100 episodes

Hosted by Scott McInnes, founder of Inspiring Change, we talk to guests about how really good internal comms, engagement and leadership all contribute to 'Building Better Cultures'. We tend to shy away from theory and focus more on really practical advice, great stories and best-practice.

About Inspiring Change
At Inspiring Change we help our clients to connect their people to their strategies, their change programmes, their purposes and to each other. We do that by focusing on strategic internal communications, employee engagement and leadership.

For more, see www.inspiringchange.ie

** IF YOU'VE ENJOYED THIS, PLEASE LEAVE A SHORT REVIEW**

Building Better Cultures Inspiring Change

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 16 Ratings

Hosted by Scott McInnes, founder of Inspiring Change, we talk to guests about how really good internal comms, engagement and leadership all contribute to 'Building Better Cultures'. We tend to shy away from theory and focus more on really practical advice, great stories and best-practice.

About Inspiring Change
At Inspiring Change we help our clients to connect their people to their strategies, their change programmes, their purposes and to each other. We do that by focusing on strategic internal communications, employee engagement and leadership.

For more, see www.inspiringchange.ie

** IF YOU'VE ENJOYED THIS, PLEASE LEAVE A SHORT REVIEW**

    104 | Future of Work - What Now? | Kevin Empey

    104 | Future of Work - What Now? | Kevin Empey

    Episode Summary: 
    On this episode of Building Better Cultures we’re checking in with Kevin Empey, Managing Director of WorkMatters, who first shared thoughts about pandemic fall-out back in March 2021 (Ep 61)  
    Kevin details various models going forward and where the priorities must lie for leaders invested in cultivating agility as well as sustainability.

    The need for onsite collaboration and innovation is real, but so are the advantages virtual workers have seen in skipping their commutes. Are hybrid solutions a brilliant compromise or the source of confusing mixed messages?

    Finding the right balance will require leaders to develop experiential metrics as well as communications that resonate with the hearts and minds of employees. “We have an opportunity to reset workplace culture and reaffirm it,” says Kevin. “And also maybe to lose some of those values that we said were important, but in fact actually are not.”

    Employee experience and servant leadership loom large on the new Work 4.0 horizon – one ideally based in fulsome, authentic values and transparency. What signals is your workplace culture sending in this time of transition?  
    Key Takeaways: 
    Pandemic overnight transformed old, arguably broken models of workplace culture. 

    What’s coming next? Organisational culture has been infused with a complexity of choice, modes of operation, challenges and opportunities.  Should leaders embrace flexibility or prioritize certainty? Kevin advocates for “freedom within a frame,” providing guardrails while preserving a critical measure of flexibility. 

    Workplace culture has been forever redefined by the upsides that employees have experienced in working remotely. There is an element of questioning that makes directives less easily rolled out than in the past. 

    Change management today requires more intentionality than ever, with leadership mapping communications to employee hearts and minds.  

    Office productivity and meaningful collaboration have a bar to meet. Employees no longer want to default to long commutes just to check the box. 

    What’s does Work 4.0 look like? Kevin sees two intersecting horizons:  The 2022 Agenda: Helping leaders and managers navigate the transition to new work models that are sustainable and effective today. 

    The Long-Term Agenda: Visioning objectives, strategies and cultural values that will drive greater adaptivity and agility moving into the future.  Kevin believes several factors that will be determinative of corporate fates:  Whether flexible, forward-looking models for performance management, rewards, development, recruitment and succession are adopted. 

    Whether leaders put in place processes adapted to new workplace cultures.  Whether Future of Work strategy is leveraged to examine and redefine who, how, why and whether certain workplace processes remain viable.    Whether agile cultural, leadership and employee experience strategies are established and sustainable in the long term.  Advice for maximizing organizational opportunity at this juncture:

    Implement coaching and HR support to foster servant leadership.

    Adopt strategies that thoughtfully reflect corporate values and culture.

    Acknowledge and address leadership vulnerability in the face of unknown variables and change.

