287: Aligning Company Values and Employee Needs, With Paul ter Wal

November 14, 2023

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Dr. Pelè: 

Hello happy people. Welcome to the Profitable Happiness Podcast. Hello everyone, this is Dr Pelè with the Profitable Happiness Podcast, and today it is my pleasure to be interviewing, all the way from the Netherlands, Paul ter Wal, who is an author of the book no More Excuses. He is the president at Virtual Speakers Association International. Paul ter Wal is the guy who says happiness makes money, and I just can't wait to learn more. How are you doing today, Paul?

Paul ter Wal: 

Dr Pelè, great to be with you and I'm doing really well, especially now.

Dr. Pelè: 

So, paul, we were talking about your topic and just how much passion both of us obviously have for it, and you know, when you say happiness makes money, there are people who go huh. And then there are people who go, oh my gosh. That just makes no sense, and we both know it has something to do with a lack of definitions out there about what happiness really is. But if you can help us along this path, let's start with this idea of what challenges you deal with in companies. That makes it important for us to tell people happiness makes money. What's the problem?

Paul ter Wal: 

Well, what I noticed over the last 40 years I'm working more than 40 years that we still address human beings in organizations as being human resources. It means that it's not that we're not friendly to them that we don't see what they need, but they're interchangeable If somebody goes off, oh, we will hire somebody new. So what I see in a lot of companies that there is no alignment between core values, those of the organization and those of the human beings that work in that organizations. What you see, then, that there is no accountability between what I want as an organization and what human beings want for themselves. If there is no alignment, there is a problem. And then sick leave goes up. Attrition is down. Quiet quitting started. One of the favorite words now in the Netherlands as well we first call it precent is now it's quiet quitting. People aren't that productive anymore. They come to work, they spend their hours with productivity and engagement, and that's what you and I mean with happiness. Yes not a guru happiness. It's the firm, solid engagement that people should have If they want to work in your organization, and I see that a lot of companies are suffering there. That's how can we increase engagement and, with that, profitability.

Dr. Pelè: 

Wow, and you know, I love the way you've made this almost. You've put some perspective on something that a lot of people forget Organizations are made of the leaders, who want results for the company, and the employees, who want the results for the company. But it has to go through what they want for themselves and, as you said, when there is an alignment between what the company needs and what the employees needs, that's when you get happiness making money. I just love the way you've positioned those two things. And you know, I would love to know, paul, how did you arrive here? How did you become the guy who is so passionate about this topic that you've written books about it? You're a leading voice and an authority on this. How did that? What's your story?

Paul ter Wal: 

Well, to be honest, I studied law. I started 42 years ago as a lawyer and I did it in social security. So what I did? If somebody got ill, we gave those people money, because we have an amazing social security system in the Netherlands still now. If you get ill, the first year you will get 100% of your income and the second year 70%, and that's still 10 years of extra allowance. So we want to take care of human beings. But when I started working I was always at the back end and I was in conflict and illnesses and that kind of negative stuff and I want to be on the front side. What's happening there? That it goes wrong, that people get in a conflict and that they call in sick and stay away. What's happening there? And then I met a guy, sam Silverstein, who is from St Louis in the US, and he told me about all values and non-negotiables. And I like the term non-negotiable because if you know your non-negotiables, you can't negotiate about it. It's who you are, it's your purpose, it's what you do. The choices you make are based on your core values, your non-negotiables. And I was looking at it and I thought let's go to the website of my own company and find where our core values as a company are. Well, they were hidden somewhere in about us. And then who is the team? And then you see our core values Now I have them on the front page. Come to the website. You see who are we yes, that's us. And then you can find out, because you are visiting my website, you have a purpose with looking for me and you find out happiness, make money, what is he talking about? And you see the four core values and you think, okay, now I get it and that's what I wanted to have and to change for the world. So I help organizations to find that core values that are linking, that are aligning with those of the company, and if new people come in, they need to fit in those family core values.

Dr. Pelè: 

If you don't fit in.

Paul ter Wal: 

Don't join us, because enough companies where you can work, these are our family core values. Well, if you go to a bank, an insurance company, it's difficult to find core values because it's all about money. An organization is about human beings with the same goal, with the same reason to work there, and that's like you said make results, create stuff, make the shareholders happy, it's all fine, I don't mind, but people need to be fine as well.

Dr. Pelè: 

I love that. So you talk about the idea of value to profit, and now you've identified this idea of what are our core values, and let's use that as a gate, frankly, to decide who is part of our family. I think that's powerful. Could you maybe explain to us exactly what you mean by value to profit, because I think, I suspect anyway, that this is getting closer to your idea of happiness makes money. Tell us what is value to profit, your concept of it.

