Imagine a professional who is a talented expert in their field, yet has no leadership abilities. What happens when they get promoted?
Let’s build the future of Talent Management to build stronger organizations. Welcome to our conversation with Noel DiBona.
- 0:20 – What got you into this work focusing on developing people teams and organizations?
- 1:57 – The importance of demystifying the human system and how it relates to the actual execution of work.
- 3:28 – What commonalities do you see within the industry?
- 5:10 – What’s tough for people with the STEM training?
- 9:34 – The beauty of data is that everyone has particular strengths that they can build from.
- 11:24 – Why you need experts in your industry.
- 12:36 – The pivotal issue for most companies across all industries is how to attract and retain good talent.
- 14:40 – The biggest thing that I see is that people are being asked to do lots of work and they’re being stretched.
- 18:06 – What have you learned in your career that you wish you had learned earlier?
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Noel’s passion to improve businesses, and his innovative leadership style has resulted in financial and operational gains to a diverse range of clients.
Noel has a deep professional background, has traveled the world with his work, and works through Dibona & Associates to merge technical solutions with the awareness of human systems. And that’s where Noel is able to help businesses become more agile and realize their true growth potential.
Episode 26 – Full Transcript
Aaron Lee 0:01
What got you into this work focusing on developing people, teams, and organizations?
Noel DiBona 0:20
I get involved in various executive management positions when I came up the ranks working for engineering and construction firms. And as I’ve transitioned from an individual contributor to a manager, and then to an Executive leader, in these large companies, it became apparent to me that all business problems came back to being a person-related issue, people issue, if you will. And when I went out into the consulting world, in the early 2000s, I realized that companies with the best processes, and the best technology, were not quite hitting the mark. And it was because there was something on their team that was out of balance. So I love working with all types of different teams at any level in the organization and getting those teams to improve their levels of productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness, this allows me to provide them with lots of value. And that’s really what these companies, what these leaders are looking for.
Aaron Lee 1:30
It is really meaningful work. And it’s exciting to hear you say many of the things that I think about and reflect on that so many of those issues that I saw and watched happen, both reinforcing the good and the challenges that you see in lots of industries. I always say I used to think it was industry specific in the places where I found myself. And then I realized, like you said, people issues that are people issues,
Noel DiBona 1:55
absolutely no doubt about it. And interesting because there are lots of different industries, where there are different norms, and have varying degrees of understanding around the human system. And it’s fascinating, but we spend a good amount of time educating leaders on the human says so that we can demystify, what does that mean, and how does it relate to the actual execution of work? And how can I do it more profitable. Profit is important, isn’t it? Bottom line, I mean, some companies are out there, enhancing their top line, but they’re leaking a lot of money because their teams are not communicating effectively with one another, or there’s overlap, because they can’t get the information that they need from other support teams within the organization, they’re redoing their own work. And it’s interesting, we find that in any given organization that we work with the level of efficiency, on average is usually under 70%, somewhere between 68%, which means for every 10 hours worked, they’ve got close to a half day, four hours of non productive time. And we find a lot of that has to do with electronic communication mediums that the company has not actually prioritized or set up rules of engagement of how they want their people to communicate. So it’s just information blasting out all over the place, and people getting on that hamster wheel having a hard time delivering value to their organizations
Aaron Lee 3:27
spot on. So as you were talking about your experience in this people side, I want to I want to focus in I was on James Brian’s engineer your success podcast and had a conversation and being a licensed engineer, he comes from the engineering perspective as well. And so we were talking about some of those industry unique perspectives. And I’ll link that episode over on James’s podcast in the show notes here. But as you focus, looking specifically at engineering, what tendencies or commonalities Do you tend to see in leaders and people who naturally find themselves going through education and becoming engineers and rising through the ranks? Are there commonalities that you see within the industry,