    Balance open communications and a human-centered approach with a more directive, command-and-control leadership style where indicated.  Moving ahead cultural values are center stage, revealing truths and challenging received wisdom about what works and doesn’t for employees across demographics.
      Leaders are faced with a unique opportunity to undertake a robust assessment of the values that underpin their cultures and will shape workplace health going into the future.  About Kevin Empey: 
    Kevin is the founder of WorkMatters, a leadership and organisation development consulting fi

    • 45 min
    103 | Hybrid Working: Is it Really the Best of Both Worlds? | Andrew Bartlow

    103 | Hybrid Working: Is it Really the Best of Both Worlds? | Andrew Bartlow

    Episode Summary: 

    Organisations of all sizes are trying to define parameters for today's new workplace cultures – whether remote, on-site or in-between. Host, Scott McInnes, invites a people management expert Andrew Bartlow, the Founder and Managing Partner at the People Leader Accelerator, to share his 25+ years of expertise. Andrew shares practical tips and tools leaders can implement when establishing healthy workplace cultures. He dives into detail on a critical strategy –– clarity –– and its importance in engaging and motivating your organization to pursue corporate goals. 
    Thank you to our sponsor, Workvivo, the communications and collaboration platform that provides seamless digital integration for your hybrid or traditional workplace. 
    If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider clicking here to rate and review it! 
    Key Takeaways: 
    1. Leaders need to stay flexible and iterative with new workplace models while at the same time communicating solid, dependable plans. 
    2. Change management via tiny steps can be disruptive. Andrew advises "ripping off the bandage" and carefully considering decisions to accelerate adoption and minimize fatigue. 
    3. Internal communications are the core much that happens within organizations, but rather than dropping by a desk, it's about dropping in on chat or Slack. 
    4. Determine the best modes of communication. What works most effectively at each level of the organization? 
    5. Learning through listening (and osmosis) isn't gone. It's just moved from the hallway or cafeteria to social media platforms. 
    6. Create dedicated corporate retreat spaces where "planful" human interaction occurs. 
    7. Execute meaningful, consistent communications and check-ins at all levels. 
    8. Andrew sees new mediums as potentially impactful alternatives to the written word: Podcasts, short audios, and video messaging.  
    9. To retain and recruit talent in a highly competitive market, organizations must offer remote options, fair compensation, and competent and humane management. 
    10. Andrew believes the No. 1 thing to build a thriving workplace culture is clarity, including well-defined organizational priorities and comprehensive and comprehensible messaging.  
    About Andrew: 

    Andrew helps organisations design people-management practices that support success. Leveraging 25+ years of Human Resources and Talent experience within the most highly regarded HR functions globally, he provides organisational advisory services and mentoring for HR leaders.  
    Website: www.peopleleaderaccelerator.com
    Andrew @LinkedIn 



    About Scott: 

    Learn more about Scott McInnes, your host and the Founder and Director of Inspiring Change, by clicking here. 
    About Workvivo: 

    If you're struggling with communications in new hybrid workplace conditions, click here to explore Workvivo, a collaboration platform that offers seamless digital integration. 

    • 36 min
    102 | Knitting Remote Into Workplace Culture | Darren Murph

    102 | Knitting Remote Into Workplace Culture | Darren Murph

    Episode Summary:  Darren Murph is an organisational architect who specialises in and knows what works – and what doesn’t. Based on 15 years at GitLab, most recently as Head of Remote, he has all kinds of concrete advice for organisations trying to figure out the correct configuration for their individually distributed workplace models.  
    Some C-suiters are reluctant to abandon old office-based operations, emphasizing proximity over business results. But looking ahead at the role and impacts of organisational design, Darren believes the forward-thinking, progressive leaders (and ultimately the most successful enterprises) will embrace flexibility, learning and a healthy redefinition of what it means to … build better cultures. 
    You can check out GitLab’s playbook, filled with information about all things remote, here. 
     If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider clicking here to rate, review and follow it! 
     
    Key Takeaways: 
    GitLab was founded as an all-remote company and today has 1,500 team members in more than 67+ countries with no brick-and-mortar offices. 


      What to keep in mind when getting started with a remote work design: 


      Shift your mindset from where people work to how people work. 


      Actively implement programs that combat proximity bias. Leadership can communicate that there is no advantage in working at the office by themselves working from home. 


