Unlocking Resilient Cultures With Tonille Miller

Hello, welcome to another episode of Unlocked. I'm Skot, and today we're going to talk about unlocking the potential of people through resiliency. And we're doing that today with Tonille Miller. Now, Tonille has a pretty epic story to tell so I want you to listen to her story. Just listen to that. After that, you'll be hooked and you'll want to know more. Just commit to that part, and I guarantee you'll want to hear more. Tonille has so much value to add in this conversation, you are going to walk away with something that you can apply to your life in regards to resiliency and how we build that within the workplace.

She's from a company called EXT. It's her company, Experience and Transformation is what she talks about. And that's what she loves to teach. She loves to empower people. She loves to coach people through that process.

As a coach, I am totally engaged in this conversation. She has so much stuff that I want to learn from her that I can instill in my clients, and I know that you'll get something out of this too. Here we go. Tonille, we're going to launch this thing and get ready. Here we go.

Tonille, it is wonderful to have you on the show finally.

Tonille Miller:

Thanks for having me, Skot. I appreciate it.

Skot Waldron:

This is going to be good because you talk a lot about the stuff I love to talk about, and that's unlocking people. And you have a lot of good things we're going to touch on in here, exciting things about your book that you have writing and talk about those principles. But I want to start off with your story. First of all, where's your name come from, Tonille? Because I haven't seen that before, so there you go. I just want to get a little glimpse in that. And then how did you get to where you are now? What's your background? Why you doing what you're doing?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. Thank you, Skot. The name is interesting. Everybody always thinks it's a family or an ethnic background thing. It's really not. My last name is Miller, obviously very common, and so my parents were just like, "Well, we really want to give you and your brother very original first names." My brother's name is Vernon. That's very old school and original. My name is Tonille. And it just happened that way.

SKOT WALDRON:

There you go. Well, do you have pressure now to name your kids something interesting at some point? You have children?

TONILLE MILLER:

No, no, not so much. No, I don't have any. No, there's no pressure there. Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

No pressure?

TONILLE MILLER:

No.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. You're just going to Kelly or Skot.

TONILLE MILLER:

It's just going to be something really boring like Jane is what I was thinking. I don't know. Maybe.

SKOT WALDRON:

Just do it. Just do it.

TONILLE MILLER:

I'll just do it.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah. Okay, so give us some background then on you. How'd you get to where you are?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. Well, I grew up in Minnesota, as we were talking about a little bit ago. And I think it's interesting because looking back now, and just like with most people, you look back in your career once you've had a few years under you and you realize, oh, I see how this fits together and how that fits together and why that made that work and all that stuff. And so it's not always that way on the front end of things, but I see it now.

And so I say that because I started out, spent a lot of time in the large consulting firms, both client facing and internally, meaning delivering those services for the senior partners of some of those big firms, which is really interesting. It's a very different lens, if you can imagine. I did that for quite a number of years. And I've also done... I had my own executive coaching practice for a while when I first moved to New York. I've also worked in a large global multinational. That was really an interesting experience.

And I also most recently started my own firm a few years ago called EXT, Experience and Transformation, because what I was seeing over and over the course of my work, which is really at that intersection of the change in transformation work on one hand, and then also the employee experience, culture, HR type of work on the other hand. I would always be straddling that fence. And what I found was that I would always be... When I was doing the change work, I would always still take the lens of the HR/employee experience because you can't do change with people without taking their lens, without having your head in their shoe... Or putting yourself in their shoes. And I also would approach the HR and the employee experience work with a change management lens because you can't drive any program or do anything different in an organization unless you're using change management principles and things like that. And so I thought that was interesting because usually you'll see somebody in one or the other, you don't see somebody that does both or takes both approach.

Anyways, that's why I started the firm because I found that a lot of the work I was doing was in one of those camps or the other, but I was also seeing a very holistic view of things and seeing that it's not just a new platform we're implementing, it's not just a new HR program over here, it's like the organization is a system, and I saw how all the pieces fit together. And I saw that because of all my experience. As a employee engagement consultant, as all the other different roles that I've done, I got to see the different windows into the organization and all the different levers that can be pulled and that impact each other on those types of projects and in any problem, essentially, that an organization has.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. That's pretty good coo.

