How to be a "Great Place To Work"

Michael Bush, CEO, Great Place To Work

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Michael Bush is CEO of Great Place to Work, the global research and analytics firm that produces the annual Fortune100 Best Companies to Work For list, the World’s Best Workplaces list, and dozens of other distinguished workplace rankings around the world. Driven by a love of business and an unwavering commitment to fair and equitable treatment, Michael joined Great Place to Work as CEO in 2015, bringing 30 years of experience leading and growing organizations. This includes serving as CEO of Tetra Tech Communications, which he grew from $40 million to $300 million in revenue. Michael is also a former member of President Obama’s White House Business Council and a founding board member of the private equity seed-fund, Fund Good Jobs, which invests in small, inner-city businesses.

Talking Points: 

  • What does Great Place To Work do?
  • The importance of measuring "trust" / what is "trust"
  • What do most employees look for in managers and leaders
  • What's the most important hiring factor when building teams? 
  • Consequences of low trust work environments
  • Great Place To Work and Google's partnership on studying high-performance teams
  • Employees don't have the power to change company culture
  • What matters most to employees? Yes, pay does matter.
  • What actually matters if you want to be a great leader
  • The majority of leaders are snapping back to 2019 behavior
  • Analyzing what's best for my customer and my employees
  • What would Michael change about his own leadership style? 


[Tom Finn] I'm your host, Tom Finn. And today we have an incredibly successful and forward-thinking leader and entrepreneur on the show, Michael Bush. Michael, welcome to the show!

[Michael Bush] 00:01:34 Tom, happy to be here today!

[Tom Finn] 00:01:36 I am so thrilled to have you on the show. And for those of you that haven't been formally introduced to Michael, let me take a moment to introduce you to the CEO of Great Place To Work. This is a global research and analytics firm that produces the annual “Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For” list, the “World's Best Workplaces” list, and dozens of other distinguished workplace rankings around the world, driven by a love of business and an unwavering commitment to fair and equitable treatment. Michael joined Great Place To Work as CEO back in 2015, he brought 30 years of experience leading and growing organizations. This includes serving as CEO of Tetra Tech Communications, where he grew the business from 40 million to 300 million in revenue. Now it's not just business. That gets him excited. Michael is also a former member of President Obama's white house business council, and a founding board member of the private equity seed, Fund Good Jobs, which invests in small inner city businesses. Thank you for all of the great work that you've done over the years. Thrilled to have you on the show. Let's just start with a simple one. For those that don't know, Great Place To Work and help us understand what you do and how you took the seat as CEO. 

[Michael Bush] 00:02:52 Yeah. Thank you, Tom. I'll say a little about Great Place To Work first. Uh, we work in over 98 countries around the world and we are a people analytics firm. And the way that we get our analytics is we survey employees. So we survey over 10 million employees every year, over 10,000, uh, companies every year, uh, and over 98 countries. So we know a lot about working people and every industry on earth. There's not an industry where we're not doing survey work and we're surveying a couple hundred thousand employees every week. So we keep a finger on the pulse. We've been doing this since 1998, and we ask the same 60 questions to every single company, regardless of industry, in order to find out whether or not you have a high-trust workplace or not. Our analytics tell us that without trust, you can't have any, you can't have engagement, you can't have happiness, and you can't have satisfaction. It's all about trust. So that's the thing that we measure. And we measure it in a way that we hope will create an environment we call a Great Place To Work for all. So feeling that the best companies, the best organizations now, and in the future are ones where people feel like they can bring their full selves to work. And they enjoy the people that they work with and they enjoy the people that they work for. 

[Tom Finn] 00:04:12 Yeah. Beautifully said, I love how you dug into that word trust. So how do we, how do we understand from the data, what creates trust and what doesn't create trust? 

[Michael Bush] 00:04:21 Yeah. So, one of the things we know from the data is that 70% of the employee experience is determined by who you work for. So that’s leaders, supervisors, middle managers, those people are really, really important— especially supervisors and middle managers— because that's who most working people spend most of their time working with. So, those leaders can create a great experience for people or they can create a terrible experience for people. And really what people are hoping for is to work for a leader who treats them with respect; to work for a leader who communicates with them in an honest way, and to work for a leader who is fair and equitable. So people like working for leaders that treat everyone the same in terms of respect in the way that they're spoken to, equitable job assignments, equitable assignments of shifts, equitable pay, and those kinds of things. 

