In this interview, Carson Tate explains how to be more productive and fulfilled at work.
About Carson Tate
Carson Tate is the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc., a business consulting firm that partners with organizations, business leaders and employees to enhance workplace productivity, foster employee engagement, and build personal and professional legacies. Working Simply has served brands including AbbVie, Delta Airlines, Deloitte, FedEx, Wells Fargo, Chick-fil-A, and Lowe’s.
Carson is the author of “Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style” and “Own It. Love It. Make It Work.” She is also the creator of the Productivity Style Assessment®, which was featured in HBR’s Guide to Being More Productive.
Carson has appeared on Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, CBS Money Watch, Fast Company, Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, and USA Today.
Read the Transcript
This transcript was auto-generated from the original video recording using Otter Voice Meeting Notes. While the transcript has not been human edited, we hope it will still help you to quickly find or reference useful information from the interview
Deliberate Leaders I am Allison Dunn, your host, Executive Coach and Founder of the Deliberate Leaders podcast dedicated to helping leaders build strong, thriving businesses. Each episode, we feature inspiring interviews to help you on your leadership journey. And very excited to introduce our guest today, we have with us Carson Tate. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Working Simply, which is a business consulting firm that partners with organizations to enhance workplace productivity , foster employee engagement and build personal and professional legacies. She’s also the author of the best selling work, Simply Embrace the Powers of Your Personal Productivity Style, as well as her newest book titled, which is Own It, Love It, Make It Work, which is a great title. She has also created an assessment called productivity style assessment. This assessment has been featured in Harvard Business Review, as a guide to being more productive person, thank you so much for joining us here today.
Awesome. Thank you for the opportunity.
I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation. So what would be Carson, your number one leadership tip for our listeners today?
Connection, not transaction. I think one thing that we’ve learned in the past 18 plus months during the pandemic, is that we are human beings, and we crave that human connection. And as we re-engage with our work, thinking thoughtfully about the humans that we work with, that we lead is so a central and I know at this time many of us are focused on are we going back to the office, what does it look like safety protocols schedules, all of which are important. We got to lead first with that connection and that human piece?
Yeah. Connection, not transaction was that? Yeah, that’s, that’s great. Thank you. So you kind of get in I mean, we have all of this shift happening in the workforce. And I think in some ways, it’s been changed forever, like certain things just aren’t going to ever go back to the way that they were. Um, can you give me some thoughts on why you feel this is a good thing?
Well, for three reasons. First, I think it’s led to an existential crisis, many of us have had the time and the space to really reflect on what is the meaning and purpose of my work? Do I even enjoy this? Do I really need to spend this many hours on a spreadsheet? Who are the people that I care about in life, which is so powerful, and you’re an executive coach, so you understand connecting with that sense of your own sense of meaning and fulfillment is in purpose essential? Secondly, it’s helped us really look at how we work, do you have to be in an office building? Do you have to be in a certain location? Or do we have the technology, a book that allows us to have some flexibility and where and when we work really important, I think, for that autonomy and flexibility. And third, I think many of us have really strengthened our ties with our co workers and gotten to know them in a deep way, you and I were just talking about our dogs who might make an appearance. You might, they might or might not. But I will tell you, there are so many colleagues and clients that I had no idea they had a bird or a dog or they love to cook, what a gift from this pandemic.
I, I love the fact that you’re kind of, you know, pointing out the things that we did prior to having to be forced to think about doing things differently, you know, going back and thinking like, how many hours do you need to spend on a spreadsheet? Or is it just required to be in your office sitting, even though maybe you are done with your work or you’ve taken as far as you can, right? I love the fact that people really are shifting about where work has to be done. And getting creative about doing that. One of the things that you brought up was how to find meaning and passion and purpose in in the roles that we have, and that it’s actually made us question a little bit about whether we feel that connection. So what are your thoughts on that?
So the questioning, I think, is essential, and I think for so often for so long. We’ve just done the work without questioning what it means to us and the unique contribution that I’m making, am I leveraging my strengths and my growing and advancing in my career, am I being recognized and rewarded in a way that aligns with what’s important to me are absolutely essential. I think we’ve also in many ways outsourced as employees outsourced our engagement to our employers, and say, You are now solely responsible for engaging me? Well, I don’t think that’s possible, unless you can read my mind. How do you know what I need, and how to gather now there’s an opportunity to co create a workplace communication, work rhythms, the work itself, that creates a fulfilling experience for both of us.
