In this episode, Michael Gardon chats with Dr. Valerie Patrick. Valerie Patrick is a PhD chemical engineer who worked in multi-national organizations for 25 years where she gained over 10,000 hours of experience leading teams to achieve a wide range of objectives. Valerie founded Fulcrum Connection LLC in 2013 to provide instructional design, training, consulting, and facilitation for a broad range of topics related to teamwork, innovation, and sustainability. Valerie also has over 10,000 hours of experience as a Certified Professional Facilitator and is certified with distinction in the foundations of neuroleadership by the NeuroLeadership Institute.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:
- Valerie’s background
- How Fulcrum Connection was born
- How Valerie switched her focus from chemical engineering to teamwork
- The challenges of teamwork
- How emotional intelligence plays into teamwork
- The concept of teaming and psychological safety
- The universal needs that need to be met to achieve psychological safety
- Where teams should start and where leaders should start
- How the health of your brain impacts your ability to function on a team
- What you need to know about team composition
- How the pandemic and remote work has shifted teamwork
HELP US OUT!
Help us reach new listeners by leaving us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts! It takes less than 30 seconds and really helps our show grow, which allows us to bring on even better guests for you all! Thank you – we really appreciate it.
BOOKS AND RESOURCES:
- When Bad Teams Happen To Good People - Dr. Valerie Patrick’s book
- Fulcrum Connection - Valerie’s company
- Professional facilitation - what is it and why you might need one
- Fact mentioned in this episode: 75% of teams are dysfunctional in some capacity
- “You are the weakest link when it comes to a team” - powerful quote from Valerie Patrick
- Neuroleadership - applying research findings from neuroscience, behavioral science, and psychology to leadership
- The Great Mental Models - book mentioned about decision journaling
- Zoom fatigue - Stanford researchers identify causes for Zoom fatigue and their simple fixes
- Connect with Dr. Valerie Patrick on her website, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.
Michael Gardon (00:00):
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of CareerCloud Radio. I'm your host Michael Gardon. I'm on a mission to help job seekers build thriving careers of their choosing. And to do that, I try to have interesting conversations with people that approach the idea of career a bit differently. Today's guest is Valerie Patrick. Valerie is president of Fulcrum Connection. She is a facilitator leadership trainer and professional speaker. She's also the author of a brand new book When Bad Things Happen To Good People, which was just released on July 1st. This episode is all about teamwork. We get into common challenges and what we can do about them, not only what team leaders or managers can do to get their teams on track, but also about what we as individuals can do to become better team members. I hope you enjoy this episode with Dr. Valerie, Patrick, Valerie. Welcome to the podcast. So glad to have you.
Valerie Patrick (00:47):
Mike. I am so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Michael Gardon (00:51):
Great. We're here to talk a lot about teamwork today, and we've got an expert on teamwork here, so I'm super excited to dive into that, but to start, you know, a lot of our audience is really thinking about what they want to do. They're either trying to become better at what they do currently in their jobs today, or they may be looking for a change. And so I like to give people an idea of varied career paths and career tracks. So my first question is really just, can you kind of start at the beginning and maybe describe your career track?
Valerie Patrick (01:21):
Sure. I can do that. I was trained as a chemical engineer and I took a job with a chemical company. I spent 25 years working in the, what I call the corporate world. So I worked for two different companies. Actually one was a US-based company and one was a Germany based company and they had very different cultures. But one of the things that I found was I changed jobs a lot. I not really on purpose. I think it was just an interest I would say every three years or so, I would do something new. And based on what I understand about myself now, I think it's because I like to learn. And that was a way to challenge myself. So I did a lot of different things throughout those 25 years, but the one thing that was consistent was teamwork. I was on a lot of teams.
Valerie Patrick (02:11):
I led a lot of teams. I sat down just before I started my company to figure out how many hours of teamwork I had actually accumulated. And it was a big number. It was well over 10,000 hours. Then I got to a point in my career. I had a great job. And as things often happen in a company, things changed. There was a reorganization, the CEO, who I was reporting to at the time took early retirement. And then the top executive who was sponsoring my program, decided to resign and take a different job. And then my position was moved to a different part of the organization and it was really going to change the flavor of what I was doing and from my viewpoint, reduce my impact somewhat. So that's when I decided to take a voluntary separation package and start my business, which is what I'm doing now with Volcom connection. So that's kind of a short, long, medium history.