[Michael Bush] 00:05:17 So we measure respect, credibility, and fairness of your leader. And then people also want to work with people that they enjoy, which they actually feel that's their leader's responsibility to hire people that are going to really stimulate, encourage, and inspire others who are gonna work with those people. So that's also a reflection on the leader and people wanna work in an environment where they are proud of the company that they work for. That the way the company is delivering products and services, being a good steward in the community makes it so that people will wear the company swag with pride because the person's purpose and the purpose of the company are somehow connected so that both can be fulfilled at the same time. And finally, people wanna work with teams and work with others, especially people who say they don't wanna work well with others. Everybody likes to be connected to a team that enables you to do things that you could never do on your own. So those are really the six parts of trust that we measure. We ask about six to seven questions related to all of those things that help us understand what's going well and what isn't going well in terms of that employee's experience. 

[Tom Finn] 00:06:31 So I've always looked at building teams in that you don't just have to find the best talent for a functional role. You've actually got to look at the personalities and build that construct of the right people working together. So you've got the right personalities, the right respect between teammates and it's your job as a leader to pick might be the second best marketing person, but they've got the best attitude and culturally they’re a fit, and they're gonna drive the company forward from a behavioral standpoint, but they might be the second best marketer. Is that the right way to think about it? Or am I doing this backward? 

[Michael Bush] 00:07:03 No, no. I think that's the right way to think about it. You know, that’s because usually when you're bringing a team together, you're bringing 'em together to solve some complex problem. There there's something that needs to be done and it needs to be done cross-functionally. And so you're bringing together talent hopefully to innovate. And, so when you're putting that team together, you're really thinking about diversity in the purest sense, in terms of different experiences, different capabilities, different strengths, different weaknesses. And, hopefully, you're putting a group together where people in the group are very different, because less sameness equals more ideas equals more potential. So this is where we believe in our work, that diversity equity, inclusion, and belonging drive innovation. Um, and so when you don't have trust, you have less inclusion when you don't have trust, you have less of a sense of belonging. 

[Michael Bush] 00:07:56 And when you don't have trust, you feel like any new ideas. Well, this is the time I keep my mouth shut because if I say the wrong thing, it's gonna affect my career growth. So those are low trust environments where people can't really be themselves and feel free enough and really need it enough to say what they want to offer new ideas to, to have, um, supportive collaborative confrontation, uh, of ideas, and know that it's not gonna affect your career growth. And that hopefully people are able to look at the problem, this complex problem from many different points of view, you know, that, that it was a bunch of paleontologists working together for years, trying to figure out what happened to the dinosaur. But it was an astronomer who said, here's what happened to the dinosaur. So if you just pull paleontologists together, which is logical, um, then we wouldn't have the answer, but it was by having different points of view, uh, of people who are passionate about solving a problem that you actually get, get the best outta teams. And, uh, Google's done a lot of research on this using our data. Uh, they did the seminal study on high-performance teams. They studied over 2,400 of their teams and they found that the thing that's true in the highest performing teams at Google is emotional and psychological safety. That's where our person feels like they can be themselves. That's only true when you're feeling like you're in a high-trust environment. 

[Tom Finn] 00:09:19 Yeah, well, well said, and that high trust environment exists in a lot of companies you work with. And a lot of companies come to you to confirm that they have this high trust environment, but what about those organizations that maybe don't reach out because they know they don't have a higher high trust environment? If I'm an employee there and I'm sitting in this low-trust culture and I don't feel safe, I'm not psychologically safe. What do I do? How do I, how do I maneuver through that? 

[Michael Bush] 00:09:46 Yeah, Tom. So here, let me tell you about my life. Usually like I'll work with a company or I'll say something and somebody will hear something I have to say, and then I'll get an email from an employee. Usually from their Gmail account. It won't be from their company account. Sure. And this is where they wanna say something and they clearly don't feel safe enough to use their company email. And they will often say what you just said. And I'll say I've been here a long time. I really like the people I work with. I like the products that we make, but, um, it's really a tough place to work. And it doesn't seem like my leaders, you know, get it, and so on and so forth. And what I usually say is how to update my LinkedIn platform. Uh, you know, I, I would go to LinkedIn and, and update my profile, you know, on, on the platform because you really should be someplace else. 

[Michael Bush] 00:10:31 Because if you can be someplace where you really feel valued, where you really feel needed, where you feel like you're being, being treated in an equitable and equal way, every part of your life is gonna get better. You're gonna see that you eat differently. You're gonna exercise more. You're going to do all the things, you know, be open to more of the things that you enjoy because you're living the kind of life that feeds you. This is the advantage of being in a high-trust workplace. And usually, this employee is so committed. They will say, can't, I do something from the ground up to improve the culture of my company. I'm like, no, without the leaders, you can't do it. Leaders are the ones who shape the benefits of the company. Leaders are the ones who shape pay policy leaders are the ones who assign people on teams. 

