This transcript was produced in conjunction with my conversation with Mark Babbitt. You can listen to the show or read this transcript of our recorded conversation. He refers to his Chris Edmonds, his co-author, as they refer to their mission in this book:
“And I, this book came about because me and my co-author became more and more frustrated that we were sending people out into the job market. Only to have them become disappointed and frustrated and, and they just couldn’t find the right, the right culture for them.”
[00:00:00] Mark Anthony Dyson: Next on the show is my man Mark Babbitt. We are long-time friends, at least. More than a decade at this particular point, right. We’ve worked together multiple times. So if we have a very intimate discussion, you guys don’t know what we’re talking about is because we have a lot of history, between talking about our families and what’s going on in our lives professionally.
[00:00:33] Mark S Babbitt: What’s going on in the job, search, how I’m doing very well. Let’s hope that well, let’s be intimate, but let’s also be relevant. How does that sound?
[00:00:39] Mark Anthony Dyson: Well, we don’t have to talk like it’s 2011. Indeed is now 2021. The jobs, the job search has changed even from two years ago. Which I think the thing.
[00:00:56] What we’re talking about here is your book, Good Comes First, going to be released here in another few weeks. I believe you’re actually, you’re closer to the October time, right? As opposed to the 1st of September. So we have a little time to put that. Would it be out that first week in October on podcasts, but people have access right now.
[00:01:21] And we are streaming in case you’re wondering what I’m doing streaming to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. And later on, it would be upon the, on my YouTube channel. Mark as I’ve written for YouTern back in the day. On several occasions and Mark has been on my podcast several occasions, and we worked in many other different settings as well.
[00:01:44] But all in all, this is the second book that you’ve worked on. If I’m not mistaken, I think there was a book in between there somewhere. I feel like I’m missing, but I think those are the two there’s, two that are on the market right now, where you were really involved. And when I first started the title, I was not surprised that that was you because I think that has been it there’s been a subtitle to everything that you’ve talked about.
[00:02:13] This is it. Good comes first.
[00:02:16] Mark S Babbitt: Well, first of all, thank you. That’s a huge compliment. Mark, you said that the job search has changed in the last two years, maybe even two months, let alone 10, 12 years since you and I’ve been hanging out and talking about this, but I’ll tell you what hasn’t changed.
[00:02:32] Company cultures haven’t changed. And, and I, this book came about because me and my co-author became more and more frustrated that we were sending people out into the job market. Only to have them become disappointed and frustrated and, and they just couldn’t find the right, the right culture for them. And, and so we, we took our experience and said, what, what if we, what if we built company cultures based on the doing of good and not just for your shareholders, but your, your employees and your candidates and, and your interns, and of course your customers and other stakeholders.
[00:03:14] And, and that’s, that’s what brought us to Good Comes First. We, especially, as we climb out of this newest wave of the pandemic want leaders to look at their cultures now and say, what can I, what can I do better? But even more important, perhaps we want job seekers and candidates to look at their careers and say, why would I go to work for a company?
[00:03:40] I know I’ve got to pay the bills, but why would I go to work for a company that I know, sorry, There I can, I can see on Glassdoor, they suck. I can see in the media, they suck. I don’t like the way they treat their customers and their employees on social media. But boy, I need to pay bills. Well, let me just take a step back and see, do I have, do I have any runway there?
[00:04:01] Can I really afford to, to, to hold up for a culture that, that actually fits me? My personality, my, my dreams, my goals my values, and that, so that’s why we wrote good comes first.
[00:04:15] Mark Anthony Dyson: I think as well, is that, that there’s also underlining. I mean, I talk about strategies all the time, but good is a strategy.
[00:04:27] But also happiness is a strategy. Is that people now underlying gear, they want, they want good jobs, but I think ultimately people want to be happy in a good job and they want to be happy with somebody that’s, considering the best treatment of them first, not the one when they fall that there’s going to be this net waiting for them and that’s going to be the good, and it shouldn’t be that way.
[00:05:01] It should be that that’s going to be first, rather than that being last
[00:05:06] Mark S Babbitt: well, mark, you’ve been talking about since I’ve known you what 2009 and, and happiness is a strategy. Good is a strategy. And, and I’ll tell you, you see what’s happening now. Your last guest touched on it. They’re there.