TONILLE MILLER:

It's a lot.

SKOT WALDRON:

No, that's a cool lens to look at things, to flip that. I'm always wondering what's your unique angle? How do you perceive yourself different from the other people? It comes a lot from my brand strategy work that I used to do. But it's that angle that makes it interesting. It's like, oh, okay, that's interesting.

Let's talk about change for a second. As far as change is concerned... I've been talking about change a lot with some different people, and over the last three days was presenting on change. And I'm curious, what is it that you see that people have the hardest time with when it comes to change?

TONILLE MILLER:

Individually or in an organization?

SKOT WALDRON:

Organization wise.

TONILLE MILLER:

Okay. Yep, which does include the individual, but I ask because I always like to bring examples down to the day-to-day practical on the individual level. If you're trying to go on a diet or something, that's a different change than when you're in a corporation and your boss is telling you to use Salesforce now. Very different.

I think there's a lot of things, and if I was going to narrow it down, I think one of the biggest things that I see as an issue in organization is that leaders and people who are trying to drive change are often doing change to people, not with people. And that's the problem. That's where that disconnect comes in. Especially because an organization, everybody is an adult, for the most part. If you're telling any intelligent adult to do something, you need to give reasons, you need to make it very clear, you need to give them some sort of ownership over that change with you because there's a really big problem that comes in otherwise, and we see it over and over again, and that is reactance. That's a psychological principle that basically says, "Hey, I'm an adult. I really value having some level of control over my life and autonomy. And if you're going to try to do change to me, I'm going to react. My inner rebel is going to come out. Even if it's something that I wanted to do anyways, my inner rebel is going to come out and I'm going to say no and push back. And there'll be all sorts of resistance just because you told me I had to." That's probably the biggest hurdle that I see.

SKOT WALDRON:

That defiance, right?

TONILLE MILLER:

Mm-hmm, yep.

SKOT WALDRON:

That comes from us being kids.

TONILLE MILLER:

It is. We're all five on the inside.

SKOT WALDRON:

Is that it? Is it the five? Is that what we are? Okay.

TONILLE MILLER:

We're all two or two years old or five years old, somewhere in there on the inside.

SKOT WALDRON:

Somewhere in there, somewhere in there. That's really good. And a lot of things I was looking at aligns with that same thing. You've got probably 25% of the population or so, one out of four people that are really driven to move, move, move, future oriented versus the present oriented that just feel like victims of change but that take on that mentality of this is happening to me, and I was not part of this process. And even if you're asking me questions, I don't really feel like you care that much about what I have to say, I think you're just checking a box. And then you're also making me feel like I just poured cold water all over your ideas because I'm asking you some clarifying questions, right?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yep.

SKOT WALDRON:

There's a lot of that comes into play. But I love that perspective, that reactionary thing. That's really smart how you think about that, because it can do a lot of damage inside cultures, right? When that's happening.

TONILLE MILLER:

It can. And that really can apply to anything too because, again, that's the reason why... Because if you think about it, everyone says, "Oh, people are afraid of change, people hate change." People don't hate change. Think of all the changes in your life that you choose to have happen that you like. Oh, I choose to buy this. I choose to get married. I choose to move. We love change. We're doing change all the time, but it's change that we choose, and that's a very big difference. And that's where that reactance piece comes in.

SKOT WALDRON:

So good. Yeah, change that we choose is much more fun. Well, for some of us, I guess. Some of us are like, "Yeah, change, let's do it." And they're adrenaline junkies. But most of the time, it's like that power, that control is really important.

But I think you hit on something else too where you're... this balance of giving people responsibility, but also authority to make decisions and to actually do something with it, right?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yep.

SKOT WALDRON:

Because we give responsibility, but we don't give authority, then we're just disempowering people. Have you seen some of that inside organizations?

TONILLE MILLER:

Definitely. I think about this. There's actually a chapter in my book that I'm writing on this, and it's really all about empowering people. Mot just a fluffy word, but literally there's autonomy, there's accountability, there's all those things, but if you have autonomy... Or sorry, autonomy without the accountability, then things aren't going to get done. It's going to be wild, wild west. But if you have the accountability without the autonomy, to your point, the authority, then things are also not going to happen in the right way.

