Travis Dommert: How Developing Talent Adds to Your Bottom Line

Long term profitability and viability are not driven by your strategy or your technology. It is driven by your people. If you are looking for long term profitability and viability, take care of your people. Learn from Travis Dommert, Jackson Healthcare on how investing in your people will drive profitability for your company.

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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 Developing Talent Adds to Your Bottom Line

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
All right. This week's episode of the Next Generation Rock Stars podcast, we talk about developing talent, specifically a lot about developing leaders, and I get this question a lot. I'm always asked, you know why? Why should I spend more money to develop my people? Why should I invest to give them skills so that they can leave me? And I always feel like that's such a short sided way to see developing your talent because first and foremost, we know that next generation talent if you're not developing them, they're gonna leave and go somewhere where they can be developed. That is one of the big things that they're looking for, but even further than that is Travis Dommert from Jackson Healthcare shares with us in this particular interview is that it's so important to specifically develop your leaders to really pour into them because they can make or break the employee experience for the rest of your employees. So tune in. I hope you take lots of notes and meet Travis Dommert from Jackson Healthcare.

Amanda Hammett: 01:16
Hey, and welcome to this episode of the Next Generation Rock Stars podcast. I have a super amazing episode today. I have Travis Dommert from Jackson healthcare. Welcome, Travis.

Travis Dommert: 01:28
Hey Amanda. How are you?

Amanda Hammett: 01:30
Doing Super well. So you are in Atlanta and I was looking at all these great places to work lists and I was like, man, I'm going to showcase somebody from Atlanta. And so I reached out to you. So thanks for agreeing to be on the show.

Travis Dommert: 01:4
Oh, it's awesome to be with you. And you're right. It's rare that you find somebody like in your own backyard to talk to that, you know, maybe could, could be a local expert. So, um, I'll do my best.

Amanda Hammett: 01:55
Perfect. Well, I know you're going to do awesome. So why don't you tell the audience a little bit about you really quick?

Travis Dommert: 02:01
You know, I think about the different hats that I wear and um, you know, I start the day, each day as a husband. So I've been married for about 17 years, coming up on 18 this year, and then dad a have five kids and so they're all school-aged and life is really full on that side, you know, and then I go to work every day and I get to work at an absolutely amazing place. I'm at Jackson Healthcare, as you said, and I've got a dream job. My responsibility is for talent acquisition and learning and development and it's getting to kind of live out a professional and life passion that I discovered way too late in life. But I'm just glad I found it. Nonetheless, I started out in engineering and ended up working with people but all rooted in the same idea, which is I'd like to know how things work. It's just, I didn't realize until years after business school that I'm learning how people work would be so fascinating.

Amanda Hammett: 02:59
That's a really cool little movement on your career because a lot of people go into engineering thinking, this is my path for life. But that was a very interesting movie made I'm kind of curious, could you tell us a little bit more about what encouraged that move?

Travis Dommert: 03:14
Sure. You know, ultimately it was I think trying to be successful. So I started out in truly hardcore engineering. It was manufacturing engineering and I could say I didn't fall in love with like a machine shop floor. And I thought deep down, like I really, I love cars, I'm passionate about cars and airplanes and so I got to go to work in the design center at Ford Ford Motor Company when I was in college and it was really cool. The only thing that was troubling was I also grew up outside of Dallas, Texas and I thought, I want to live back in the south.

Travis Dommert: 03:50
And they were very candid. They were like, you know, all roads in the auto industry, in the United States, all kinds of left back here. And so that caused me to pause and just think, you know, what else might I be interested in? And at the time it was taking off. So I pursued a career in IT consulting, which eventually led me to implement software and systems and realizing that there were some keys to successful implementations. And namely, it was that it actually had the backing and the buy-in of the user. And if you made the user's life better and you somehow help them succeed, then maybe your software project would work. And if somehow you, even if you had the most amazing software, if what your software did was make our client look or feel dumb, funny how they'd have a really hard time supporting it and learning to use it. And so we started realizing like, wow, people are really at the core of how everything works. How do we get people on board with what we're trying to do? How do we help people grow? And anyway, several career Epiphanes later I ended up working 100% in the people business, which is in staffing and then eventually in HR and development.