Michael Gardon (03:13):
That's perfect. So I want to dive in a little bit and ask a couple of questions. So what was the original draw to chemical engineering?
Valerie Patrick (03:20):
Yeah, the first time I thought about chemical engineering was in high school because I had the most amazing chemistry teacher. His name was Mr. Mans. And I think a lot of people really liked him. And the one thing that sticks out about me is he loved chemistry. Like you could just tell on his space and there's this one class that we all go through where he stands up in front of the class. He puts a big beaker of gold of water on his desk. And then he stands back and he has these little pellets of sodium and he stands back and he tosses the sodium into the water and there's a, you know, an intense reaction. So there's a flame that, that comes up. And then he tosses a little bigger piece, a little bigger piece, and the flame keeps getting bigger and you look up on the ceiling and there's this black circle from the few times when he threw, you know, too big of a piece of sodium in there. But so it was that love of chemistry. And I also really liked math a lot, but it was really this, this young man who I really looked up to who was a year older than me. And I asked him, so what are you going to go to college for? What are you going to major in? And he said, well, I like math and chemistry. So I'm going to major in chemical engineering. And that's how I made my decision based on that friend of mine that I really looked up to.
Michael Gardon (04:42):
Okay. So kind of hard sciences. And then really at this point in your career, you're into sort of like the softer side, the, the, the not hard numbers side of business, which is a really interesting transition. And I mean, I think it's, you know, it's an example that when we start out, we're not one track people, right? Like there's so many opportunities for us to change what we do, be adaptable and follow what we are interested in. So what was the light bulb moment for you that said, I really want to work on teamwork and I want to make that kind of the focus of my new business.
Valerie Patrick (05:20):
Well, when I took that early retirement, I needed a plan for what I wanted to do. Now, at the time I had been working with a a career consultant outside of the company who I had hired on my own. She was fantastic. And she really helped me sort through this. And it was clear from the work we had done together, that one of the things I excelled at and that I really enjoyed was teamwork and collaboration. And then somehow between the two of us, we discovered the whole field of professional facilitation. And there's actually an international association of facilitators get certified as professional facilitator, which I am. And I thought, oh, that could be the basis for a company. Like I could do that. And people would pay me to do that. So that was a way that I could pursue the teamwork. You know, the teamwork thing just came up through the years. It was a necessary way to, as I rose up the ranks, I had to learn how to work with other people. I just, I had to do it. And I just found out it was something I enjoyed doing. And then finding out about the professional facilitation that put me even more in the space and enhancing my skills further. So that's pretty much how it happened.
Michael Gardon (06:35):
Okay, great. So you have written a book on the topic it's called when bad teams happen to good people just recently released. So you're an expert kind of on this team, whole teamwork thing. Most of us are good people and we want to succeed yet. A lot of times seen the statistics. 75% of teams are dysfunctional at some, in some capacity. It feels to me like this shouldn't really be that hard, but how does a group of smart good people kind of turn into a bad team?
Valerie Patrick (07:06):
So often I think what you just said is very important that it shouldn't be that hard. We are social animals. We know how we are born, knowing how to work together. We have to work together to survive. It's a basic instinct that we have. So it's not that we, it's not that we need to be told how to do teamwork or how to work together. We know how to do that. I think what the challenge is is when things go wrong or not the way you expect them to, or you get frustrated or all those negative feelings that can happen in a team. I had a colleague who liked to say that meeting was something that a lot of people went in and nothing came out, you know, and that kind of cynicism builds up in a lot of professionals because of that statistic that you talked about, you know, 75% of teams are dysfunctional in some way.