Noel DiBona 4:11
definitely, is definitely commonalities. I mean, STEM professionals are trained to identify problems, first of all, and so you can imagine a very solid individual contributor, getting elevated to a management position simply because they’re good at what they do from a technical standpoint. And that person is trained to look for problems and one of his engineers, his or her engineers will come in and say, Hey, Boss, what do you think about this new idea? I think this is crackerjack. What do you think? Well, Joe, you know, it’s great, but except that it doesn’t do this, this not really worth pursuing. So it goes back to communication and dealing with people and I find that many engineering folks that come up through the ranks tend to have a difficult time moving, evolving from a task skill based mentality to learning how to develop relationships, because the higher up the food chain, the more relationship based you need to be in the way that you do your work. And that’s tough for people with the stem training. And so really is, I think, three different things that I find that a common traits, that’s the first one is the desire to want to solve those problems and do the work. The second one has to do with the nature and how they communicate, just by maybe not listening as much as they need to. And the third issue is that if it’s people related, it’s just a little bit too messy for me to deal with, I’m going to try to engineer the human element out of this equation. And so there’s a proliferation of technologies out there and all facets of business today that actually make the situation worse, because they, they get people thinking that they don’t need to rely on on how people interact with one another. And it makes a bad situation worse, one of the first things I asked leaders like, Hey, what is it that you’ve done to improve your business? And what have you experienced through those improvements? And I’ll always get an answer, they’ll always answer was saying something to the effect that, hey, you know, what, we do make a lot of really great improvements, but they’re only short lived, and we have to educate them. And it has to do with their environment, how they’re engaging their people in the work environment that they’re creating is not conducive to people being psychologically committed to the success of that work unit. They’re simply complying with what they’re asked to do when the boss is looking. Right?
Aaron Lee 6:33
Yes, and I love where you started with that. They’re so focused on solving problems. And my mind goes in two directions. And I’ll include links to both of these tools in the show notes as well. One of them is even your motivation for communication. So there’s a tool that I use that talks about the five different ways, and that one is critiquing the idea, sometimes we just need care, sometimes we need problem solving. There are multiple ways that we can approach that communication. Sometimes we need collaboration, let’s work on this together. Sometimes it’s clarifying. And the key I think, that so many of us don’t do is sometimes we need to celebrate.
Noel DiBona 7:15
Yeah, absolutely. That’s great. I love that. So what we do with the effective communication is we will look at the preferred workstyle of the individual. And as well do all that same analysis. And then what we will do is structure COMMUNICATIONS TRAINING, which is using a communication technique, it’s a three part technique. And we’ll use that technique in 90 minutes, slices of instruction, that are participatory types of instruction, where they actually will have and they’re spaced out two weeks in between, and they’ll have practical applications that they’ll take right back to their job, how they communicate with people that work for them, how they communicate with their peers, and how they manage up all three aspects of that. So it’s very interesting, it’s simple to understand, it’s not hard to do, but it’s difficult to have the discipline to do it day in and day out. And we have a heavy neuroscience component to the things that we do to get people to understand that their emotional side of their brain can really take over and make them slaves to themselves, and how they discharge their responsibilities on a day in and day out basis and how their people see them. So it’s very interesting and quite revealing when we go through that process.
Aaron Lee 8:43
Episode 25, we’re in our conversation with Zoey, she was talking about as an organizational psychologist, yeah, how much data there can be in the workplace. And as you describe some of that emotional social, the people side, we don’t often think of there being data related to those insights. So how have you seen data resonate with your clients and your audience in making some positive changes?