And so to your point, you have to really give them... I think one of the main solutions to this is giving folks guardrails. Let's say the CEO or any other leader wants to drive a change or implement a new strategy, whatever it is. Well outline what that strategy is and why? What's the important piece behind it? Why it's exciting. Hopefully you found some benefits for the end users in there and you pepper them in so people actually even want to listen to you. And then provide some guiding principles or guardrails as far as what's important about it? But then let people own it. Let them have the authority to drive it, to own it, push back, that sort of thing. That's really, really powerful.

SKOT WALDRON:

But that's so scary for leaders. That's like, oh, they may not... I want to go this, but there's some jeopardy. If somebody puts some roadblocks up, I'm going to have to answer questions, I'm going to have to come up with some details, I'm going to have to convince them. And I just want to do it. I just want to go and do my thing. When you look at the examples of change that have gone well versus change that have not gone well, change that was managed well versus change that was not managed well, what do you think is the big difference?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. I like to think about this as change being led well versus change being managed well, because if we're managing change, we're micromanaging it in a way and we're doing some of those principles we talked about, which are not the helpful piece. You want to lead it. Again, get out in front. Here's the guiding principles. Here's the why?

The number one thing is, I think, if I'm a leader driving change, I need to get very clear on why we're doing this, how it fits into the business strategy, how it connects to the other dots, maybe how we go to market, whatever that might be. People see it as a very strategic move or a very strategic change, it's not just another platform I have to learn, it's not just another policy I have to abide by. It's like, this is very strategic, it's very targeted. Here's how it benefits you, here's how you can get involved here.

And the other part too is really outlining exactly how that change, telling people ahead of time, how it's going to actually impact them. If you have a change manager that comes in and does this work for you, they'll be asking questions and understanding what those impacts are going to be way before the change ever happens because you need to tell people ahead of time, very concretely what exactly is going to change.

One of the big problems that happens when people know change is coming or they hear a rumor about it is they'll start making up their own stories. And they're not ever good stories because, in a lack of information, their brain will just make up whatever it can to fill in that gap there. And so you want to get out in front of changes like this and sense of not just why we're doing it, but how we're doing it, what the roadmap looks like, exactly how it's impacting you.

And by the way, there's that very important co-creation step, before we launch any of it, get some of these people together. Do it with people. Get them together to give you feedback, say, "These are my pain points. This is where it's not going to work, this is where there's going to be friction," all these things. Get this ahead of time.

And to your point earlier, don't just ask, make sure you're taking some action on it. And if there's a few things you can't take action on, fine, but come back and let people know why you aren't and what you're doing instead. And so really getting them in to build it with you. And that is a wonderful tool because not only are they going to surface points of friction, resistance, et cetera, ahead of time so you can get out in front of them and address them proactively instead of wondering why they didn't do the change later, but also, you're going to have a better solution and a better change, because they're closer to the work so they know more than some CEO or some senior leader of how this will touch the client, how this will touch the business, that sort of thing. You need to really be building things with people and letting them drive it with you.

SKOT WALDRON:

Very good. Say I've got a business strategy, and I'm trying to lead this business strategy forward, you're talking a little bit about operations, right?

TONILLE MILLER:

Mm-hmm.

SKOT WALDRON:

And how you go about conducting this business. But operationalizing this business strategy through my people is going to be a big deal because I can have my business strategy all I want, but if I am not getting my people involved and using them to make it real, I'm going to have all kinds of problems. How do I do that?

TONILLE MILLER:

Great question. Here's how I think about it. Again, because I think just because the vantage point of a lot of my roles, I haven't been just part of the HR team that, for better or worse, sometimes appears unstrategic. I haven't been part of just this team over here that comes in and drafts some communications. I've been lucky enough to where my roles have usually been pretty senior and very strategic, so it's on a strategy team that reports to the CEO or it's right on that leadership team. I say that because that means that I apply that lens to all of my work, and that is meeting leaders where they are, what do they care about? Operationalizing their business strategy, meeting their business goals. Yes, we get it. Awesome. We start there. That's exactly where we start. We don't start in, here's a new platform, we start where is the business strategy? Where is it going? What are the goals? How do we get there? That's a strategy to achieve those goals.