[Michael Bush] 00:11:15 Leaders are the ones who decide who's gonna get promoted. And so there's too much in that leadership realm that, uh, you know, the best meaning people, um, just can't really change that culture. So, um, you know, I always wanna say something more positive than that, but I gotta tell 'em the truth that, uh, we research companies, uh, every year and, uh, this is up to the leaders and if you're not in the right place, and if leaders aren't open and trying to change, um, you know, you should go and try and find a place where, uh, people are more open. 

[Tom Finn] 00:11:45 Well, we're seeing 52 or more percent of employees today looking for jobs, uh, is you think that's a direct reflection of the leaders not being able to adapt to a modern workforce? 

[Michael Bush] 00:11:56 Yeah. You know, I would call those at best average workplaces, uh, where, where people are feeling that their needs aren't being met. And the thing about that number is over 30% of the people will take less money in order to get more of the things that they want, which right now people want flexibility more than anything else. Um, so, uh, you know, these are perfect opportunities for, uh, people to get great talent. Um, so it's easy for us to recruit, recruit a Great Place To Work, for example, because people do such a poor job in terms of the employee experience that, that EE you know, people want something different and they want something more. Um, but, uh, uh, there are a lot of leaders, you know, unfortunately, who feel like, um, you know, the leader always being right, uh, secrecy, power, influence politics are, are good businesses. Um, but our data tells us that, uh, they might be good for people at the top, but they're not good for anyone else. 

[Tom Finn] 00:12:51 Yeah. That's, that's a very clear assessment of what not to do. Um, so if I'm, if I'm sitting there and I'm updating my LinkedIn profile, and I'm starting to think about my goodness, I'm in a very average or below average place to work. Um, and I, I really wanna get this right. I wanna be a better person. I wanna be a better, um, leader in my community. I wanna be a better partner. I wanna be a better parent. Um, I wanna, I wanna do all the right things. I wanna, I wanna do it the right way. How do you, how do you find that place? Are there, are there some, some ways that I should be thinking about job hunting in terms of sort of the physical, the emotional, the financial cause? It's not just pay, right? 

[Michael Bush] 00:13:30 Yeah. Yeah. Pay matters. You know, especially now as we are running into, uh, the winds of recession and we're running into the headwinds of inflation, so this, isn't a time to remind people that pay doesn't matter. Look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  I wouldn't be bringing that up right now cuz pay matters. But it's not the only thing that matters, but it certainly matters. But, people want to work at a place that, uh, where they have a sense that their overall wellbeing is being cared for, which means you care about their physical safety, their physical health, and you care about the physical health and safety of their family, that you care about their emotional mental health. And you care about the emotional and mental health of their family. They, you don't have to be doing things directly, but this is something that people have a feeling that you care through the way you talk by the things you remind them of by, by creating space and time for them, by encouraging them to do things like meditate and take a walk and find some Mo um, some healing music, uh, you know, during, during their Workday, uh, people want to know that you care about their financial health and the financial health of their family, that, that employee actually want this and expect this from employees. 

[Michael Bush] 00:14:44 So when you put these three things together, this is what leaders are trying to make sure that they're paying attention to. So, you know, and in order to do those things, to provide a sense of psychological safety and a sense of wellbeing. Then, leaders, you gotta be working on your physical health, leaders. You gotta be working on your mental health, leaders. You gotta, you are working probably on your financial health. You gotta share that information and knowledge, and there are free resources on YouTube right now regarding all three of those topics. So you don't have to have a ton of money in order to, to get people information that they need, uh, to help them. And, and to show that one of the questions we ask, do your leaders care about you as a person or as an employee? 

[Michael Bush] 00:15:31 This is what we're talking about. If you care for people as a person, you care about these items that I'm talking about. If they're just an employee, you don't care about those things because you feel like you pay 'em every other week. What else could they possibly want? So th this is the big difference. And in some cases for great companies is in fact, uh, the big differentiator. And if you look at leaders who do this, well, the things that are true about these leaders, they are great listeners. They're great listeners. You can't really help someone or assess what's going on in terms of, uh, what might be troubling, an employee. Um, who's asking you for a raise and you're thinking, oh, they just want the money. Maybe you could ask 'em is anything going on that you might wanna share with us that, you know, yeah, my mother's really, really sick. 