Amanda Hammett: 05:01
I love this little journey that you took and I think it was a really important multiple steps along the way. Where you woke up and you saw these little Ahas and then they've all added together. I know that in my career I've had multiple Aha moments as well that have brought me to where I am. So that's fascinating. So in all of this journey that you've taken so far, I would imagine that you have had the experience of multiple different types of leadership. So how did that experience shape your own leadership style?

Travis Dommert: 05:32
That's a really good question. yeah, we actually do an exercise at the kickoff of our leadership program here at Jackson Healthcare and one of those exercises is for people to just think about the best person they ever worked for and write down an adjective or an attribute or a characteristic of that person on a little post-it notes and then we go put them on the wall. But we group them into four areas and is their IQ. And another one is their emotional intelligence or how they made you feel. Another one is their subject matter expertise. And then we've got like the other bucket. If you can't figure out which three of those go into, you put it over there. And Gosh, the first time I did that exercise several years ago, you know, I immediately thought about one person who I worked for who always had a smile, always asked how I was doing.

Travis Dommert: 06:23
Would always thank me, like at the end of every day or every week, like, thanks so much. You know, so glad you're here. And he said it more in probably the first six months I worked for him that every other person I'd ever worked for combined. Wow. And I thought, you know, we went through really hard times. In fact, I worked for him in 2008 as the bottom fell out in the market. And you know, the last thing I would ever do would be to do something that would hurt him. Like I wanted him to be successful. I want it to make the company successful. And anyway, you know, I've, I've experienced a lot of people with other styles. And somewhere the undercurrent was, however, it looked, however, it felt, whether they were charismatic and extroverted or they were quiet and technical, you can tell are they for you or are they for them? And if their thoughts and actions felt like you were there to help them achieve whatever it is they were trying to do, it wasn't as great of a, you know, experience. So anyway, that's really informed a lot of how we do things here throughout our company.

Amanda Hammett: 07:32
I love that experience that you had. I mean, I know that anytime you have experience with a leader who is just like, you feel like a cog in the wheel, they don't make you feel human. The last thing you want to do is give your all. And so this guy obviously showed that he cared about you and he thought that you were important and what you were contributing was important and he made you feel like human. You had that human to human connection that we're all hard wired looking for. Yeah. That is amazing. Yeah. So I'm guessing this is a kind of leader that you would have run through walls for.

Travis Dommert: 08:06
Right, absolutely. And you know, it's interesting that we're talking about next generation leaders. And I think this is really relevant because when I look at the next generation leader is somebody who's relatively early in their career, they haven't had a lot of bosses yet. They haven't had a lot of maybe, career, experience, but most importantly, they haven't gone through a lot of hard times yet. Where a job just stinks.

Amanda Hammett: 08:30
Yes.

Travis Dommert: 08:30
And every job is called a job, you know, for reason. There's work, there are parts of it that are just hard. And if you feel like somebody has for you, it can really change the nature of that really hard thing to something like, this is something that we have to do, I've got to solve this problem as opposed to, this isn't any fun anymore. And I think the best thing for me is to, you know, hit the road. So anyway, I think it makes people incredibly more resilient as well as grateful and ultimately more successful.

Amanda Hammett: 09:02
I agree. I agree wholeheartedly. You know, in my own consulting practice, I have found when I brought in, been brought into a company and I go in and I'll interview people that have left, why did you really leave? Why did you really leave 94% say their boss, direct boss? You can't argue with that number. It's just the way it is.

Travis Dommert: 09:22
Yeah. And that insight is really what's driven the last like two years of my career here at Jackson and I moved from one of our operating businesses into corporate HR and was really looking for, okay, in an internal HR department, what is the number that really matters? Like what is the metric that we're trying to move? And we have a wonderful company and we've got a relatively low turnover for our industry, but nonetheless, we still lose people who we don't want to lose.

Amanda Hammett: 09:50
Of course. Yes.

Travis Dommert: 09:52
And anyway, predominantly they you know, they leave when they either have some falling out or they just don't feel cared for. They're not set up to succeed. And so as we were working on our leadership program, you know, I kind of kick it off this way. I tell people, look, you don't have to be the greatest boss ever. This is good news. As the boss, as the leader, you just have to not suck because if it sucks to work for you, I'm going to, I'm going to look elsewhere. But you need, you do need to know what it's like to be a bad boss. And so a lot of the program, I mean, yes, we want it to be great, But the big thing is like understand how to not be bad.

Amanda Hammett: 10:33
Yeah, absolutely.