Valerie Patrick (07:58):
And I think it's because teamwork actually is hard. It's especially hard today because we have more diversity in organizations than we ever had before. Not only do we have increasing diversity in terms of race, in addition to the gender diversity, but we now have a lot more age diversity. People are starting work earlier and they're working longer. So we have a lot of age group diversity as well. So all this diversity means that we have to learn how to work with people who are different from us and who have different perspectives. And it's easy to get your feelings hurt or to get your, a shot to your status, depending on a remark that someone makes. And that's enough to make you not want to give your all or participate in that team. One remark can shut you down. And, and from there you can't have a good team unless everyone is contributing in a positive way. So, I mean, that's just one example of a challenge, but I think the problems are getting harder. The work you have to do in teams is getting harder. So that can be a, a source of frustration too. And you have to find new ways of working together. You have to find ways of cultivating creativity and innovation to solve these harder problems. So
Michael Gardon (09:18):
What you're really, I mean, most of what you're just talked about, it is psychological, right? It's sort of managing, I mean, it's managing emotional relationships, right? How big a part does emotional, you know, the, the, the buzzword of emotional intelligence really play in the teamwork.
Valerie Patrick (09:35):
Huge. It is huge. There's been research by several people in this area. So one thing that comes to mind is a Vanessa dress cat has done some research around norms and how that impacts teams. And what she's found is that if a team doesn't consciously set norms, norms will automatically happen. And when I talk about norms, I just mean just the way people behave with each other naturally. And the ways that people behave with each other naturally may not be helpful towards good teamwork, but I'm sure you've been on a team where one person does, like most of the talking that's dysfunctional. You can't, it's not a team. If one person's doing most of the talking or trying to direct everything that's being done, there was research by Anita Woolley who found that collective intelligence correlates with the degree of equal participation across team members. And so performance, you need to have that equal participation. And in fact, there's other research that shows that diverse teams tend to make better decisions and have higher innovation than more homogeneous teams. But only if the team is inclusive, these are all psychological considerations because what, what gets us to stop participating is either we have a social need that's not being met. And that turns into an emotional dysfunction. So it does often get down to emotions. How
Michael Gardon (11:10):
Much does time play into this? So what I'm getting at is what you've described so far, sounds like we can get there, right? We can put these norms in place and we can make sure we have inclusive teams where we're getting feedback, you know, making everybody kind of come out of their shell a little bit and contribute, right. That takes time. It feels like we're just rushed all the time right now. And so we skip those quote unquote, you know, hard steps to get to the end faster. And I think like just having patients or developing patients as a norm within your team and setting realistic time expectations, sounds like it could go a long way to, to help that challenge
Valerie Patrick (11:50):
Setting realistic time expectations is huge, absolutely right about that. But it doesn't have to take more time if you have good processes and good ways of doing this. Amy Edmondson has done a lot of research on what she calls, teaming and teaming is when you have to work on the spot, like in a crisis situation, people have to come together and work. And basically what she's found is something she calls psychological safety, which again, is getting back to your point earlier that for teaming to work, you have to establish that psychological safety, which includes things like being able to say, you don't know everything and genuinely wanting to hear what another person's expertise is. So you can figure out how that could fit into the problem solving. So it's really just a few things that you need to do that you could do very quickly.
Valerie Patrick (12:40):
If you have the motivation to work on. I mean, there's so many things that can get a team off to a bad start. For example, you don't really know what you're doing, what your goal is so important. And the crisis situation, they know exactly what their goal is. And they know the urgency of that, and they're all motivated already. So then all, they have to worry about it as a psychological safety piece. But in the workplace, if you're there, you don't have an agenda, you don't really know what you're supposed to do. That's going to be a waste of time. So there are a lot of things you can do in terms of planning and preparation for a team that doesn't have to take a lot of time, you can do it fairly quickly.
Michael Gardon (13:18):
I was going to bring up psychological safety. Cause that's kind of a word that we hear. I think I first heard it in the context of, of Google and how Google does some of their stuff for that. That's a term that teams get wrong because they give it lip service. And I mean, I, and I think that there's a pressure, especially in the corporate world to be an expert, right? Like you're hired to be an expert on a certain topic. And if you say, if you say, well, well, I don't know, right? Or I'm not sure about that. That can be interpreted by some higher ups as well. Maybe he's not the right fit or she is not the right fit or something like that. So I think people talk about psychological safety, but it's a lot harder to, I guess, put in practice. And I'm assuming you have some, some tactics for actually getting that right.
