September 28, 2022 | 28 Mins Read

HPE’s Operational Services Strategy

September 28, 2022 | 28 Mins Read

HPE’s Operational Services Strategy


Sarah welcomes Norbert Schöfberger, Global Vice President of Infrastructure Services Sales at HPE, to discuss how the company is adapting to customer expectations and evolving its GTM. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we're going to be getting an inside look into HPE's operational services strategy. I'm excited to be joined today by Norbert Schöfberger, who is the Global Vice President of Infrastructure Services Sales at HPE. Norbert, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Norbert Schöfberger: Thanks Sarah for having me. Welcome.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, thanks for being here. Okay, so before we get into taking a look at where HPE is related to selling service and some of the things that are evolving and some of the things you're learning, just tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your role, and your background with HPE?

Norbert Schöfberger: Right, sure. So, I'm with the IT industry for more than 25 years. I'm located in the center of Europe in beautiful Vienna. And I'm now since five years with the services part of the organization within HPE. I've been running Austria as a managing director. I've been handling the services business for the DACH here, so Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. And now since close to 18 months I'm running the job on a global scale, which is a very nice experience. And I would not miss, would not like to miss the last 18 months.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, well, and five years represents a lot of change and growth for services. So very exciting timeframe to have moved to that part of the business. Excellent. And I have not had an opportunity myself to visit Vienna, but it is on my list and I hope to make that happen.

Norbert Schöfberger: Great.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, so let's talk a little bit about some of the shifts that are happening in the industry that have prompted HPE to really reflect on and evolve its approach to service?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, no, it's a very good starting point here, Sarah. So, I think the shifts in the industry that we see, and it starts with a personal experience that we have every single day. If you recall, for example, how you consume your preferred video today, you're just going to click on Netflix. It's here, you're going to, that's it. Or how do you operate? In the past you've taken a cab from A to B. Today you open map, you push on Uber, Arrived, or Lyft, or whatever is around. So a lot of these things happened in the last years and it is at the end of the day, everything is around customer experience. So what is your experience that you have with your whatever, your Uber, your Netflix, your Amazon stuff, whatever you do?

If you're happy with the experience and things work fine, you're going to revisit. You're going to do the same thing again. On the other hand side, if you're not happy, you're going to do something else. And this experience economy where we are going into is also so much related if you, again, compare it with a personal experience that you have on consuming your IT that you have at home. So in the past you bought whatever, a license, a CD or something that you put in your laptop or in your PC when you installed Microsoft.

Today everything is coming over the app. It's coming as a service, you're going to pay as you go. And this is getting into more and more details of your private life. And therefore the consumerization always shifts into professional life. And this is what we see going on in business environments, in enterprise environments, since a couple of years where the things are going to, and this also affected us as HPE obviously, how to adapt to this new type of environment, to the shifts in the industry? And how can we cope with a more than 75 years legacy as a company to adopt to the new situations?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it's funny, when you brought up Netflix as an example, I was thinking, just this weekend my, so I have two sons. My older son is seven and my younger son is nearly six, so they're very close in age. And it was a rainy weekend, so we were just hanging out around the house. Of course, they were tearing it apart. And they found a DVD. It was Kung Fu Panda, coincidentally. And my son said, "Mommy, let's watch this." And I said, "Well, actually, buddy, we don't have a DVD player." And he pointed the TV and he said, "Yes, we do. It's right there." And I'm like, "No, this is a DVD." And he's like, "What are you talking about? Just put it on." And I'm like, so it's absolutely has permeated every part of our lives.

And you bring up a really good point, which is companies that have a 75 year legacy, even a 15 year, a 20 year legacy, they have to really urge themselves to make sure they're not staying tied to that, and that they're adapting. So it's a really good point. And I don't think there are a lot of companies that are not really accepting of where we are and where we're going, but there are some. There are some that want to keep the blinders on, just because they're comfortable with what they're doing.

But you mentioned consumerization of IT. And it made me think, not to date myself, but when I started in this space, that conversation was happening around hardware. And so when we talked about the mobile devices that field technicians would carry around, you were talking about big, big rugged devices. And I won't name a bunch of names, I could, but you don't hear about many of them anymore, unless you're talking about a situation that really demands that. And that's because when the iPhone came out and other smartphone devices, it just became the preference of first people, then employees and customers. So, it's the same thing here. The way that we consume is absolutely influenced by what goes on in our personal lives. So, when you think about, or if you can talk to us about that reality, that shift, what does that look like in terms of how HPE's customers, how their expectations have sort of shifted?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, absolutely. And you touched a couple of very good points here, Sarah. If we look on the trends and how things move forward, there are a couple of facts that we need to consider, also as a customer situation. So for example, Gartner has stated more than 80% of customer service interactions will be self-serve already this year. Then you have Forbes who have a study that more than 95% of customers say that service is important to their choice. So, it is the end-to-end capability that you have everything that you need also from a service perspective at the tip of your fingers, which is digitized.

Then ideally with the most intelligent that you can provide to your customized environment that you have as a customer, so means digitized and personalized. And then you don't want to have lengthy discussions with people. And I remember some 10, 15 years ago, when you designed a services contract on a mission critical environment that you had to provide, it was lengthy discussions on details here or there. Today things are pretty easy and you can leverage knowledge from around the globe that is available on similar customer situations on possibilities when all the environments that you have and new sources of digital customer experience and self-service insights are brought together that you can benefit from this.

Sarah Nicastro: I think a couple of things here. Number one, when you think about those conversations related to mission critical relationships, contracts, historically, I think in many ways that has set the bar. It doesn't necessarily, I'm not minimizing the importance of mission critical situations or environments, but the reality is, today a customer doesn't care if their operation is mission critical or not, they just expect the performance. So, those conversations that used to happen about situations that necessitated some superior level of outcome, output, now every customer has a very similar expectation. So, the onus is put on the company providing the product and or service to figure out, "Okay, well, we're not just talking about creating this experience for this elite set of customers that have a specific need. We're talking about needing to create it for just about everyone who's willing to pay for it, right?"

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: The other thing I wanted to point out that I think is such an important point in this conversation, and one that is very challenging is, you pointed out that ... So, if we talk about HPE specifically and we talk about customers that want to move more to as a service model. They want to pay for what they're receiving. They want what they're receiving to work when it needs to work. They want that peace of mind, et cetera. You're talking about a very well-orchestrated set of products and services. And I think one of the biggest challenges within organizations when it comes to providing that seamless, digitized, positive customer experience is internal silos, right? Because if you don't have this vision and strategy across the organization, you're not working toward that customer journey at large. If you're just in charge of this piece, and you may have it perfected, but if it isn't tied to the next piece and the next piece that ultimately gives them that experience, it's all for nothing.

And so I think breaking down those silos and making sure that you're not transforming internally to be the best at what your function in the business is, but you're transforming externally to have that customer impact is a really important point of clarification. So, that of course is something that HPE has had to grapple with. I mean, you're not just talking about, "Okay, I'm in charge of this piece. So here's what I've done to make it the best." You have to look at, our customers interact with all of these pieces and here's how we're working together to give them what they want. So, let's talk about what that means in terms of your role and your area, and then kind of the company at large? So, we'll just touch on a few things here that I have some notes on, and then if there's others, we can weave those in as well. The first thing is that customers are looking for new sources of value. So they're expecting more from you than they have historically. Tell us a little bit about what that means, what that looks like? Give us some examples?

Norbert Schöfberger: So, on the new sources of value, I would highlight three things that you should look at from a service perspective. The one and first thing, and maybe the most important thing, it needs to be truly customer-centric. So each customer has to be in front and center in a personalized way that you look at the specific environment is around. That's the one thing, and I'm going to elaborate a little further in detail in a minute. Second is, everything that you do from a new source of value should be digital and data driven. So what do I mean with this? I just touched on a minute ago on the global possibility that you can leverage from the knowledge in similar situations. So today you have the most intelligent products out in the market, and there is lots of very intelligent ingredients in these products, like info site, cloud physics, you name it.

So lots of staff sending telemetric data on the health and then the status of the equipment, what it is, to an intelligent data hub. Let's call it this way. And therefore, if you have a similar situation that someone in, I don't know, in APAC or in Europe or in Latin America or in the U.S., and there is a similar constellation coming up, there is an AI-driven intelligence. So an artificial intelligence associated to it. And this could bring up a popup and not even tell you that you could run into an issue in the next 48 or 72 hours, but could from a machine-to-machine connection automatically go into a self-healing mode and going to say, "Okay, I'm going to accept this." They're going to change this piece of configuration, et cetera, as long as it's software driven, when it's not a physical part that is going to be defect in there. And you don't even realize what is going on at the end of the scene and your system are seamless where.

And that's also one part and portion of the thinking. If you move to a consumption environment, if you remember 20 years ago, 30 years ago, did you ever ask your telephone provider what the backend stuff is? What the thing, no, a dial tone was a God given right, and that's it. And it's the same, if you consume IT in there in the backend, what's going on and how this is working itself? This should not bother you. It is the service that you leverage and it's the highest interest of the provider that the service is up and running, because otherwise you can't use it. And then the vendor doesn't get money for it because you can't get a bill if it's not used in there. So, that's the element in there.

And on the third point I would like to make is, it's driving innovation by leveraging intelligence. So, the days are over when service was a static thing, did you say, "Okay, we're going to make a contract for three years, five years, whatever it is, and this is what we're going to do. And yeah, we're going to make sure that all your light bulbs are blinking green and not red. And this is all good." But if you not innovate on these investment cycles and innovation cycles that we have in industry on a regular base, on a customer-specific environment, then it will be very, very difficult. So this is how it phrase it from it. I mean, it's a digital customer experience. It's a self-service insight info and the expertise to leverage on driving new sources of value going forward.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I want to ask you two questions on that.

Norbert Schöfberger: Sure.

Sarah Nicastro: Number one is, I agree with the point about personalization, but how do you achieve a level of personalization at a scale that is feasible in terms of running a business?

Norbert Schöfberger: So, the personalization starts, and this is closely linked to self-service on the environment, so that you're going to have an automated tool that you're going to bring up on a single log-on portal. You're going to go there as a single source of tools for your existing environment, where you have all the health status of your equipment, where you can see if there is a problem. You can start an interaction with a technology specialist, if you want to. And this is a 100% customized to your specific environment. So this is not a one fit all. It's an environment that is made for you being the unique customer. Yes, it's a common platform that is used because of scaling effects, but this is exactly tailored to your environment. And then you have, depending on the service levels you're going to act and operate in, it could be a physical person that you could connect to at a push of a button, or you can go into a chat situation. And again, this is a 100% personalized and made tailored for you and your specific requirements, what you have.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, we were chatting before we started recording about how roles related to service are evolving. And so I just want to also point out, there are folks within this audience that have businesses that differ from HPE's. And some of those are, we're talking about larger equipment, we're talking about different types of service, et cetera, but I just want to point out that personalization also depends a lot on ... This is where relationships and the human side of service becomes so important. Because if the goal is, or not even the goal, the reality is that we're going to leverage self-service and remote service more to provide that ultimate outcome that customers want, they will appreciate that. But when they need a response from a person or when you are engaging with customers to talk about their innovation cycles and to talk about the business relationship, those are your opportunities to personalize it in a human way. And I just think that's super important as well.

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, absolutely agree. And that's why we have with the largest engagements and is our enterprise customers where we're going to operate in, you have regular sure fixes where you have this physical touchpoint, at least once a quarter. And depending on your situation, if you're going to move or you're going to do an M&A and you're going to integrate something, et cetera, where you have these detailed analysis and going to plan ahead, what is the next phase you are going to approach in the next two, three, four months? And then from a service perspective, we should take care on how to wrap this in a cozy, nice feeling and going to take care about everything that the customer can move forward, make a mantle, tick in a box and we're going to manage the stuff. And that's the physical engagement that you're going to have, and less the standard service that you're going to keep the engine running.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Okay, I'm going to save my other question for later because I think it's going to be applicable to some of the other things we're going to talk about. Okay, so let's talk about how the changing customer expectations and industry trends and the new sources of value that are becoming expected, how does that lend itself to HPE's focus on creating new revenue model? How is that sort of a natural transition, and why is that consumption model needed and desired among the customer base?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, it's a very good point. And if you look on the consumption model you just mentioned, Sarah is that the compound average growth rate, the CAGR is projected at roughly 20%, 25% going forward. And therefore there is one key metric what you have on recurring revenues that you usually have if you have lengthy engagements, that's the ARR, so it's the annualized revenue run rate. And this ARR is a key metric if you're going to move into the consumption world. And the software companies are doing this since years. And now it's also, if you go into environments like hybrids cloud environments and stuff like this, where we're going to look into this on a much more detailed way.

And the beauty of this is that the transition that you mentioned, it's not a black or white issue that you push a button and the entire world is just consuming that way. You can have a mixed environment of CapEx and OPEX, and you can leverage and decide what is run on which environment, depending on how you want to do it. But the trending what we're going to see is definitely moving to the OPEX environment, and therefore reflecting in the ARR metric from a revenue streaming perspective, because that's the future. And also for us being a company and all for the other companies being in a consumption world, this is reflecting also the stickiness of your services, how your customers are happy and accepting what you're doing and how you move together forward a step.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I mean, to me, when you talk about some of the things we talked about first, so moving toward more self-service, a digital experience, the appreciation or expectation of insights and expertise. These things lend themselves very well to and as a service model. I mean, it's really what I see is companies that start introducing some of the transformation, and they're doing so though on their existing business model and then running into some challenges. Well, we've introduced more self-service capabilities, but our customers don't want to pay for it. And that's because their customers are paying for them to be on site. They're compensated for hours of service, not for uptime or outcome. And this is where we get into to a little bit of challenges.

And I think ultimately your point is a good point, which is the trend is toward that consumption model, that as a service model. And so as we see that become more and more of a reality, it gives the organization providing the products and or services the capability to innovate more on service delivery and cost of service without it affecting the way they recognize revenue from their customer base. So, I think there's some areas of this transformation where we're almost getting ahead of ourselves in terms of wanting or achieving the capabilities without recognizing the impact on more of the business transformation, not the actual service transformation, if that makes sense? And so let's talk a little bit then, Norbert about how these trends change some of HPE's structure and route to market. So, your point also about, this isn't an all or nothing approach. It isn't all CapEx, it isn't all OPEX, it can be a hybrid. So, how does that impact the way that you structure the organization, the way you go to market with your customers, et cetera?