[00:05:24] People are leaving good jobs because they’re not good for them. They’re not good for their souls. They’re, they’re not good for their values. They’re being asked to tell him his truth or to fudge reports or to union and shops being asked to actually slow down their production over.
[00:05:44] We’re doing too much, right? Well, you can’t go home at the end of the day, thinking about that stuff and feeling good. You can’t go home and feel happy about that. And, and that’s what we’re trying to change in. And what we say to the book over and over again is we, we want to build a world where there’s good people doing good work for a good company to work for.
[00:06:06] And that’s our goal is we want happiness. We want good to become a strategy.
[00:06:14] Mark Anthony Dyson: They, there’s an anomaly in a good job. Because it pays and a company that’s not good because the way they treat is, is the thing that needs to be eliminated from our vocabulary and our mindset as well that we have to stick it out and survive.
[00:06:35] If you’re low like our fathers and grandfathers did
[00:06:39] Mark S Babbitt: well, there’s a big part of it, right? This whole generational precedent that, feels like an envelope falling on our head. There’s, there’s almost a guilt that comes with, well, my father was never happy at work.
[00:06:57] He just paid the bills. My mom, just did what she had to do to get by. We don’t, we aren’t supposed to enjoy work. My grandfather sure. Didn’t enjoy work. Well, what times are different. Now, the world is different now and, and people are, they’re voting with their feet. You look at, you look at some of these old school leaders that are insisting that their employees, after being given all this freedom and all this autonomy to work from home to make their own decisions is that their own hours.
[00:07:30] And now these old school leaders are mandating that we’re going to come back in the office and it’s going to go back to the way it used to be. It’s going to go back to normal what the old normal for 90% of the population, there was nothing rewarding about it, except the paycheck. And now, from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, to Silicon Valley, all these leaders are sticking their necks out and saying, no, none of that matters the last 18 months doesn’t matter.
[00:08:00] The Delta variant doesn’t matter. It’s time to get back to work either, either get back to work or, resign. People are resigning moving on in record numbers. We’ve, we’ve never seen a migration of talented workers, like, like we’re witnessing right now. They’re saying, no, I’m not going to work like that anymore.
[00:08:22] I liked being home for my kids. I like being home from my mom or my dad and providing elderly care. I like being home for my dog or my cat. Right. I liked having more balance and I’m not going to go back to the way it was. I’m not comfortable with that at all. I’m not going to spend three hours on the train just to work seven and a half hours.
[00:08:43] And I’m supposed to be happy about that. No, I’m not going to do that. And, and a good thing for employers because there’s good. There’s a whole bunch of really talented people on the market right now that weren’t just a couple of months ago before the JP Morgans and, and those kinds of companies said fine.
[00:09:00] You’re either going to come back to work. You don’t have a job.
[00:09:05] Mark Anthony Dyson: Well, I think people, when people dig deep, it’s interesting that the intelligence that you can get these days right now on LinkedIn and Glassdoor and all those to find out what the company’s M.O. And why a whole bunch of good people left. And when people see that people like them are leaving, they’re going, that’s a red flat out of flag automatically.
[00:09:27] So at what point leaves so they can contact the person and ask that question. Now, there just were not six degrees of separation anymore. We’re maybe one or two ties that we may be connected. So really the questions that job seekers can ask now are, how’s this company and please tell me the truth.
[00:09:50] And then we can look at the company and see where the red flags are. Ultimately, when we dig a little deeper, you can’t hide pebbles where they’re supposed to go.
[00:10:03] Mark S Babbitt: Well, I remember one of our first conversations mark, you and I talked about the best question a job seeker can ask in a job interview.
[00:10:12] Mark Anthony Dyson: Yes, we did that probably the last time we spoke
[00:10:15] Mark S Babbitt: And the answer to the, our answer that one of our main topics asked why, why is this job open? And, and people still don’t do that very often, unfortunately, but, and you don’t. And sometimes we talk about this, you don’t get an honest answer. You don’t get a direct answer.
[00:10:33] You don’t even get your sure. Don’t get the answer you want to hear. But if the interviewer hears that question and hems and Haws and tries to find just the right words to explain what’s going on, you don’t have to hear the answer now because they don’t want to tell you truth. Right. So on the other hand, let’s just say it, let’s just say it is on, on service, an unpleasant answer, and somebody says, look, we just, we just had a very talented young lady leave this position because she wanted to work from home.
