Organizational Transformation

Podcast Recap: Leading Organizational Transformation

By David Hassell, CEO of 15Five

In recent years, we’ve seen the employee engagement/performance management software market explode. Along the way, we’ve come to realize that success takes more than just providing people with the software tools they need. It’s education and training that makes the difference, and a deep commitment to organizational transformation.

Meaningful transformation only comes when the deep and difficult work happens. So today, we’re talking with two of our employees who are helping other organizations train their managers to be far more effective:

Check out all the podcast episodes including the outstanding interview with HR industry analyst, Josh Bersin. Listen now!

15Five’s Director of Transformational Services, Emily Diaz, and Chief Performance Officer, Jon Greenawalt, have decades of experience training teams in core professional competencies and guiding leaders to build successful organizations.

Organizational Transformation: The Future of People & Performance Management

What’s next in the world of organizational performance incorporates intuitive software, with Transformational Services and ongoing manager education. With this trifecta, employees and managers form new habits and skills that leads to high-performing and healthy organizations. Beyond managing performance, leaders can transform their teams in a way that result in lasting positive change.

Professional services are usually about helping companies succeed with a (software) product. These do provide help with how people use the software to improve their work and possibly even to contribute more. But that’s largely a transactional process. With Transformational Services, managers and leaders are taken through a process where they permanently change their mindset and behaviors in order to thrive. 

This is often hard work. It begins with a desire to grow and from there, a thorough examination of old practices and mindsets. Hard truths will be confronted. People will stretch beyond the familiar. But in the end, when people realize that work can be a source of satisfaction and personal growth, they’ll build a better business environment.


The following is a transcribed and edited portion of the Best-Self Management Podcast Episode 26, Facilitating Transformation For Every Manager At Your Company w/ Emily Diaz & Jon Greenawalt.

Or you can watch the 4 minute video clip:


David: So Manager Effectiveness… I’d love to just spend a few minutes talking about what that means. What are the things you’ve got to teach managers to be highly effective? And what are some of the counterintuitive things? I think it goes into what you were saying is that asking these questions, eliciting somebody’s passion, understanding that intersection of passion, strengths, and their Zone of Genius.

These are not the things taught in traditional management schools, which actually doesn’t really exist, frankly. And that’s why we created the Best-Self Academy. I’m curious from your guys’ perspective, what are some of the highest leverage things that you teach that you feel make a huge impact for a manager being highly effective in leading an extraordinary team?

Shane: And can you teach a little bit of that right now?

Emily: We have a tendency to think of these skills as soft skills. There’s this term in the business world and you want to hire people that are good at certain soft skills. And I was somebody who was just saying that the number four in demand, soft skills right now are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, and adaptability.

And what I think is interesting about this is that soft skills are really relational skills. And the old frame of management is one where a manager is a supervisor. They’re meant to extract outcomes and ensure that people are in compliance.

Now that doesn’t work today because in the workforce these days, there’s a lot of knowledge work. A lot of innovation, creativity, persuasion, and adaptability are a part of business. And the old manager doesn’t know how to tap into that. The new manager is a relational master. And when I discuss relational mastery, I’m not advocating that managers are just really friendly and get along fantastically with their employees. If it were that simple, all you would need to do is learn how to be a good buddy.

But there’s this balance. There’s a spectrum where you need to learn how to relate to your people in a way that still puts the responsibility of their own growth with them.

So this includes having regular conversations about progress, but also regular conversation about professional development and wellbeing. It’s this balance between creating an environment of trust so that I feel like I can come to you as a team member and share something that is really getting in my way.

And then also not trying to solve problems for your people. A lot of times the managers will get into this trap of feeling like they have to have all the answers. That’s actually antithetical to growth, because if you want somebody to grow and develop as a team member, you need to encourage them to solve their own problems.

So Shane to your question around “How do you do this?”…

Teach managers, how to coach. Coaching is about creating the right space and asking the right questions. I think that we do this really well as a company. And what we’re seeing in the trainings that we’re leading around “Manager as Coach”, is that this is a light bulb that goes off when managers who maybe have never done this role in their lives, realize that they don’t have to have all the answers.

They don’t have to be experts, but there is a freedom in that, that encourages employees to rise up and take more ownership and accountability. And so those are the things that we really want focus on and train for and get people to embody.

Emily Diaz is Director of Transformational Services, a division she created after identifying the need for organizations to teach ‘vital skills’ to their people, skills which in turn supercharge the impact of 15Five’s software. Since joining our founding team 7 years ago, she has served as advisor, trainer, and coach for companies across all industries — including Visa, Tesla, Citrix, and ThermoFisher. Her experience across domains informs the creation of unique and powerful programs that train core professional competencies. 

Jon Greenawalt is Chief Performance Officer at 15Five, who brings over 20 years of global, cross-industry consulting experience to help develop leaders and teams through progressive leadership and management development programs. Jon is also the former Chief People & Culture Officer at SharkNinja, where he built the Talent Development function, trained over 500 leaders and managers during his tenure, and implemented 15Five across the global 1,600 employee population.

David Hassell, CEO of 15Five

David Hassell is a business columnist, speaker, and serial entrepreneur who believes that when leaders institute cultural practices that support each person in being and becoming their best self, high performance and uncommon loyalty naturally result. As co-founder and CEO of 15Five, David created the science-inspired Best-Self Management methodology that helps leaders and managers address the hidden factors that stimulate sustainable growth and development – things like intrinsic motivation, strengths, and psychological safety. David has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Wired. Follow him on Twitter @dhassell.

Shane Metcalf is a keynote speaker on building a world-class workplace and one of the world’s leading pioneers in the space of cultural engineering and positive psychology. His insights have been featured in Inc, Fast Company, Washington Post, and Tech Crunch. As the Co-founder of 15Five, Shane and his team support HR Executives with data-driven continuous performance management. 15Five has won numerous awards for its company culture, including the prestigious Inc Best Workplaces award, and is ranked #3 in the U.S. on GlassDoor. Follow Shane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash


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