Travis Dommert: 10:36
Sometimes it just makes it a little easier. They're like, okay, I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to be the perfect presenter. I don't have to be the most brilliant strategists. So I have to help. I have to have people feel that I care for them. What's, I have to know what it's like to be on the other side of me. And anyway, so a lot of it's about the soft skills.

Amanda Hammett: 10:56
A hundred percent when I'm coaching those young early in careers, I'm always like, look for a good boss. Good bosses will make or break your first job every time. So, okay. Now you already talked a little bit about this, but I really want to deep dive into this a little bit more. Do you ever feel pressure as you've moved up the ranks in HR? Do you ever feel pressure from the board or higher-ups from you to really, hey Travis, don't focus on the people. Focus on the numbers. That's what we need to move. Do you ever get that pressure and how do you respond to it?

Travis Dommert: 11:31
Yeah, I have. I have not had that pressure here because there is a deep end sort of fundamental belief that the people do drive the numbers. That the numbers are a lagging indicator of highly engaged people who are equipped to be successful, who feel appreciated and engaged in their work and who are committed. And, and there's even more beyond that because we, you know, we know research shows that if you want somebody to be highly committed to their work, it's more important that they understand who they are than that they understand who you are. So all the way from the top down, it's about are we helping people really understand who they are, how their job matters. How this, this job and the things that we do impact them, their community. I mean it's very, very missional. And it's very aligned to people.

Travis Dommert: 12:17
That being said, that's why I'm here. I have worked elsewhere where we had a very explicit conversation, with someone who said, make no mistake. You are here to make money. If you cease to make money, you cease to have a purpose. You're also here to make it as much money as I believe you're capable of. So if for some reason I think you're not giving your all, even if you make more than somebody else, that's not good enough. If you are not delivering as much as I think you can, then essentially you're stealing from me. And I was given permission, fire any person that you feel is not giving 100% because that's what he's paying for like a hundred percent of them. And that's if they cashed that check and they don't give 100%, they're stealing fire them. And it was one of those painful realizations that I think we're on a fundamentally different wavelength, you know, so you've worked at communicating through it, you know, tried to really make a business case. And I think a business case can definitely be made if you really, really care about money, care about your people. If you want to make major profits you have to at least at times take a long-term perspective. Gosh, short term thinking and focusing on profit, and not paying attention to what drives it. Yeah. It's so ironic that it can just kill a company. Kills a team.

Amanda Hammett: 13:48
Yes. And you see it all the time. All the time. Now let's talk a little, let's switch gears a little bit and talk about this next generation of talent. Millennials, Gen z, are now matriculating into the workforce. How have you seen them change and influence the workplace?

Travis Dommert: 14:09
So one caveat and my only caveat is that we don't really speak the generational language here. So we don't refer to millennials. We don't refer to Gen z on a daily basis. I absolutely understand that generations are influenced by the context in which they grew up and the stuff their parents were going through when they were young and things like that. So I'm not saying that it's not a real thing. I think there are parts of it that are the real thing, but essentially I would say, young people.

Amanda Hammett: 14:41
Yes, absolutely.

Travis Dommert: 14:43
But 200 years ago, we're still visionary, excited and enthusiastic. Possibly, you know, impatient, young people and anyway.

Amanda Hammett: 14:55
Have on older generations even then.

Travis Dommert: 14:57
That's right. And they want, you know, everybody wondered, are they ever gonna buckle down or are they ever gonna whatever, you know, you fill in the blank.

Amanda Hammett: 15:05
Yeah.

Travis Dommert: 15:05
So, anyway, that being said, do I see value? Do I see an impact of the younger people in our company versus those of us who are now getting a little bit farther along? Absolutely. And it's just, it's energy. It's an absolute demand for authenticity. Yes. Um, because they're so connected because they're so tech-savvy, because they're, I won't say fearless. Some of them are definitely not fearless, but at least more willing to leave because they believe that you're a hypocrite or go online and tell everybody, you know, they can hop on Glassdoor, Yelp, whatever, Facebook, wherever it is, and just say, this place is just full of liars.

Amanda Hammett: 15:51
Yeah, absolutely.