[Michael Bush] 00:16:16 Now, all of a sudden you hear that raise request completely differently. You hear it completely differently, but only, uh, humble, curious leaders are gonna ask that question. And so, uh, great leaders, inclusive leaders, leaders who can inspire people regardless of their age, regardless of how long they've been at the firm, regardless of whether they're an introvert or an extrovert, regardless of if they're in marketing, regardless if they've been at the company six days or 16 years are ones who are humble and curious, great listeners, always learning, speaking to people in a respectful way that makes them feel like without them doing their job well, the company cannot achieve its purpose. So, so they listen well and they speak well. And they thank people. They always find a way to thank people in a specific way for some behavior that they exhibited with a colleague or with, with a customer. 

[Michael Bush] 00:17:10 And, and that tells the person you're paying attention and the work that they do really, really matters. And if you do those three things, listening, speaking about the purpose and the person's connection to it, and thanking people, then you're through that experience and what you learn, you're gonna be great at making sure they feel like you're sharing resources with them. You're sharing opportunities with them. They feel like they trust you and that you're caring about them. And therefore when you give them developmental feedback, it's because you care about them. They hear it in a certain way. And they know that there's gonna be compassion because you've built up a currency of treating them in such a respectful way. And when you are, um, welcoming them into the company or, or asking them to welcome others, you know, that's kind of, you're paying it forward and it becomes infectious and, and people continue to, um, do that for the other people around them, which builds this, this great sense of team where people really feel welcomed. 

[Michael Bush] 00:18:09 And what you're trying to do is create an experience at work that in fact, for some people is better than the experience that they have in society, you know, based on the things that society does. So this is a great opportunity and none of these things cost more money. This is the thing people sometimes think, oh, well, it'd be great. And it'd be a Great Place To Work for all. You have to have ping pong tables and pet massage centers and things like that. Those are perks, which our data proves have nothing to do with a person saying, I want to be here a long time, which is one of the questions that we ask when we ask people, do you wanna be here a long time? And they tell, 'em tell us almost always, or always, or whatever it is. We use a five-point liked scale. 

[Michael Bush] 00:18:50 It's tied to respect. It's tied to trusting. It's somebody feeling like they're flourishing, which means somebody's fertilizing them. They want 'em to grow. That's developmental feedback that they're getting challenged. They're getting the same kinds of opportunities as everyone else. You put these things together that some people call soft things, but if they were soft and easy, how come everybody doesn't do them? They're actually very difficult things because leaders have to lead in a more personal way. And, uh, leaders can't continue to just be the leader. They want to be. They have to be the leader that their people need 'em to be, which that the leader is humble and curious because they know they have to get better and they have to continue changing. So that humility is the trait. I know I'm talking to a great leader, Tom, when I will say, I'm looking at your data, this is remarkable, what you're achieving and what you created here in your manufacturing division. And they will immediately say, it's not me, it's my team, immediately. They deflect, no matter what they won't say, “thank you”. When you're talking to somebody, who's not a great leader, they'll go, “thank you”. Big difference in their response. And you know exactly who you're talking to. And the data will always support, um, um, you know, kind of what, what their response is gonna be based on who they are and what they feel like their role is as a leader. 

[Tom Finn] 00:20:13 And so it comes down to humility that Razor's edge between just saying, thank you, or actually saying my goodness, my team is amazing. And they've put a lot of work in that, that Razor's edge there really comes down to humility. And open-mindedness, is that what you would say to somebody in that position? 

[Michael Bush] 00:20:29 Yeah. And being curious, which means you're asking questions, cuz you're learning you, which is which, cuz you don't know everything. You're comfortable not knowing. And you're meeting people and asking them questions and people, when they meet a leader, who's asking them questions, you know who, Hey, you know, um, I didn't know you had kids, but I saw through the, you know, this COVID experience, you know, some kids walking by, I've known you 17 years. A lot of this has happened.

 [Tom Finn] 00:20:58 Wow. 

[Michael Bush] 00:20:59 A lot of this has happened over the past couple of years. Um, so now it's like, oh, what else might I, you know, um, Hey, let me share some things about myself and maybe, you know, we can, we can share some things with each other and it'll help me, uh, be better at, at, at trying to get you what you need. And the questions come from curiosity. Uh, so, uh, a great leader, a great inclusive leader asks a lot of questions because they don't assume they know, oh, you went here, you grew up there. This is what you must be interested in. Oh, I know you. And you grew up there. This is the kind of music you must like, oh you won't like this kind of situation because you grew up there all assumptions all wrong nine out of 10 times. But instead of asking some questions about what you're hoping for, what you believe in, um, what are you hoping happens? And you learn, how do you hope to be different two years from now, you know, working for Leggup compared to where you are today. These are questions cuz you're getting information that let the, lets the person know instantly this is a strange situation because rarely do we go through life and have interactions with people where they're asking us those kinds of questions. So they know it's a special E experience that's being created here and it encourages them to be more humble and curious too. 