      Audit workflows across your organisation and ask: Will this work if everyone is distributed, or do they need to be in an office? Then build out a changelog based on those jobs that require an office and reconceive them. 


      Making remote work viable across the enterprise builds resiliency. 


      All-remote or all co-located workplace environments are the easiest to administer because the playing field is even. Hybrid, by contrast, can quickly devolve into the worst of all scenarios with proximity bias and jockeying. 


      The easiest way to hedge against proximity bias is to keep senior leaders outside the office by default. Remote work is a top-down proposition and requires conviction. 


      Agility is key, and the ability to test, learn, and iterate. People and operations can be modulated based on proactive experimentation. 


      Darren references research compiled by the workplace communications platform Slack that reveals interesting insights into the impacts on middle management of the overnight adoption of remote work and the current lack of response on the part of leadership. 


      Writers Take Note: The most important thing a company can do is ensure that all employees have strong written communication skills. Effective storytelling will be far more influential in remote environments that don’t rely on or reward charisma and talk. Scott recommends some related reading from a previous guest, John Simmons, author of "We, Me, Them and It." 


      On Diversity: Hire a diverse group of recruiters, watch your staffing demographic shift, and broaden by extension. 

      Parting thoughts for leaders at companies of all sizes: 


    Build the right workplace culture and ethics into your business model. 


    Fully embrace a people-first orientation that recognizes the power of uplifting employees with empathy and flexibility. 


    Take advantage of the journey and opportunity to get honest, embracing the importance of values fit – not just a culture fit. 

    About Darren: 
    Named an “oracle of remote work” by CNBC, Darren serves as GitLab’s Head of Remote. He is a visionary in organisational design, leading at the intersection of people, culture, operations, inclusivity, marketing, employer branding and communication. 
    Contact/Follow Darren: 
    About Darren/GitLab  @LinkedIn  @Twitter 
    About Scott:

    Learn more about Scott McInnes, your host and the Founder and Director of Inspiring Change, by clicking here.

    About Workvivo:

    I

    • 49 min
    101 | Driving Sustainability Through Employees, with James Hartley

    101 | Driving Sustainability Through Employees, with James Hartley

    Episode Summary 
      Big corporate initiatives designed to transform workplace cultures are often top-down affairs, this week’s guest has taken a different approach to integrate sustainability across Swiss Re, a global financial services provider. James Hartley, a global HR Leader at Swiss Re, shares with us the nuts and bolts of their CO2NetZero programme, a rallying point for climate activism that has ignited ongoing interest and creativity among employees around the world.    
    James has maintained the momentum by staying communicative and open to changes as well as by fostering storytelling that resonates on a personal level. The results? Many measurable quantitative and qualitative impacts, large and small, as well as an interactive app that more than 4,000 employees have downloaded to track, learn about and better understand the ways in which environmental healing starts with the kind of individual daily efforts we can all make — if we know how.  
     
    Key Takeaways 
     
    James unpacks Swiss Re’s corporate DNA, which fuels a commitment to sustainability:  A purpose-led culture whose core mission includes empowering employees to help make the world more resilient. Climate change and reaching a net-zero footprint is a central corporate value.  Does micro-change make an actual difference? Absolutely — when people band together to take individual actions that build community and truly add up through sheer volume. 

    Swiss Re’s CO2NetZero programme is iterative — meant to be co-created, fluid and responsive to feedback from across the enterprise. 

    Inviting employees at every level of the organisation to participate not just in the execution but the conception of an ESG programme is key. By building cross-functional teams, staging workshops and taking ongoing feedback, leadership secured tremendous buy-in.  Internal champions play an important role by spreading the word and engaging others. 

    Narrative Benefits: Out of Swiss Re’s company-wide commitment to sustainability has come a wealth of anecdotes, both emotional and practical, that connect to the “why.” 
    Sharing personal stories opens up emotional connections in even “right-brained” financial services types, reinforcing the overall corporate commitment to climate activism. 
    Swiss Re’s sustainability programme is built on trust, not micromanagement. James believes employees feel deputized and motivated to take action independently. 
      Bottom Line Stats:   130,000 individual acts of climate activism.  1,500 tonnes of direct removal through carbon certificates. 
    A cumulative direct removal of thousands of tonnes globally. 
      Maintaining Momentum:   James fosters ongoing engagement by cultivating connections, very often through constantly refreshed shared stories and interactive tools on the app.  The platform is constantly refreshed with new series of challenges, education and information.  