Paul ter Wal: 

Value to profit is. If I know the core values of an organization, it will set my mission and vision and strategy for the company as a total. If I live the values of the organization, if I get the mission, the vision, I know why we have this strategy and I understand the plans, I can be much more effective as a human being, as an employee. So my employee experience will increase, that our work harder, productivity goes up, sick leave goes down. We will talk about it in the seven keys of engagement. It's those keys that give you more profit in the big sense. I call it the ripple of impact, not a return on investment. The ripple of impact, how much ripple can you, as a solo employee, give to your company? And how is it spreading towards my colleagues, my friends who are working with me? And I don't see them as enemies because we are working together. We are one big family and if that ripple of impact is there, then profitability of the organization goes up. So it's the value where it starts and it leads to the profit at the end, and it can be profit for everybody, not only the shareholders, for all the stakeholders. It should be profitable.

Dr. Pelè: 

Wow, you know, I just wrote this down the ripple of impact that is. I apologize if you don't like flattery, but to me that's genius, because it is so important for us to change first what people believe and understand before we can change anything else. And everybody's out here talking about return on investment, as you said, and again, return on investment is for who? For the company, whereas ripple of impact is for the employees. They drive that and I love the fact that again, you're driving these two, these two different stories, in a company and you're trying to make that a limit. You know, Paul, I would love to know, in your travels and your work, if you were to say what has been the reason why people don't just jump into this? You know, is there like a mindset block or something? I mean because this, I'm excited by these ideas, but not everyone seems to have heard these and internalized them, why?

Paul ter Wal: 

Well, I think one of the biggest issues is the way we look at human resources. If you look at the Anglo section way of organizing, you have the CEO on top and above. The CEO is the shareholder. The shareholder is telling the CEO make more money and the. Ceo, supported by the CEO, the CFO, CHRO, all the C's. Tell those managers below make more profit for us.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

So we're kicking down.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

That of what we call more the European way, the Rhineland way, is that you are supporting the people, you're pushing them into your direction, you're standing behind them, facilitating them, supporting them. But a lot of CEOs want to be on the highest level on the building and they want to have their own elevator going up and down for them. They want their car parked next to the main entrance. Well then, you're the number one, but you're not making the money. There are those professionals who are working on that work floor, as we call it. Well, the CEO should be part of the work floor.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yes.

Paul ter Wal: 

Of course he's making different decisions. He is more responsible than a lot of stuff. That's why they can earn millions, I don't mind. But look at those employees as the real professionals, and whether it's in the podcast, whether it's in the restaurant, whether it's a cleaning lady, they are the professionals. Support them, facilitate and ask them that question how can I support you? Most of the time, ceos are telling what to do.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

Instead of asking, giving those people autonomy, how can I support you? What do you need? Yes, to perform better. That's a tap on the shoulder, that's being friendly, that's feedback, that's dealing with purpose. So what I like to see is that the CEO goes down, sits behind the first office, has his office there. That he can watch who comes in, who goes out Not on the top level in the sky, in the clouds lovely, no downstairs. That's where you're supposed to sit because you are responsible for the whole organization, so you need to feel what's going on in that organization and you know, I know, and a lot of listeners will know the CEO is far up in the sky. Wow. So you're disconnected to those professionals. You saw it in the auto industry in the US. People are disconnecting with the working floor. We saw the writers in Hollywood, they didn't feel listened to. They believed that they didn't belong anymore. They lost their purpose. And for me, it's about autonomy, belonging the right competencies and sharing the purpose Wow. And purpose is connected to culture, is connected to core values, to non-negotiables. So if we share the purpose of the company, which is in the mission and the vision, we support people with the right competencies. They belong to our family and we ask them the question how can I support you? What do you need from?

Dr. Pelè: 

me.

Paul ter Wal: 

Then that's four questions and that's more than you need to ask. That's simple and that makes it difficult.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yes, yeah yeah, sometimes things look easy, but they're absolutely not easy. Tell us how. A lot of people rightly so listen to almost anything with some degree of skepticism and they want to know details about how certain things can actually be solved. Do you have a process, a formula, a five-step plan, a 12-step plan or whatever, or your seven-step plan? I like seven, that's a big number.

Paul ter Wal: 

Seven is a better figure.

Dr. Pelè: 

It's a magical number. I like that. What is your seven keys of engagement? What is your plan for solving this problem in the details?