[Tom Finn] 00:22:19 So do you feel like over the last couple of years, the silver lining perhaps is that people have allowed themselves to be a little bit more personal in leadership roles, as you mentioned, seeing the kids walking behind the zoom call at home, have leaders taken that next step in mass or are we still seeing fragmented leadership models and some real concerning, uh, moments and, and conversations within your data sets? 

[Michael Bush] 00:22:44 Yeah, I, I would say unfortunately that, um, uh, the majority of leaders are snapping back to 2019 behavior. They didn't slow down and observe and Marvel at what happened, which is you can trust your people cuz they carried your people, your company, they carried your people, I'm sorry. They carried your company while they were suffering. 

[Tom Finn] 00:23:12 Right 

[Michael Bush] 00:23:13 Off the edge of their bed in their basement, in their lonely bedroom while caring for an elder parent while trying to get an elder parent toilet paper, they still weighed in and put in more hours for your company. These are really remarkable people. Some people paid attention to that and are different leaders. Now, as a result, the majority are snapping back to 2019. 

[Tom Finn] 00:23:39 Yeah. And that's not a good place to go. Uh, I think the emergence of remote work and the flexibility and creativity, it allowed for employees all over the world was a benefit of this. And we've gotta look for the silver lining. There has to be something positive that can come from it. And I thought that shift was just gonna stick and we were, we were,

 [Michael Bush] 00:23:57 Yeah, for summit has for summit 

[Tom Finn] 00:23:59 Has time. Exactly. Right. And for, for many it has. And, and people are looking at this differently and saying, we need to create a remote experience that is as engaging as it was when we were all in offices. Right. Because we still want that human connection. We still want to have a relationship. And it is perhaps a little harder over video if we don't get to stand next to somebody, um, and have that conversation. Do you think that we are headed down a path of, of getting better at this video communication and, and being, even though we're a little more isolated, 

[Michael Bush] 00:24:33 I believe we are, you know, that has happened. We're all better at it. Now, if we looked at videos of ourselves in our early 20, 20, we'd be really disappointed. that's right. So, but now we're comfortable. Uh we're we, we don't have to be perfect in our I've seen people, you know, who used to always make sure they had everything perfect, you know, no longer feel the need to be perfect. And um, on, on all those things, so people are becoming more relaxed. And for some you, you know, I think like you and I right now, um, there's no difference between this and us sitting across the table. We're fully engaged with each other building trust as we talk and building a relationship. I like you, you know, so, so that for me, I can do this for some, this is very hard to do so it doesn't work for everybody, but just like in real life where we're with each other in 3d, for some that's really easy to do for others, that's really difficult to do. 

[Michael Bush] 00:25:29 So what we've done is just kind of flip the world around. And those extroverts who love seeing people in 3d are learning how to live in a world where they're not as comfortable. And the introverts are like, yeah, this is awesome. I could turn my camera on, off and on. I'm in control here. I love this. I wish I could turn my camera off and on when I'm sitting with people, you, you know, so now we've hopefully had an opportunity to be more empathetic and understand that the things I like that make me feel comfortable, make other people uncomfortable. And for introverts, for example, they're not excited about going back to the office right now. There are people in underrepresented groups who are not excited about going back into the office because they had to get psyched up every day. Yeah. To walk into an office where they saw very few people who looked like them. So, you know, but for many, the silver lining this empathetic experience, this realization of what I just said, which none of us really realized until this COVID experience for others, um, you know, they can regress to the mean, but, but our data and our belief is that we know by measuring productivity through COVID great companies got better. 

[Tom Finn] 00:26:48 Mm-hmm 

[Michael Bush] 00:26:49 They actually got better and have continued to stay better. And yes, they're gonna go forward, not completely remote most of them, but you know, this, this way of people working in different ways and making it so that people can, uh, come and go based on what the team needs, not what the person needs. It's what does the team need? Because the team and the company have to take care of each other employees. They gotta take care of the customer too. So it's really about not what I would prefer. That's important, but what is it that I should do for the company to help it achieve its purpose? That's gonna take care of fellow employees and gonna take care of the customer. So there's always some give and take. So somebody who goes, I just wanna work from home every day, is that best for the customer? That's the answer is that best for the customer? Uh, because you gotta, everybody has to be thinking of the customer at the same time. It's not all about the individual 

[Tom Finn] 00:27:43 Yet. If leaders take that stance and say in their policy-making, is that best for the customer? And is that best for our employees? Is that a pretty good place to start? 