Travis Dommert: 15:52
Then it raises the bar, you know, it raises the bar for behavior, for sticking to your values, for whatever you think you know is right. You better be doing it every day if you screw up. That happens. I mean, we screw up all the time. I screwed up, but it's like, you better be the first one to say, hey, that was my bad. What else? I don't know. I think the other thing is collaborative and so I had a very young team a couple of years ago and it just wasn't acceptable to say, okay, this is what we're going to do. It was like, wait a minute, we haven't talked about that. Can you really help us bring us along? Like where did you come to this decision? Were there conversations behind the scenes? It's funny, I thought behind the scenes sounded so negative and then I started to realize, no, they might use it.

Travis Dommert: 16:41
They may say it like, Hey Travis, we actually had a conversation behind the scenes. And here's what we talked about and here's what we think is the right thing. But even behind the scenes was like somewhat transparent. Like, Hey, we talked about you when you weren't here.

Amanda Hammett: 16:54
Absolutely.

Travis Dommert: 16:55
We're just telling you, you know, we think we've got to slow down and go back and get everybody's input on this. Okay. You know it. And what I found was, Gosh, you take just even a moment, take 10 minutes at the end of a meeting, or five minutes at the front of the meeting or something and be more collaborative. And the changes had a tendency to last and just people would buy in. So people will start telling me why this is really important. I'm like, yeah. All right.

Amanda Hammett: 17:24
Absolutely. Well, I mean, when they're part of the process, they're there. Think more like owners and so there's more responsibility when you're an owner.

Travis Dommert: 17:32
Yup. They're going to buy it.

Amanda Hammett: 17:34
Absolutely. So let's talk a little bit about the recruiting process. I know that you are heading up some talent acquisitions. So how are, you know, next generation, how are you guys going after that younger generation in the workforce?

Travis Dommert: 17:48
Yeah, a sort of two-prong strategy. Most of the people who come to work here are through referral and that's fantastic. I'd love that to be everybody. With one exception and that is that, you know, nobody knows everybody. Even though collectively we might, we could definitely miss out on amazing talent and people, you know, they move to places like Atlanta. We have, you know, I'm not a transient city, but we definitely have a flux of new talent who comes in and, um, so anyway, for those folks then we're trying to, you know, be intentional in reaching out digitally. But the number one thing is making sure that people know about what opportunities exist here. That they, that it's easy to refer people. You know, we track our referral metrics probably as closely or more closely than we do, you know, some of our other marketing and recruitment activity.

Travis Dommert: 18:40
So those are probably the two primary channels. Um, and then the other thing you know is actually just doing good. The company has done good for a long, long time, but it was only a few years ago that they actually started, um, capturing videos and sharing stories internally about the amazing things that our associates were doing in the community. And the idea was like, oh, hey everybody, did you know that this team did this? And it was kind of a feel good thing internally. Well that was the very first thing people turned around and they started posting externally.

Amanda Hammett: 19:14
Yes.

Travis Dommert: 19:16
And it's so amazing because it ended up changing really almost our whole brand strategy. It would be much more around market intelligence about what's going on in healthcare, what physicians think. And now it's much more about, it's absolutely missional that Jackson Healthcare is about having a positive impact on people in the world. And how do we improve the lives of everyone we touch. And so when you get to share story after story, now suddenly we have people coming to us saying, I don't care what job it is, I would like to work there because you believe in what I believe in.

Amanda Hammett: 19:50
Absolutely. That is awesome. I love that story. I would love to actually dig some of those videos up and share them myself. That's pretty amazing stuff.

Travis Dommert: 20:00
Yeah, go to our youtube channel. There's a bunch of them out there now. They're awesome.

Amanda Hammett: 20:03
Wonderful. So let's talk a little bit about, the learning and development, because I know through my own experience, through season one of this podcast, all these high performing millennials, they always said, you know, I need to be able to stretch. I need to consistently learn. So how are you guys feeding that need for knowledge?

Travis Dommert: 20:24
Well, yeah, it's pretty insatiable. And that was an interesting fact that I picked up at a seminar event earlier this year was that you know, the number one desire of, and this particular event, they said millennials, but I would say again, next-generation leaders, was learning. So we do that in a number of ways. Traditionally we had like curated curriculum. So we've got classrooms here. Everybody has access to take classes and they are encouraged. They're put on career paths where it's like, okay, these are the six classes that you should take this year and next year in the year after and whatever. And so Jackson Healthcare University helps fill that need internally for our folks. But I was looking, you know, we've maybe offered 30 different classes in the last 10 years and now you look online, it's a massive learning platforms and you realize, okay, there are also thousands more.