And then working from there, you work backwards and you say, "Okay, so if we want to achieve this and this is the strategy of how we're going to do it, what do we need to make that strategy happen or to drive that strategy?" And that would be talent and capabilities, mainly your people. And so what that means is we need to make sure that people are on board, people understand. We have a great employee experience, we have great culture, and then the technology that goes with that to drive the business strategy.

And so I say that to open it up because I think there's three very strategic levers that leaders in organizations don't pull, or they don't pull well or they don't pull enough that can really make this real for people. And the ones that I would talk about is, number one, culture. Everyone thinks culture's very fluffy, but what I would say is if you're very intentional and vigilant about using your culture, designing it and monitoring it and using it to drive behaviors and drive your business strategy, that's a huge lever. People don't usually think of it that way, but it actually is if you do it right.

The second one, I think, is if you strategically design your employee experience... First of all, you have to know what that is, but on top of that, if you're very deliberate about designing it, you can create a deep connection and relationship with your people. And that's going to make them motivated, bought in, high performing, all the things you're trying to get out of them, you have to do some of this upfront work to get that to happen.

And then the third thing is, again, this leading change well versus managing it only, that will really operationalize the strategy because typically when all these strategies are coming down from the top, how do they happen? Changes, new technologies, new policies, new reorgs, whatever; these are all changes. You have to manage that change well/lead that change well. I'm going to pause there, but that's how I see that leaders can really operationalize their strategy through some of these more strategic levers.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. You've talked a lot about people, and the thing is that people are hard and they're messy and they complain and they do all this other stuff that makes it hard to get stuff done, but they enable us to do everything we do. We're talking about the people component of operationalizing this business strategy happen. It all comes down to the people. How do we help them thrive? How do we help them feel like they want to be part of this culture that we're building and they want to be part of the business strategy and the vision that we are trying to enact?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yes, it is such a good question. I think well-meaning leaders ask this question, but not enough leaders ask this question. And not just ask it, but then let's get under what do we need? And so a lot of what I'm writing in this new book is really about that, because I guess from my vantage point, I don't think it's difficult. From my vantage point, I've actually seen what works well and what doesn't work well. And there's so many inexpensive or free win-win solutions that are actually going to benefit the organization and meet those business goals. And you're giving talent what they need to succeed, what they need and what they want to stay and be motivated and engage in all the things we're chasing. It's two sides of the same coin, but I think people see it as one or the other. I see it as both/and.

To do this, I feel like the main thing is really optimizing the experience that people have with your organization will draw top talent like a magnet. And it really creates those conditions that elicit the most productive, engaged, and high performing version of them while they're part of it. It's simple things... Well, I say simple, but it's not simple for everybody, I understand. It's things like updating the how, the what, the when we work, especially now post-pandemic, because these workplaces were founded 100 ago, at least. It's things like changing what work looks like, removing points of friction that's under the employee experience, removing all those points of friction. Thinking of your company as a product for your people and finding out what those pain points and barriers to entry are and getting rid of them.

It's things like, again, like I said earlier, being really intentional and vigilant about your culture. Don't let bad behavior exist. That's a big one, especially right now, because I think they said for the great resignation, by 10 times the most common reason people are quitting is toxic culture. It's not touchy feely when it's 10 times. Think about that. That's big.

I think also, as I mentioned with the employee experience, really being strategic about that. And it's not just a buzzword, just being strategic about it and creating that deep connection with people, getting in their hearts and souls and minds.

Another piece on that I think is really important, and it may sound fluffy but it's really not, is meeting people's human needs for things like wellbeing, self-actualization, self-transcendence. If you think about Maslow's hierarchy, there are very practical, non-touchy feely ways that we can meet these needs at work. And work offers a great structure for it because it's achieving the organization's goals. For example, if I want someone to self-actualize, I can be developing them and stretching them and growing them. Oh, by the way, those things that they're doing when I'm growing and stretching and developing them are actually delivering on the business results. It's a win-win for both. It's things like that. Yeah, I'll pause there, but those are some of the ways that come to mind immediately.

SKOT WALDRON:

I love this whole idea of... How do you say it? Thinking of your company as a product. That's cool, right?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yep.