Paul ter Wal: 

Well, what we do is start a discussion with C-suite and I prefer the whole management team to talk about core values what are your core values? And then I ask them for the company and for themselves. And a lot of people will have some clue what the core values of the company are because in the onboarding process they heard it somewhere on the internet, but they never discuss it. A lot of people have no clue what they stand for themselves. So I asked the top suite what are your core values? What are your rules? What is that feeling in your stomach that you make your decisions based on? How can I hold you accountable for your core values? Then I need to know them. If you know your core values and the core values of the organization are designed, then I can see how are they aligned. And then we go to the next step. Is the mission and the vision aligned to the core values as well? If so, the strategy is that aligned as well? And then you go into the plans and then the next level, management, steps in and is going to the teams and say hey guys, these are our non-negotiables as company, our plans. Is there still alignment between what we do in our plans and the core values. So it's an open discussion what you can do at any team meeting, and sometimes I want to have those seven steps that people need to do, but sometimes it's just having a good conversation with a cup of coffee, and if you find out that somebody isn't aligned, don't fire them. Start a conversation. Don't go out for a walk side by side, not opposite, because then I look in angry eyes because you're not happy with.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

Side by side. I can ask you what's motivating you, what's keeping you busy? Why aren't you performing the way I thought you were? So it's about having that open mind, that open view. We call it positive psychology, open questions and of course we have a model for it. We call it the job demand resources model. It's worldwide accepted. It's from three Dutch professors Bakker, schouwvelijk, de Maruti. They created it and it's well accepted because it's looking at what is giving you energy and what is taking away your energy, not only in business life but in your personal life as well. Because if we can make the negative side smaller or the green one, the energy give us bigger, then engagement within the organization goes up and then profitability will go up. So first the questions about core values, mission, vision, strategy. Then we switch to plans and from plans we go directly into what is giving you energy and what is taking that much energy of you. If we design that, then we can see that a lovely people will go into it, dive into it and say, hey, but if those are the core values, those are the core values, these are my core values working here. So engagement goes up and with that profitability. And there is so much research by Harvard, by Oxford, and we see all the time that profitability goes up. And if you put $1 into investing in engagement, $4 will come out.

Dr. Pelè: 

Wow.

Paul ter Wal: 

That's the outcome.

Dr. Pelè: 

That's big.

Paul ter Wal: 

That's a great stat. That's why I give it to you, because we think, oh, then we need to be polite and we need to have coffee and then need to do all those funny things that you see on Google and that. No, no, it's not about fancy offices.

Dr. Pelè: 

And no, it's about ping pong tables in the foyer.

Paul ter Wal: 

Oh, I love it that it's there, but it's only there if you are engaged and you are more engaged. So it's not on the outside, it's on your inside.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yes.

Paul ter Wal: 

You feel that alignment with your organization, you will work harder, you will be more productive. 20% that's one of the keys.

Dr. Pelè: 

Paul, I would be interested in your perspective on, I think, what I believe is one of the biggest challenges that leaders or even employees have to grapple with to solve the problems you've just described with your methodology or with any methodology, and it's for personal and professional life, and that is the question of relationships.

Paul ter Wal: 

Yeah.

Dr. Pelè: 

You know, I have to tell you if you've ever, or if anyone listening has ever, had a teenage child. As they begin to go through their changes and their need for autonomy and the different things they want to achieve, and you start to find that your goals as a parent are different from their goals as a teenager, you start wondering how do I build a relationship, even with someone I've lived with for the past 15, 20, sorry, 15, 17, 18 years? How do I build a relationship? It's so hard, even though it's right in front of you.

Paul ter Wal: 

Yeah, and how do you do that?

Dr. Pelè: 

How do you do that? Because that's where everything starts, isn't it?

Paul ter Wal: 

Absolutely, and it starts again with asking questions. I've been there. My daughter is 37, my son 35. So I've been there.

Dr. Pelè: 

You've gone through that process, yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

Grandchild, who's now 10, so she will get into it. Yeah, we're all biased with our own solutions. Hmm and we need to let that go. Give them that autonomy.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yes.

Paul ter Wal: 

Ask them hey, you still belong to our family, even if we disagree. Yes you belong to the family. How can I support you?

Dr. Pelè: 

Oh, love that.

Paul ter Wal: 

Densis, how can I? Support you yes instead of telling you need to be, tell you, I've been there, I tried done that.

Dr. Pelè: 

And then the funny thing. The funny thing is that everything you've just described even though it's from a personal Family environment is precisely what Leaders no matter how much, how big your company is or how small have to think about these relationships. So I'm so glad you talked about that, because that's how you make money. That's how we introduce the idea that Happiness because relationships build happiness for us makes money. So I guess my question for you is how do you make the link for anybody who's still a skeptic about About the idea that happiness makes money? How do you make the link for them so that they know it is their job To go connect with employees, help them build a culture that will deliver happiness and therefore make money? How do you get that juice started in a company?

Paul ter Wal: 

well, sometimes I use animation videos. I have one in english on youtube. Oh wow, this whole story in lesson, isn't that amazing.