Norbert Schöfberger: Right, and that's exactly the point. It's nothing that you do depending on the size of your company. So we are still some 60,000 people in the field, and this is nothing that you do within one quarter, or not even within two quarters. It's a mental model shift that you need to do and that you need to facilitate how to discuss and talk about outcomes. So it's a multi-year sales transformation that you have to do. And this is one you decide to going to go there, not just for us, also for our customers and specifically for our business partners. Because together with our business partners on the go-to market, this is so important that we're going to stay aligned here and that we're going to have a detailed understanding and each and everyone's specialties and how to move forward that we're going to align this.

But I think the future sales force should be absolutely driving outcome-based discussions and selling. Because it is something, not a lot of customers in the future will just buy a product from you because it's the nice and fancy and the most features and specs and whatever you have around in there. The customers are interested in outcome, and this leads to how do you manage workloads? How can they manage workloads efficiently, cost effective, et cetera, going forward? And therefore it is something what you need to understand from a sales perspective and go-to market that services-led experience is a continuum across the entire IT environment. And it's regardless what your environment is in the data center today, you need to start at a point and say, "Take a decision, what do I keep as CapEx, where going to go to OPEX."

And then you're going to have this famous land and adopt, expand, and renew. And this entire process is something that customers are walking through the transformation the same like we do with our sales community and our structure as a company, because it's a different way than you just have R&D creating excellent high tech products, then you're going to build a perfect supply chain. Then you're going to do it and you're going to configure it, you're going to order it and you're going to deploy it and you're going to build it. That's a different approach.

Sarah Nicastro: And I mean, ultimately it requires completely different skills from a sales perspective, right?

Norbert Schöfberger: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's the point when you say maybe 15, 20 years ago, the best sales folks have been the ones who had a very detailed, technical understanding on the equipment product, how a data center is built, how is the IT foundation working that you walk through the layers? What do you need to look in? And this is shifting more and more because the discussion between a customer and the vendor is less about bits and bites and specs and features. It gets more about, "Hey, what is the value add you provide to my business or to my customer's business and make my life easier with the solution that you are offering to me?" And that's a different discussion you have to facilitate with a different knowledge. You need to have more detailed knowledge on the specific industry the customer is working at to understand the market conditions and the customer's customer environment.

And then you can tackle the right discussion, how this leads to a solution that best fits the customer's needs. And it's by no means set that everything or for everything the right answer and best answer is consumption. It could be that a customer has an environment, they say, "Hey, I still, I'm still very happy on having a product that I buy with wrapped perfect services around it on a CapEx environment. And I'm going to leverage this, whatever four years, five years, I'm going to do it. And then I'm going to go into the next cycle." Or it is something that you're going to say, "Okay, I have my equipment that is aging. I'm going to do just a tech refresh and do the staffing services, or I'm going to just continue to leverage." But we have customers out there who are leveraging the products already since seven, eight years, because it is working.

The application is not demanding on me what is running there for whatever internal compliance reasons they need to have this, so they are just renewing the services contract that they make sure everything is wrapped in the right services level, that they can operate internally and with their customers. Or ultimately it's the third option then that the customer says, "Hey, I understand where the world is moving in here. I want to join this train. And we're going to move the certain environment to a consumption model." And therefore, so for us at HPE, it's the GreenLake offering that we have out, and with all the workloads that we're going to manage through this, I'm going to go to the GreenLake platform and can I move this forward?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I just wanted to come back to two points. When we talk about what the changes are from a sales perspective. One other point is, and let me know if this is accurate for HPE, but for a lot of organizations it's not only a change in approach, required knowledge, and ability to communicate and build relationships. It's also often a change in who you're selling to within your customer base, right?

Norbert Schöfberger: Absolutely, absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: So that's another thing to be aware of and to prepare for. Because if you go in with this great message of this outcomes approach and it's to the person that you've just had sign off on purchasing products, they may not be receptive. And that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a business fit, it could just be that it's not the right person.

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah. No, absolutely, agree a 100% with this, Sarah. So it's because if you come with a strong legacy in the data center, usually you've been talking to the data center manager, maybe to the CIO in there. By the way, the role of the CIO is also changing with the way forward that we're going to have here, but that's a different topic. And if you stick to go to your old context that you have since years, then you potentially have an issue be if you show up with a different, so you need to try to find the language of the business of the customer and this understanding, and then you can land the proposition that you're going to have in there.

Sarah Nicastro: The other point I wanted to bring up is that as those relationships evolve and change and you're having more of an outcomes-based conversation, you mentioned the fact that this isn't just about going in and having a look, a perspective, a knowledge on the HPE part of the ecosystem, it's really looking at it as a whole. And I just want to say, for a company that has a legacy, this is a really important point of when you go into those environments, those conversations, that is how you look at what value you can expand to delivering. And so don't get stuck in the, "Oh, well, we don't do that. That isn't part of our offering. We can't help with this." Listen to what it is they need at the highest level of what the outcomes are, and be willing to get creative on having conversations internally of, "Well, we keep hearing this need, we maybe don't solve that directly now, but what should we be thinking about?" That's where the innovation comes from is being willing to step outside of the role you've historically played and think about the role you can play going forward.

Norbert Schöfberger: Right, absolutely. And this is also, I don't think there is any company out there that can deliver everything that a customer needs. So this is where, from our perspective our partner ecosystem is so important that you have this as a company and the vendor, because this is complimentary. And regardless if you talk about the partner programs that are out there from a services perspective and how to tie things together, or to glue this together, that the customer really gets what they want. You need to have complimentary maybe services here, or a piece of a product there to make the end-to-end solution that best fits for the customer's needs. And I think this is very important also the way going forward.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. So, what is the focus at HPE on driving the go-to market acceleration going forward?

Norbert Schöfberger: So, I think the focus is that we clearly identify and see on the three options I mentioned in there. So is it you're going to keep what you have, you're going to just renew the service contract, install base? Classical selling in there. Is it a technology refresh when customer just wants to bring in fresh technology or going to move to consumption? And with this motion going forward in combination with our partners together, I think the go-to market push that we are going to leverage, first of all, on a very large installed base that is out there. Luckily with great market shares around the globe that we're going to have, this sets us up perfectly on the future and on the way going forward.

The trick here is on a go-to market like we touched that we're going to develop and evolve from a type of how we're going to sell and whom are we going to talk to with the customers? Where are the next sets of best partners for the future strategy this is going forward? How do we walk this story together with our existing, great partners that we're going to have in there? And how do we evolve with our own sales force that we're going to move into the workload outcome-based discussion and accompany the customers with their transformation, regardless on what level or maturity level they are currently on the way to digitalization?

Sarah Nicastro: So, is it fair to say that the go-to market is to meet any of those three needs-

Norbert Schöfberger: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: But there is a focus, as we talked about the shift to outcomes takes years. So, while there's still those three paths, there is also a focus on shifting to the outcomes approach in terms of focus or prioritization, or just continuing that internal mindset shift, skill building, et cetera?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yes, absolutely. And this is so, when you ask on the go-to market and how to drive there, we already have, as of today, our CEO stated already couple of years ago that by '22 we will have all of our services that we're going to offer ready in a consumption model. So we are currently in a, I could call it a hybrid phase, is it CapEx or OPEX? And it's the best solution for the customer that we need to propose, also from a go to market perspective. And this hybrid model will, from my personal perspective, move towards a consumption model going forward. So the legacy and the CapEx, also my personal opinion, will never a 100% disappear. They will always be product business, but the portion of the consumption business going forward will increase.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, okay. That makes sense. All right, so we talked quite a bit about this, but if there's anything we didn't touch on, is there anything we didn't discuss when we think about what it takes to be successful selling service in today's landscape?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, I think there is maybe one point to add this, that you need to look at it from a customer perspective that service is kind of a function that is very essential to an organization, that it engages with customers at every step of their journey. And if you're going to look at this from a vendor perspective, you would say, "Hey, it starts with pre-sales, during the sales position, past sales afterwards, this is sometime forgotten. Because in the past you showed up every three years, four years, and you're going to did some deal done tick in a box. And therefore the infrastructure sale at the beginning, if you're going to go this way, it's just the beginning and not the end. And then you need to elaborate particular during the sales process and with the post-sales environment that you're going to cover all the needs that are around the customers. This is just, and then the story gets complete then.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. So, we talked quite a bit about what has changed. If you were to try and give your predictions for what things will look like, if not at HPE specifically, in this sort of ecosystem 10 years from now? Where do you think we'll be?

Norbert Schöfberger: Well, if we would notice, we in the famous crystal ball, maybe in there, but it's a gut feeling, I would say. So everything in the future, I think it's proactive, preventive remediation. It will be kind of the gold standard of support that you can do. Leveraging all around machine-to-machine connectivity in combination with AI. And therefore meaning less physical interaction on the traditional service environments and moving close to a 100% to digitized and personalized, customized for the customers. That would be in a nutshell where I would see potentially in a couple of years, is it 10 years? I'm not exactly right in there, but this is where we're going to.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, and I think when we talked at the beginning about new sources of value and the digitalization, the personalization, that sort of seamlessness and peace of mind that customers want, those things sound very simple. They sound very simple, very straightforward, and they are things that everyone is talking about. And the problem with that is, they're not simple to execute. And this is why when I say, where are we headed? Five years, 10 years, whatever. We're not really talking about anything different, at least based on what we know right now. We're not talking about, "A meteor will hit and this will happen and the whole game will change."

It's really taking the time to execute on those mindset shifts, the skill building that needs to take place, the customer journey, all of those things that will inch this to where we see that increase in consumption, increase in as a service, because it will become, I think, the standard approach, because we will as an industry master the things that it takes. Right now some people would argue, "Oh, we've been talking about this for however long." Yes, but there are foundational business shifts that take time to see come to fruition. So, as someone that's been covering this space a long time, I hate it when people ask me for predictions. But I also say, "Look, don't spend your energy trying to think about what is the next big thing. Spend your energy getting good at the things we're talking about right now." Because there's still a lot of work to be done, right?

Norbert Schöfberger: And I'm a 100% with you, Sarah, and maybe some easy examples. So we've all been through difficult times the last two and a half years. And I remember at the very beginning we've not been able to enter onsite customer data center due to the regulations, and you've not been allowed to. So all the customers who have already been further advanced in this journey, they benefited from the digital and remote environment. Just as a simple example in there.

Or secondly, I remember customers that told us for years, "Things like remote access and home office is impossible. This will never happen in there." Hey, these guys called me a couple of days after this thing started two and a half years ago. "Hey, what can we do? I need this now." So maybe sometimes it needs, even if it's difficult, some events are going to reopen thinking and get unblindfolded to kind of move things forward. And this is why exactly what you say. It's so difficult to predict what will be around in 10 years or in five years, because we don't know what, and if we just master what is around today and what the visionaries today say, that will be good to do, I would really support and suggest that everyone takes a deep look in there, because things are moving pretty fast and quick. And at the end of the day, it just makes lives easier.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, for sure. Okay, Norbert. So, you came into sort of the service part of this world five years ago. And I'm curious if you can share, what has been your biggest lesson learned as someone leading service now for the last five years?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, so I think one of the biggest things is that selling services requires a different mindset and skillset. It is, there are comparisons out there say, "Hey, if you sell a product, you sell a solution. If you sell a service you sell a vision." And this is something in the discussions with the customers and the changes we see, particularly in the services area as five years ago, I mean, consumption just started in the professional business environment, at least in there. And with the hockey stick we saw till today, this would be the biggest change that I see what we need to adopt to. And there is no end yet in line of sight when this will be over.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Well, that's good because it makes things exciting, right?

Norbert Schöfberger: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: There's a lot of work to do. There's a lot of change yet to be realized, and certainly a lot of potential. So, thank you, Norbert for coming and sharing, I appreciate it.

Norbert Schöfberger: Thank you very much for having me, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it was fun. You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn, as well as Twitter, @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

September 26, 2022 | 6 Mins Read

Key Themes from the 2022 Service Council Symposium

September 26, 2022 | 6 Mins Read

Key Themes from the 2022 Service Council Symposium


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

At last week’s Service Council Symposium in Chicago, much of the conversation centered around people. Whether discussing how to better attract and empower talent, how to address and alleviate burnout, or how to give customers the connection they’re seeking, the Service Council’s Service is Humanity focus took center stage. 

This isn’t to say there weren’t ample informative conversations on digital transformation and opportunities to engage with those providing the industry’s modern solutions, but simply that the conversation broadened into some of the very important but often less clearcut topics companies are grappling with. I think this is important because, as I’ve often said, technological sophistication isn’t what is holding companies back from achieving their objectives around innovation – the layers of change and complexity involved are. And while no one attendee at events like this has all the answers, collectively as a community we can inspire, inform, and uplift one another to go back to the day-to-day reinvigorated to solve challenges and keep the ball moving forward. 

With that said, and in no particular order, I wanted to share some of the moments and insights that stood out to me at the event:

Elizabeth Dixon, former Principal Lead of Strategy, Hospitality and Service Design at Chic-Fil-A delivered a keynote based on her new book, The Power of Customer Experience: 5 Elements to Make an Impact. Elizabeth said during her session, “We have to remember that Customer Experience is nothing more than the overflow of our Employee Experience.” This is a reality I think many in our industry are reconciling currently. After many years of being very focused on cutting costs, we began to see the potential of service as a profit center – which shifted our focus to the customer. Now we’re realizing that we can’t deliver the customer outcomes we want, to drive the profits that are possible, without a frontline workforce that is engaged and satisfied. When you couple this with the shifts we’ve seen in the workforce and the challenges organizations have recruiting and retaining talent, it is clear that getting employee experience right is absolutely critical for service success in the coming years. 

Customer Centricity Can Require Organizational Change

Bob Feiner, SVP of Global Services and Jason MacIver, VP of Services Procurement at DELL Technologies delivered a great presentation on what happened at DELL when the company began focusing on Customer Experience. They learned that their siloed approach, where support, field service, and parts management all worked toward individual objectives and measurements of success, although effective historically, didn’t stand up to the needs of a customer-centric business. They shared how DELL worked through the complexities of organizational change and invested in technology to ensure that each function of the business is unified in strategic vision, approach, and measurement of success. 

Recognizing how imperative the employee experience is – and sharing stories of how disruptive change can be – leads us to the conversations around humanity. How are company cultures shifting to fit the needs of today’s workforce? In what ways do both organizations and leaders need to evolve to embrace the need to nurture and empower versus drive and demand? 

Stefano Folli, EVP and Head of Global Services & Solutions at Philips shared some of the ways Philips is working toward a human-centric company culture, but he also shared how he as an individual leader has had to self-reflect and grow. I really appreciated the way he surfaced the importance of individual leaders not only being willing to “change with the times,” but putting in the work to do so. He drove his points home with some specific examples of issues within his team where he realized he needed to shift his thinking or augment his skills. He also discussed how he practices reverse mentoring, because he realizes he has as much to learn from those he mentors as they do from him.