[Michael Bush] 00:27:52 That's a great place to start. 

[Tom Finn] 00:27:55 And so when we think about this sort of cultural movement, um, and the shifts in culture that are going on today as a result of what we've been through the last couple of years, is is there some sort of information that you look at or lean on to make sure that as we're creating policy, whether it's new or revising policies for the workplace today, is there something you lean on from an information standpoint? 

[Michael Bush] 00:28:18 Uh, we lean on survey data. So we absolutely lean on survey data and uh, and try and find out, you know, what is it that people are seeking? Uh, really. And so that's why it's not office or not it's flexibility. Um, and, and, and another level of respect, which is after what I just did the last three years, you should know that I'm gonna find a way to pick my kid up and get the work done. Uh, you, you know, you, you should know that, um, I find a way to get my dry cleaning and get the work done. Uh, you should know that just seeing me might make you feel better, but actually, I can get my work done and get some other things done and actually do better at my work because I'm not sitting here thinking about how I can't, you know, I'm gonna be late picking my kid up. 

[Michael Bush] 00:29:06 Um, or, or I, you know, are people who have been able to pick their kid up the last three years and are now being asked, well, that's over, it's 2019. Again, you don't get to pick your kid up. Uh, so your partner is gonna have to do it cuz that's what your partner was doing beforehand. So these are things that don't make sense to people, uh, you know, anymore. So flexibility matters. The data's really, really clear on that. It's not office or not. Uh, it it's, it's really flexibility and, and, and respect. Um, people know that that, uh, now commutes are terrible in 2019 people didn't talk about commutes very much, even though they knew they were terrible, but it's like, why talk about something that you can't change? That's right. Yeah. Now people are like, you know what? They suck and I got a ton of work done and our firm did too. And we didn't have commutes. And by the way, even though I didn't care about the environment, it's better for the environment, you know? So, so people have these, these things now that you can now, you know, you lose credibility. If you say everybody back in the office, really. Um, how can that be? Anything other than something you feel is really important. So, oh, is it all about what you think is really important? Uh, because number one, how'd the customer do, 

[Tom Finn] 00:30:22 Right? So it would go back to that 

[Michael Bush] 00:30:24 Fine. Okay. Customer did fine. Yeah. You know, and, and based, and by the way, customer wants flexibility too, and where they're going to work. And, and so it's, it's, it's, you know, letting go of 20, 19, 20 19, wasn't that great for everyone? So the, the opportunity, the silver lining, uh, I believe, and the data says is what did we really learn? Let's pause and think about the things that, that we learned and, um, what can we take that's good and create something brand new and, and it doesn't have to be office or home. It it's really your organization's purpose, fulfilling the needs of the customer and having a role in society and people who are having a great experience are gonna take care of your customers. They'll go above and beyond for your customers when, when, when they're having a great experience. So, um, it's putting all of those things together and admitting you don't know what's best right now, a leader who says, I know what's best. 

[Michael Bush] 00:31:23 It's everybody back in the office. I challenge that leader to produce any data to support that leaders will say, oh, it's better for collaboration. Prove it to me, it's better for innovative there's innovation. There's been a lot of remarkable innovation. Remote. 70% of the pharma teams were remote and we got some, we got some vaccines. So you, the, you gotta let go of that old stuff, cuz it's really maybe what you're hanging onto. And I, and I believe create a, a great opportunity for now as we go forward, now that we know these things, um, you, you know, what is it that we know? One of the things we know is that, um, low trust leaders are low trust leaders. It didn't matter what they just experienced. They still are low trust leaders. They didn't change the experience, didn't move them. Um, and high trust leaders are now, um, vindicated, completely vindicated. 

[Michael Bush] 00:32:18 I've seen there's a couple of there's company. Um, uh, Cisco, you know, that, that I can name going through the, now they have WebEx. Okay. They, they have a tool that sports remote works, moving through the pandemic. Then they were like, okay, we want people back in our offices because they have offices all around the world. And they're like, we want people back in our offices. And they were like, Hey, wait a minute. We have WebEx. Then they're like, Hey, the future of work is hybrid. Now they're like, you don't have to go back in the office. Okay. Now that's a hell of a transformation from a company that has real estate all around the world. That was like, not only is this new way here, we can facilitate it. And we believe the future of work, you know, is hybrid for all. So they went through a transformation that's truly remarkable. Um, after being, we need people back, this is what great leaders do. Uh, they're humble. They're willing to change their mind. They're willing to use data and to see the world, not the way it was in 2019. Um, but, but, uh, the way that it can be based on their experience. 