Valerie Patrick (14:05):
Well, one thing that might be helpful going back to the research of, of Vanessa dress cat, she found that there were universal social needs that needed to be addressed in order to achieve that psychological safety. And there's another organization, the NeuroLeadership Institute who has come up with five social needs, common to all of us and they use the acronym scarf. That's the only way I remember them. So the assets for status the C is for certainty. The is for autonomy, the R's for relatedness and the F is for fairness. And so basically what these social needs mean is that if a given person on a team feels like the social needs are being met for them, then they're going to be engaged and participate. But if they feel like one of those social needs has been violated for them, then they're going to withdraw from the situation and not be participating.
Valerie Patrick (15:01):
So status. As an example, since you brought that up, you know, you're hired for your expertise. So you go into a meeting, something comes up in your particular area and you realize, you don't know. So you can take that as a threat to your status and withdraw, or kind of dance around it or whatever, but a more positive way to handle that would be to view it as, Hey, this is an opportunity for me to learn something and actually grow in my expertise. So I think that's kind of the way to view psychological safety is kind of, it's a way to really grow as a person and contribute. And if you can position it that way, then you don't have to have that status threat. I mean, you could basically say, well, you know, that's an area that I haven't done a lot of work in yet. I've been interested in that area. I would be very interested in exploring that some more and I'll take an action item to do that. I mean, you can manage that expertise gap and still preserve your need for status.
Michael Gardon (16:03):
All right. So we've gotten into a few of the challenges that we could see where a lot of this could go. I could pull on a lot of threads here, but I'm really interested in like, it's, it seems like a lot here. Where does a team start? How does a team that thinks they're going down the wrong path or encountering a challenge? Where do they start? I think in your book, it says heal thyself. What does that mean?
Valerie Patrick (16:24):
Yeah. So heal thyself is about realizing that you're the weakest link when it comes to a team, right? The team is only as strong as each person is. And there's a lot of analogies here. But when I talk about heal thyself, I'm talking about that wellbeing. And this is very important also in leadership because leaders, they have a lot of pressure. They have a lot of stress things to figure out. They have people who disagree with them and push back and don't want to do things. And so you need to have a certain level of wellbeing in order to be able to handle that stress and be able to get back up. When you get knocked down, when people don't like what you're doing or say, you're wrong. And then you have to take that status. Okay, I'm going to listen. Maybe I'll learn something.
Valerie Patrick (17:17):
Maybe I'll grow from this. That takes a hit on you and you need to have the overall wellbeing. So that gets into all the different aspects of wellbeing. And in fact, there's been a lot of neuroscience research to show the relationship between the different dimensions of wellbeing and the health of your brain. You know, your ability to use your brain to maximum capacity, your ability to have a healthy brain throughout your life, depends on eating right, getting enough, sleep, exercising, especially cardiovascular exercise. I find it very interesting that our brain has been designed to work while we're running away from a predator, which is why cardiovascular exercise in particular is so good for the health of the brain. It also speaks to emotional wellbeing. You talked about emotional intelligence, this whole idea of being able to be aware of your own emotions, manage your own emotions, but also be aware of the emotions of others and manage those emotions. These are all important to your overall wellbeing, there's social wellbeing, which is having close positive relationships and having enough of those that work for you in terms of social well-being. That's why heal thyself is important first, because getting back to teamwork is hard. You're going to get your feelings hurt and you want to be able to bounce back and you can do that with that wellbeing, that what I call heal thyself.
Michael Gardon (18:43):
Okay. So you're really talking about kind of at the every team member level, the contributor level, right? Every single person needs to take care of these aspects of their life and that can translate to them being a better team member. Right. Okay. So I'm going to come back and ask you a question about like, how does a leader actually see a bad team and what do they need to do? But since we went, we went here to the contributor level, like you were talking about kind of social, emotional, physical, this is all in a kind of a spice model, an acronym that you created called spice. Right. Can you just walk everybody through those those aspects and give a little synopsis of what, of what they all are touched on a couple already?