The Role of Leadership in Human Centricity

I would argue that the role of leadership in human centricity is even more important than a company’s commitment to any sort of programmatic approach. This point surfaced in the workshop I moderated on Monday afternoon on Workplace Mental Health & Wellness. I was joined by Emma Jellen, Interim Director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health; Chris Westlake, Director - Service Process and Digital Transformation at Generac Power Systems; and Sasha Ilyukhin, SVP of Customer Service Operations at Tetra Pak. We had an outline of prepared points to center the discussion around, but as soon as we introduced ourselves, questions from the audience started flooding in:

  • How do we make this more than a check-box exercise?
  • What is a leader supposed to do when they notice an employee is struggling – how do you handle those conversations?
  • What if a leader is “old school” and feels that being personal has no place at work?

The questions were excellent and prompted a very lively discussion around the fact that while a company focus on this is needed, and most evidenced in its culture, the role of the individual leaders is most important. Emma shared some excellent advice on what goes in to building programs, training managers to handle tough conversations, and alleviating burnout. All of the free resources she referenced in our session are available at www.workplacementalhealth.org

We know that one important facet of employee engagement is for employees to feel valued, appreciated, and heard. Karin Hamel, VP of Services, US Digital Buildings at Schneider Electric, demonstrated her commitment to improving employee engagement among the company’s frontline workforce at least year’s event by sharing about her creation of the Service Hero award. At last week’s event, Karin shared how she’s continued looking for ways to not only keep the field workforce engaged, but also to create an outlet for their valuable insight, and this past year has created a Field Service Advisory Committee to ensure the field service teams at Schneider can share their input, ideas, and feedback. 

Another element of employee engagement that was discussed repeatedly at the event is having a sense of purpose. Sasha Ilyukhin of Tetra Pak, who won this years’ Service Council Humanity in Service Award, gave a presentation that tied in another very important area of focus in service: Sustainability. Sustainability gives companies, employees, and customers a sense of purpose and, as Sasha expressed, has become a license to operate. For Tetra Pak, this is a significant area of focus both in how the company itself continues to focus on its environmental impact, but also how it helps its customers do the same. As such, Sasha spoke to how sustainability is such an area of opportunity in service

Technology Streamlines Complexity to Allow People Focus

These are just a few of the excellent points that were surfaced during last week’s event. At the close of day three, the Advisory Board answered a few questions around lessons learned, what they’re excited about, and what their top areas of concern are. Many of the members responded that their biggest concerns surround talent. Laura Mather, VP and GM, Global Services at STERIS Corporation made such a good point – she said, “Service is becoming ever more complex. If we want to have the capacity to focus on humanity, we must embrace the technology available to us.”

I could not agree with her more – the sophisticated technology at our disposal today can simplify some of that complexity. If you can leverage it in a way that gives you clear insights, automates menial tasks, and increases efficiency, it augments your ability to pour more time and effort into your people – which is a clear imperative for the industry. 

Most Recent

September 20, 2022 | 21 Mins Read

6 Ways to Address Employee Burnout

September 20, 2022 | 21 Mins Read

6 Ways to Address Employee Burnout


Sarah welcomes Darcy Gruttadaro, Director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health, part of the APA Foundation, for a discussion around the tie between burnout and mental health and for tangible tips on how to address employee burnout. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we're going to be talking about a very, very important topic, avoiding and addressing employee burnout. I'm thrilled to be joined today by Darcy Gruttadaro, who is the director at the Center for Workplace Mental Health, which is part of the APA Foundation. Darcy, welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast.

Darcy Gruttadaro: Thank you Sarah. It's a pleasure to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: I'm so happy to have you. So before we get into today's topic, why don't you tell folks a little bit about yourself, what the Center for Workplace Mental Health is all about and also what the APA Foundation is. So for anyone that isn't familiar, tell them a bit about the organizations and then your expertise.

Darcy Gruttadaro: Sure. Happy to do that. So the APA Foundation is a foundation that has a philanthropic and programmatic focus. And what we like to say is we are creating a mentally healthy nation where you live, learn, work, worship and play.

So we have workplace mental health initiatives, school-based initiatives, criminal justice reform initiatives, a faith-based community initiative. We focus on schools and really broad community anti-stigma work.

As far as my background, so I've been at the Center for Workplace Mental Health for five years. Before that, I spent 17 years at NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and I worked primarily on policy and programmatic issues there.

I also have a family connection to mental health issues, which is really what led me into this field. I was a lawyer practicing litigator and I got very interested in policy work when it came to mental health and wellbeing, so here I am.

Sarah Nicastro: And you made a big change. That's awesome. Good. So I'm happy to have you. I shared with you when we were planning for this episode, Darcy, that I try to weave mental health conversations into our content quite regularly.

So I myself have my own challenges when it comes to anxiety and things like that and so I have a personal connection to the content, but I also see in the audience we have, the industries that we reach, this isn't a topic that has been widely discussed for very long and in some pockets still isn't, right?

But you have people that are struggling and need this to be a more regular conversation in the workplace and they need better support and they need that destigmatization that you mentioned. So that's why it's really important for me to make sure that mental health is a through line of the conversations we have here.

So today we're going to talk specifically about some advice you have around burnout, but before we do that, let's talk a little bit just about mental health in general. So how did you see the impact of the pandemic? So how would you say things related to this conversation have changed over the last two or three years?

Darcy Gruttadaro: Yeah, great question. I mean, let's face it, we really have been through a really challenging time, but let's just start with the idea that we all have mental health and mental health exists along a continuum. So our mental health may be in a really solid healthy place even if we live with a mental health condition like anxiety, depression or another one.

Or it may be slipping and it may be that it's really not doing well at all. So mental health exists along a continuum. We have what I like to describe as a trifecta. So we had the global pandemic which disrupted our lives tremendously, at work, in the community, if we have children at school, caring for loved ones.

It was a really difficult change and came very quickly and sort of got dropped into our lives. We also have had a lot of political and racial tension over the last couple of years. A lot of political change, a lot of political winds blowing. And then finally we have an economy that's really uncertain.

We're hearing inflation, recession, we're solid, we're good, we're stable. So this can all lead to a tremendous amount of uncertainty in our lives. We as human beings don't do great with uncertainty. We like certainty, we like things to go well. So we've been under a lot of stress, a lot of strain and it's taken its toll.

And we know the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been collecting data since March, 2020 in a weekly pulse data, a pulse survey rather. And what we know is that we've had a tripling and quadrupling of people experiencing anxiety and symptoms of those conditions across industries.

So whether you're in a service industry, you're a frontline healthcare clinician, you work in a restaurant, we are all experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression at very high rates.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So do you feel like... There's been a huge strain, right, on humanity as a result of everything you mentioned that we've encountered over the last few years. And that's kind of the challenge that we need to grapple with. If you maybe try and look for a bright side, okay.

Do you think that the collective stress we've all had to deal with over the last few years, has it opened eyes to the need to talk more about mental health in the workplace? Have you seen a change in people's openness to having dialogue, people's willingness to make changes in the workplace to be more accommodating?

Darcy Gruttadaro: 100%, yes. We are seeing mental health taking center stage. There is a recognition that we've been through a lot and our mental health has taken a hit as a result of that. And so the silver lining is mental health has existed in the shadows for too long.

And really there are myths and stereotypes that persist around mental health, that it's this dark scary condition that makes people act in ways that any of us would be sort of ashamed of in a sense, but that's all changing because more and more people are being upfront about the fact that they're feeling anxious, depressed, they're struggling with the substance use issue.

The more people talk about it, the more others are willing to come out and say, you're not alone. I'm experiencing this too. We know from surveys that younger generations are more comfortable talking about this. They have an expectation that the workplace will address these issues.

They're looking for it when they're making decisions about careers and where they want to work. So it is a positive development that mental health is coming out of the shadows and into the light. It needs to, because what we know is when you get treatment and connected with support and services, you can do quite well.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now how would you describe, based on where we are today, how would you describe the criticality of companies becoming more adept at managing mental health and providing employees support?

So there's been maybe less hesitant or resistant or reluctance, right, to do so, but I'm sure you also see a continuum, and that could be based on a variety of factors, location or industry of companies that are really advanced and doing wonderful things and companies that are lagging.

So what would you say overall in why and how it's so, so important for companies all around location, in a variety of industries to really grasp the need to put in work here?

Darcy Gruttadaro: Yes. So what we know is that people living with mental health conditions exist along the continuum from frontline healthcare workers to the C-suite. So having a mental health condition does not limit your ability to perform at an exceptionally high level.

And right now employers are really looking for high performing individuals in the service industry, in the tech industry, in the finance industry. And they know that people who are high performers may have mental health conditions. So they recognize... And the other thing is we have very low unemployment.

There's a real focus within organizations on retaining their high performers. So they want to make sure, given that we know high performers can live with mental health conditions, they want to make sure we have the right services and supports.

People have been through a lot, and even if we hadn't been through a lot, the expectations are growing that organizations will provide mental health services and supports. That it will be visible, that it will be talked about. They are really looking for that. So it's a retention issue. The other thing is it's an engagement issue.

If you're an employee in an organization that shows they care about you, not just your physical health, but your mental health too, you're going to walk into that business every day, or get ready to go wherever you're going in the field and you will feel much better about the fact that your organization cares about you. And in turn, you will be a high performer whether you live with a condition or not.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah. I think the points you brought up about engagement and retention are very, very important points for our audience, especially because I talk a lot about the fact that I think a lot of folks within our audience are amid a bit of a reckoning with employee engagement, because we as an industry have been so incredibly focused on customer experience that we've maybe overlooked a bit the experience of our employees and how engaged are they and how supported are they in all areas, right.

And then when you layer on the impact of the pandemic and all of that stress, there's a real recognition, I think right now to your point of, okay, this is real. We need to do something different. We need to make sure that our employees are supported and engaged so that they don't burn out, so that we can retain them because there is a shortage of talent.

And then as we bring new talent on, what is their expectation of what we can offer in this area? So I think those things are all incredibly valid. I wanted to ask, before we talk about the six ways to deal with burnout, I wanted to ask about if you think about service and some of the industries that we reach, what do you think are the biggest stigmas or misunderstandings that kind of persist?

Darcy Gruttadaro: Well, certainly stigma is associated with mental health conditions in many industries. I think industries that tend to be male dominated, that tend to have people who work out in the field, there can be perceptions that you should be tough. Just stick it out, suck it up.

Male dominated industries tend to have this tendency to really want to send the message that they're strong and they're tough and that somehow mental health can be linked with weakness. And when in fact we know, I mean, look at the professional athletes who have now come out and been very open about the fact that they experience anxiety, depression, substance use.

So we know some of the toughest athletes in this country at the highest levels are experiencing these conditions. So it's not a matter of toughness, but we still all have to work at breaking down some of those stereotypes and breaking down the stigma. And the best way to break down stigma is for people to share a personal connection.

So there's a real opportunity, but we have to chip away. It's not like we're going to wake up one day in stigma will be gone. We all have some responsibility, like we're doing here, to have conversations about it and to say it's not a matter of weakness. It could be really a matter of strength to seek help when you need it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And it's a really good point. I don't have any statistics off the top of my head, but I know that you hear stories of rates of real challenges and even suicide among men because they feel that elevated need to keep it in and struggle in silence.

And so this is an industry that's working hard to bring more women and all sorts of folks in and improve diversity, but it is still male dominated.

So that's a really good point to bring up that we need to be particularly sensitive to the fact that we don't want to reinforce, even subconsciously, that narrative of toughen up and suck it up. We want to make sure our teams know it's okay to say that they're having a hard time in whatever way that might be. Okay.

Darcy Gruttadaro: Yeah, I mean, I have to say I'm very impressed with construction and the field service industry, and really you all are doing important work around breaking down these stereotypes and that is what it takes.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, yeah. And to your point, there's no magic wand to make it go away, it's about having conversations like this, having conversations one-on-one.

This conversation blends over a lot into conversations about leadership because there's also this outdated or this misperception among leaders that feel they can't share or be vulnerable because it detracts from their position of authority, right.

And so we know throughout the last few years that I think leaders are moving toward a different model where they are more vulnerable and they see that as a strength, not a weakness.

And so when you can learn how to share appropriately and be open to the conversation, that encourages your employees to be willing to talk. So lead by example, right?

Darcy Gruttadaro: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So let's dig into the six ways that organizations can address burnout.

Darcy Gruttadaro: Sure. And let me just say, I think when people think of burnout they think individuals should just get over it. More exercise, more sleep, better diet, don't take stress so seriously, when in reality what the research shows is that, yes, we have individual responsibility when it comes to burnout, but there's a huge amount of responsibility that comes from organizational change, operational change.

There's been excellent research done on this by Dr. Christina Maslach and what she has shown is there are six factors, as you said. One is workload. Now workload can be difficult when we have people leaving the workplace because other people have to pick up the slack.

But what we want to do as leaders is make sure we're keeping track of whether people have a reasonable workload. Sometimes it'll be a little higher than usual, but then other times, make sure you're bringing it down to about where it should be. That's really important.

Two is autonomy and control. Do people have the chance to make some decisions about their day, about their work? And again, we all have key performance indicators. We all have goals that we need to reach. So it can be a small decision that people feel like they can make, but people want to have some control over their work day.

So autonomy and control is important. Three is sense of community. Let's face that we spend most of our waking hours at work. Do people feel that sense of community at work so that when they go to work in the morning, they feel like, oh, I really feel like I belong to this organization? Now that can be true in the field too.

You have to create with field work some opportunities for people to feel like they have that sense of a group, of a community. And the way you do that is you plan social activities, you find ways for people to form groups around topics they care about, to share information, employee resource groups.

The fourth thing is reward and recognition. And this is not per se huge awards and big monetary awards. This is just managers recognizing people want to be told, job well done, thank you for your work, it means a lot.

Really just taking those moments in our busy day when we're all doing more than we should be at work to say, I appreciate you and I see you and I want to recognize you, either in front of your peers or not, but you're being recognized for your good work. Four is that sense of, five rather is the sense of fairness.

So are people being treated fairly? If there are favorites, that's not going to sit well with others, really. And we're human beings. I mean, managers may have a slight favorite, but it's recognizing that has an impact. So try to create a situation in which everyone feels fairness somewhat evenly.

And then six is valued. People want to feel purpose and value in their work. So for leaders and managers, remember to share with people when they're out in the field how important their work is to the bottom line of the organization.

Because if people feel valued and feel like there's a purpose in them going out into the field and they're going out into the field every day, that they're making a difference for the bottom line of the organization and they're bringing value to what the organization can achieve, if they feel that sense of purpose and value, they're going to be much more likely to say, I can do this.

