Malin Ohlsson: How Empathy & Understanding Can Change an Employee’s Productivity

When employees are not living up to the expectations you had for them in their role, most companies simply let them go and begin looking to refill the role. But what if you could do something as a leader to turn that employee's performance around? Learn from Malin Ohlsson on how she helped an employee go from being fired to award winning.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - How Empathy & Understanding Can Change an Employee's Prodcutivity

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
Hi, this is Amanda Hammett and this is Next Generation Rockstars. And today I have a fantastic guest for you. She is joining us from Sweden. Her name is Malin Ohlsson. Malin, welcome to the show.

Malin Ohlsson: 00:26
Thank you for that introduction. I'm working at this small company in South Sweden.

Amanda Hammett: 00:33
Okay. All right.

Malin Ohlsson: 00:35
About 100 employees? And well operation manager during the next six months. I'm also HR. That's a good thing to work in a small company. You can do whatever you want to and a bit more. Yeah.

Amanda Hammett: 00:56
So how did you get the six months of being HR? How did that come about?

Malin Ohlsson: 01:03
Oh, HR manager on the panty leave.

Amanda Hammett: 01:06
Oh, okay.

Malin Ohlsson: 01:06
In fact, I have done it already for six months and we'll do it for another six months.

Amanda Hammett: 01:12
Oh, okay. Well, fantastic. That must be nice to have that lengthy parental leave and in Sweden.

Malin Ohlsson: 01:20
Yeah. It's a very nice benefit. It's all good.

Amanda Hammett: 01:24
Wonderful. I'm a little jealous of that. So. All right, well let's dive in. You've already told us a little bit about you, but what the audience doesn't know is that you know, I'm not a frequent visitor to Sweden. So I actually met you through someone else. I had the good fortune of speaking at a conference, in Europe and severe Spain. And I spoke with a young man who was just a real go-getter and he really impressed me. And his name is Marcus Backstrom. And as I was speaking with Marcus, I asked him, you know, I'm really curious as to who was influential and you're in your career, who has really helped to drive you to where you are today? And that person was you.

Malin Ohlsson: 02:12
That's a great mention because I've only known him for, I think I met him the first time for a year ago. On the training I h M business school. And then he seems, interesting person. He had some challenges around, uh, the most things about the staff. And I think the thing was, I don't hope he mind by that they don't ask the staff, the colleagues what I think, what they want, what they wanted to do if there was satisfied because they don't want to have the answer.

Amanda Hammett: 02:54
Absolutely. And sometimes it's hard to hear the answers from your staff on what they want or what they think.

Malin Ohlsson: 03:01
Yeah.

Amanda Hammett: 03:01
That can be difficult. But it's so important because you can't fix it if you don't.

Malin Ohlsson: 03:06
Yeah. And the only thing that will happen if you don't fix it is that they will leave. They may not the ones that should be okay. The only company, but the high performing. Yes. People, they will leave. Because they can have another job.

Amanda Hammett: 03:26
Absolutely.

Malin Ohlsson: 03:30
So we'll see. That's miss slows now are amazing. He took it from a hard result. No results, both on employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. He has done a great job.

Amanda Hammett: 03:45
That's wonderful. That means he did the work, he listened to you and he did the work.

Malin Ohlsson: 03:49
You have done lots of work. Yes. So let's talk a little bit about you for just a second. You told us a little bit about what you're doing right now. But I would imagine that in your own career, throughout your entire career, you've witnessed other forms of leadership that are different than your own. How did that, how did those styles of leadership shape who you became as a leader?

Malin Ohlsson: 04:20
I think I have seen both do the less good examples, but what shaped me the most is one of the first managers I had in my first leadership role a long time ago. But what he told me, and it's not due to translated to English, but he told me that always lead according to for these, if I should translate it in, it's like, we always want to be nice to each other. Which decision I ever might take. I always hope to play on my colleagues best. I want to have a nice life in the company or outside the company. And he showed me how you can show concern and hot, but was careful that I was responsible for my development and created my own conditions. You can do that for me. And he was really obvious about that.

Amanda Hammett: 05:23
Oh, that's wonderful. I mean, I think that a lot of leaders sometimes forget that. You know, you're not just, it's not just about producing numbers, it's really about producing the next generation of leaders. It's really about building them up. And sometimes that involves hard lessons to learn, but it's there. It's about treating people. That's what, that's how people want to be treated. That's wonderful. Yeah. So have you ever, I mean, besides this one boss that you just mentioned, have you ever felt pressure from other bosses or superiors in your companies to focus more on numbers and less on being kind to people?