SKOT WALDRON:

And again, I look at this from my brand strategy background and working in that world, but it's like, how do you sell yourself? And how do you sell the environment? Almost every day? How are you delivering on your promise? We talk about that as external as companies to external audiences all the time. How do we deliver on our promise to our customers? Deliver on our promise to our customers. And we focus so much on that. If we would focus more on delivering our promise to our people, then I think that it will bleed over. That's my strategy, that's my methodology. And I think a lot of people drink that Kool-aid. I don't know how many people do it. There are companies that definitely do it, but it's harder when you're like, well, yeah, but if we sell that thing to our customer, instant revenue. I sell the company to my people-

TONILLE MILLER:

It takes some time. Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah. Where do I see the revenue kick and my quarterly report from that?

TONILLE MILLER:

Well, and on that note, two things come to mind. I think it's great that you bring that up. And I understand why, because to your point, it's a lot easier. Especially if we're not doing well financially as an organization, it's easier to say let's go sell some more, whatever versus let's invest over here.

I think, number one, there's two things that come to mind. If you think about the branding and all the customer experience and customer relationship and all those things in our toolkit from a customer perspective, if you applied all of those same tools like persona development, journey mapping, all those things, customer satisfaction scores and things like that, if you applied all those same tools internally to your employee experience, you'd get the amazing results you're looking for. Do you see how that connects? It's all the same activities you do to get in the heads of your customer and really nurture that relationship, attract, nurture, retain them, same exact things that you got to be doing for your people internally. There's that piece right there. It's not like it's a brand new toolkit. You can apply the same thing.

The other part is I always think of it, when we talked about operationalizing the business strategy through people, that's what we're getting at. It's changing that dynamic to where instead of putting all of our money out here on customers, put some of that internally because guess what. Let's say you invest that into all your people. Then you have all those people driving the organization forward instead of just a few people that are selling or just a few leaders at top. If you invest all that time and energy internally and get those people, they're like a fire power behind you, so then you've got that whole organization of people driving towards the same goal versus just you at the top and then wondering why they don't want to play.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah. So true, so true. Let's talk about your book a little bit. You have a title.

TONILLE MILLER:

I do, but there's five titles that we're floating around right now, so it's not quite there yet.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. Give the premise, then. Give me the premise of the book. What's going on with it? What's the format? What's the structure? Help me out.

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. It's exciting. I will tell you though, this is one of those experiences that we were talking a little bit before we started recording, I've never had imposter syndrome in my life, just for whatever reason; I've been very lucky for that. But this experience of writing a book... If anyone else out there who has written one or many, I have definitely experienced it. And it's not from a who am I to write this? imposter syndrome it's more like is this the right angle? Is this interesting? Will this be boring? Will this tell people things they don't know? And then the other part of me realizing, oh, this seems easy to me. This seems to make sense to me, but maybe it doesn't to other... That whole mental game. I've definitely experienced that.

And so the book is really on the premise that we all know that work has been broken for most people for a long time. Way before the pandemic workplaces, the way we work, all the things have really gradually become more and more broken over the decades. And so now at this moment in time, this fact coupled with the ways in which the world has changed during the pandemic and the way that we've all changed really means that organizations now need to make some major changes in order to stay relevant so that they can attract, keep and unlock the best talent in this new world because it's a different world now. And it already was broken, but now it's even more broken.

Having said that, this book is really a tool for leaders and change makers so that they can actually do this by almost creating a renaissance of work, if you will. It's some of the things we talked about where some of these very simple non-expensive things that leaders and change makers can do to create those win-wins for the organization and for the people.

And by the way, as a psychologist, I know this, those things are tapping into the things that these people want. Everyone's so wondering why is everyone quitting? Why is all this stuff happening? It's pretty simple from my vantage point. And I'm not trying to be in the ivory tower, but it's not hard to see. These are simple human needs and treating people more human and things like that that actually can move the bottom line as well. And so in a nutshell, that's the book.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay, cool. You teased us a little bit saying there's some simple things that we can do that are win-win solutions. You said earlier there's some free-ish type solutions as well. What are you talking about in that? Can you give me a little bit more?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah, definitely. There's so there's many, I'm just trying to think of where to begin. Something simple like, again, your employee experience. And some people know what this is, some people, they've all heard it as a buzzword, but like I said, being really deliberate and intentional about designing the moments that people spend time in your organization. You would design the moments that people are in contact with your brand; very similar. In that regard, it's, again, going back to that thinking of your company as a product. Removing all the sorts of friction. Clunky technology, platforms that don't talk to each other, anything that makes work feel like a second job on top of their day job.