Even when it's hard, even when workload goes high, I understand that I'm important to this organization because I've been reminded of that by my manager, by my leader and others. So those are the six areas, and it's not rocket science, Sarah.

And it's not a massive investment. This is recognizing human nature and not feeling like, oh brother, I have to pat people on the back. You do need to remind them they're appreciated and reward them when the time is right.

And because we know 4 million people left their jobs during the pandemic, we are in a very competitive work environment and people have choice. So you want to be the place people want to go to and be part of every day.

Sarah Nicastro: And when you're in a service business, right, you're relying often on those people to be the face of your brand. Right. So you need to have them be in a place where they are engaged and feel valued and are committed to that experience. Otherwise, you're not only facing the realities of the talent situation, but you're also risking that customer experience that is really important.

Those are really good points. And I think it's funny that you say it's not rocket science. I feel like so many of the things that we talk about here fall into that category in the sense of it isn't some mysterious or incredibly challenging thing that gets overlooked, it's the simple things.

It's the simple things that have an incredible impact that are where companies make missteps that really take them off course. So I think it's great to have those six sort of tangible areas of focus. One of the things I wanted to ask about, Darcy, is what advice would you give around, I guess being programmatic versus being personal? Okay.

And the reason I say that is there's a gentleman named Jordan. He works for a company called QIAGEN, and he is in Australia. He was on the podcast quite a while ago and we talked about mental health and he's a field service leader and he was sharing specifically some of the things that he's done.

And his point was, the biggest impact he's seen is around just making the topic a very regular part of every conversation and how he's incorporated that into meetings, how he's incorporated into his one-on-one dialogue with his team, et cetera.

And so I think both ends of that spectrum, coming up with something programmatic, we know that what we measure gets attention. What we focus on as an organization in an organized way will get the focus it deserves and this is certainly something that deserves focus.

At the same time, sometimes with I guess topics like this that are a little bit more on the human side, right. So mental health or diversity, you run into people doing it to check a box instead of doing it because they have that personal connection or they authentically care.

So what advice can you give people on how to balance creating effective programs that will help you achieve results at scale, in progress related to mental health, but also balancing that with authenticity and genuine connection in a way that matters to individuals?

Darcy Gruttadaro: Yeah. I mean, people know when it's authentic. So the check-the-box approach does not work well. So if you do one training and say, we did a mental health training, we are good, that is not going to make a big change for your organization. And leadership sets the culture.

So the more leadership is visible in talking about mental health, the more it's happening at a leadership level and operational and managerial level. And I agree 100% with Jordan that people really appreciate when you make it a part of the culture because it's something that gets incorporated into conversations, into check-ins, into health fairs, into annual performance evaluations.

You really have to make it real and it's worth the investment to do that. And the other thing is, I think it's really important to recognize we all get busy and sometimes we forget. So creating as a leader within an organization or a manager or supervisor or an employee, just those simple reminders around I'm part of the culture, I need to be real about making it a mentally healthy culture.

I can do that by complimenting my colleagues, in giving we receive when it comes to kindness. And also recognizing the six factors and maybe keeping them posted somewhere where you won't forget that reward and recognition matter, that autonomy and control matter, just because we all forget, we get busy.

And let me say one thing about burnout. Burnout became an issue of major concern in 2019 when the World Health Organization announced a new definition. It is not a product of COVID-19. So it's important to know that because we were already heading into concerns with occupational burnout and that has obviously been intensified.

So all the more reason to make it programmatic, as Jordan said, to make it part of the culture, for it to be visible in multiple ways with authenticity because that's when people will believe it and feel psychologically safe getting the help they need when they need it.

Sarah Nicastro: I think too, that's a really good point, that this topic did not become important because of COVID, right. It simply maybe helped surface the criticality of getting a better handle on it, right. And so that also means that for anyone that thinks, well, COVID is over and we don't need to worry about that anymore.

Let's just go back to grinding it out and high pressure and we don't need to do X, Y or Z anymore. You couldn't be more wrong, right. This is something that needs to be part of the culture from this point forward.

I think going back to the point you made earlier too, almost every organization that I talk with is kind of grappling with what will their recruiting and hiring plans look like for the next 1, 3, 5 years, right.

And so to your point about the younger generations and their expectations around this topic, that's something else we need to be thinking about. Is there anything on that point specifically that you would point out that the younger folks in the workforce expect? Anything companies are doing that you think is particularly appealing or impactful for them?

Darcy Gruttadaro: Yeah. Again, it gets back to the simple notion of make sure mental health is visible in a programmatic way, in how you talk about your organization. I mean, in the recruiting process you can say mental health and wellbeing matter to this organization.

Here's how we are addressing it. Here's what we have to offer as an organization. And work is work, so let's be real. I mean, we all have work to get done, but it's how we do our work and it's how we treat each other and it's how our workday goes.

I mean, one simple piece of advice is for managers and leaders to ask themselves, is this an organization that I feel good about being part of on a daily basis?

And if it's not, what minor changes can we make to make it more so? And even think about surveying your employees because they have really good ideas. Believe it or not, it's often not about a lot of frivolity that'll cost a lot of money.

It's sometimes just simple policy changes that are very workable that can make all the difference in the world. And this all hits the bottom line when it comes to retention and recruitment and really meeting the organizational goals.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah, I think there's an era of leadership or culture where it was all around trying to ring every last ounce of productivity out of every employee. Right.

And I think just really genuinely understanding and believing that that model doesn't work as well as giving them more support, encouragement, recognition, making them feel connected and how that pays dividends in terms of not only retention but just output. Right.

I mean, people will work harder if they feel supported and can genuinely be invested in what they're doing than if you're just ruling with an iron fist, right. So I think that that's really important. Go ahead.

Darcy Gruttadaro: Yeah, I was just going to say, you made such a great point earlier that I just want to amplify and I will use again, that when people are in the field, they are representing the brand of the organization.

And the more they feel good about what they're doing because they're being treated well and they're in a culture that cares about them, the more they're going to project a positive image for the brand, which really matters at the end of the day with the competitive marketplaces we all work in.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. And I also like the point you made about most of the time making really positive changes does not require a huge budget or investment, right. So I want those listening to understand that this isn't something you should procrastinate because finances are tough and we don't have budget for another program, right.

Some of the things we're talking about, I think some of the things that matter most are the personal aspects, the person to person aspects that don't cost anything. So I would urge everyone to go back to those six points and think about what is realistic for us to start doing today to improve because it doesn't have to cost a bunch of money.

I know there's a gentleman that's spent on the podcast, Gyner Ozgul, he's the CEO of SmartCare. And throughout the pandemic, he made it a point, he had a goal, I think it was 2, 3, 4, something like that, but he would call a field technician through FaceTime and he would do so many a week just to say, "Hey, how are you doing?"

And people just overlook the impact that has and it's just a commitment of a 10 minute phone call, right, and it can make a huge difference. All right. Darcy, any other thoughts, comments, words of wisdom for everyone?

Darcy Gruttadaro: No, I think it's just important to remember that the workplace is what we make it and that all of us have a contribution to make in creating a caring culture. Whether you are brand new to the organization and at an entry level or you are at a C-level, you can make a difference.

And it really is about caring for each other and asking, "Are you okay? You don't seem like yourself. I'm just checking in to make sure everything's good." And the more we do that, the more we create that caring culture that people want to be part of. So every little bit counts.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, absolutely. Can you tell folks, so if they wanted to learn more about what the Center for Workplace Mental Health does, resources, et cetera, where can they find that information?

Darcy Gruttadaro: Yes. We make it easy, it's workplace mental health.org. And actually on our website under employer resources, we have a free fairly new infographic on burnout that has the six factors with an explanation of each and some strategies on how to incorporate them into your operational level of your organization. So I would say, take a look at that and we have lots of free resources on our website.

Sarah Nicastro: Excellent.

Darcy Gruttadaro: So that's the best way to reach out.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I'll make sure we link that infographic in the show notes for the podcast and give people a chance to come and check out some of the free resources you offer. Thank you so much, Darcy, for joining me today and having this conversation. I really appreciate it.

Darcy Gruttadaro: Such a pleasure. Thank you for having me, and thanks for your great work.Sarah Nicastro: Thank you. You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

Most Recent

September 19, 2022 | 9 Mins Read

8 Facts About Mental Health at Work to Expand Awareness and Prompt Action

September 19, 2022 | 9 Mins Read

8 Facts About Mental Health at Work to Expand Awareness and Prompt Action


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

If you’ve been following Future of Field Service for any amount of time, hopefully you know I am passionate about the discussion around mental health. It’s such an important topic, one that impacts me personally, and thankfully one that is beginning to get more attention – and action – in the workplace. 

However, while I’m among the ranks that are thankful greater attention is being given to the need for better mental health support at work, there’s still much to be done. Many stigmas still exist, many organizations lag far behind what’s acceptable in accepting the need for more focus on mental health, and many individuals are still struggling without the resources and support they need and deserve. And therefore, the quest to talk about this topic in an actionable way continues!

To that end, this week, I am thrilled to welcome to the podcast Darcy Gruttadaro, Director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health, part of the APA Foundation. Our podcast episode is on six ways to address employee burnout and it’s a must-listen coming Wednesday. In the meantime, I wanted to share from my conversation with Darcy eight facts around mental health that I feel we all need to better understand and urge action on.

#1: We All Have Mental Health

This is such an important point to start with – that we all have mental health, and we all deserve for our mental health to be supported at work. “We all have mental health and mental health exists along a continuum,” explains Darcy. “So, our mental health may be in a really solid, healthy place even if we live with a mental health condition like anxiety, depression or another one. Or it may be slipping, and it may be that it's really not doing well at all. Mental health exists along a continuum.”

Whether you have an employee that is generally healthy but going through a hard time or has a mental health condition that is very well-managed, it’s important for them to feel supported in the workplace. It’s also important for employers and leaders to understand that many incredibly high performers achieve all they do while managing a mental health condition. “We know that people living with mental health conditions exist along the continuum from frontline healthcare workers to the C-suite,” says Darcy. “Having a mental health condition does not limit your ability to perform at an exceptionally high level.”

#2: We All Share Responsibility Around Mental Health at Work

Second, we all must accept that we have a personal responsibility around mental health at work. While companies should absolutely be prioritizing an investment in creating and expanding mental health programs, a lot of the foundational work begins with individuals. “There are myths and stereotypes that persist around mental health, that it's this dark scary condition that makes people act in ways that any of us would be sort of ashamed of in a sense, but that's all changing because more and more people are being upfront about the fact that they're feeling anxious, depressed, or they're struggling with the substance use issue,” explains Darcy. “The more people talk about it, the more others are willing to come out and say, you're not alone. I'm experiencing this too.”

Being open about struggles and needs is one way the conversation takes hold and reduces or eliminates those long-standing stigmas, but even if you have no current personal mental health challenges to speak of, you should be contributing to creating a supportive workplace for those who may. “It’s important to remember that the workplace is what we make it and that all of us have a contribution to make in creating a caring culture,” Darcy emphasizes. “Whether you are brand new to the organization and at an entry level or are at a C-level, you can make a difference. It really is about caring for each other and asking, ‘Are you okay? You don't seem like yourself. I'm just checking in to make sure everything's good.’ And the more we do that, the more we create that caring culture that people want to be part of. It’s important to remember every little bit counts.”

#3: Improving Mental Health at Work is Key to Your Talent Strategy

Are you aware there is a greater expectation among younger talent that companies have structured mental health programs and ample support in place? Putting effort into a mental health program will not only help you to ensure your existing talent is engaged, supported, and healthier, but it is becoming a facet of recruiting new talent as well. 

“We know from surveys that younger generations are more comfortable talking about this. They have an expectation that the workplace will address these issues,” says Darcy. “They're looking for programs when they're making decisions about careers and where they want to work. The expectations are growing that organizations will provide mental health services and support. That it will be visible, that it will be talked about. They are really looking for that. And because we know 4 million people left their jobs during the pandemic, we are in a very competitive work environment and candidates have choice. So, you want to be the place people want to go to and be part of every day.”

It's understood that high performers can have mental health conditions, so for companies looking to attract and retain high performing talent, having support in place can help these employees stay ahead of any issues and take care of their needs. “Right now, employers are really looking for high performing individuals in the service industry, in the tech industry, in the finance industry. And we know that people who are high performers may have mental health conditions,” says Darcy. “So, companies recognize the increased need for services and support.”

Finally, employers should understand there is a connection between mental health support and employee engagement. “If you're an employee in an organization that shows they care about you, not just your physical health, but your mental health too, you're going to go to work every day and feel much better about the fact that your organization cares about you. In turn, you will be more likely to be a high performer, whether you live with a condition or not,” says Darcy. “Employees in the field, they are representing the brand of the organization. And the more they feel good about what they're doing because they're being treated well and they're in a culture that cares about them, the more they're going to project a positive image for the brand.”

#4: Male Dominated Industries Lag in Addressing Mental Health 

When you consider that much of our audience is comprised of industries that are still male-dominated, it’s important to acknowledge the reality that these industries tend to lag in normalizing mental health and creating at-work support. “Stigma is associated with mental health conditions in many industries. I think industries that tend to be male dominated, like many that have people who work out in the field, there can be perceptions that you should be tough. Just stick it out, suck it up,” explains Darcy. “There’s this tendency to want to send the message that they're strong and they're tough and that somehow mental health can be linked with weakness. We still all must work at breaking down some of those stereotypes and breaking down the stigma.”

How do we do this? There’s no quick or easy way but recognizing the impact of opening up personally and being willing to engage in conversation is an important start. “There's a real opportunity, but we have to chip away. It's not like we're going to wake up one day and the stigma will be gone. We all have some responsibility, like we're doing here, to have conversations about it and to say it's not a matter of weakness. It could be really a matter of strength to seek help when you need it,” says Darcy.

#5: Mental Health Initiatives Don’t Need Require a Huge Investment

I find this point to be so very important, which is mental health initiatives do not need to be based on a big budget or huge investment. This could be a barrier for organizations in taking action, so I appreciated Darcy pointing out that companies of any size, scale, and financial status can take steps to have a positive impact. 

“A focus on mental health is not a massive investment. This is recognizing human nature and reminding employees they're appreciated and rewarding them when the time is right,” explains Darcy. “I mean, one simple piece of advice is for managers and leaders to ask themselves, is this an organization that I feel good about being part of on a daily basis? And if it's not, what minor changes can we make to make it more so?”