[Tom Finn] 00:33:25 So I've gotta ask this question because you've got this impeccable shadow of leadership, um, that you can just feel, uh, in talking to you. And you've got all this data behind you that supports so much of the great work that's been done, uh, by your organization, but what's one area that you want to change in your own leadership style. What would you do a little bit differently if you could go back in time or, or is there a way you're thinking about the future for yourself and how you wanna lead?

 [Michael Bush] 00:33:53 Um, you know, I, I, I think like the going back in time, I don't know, you know, how to handle that one, uh, like some, the, the popular question is like, what would you tell your younger self? Sure. 

[Tom Finn] 00:34:04 Uh, 

[Michael Bush] 00:34:05 And I'd be like, don't go in that house. Do you see that house do not go in that house? Okay. So I got stories from my childhood that are different from other people, but, um, uh, you know, but I feel like I had to go through everything I had to go through, uh, to become who I am today. So I don't, I don't really, you know, know what I would tell my younger self, uh, except hang in there, man. And, um, um, but, but today as a leader, uh, again, a leader that that's evolving and, and trying to get better, the, um, uh, I'm trying to, you know, so Great Place To Work got bought nine months ago. And so I've been an entrepreneur, uh, for a long, long time. And so now I'm part of a company which means I have to adjust, uh, you know, to things. 

[Michael Bush] 00:34:52 And so it's quite a transition. It's quite a transition and it normally doesn't work nine out of 10 times. It doesn't work because the leader can't make the adjustment, I'm trying to make the adjustment. So what I'm working on personally is my reaction to things like rules and policies, which I've always created those things. And so, um, it's turn, don't get frustrated when you get frustrated, breathe, stop talking. So that's what I'm working on right now, Tom. Um, so, um, you know, it's, it's real for me, you know, in the moment, but I would say prior to, to, um, uh, being bought, you know, and, and going through that, uh, the thing I worked on the most was listening to try and empty my brain and engage in a conversation where I was cur I could be curious and I would ask questions and, and stay empty and willing to have my point of view altered that I might go into a conversation with a point of view, but let it go and then have, have a conversation and, and try and keep myself open. 

[Michael Bush] 00:36:00 I've been practicing that for years. I've been literally practicing that for 20 years when, when somebody revealed to me the essence of it and the power of it, it's a continued lifelong practice. Um, so I've been practicing it for quite a while. You know, we'll, we'll, we'll continue to do that. Um, but right now, because of, of the change in, in, in ownership, it's, um, when frustration happens, quiet down, keep your mouth shut, pause. And, um, and really, cuz you're probably not hearing what the person's wanting and needing. That's why you're frustrated, you've left to some conclusion or how it's gonna hurt you or how it's gonna harm you, which is just fear, which is false evidence appearing real, real. And now you're frustrated all of these things. Aren't good. They're not inspiring. Nobody wants to be around it. It doesn't get innovation and creativity going. It actually does the opposite. It shuts down inclusion and it shuts down belonging. And so I know this is my responsibility to change my response, uh, for those reasons I also, you, your, your evening's much better. when you have that frustrated where, you know, you're much better, you know, with my wife, um, I'm much better as a father. I'm much better as a grandfather. I'm much better in all these ways by not having, uh, self inspired frustration, um, uh, you know, which is what happens when, when we need to change sometimes. 

[Tom Finn] 00:37:30 Yeah, beautifully said, and thank you for sharing that. Uh, because as we've just gone through this discussion about leadership and being humble and being a great listener and being thoughtful about the way we approach things, there's always gonna be something we've gotta work on. And even, even in your seat, uh, who studies this business, who supports companies all over the world in, in developing people and creating the right culture, there's still something that you're working on, um, where you sit in your seat today, which is just beautiful. So thank you for, for being open and honest. You, um, you've done such a great job at grace place to work. What's what's next for you? Um, what's next for you personally, professionally? Uh, where do you see yourself going in the next, uh, few months and years? 