[00:11:05] And we’re, we’re, we’re shifting back into our old normal, and, and that, that didn’t appeal to her. That’s why this job is open. Well, you just got a really good answer and now you can judge. Well, wait, I was going to ask later in the interview, if I could work from home and now I just got the answer to that.
[00:11:24] So now I’m much more informed than I would have been otherwise. Right. So even if you don’t get the answer you want to hear to the, why is this job open question, then it informs every decision you need to make from this moment on. And it’s, it’s it puts you as the interviewee and it just a powerful.
[00:11:43] Mark Anthony Dyson: Sure. And a good answer is good, an honest answer. Isn’t always going to be the one that you want to hear. And in fact, sometimes it is even better to say, well, they told me the truth about it, and I’ve heard from other people that this is true, but they seemed it that informs my next question is, well, is this going to be permanent or are you going to be open to having people work from home or at least a hybrid?
[00:12:16] What, what does the future look like? We don’t have to accept every single answer as the single only answer. We can ask other questions that will mitigate what we really need to hear and what we ultimately want to hear. And that may lend to big, a good culture, because you’ve been honest, not just giving a standard line.
[00:12:40] Mark S Babbitt: Well, and the expectations have been set now, right?
[00:12:43] You know exactly where you stand and you, and you’re making the decisions based on the facts, not, not what it says on their about us page or the careers page or in the job description. You’re making life-altering decisions based on real data. And that’s, you can ask for anything,
[00:13:03] Mark Anthony Dyson: Right. So what are some of the other subplots that may be relevant in this time that we can expect from them?
[00:13:11] Mark S Babbitt: One of the things that we do and I, and we realize it’s risky given that I am. And so is my coauthor, an old white guy is we, we call today’s business leaders out on the carpet and we say they are afflicted with boomer male syndrome, and that they’re leading how they led in 1979.
[00:13:36] And, and the world isn’t like that anymore. Diversity matters, inclusion matters, equity matters, pay equity matters different colors and genders in the boardroom matters. And, and we can’t build a good comes the first culture without that. It so fundamentally foundationally, we challenge today’s business leaders to look around them.
[00:14:04] And to say, “I am I surrounded by other old white guys? Am I, am I afflicted with boomer male syndrome or BMS? Am I part of the problem?” I mean, leaders, leaders you’ve been in this business long time leaders think they’re the answer. Well, what if the leaders are the problem? And our contention in the book is that those suffering from BMS are just a distinct part of the problem.
[00:14:32] And we know it’s going to ruffle some feathers, but we’re never going to get to the building to the co-creation of good cultures. If, if we don’t come out and talk about the stuff that matters and diversity matters, equity matters, inclusion matters. And, and so we start the book that way. We hope we do make people feel uncomfortable because that’s going to help us start some tough, but meaningful conversations.
[00:15:01] Mark Anthony Dyson: And one of the things I think is S an estimated in being an older black guy, having lived that life for all of my life, as many times that people don’t realize the ghosts that are in the past of those folks because that’s what they automatically go to when they’re hedging and they’re being hesitant is that they would have to confront those ghosts from the past.
[00:15:25] And those ghosts are coming in many different forms, even have parents and grandparents, that is something against the values that they were taught. So, therefore, Instead of telling you that they’re going to say, no, we can’t do this right now. Or we need more data or we need more time or more people, oh, we need more people to agree with us.
[00:15:52] We need the same, our competitors to do the same before do before us before we start to do it. And it’s like so much for being business and being a leader in that respect. Because sometimes, as a leader, you do the things that are uncomfortable because you’re asking people to do the uncomfortable every day.
[00:16:13] Mark S Babbitt: Well, I’ll tell you in, in research for the book, we took a poll and it wasn’t a scientific call it less than a couple of hundred people. So, take that for what it’s worth. But we asked people to self-identify based on race and gender. And I will tell you that when we asked the question, does my company act with integrity?
[00:16:37] About 44% of the white people said yes. And about 74% of the leaders said, yes, the numbers were half of that for, for non-white people and, and half that for females. And so not only are we not taking on those ghosts, not only are we but are also we left leaving the past unresolved, we’re hiding from the present.
[00:17:08] We, don’t want to face reality. I mean, and the data shows that it’s like the other funny thing is if we, and we knew that going into the question, if we asked 20 people for their definition of integrity within the corporate investor, We get 19 different answers, and that’s within the book.