Just starting there is starting – and that matters far more than feeling you must have a perfectly planned formal program to “begin.” Darcy also suggests asking your employees for their input. “Think about surveying your employees because they have really good ideas,” she says. “Believe it or not, it's often not about a lot of frivol that'll cost a lot of money. It's sometimes just simple policy changes that are very workable that can make all the difference in the world. And this all hits the bottom line when it comes to retention and recruitment and really meeting the organizational goals.”

#6: Leadership Sets the Tone on Mental Health at Work

While it is important to ensure your company is taking a programmatic approach to prioritizing mental health and providing employees support, it’s also important to remember that authenticity and a personal touch can be the difference in how that program feels to your employees. “A check-the-box approach does not work well. If you do one training and say, we did a mental health training, we are good, that is not going to make a big change for your organization. And leadership sets the culture,” cautions Darcy. “So, the more leadership is visible in talking about mental health, the more it's happening at a leadership level and operational and managerial level.”

We all get busy, and often leaders are juggling immense responsibility. But making a human connection with your team a priority is well worth the effort. “It's really important to recognize we all get busy and sometimes we forget,” says Darcy. “Create simple reminders around I'm part of the culture, I need to be real about making it a mentally healthy culture, and so on.”

#7: Burnout Isn’t an Individual Issue

As I mentioned, the podcast with Darcy that will publish on Wednesday is discussing six ways employers can alleviate burnout. I won’t give too many spoilers here, but I will say that Darcy expressed that we must recognize that burnout isn’t simply and individual issue – and that it was becoming a major issue even before the pandemic. “Burnout became an issue of major concern in 2019 when the World Health Organization announced a new definition. It is not a product of COVID-19,” explains Darcy. “It's important to know that because we were already heading into concerns with occupational burnout and that has obviously been intensified.”

While every individual has a responsibility to take care of themselves and speak up if they need support from their employer, Darcy stresses the fact that we cannot blame burnout solely on individuals or expect the issue to resolve without the shared ownership of employers. “I think when people think of burnout, they think individuals should just get over it. More exercise, more sleep, better diet, don't take stress so seriously,” she describes. “What the research shows is that, yes, we have individual responsibility when it comes to burnout, but there's a huge amount of responsibility that comes from organizational change, operational change.”

#8: There Are Ample Resources to Support Businesses Making Mental Health a Priority

Before I was introduced to Darcy for the podcast, I wasn’t familiar with the Center for Workplace Mental Health or the resources it provides – free of cost. So, if you are struggling with where or how to start or feel your employer is lacking in their efforts around mental health, know that there are resources to help increase awareness, provide information, and assist in creating impactful programs. Learn more at www.workplacementalhealth.org.   

Most Recent

September 14, 2022 | 22 Mins Read

Advice to Drive Service Transformation Success

September 14, 2022 | 22 Mins Read

Advice to Drive Service Transformation Success


Sarah talks with Berit Hallgren, Program Director at Tetra Pak, about lessons learned in her 30+ year career with the company on what it takes to achieve the strategic alignment, prioritization, and change management that contribute to a successful service transformation. This conversation is from the Stockholm Live Tour event. 

Sarah Nicastro: Let's go ahead and get started. So, I'm going to welcome next Berit Hallgren from Tetra Pak. Berit, come on up. Hi. Thank you for being here.

Berit Hallgren: Thank you for having me here.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. So, what we're going to do is take another look at service transformation, and so have another perspective on what it takes to achieve success. So, Berit, you have now the advantage of having heard some of the other speakers. So, you can build off, of some of the points that have been made, so that'll be great. So, go ahead and tell folks a bit about yourself, your role, and what service means to Tetra Pak.

Berit Hallgren: Yeah. Thank you, Sarah. So, hi everyone. I'm Berit Hallgren and I play many roles in life as all of you do and I think I've got the toughest part after lunch because that's the part when people tend to fall asleep, right?

Sarah Nicastro: No sleeping allowed. I will be monitoring. I'm going to be calling you out, so just stay awake.

Berit Hallgren: First of all, I'm happily married. I have three grown up kids, so that's one of the roles in life I play and then I'm also part of Tetra Pak. So, I'm employed by Tetra Pak since actually 30 years back so it's a long time. Always been based in Sweden and basically always been working internationally. Tetra Pak is an international company, doesn't mean that you work internationally, but I've always done and mainly within the service business.

So, I have approximately 10 years in administration. So, I'm not an engineer, maybe that's something good for Tetra Pak as well but we don't only have engineers. And then approximately 10 years in project management and five years in line management. So, I'm part of our service business and right now I'm driving a major transformation within services. So, we are transforming our way of working basically going digital.

So, it's a bit of digital transformation. That digital transformation has actually started some backwards, 2014, '15 with small steps. Thinking about what Dan said earlier this morning and now we started the real transformation in 2020, basically when we set our new strategy. So, I'm leading that initiative which actually consists of seven different projects. Where field service management is one of them.

Sarah Nicastro: And you just took a new role not long ago, right?

Berit Hallgren: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, leading the team that is overseeing the operational excellence of the transformation, am I understanding that correctly?

Berit Hallgren: Yeah, absolutely. So, we are in a matrix organization when it comes to driving this transformation. So, we have clear business owners for the areas that we want to transform. So, I'm responsible for delivering the transformation business case basically because, of course, if the company invests, they want some payback and some return as well.

And also responsible for securing that we deliver the solutions in the end, but I'm working closely with my peers who are the business owners. So, they decide the what in the end and then together we deliver the transformation. So, I'm responsible for the business case and they are responsible for the what, and together we make sure the transformation happens.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So, can you describe the current transformation project at a high level? So, what are the primary objectives and where are you at in the process? So, you said a new strategy was set in 2020.

Berit Hallgren: So, new strategy was set in 2020 in the whole of the company. When we set a new strategy, we normally work with partners. So, together with the partners, they find the opportunity in services. We can really do things differently moving forward and we have been... As many of you guys as well, service was a call center, many years back and we started our service becoming a business around 2000. So, we've been on that road for 20 years, approximately. So, through the strategy work the high-level opportunity was defined. And at the same time, that was a VP in services assigned to actually own this transformation. And I was assigned to drive the transformation.

So, the first thing we did, we did an analysis. So, I actually brought together a team with finance, HR, market experience, service experience, and project management experience. I had myself. So, we did an analysis of a little bit of more detailed analysis to understand what are really the areas that we need to transform and how do we make that happen?

So, basically the objective, we came out through that analysis. We decided that we can, and we will enable more growth of the service business. We need to lower down the cost to serve our customers. And then we need to simplify and improve both the customer experience, but also the employee experience. And I think the employee experience is a really important part here, the others as well, of course, because our field service guys and women, not so many, but a few, they are actually the voice at our customer sites. So, they are the ambassador so it's really important to have them on the journey.

So, with these four objectives, we also identified, we have four levers basically. So, we are working in the remote services area and connecting our equipment so that's one lever. The second lever is field service management. So, how can we automate that as much as possible? And then we have the competence development of our customers and our people, and finally the future workforce, how does it look like and the employee experiences as well.

Sarah Nicastro: So, based on everything we've talked about already today, the fact that you're owning this transformation, I mean, that's a pretty tall task to sign up for.

Berit Hallgren: Yes, it is.

Sarah Nicastro: And what makes you excited about the role you can play in Tetra Pak's transformation journey?

Berit Hallgren: Yeah. What makes me excited is that we have a clear vision where we want to go, but we need to do that in a step wise journey. And thinking about the customer, always putting the customer first and putting the employees first as well. That's really what excites me and what we can bring to our customers and to our employees and also to the company with this whole transformation and the new opportunities it actually brings for the future.

So, I was reflecting quite a lot this morning when Dan was talking about the digital transformation versus the innovation. And I think as many others, we also went wrong little bit in 10 years back. So, it was all about HoloLens and all this cool stuff, the cool technology, but what will you do with the cool technology, if the backend isn't working and all the other things are not in place.

And that's exactly what happened with us as well. So, now it's really, I mean, the transformation we're doing now is really to put the backend in place and getting the foundation in place for the future and then we can build on that. And that's really, what's what excites me to be part of this journey because we've been on it for many years already and trying bits and pieces, here and there, and now it really happens so that really excites me.

Sarah Nicastro: Did anyone else notice how firmly Berit said, "We can, and we will increase service revenue." And I love that very firm commitment and that comes from having conviction in that opportunity. So, the question I'm wondering is, we talked a lot this morning about one of the barriers to transformation... I know I'm going off script. See, Berit, that's I do it.

Berit Hallgren: No, that's fine.

Sarah Nicastro: But one of the barriers being resistance to change. Okay. Now, you, yourself have been a part of Tetra Pak for 30 years. So, what do you think the key is for someone with that amount of tenure who was literally with the business in a different phase of its existence, how do you stay open to what the opportunity is today and into the future?

Berit Hallgren: Yeah, really good question. Sarah. I've been reflecting because sometimes when I tell people I've been with the company for 25 years, for 30 years, and I say, "Okay, why am I still here?" And I think it's really about, for me, I'm changing job every third year, approximately and Tetra Pak is a big employer in Lund, Sweden. So, I have the possibility to really going from one area to another, which also develops people in the end. So, I'm curious as a person and I need change. I mean, that's my mindset, that's what I eat and breathe, basically. I need regular change because I get super bored otherwise and I think that is... So, the biggest challenge I think for us is really... Or what you need is really the right mindset.

So, you need to find the right team from the beginning who can really help starting off the transformation because there will always be the detractors and there will always be the front runners and you need the front runners in the beginning, but then you need to attack the middle. All the middle mass, that Dan and many others talked about as well earlier today. Because if the middle mass isn't with you, it doesn't happen. So, mindset is one part and I think capability is the other part. And I have some capabilities, but I don't have them all right.

So, how do we also bring the outside in perspective? And that was important when we did the analysis too, that the benchmark piece is really important and the outside in  perspective. So, how do we make sure that we bring the right capabilities that we need who can help us on the transformation? And I think the third one is time because it takes time to drive the transformation. So, at the same time, you need to show what are the benefits and the values with what you're doing, but you also need to deliver some early results. So, the company really believes in, "Okay, this can happen, and this will happen." Because if you don't have some proof in the pudding, why should we do a huge investment as Tetra Pack is doing right now in this big transformation.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. No, I think that's really good, and I always think it's a testament of a really good employer when you have people who have been able to evolve many roles in the same company. Because a lot of times people like you who need change and they want to challenge themselves, they end up doing that elsewhere.

So, it's three years with one company. Okay. So, when you can do that all within one organization, I mean, that typically is an indication of a good business to be a part of. So, we talked this morning a lot about the need to eliminate silos, create better alignment towards the objective to create more collaboration and how we work.

So, in a lot of ways, the team that you've built and the function you're serving now is to really make sure that alignment happens with this service transformation journey. So, what are some of the ways you're doing that?

Berit Hallgren: Yeah. I should also say that in actually we have right now ongoing a big, huge reorganization in the company. So, my manager, who is the VP owning the program, she realized that, and I realized as well, we are too few people. We need better business owners and all of that. And then came the company reorganization, so that helped. Otherwise we would have had to do something else, but with that reorganization, she had the opportunity to really put together a great team who can really lead this whole transformation.

So, that was part of her, putting the organization in place and selling the idea, both to top management so that she got the resources she needed and also to the people she employed in the end. So, how do we then work together? Well, I would say we are doing mainly three different things. One thing is that we are working on two levels in the organization when it comes to the stakeholder management, the communication, and getting people on board. So, my manager, she works on her level and upwards in the organization and then, me and the business owners, we work on our level and downwards in the organization. So that's how we manage the stakeholder management.

Sarah Nicastro: But you and her need to stay aligned...

Berit Hallgren: All the time.

Sarah Nicastro: Lock step on what is the message up, what is the message down, right?

Berit Hallgren: Exactly, and we do. The second thing we do, we decided quite early on that we want to work in an agile way. And the company is doing that already in different areas, bits and pieces, here and there. Succeeding better in some areas than in others, but we decided quite early on, we want to do it in an agile way, because if we do it in the traditional way. We will develop and then, X years later we will deploy, and we believe we are deploying the right thing. No, we are not.

So, we decided early on agile and that we are using this scrum methodology. And then we have implemented that in the projects step by step. So, not taking everything in a big chunk, but bits and pieces being rigid on the principles of agile and making sure at the same time that we learn by doing basically.

Sarah Nicastro: So, rigid on the principles, flexible on the approach.

Berit Hallgren: Exactly. And then when we do that, we also explain to the people who work in the project that, what is an MVP? What does it look like? So, what is the assets? Where do we want to be? And this is what we are going with right now. And making sure that people really understand the concept of agile, understand the concept of MVP.

So, we create the right expectations with the end users when we are coming. And I think the beauty of the agile is that we involve the end users from the beginning. So, since we are rigid on the principles, the end users are part of the development. Some of the development project it's projects itself or themselves, but also through the sprint reviews. So, they have an early say early on and they will bring perspectives that we haven't thought about, but in my market, it works like this.

Okay. Maybe this is something we need to investigate to understand. If there is something we need to adjust on the journey, which means when we come to the market, they're already prepared to some extent, and then we make sure to handhold them and we don't let them go until the project is finished, basically. And then we are evolving over time. So, working on two levels, stakeholder management, working agile, and then at the same time, there are more transformations ongoing in the company.

So, we stay close to one other big initiative, which is sales and marketing transformation. So, we work very closely to make sure that we have the same message to the market in the end, because the market is the sales companies, and they are working across there. So, they don't care about who is capital equipment, who is services, and who is what's really. So, those are really the three top things we are doing to make sure that we will succeed in the end.

Sarah Nicastro: What are the primary ways that you, as a team interact with the various stakeholders in the business? So, what are the forms of communication? What is the frequency for the transformation team, the excellence team to communicate with everyone?

Berit Hallgren: Yeah. From the project levels, we do the sprint reviews, that's the primary communication channel and that's happening every third, fourth week. So, it depends on project so that's how we stay close with them. Then from the program perspective, we are doing demos on a regular basis, retrospectives, and planning, and that we do on quarterly basis. So that's when we invite the more senior stakeholders to take part of the planning.

And you need some form governance, even if it's agile. So, you need to understand, are things going in the right direction. So, we are doing monthly steering team meetings, basically on the program level, if there is a need. If there is no need, then we skip it basically. And then my manager, she reports in her management team on the monthly basis, how things are going. I'm doing the same in our management team on a monthly basis and then we do what else is needed, when we feel that.