Valerie Patrick (19:26):
Yeah. Yeah. So I already touched on the first one is social, social wellbeing, and that's about having a good social life that fuels you for some people that's very few close relationships. And for other people it's more close relationships. We're all different with that, but making sure those relationships are healthy and are bringing you fulfillment and joy, the P is for physical. And we talked about that already as well. That's the eating healthy, sleeping, the prescribed amount and exercise the I is for intangible wellbeing, which really is about taking care of your non-conscious. There's lots of different ways to do that. There's been a lot of research about different types of meditation to help with that. Personally, I like to get out in nature. That's a way for me to feed my non-conscious my soul. And then there C is cognitive wellbeing. And that's the idea of continually learning using your brain. And that's been found, it's known that you continue to add new neurons throughout your life, particularly in your hippocampus, which is what the seat of learning. And then the last one is the emotional wellbeing, which gets to your ability to be aware of your own emotions, be to manage them as well as be aware of the emotions of others and be able to manage those emotions.
Michael Gardon (20:53):
Great. For me, the P the I and the E are all linked. Like you mentioned, getting out in nature. Yeah. If I can go for a run and, or a bike ride or something and not be around anyone and just, it helps me think I'm more creative. I feel better. Like if I'm ever in a bad mode and then I get out on a bike or something, I'm, I'm completely different person. So it's interesting how there are these kinds of like cornerstone or Keystone habits and how a lot of that model can kind of feed off of each other. Even if you don't know where to start, you know, pick one, right. Pick one of those and get going on it. And you'll kind of see how they can bleed into the other aspects,
Valerie Patrick (21:33):
Even the social and emotional as well. Yeah.
Michael Gardon (21:35):
Yeah. And I'll say like professor of mine, ramen Shada from when I was in graduate school, he does a lot of work in emotional intelligence now. And he uses like this emotion wheel with teams. It's really hard to see, but it's, he kind of goes through an exercise where team members are kind of forced to say, like how they're feeling right now, their vulnerability is, and there's this great sort of psychological safety rituals that they've built around that. And so you're kind of saying, I don't need to interpret what this person is doing with their body or whatever. They're, they're literally signup telling me how they feel. And, and there's a safety component to that. And that helps build these really emotionally intelligent and resilient team units. So he he's found a lot of, a lot of success with that in particular, around founding teams and small startup teams that are really scrappy and going into high growth mode. So, you know, there's another tool and I just had him on the podcast recently. So
Valerie Patrick (22:33):
Cool. Thanks for sharing that. And
Michael Gardon (22:36):
I can send you the it's the Huno institute.com. I can send you the link to check out more of what he does, but yeah, this, this spice model really kind of caught my eye around like this holistic model for really well-being and taking care of your lead domino, which is you, right. It's your house. And if you don't take care of it, you know, nobody else really will. And then, and then these ill effects kind of can bleed over. Okay. So th there's another one that kinda caught my eye that I think individuals can really work on and that's really understanding and noticing our own biases. So can you talk to me a little bit about the bias, a blind spot
Valerie Patrick (23:14):
Bias blind spot? Yes. So the research has shown that we tend to see biases and other people, but not in ourselves. So that's just something built into our brain probably to protect us in some way. And I'm sure you're aware of the work of the implicit biases, implicit association test, which shows that we all have implicit biases. And it's basically because that's how our brain is built. Our brain works by programming, in traits and behaviors associated with different things that we see. And that includes people. It definitely includes objects, you know, so we can recognize a chair because it has some place to sit, has some legs, usually someplace to put our arms. There might be some variation from that. And so we associate those traits of the chair, you know, the legs, the seat, the back, that's a chair. When we see that, and we do the same thing with people, and that's where the that's where the implicit biases come from.
Valerie Patrick (24:15):
And just based on the people that we encounter over our lives and the people we're around and how they react to those people. So this particularly comes into play on a team where there's visible diversity and it can, these implicit biases can affect our behavior without us knowing about it. And that can lead to excluding input from someone. There was a, I don't remember where I heard this story, but there was a story of a man, a leader who didn't realize until later, but he realized he had an implicit bias to expect the best ideas to come from people who look like him. And so he would not listen to people who didn't look like him when he was looking for ideas on a team. And once he realized that that was a bias of his, he started consciously writing down everyone's input as a way to consciously make sure that he was not letting that bias get in the way of finding the best ideas. It's hard work. It's hard work getting around our implicit biases.