[00:17:28] That’s why we’re asking people leaders to not only take a look within but, but then to start actually defining what their values are and not just saying, oh, well, one of our values is integrity. Well, what does that mean? Because if we’re getting 19 different answers to the define integrity question, probably pretty important to define what that means within these walls.
[00:17:52] Right? We don’t want leaders to throw another poster on the wall saying, well, here’s our mission, and here are our values. We want them to live those values. We want them to define them and, and then align their company to them. And, and only then can we really get to the bigger issues?
[00:18:12] They’re not just playing in the world at work, but society in general that only then can we really put good first.
[00:18:25] Mark Anthony Dyson: There are unresolved issues in the past. They only resort, many of them rowing a resort to one thing. And as that’s the forced-to-past on the present, it is similar to putting new wine in old wineskins.
[00:18:41] So to speak, it only is going to have disastrous and it has been disastrous for those companies. And just like my last guests had talked about is that, if you’re still asking for data the conversation’s already over because I think we had the data, we had the eye test there are enough Pigeons carrying messages stating that, that this way of doing business, it’s not profitable. There’s no way to reconcile the relationships that have been burnt because of it. Only, but say that, Hey, it’s just time to start something new and start doing something that’s really going to cost you something. Cause that’s whenever big companies or companies and period, they don’t want to apply something.
[00:19:33] They want to throw money at it and think that that’s going to resolve it. And unfortunately, that doesn’t work. We know that doesn’t work with the homeless. Right. I gave at the office, right in front of you, the person’s suffering and that doesn’t solve anything.
[00:19:48] Mark S Babbitt: Well, not only mark, do we want to throw money at the problem and by the way, HR has been guilty of this for decades, right. We don’t actually fix our diversity problem. We just, we just start yet another program that that’s going to take on the issue. Right. It doesn’t do anything, but it makes us look good. Right. And right. And so we invest in this program.
[00:20:09] We don’t, we don’t just invest money though. We, we invest our influence when a CEO gets up in front of the company and says declares from his soapbox, that from now on diversity matters. But then the next day, something that shows that that’s not really true happens, then that big speech is now just a podium of lies.
[00:20:35] And it didn’t, it didn’t help us get to the truth. Right. It was passionate, was powerful, maybe influential, but it’s only influential and tells the next instance of. If something bad happening is tolerated and, with the other, the other, the other part of that too, can be true. Also, mark, if we say, if that, if that CEO gets up and says zero-tolerance policy starting right now, right.
[00:21:06] And how many times have you heard that speech the next morning? Somebody displays a behavior that is counter to the speech that was given yesterday. Well, if that person has walked out the door right now, right now, like, no, we just said yesterday that we were not tolerating disrespectful behavior of any kind in this company you’ve been warned by HR four times already.
[00:21:30] You heard this speech yesterday, this is your last day. This is your last minute at this company. And they’re walked out now, people from, from the most veteran employees to the newest intern, now they look at that and go. Wow, that, that now that was powerful. Your words are powerful, but the action that I just witnessed or heard about that’s culture-changing and that’s the kind of change the sustainable, that’s the kind of change that’s real. It isn’t just the proverbial lip service it’s no, he, he meant it. She meant it. We’re, we’re changing, starting right now.
[00:22:08] Mark Anthony Dyson: And that’s what I mean by and that example. Perfect. What I mean by it’s going to cost you something it’s going to cost you. Maybe people who you consider that were good workers.
[00:22:21] Who do bad things and say bad things to people and the, and you’re risking that it’s really not a risk. It’s really, it has really leverage in the long-term because you can get somebody who will actually do good and come in to replace that person. But ultimately people don’t because they’re, they get sentimental and they think, well, he really didn’t mean it.
[00:22:48] And they didn’t mean it. We didn’t mean it. And you know, we can name plenty of companies that do that on a regular basis. Even from the outlet on a larger scale in excusing the behavior, that’s contrary to what they’re supposed to be standing for. And unfortunately, they let their guards down and let
[00:23:10] Mark S Babbitt:
[00:23:10] Well, that’s, that’s where the lack of accountability kills us, Mark, and if, if you say something, but then don’t back it up. You’re not holding yourself accountable. If, if a leader says something and then you get that, oh, he didn’t mean it. Right. He didn’t mean to touch her. He didn’t mean to make her feel uncomfortable. That’s just the way he’s a physical guy, right?
