In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we explore the role that systems play in our experience with impostor syndrome. My guest, Jodi Detjen, a DEI consultant, shares her fascinating research on inclusion, including effective practices, the role of managers and the responsibility of individuals. Jodi offers a powerful message, rooted in realism and optimism, about the progress that’s being made and what’s required on the road ahead.
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About My Guest
Dr. Jodi Detjen is an accomplished organizational consultant and educator with a foundation in operational change management. Her mission is to help realize inclusion in the workplace as soon as possible. In addition to being Associate Professor of Practice in Management and Academic MBA Program Director at Suffolk University, Boston, MA, Jodi is co-Managing Partner of Orange Grove Consulting, a firm focused on Organization Inclusion. She has worked in organizational development for over 25 years transforming the way people work at small and large companies. Jodi designs top-tier inclusive leadership training, consults and runs workshops for clients, and is a highly sought-after speaker and writer for organizations.
She is co-author of the books The Orange Line: A Woman’s Guide to Integrating Career, Family and The Next Smart Step: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes and Build a Stronger Organization. She has published multiple articles focused on the practitioner application of organization development concepts including Business Horizons and The Case Journal.
She is an active member of many women’s advocacy organizations, among them, the Geena Davis Women in Media and the Boston Club. She has collaborated with global and national companies such as Barclay’s Bank, UPS, the US Air Force, Oracle, Ericsson, and Excelitas among others
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Kim Meninger Welcome, Jody.
Jody Detjen Hi, Kim.
Kim Meninger It’s great to see you again. And I’m really excited to talk with you today. I’d love to start by inviting you to introduce yourself.
Jody Detjen Sure. I’m Jody Detjen. I am managing partner of, or co-managing partner of Orange Grove Consulting. We are a DEI inclusion consulting firm, where we really focus on how do you bring inclusion into the organization from an organizational development perspective. So processes and skills and leadership. And so really changing the way organizations work so that they become more inclusive. I’m also an associate professor of practice at Suffolk University in downtown Boston in management. And I also run the MBA program there. So I bring in a really strong academic lens as well. So a lot of what we do, actually, all of what we do is based very strongly in research, so that we’re not just saying, hey, try this, we’re actually saying, this is what has been shown to work. And there’s some really interesting findings as we do this. So it’s really important for us, that we ground everything we do in research.
Kim Meninger I am so excited to bring your lens to this conversation because I believe that DEI is such an important factor when we talk about impostor syndrome and confidence more generally, in the workplace. Yeah. And, you know, I think from personal experience, a lot of times, managers or just, in general, the system isn’t always welcoming that kind of conversation, it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s quantifiable, it might feel a little bit sensitive. But I think there are really strong business reasons why it makes sense to create a culture where people can feel more comfortable and thus more confident and contribute more fully to, to the overall business experience as well. So before we jump into more of your research, and how you do what you do, and the impact of that, I’d love to hear, if you have an impostor syndrome story of your own, how have you managed your own journey in your career?
Jody Detjen You know, it’s so funny, because when we wrote our first book, The Orange Line, back in 2013, we actually interviewed women of all different, different backgrounds, but really women at the middle level, focusing middle, women in middle management level and above. And what we found was that almost everybody had a zigzag story career and mine was the same. I think two times I felt as an impostor. The first time was after the birth of my second child. I was a professor, but I was really, I took, I went really part-time. And I found you know, society actually doesn’t like motherhood very much, American society. And so I felt very much rejected. And I felt very, gosh, I don’t even know what the word, I haven’t told the story in a while. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, right, I felt like I was trying to present something that I wasn’t and, it felt very, it was impostor syndrome, I felt that I was much less capable than what I was presenting. And of course, it wasn’t true. Because all my previous experience was still there, there was just this piece of my life that didn’t get a lot of respect. And so I actually internalized that. It took me a while to actually work past that as I started to realize the contributions that I did want to make in the world. And once I started to internalize and start to believe in myself and trust myself again, then then the impostor syndrome went away. The other time I found the impostor syndrome show up is that I work in academia. And for, for a long time, I didn’t have my doctorate. And in academia, not having a doctorate is very much, it’s actually not an impostor, internal impostor, it’s an external impostor, like people actually tell you that you aren’t good enough because you don’t have a doctorate. I’ve subsequently gotten my doctorate so that’s gone away. But so there are actually legitimate structural things that make people feel less than so it’s not that they feel like they’re an impostor. But they feel less than which is exactly what impostor syndrome does to people. And so these structural aspects, and then the credibility and the respect that go with the structural aspects are a key component of how confident people feel if that makes sense.