Malin Ohlsson: 06:08
Yes, absolutely. And sometimes I feel less pressure. Even now then we are a company that delivers competency of assessing, which means that we have to recruit people with high skills. Yes, I calmed down. So in this company, I haven't been here for 15 years. Where all this had a focus on employee satisfaction, well, the last maybe four or five years, realize that employee satisfaction is the figure. And since three years ago, this is one of our main goals. We have three main goals for the company and employee satisfaction is one of them. So it's not, it's not only money but had to work hard to prove it at that it will be a difference if we focus on people. And the Swedish cones.

Amanda Hammett: 07:10
Yes, Yeah. I agree with that wholeheartedly actually. So within my own company, we, my other, my other partner, uh, he focuses on studying high performing companies and teams. And the biggest finding that has come out of that research is that they put employees first employees over the customer. And that's the most important thing. Actually 94.1% of all the companies he has the high performing companies that he has, surveyed and you know, research, they have all put employees first.

Malin Ohlsson: 07:49
Can I please get part of that thing?

Amanda Hammett: 07:52
Yes. I'd be happy. I'd be happy to share that research with you. Yeah, that's really good stuff. I mean, there's a lot of other good findings, but that's the one that always out in my head is, I mean because that's not even close. That's a huge number.

Malin Ohlsson: 08:06
Yeah, it is. And I think the, my generation and younger, I think you have a bigger capability to take that information with us and do something with it. I think that the ones, the older generation has a little bit more to struggle with and calling that

Amanda Hammett: 08:29
Well, you know, it's, it's always about changing and, and going, you know, accepting that change is coming whether you want it to or not, it's coming.

Malin Ohlsson: 08:39
So, let's see.

Amanda Hammett: 08:41
So, all right, well since you brought this up, let's, let's dig into this. What is the difference or what is the influence that millennials have brought into a company culture specifically? You know, I know that you guys work through Europe, not just in Sweden.

Malin Ohlsson: 09:00
That's true. I think if I should take it in some of it. So a greater focus on personal development together with work-life balance. I think that's the pressure that they put Sonos as leaders. Yes. This younger generation is a, they're smarter than my generation because they have a much bigger focus on work-life balance. And on the self self-development that's the thing. Accept anything else. So it has changed us a bit from our annual employee surveys and annual goal meetings. Now we do it every month. They have an interview with all employees and we do our surveys every week with want, but every week. Yes. Because feedback, no, don't live very long for this. These guys who, who've grown up now because they used instant feedback.

Amanda Hammett: 10:12
Absolutely. I agree with that completely. And it's interesting how if you're having an issue with just one, it could be something very minor, but if you, if it's not addressed and I fairly, you know, quick manner, it can fester and it can grow and it can spread and it can not only take over the one employee, but it can start to spread to others. Yes. Yes. It's very toxic. And so it's like one bad apple ruins the whole bunch.

Malin Ohlsson: 10:44
Yeah. It's will like that.

Amanda Hammett: 10:47
So yeah, I love that you guys do that once a week. I think that so many companies depend on that one time a year annual survey. And I'm like, that's just not enough.

Malin Ohlsson: 10:58
No, it isn't. We do once a year. A bigger survey.

Amanda Hammett: 11:01
Yes.

Malin Ohlsson: 11:03
Not a lot of questions, but every week we have a question. Yes. How do you feel this week? What was your week? And you have to click four, a four smileys too happy and too sad. And when you click them, your nearest leader get an email. Yes. Sad. He has to get you a hug something...

Amanda Hammett: 11:29
Does he have to give you a hug?

Malin Ohlsson: 11:30
Yes.

Amanda Hammett: 11:32
I love it. Okay.

Malin Ohlsson: 11:36
He wants a cup of coffee.

Amanda Hammett: 11:41
All right. Okay. That's awesome. I love that. I love that. And that's just through an app on your phone, right?

Malin Ohlsson: 11:48
Yeah.

Amanda Hammett: 11:48
Ah, that's great. So as soon as millennials started coming into the workplace, how did that change your own personal leadership style or did it.

Malin Ohlsson: 12:02
I don't know if it changed me so much. It's hard to see, but I find it easier now to open the show, show more heart. I don't think for 10 years ago I should never ever wrote and male for one of my colleagues that they have to give another colleague a hug. I do. It's exactly what it says. I like when things happen fast and quickly and this generation can handle that better than the older generation. In my point of view. They can have the information. So I don't really know how it changed me. Okay. I have to, I have to be a more instant wait as it could for 10 years ago. It's not possible anymore.