What comes in there as well is something that we don't talk about a lot, and that would be emotional friction. That's things like when we have more diverse colleagues and they found that they have to code switch and do different... and all the different diversity issues that pop up in the workplace, and microaggressions. That's a full-time job on top of their day job. Think about burnout. Things like that.

Removing friction, meeting people's human needs, nailing those moments that matter; simple stuff. When somebody onboards, have their leaders send them an email the day they signed their letter of acceptance welcoming them to the team. It's simple stuff. That's the most simple, but going all the way up to more complex things.

But those moments that matter. It's a work anniversary. How hard is it for a manager to ping their person and say, "Hey, happy one year with the firm," or, "Hey, let's have lunch today." Simple. But these are all employee experience things. And if people have a great experience with your organization, they're going to be driving it forward with you. And then there's other guiding principles to. Things like, again, pushing as much information, so transparency, pushing as much information as possible as low in the organization as possible like Netflix does; very good at this. Pushing as much decision making capabilities as possible as low in the organization as possible. These two things right here, they increase agency, they increase speed and agility, they increase employee and customer satisfaction because you get to operate an owner. You're treating your people like they're owners. They get to make those decisions very quickly. The Ritz Carlton is very good at this. There's a lot of organizations that are. This is just literally not even a handful of things. But there's just so many different levers that people can be pulling that would make a huge difference that are not being pulled today.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. What's tripping leaders up then when it comes to... Obviously culture, but when it comes to attracting and retaining good people, what's tripping them up? What's causing them issues?

TONILLE MILLER:

I hate to say it, but if I was going to narrow it down to, well, two things, I think one is ego for some leaders, not all. There's so many great leaders out there, but for some leaders, the ones that aren't so great, I think it's all ego. When you think about returning to the office and demanding it with no real reason why, they just feel better because they feel important when they're in the office and people are bowing down to them. That's one thing. And that's not everybody. Like I said, it's a small group, so that's good, only a small group. I think a lot of it is ego in that way.

I hear a lot of leaders saying things like, "Why don't they just do what I tell them to do?" Well, guess what. Millennials and gen Z, for example, first of all, no human wants to be told what to do who's an adult, but millennials and gen Z, they've grown up in a world where they were the leaders. Some of them have started their own companies when they're 17, they've had more access to knowledge and information and just how to do things than any other generation. They literally can run their own company. And then they go to work and they're treated like a five year old. That's a big disconnect there, too.

I think the other thing is... So many things. I think one of the biggest things and ways I would sum it up is a lot of leaders at this point, for better or worse, are stale pale meals. They're older, they're white, they're cisgender usually... Or not usually, but if you look at the stats, that's very common. They are very disconnected from their average employee, their average gen Z and millennial employee who is much more evolved, I would argue, in a lot of ways, these folks are. And so it's like they've grown up in a world that is more evolved, that is more a user-centric, it's more user friendly, all these things. And like I said, they go to work and it's like 1985. It's just weird to them. They're like what the hell's going on? I do think that that disconnect needs to get solved. And there's a lot of ways you can go about it, but I do think that some of those things are why it's happening.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. That's cool. I agree with you. I think that there's some definite shifts that need to happen. Again, multi-generational workforce stuff is really prevalent right now. And we've got the baby boomers that are retiring and the gen X-ers that are starting to take over, some of those ownership positions, but also a lot of the millennials that are really flooding management and leadership now. And they are creating more of the culture that we have now. And when those baby boomers and maybe late gen X-ers see that, it doesn't always jive with their vision of what they grew up in work wise. And it can cause a lot of friction there. But like you said, removing that friction is so powerful. I love that, removing the friction. It's not just the tech friction, but that emotional friction.

TONILLE MILLER:

There's a lot of facets of friction. It's really interesting. It's bureaucracy. Technology is one facet, but the emotional one is probably the most important and the most missed one.