Clear communication plans in all the projects, of course, as well. So, change and communications work closely together. So, we have a change manager for the program. And I think that is something, it's fluffy for many, what does it really mean? But if you don't take that seriously, the whole change part, there is a huge risk for failure. So, so I said from the beginning, we need to change manager in the program. Otherwise, we will fail because there's so many things to keep together so that we do as well.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think that's really smart. I think that if anyone follows my content, I've written and have said many times that change management is a topic that I have issue with, because it is always the number one reason the projects fail, but it continually is deprioritized, de-emphasized, budget cut, et cetera. So, it's widely recognized as important. Yet, often not given the time, energy, and investment that it deserves. So, I think that's really smart. Rafael was saying this morning, some of the real emotional reactions to this type of thing and at the end of the day, I think, if not the most important, one of the most important aspects of getting out of that hard middle to something toward your vision.

I think that is something that keeps people stuck here, because if it's not done well, a lot of the other things you've done right, don't matter nearly as much so I think that's really good. You also mentioned the tie in with sales and marketing, which I find really interesting and think is very important and we probably don't have time to really dive into this, but I have done some content on how are we selling modern service and are we doing it justice, and are we speaking the language of the customer and are we taking sort of our internal journey and articulating it externally in a way that resonates and things like that. So, I think it's very interesting.

You mentioned that you're responsible for the ultimate return on investment of the transformation. And so, one of the questions that has come up at a lot of the events prior to this one is advice for business case for transformation. So, that's one part of my question is, do you have any advice for that? The second part is you mentioned, this middle phase. So, you sort of, Tetra Pak started this journey a while, figured out what it was going to look like, and then, 2020, it clarified. Now we're here before we get to here. And so, when you're in that middle phase and things, it requires patience, there's some costs, there's some hiccups. So, what are the ways you are finding to communicate successes, even amid some of the non-successes or some of the slowness toward the ultimate success?

Berit Hallgren: Yeah, good question. So, if I start with the business case one, we decided early on that we need to do the business case on program level, because all these four levers, they are intertwined in the end. So, it will be extremely difficult to say what benefits come exactly from where, from there or here or there, it doesn't really work. So, we were clear on that to the company already from the beginning that don't come and ask us to follow up on the details because that will just be non-valid-added work because someone wants to see it so that we were clear on from the beginning. Then of course, we do a business case for each of the projects because you need to justify the transformation, but all those business cases needs to add up to the full one in the end and then we follow up on the full one.

And, when we do the business case, there are certain hard numbers like productivity gains that we will get but we are talking about them as more as avoided cost. Because the business will grow, which means service is a people business. So, the number of people needs to grow as well. But not maybe in the same ratio as it has been doing before. So, we talk about it as cost avoidance, and we also talk about it as how can we utilize our technicians better. So, there is a benefit there as well, but we are also talking about lost sales.

So, if we don't do this transformation, how much of the growth opportunity will not happen because we are not modern any longer. And that's what we are not counting in the business case as such, but we openly talk about it. So, it's clear for the company, this will not happen if we don't do this. So, that's some advice from the business case perspective. And then your second question was-

Sarah Nicastro: While you're in process and things are... Yes.

Berit Hallgren: And how do we communicate? Yeah, exactly. So, we started early on, we did some trials, many projects here and there, and then it was decided, and here is the end goal. So right now, if I take a practical example, we were supposed to go live with FSM Solution this Monday, but we didn't. And even if we were in a troublesome state a couple of weeks ago. We were supposed to do a user acceptance test with our end users. We decided to go to Panama to start the user acceptance test and do it as much as we could. And in there was some really good wow moments for the people.

So, the commitment is there from the market. And that is what we are communicating now. So, we are communicating transparently, why are we not going live? What is the problem? How are we addressing that? How are we re-planning? But even we decided to do this, get these wow moments, and people are really committed, but now when we go live, we can't fail. So, it has to happen the second time otherwise we lose the trust. And I think this is the beauty of the agile way of working.

Then we are doing some other things when it comes to automation of our processes. So, we have some good success stories there with our customers as well, that we are communicating. So, being transparent, I think everyone here does policing and you all know what red, green, and yellow means. So, we are open with that. The program is currently yellow and has been for half a year, but we are open about that. This is our challenges, and this is what it is and if we need senior management support. Then this is what we say, "We need your support to remove these and these roadblocks."

So, transparency was mentioned earlier today as well, and I think that's key. You don't hide, you don't try to imagine something that is not going to happen, but there are some successes along practical things that you can really communicate about as well and show to the company.

Sarah Nicastro: I think transparency is an underutilized art. Okay. So, does anyone have questions for Berit before I drawn on. You're my favorite delegate, by the way. Not that I have favorites, but if I did, you would be it.

Audience: It's really inspiring, and the story relates a lot with my journey also and what we have done at Electrolux. But I have a question you mentioned about being very strict on change management and having a change manager. And then you also said about agile principles, but being flexible on the approach.

So, having a program and such a big transformation program where you have almost 200 or 250 or more than these people, or even in a project there are 50 plus people or something, then how do you make everyone work on agile principles? Because not everyone is super knowledgeable or super trained in that way of working. So, do you have some agile coach, or do you keep on doing every weekly, some trainings or coaching, and analysis, so how do you manage that?

Sarah Nicastro: That's a really good question.

Berit Hallgren: Good question.

Sarah Nicastro: I was thinking you're almost teaching agile as you're doing the project, right?

Berit Hallgren: Yes, we are. We have an agile coach, an external one because we didn't have that capability in the company. But this guy has been working with Tetra Pak for many years in other agile transformations. So, he knows the company. He knows many people in there so that helps a lot. So, and he's really guiding us step by step. So, we, early on created learning journeys so people could take them. And last year, second part of last year, we talked a lot about agile in the program and now three of the projects are really up running. So, he's coaching them a little bit, but we are managing quite good by ourselves and in the program as well.

Now we have some new projects coming up that will start because everything is not starting at the same time. So, then he will be there to support those projects. And I think in learning for us is that... This was with IFS specifically that we are changing now. We were working agile, the business team, the Tetra Pak IT Team, but not IFS. And there has been clashes, of course, which doesn't help anyone. So, now with phase two with IFS, we will go fully agile together and that will help. While in the other projects, we have been doing it agile all the way through.

So, that's how external coaching again, to help us on the journey because otherwise we wouldn't succeed. Change management, we actually hired an HR person in Tetra Pak who has a lot of change management experience who has been driving change management projects or change management within projects as well. So, she has the capability, she has the methods, she knows what to do and then she helps the projects to apply the methods. They are super annoyed in the project from time to time because, "Oh, why do we need to do this? And why do we need to do that?" But suddenly they realize, and they understand and comps and change management are working hand in hand because that's also a critical success. So, you need to have dedicated comps people with you on the journey who can help you.

Sarah Nicastro: And those points of annoyance are where if you were relying on those leaders alone to handle the change management, it would just get pushed aside.

Berit Hallgren: It wouldn't happen. So, I'm not driving any of the projects, our people doing that, but I'm very much engaged in all the projects. So, for sometimes I need to be step in and be the facilitator because the change management person have her perspective. The project  team has their perspective, and they talk by each other. So, then I'm stepping in to say, "Guys, this is what you wanted." She is like, "Okay, fine." So that's, how I'm also actively working with the project.

Sarah Nicastro: There's a podcast I did a while back with a gentleman named Dan McClure and it was talking about incremental improvement versus innovation. But one of the things that came up in our conversation is the increased need for, there's a term he used for it, choreographers is what he referred to it as. People that are more orchestrating what needs to happen. And this is something that last week in Frankfurt, almost everyone that spoke, it came up that there was either an individual or a function within the business that now serves the role of not execution but orchestration.

And so, I think when we think about the silos that exist and how do we break out of that, these type of roles like you have now that are able to be a bit more objective, bring different viewpoints and opinions and strategies together and sort out, "Okay. I understand what everyone needs, how everyone feels. How are we going to work as a team toward what is the decided outcome?" I think it's super, super important so really interesting. Okay, Berit, last question for you. Based on your experience, either in this project or throughout your career, what's the best piece of advice you could offer our audience today?

Berit Hallgren: Yeah. If I would say a number of things, I would say five things to always think about and bring with you, be clear on why you are doing this. What are the problems you want to solve? Because if that is not clear, how can you communicate to your audiences? And then, what are the areas you want to transform in the end? It needs to also be very clear for people, so they understand we are not going everywhere. We are going in these specific areas.

The outside in perspective, I think is super important as well. That I also would also really advise, because if I think about Tetra Pak, we haven't maybe in the past been so much outside in perspective because it's been a successful company and you tend to focus more on yourself than on the customers and the outside in the end.

So, bringing that and also showing to the organization, "This is where we want to go. This is where we are." That becomes really, really powerful. And then, I mean, "What's in it for me?" You need to be able to explain that for the customer, for the employees, and for the company as well, because it's not the same message to all of these people. And finally, I will say, have courage because it takes... That's probably one of my stronger skills. I'm persistent, "So, okay. Didn't go this way. Let's try the other way." Because you need that when you drive a big transformation. You have to be persistent because it will take time. There will be challenges, but it will happen if you have decided it will happen, it will happen, but you need to be persistent.

Sarah Nicastro: I love it. Thank you so much.

Berit Hallgren: Thank you, guys.

Most Recent

September 12, 2022 | 10 Mins Read

The Role of the Modern CSM in Delivering Outcomes for the IIoT

September 12, 2022 | 10 Mins Read

The Role of the Modern CSM in Delivering Outcomes for the IIoT


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

I recently talked with Scott Weller, Partner of Mossrake Group, after reading an article he’d written on LinkedIn that caught my eye. In his article, he touches on some of the intricacies that come into play when a company moves toward guaranteeing outcomes on connected digital assets. You may remember Scott from the podcast, he joined me for episode 122 where we talked about what it takes to bring the As-a-Service opportunity to life. 

Scott has extensive experience in the industry, having served in leadership roles at Xerox, IBM, HP and HPE prior to co-founding Mossrake Group to aid companies on the As-a-Service journey. Reflecting on how things have evolved over his career, we discussed that, in the age of the IIoT, companies must take terms that have existed for ages – like “outcomes” and “CSM” – and redefine them to fit today’s realities. In the following Q&A, I ask Scott to share his perspective on key considerations for companies aiming to succeed at an outcomes-based approach in the IIoT era.

Sarah Nicastro: When we talk about delivering outcomes, can you share your perspective on what that means today and why it's so important?

Scott Weller: It seems everywhere you look these days, there's evidence of a secular trend away from asset ownership economy to outcomes economy. Whether you're talking about air conditioning or jet engines, or IT, sports cars, and so on, it's everywhere. It demonstrates that people, both consumers and businesses, are starting to really calibrate around what matters most to them.

For businesses, it's understanding what's core to what they do versus perhaps critical assets or capabilities beyond the business they're in. Defining what it is they don’t want to focus on; they don't want to be famous for. And in those cases, really thinking more in terms of what the outcome is they want and to get that from a partner versus working to assemble themselves all the things required to achieve that outcome. They decide to give that to somebody else to worry about.

Sarah Nicastro: So ultimately customers want more peace of mind?

Scott Weller: Yeah, I think that ties in with the CSM discussion. So, let's say you've signed up to receive a certain outcome. The way that gets delivered to you is both the tangible features or capabilities, but also the experience. And ultimately things do go wrong. Things happen, particularly if there's an asset underneath. What you really want to know is, everything is being handled and will be okay.

Particularly if it falls into that category of things you don't want to be famous for – just tell me everything's fine, and if it's not, tell me what you're doing to bring it back to all good. So yes, I completely agree. Peace of mind doesn’t feel like a technical term, doesn't feel like anything that a business would promise, but in the end, that's what we're talking about. Peace of mind on those things that I don't want to be famous for, so I can get on with my business and focus on the things I do want to be famous for.

Sarah Nicastro: So, if the idea of delivering outcomes has been around for a long time, what is different about doing so with connected assets?

Scott Weller: In the end there are a few aspects to this. One is the expectations of the outcome, not in terms of day to day, am I receiving the outcome I want? But how is my supplier looking at this relationship? In the digital world, it is no longer possible for the outcome to be just a transaction. First, you have enablement for a much richer experience, but also the expectation that you're on top of things. You're watching things, you're ahead of the game, you're doing predictive analysis, you’re doing everything you can so that the outcome isn't disrupted in any way. So, I think it's both on the demand and supply side that things do change given a digital environment.

We talk a lot about the value of data, but the smart suppliers know the value isn’t data in its raw form. In fact, a lot of times what the customer needs to know isn't even in the raw data that they're seeing. It must be formulated, it must be developed, and it has to be communicated back in a very simple conversation to the customer. This is part of the expert advisor role that a CSM should play.

Sarah Nicastro: What is your synopsis of what the CSM role should be in this scenario and how is that maybe different than what some people's perception of that role would be historically?

Scott Weller: I wouldn't want to claim that we have the perfect design, but over many clients what we see are, some customer success managers are essentially a little more than brand ambassadors, after-sales brand ambassadors. And I think that's probably okay in some domains. The most common kind of CSM role description leads to them being very reactive. I call it the wailing wall. Every problem that a customer has, whether it's germane or not, goes to the CSM community for them to resolve. 

What’s different about the CSM we’re talking about here is that they aren’t just a “nice to have.” But a requirement in delivering outcomes, particularly on digital assets. This is someone who's quite proactive, someone who speaks the language of the customer's business, not just the technology that they're using to deliver the outcome. They tend to have a good “bedside manner.” They are viewed as an expert advisor – someone the customer has total confidence in, ideally, and trusts in their ability to address issues and deliver the outcomes. We see the CSM as being the point person for the supplier in delivering the outcome. It's their responsibility to make sure it gets done.

Sarah Nicastro: So, we talked about an important point that today's customers expect a lot more than just an individual that is passing along data, right? How would you say that this modern CSM needs to be enabled to be effective for role they should be serving today?

Scott Weller: Customers often have access to the raw data themselves. To interpret that into either everything's okay or we think there may be an issue in the future and we're going to do this or that about it, that's the real value that a CSM can provide and is often baked into an outcome solution.

And so, the data set is part of the enablement for modern CSM. But they have to do smart things with it, turn it into a proactive operation. Predictive analytics should be interpreted directly by the CSM and conveyed in simple insights. Some will have a lot of experience, but as we all know, skill shortages drive us to trying to codify some of this institutionalized knowledge into analytics that can be shared with others. So, enablement is a combination of really great tools; the underlying products being digital themselves, so that they're talking about themselves in real time; and doing that in a centralized data lake way. And then the other analytics that can be done on top of that. That's all key to supporting a great conversation between the CSM and the end customer.

Sarah Nicastro: When you hear a company say, "We want to be a trusted advisor,” what are they trying to accomplish?