[00:23:38] Then, then you’re, you’re just enabling, you’re tolerating that behavior that makes people feel uncomfortable. And, and in the process, you’re not building a great culture. You’re actually tearing it down. If one of our values is psychological safety, right? We, we want people to know they are safe here physically and emotionally.
[00:24:00] We, we want this to be a safe place to talk and to work and to function and to grow. And then you have somebody that’s, that’s not enabling that value, not, not, not demonstrating the behaviors that would show us that value is important to him or to her and in this reported. And then nothing happens about that.
[00:24:25] Well, now you’re tolerating those behaviors. You’re setting a standard, you’re setting a precedent that says what we say, we care about that, but clearly, we don’t. Right.
[00:24:36] Mark Anthony Dyson: And even if you take a long extended time to do it, what does that say to your peers that you take into?
[00:24:44] Mark S Babbitt: Yeah, you’re too late.
[00:24:45]It used to be my dad. You and I’ve talked about this mark. My dad ran lumber mills in small towns in Oregon when I was a kid and we moved 14 different times before he went to high school. One of the things I, I learned from him just is, is he would take action, like right.
[00:25:03] If somebody was being disrespectful, disrespecting another employee disrespecting based on rank disrespecting the company, that person was walked out the door right now. And somehow we got away from that. Somehow we all, and now we got to send them to HR. Well, there it goes six more months of tolerating that behavior while we, while we retrain it.
[00:25:27] Yes. There are examples where we want to mentor somebody. We want to redirect behaviors, right. But that has to happen in a week, not a year that that’s happened in six days, not six months. And, and you’re absolutely right by not taking action. We were showing that at least for now, for the foreseeable future, That person we’re not going to hold him accountable.
[00:25:55] We’re not, we’re not, we’re not gonna make her responsible for the word she used at that meeting. We’re gonna let her say, well, I was just having a bad day. I’m not really like that. Well, you’ve not really been like that, like 12 times in the last two months. So maybe you are really like that.
[00:26:13] And maybe we, we need to find a different culture for you. And these are the kinds of things that, that, as you said, that the carrier pigeons are distracting all around us. The signals are all around us. The messages are circles and circles and we’re, we’re just not paying attention to it. And it, and by the way, it’s not just the leaders.
[00:26:34] It’s also, candidates. How many times have we seen here comes the job offer? And boy, I really got to pay my bills are I really want to get my own place again. And it’s been a long time since I got, since COVID hit and I lost my job and, and we see those shiny pennies, but we didn’t.
[00:26:51] We don’t stare at those carrier pitches looking right up at us, like going, don’t do this, don’t do it. We’re not, we’re not, we’re not aware of enough of the impact of bad company culture has on us psychologically. It’s, it can, it can tear us down. And there are literally millions of stories of people that were very good at what they do.
[00:27:14] And at one time really liked the company that they’re working for, but it’s only been three years now and they can’t wait to leave. They can’t wait to leave. Right. And now the pandemic has given them the excuse they need right now. And that’s why we have this max us employees. And that’s why so many jobs are opening.
[00:27:33] Mark Anthony Dyson: They’re not just looking at what employers have said. They’re looking at what they have done. And the history tells everything that the needs know, and this informative enough for them to, to make a decision that I’d rather wait and stretch out my budget than to be miserable for a long time to come.
[00:27:54] So people are making that the book is Good Comes First. We’re looking at a late September, early October release. Mark, any other parting words that you have before we wrap it
[00:28:06] Mark S Babbitt: I’m going to say the same thing your last guest said, which I thought was prophetic. Just keep doing what you’re doing. And since you and I went down and started down this path, there’s been literally thousands of, of people that have just come and gone.
[00:28:19] That, that, that hasn’t been there for, for people who need the help you give. So I want to thank you for being there and I want to implore you just to keep it up.
[00:28:28] Mark Anthony Dyson: Well, thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Coming from you. That is an honor and a privilege and think the rest of you, I’m gonna sign off peace in the valley of love.
[00:28:36] Get the book. Good comes first. So thank you, Mark Babbitt, follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter. Wherever else you can. And also visit his platforms you turn and a work IQ. Thank you very much. You all have a good day, mark. Thank you.