Amanda Hammett: 13:02
I see. Yes, you're right. You're correct on that. Now, what about, I happen to know that you are a very big believer in accountability and you know, can you give the, can you give the audience an example of what that really means to you?

Malin Ohlsson: 13:22
I think I have civil examples. We'll see. I believe that that old people want to be the best self and perform well. That's why I had to challenge my colleagues and me all the time. For example, I have a colleague who one role and it didn't work out really well. We almost agreed about that's her and employment should end. But when I realized what she really said between the lines, I realized that she loved people, not it. So, I also taught to be one of our team leaders a couple of days after we had a conversation about ending her employee comment. It's a bit strange, but today she's one of the all-stars.

Amanda Hammett: 14:29
Really?

Malin Ohlsson: 14:30
She, yeah, she is. She had an award from a service desk. Fuel means Sweden and we'll go in the middle of May to Stockholm B. Yeah. An audience about why she was the year support employed. Yeah. She will. She's one of my best, but I listened to her when she spoke to me. I listened to what she said, not between the lines. And that was my mistake. I'm glad that I had had the opportunity to think over it.

Amanda Hammett: 15:17
Right. That's awesome. That is amazing that you know what a turnaround because she was about to leave your company. Yes. And I'm sure, you know, it was, it was upsetting for her and for you, but you recognize that there was something else there that you were, you were missing. And so congratulations to you for, you know, recognizing, but also for taking that risk because a lot of people would not have taken that risk. But congratulations to her. I mean, that's amazing.

Malin Ohlsson: 15:49
That's all. That's my id. All the responsibility. Well, she got an opportunity and she took it. She has done. So I like that.

Amanda Hammett:16:00
I love that. I love that. That's all the please pass along my congratulations.

Malin Ohlsson: 16:07
That's why I love my work.

Amanda Hammett: 16:09
That's amazing. That is great. That is great. And again, I want to recognize that you, you recognize that and you acted on it. A lot of times we see leaders that, you know, they see, okay, somebody is struggling and maybe they, this isn't the place for them, but that's where the thought process ends. They don't think about where else, what other seats do we have that need to be filled that this person has skills for. So wonderful. That's awesome. I just took a couple of months. That's okay.

Amanda Hammett: 16:45
That's okay. All right. So tell me about, um, do you think that I mean, this question almost a no brainer at this point, do you think that your leadership style and your, you know, belief in, you know, accountability for everybody, do you think that that really helps you retain talent?

Malin Ohlsson: 17:05
Yeah, I think, I think so. Yeah. No, I'm convinced about that. I am, they're too lower the garden. I really care about my colleagues. So I think that's one of the thing and I have the courage to asked the unpleasant questions and to listen to answers and do what it takes. So, yes. Thanks. So

Amanda Hammett: 17:30
Very good. That must be what Marcus learned from you.

Malin Ohlsson: 17:35
I will ask him.

Amanda Hammett: 17:41
Well, obviously, I mean, listening to those answers and what's not being said has actually given you an edge to retain top talent and retention of talent is such a massive issue for company role, but it's also a very expensive issue for companies around. Yeah. Yes. That's very good, I love this. So what I'm, you know, mailing, what do you find are the benefits of really focusing on your people and developing your people? What benefits to accompany are there.

Malin Ohlsson: 18:14
Company perspective? It stays longer and I don't know about, um, your country, but here it's, it's very easy to get a new job if you're a good technician. So we were called for ghetto stay and develop to be the best ones. So I think that's the main reason. And we have customer satisfaction that's really high.

Amanda Hammett: 18:46
Yes, absolutely. Well, if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. Absolutely. Yeah. And you are a testament to that as well apparently.

Malin Ohlsson: 18:58
Yeah, I know. It's like that now our board or comments too. So in that way, in the same direction.

Amanda Hammett: 19:08
That's good. Very good. Now what about I, you know, we've talked a little bit about your influence on Marcus, the young man that I met. But what other advice would you give to an early career employee? Somebody who's just starting out, maybe their very first job. What advice would you give them?

Malin Ohlsson: 19:29
Okay. It's a bit hard, I think, believe in yourself and make mistakes. I think that making mistakes is a good, good way of growth. I think if you take responsibility for a mistake, it's a good thing.

Amanda Hammett: 19:49
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all about recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader, and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the Next Generation Rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.