    Regional champions are deputized to run with locally relevant ideas. 
      Recommended first steps for companies of any size that want to make a concerted commitment to sustainability:   Start a conversation. Don’t be intimidated by being the need to be something big, shiny and already fully formed. 

    Create a space for individuals to bring their ideas and express their creativity through action.  No matter the size of your organisation, recognize that every single action contributes to a joint movement that drives bigger global change.   
    If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider clicking here to rate and review it! 
     
    About Scott 
     
    Learn more about Scott McInnes, your host and the Founder and Director of Inspiring Change, by clicking here. 
     
    About James 
     
    A transformational and purpose-led People & Culture Executive, James has extensive global HR experience.  
     
    James on LinkedIn -  @LinkedIn  Website -

    • 38 min
    100 | Values Work When They're Authentic, Measurable and Sustained, with Sandy Cross

    100 | Values Work When They're Authentic, Measurable and Sustained, with Sandy Cross

    Episode Summary: Are you ready to integrate a values-based component into your corporate ethos? It’s a big commitment, but one with tremendous ROI at every level. On this episode of Building Better Cultures, Scott talks with Sandy Cross, CPO in the Professional Golf Association of America (PGA).    
    But for it to work, the effort must be for real. Without buy-in from top leadership – a deep understanding and commitment to sustained change – don’t bother, says Sandy. The PGA’s working group based its program on feedback from up and down the organization, and leaders have deployed it without equivocation. Learn what elements are key to upping your DEI game and how your workplace culture’s frame of mind benefits when a clearly articulated corporate values set is kept front of mind.    
    Key Takeaways 
    Mission-driven to values-based: The PGA culture embraced its mission deeply but Sandy advocated for more attention to the “how” of executing that agenda.  
      The PGA developed a playbook to support four people-centered pillar values – each of which includes visible, observable behaviours:   Have each other’s back.  Practice gratitude. Get better every day. Start with clarity.

    Sandy’s initiatives have bolstered retention by fostering the flexible, culturally connected hybrid workplace that Millennials (especially) demand.   The PGA used a bottom-up approach to define values, based on the outcome of a working group of nine employees selected by peers.  
      Keeping It Real: Sandy’s values-driven agenda emphasizes measurable, behaviors and actions. Having well-defined values gives a chance for difficult conversations because they provide a shared language, foundation and understanding. 
      Committed Deployment: The PGA’s approach is holistic, using values as a lens starting at the hiring process through onboarding and annual values-based (as separate from performance-based) evaluations. 
      Opportunity for Growth: Team members who “get it” can serve as coaches, mentoring and encouraging open communication among team members.  
      Watch Out for Weaponization: There can be friction because values-based culture doesn’t promise that everyone gets what they want every time. 
      Powerful Goal-Setting: Each PGA individual on an annual basis must identify one of the shared values they intend to prioritize for improvement and articulate what success would look like. What’s the desired behavior or outcome? The best first steps for organizations undertaking a “values journey”: 

    Talk to the leadership team. Are they ready on every level to embark on – and stay committed to – the journey? 

    Support and embody the mission throughout the enterprise. 

    The program has to be embedded across the full employee lifecycle.
    If it’s not going to be a deep, sustained commitment, say Sandy, skip it. False starts, shallow or hollow efforts are definitively a step in the wrong direction. 
      About Scott 
    Learn more about Scott McInnes, your host and the Founder and Director of Inspiring Change, by clicking here. 
     
    About Sandy 
    As Chief People Officer for the PGA of American with responsibility for DEI, Sandy’s career journey has been about building purpose-driven, values-based and people-centric cultures.  Learn more here: 
     
    Website: www.pga.com  Sandy @Twitter  Sandy @LinkedIn   
    About Workvivo 
    If you’re struggling with communications in this time of new hybrid workplace conditions, click here to explore Workvivo, a collaboration platform that offers seamless digital integration. 