Noel DiBona 9:10
Oh, hige. Well, on an individual basis, of course, the drives and the needs that individuals have in terms of how they like to do their work. Some people obviously are going to be more socially oriented than others, some are going to be more independent minded, some more formal, less formal, some rules based, some will be more process driven, and others less so. So you got all these different types of individuals. But the beauty of that analysis is that everybody has particular strengths that they can build from. And when you take those individual data points and put them together and aggregate that data to reflect the true nature of the team, now you’re able to empower a leader not only to read these different reports insert that talk about that explain the motivations that each of his or her employees have. But now we can actually see it graphically depicted we can do what if we can evaluate how the team is currently doing and what is it that would make it better in view of the fact that you’ve got these strengths that adjusts beneath the surface, that now we’re able to bring light to, and utilize that information so that they can improve the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of the team. So that’s really how we use the data. And then there’s some great tools, as you know, in terms of taking that data and informing the supervisor or the manager with how that person can meet the needs of that individual, and provide them a greater level of fulfillment in the work that they’re doing, thereby getting more of a psychological commitment, as opposed to just complying with what they’re being asked to do. So it all comes back to that. But that’s a whole educational journey that you have to bring that leader through, because these are the things that aren’t really apparent. I mean, people read about it in books, and it tells you what you need to do. But they need us to show them how to do these things, because it can be very time consuming, and unrewarding, without utilizing a professional that does this day in and day out. I tell people, if you go to the dentist’s chair, you’re not going to drill your own teeth, you’re going to rely on the dentist to that. So it sounds painful, doesn’t it? It does,
Aaron Lee 11:26
I can’t even imagine. Have not interested in in that. And that’s a great analogy. And especially in getting into engineering and construction. I don’t want someone building I sit in stadiums and large arenas and buildings sometimes and and look up there was actually a building I sat in recently, and I was looking at the brackets holding up the roof rafters. And this was a relatively small building. But I could pinpoint where in a bracket they had missed putting in a probably critical screw that one of those rafters
Noel DiBona 11:59
was no, that’s not good. There’s a lot of tension on that.
Aaron Lee 12:03
Yeah. So you need the experts. And you need those insights. And we had a conversation yesterday with client, talking about how sometimes just as with kids, parents can tell them one thing, but until the coach or teacher or external voice says it, it’s not going to make any difference. And the same executive can say it, the team leader can say it, the internal consultant can say it, but until somebody else says it with fresh voice, fresh perspective, fresh eyes sometimes doesn’t hold the same weight. Yeah, absolutely
Noel DiBona 12:35
not. The pivotal issue for most companies across all industries, is really how to attract and retain and develop really solid talent. And today with everything that’s been going on in the last several years, and the upheaval of people looking for new work and not wanting to stay in place, a lot of companies are having a major issue attracting the right types of people. And when they’re able to bring a more progressive view to their teams, by offering their people a greater level of understanding that makes it easier for them to do their jobs, it’s a lot easier to sell that type of a work environment or prospective candidate than it is to try to attract the right talent. Because these days, particularly in some of the higher tech industries, that’s where a lot of this talent, this engineering talent is going and they’re not going to be they don’t want to go work for a High Tech, Dirt moving company, as technologically advanced as that company might be in doing underground utilities, or some type of site preparation for a large industrial site. That’s very challenging, as exciting as it is to some it’s not enough to attract the right talent. And so it’s very important, the things that we’re talking about today that leaders take those things seriously, if for no other reason of keeping a pipeline of talent, because if that pipeline dies up, I’ve seen companies at the 100 $200 million revenue level, just go down because they can’t get the right people. That’s not good.
Aaron Lee 14:11
Just as the people data, the people information is so pivotal to keep the organization operating, having the people in the right seats is vitally important as well. One of the things you touched on a minute ago was the upheaval in the changes. And my friend Jeremy, who was on a few episodes ago, talked about the waves of the tsunami that have kept us what waves are you seeing right now in the workforce that maybe aren’t making headlines?
Noel DiBona 14:40
The biggest thing that I see is that people are being asked to do lots of work. They’re being stretched, because what’s happening is that there’s a whipsaw with a lot of different firms in terms of them wanting to serve different types of clients or do different types of have projects, a lot of companies are out there trying to just spread their wings and seize the opportunity that they see in these other adjacent markets. And when they do that, that’s great, it will help them grow, but they need a team behind them that can execute. And so people are just stretched very, very thin. There’s a high level of stress to some burnouts, there is people that are not particularly happy with what they’re doing, but they’re happy enough to stay. And typically, what I see happening is that the good people, the exceptional contributors, and managers, they end up leaving, and the organization begins to become less, they have fewer, really top level talent. And as a result, their whole game comes down at a time when it really needs to be ratcheted up can be very bad and difficult for companies and their profit ends up suffering. So I’ve seen in the engineering construction businesses, and a lot of different companies that I’ve worked with, there’s a huge opportunity to seize a higher level of profitability than what they’re able to get very interesting.