Michael Gardon (25:28):
Yeah, it's very hard work. There's been obviously a lot of research on it. I have a favorite book on kind of making better decisions and mental models in these implicit biases are, are in all over that book in terms of being able to recognize them and how your biases are affecting other people, but also your, just your own, your own thinking and what you're drawn. We're, we're drawn into making decisions and certain patterns, and a lot of it is bias driven. So it's definitely something that's really important for any individual to get better at recognizing those and figuring out okay, when to use it and when to not use it in order to become a better team member and a better team.
Valerie Patrick (26:12):
Yeah. I remember coming across a a tool to help you make better business decisions. And it basically was like a checklist to make sure that you weren't letting some of the biases, whether they were cognitive biases or implicit biases, just to check that those weren't impacting your decision. And so you'd go through this checklist. So I think when it comes to biases, whether they're implicit or, you know, or these cognitive biases that having tools to help bring them to the conscious, because they're coming from the non-conscious. So if you have tools that can bring them to the conscious that's the first step, then you can find ways to address it. Like the man who just made himself write down every idea so that he would be reading it regardless of who it was coming from. I mean, that's kind of hard work you need to do.
Michael Gardon (27:00):
Yeah, no idea journaling or at least are taking ideas and forcing a team to do it that way. Decision journal. So the book that I mentioned that I talked about before on mental models is the great mental models and it's by Shane Parrish and he uses a decision journal. So he literally journals about every single decision that he makes, you know, not, not really small ones, but the bigger ones and goes through this process of sort of identifying where his thoughts and reasons and rationales are coming from. And it's helped him immensely over the years. So those are just a couple of examples of tools.
Valerie Patrick (27:34):
I'm glad you mentioned process, because process has been one of those overlooked things. When it comes to a team, I mentioned that I'm a certified professional facilitator, facilitators or leader as leaders of team process. And oftentimes teams get so caught up in content that they forget that how important the process is to it, because the process can get around some of these, it does get around some of these biases. So that's one way to definitely at least in teams do a better job in the face of these biases.
Michael Gardon (28:07):
So it's maybe a good segue back to the question. I kind of put a pin in earlier. So we've talked, we've talked a lot about what we can do as individuals. And I think the question I asked earlier was some version of, okay, great. Like if I'm the leader, right. If I'm the leader of this team and I'm just thinking things aren't going right here, something's off, my spidey senses are off and we're not getting the results that we want. Right. What's the first thing that I need to do as the leader of the team.
Valerie Patrick (28:37):
Okay. So I'm going to put myself I'm leader of the team. I could tell something's off. What I would do is I would interview team members offline, like not in a team meeting and very open interview. I would just be like, you know, I'm just getting this feeling, that things aren't going as well as I would like to, and the team. And I would try to pull out from the team members what's what's going on from their perspective. So there might be something there to help me point me to a solution. That's what I would do. Cause it, it could very well be a climate issue. And it's hard to assess a climate issue unless you talk to the people who are in the climate and just see what they're feeling.
Michael Gardon (29:21):
And I'm assuming as the leader, you better have been going through the process of healing myself, because you could get some pretty nasty feedback from your team members.
Valerie Patrick (29:32):
It's been a team leader many, many, many times, and you develop a very thick skin. You have to have a thick skin because here's how it goes. Everyone blames you when things go wrong and no one credits you, when things go right, I'm fine with it. I mean, I want the team to be successful. I want the team to have the impact in the organization. That's what really motivates me. So I'm fine with that. But yeah, you have to have a thick skin. I was on one team where the HR department had this new program where they wanted to build trust and teams. Trust was the new thing they wanted to do. And so I was picked as the Guinea pig for their new program. And HR wanted to come in and do this survey and then come back and talk about the results.
Valerie Patrick (30:22):
Well, they didn't, I was a leader. They didn't share the results with me ahead of time. We all did the survey and then had to come back and I had to listen to all this stuff I was doing wrong. And I mean, the good news was there was some good things too, that I could hang my hat on, but that's hard. It's hard, but you gotta do it. You know, you gotta do it. And going back to the whole status thing, okay. I can grow, I can learn something from this. We can be even better. And, but it's hard. Yeah.