Dr. Pelè: 

Isn't that cool yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

We are talking 30 minutes. People can watch it and they see oh yeah, that's me. Uh, because if you look, whether you're a manager or a leader or just an employee, we're human beings and we love to, to belong to a group, whether that's private or it's in in work environment. Yes if that alignment is there between human beings, and that's the toughest to create but it's yes. This role that you can get because you only need to listen, and I think the biggest problem for managers Different than leaders Is how to listen in a real good way.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

Stop telling, stop listening.

Dr. Pelè: 

Oh, stop telling, start listening. Ha ha, I gotta take these tips and write them down.

Paul ter Wal: 

Well, you know it that you will as a manager. You you get a message from the top and they say we want to increase the avatar with 5% In the next quarter. You need to have a higher productivity. We want to increase with 10%. And the next step you do as a manager is tell your employees what I need to do and you forget about work, pressure, work, stress, that private line with financial issues, health issues in the family. We forget about it and we tell them like they are machines. Yes well, it means back is telling we are not machines, we are just a group of human beings.

Dr. Pelè: 

Hmm.

Paul ter Wal: 

So to stop listening to Taylor and the old McKinsey and start listening to means better. Who is telling hey, I'm not a human resource, I'm a human being, treat me like a human being, treat me like you want to be treated by your boss. And if we start listening to that voice that we all have, we can do it better. We should do it better. We can help one another, making no more excuses, make more profit, make more fun.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, I love that.

Paul ter Wal: 

I love it.

Dr. Pelè: 

I think everybody who's in a leadership or management position should have on their wall. I'm not a human resource. I am a human being, because if employees see that they are committed committed personally and professionally to building that kind of a relationship between leadership and employees, everything starts from there. So it's such an exciting topic. Paul, can you tell us what you're excited about right now? I mean, you've written books, you've got a lot of accomplishments under your belt in these many years you've been in this field. What are you excited about, and how can people best find you online?

Paul ter Wal: 

What I love is to tell this story. Yeah, to go into organizations through the computer or life. Life is much more vibrant, because then you feel the entity.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

We learn to do it on Zoom and that kind of stuff.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah.

Paul ter Wal: 

I love to tell my story Because one of the stories I tell I walk twice. The Camino that is from somewhere in Europe to Santiago, to Compostela. That's a pilgrimage, and Camino is called the Way and there is a great movie, an American movie, called the Way. It's about that walk. And what people do while walking there. They find that purpose, they find their spirituality again. So if you're not religious but you walk the Camino, you walk your way, you find what's important for you and I tell that story. If I have a 45 minute keynote or a workshop, I tell that story at the start that I started in the South of France and the first day I had to cross the Pyrenees and it is 500 miles in total from where I started and I did it in 28 days. And then you start the story about purpose and finding your core values and why it is important that you have that walk instead of destination. A lot of leaders see the destination. They see Santiago, st Jacob, they wanna go there. No, it's about the route, the way you're walking, every step you make and we sing songs about it, every step I make. It's about the walk, because you connect with human being and you hear their stories and you're not important anymore, you're just part of the pilgrimage and that's what I like to share, because this story is a pilgrimage. We need to share your story. Profitable happiness, my story, happiness makes money. It's so connected. It's a story that we need to tell and a lot of leaders will know that we don't have enough employees in the world anymore, not in the Western world. So there is shortage, so we want them to be less ill, much more productive. Don't leave all that kind of stuff. That's what it's all about. So the result can be higher profitability, but it's walk the talk. Do what you need to do, listen to those people. That's their journey, that's their pilgrimage, and I love to share that story.

Dr. Pelè: 

You know I forgot that a podcast could give me movie recommendations too. Guess what I'm watching this weekend. The way, the way I just found it online with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, his son. I can't wait. You know, you are just such a breath of fresh air. You got all these great stories and ideas. Paul, how can people find you online? What's the best way to connect with you?

Paul ter Wal: 

I always say the best way is go to LinkedIn type in my name and if you see my picture then you know that's the right one. I have behind my name CSP. That means certified speaking professional. I've been the world president of all the speakers in the world. Now I'm for virtual organization, but what can find me on YouTube? I have a full keynote that is six months old. It's taken in South Africa, in Cape Town.

Dr. Pelè: 

Oh, wow.

Paul ter Wal: 

Isn't that amazing? Yeah, in Cape Town telling your story so people can listen the whole 30 minutes or a short one, and my website is easy PaulTowallcom.

Dr. Pelè: 

Okay, awesome. I will have some of those links, especially the LinkedIn and your website on the show notes and some of the other ones you mentioned. Paul, thank you so much for being an awesome, educational and fun guest on the Profitable Happiness podcast.

Paul ter Wal: 

Dr Tai-Le, it was great having being your guest. I loved it.

Dr. Pelè: 

Thank you, We'll talk soon. Thanks for tuning in to the Profitable Happiness podcast. For more episodes, visit drpalaycom. And remember get happy first and success will follow.