Aaron Lee 16:09
It is interesting in watching, sometimes that middle gets stretched, frontline sometimes can move in, move out, and we hire new folks, we build the ranks, the executives may stay the same, but that middle layer, as more openings pop up, it’s been a real challenge to watch some of them carry on that heavier burden, and carry that on at a time when there are external heavier burdens for a variety of reasons. Personally, culturally, professionally, it’s been a big challenge.
Noel DiBona 16:45
One of our key clients that we’ve worked with for years has an incredible depth of systems that the various levels of project management and project engineers can use. But seldom when they execute a project, do they use those in a thoughtful manner that actually brings a higher level of value to the end user. I mean, they do good with the customer. But it’s a painful thing is a painful process, because they usually muscle it through. And it’s basically hurrying up and not taking the time to think through the communication protocols or communication plans, who’s doing what how we’re capturing this information, how we’re doing daily meetings and capturing the things that need to get done, how are we prioritizing what we’re working on, it’s just an all big blur of activity. But if they would just step back from that, and take some time to work out the details of that project, they go a lot smoother. So we’ve developed some things for project teams to do at the beginning when they formed, and it helps them really be able to communicate more effectively with each other and figure out how they’re going to execute the project because all projects is different. But I see that in a lot of larger companies that we work with.
Aaron Lee 18:06
I’m curious, as we start to wrap up, the one question I asked every guest is the question that started the new generation leader, as a book and a concept, which was me asking a mentor who was about to retire? What have you learned in your career that you wish you had learned earlier? And so I asked you that same question, what have you learned, that you wish you had learned and been able to put into practice earlier in your career?
Noel DiBona 18:33
Mine is simple. Don’t be so driven as to just want to move on and do the next thing. But take a step back, enjoy, celebrate more, enjoy what you’ve got, and be present in the moment. That’s really if I had to go back, that would be one of the lessons the most important thing that I would tell myself,
Aaron Lee 18:51
I resonate with that as well. Certainly the lesson I have learned and and I think one word I’ve taken away that you’ve said a few times and you said in your learning opportunity is simple. Yes. How do we make things simple doesn’t necessarily make it easy to implement or keep up with but how do we get back to those simple steps. And I know my passion is finding those simple steps for teams. And I hear your passion for that as well. Absolutely. What’s the best way that people can connect with you and stay in touch with you? They want to learn more?
Noel DiBona 19:25
Yeah, if they want to learn more Aaron, you can connect with me on my website at triple W dot consult de bona.com. And if you’d like to email me, you can certainly email me at Noble at konsult de bona.com. And be happy to answer any questions or even just get into any conversation regarding what we’ve discussed today. It’s a passion of mine and Aaron, I really appreciate the time you’ve spent with me and the opportunity to participate in your podcast. It’s been great.
Aaron Lee 19:54
Absolutely. I’ve enjoyed the conversation. It’s great to get together with like minded Coaches and Consultants. and talk about what we’re seeing and how we can together collectively further this mission to unlock the true potential of teams and organizations. So no, thanks so much for your time. Today. We’ll include links to connect with no show notes at New Generation leader.com/ 26. Thanks for tuning in today’s episode. All right. Thanks for listening to the new generation leader podcast. Subscribe today on your favorite podcasting platform, ready to solve your leadership crisis? Download the show notes and unlock your true leadership potential at New Generation leader.com/podcast. Thanks for listening today, and we look forward to seeing you next time on the new generation leader podcast