I have not heard the term outsourced our engagement to our employers, and as you know, someone who is also an engagement specialist, tell me more about what you mean by that. And what are some of the things that Porter we need to hold the employee accountable for doing their part.
So the outsourcing of our engagement, so if I’m a team member, and outsourcing it to my company, the way I’m thinking about defining it is I’m thinking that my employer is responsible for knowing what my recognition needs are, and doing it perfectly every time knowing how want to grow in my career, and just teeing up every opportunity for that. My employer is also responsible for knowing how I define meaning and purpose and making sure I have that in my job. Now, what I’m suggesting in terms of a paradigm shift is that it’s both parties. So I do believe that an employer is responsible for engaging their employee in a way that their employee wants and needs to be engaged, that’s mutually beneficial. So as an employee, my piece of the action is to know what my engagement needs are, have a productive conversation with my employer, and find that win win, where both of us can meet our goals, and both of us can advance.
And I do believe that that just starts as a conversation and that those are conversations we’re not necessarily having.
I do believe that it starts as a conversation. But before the conversation can happen, there’s some introspection that the team member or it’s me that I need to do in order to have that conversation. So when, when we are in the mode of business, of reflection, and introspection doesn’t happen. We’re just checking things off our list. Back to back, triple. Yeah, bought all day. And there’s no pulse. But we’ve had a giant polls, that’s allowed us to look at what is meaningful, what is purposeful, what do I want? And now I can have that conversation. Now, are you going to get everything you want? No. But what we want is a conversation, looking for that mutually beneficial connection that advances both of us.
Yeah, thank you. We talk about you know, people are after their dream job. And I’m just going to use air quotes, because I feel like that could be a really broad thing. And it’s different and unique for every individual. So what are the three most important steps that anyone can take to make any job their dream job?
So I actually talk about five essentials, but to create your dream job, but the first thing is to understand what you want, you know, what is it that you are looking for? And so my newest book, I don’t love it, make it work, I do have a great little checklist, and it will assessment that really helps you understand what is working well in my job, and what do I want more of, then once you have that roadmap, then how do we need to start to get some of those needs met. And so I talked about the five essentials for professional fulfillment it met you have recognition needs and know what those are. Align your strengths. So know what your strengths are, and align them to the company’s goals so you can do more of it. cultivate relationships, none of us work alone. We want to have positive relationships, develop and grow in your career. So create your own professional development plan and then ultimately design your work for more meaning. But depending on the outcome of that assessment, you might not need to do all five of those. It might just be I need to ask for recognition in a way that really inspires me to do more great work.
Would you mind diving into so how do you identify how someone needs to be recognized and the different ways if you’re not sure on how to do it that we can bring that forward for our teams and recognize that in ourselves like my I like to be recognized and I’m a coach.
Well, Alison, still I started thinking about this and doing it myself, you know, I had to learn to in the first place, I always asked art my coaching clients, you would ask your coaching client, or if you’re a team leader, tell me about your best day at work. Tell me about your best day at work. What did you do? What was your experience with your team members? Was there any type of praise or recognition? So we go back to that great moment and start to look for clues. And oftentimes, in that story, there is an element of recognition and appreciation that comes out. So it could be, Oh, you know what, I solved a really difficult problem for one of our clients. And it was a technical challenge. I solved it in the client. rubia. Thank you. Interesting, and I still have the thank you note, you know, it’s posted to my office. Oh, interesting. So it’s not just words of praise is written affirmation. So if I’m your leader, or your coach, how do we write, get written affirmation? Or maybe you tell me, Well, you know, what my leader did, he announced to the entire team that I solved the problem. Oh, verbal recognition might be yes, you know what I do like that. Or it could be? Well, you know, what my leader came alongside me or my colleague did. And together, we work together, we problem solved, and I really felt appreciated as part of the team because they gave their time to help me. Oh, that’s a form of appreciation that you like. So best experience? Was there any recognition in there, pull it forward, and then start a conversation with yourself, or it always helps to have a coach talk through it. And then we want more of that.