    • 38 min
    99 | The Pandemic Pushed Mental Health Out of the Workplace Shadows | Niamh Fitzpatrick

    99 | The Pandemic Pushed Mental Health Out of the Workplace Shadows | Niamh Fitzpatrick

    Episode Summary

    If we didn’t already know it, the pandemic laid bare the fact that, as humans, we inevitably bring our whole selves to our jobs - including a range of emotions. This episode of Building Better Cultures focuses on mental health, which has taken center stage in the workplace and softened the separation between personal and professional. 
    Our guest, Niamh Fitzpatrick, a psychologist who works with business and sportspeople alike  The pandemic deprived us of the ability to congregate among our favourite tribes (sports, entertainment, extended family, volunteer activities) but it also delivered a critical pause — a chance to get honest with ourselves and assess our priorities.  
    Our workplaces can be a source of the safety and acceptance on which humans thrive, particularly when leaders (themselves humans in need of support) foster cultures of openness and psychological safety. 
    This episode offers advice about how to recognize and respond to workers in distress; the role of communication and empathy in fostering healthy, productive workplace cultures; and how to bring out the best in teams by seeing, accepting and supporting the very real impacts of mental health. 
    Key Takeaways
    Humans are tribal by nature and we seek out professional, social and familial groups with which to identify, share values and protection as well as create accountability.

    Why the pandemic has deeply impacted mental health: Daily tribal connections (sports, entertainment, social networks and other diversions/rituals) were suddenly completely shut down. Covid19 produced heightened emotions and vulnerability in people across the spectrum. The pause induced by lockdown afforded people a chance to notice feelings. 

    Because we are humans first, we bring mental health challenges with us into the workplace; or we pay the price for suppressing them.

      Teams do not perform to their highest capacity when mental health is being denied or ignored. Successful leaders encourage their teams to express feelings within the workplace context.

    Executives, too, are humans impacted psychologically by the same stresses with which they are helping employees cope.
      Leaders who want to be alert and astute about mental health impacts should: Tune in and determine their employees’ psychological baseline (even if only via Zoom): Are individual workers typically late, harried, prepared, unprepared or overwhelmed? Dial-up managerial skills and take note of the status quo. Watch for any changes in effect and then follow up with questions and concerns.

    Four pillars to protect leaders from burnout: (1) Sleep/rest (2) fresh air/movement (3) nutrition/hydration and (4) connection.
      Effective leaders give workers permission to process their emotions.

    Niamh’s Top Takeaway: An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour. The sooner authentic mental health challenges are validated, the sooner we can process emotions and take steps to move on.  About Scott

    Learn more about Scott McInnes, your host and the Founder and Director of Inspiring Change, by clicking here.
    About Niamh

    Niamh Fitzpatrick is a psychologist who works in the area of peak performance in sport and business, helping sportspeople and business leaders with performing under pressure, confidence in business, resilience in the face of setbacks, team cohesion and corporate wellness. She also works with people around loss and grief and wrote ‘Tell Me the Truth About Loss,' following the tragic death of her sister, Daire Fitzpatrick, an Irish Coastguard pilot in 2017.    
    Website: http://www.niamhfitzpatrickpsychology.ie
    Twitter: @NFitzPsychology 
    About Workvivo

    If you’re struggling with communications in this time of new hybrid workplace conditions, click here to explore Workvivo, a collaboration platform that offers seamless digital integration. 

    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

Jacqui Coyle ,

Inspiring

Loved episode 42 where it is called out that Leaders have to adapt to change by adapting their leadership style. It is amazing what can be done and how ways of thinking and working can change, and so quickly. This crisis has shown that we all need to be more human. Thanks.

dermotn ,

Must listen

Highly recommend. It is my Must Listen each week.

ObservationsOn ,

Great Commuting Learning

I’ve really been enjoying the Face Forward Podcast series so far. Great to listen and learn on the go from such a broad range of people. Especially like Ep11, Ep15, Ep17 and Ep21 so far. A great way to shake up one’s thinking and hit the office energised!

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