SKOT WALDRON:

So true, so true. Let me see. Well, I want to understand a little bit more about how we can take something like your book and implement some of those practice. There's a lot of leadership books. There's a lot of us out there that do coaching. There's a lot of us have podcasts and other things like this one. Why your book?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. No, thanks for asking. And I've thought this has been part of the exercise of this book is why is this different? What am I supposed to do with it? If I buy the book, how do I do it? What I've done in the book is I have 10 chapters right now, and it's basically 10 levers. We talked about some of these levers that leaders can pull, the most strategic ones that they can get what they want, all that stuff. For each chapter, what I'm doing is I'm basically saying, "Okay, here's why it's broken. Here's how that plays out. Here's what you can do about it." And then I give some great examples and case studies of different leaders from my experience as well as some historic examples and current examples, which are really interesting. "And then here's the implications for leaders. Here's some really tactical, practical things you can do tomorrow."

And then I'm still debating on that because I think... The good news about my work is that it's always including the tactical. A lot of folks that are driving change or if you are a psychologist or you're an academic, you have all the theory and that's awesome, but you don't really make it practical. Well, most of my work has been grounded in both, so I definitely have the theoretical background, but I've always worked in firms and businesses so I've always had to make everything I talk about very tactical, very practical, very easy. Everyone's busy. What can I do tomorrow?

I say that because I want to definitely touch on some of that stuff from the background of why we're here, why it happens, why this works. Helping leaders understand why this is, and then what they can do about it. But then I'm not sure yet how many tactics I'm going to include. I'm thinking maybe five per chapter, and then have some book bonuses and things like that where they can really get some extra meat if they want. I'm not quite sure yet.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. Okay. That's good. And structuring it is going to be so important and making it simple to follow. Just we're so inundated with all this stuff lately, so I love the way that you're formatting that. And we receive a lot of inspiration and we want transformation, but I always say without an application in the middle, there's a gap, right? And it's not going to happen.

TONILLE MILLER:

Exactly. Yeah, because there's so much information on there. The beautiful thing about our world today is there's so much information out there, but when people bring me into their organizations, some of them pay me for what we do? What's the information? But most of it's the implementation. How do we make it real? How do we actually make it happen? I totally get that.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah, I think that's a really good point is that people will pay us to come in to give them information or inspiration, and then they just go off, and then they wonder why two weeks later it's all the same, you know?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yep, yep.

SKOT WALDRON:

But really what they're paying us for is the application of the accountability.

TONILLE MILLER:

And whether that means we tell them exactly what they need to do it, or we do it alongside them, just depending on the project. And that's really powerful. Think of a personal trainer. We all know what to do to lose weight and be healthy. We know those things because it's everywhere, it's common sense, but not many people do it. Well, that's why they pay a personal trainer, because that person's going to wake you up at 5:00 AM and get your butt in that gym.

SKOT WALDRON:

Amen. I'm a coach, I love to be coached you, you know?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

Because I so value it, I understand the impact of it, and I need that accountability because I know myself. And so I can go off and do that. That's awesome. How do people get in touch with you? And give us a idea about the book. What can we expect? When can we get that? How can we get it? Et cetera when it does launch.

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah, thanks for asking. Well, let's see. I've got a website. It's employee... Or I'm sorry. It's employee experience. Way too many podcasts today. Sorry.

SKOT WALDRON:

Too many. That's okay. That's okay.

TONILLE MILLER:

Too many. No, it's experienceandtransformation.com. That's all one word. That's my website. You can go out there. I've got lots of different resources and materials already out there, and I'll keep posting them as I go.

I'm on LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with me there. I spend a lot of time out there. It's been so much fun lately, especially... I always tell people it's like every morning I either open up LinkedIn or the news and I feel like I'm opening the sports pages because every day there's a new company demanding people come back to the office, and then there's other people over here and they're all quitting. And it's just hilarious how it goes back and forth. There's that.

And then as far as the book goes, my goal, as of now, I'm launching it early 2023, and so I'll be coming out probably in the next few months with some different fun podcasts and maybe some book bonuses and early pre-order things like that.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay, good. Yeah, get those pre-orders done.

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. I didn't realize how important that is.

SKOT WALDRON:

Time flies. Yeah, yeah. Anybody out there, whenever you have an author that's like, "Hey, I need you to pre-order this," or, "Hey, here's a free offer. I need you to write..." Throw them a bone, right.