Recognition, I feel is one of the most underutilized and most affordable way to build better connections. And to really amplify someone satisfaction in the work by using words were written affirmation of things that they do that they do, well. Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to incorporate more recognition into the workplace just in in appropriate ways?
So to the simplest one is a thank you. Just an acknowledgement of effort and acknowledgement of time help assistance. So how many times a day can you say thank you genuinely? Right. But thank you. And then the other one is through feedback. And so as a coach, I know you’re talking about this all the time. But how do I create a feedback process with my manager where I am soliciting feedback on performance, because that in and of itself is a recognition and acknowledgement. It’s either an affirmation of a job well done, or an opportunity to get better, both of which are in this recognition. And so we coach our clients, I’m proactively asking your leader, I’m really working on developing my presentation skills, will you please observe when I state the central point in the presentation, just make a note of that for me, so you can give me some feedback? Well, I’ve asked is discrete, a specific I gave an example. Now my leader can give me that feedback. And I know they’re paying attention, and I can get better and better.
Great example, actually. Yeah, thank you. What are the key ways that one unconsciously undermines externships with their car? Hmm, we do to make sure that we don’t, you know, don’t do that.
This when I think of hard because I don’t know about you about and growing up parents teachers taught me the golden rule. So treat others Carson the way you want them to treat you, which is great for empathy and sharing. But not everybody wants to spend the first five minutes of a zoom call talking about Netflix and pizza. Right? Some people see that as a waste of time, or you aren’t valuing their time. So it could be a form of disrespect. So I came to learn the Platinum rule. So treat others the way they want to be treated. So if they are very direct and succinct, we’re not going to chat about Netflix, we’re going to get right to the main point. But if they are more relational, I’m going to make sure I asked them about their dogs or how do they want me to communicate and connect with them. And then from there, you’re able I think, to build deeper relationships they see, they know that you see them and you value them and what’s unique about them, and you aren’t just doing a broad treat everyone the same way.
I’m a big fan of the Golden Platinum rule versus the golden rule. And I am excited explaining that. And I think it’s an important like, as humans like to really recognize that what I like, isn’t going to make a better relationship between the two of us to understand more, you know, what it is that you like to be committed to? So thank you. I’m a little pivot in our conversation. So what happens when one hits a roadblock in their journey? And how, what do they need to do to redefine redefine the work that they’re doing?
So let’s say for example, you have decided that you really want to ask your manager for more recognition and really create a nice feedback cadence where they’re giving you some pretty consistent feedback. So you have the preliminary conversation with them, and then nothing happens. Well, then what happens is we tell ourselves the story. My manager doesn’t value me, my manager for God, my manager isn’t making me a priority. Well, we don’t know any of That’s true. So when you hit the Roadblock, and nothing has changed after that initial conversation, the first thing to do is get back on the manager’s calendar, and state the facts, the facts of your first conversation and the facts of what is or is not occurring. So for example, Allison, we met two weeks ago, and I asked you, when we were in presentations together to give me feedback on these three points. We’ve been in for presentations together, and I haven’t received the feedback that I really want from you to grow and develop and my skills. What is it working for you? or What am I missing, that’s not allowing this to happen. And then we open it up for you. So it’s stating the facts, sharing the story or your experience. And then inviting your manager or this could be with a colleague or a peer into a conversation so that we can understand what’s really going on. It could just be person, you know, I got so distracted, I really forgot I am committed, I’m just going to make a note in my calendar to make sure in these presentations together, we’re paying attention. Great. Now we know. Or it could be you weren’t clear exactly on what I needed. And now we need to have a conversation on what it looks like. Great. Now we’re back on track.
Example also for that one, um, you are the creator of a productivity style assessment. Tell me about that.
So when I started working in the productivity space, I was using all the best practices that are out there, but I had clients often that I was coaching, and they didn’t work. So we would try to use a list and my client would get more and more agitated and more and more despondent. The list wasn’t working. And then they were feeling like a failure. I was like, What is going on? And so in graduate school, I started exploring, why is this not working and realize that, very obviously, we all think and process information differently. And so most of the productivity tools that are on the market are designed for analytical linear thinkers. They’re very, quote, left brained. Well, what about our creative big picture intuitive, kinesthetic, relational folks, they’re kind of left out of a lot of the tools and products. So I developed an assessment called the productivity style assessment that we use with our clients to help them identify what we call their productivity style. And then once they know their style than their coach, or have in their in one of our training programs, we can help them create a custom productivity toolkit. So this is going to be the best note taking tool. Here’s how I want you to think about time, let’s think about your calendar this way, this app is going to drive you crazy, but if you want to play with it, go for it, but this other one’s better. So it removes the frustration folks are more confident and there have tools that really align with their cognitive style.
