Hi! I’m David!
When I was in my late teens, my first job was working in a family business owned by my Dad, my Uncle and my Grandfather.
It was a manufacturing business that made wood privacy fence. The process I worked in was cutting parts and then assembling them into ready-to-install fence sections. The job was outside in pole barns in Florida (yep, nice and steamy – hahaha).
So as I’m working alongside the other employees, I’m hearing things. Things that seem like a moving current of anger, frustration, and to be honest, my co-workers just seemed generally disgruntled.
Now, the thing that was the most painful was this…
…They never let on that they were disgruntled in front of the management or ownership (my family!). THEY JUST TALKED ABOUT IT AMONGST THEMSELVES.
Meanwhile, in the office I heard conversations between the management and partners and THEY TOO seemed somewhat angry, frustrated, and disgruntled. But, in the same way as the other Team members were talking ABOUT the management, the management was talking ABOUT the Team – not TO the Team. This dynamic seemed crazy to me because…
…NEITHER SIDE WAS TALKING TO EACH OTHER!! 🤐
This experience created a deep pain for me. The people I worked with in the “yard” every day were saying NOT very nice things about MY FAMILY! Things like “Oh, they don’t care about that.” or “Don’t bother saying anything, they won’t do anything about it.” It was obvious that they had simply disengaged from “care” or “concern” about the company and they were solely focused on doing the BARE MINIMUM to collect their paycheques.
And back in the office, my family which comprised the ownership and management was saying NOT very nice things about MY CO-WORKERS! Things like “They’re just riding the clock – they don’t care about anything.” Or “It’s not THEIR truck – they don’t care about it.” THEY had disengaged from “care” and “concern” about the TEAM and they were solely focused on getting the WORK DONE and managing the NUMBERS!
Hearing everyone talking smack about each other and KNOWING that ALL parties were NOT communicating with each other was excruciating. But I was only in my teens, I had no frame of reference and so figured that’s just the way it was supposed to be somehow.
I distinctly remember one day – it was really close to Christmas – and I was working outside building fence – like always – hahaha! One of my co-workers was complaining about something he thought “the management” was doing that wasn’t right – he probably didn’t think I could hear him, but I could.
On my break, I went up front to the office to see my family and get a snack. When I got there, they were deep in discussion about Christmas bonuses for the Team. This particular year hadn’t been a good one. Money was tight and I knew that. Yet, here was my family, trying to figure out how to give good bonuses to the Team that I heard complaining about them only moments before.
…”If I ever become a leader with a Team of my own to care for, I will find a way to close this communication GAP and hear their insights, their feelings, their ideas, and share mine as well. We will truly BE a TEAM.”
Over the following years I moved through various organizations as a Team member and in EVERY SINGLE ONE – this SAME TYPE OF GAP that I witnessed in my family’s company existed. Sometimes it was narrow, sometimes it was a chasm, but it was ALWAYS there.
Eventually, I DID find myself in a position of leadership and since the “GAP experience” was really painful to me, I was terrified of the GAP – terrified that my Team would talk more ABOUT me than TO me. I knew from experience that the GAP robbed both sides of valuable information that could be used to make the organization stronger, more engaged and more profitable…but I had no IDEA how to combat the dynamic!
In my first few leadership/management positions, I failed – I failed miserably at closing that GAP. Like most other leaders I had learned from, I lead with positional authority and my own opinions on what should be done. There was VERY little AUTHENTIC communication between me and my Team.
Lucky for me – at that time – the old industrial disciplinarian approach to leadership and management was still effective enough to maintain a profitable team or enterprise,
BUT these tried and true old ways – using fear, control, and even compensation WERE ABOUT TO SHIFT!
To try to solve the problem I dove into intensive study on leadership and management theory – and this coupled with changing societal and generational dynamics made me all the more convinced that the whole “leadership” concept needed an overhaul.
So, I began assembling my own little basket of simple tools and I started using them to communicate with and engage the Teams I was working with.
The results were spectacular with teams experiencing tremendous improvements in morale and engagement as well as productivity and a host of ancillary things like improved absenteeism, loyalty, lower pilferage, etc.
In 2014, after more than a decade of honing the tools, and watching them literally transform organization after organization, I launched a consulting firm to help business leaders accomplish the same results in their businesses.
BUT, that didn’t go exactly as planned. When I started Vision Consulting Group, I had most all of my tools ready to go, but unemployment was still fairly high and hiring was easy.
The tools I was offering typically resulted in improvements in all the areas I mentioned above – PLUS they generated a nearly immediate improvement in profitability as well.
STILL, the employers I was approaching were maintaining using the old disciplinarian management tools and methods. There was a reluctance for them to fully engage – there just wasn’t enough tangible pressure at that point for them to change.
So for the first year or two, the tools were not fully utilized as a cohesive system. HOWEVER, the standalone tools that WERE used by our clients were extremely effective, And more than 90%+ of our clients became repeat customers – utilizing the tools one by one in progression. Still, it was sad that the toolkit was not being used to its fullest.
I KNEW that even BETTER results were possible and I was committed to getting them! 😊
Fast forward a little further…
– The unemployment rate falls to what is considered “full employment” (This basically means that everyone who WANTS to work, IS working.)
– Generation Z joins the Millennials in significant ways as a growing part of the multi-generational workforce
– Employee engagement, inspiration, connection, and culture become THE KEY BATTLEGROUNDS AND FOCAL POINTS for businesses trying to recruit and retain talent to grow. The term “Employee Experience” emerges alongside the now familiar “Customer Experience” moniker.
– There are now 4 generations meaningfully occupying the active workforce and the only way to win is to learn how to Engage, Inspire, and Unify a multi-generational team. This can no longer be accomplished through fear, benefits, perks, or even compensation. It’s clearly now requiring genuine CONNECTION.
And then it hit me: The “toolkit” needed to be pulled together into a simple system that could be quickly and easily implemented – A system that measures the GAP, engages the Team, and shows EVERY Team Member how valued they truly are!
The CONNECTIVE WORKPLACE CERTIFICATION was born!!
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