[Michael Bush] 00:38:11 Yeah, so, um, uh, right now over the next few months, it's continued to integrate, uh, Great Place To Work into UKG, the company that bought us. And I'm excited about the idea of using technology to nudge leaders, uh, to be better listeners, uh, to be better at giving developmental feedback, which is mainly to give it cuz leaders don't generally speaking, our data tells us that. Um, so, um, uh, and so I believe that when you have what UKG has, which is, uh, human capital management system, which is the human resource CA uh, system of record, you have all that data about people and, um, and benefits people are using or not using, uh, about performance and, and ways that they need to improve to have to flourish and, and to have a better life. And then if you've got the ability to pulse their experience, which the tools that we have, uh, ask the questions that enable us to do that.

 [Michael Bush] 00:39:11 And then you pull that information together. You should be able to notify a leader that, um, for some reason, uh, Jenny is feeling, um, uh, that, um, her scores dropped when she was asked the question, do you wanna work her a long time? And so maybe it's time to connect with Jenny and talk to her about her career plans and her career growth and some more challenging assignments. And what else is, does she, you know, does she look for, and it might she be looking for and developmentally, you know, maybe making clear for her, the things that she needs to do to create more career growth for herself, uh, at the company, all that information is available. It's all available in, in the software packages, in technology. And so I like the idea of my phone binging and letting me know you've got 15 people who report to you. 

[Michael Bush] 00:40:01 You talk to these five, a lot, you haven't talked to these five at all. So maybe ping these five technologies can do that. It knows exactly what I'm doing. Uh, so I'm excited about that. Um, and cuz I feel like through technology instead of work a leader, working, going, you know what hap, you know, you might be working 10 hours a day. Once you get people you're now working 14, cuz that's what happens when you take on people. And so now to be a better leader, do I have to work 16? Well, I believe technology is a way that I can go from, you know, 14 to 12 from 12 to 10, you know, and, and 10 is about as low as you could probably get. Um, but, but I can do that. I think technology can afford that rather than, um, burning out leaders. 

[Tom Finn] 00:40:42 Yeah. I love the way you said that let's, let's find technology as a, as a resource link, it all together. Find the commonalities, build, build the resources for managers to be able to be better managers and give them the tools at the, at the tips of their fingers, on data, on their teams so that they can actually act. And that's what we need them to do is to step up and act that's absolutely in an appropriate way and, and be really thoughtful and, and, and curious about how their employees are doing, um, which is beautifully said. I, I just wanna send it out to, to those out there listening. You're gonna have to listen to this episode again, this was absolutely packed, uh, with information and Michael, I can't thank you enough for, uh, sharing your experience and your time and your energy, um, with us. Uh, this has been just a, a wonderful experience for me. I've kept my mouth shut as, as much as I possibly can, which is not that easy for me. Um, but I've tried to be an active listener during, during this conversation, cuz there's so much great information and I wanna just thank you very, uh, from the bottom of my heart for, for being with us today.

 [Michael Bush] 00:41:47 You're welcome, Tom, I've enjoyed it. 

[Tom Finn] 00:41:50 So if somebody wanted to get a hold of you or, or your organization, um, they love what you're talking about. Um, what, what would they do? What step would they take? 

[Michael Bush] 00:41:58 Yeah. So you could check us out in terms of the We got all of our research there for free, you know, just prove it, uh, check it out and, uh, learn about a lot of great companies. If you're looking for a job, I'd look there to see, um, uh, uh, who's certified and, and who isn't, uh, like your great company is. And, um, uh, and then if you're, you know, interested in hooking up with me, uh, LinkedIn, uh, Michael C. Bush, uh, at LinkedIn, our research is there, you know, I post things. I just, you know, I, I wrote, I write a post at least once a month about something going on in the world. Uh, it's a complex world and how to, based on our data, how to help leaders and people, uh, create a better experience for others. And by creating a better experience for others, you're gonna create a better experience for yourself. 

[Tom Finn] 00:42:45 Yeah, beautifully said. And if you're listening and not watching us today on video, we both got our Great Place To Work banners right behind our heads, uh, for those video audiences. But for those listening, uh, find that Great Place To Work logo. And, uh, if you're looking for a new job, that's a great place to start to find ethical, uh, equity-based organizations that have wonderful leaders and great teams, uh, that are really thinking about innovation, creativity, kindness, uh, and flexibility, as Michael said, and it all boils down to trust. Uh, and so I'll leave you with that. And Michael, thank you again for being with us today. 

[Michael Bush] 00:43:25 Thank you, Tom. 

[Tom Finn] 00:43:26 And thank you for joining the talent empowerment podcast. I hope this conversation has lifted you up so you can lift up your teams and your organization. We'll see, on the next episode, and in the meantime, let's get back to people and culture together. 

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