TONILLE MILLER:

Yep.

SKOT WALDRON:

 Help them out.

TONILLE MILLER:

And give a review on Amazon too once you've read their book because that also makes a really big difference, I've learned.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yes. Those reviews, those pre-orders, it drives a lot for Amazon and for the best sellers and all that other stuff.

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. And when Skot writes his book, which is coming very soon as well... See I'm coaching you there.

SKOT WALDRON:

Oh, thank you.

TONILLE MILLER:

I'm holding you accountable here.

SKOT WALDRON:

Thank you, Tonille. Yeah, I should just hire you to be my coach, right?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yep, there you go.

SKOT WALDRON:

And get my butt off the-

TONILLE MILLER:

I'll share my journey of going through this book writing process, and so you can shortcut it and get past all that stuff, and then you'll get-

SKOT WALDRON:

That's right. That's right. That's what I do. As people know, I've interviewed a lot of authors, so it's like I just sit there, I just live vicariously through all of you, so I feel like I've written a book because I've interviewed so many people, but I guess it doesn't really work that way.

TONILLE MILLER:

Well, it's really funny about that, that you bring that up? I made a connection here. When you asked me earlier why leaders get tripped up and organizations get tripped up, I think a lot of it too psychologically, there's a psychological principle that when we talk about something, our brain thinks we already did it so we don't feel the need to do it. For example, let's say you're going to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend and you complain to your friend about it. Your brain basically thinks you already did it, so you're like, "Whew, I don't have to do that now," because you feel relieved. And so I'm wondering if some of that is going out in organizations where leaders and people are like, "I don't really feel like doing it, but I'll just complain and vent about it," and then it feels like I did something. I'm not sure, that might be-

SKOT WALDRON:

Maybe. Mext time you see that person in the bathroom venting and complaining to themselves in the mirror, then maybe they're just trying to move past whatever they're getting over, right?

TONILLE MILLER:

Yeah. And if it's your CEO, tell them, "Stop complaining and do something about it," and then hopefully they'll actually do something.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah. Why don't we do something about this instead of just complaining in the mirror? That's awesome. Yeah. Well done. Okay, well thank you, Tonille. It's been so fun talking to you. Good luck on the launch. And I'm excited for you, really excited for you to write that book and get it out there to the world. People need what you have to offer.

TONILLE MILLER:

Thanks, Skot. I appreciate it.

SKOT WALDRON:

How do we effectively drive change and transformation? We do it through being resilient and through taking care of our people. We talk a lot about that on the show.

A couple takeaways for me. We need to empower the people, empower the people. And that means giving them both responsibility and authority to do their jobs and empower them with knowledge about themselves, about how do we instill continuous improvement? And how do we do the things that are going to impact them for the future as well as their teams?

How do we optimize the experience? We talk a lot about product development and how do we optimize the product? How do we make it better? How do we improve it? What is she say in here? She said remove the friction. We talk a lot... and marketing and sales about removing the friction, remove the barriers. But what about our cultures? How do we remove the friction and the barriers within our cultures to allow us to thrive, to allow us to grow? And it's not just the tech stuff, the tech barriers that frustrate us, but the emotional, cultural barriers that frustrate us as well.

Don't let bad behavior exist. Bad behavior is determined, is actually predetermined by your culture. A culture enables that behavior to exist or will predict which behavior will occur at some point in time, so be aware of that culture and how it affects behavior and then design the moment. That's so beautiful. Design the moment. As a past designer, I am so engaged with that comment, design the moment.

Take those little tidbits with you. I hope you enjoyed her story. It's like a movie. Who has stories like that? Up, down, up. We all have stories like that, but hers literally could be a movie. Tonille, thank you for being on the show. Good luck with the book, launch everything you're doing.

Y'all want to find out more about me, go to skotwaldron.com. Find out more of my interviews, some free resources I have for you. If you'd like to hire me to speak, please let me know. I'd love to come and visit your audience and empower them. And if you want to subscribe, like, comment on a YouTube channel, great information there. LinkedIn channel, great information there. I am all about helping you help others, so let's do this. Thanks everybody for being here on another episode of Unlocked.

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