Travis Dommert: 21:19
And now, you know, we're trying to tap into that. So for the last two years, we've been developing a partnership with linkedin learning. Have a sense linkedin bought Lynda. Um, and so now that's another channel. We encourage people for more real-time and continuous learning, microlearning. If somebody brings something up in a one-on-one, you know, you're a quick search away from saying, Oh wow, maybe got to watch this. We're using something called tone networks. Um, that's a little bit more focused on women in leadership and development. That's, that's curated for them. And then we also anybody who gets to the point of managing another person, um, it doesn't matter what your age is. Then you're going to go through our leadership program and that's a really awesome immersive experience. And right now we're putting every single leader in our company through this three months program, which has been terrific.

Amanda Hammett: 22:20
That's pretty cool. So what would you say has been the benefit of developing your people?

Travis Dommert: 22:30
I think it's becoming part of the culture. I mean, I think the end benefit that that company would see and that, that we will be measuring, ultimately it's going to impact tenure and it's going to impact performance. But the way it looks is that people are grateful. People are building relationships. They're just more effective day to day. So they spend more time actually delivering value to whoever they work with or for, and they spend less time in conflict. And not surprisingly, we don't actually make anything right. You know, like many companies today, we're a service business, so we build relationships. Most of our learning and training is about, okay, how do you deal with humans? And by the way, you are one, you know, it's messy.

Travis Dommert: 23:23
So I tell people on their very first day of work, you know, it's a matter of minutes. I hope it's hours or days, but it might be minutes before somebody hurts your feelings or worse, you hurt someone's feelings. So what are you going to do then? And the temptation is going to be, I'm going to quit. Like I'm going to get rid of the bad boss or the bad teammate or whatever. And it's like, no, no, no, no, no, that's not, that's actually not what you should do. If you really value learning and growing and being a better person, here are some tools, here are some techniques and when you lean into that rocky relationship or those misspoken words and you do it effectively, you end up becoming closer. And so now this person you thought you wanted to get rid of, you actually love them a little bit because you see their words and you know and suddenly you're closer. And so I think the other benefit is people are just closer. Like I see more hugs and tears here than any place ever by far that I've ever been. Somewhere along the way I know that has business value because I know that they're learning the same things to develop relationships and help people outside the company.

Amanda Hammett: 24:33
Yeah. You want to build a community among the people that you work with day in and day out. That's awesome. I love to hear the tears and the laughter and all that good stuff. That's what I listen for when I'm observing at companies. I'm walking around them listening like what are the conversations like? What's the tenor of the conversation? Is there laughter? Are they talking outside of just work talk? And that's one of my judges of like, okay, this is, I know it's weird, but for me it's about building community and are these employees enjoying being together? So yes.

Travis Dommert: 25:07
Yeah. We actually, we joke about there being a tier quota. We don't get enough people crying, you know, we're not doing our jobs. They're just, we're not reaching them. And let's, let's all stop being fake here. We've got to get down to what do you really, really care about? And man, when you get somebody who can't talk, you're like, okay, we got there with you.

Amanda Hammett: 25:30
I love this. I'm the tier quota. Okay.

Travis Dommert: 25:34
Don't let that out.

Amanda Hammett: 25:38
So Travis, what would you give, what piece of advice would you give to a first-time leader? This is their very first time leading people. What would you do to set them up to succeed?

Travis Dommert: 25:49
I would give them the advice we start a lot of our programs with, which is that there may be some of this job as a leader that you like. And there may be some of it that you don't like. There may be days when you feel good on, there may be days that you feel bad. Don't worry about any of that. If you're going to play the role of leader, it's not about you. So don't worry about your style. Don't worry about how you look. Don't worry about what you sound like. It's not about you. If you will look at what do people need from you and you offer that to them. They need encouragement. They need direction, they need support, they need love, they need forgiveness, they need purpose. If you just keep asking yourself whether you've never let anybody or you're really seasoned what does this person need me and try to offer that up. Okay. I think nine times out of 10, you're going to be successful.

Amanda Hammett: 26:51
That is such a fantastic answer and honestly, I can't think of any better way to end this episode. So Travis, thank you so much for joining us today.

Travis Dommert: 26:59
Awesome. Thanks, Amanda.
Thank you.

Amanda Hammett: 27:02
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all 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 rock stars 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.