Michael Gardon (30:50):
My buddy, Mike has a great kind of quote and I don't know if it's his, but it's a quote on that kind of topic. And it's success has many parents failure as an orphan. It's this idea that, you know, it's always somebody else's fault, you know, and when we're having a hard time yeah, I just have a few more questions. Okay. I wanted to talk a little bit about, go back to this idea of team composition. So w you talked a little bit about how diversity can be is, is, is, is a proven, really great thing for sort of performance and getting to right answers and innovating and things like that. It's also a potential obstacle in that. We now have sort of more degrees of freedom that we have to manage, and we have more perspectives that we have to manage. Is there a, is there a sweet spot? What do leaders sort of need to know about comp like putting a team together, right. But let's say we're putting a team together to start. We want to give it the best chance. What do we have to say about composition? Well,
Valerie Patrick (31:49):
There's a couple of data points, particularly with diversity. So going back to a needle, woolly and her research on collective intelligence, she has looked at gender diversity and she found the sweet spot. There was 60%, 60% women on a team leads to maximum collective intelligence, which correlates with team performance. So that's a pin out there. She's done some other research. I don't think she's looked at racial diversity yet or age diversity, but she's looked at a form of perspective, diversity. And I think she was finding kind of a similar, you don't really want to go much beyond 60%, because if you get too much diversity, you can start to lose performance because you lose understanding it's hard to communicate. So I there's some there's some guidance there in terms of, of that, but it also depends on the goal for the team. So if you have a research team who's doing new product development, so you need high innovation.
Valerie Patrick (32:52):
You want to pack as much diversity on that team, as you can, to be able to get the brainstorming, the ideas that you need. So in that case, you need to appoint a team leader. Who's really good at climate climate, managing the climate of the team and managing the process of how you get input from people on the team and how you actually leverage all that diverse perspective and be able to make forward progress. And that takes being smart on process. And even with climate, for innovation, you get that gets back to the psychological safety as a very important aspect of that. And the team leader has a oversized effect on the climate of the team. I mean, the climate of the team is the sum total of the behaviors of everyone, but the team leader definitely has an oversize effect on that. So when you get to a really diverse team, you, you really need to have a leader with those skills. I think the amount of diversity you want needs to be dictated by that goal, by that team goal. I don't think you should just do diversity for the sake of diversity. I think you want enough diversity to make sure you're going to make good decisions, but I think the diversity has to be relevant to the team goal as much as possible.
Michael Gardon (34:07):
Okay. That makes a lot of sense. We've been working remote for a well over a year. We're all kind of coming back to the office. Now I run a completely remote team. How has the pandemic, and this last year shifted the conversation around teamwork.
Valerie Patrick (34:23):
I do not work with a remote team. So it's hard for me to say that just from my perspective, I'd be interested in your perspective on that since you have, I do remember one, one of, of Nita Wooly's data points applied to both in-person and virtual teams. And now that we have zoom and ways to, it's not just audio, you can see people. I don't think there should be a lot of difference between virtual and in-person teams, because you want to be able to see people's emotions, see their face, see their non-verbal interactions. So I guess part of it is, you know, having a good camera, a good setup, so you can see people. So one of her data points around team performance was the importance of what she called theory of mind skill, which is it's cognitive empathy. It's being able to use your brain and figure out where another person's coming from, what they're thinking and people who score high on that, that tend to have very good team experiences. And that skill was tied to collective intelligence, whether or not the team was in-person or virtual. So for that in equal participation, the other thing that's important to teamwork also, you can do virtually or, or in person. So I don't know. I, I guess I'll, I'll put that question back to you. How do you think that has shifted the conversation?
Michael Gardon (35:53):
Yes, I would say there's a couple of things. I think one is zoom. Fatigue is real, and I think that's net positive because that's led teams and it's led companies to really think hard about how they're using meetings again, from my experience. That's great. Cause I, I don't like meetings. I think that they're on the whole unproductive time, right? Unless we have really good agendas, we're making sure that we don't have 50 people in the meeting, right. In a zoom meeting, it's really hard to get the floor and it takes time to get the floor. So it's, if you want 10, 15 people in a meeting and you want equal participation, it's kind of hard. That's a really like sort of net positive thing where I think that'll have benefits coming back to the office where teams will say, all right, this is how we did meetings virtual. Like let's keep some of those practices. So I guess that's like maybe one aspect that I think has changed.