Scott Weller: Well, the cynical response would be that this is a term that every sales team wants to use. But at the end of the day, there's definitely truth in it. Customers ultimately want to trust their suppliers, not only to give them fair pricing, but also to do what they say they're going to do

Cynicism aside, it is something that every supplier should aspire to because it leads to all good things. It's better for the customer, it's better for the supplier. But this is where trust is one of those things that's earned. And I think a supplier that does what they say they're going to do is proactive, does interpret the data into the language of the customer's business. These are all things that build that trust.

Sarah Nicastro: It’s almost a status that you can claim, but you really only achieve if your customers view you that way, right? Whether or not your customers would describe you as a trusted advisor is the real indicator of whether you're providing the type of value you should be providing in the outcomes economy.

Scott Weller: What we see within an outcomes-based solution is the ability for that CSM to become part a route to market. Because they're known not to be sales folks. They're focused on ensuring the customer gets the value, receives the outcomes that they've contracted for. When there are issues, the CSM demonstrates high integrity and getting those resolved timely. That all leads to a natural conversation of, "Hey, I've got another site that I want this outcome delivered to," or "I want more help here," or "I'm going to tell my colleagues in the industry."

It's the notion of what we call "land and expand." Once you've established that trust and you've established the solution, it's not long before customers do see that, "Wow, this is great, and I just want this everywhere." And we're even having clients ask us, "So how do I get my other suppliers to do what you guys are doing for us?"

And that's why I say this is a secular trend that will snowball going forward. It's unstoppable now. But of course, it all comes back to, is the person, is the company delivering what they said they were going to do? Delivering outcomes is, I would say, an advanced topic for a lot of companies still. And that's where we spend a lot of our time, helping them get there.

Sarah Nicastro: When you think about your clients that are using CSMs in a modern and impactful way, are there best practices people should be thinking about?

Scott Weller: I'm not sure we've landed on a training guide for CSMs. We are in fact working on one for one of our clients, but I think recognizing that this is a different kind of individual or perhaps a different experience, that is key. One of the clients we worked with really struggled with the role, because the typical source for these individuals was out of the service delivery organization and the pay scales for the kind of individuals we needed were above what anybody there was getting paid. 

It was almost like we were looking for director level people, and it was just unheard of that you'd have director level people in a CSM role. This is an example of a standard that needs to be recalibrated to really be successful in today’s landscape. But I do think it's like any profession, there are people who are just naturals at it and others you have to cultivate and the real question for most of our clients is, "Well, what do we do if this new As-a-Service offer really takes off? Where are we going to source all these people?"

I've been talking about what I call a CSM university. How do you get these people through a program where you can take high potentials put them through a program like this? Typically, you’d find them in traditional services, but it could be from anywhere actually, if they have the technical knowledge and the other attributes, they can be successful. I think it is a new profession.

Sarah Nicastro:  If you were to look ahead three or five years and anticipate what the role of the CSM will look like in delivering outcomes, what are your thoughts?

Scott Weller: I think we'll see a lot more people in the profession as we've sort of defined the new version of the classic role. I think we will see some formalizing around maybe not a CSM university, but some sort of training programs that reorient people, maybe who've done a CSM role in the past or not. But to orient or reorient people to what we've been talking about, having to learn the customer's business language. Learning how to have that bedside manner, how to summarize data and insights to, ideally, being able to say, "Everything's fine." When there’s an issue, here's what we're doing to address it. Understanding that peace of mind is key. Otherwise, you really haven't achieved what you promised because now the customer thinks they've bought something that lets them focus elsewhere, but they're still caught up in the drama of owning a bunch of assets. And that's the last thing that they want to have.

We will have to hire more senior level or be willing to promote into more senior level people to these positions, because what doesn't work is if the CSM goes into a situation and the customer’s first reaction is, "We want to talk to your boss." You shouldn’t get to that point often at all if you have the right kind of person in front of the customer who can assuage these situations and have the confidence of the customer to do what they said they're going to do. And that's a confidence or trust that's built over time.

Most Recent

September 7, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

Are You an Emotionally Strong Leader?

September 7, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

Are You an Emotionally Strong Leader?


Sarah welcomes to the podcast, Carolyn Stern, emotional intelligence and leadership development expert and author of the forthcoming book, The Emotionally Strong Leader: An Inside-Out Journey to Transformational Leadership. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we are going to be urging you to answer the questin, are you an emotionally strong leader? We're going to be talking about emotional intelligence and all sorts of related things. I'm excited to welcome to the podcast, Carolyn Stern. Carolyn is an emotional intelligence and leadership development expert and author of the forthcoming book, The Emotionally Strong Leader. She's developed self-coaching tools to help anyone grow their emotional intelligence and is going to talk with us a bit today about why that's important, and give you some tips on how to do so. So, Carolyn, welcome to the podcast.

Carolyn Stern: Thanks for having me, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, absolutely! So before we dive in, tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself.

Carolyn Stern: So, as you said, I’m Carolyn Stern. A university professor, author, president and CEO of EI Experience, which is an emotional intelligence training company. We do a lot of emotional intelligence leadership development training for our clients. And now, soon to be author of The Emotionally Strong Leader: An Inside-Out Journey to Transformational Leadership, which comes out in September in Canada and October in the United States.


Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. Excellent. All right, so we're going to talk about some of the specific points, but before we do that, I'm just curious how you got your start in emotional intelligence. Where does your interest lie? Why are you super passionate about this topic? Tell us a little bit more about that.

Carolyn Stern: Yeah. Well, I was a very emotional child, and I don't know if any of your listeners out there can relate to that, but that was always deemed a bad thing in my family. Emotional expression was considered ... "Young kids should be seen and not heard," and so I really stuffed my emotions down, and my emotions really created havoc in my life. But just because I'm an emotional person doesn't mean that I'm weak. And I think as I became a coach and trainer for executives, I was sick and tired of hearing that people felt that emotions were a bad thing and that showing them made them weak. And I just felt that if we demonstrate vulnerability or speak our truth, telling others what really is going on for us internally, externally, I didn't think it was such a bad thing. I felt that leaders needed to learn this skill.

Carolyn Stern: As a university professor and someone who used to teach high school, and I'm also trained in primary education, I know we're not teaching in schools. So really, what I have seen over the last 25 years as a university professor is we teach these young people IQ, to raise their IQ, but we're not giving them an emotional education to raise their EQ. And so what happens is, as leaders, it's now your responsibility to figure out how to deal with people's emotions in the workplace. I think the pandemic really shined a light on how emotional we can be.

Carolyn Stern: And there is no light switch, Sarah, when you get into the office to turn your emotions on or off. We're human and humans are full of emotions. The problem for me, as a child, I just didn't know the strategies on how to be bigger than my emotions. That's what the whole book's about. It's about teaching people to learn, to be bigger and stronger, and that's why the book is called The Emotionally Strong Leader. You can still be emotional like me and feel things very deeply, and you can also have the mental skills to be bigger and stronger than your emotions.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, I think there's a category of people that would kind of think those terms contradict each other. If you're emotional, you're not strong. If you're strong, you're not emotional. So why do we need to change our thinking related to that?

Carolyn Stern: Well, being stronger than your emotions is not really strong- arming your feelings or having a steely resolve not to feel, right? It's simply being able to understand, acknowledge and accept that we feel things. And our emotions are full of data, Sarah. Just like an ad agency takes consumer behavior as data to make good strategic choices on how to encourage us to buy their products and services, it's the same thing with our emotions. Our emotions are full of a lot of data and they can give us good strategies on how to behave and communicate better. But a lot of the times, because we were told and hoodwinked in all these years to think that emotions were bad, we just pushed those down rather than saying, "Hey, I'm frustrated. That must mean there's some unmet expectations here," right? 

Carolyn Stern: And that's what frustration tells us, is there's unmet expectations. So what's going on in my life that I'm having some unmet expectations? And then, if someone is not meeting my expectations, then I can calmly and rationally tell you, "Hey, Sarah. When you did this, I felt this, and what I'd like you to do in the future is this." We can have calm conversations if we can take the data our emotions provide. And one of the two questions I ask all of my clients, and they're really simple questions, what are you feeling in this moment? So, Sarah, what are you feeling right now in this moment?

Sarah Nicastro: Well, probably a little bit stressed because I have so much to do today.

Carolyn Stern: Okay. Perfect.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Carolyn Stern: And then the second question I always ask is what is that feeling telling you about you?

Sarah Nicastro: That I over-scheduled myself.

Carolyn Stern: There you go.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Carolyn Stern: And so, what does that tell you to do? That gives you some strategies on what to do.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: As simple as those two questions are, and we pepper them throughout the book, I ask reader to constantly be reflecting on how we're feeling. Here's the challenge. In the workplace, you take time for lunch. You might take time to stretch. But how often do we take time to pay attention to our feelings? And right now, above my desk, I have an emotions poster. That emotions poster reminds me to check in with how I'm feeling throughout the day, and then asking myself ... And just because that I'm an emotional intelligence expert, I want to be really clear.

Carolyn Stern: I haven't mastered this. I don't think any of us ever mastered it. But more times than not, I am bigger than my feelings and I'm making rational choices. But there are days that my feelings rule me and they're in the driver's seat, versus me being in the driver's seat. But by slowing down, figuring out not only what am I feeling, why am I feeling what I'm feeling and what can I do about it, how can I respond a respectful and professional manner, that's really what EI is all about. It's being intelligent about our emotions.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, you mentioned the impact of the pandemic. Do you think that there is an evolution at play here where this is changing at work? I mean to me, it feels like even if you have leaders who didn't grow up in a situation like you did, made to feel bad about their emotions, even where that hasn't been the case, there has always been a very strict delineation. "You should leave that outside of work." And I think that has changed and is changing. I really like the point you made about emotions as data. What are they telling you? But I also think it's becoming a strength of leaders, in terms of being able to connect in different ways. Would you agree with that?

Carolyn Stern: Absolutely. Emotional intelligence isn't new. I mean, Daniel Goleman had made it popular in 1995 and it has been around since the early 1990s. The need for it is so much more important and, in fact, the World Economic Forum said it's one of the top 10 skills needed for the future of jobs. What the pandemic has done has shined a light on the fact that we are human, and we feel things because our feelings erupted. This was one of the biggest disruptions in most people's lives, and we could no longer stuff them down and leave them at the door, especially since many of us were working from home. People got to see all of the things that were balancing inside. It's interesting as an emotional intelligence company. 

Carolyn Stern: I started EI Experience in 2017, and when clients would call me, or when I would have to reach out to them, I had to convince them of, "Here's what emotional intelligence training is and here's why it's needed." Now, we're busier than ever. Leaders are calling us saying, "Oh my gosh, we need this," because think about it. Having been a university professor, we're not teaching this in schools, and the Gen-Zs and the Millennials are going to make up 65% of the market of the labor force by 2025. These younger generations aren't made up of the same makeup as I am, who's a Gen-X. I can't expect the younger generation to know what I know because they don't have those skills. So for instance, Gen-Zs. They are lower at independence, lower at problem-solving and lower at stress tolerance than any generation before them. Why? Because they grew up with these things. They have helicopter parents. In fact, I was interviewed by the Vancouver Sun right back in 2020, just as the pandemic was happening, and I was the one person saying there was a silver lining about the pandemic, in my opinion.

Carolyn Stern: Yes, I'm not discrediting all the lost jobs and the lost lives and all of the horribleness that the pandemic brought. But what it did bring is it enforced our younger generation to become emotionally resilient. Because guess what? Google didn't know how to live through a pandemic, nor did their parents. These young people had to learn, "Hey, I'm no longer in a classroom. I'm now at home. I've got to figure out how to learn in my own setting. I have to figure out how to manage my own stress. I have to figure out how to rely on my own opinions." And in my opinion, it's been a gift because it really has taught them to have more grit, soldier through the challenging times and persevere.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I like the word you said, appetite, because I think you're right that emotional intelligence isn't a new concept. The information's been around. People are aware of it. I think there's been sort of an increasing acceptance of the value it plays in leadership. But the appetite for it, I think, is what has changed and is changing, so that makes sense.

Carolyn Stern: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So let's talk a little bit about some of the insights that you cover in the book. So first, you talk about five distinct areas of emotional intelligence. Can you tell us a little bit about each of those?

Carolyn Stern: Yeah, so it's based on the EQI 2.0 model by Multi Health Systems, and it basically says EI is broken up into five different categories. Self-perception, how do you see yourself? This is made up of how confident you are, how self-assured you are. Are you fulfilled in your life? Do you achieve your goals? Do you set goals? Are you aware of your emotions and the triggers in any given moment? And are you aware of when you're being triggered? The second composite scale, or area, is called self-expression. This is your communication skills. How do you express yourself and relate to people? Things that you might want to ask is do you constructively express how you feel? Do you stand up for yourself? If not, why not? Do you care too much about what people think? 

Carolyn Stern: And just a little bit about me, my lowest competency, just full disclosure, is independence, and people are always surprised by that because I run my own company. I'm not married. I'm financially independent. However, I grew up with a very over-protective, bless her heart, over-bearing mother, and she didn't let me make decisions for myself. So now, as a grown-up and as a leader, I worry about my decisions. I question myself a lot. I need a lot of reassurance. My staff always tell me I pay them to reassure me, which is probably true. And I'm sharing a little bit about me to let you know that we all have an upbringing. We all came from this. So when I ask how confident you are, are you confident or are you not so confident, or are you in the middle? In the book, we first do self-perception, which I just went through. We then do self-expression, which is all about how you communicate.

Carolyn Stern: The third one is interpersonal. How do you relate to people? This is your social skills, so this is things about how do you make connections? Are you good at making mutually-satisfying connections? Are you able to put yourself in somebody else's shoes? Do you have empathy? Are you able to give back and be helpful? These are questions that we ask the reader in the book to kind of assess. "Am I high? Am I in the middle? Or am I low?" And then in the book, we talk about the dark side. You can be too much of something. Think about self-regard, for instance. How many people, Sarah, do you know, how many leaders do you know, that have too much self-regard and that they can be a narcissist and have an inability to admit mistake? All of these competencies or skills, EI skills, relate to you need to figure out where your baseline is.

Carolyn Stern: The fourth area is decision making, and this is all about how do we make decisions when emotions are involved. So for instance, are you aware of your emotional state when making a decision? Do you let your emotions cloud your objectivity? Or even, do you let your impulses tempt you? Or do you delay gratification? And then the last one is stress management, which is all about how well do you cope and handle stress, the uncertainty of the world, and change? Things like, "How well do you adapt?" Think back to the pandemic, Sarah. Do you feel like you've adapted well to the change and uncertainty? Do you think you would say yes to that?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yes. I mean, not without it taking a toll, but yeah.