So does the assessment like help you identify like what my style is and what types of tools spent as, as just an individual in this conversation? I’ve spent 1000s and 1000s of hours on what systems what journals, what calendaring systems, what electronic systems, what courses on all of the different things. And so if you could just cut all that out and say this is, you know, based on what I know about you, this is what you need.
That’s brilliant, fantastic. But I want people to work simply, I really do. And so if we can equip them to do it, and if they’re interested, there’s more information on the website working simply, they can see the assessment, there are lots of blog articles where they can download resources. So I’m curious, Alison, what have you tried that didn’t work for you. Um, so I think I think all of it works to some degree, it just is not necessarily natural. So I’m, I am not an electronic task list maker.
I’m going to like a Monday, comm is two steps removed from where you need it to be, I’m more of a write it down, cross it off, check it, you know, check it off type of person. I’ve done everything from the focus planner to living your best year to day timer to you. And so, identifying I like a big picture view with enough detail to keep me on track without having to do the detail of every single day.
Absolutely, yes. So you would be what we would call an arranger, which I’m not surprised at all. Do you like color? It just color help you
Color? Everything. Everything’s colored? Yep.
There we go. So absolutely. So it’s that visual piece, there’s an intuitive sense of what needs to be done too much structure shuts you down. So when you think about your calendar, one thing I would coach you on is to think about it thematic weekly. So this is the coaching chunk. Don’t ever, you know, this is what I’m coaching. This is what I’m developing. This is podcast prep. And it’s not tight, but it’s broad themes. And I’m not surprised that the electronic pieces don’t work for you. Because the kinesthetic quality is so important. Paper, it’s beautiful thing. And it works.
And it does work. Sometimes I wish I could take all of my paper and make it electronic, you know, record of it. You know, that’s a whole nother thing.
Yes, and there’s software that will help you do that if you want it to. Yes. Awesome.
Thank you. So organizer. I will I will, I will, I will check a website and figure out what that means for me. I am I love your title on it, love it, make it work. Who did you write it for? In Could you just give me some high level things about why someone should pick that up as well as the companion workbook.
So I wrote it for the person who hates their job or is called in what I call the work sucks spiral. However, they’ve invested time and energy in the company, and they have great relationships. And they’re stuck thinking that their only option to create work that’s fulfilling is to quit and get another job or go be an entrepreneur. Obviously, as an entrepreneur, I think that’s a great choice. And if that’s what you want, I’m going to be your biggest cheerleader. However, quitting is not our only option. And I didn’t couldn’t find a book, or a workbook that would take someone through what is a coaching process to really identify what do I need? What do I need to be fulfilled and engaged? Let me get really clear on that. And then how can I work to make that a possibility within my current job? Or if it’s not possible, then I’ve got so much information that’s going to inform my job search. So that next job I find has a greater likelihood of meeting my engagement and fulfillment needs.
That’s great. And is that a new release for you?
It came out. Yes. So it’s been out for about six months. And I wanted to really focus on it this time since so many people are quitting their jobs, and just offer alternative. And before they quit, remind them wherever you go. There you are. So please do a little of this introspection so that the next job you take is just an extraordinary experience.
Yeah. Cool. Thank you so much. I, I can’t thank you enough for joining us here today and deliberate leaders, and I’m hoping that if it is okay, I got a quick offer for our listeners. So listeners if you found great value from today’s episode here at deliberate leaders podcast, and we’d appreciate it if you would write a review in one of your favorite listening channels. And if you take a screenshot of that and share it on LinkedIn and mentioned myself, Allison Dunn and our guest today Carson Tate and we will give you a one year membership to the world’s number one business book summary service for leaders. It’s our gift to you to help you stay on top of the latest ideas. Decide on which books you want to buy, and read ways to engage your teams. person, thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you. I appreciate it.