Valerie Patrick (36:47):
Thank you for saying that, because I do want to make a distinction between teams and meetings, right? And I think that teams have a goal or goals, right? They have an objective, they have goals when those goals are done. They're done. So a team has a beginning, a middle and an end. Sometimes meetings are just status updates. I mean, they're on a whole spectrum. So I could see the zoom fatigue because I could see, you know, leaders might be worried that people aren't working. So they want to see them because they're not seeing them in the office. And maybe that caused, you know, more meetings and really was necessary. And I could see how that could cause zoom fatigue. And, you know, I started, when I got later on in my career, I started really pushing back on meetings. Like if someone couldn't produce an agenda before the meeting and I couldn't see how I could contribute in a way that was going to have some impact that was meaningful to the company or to me, I was like, you don't need me there.
Valerie Patrick (37:52):
I wouldn't go. I was too busy of a person. So I think maybe that was harder to do during the pandemic because there was a lot of pressure I think, to stay connected with zoom. Hopefully people will get back to that. You know, I think it's important to push back your time's valuable. I mean, even for a team meeting, you can't just do everything as a group. That's why you have action items. What has to get done outside the team. And if you don't have any time to do that work well, the team's not going to move forward. So, you know, you need to find that balance of individual work and group work, that's very important,
Michael Gardon (38:29):
Right? A meeting is a tool that you, a communication tool that's used to go in of the goal. And somehow they've kind of become almost goals on themselves. The zoom fatigue has really just come from people saying, oh my God, look at my calendar. Like I have a zoom meetings in a row. This doesn't work for me. Right. Like this doesn't work long term. And so I think then teams are taking a look at that and saying, okay, yeah, like these don't have to be meetings. This can be an email status update. Alright, let's improve our team's written communication skills. So we don't have to do this. Right. So there's a lot of things like that, that I think
Valerie Patrick (39:08):
Okay, if positive then I think that came out of the pandemic. Yeah. Yeah.
Michael Gardon (39:12):
So I want to be respectful of your time, but I have to ask you, you wrote a book when bad teams happen to good people. And I've heard the process of writing a book you described as somewhat masochistic. I've thought about writing a book before and I haven't pulled the trigger. How did it go? Is it worth it? Just tell me a little bit about the process of writing this book.
Valerie Patrick (39:33):
Yeah. So as you know, I'm trained as a chemical engineer, so I really don't know anything about writing, but I really wanted to write about teamwork. It's something I've been thinking about for a while. And I would say it's been a like five or six year process for me, not like writing the whole time, don't get that wrong idea. But you know, learning about how to write, how to get a publisher, how to doing the research. Because even though I have a lot of personal experience in it, I still wanted to make sure that I was curating the most recent research about the topic too. So that took a lot of research upfront. I love the process because I love to learn. And so it just fueled that and it was totally worth it for me. And I want to do it again. So if that is helpful, I think it gets easier after the first time.
Valerie Patrick (40:30):
I think the first time was hard just because I had so much to learn and had some false starts. And one of the things I really learned is having a really good concept that is distinguishes what you want to do compared to what's already out there. That was a big lesson for me. I thought I did, but I really didn't. For me, it was helpful to find, I looked at other authors that I admired and I found online their book proposals and that finally sort of triggering some more valuable ideas for what it really takes to have a good proposal for a book. So that was really helpful for me. But it's, it's a labor of love. It's a lot of time and which I loved not a lot of payback upfront, but hopefully it'll pay back later.
Michael Gardon (41:22):
Well, awesome stuff. Yeah. Again, the book is when bad things happen to good people, I think believe it was released July 1st. So it's pretty brand spanking new, which is great. Go check it out. Valerie. I just would like you to leave our audience with where they can find more about you online.
Valerie Patrick (41:38):
Yeah. So you can find me on Twitter at fulcrum connect my website, www.folkfromconnection.com or I'm also on LinkedIn as Valerie Patrick.
Michael Gardon (41:49):
Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on. This was a blast.
Valerie Patrick (41:52):
It was really fun, Mike. Thank you. All right. Take care. You too.
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