime you can provide an opportunity, and it falls within your budget or your ability. It’s your obligation. And so I want to provide my staff, a level playing ground. I don’t want it to feel like why do this job. And so I don’t have a manager or director title. And so that doesn’t mean anything. Because it does. It does mean a lot and if I’m not hearing you, we’re not we’re not making a directional shift. If you’re not hearing me you are not making a directional shift or or moving towards a vision. So firmly coming indicating where we’re headed, and a hearing what that means we’re about to make some big decisions as an organization. And we have to slow down and have conversation so that we know it. And we, we can’t have that conversation. If we’re not willing to listen to the response or hear the response or react to the sponsor, that doesn’t mean that we won’t continue in that direction. It means that we want to slow down. And the only way to do that is to make sure always on a level playing field. I can’t imagine not having this knowledge base of how to communicate and listen and being able to move.

Adam Salgat 50:36
Such a good reminder about knowledge base, giving an organization something that they can build built from. Thank you. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. It’s an absolute pleasure.

Speaker 3 50:49
This is my pleasure. I I love this. I love how it feels and I I’m I’m glad that our staff is supporting that sometimes when you go into into the world of leadership and providing opportunity, you want to make sure that it’s landing. Wow. And so it sounds like it is

Adam Salgat 51:05
awesome. Thank you. Thank you