Carolyn Stern: So, you've pivoted fairly well considering? Yeah. And then we ask things like, "How well do you cope with stress? Are you resilient during trying times? And also, do you remain hopeful about the future?" When we were listening, doom-scrolling, all the bad things happening, did you get suckered into that or do you have an optimistic outlook on life? Those are the five areas that we talk about in the book. We go into a deep dive and we get the reader to kind of really look at all 15 different skills because all of us have a different emotional makeup. And then the other piece that I just want to share quickly is sometimes, your areas of where you're high in and where you're low in can actually go against you. I'll give you an example. I told you I'm low in independence, but I'm really high in flexibility.

So as a leader, I flip-flop. I can't make stringent decisions. I tend to flip-flop my ideas. So when one employee asks me to do one thing, I say, "Okay, sure," and I get convinced to do that, and then another employee asks me to do another thing and I get convinced of that. And then the problem is because I worry about what people think, I want both employees to be happy. That's not a great combination, and that's the work I have to do. Sometimes, I have to be a little less flexible and say, "No, this is where I'm putting my foot down." And sometimes, I need to raise my independence and say, "I'm sorry you're upset with me, but here's my final decision." So that's my work, and in the book, what I get readers to do is really figure out what is their emotional work.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It's really interesting. Now, I feel like I can guess the answer to this question, but I'm going to ask anyway, in case I'm wrong. Do you feel like there's one of those five areas that leaders typically struggle with most, or does it just depend completely on individual makeup?

Carolyn Stern: It really does depend on individual makeup. We all have genetic influence, right, and we all have environmental influences, but here's the good news. Anyone can learn and develop and enhance their EI skills in order to increase their leadership potential. Less and less leaders are actually not seeing a need for this because the problem is we tend to deal with all the disrespectful behaviors or unprofessional communications stemming from the emotional issues. And I think leaders are now realizing, "Wow, I got to get to the heart of the matter. Rather than just dealing, putting a bandaid on the inappropriate behaviors of this employee, I got to figure out why they're doing what they're doing." And a big part of the book is I actually talk about, "Learn your why. Why do?"

Carolyn Stern: Once I figured out that I had an overbearing mother and that that's why I didn't learn independence, rather than blaming her, because we talk a lot about in the book ... Rather than me pointing a finger and saying, "Mom, you're the problem," no. Three fingers point back at me. I just didn't learn those skills, so it's now my responsibility as a human to learn how to stand on my own two feet, how to be more self-directed how to not care so much about what people think, and it's not easy. The strategies we give in the book are quite simple, but it's not always easy.

Sarah Nicastro: Right, so on that point. In the book, you walk through these five areas and you dig into each of them, and then you talk about a variety of ways that people can foster their EI skills. Give us a couple examples of what that looks like.

Carolyn Stern: I'd say one of the big things that I think I have to teach leaders is, really, to do what I just told you to do, which is to do an emotional check-in, right? "How am I feeling?" But our emotional vocabulary is very small. There are thousands of emotions out there, but I would ask you, "Write down the ones that are on top of your mind." Probably, you could maybe write down five or 10, but there are thousands, and the nuances between. So for instance, I can feel happy. The level of intensity of happiness can go from elated to content. Which one am I? So really understanding the level of intensity of our emotions. Figuring out how I'm feeling, where that feeling comes from, what triggered that feeling, why I am the way I am. Then, I can be more conscious of my choices. 

Carolyn Stern: So one of the activities I give all my clients is to take a sheet of paper and split it down four ways. The first is, "Name the emotion," so put the emotion of what you're feeling. The second is, "Write down the trigger." What triggered that feeling? Now, I want you to create space. I want you to take a pause and say, "Okay, I have two ways," and I always get them to write it down. "What's a highly emotional intelligent response and a low EQ response? What would a high emotional intelligent response person do, and what would a low emotional intelligence response person do? And by creating space, they can say, "Okay. Well, here's something that I could do. I could talk to someone calmly or I could yell." Well, that's the response. The third column is response. The fourth column is impact. So if I have a calm conversation with you, what's the impact that that's going to leave? If I yell at you-

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: What's the impact that's going to leave? That then gives them a roadmap of how to deal with those emotions. But they first have to figure out what triggered it, what are they feeling, and why? That's one of the big ones I get asked. The other one I think I get asked a lot about is empathy. Empathy is feeling with someone. Sympathy is feeling for someone. Really, there are three kinds of empathy. There is cognitive empathy, which is perspective taking. I can imagine what you are thinking and put myself into your thinking mind. There's perspective, empathy, which is, "I can feel your pain." And then compassionate empathy is, "I can feel your pain and I want to help." Now, some people who have low empathy, I have to teach them ways to become more empathetic. That might be to really listen to people, rather than just to hear them, to really listen to what they're saying.

Carolyn Stern: For people that have too much empathy, that get enmeshed in people's stuff and carry the emotional burdens on their shoulders, that's a different emotional intelligence strategy. That would be, "Set up some boundaries." So, when you're telling me your problem, Sarah, rather than me having your emotional problem be put on my shoulders, I can then say to you, "Okay. How are you feeling, Sarah? What can you do about it?" I can coach you through your problem. I can still have compassion for you, but I don't have to go home at night and solve your problems for you and carry the emotional weight on my shoulders. You can have compassion and boundaries at the same time as a leader. A lot of times I have leaders who either have no empathy and I have to teach them how to raise their empathy, or I have leaders that have too much empathy and they need to lower their empathy.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. One of the things I wanted to ask about, too, actually, is taking time to rest, the importance of that, and avoiding the word "but." So how do those factor in to fostering emotional intelligence?

Carolyn Stern: Well, taking time to rest and reflect, right? I am not good at this, I will be honest. In fact, I just wrote a blog about it. I just went on my first weekend vacation in five years. We grew up with this hustle culture, right? The more productive we are, the more successful we'll become, and I swallowed that pill and I believed in that. And by taking time to rest and really reflect, I think so much of this society ... We're on our phones all the time. We're looking at other people's ideas. The media's always amongst us. We're listening to other people's idea. How often do we spend time journaling? How often do we spend time just in our inner thoughts? I mean, science shows walking in nature calms our ruminating thoughts. So just spending time to rest and reflect will really calm your parasympathetic nervous system. In terms of the avoiding the word "but," "but" negates everything before it.

Carolyn Stern: So for instance, "I love you, but I'm moving out." Do you love me? So I teach people some communication methods and one of them is, "I love you and I'm moving out." Or even at work, if you want to use a work example, what happens when you're asked to do something, another task on your to-do list? Someone's making their objective as important as yours. You can say "Yes and" rather than "Yes but." So, "Yes I'm happy to take on that project, and the project you gave me, project B, will have to wait till Monday. Is that all right?" So rather than saying "Yes but," which negates everything before, you can say "Yes and," and negotiate. You can also say, "Yes, I'm so glad you thought of me, and right now I don't have the bandwidth." Now your boss might not be happy that you have set up a boundary and said, "I can't do it," but your boss will respect you for taking care, to be realistic of what you can accomplish and what you can't accomplish.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah. No, that makes sense. So how would you describe what leading with emotional intelligence looks like?

Carolyn Stern: Well, people with high EI just have more self-awareness. They're able to control their actions. They have more empathy for others. They like to build healthier relationships. They admit publicly when they make a mistake. They ask for input. They give specific praise, but also specific constructive feedback to their team so that they can grow. They know how to build good relationships. We still get stressed if we're highly emotionally intelligent, but they come from it with a growth mindset, seeing that every opportunity or challenges is an opportunity for them to grow. They articulate how they're feeling. They're open about how they're feeling. And here's what they're not. They're not stoic, which is what you described at the beginning of this podcast. They don't pretend to put on this fake persona, and people don't follow that, right? We can read through that when we know what people are feeling, but it's really they think they can share how they're feeling authentically so that people really want to follow them because they're relatable, not perfect. No one wants to follow perfection.

Carolyn Stern: And the other thing is they know how to set boundaries, especially when the lines are blurred between home and work. They're also able to use their emotions as data, as I said, to make really good, rational decisions. They're brave to share and to talk about, "Hey, I'm uncertain about what's going to happen," especially when emotions are heightened. And most importantly, they check in with their team. Here's the biggest thing that I get asked by executives. You do not need to be a therapist or a financial advisor or a lawyer for any one of your employees' problems. All you have to do is listen and coach them. Coach them means ... and we've developed a coaching with emotional intelligence model, but coaching others is really about asking them questions so that they figure out the answers, so you don't have to be the problem-solving hero, right?

Carolyn Stern: They also know how to adapt in changing times. They also know how to have a positive outlook, even when things look gloomy. So there's lots of things that an emotionally intelligent leader looks like and sounds like, but it's really, I think, about being brave and open about their own emotions, and that's why I wrote the book the way I wrote it. The book is an inside-out journey. You've got to figure out yourself first, your own emotional makeup first, before you can lead others. So once I knew that I lacked independence, guess what? I hired really independent people.

Carolyn Stern: Why? Because they become my competency advisors. They become my advisors in my company. When I'm struggling with what people are thinking about me, I can pick up the phone and call my competency advisor who's, by the way, my business development manager who's half my age. But I ask her for help because she's really strong in independence. So knowing your emotional makeup helps you know, "Who do I put on my team can help me be the best leader?" My second book, which I hope I will write, will all be about, "Now once you know yourself and how to lead, how do you lead others?"

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think you mentioned authenticity and, to me, that seems like such an important part of this because I think the growth stems from that. And also, I think the perception of you as a leader and how your emotional intelligence connects, I think, has so much to do with authenticity. Are you doing the work, to your point, to figure yourself out and leverage that best to connect with others, or are you kind of faking it? I think people can see right through it.

Carolyn Stern: Absolutely, and think about it. How you feel affects how you perform. I think you just said earlier, you're stressed. If you carry that stress throughout the day, how good is your work going to be today?

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: Now, again, we're not all going to have great days. I've had bad days, too. So how do I work through my stress? How do I first stop everything and go, "Okay, how can I calm myself down and be less stressed?" But the other thing is, you said it best, people are engaged at work if they feel connected to you and the team, appreciated for their efforts, and fulfilled in the job. Three questions I ask every employee, and I recommend your listeners ask all of their employees, is these three questions. What do you need to feel connected to me and the team? What do you need to feel appreciated for your efforts? And what do you need to feel fulfilled in your role? And then, shut up and listen because guess what? That's going to give you a roadmap on how to lead them.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Carolyn Stern: That's getting inside what works for them and fills their bucket so that you, as a leader, can give back to them in a way that will resonate with them.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: But every person is different. You might to feel connected to me. You might need to talk to me once a day. Another employee might need to talk to me once a week. To feel appreciated, you might want me to spend time with you. Another employee might just want a gift card. To feel fulfilled in your role, you might just want challenging assignments, whereas another employee wants to take a course. All of that is going to give you a lot of data on, "How do I keep people engaged and fulfilled and connected to me in the workplace?"

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. No, I think it's all really good input and it's all super interesting, too. I was just thinking as you were saying that. I think the art of listening cannot be overemphasized, first and foremost, but I was also thinking about how if you ask those questions, how many people are going to feel they can share openly, and how is that reflective on your leadership, right? It goes back to the point of people can be in leadership positions, but we're all human and people want to feel connected on a human level. So it goes back to kind of what we said earlier, which is there's more appetite for leaders to be more of themselves at work, instead of just that stoic reserve, robotic. "Okay. What do you need to feel fulfilled?"

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, depending on the tone in which that question's asked and/or the way that leader conducts themself, that's going to dictate what level of openness you get in the response. So it's just interesting how it's all tied together, right? Because are you modeling the type of self-awareness and openness and communication that you ultimately want your employees to feel comfortable bringing to you, so that you can get good data when you ask those questions, instead of having them feel they need to be closed off because you're closed off, or what have you?

Carolyn Stern: Well, it's interesting because when I was writing the book, I started writing a book on emotional intelligence and leading with emotional intelligence, and how to lead people and how to get them more engaged. And then halfway through the book, I've written half the book, I stopped because I said, "You know what? I've written the wrong book first." The first book needs to be how as you, as a leader, how can you learn what your emotional makeup is? How can you be brave to talk about your feelings so that no longer are others experiencing you as a leader solely through your outward behavior, but rather they're experiencing you on a deeper connection from underneath the surface.

Carolyn Stern: And exactly what you're saying, when that kind of genuine connection happens, others feel seen and heard. You feel cared for and valued. And in a work setting, that's what's going to affect dedication, engagement, and fulfillment. So I actually switched my entire book. I basically wrote a book and a half. But the half of the book, no one will see, not until the next book comes out. But this book is really about, "How do I look inwards first to figure out how my emotions have hurt or helped me in the workplace?" And then, let's get brave enough! You've got to model the way. Just like you said, you have to model the way first so that you are brave to talk about your feelings. And once you start talking about your feelings, you give others permission to do the same.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah.

Carolyn Stern: And at every meeting I have with my team, we always start with a one-word feeling check-in. So we always ask everyone what they're feeling, and if anyone ever says to me, "Hey, I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed," I can have a side conversation offline with them to find out how I can support them. But that gives me a lot of data as to what's going on for them. It also lets them know that I care.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: When people feel cared for ... Think about the last time you felt cared for it in the office. You probably worked a lot harder. And that's our goal as a leader, right? We're trying to move people forward towards our vision, our direction. People won't do that unless they feel cared for, appreciated, and fulfilled.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. No, you're right. I love it. I think it's great. Okay so, Carolyn, any closing thoughts? And also let people know where they will be able to find the book.

Carolyn Stern: Well first of all, thank you so much for having me. It's been a great conversation. The book is available September 13th in Canada, online and in stores, and October 4th in the United States, online and in stores. It's called The Emotionally Strong Leader: An Inside-Out Journey to Transformational Leadership. I just hope if I could get leaders to just learn one thing, it would be stop being so afraid of your emotions. They're just feelings. Feelings are not facts. They're not always factual. They can be factual, but they're not always. But they're fleeting, and we feel thousands of them, hundreds of them, lots of them throughout a day or throughout a week or throughout a month.

Carolyn Stern: They're transient. They're incredibly personal. And it's hard to be an objective bystander from your own emotions, but that is the key to your success. As I said at the beginning, I'm a very emotional person. I feel things very deeply, and I'm strong. I've now learned the mental skills and strategies to be stronger and bigger and smarter than my feelings. So I am in the driver's seat of my feelings, rather than, now, my feelings being in the driver's seat of me.

Sarah Nicastro: That's awesome. Well, congrats on doing the work and writing the book, and thank you for being on. So everyone, be sure to check out Carolyn's book, and also visit us online for more content at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn, as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

Most Recent