Kim Meninger Absolutely. And I think that’s such an important part of the conversation because I think that there’s been a lot of focus on the internal elements and not as much on what’s going on externally that’s causing all of us to feel this way. Right? [Correct.] You said that too about the other people are thinking of you as an impostor if you don’t have these particular credentials or aspects to your background.
Jody Detjen Well, let me give you an example, actually, that we see in a lot of our work with clients. So we do a lot of assessment work, where we go in and we assess organizations around their inclusion. And what we find is that oftentimes that organizations have done, in order to make their leadership more diverse, they’ve created this extra step. And it’s almost always an extra step for women and people of color. It’s rare that you see a white man getting that extra step so you can become a senior leader, but you’re like senior leader light. And so there’s all sorts of titles that people put in the place. And the problem is, is that it’s basically saying you need to prove yourself. And so it’s just riddled with this lack of credibility from both sides, internally and externally. Because the people that are in those leadership positions currently look at that role and say, yeah, that’s not it, you’re not really a leader, we just did that because you are a woman or person of color. You’re not really capable. And then they, the women, people of color feel like, well, I guess I’m really not capable. I didn’t get this title. And, and there was a good intention behind this. A lot of organizations have done this to bring more diversity into their senior leadership team. But the end result is they’re looked at as less capable, both internally and externally. So it’s, like, riddled with problems.
Kim Meninger So interesting. I’m sure you see a lot of unintended consequences, [Yeah] to these efforts because it is so complicated. And if there were an easy answer, we’d be in a very different place right now.
Jody Detjen I think that’s part of the problem, right? Because I think so many companies want to do the right thing. And they also have a lot of pressure to do it fast. And unfortunately, these are systemic, structural challenges that have been baked into our organizations for decades, probably longer than that. And so to expect that we’re going to be able to change it just because everybody’s been through unconscious bias training is rather naive. And yet, that’s what most companies are doing.
Kim Meninger Yeah, that seems like a very checkbox type of behavior or activity. I’m curious too as you’re having conversations, and there’s been a lot, I think, in our political climate, or just social climate that has raised the urgency around some of the conversations about inclusion in particular, and not just diversity, right? Do you see organizations getting serious about the inclusion and belonging piece, and what do those kinds of conversations look like?
Jody Detjen So it’s very interesting, of course, you have the range of organizations, some people or some organizations are further along than others. You know, I think tech has gotten probably more pressure than most organizations, tech and finance, banking has done an incredible job of actually thinking about it. The way we look at inclusion is that inclusion is changing the processes so that you’re bringing everybody’s voice into the table, and everybody has opportunity based on their capability to actually get promoted. So for example, a lot of the work that we do with clients, one of the things we often see, we see this a lot to the point where I actually did some research on it. And it was, it’s pretty evident. There’s a promotion that people get, but there’s five steps before that promotion, that prepare you for that promotion. And so when people look at the promotion, and they say, you know, we’re not, there’s not enough diversity of people that we’re including in that promotion, what they’re not looking at is the five steps before. And so think about what that requires. That means that, are you getting exposure to the clients? Are you getting the visibility projects? Are you getting the opportunity to be involved with senior leadership? Are your projects that you’re working on or the work that you’re doing impactful to the strategy? So these are all things that are very, very hidden and nuanced, and often not tracked or measured. And so organizations aren’t looking at those precursor elements, which are actually the reason why promotions are, aren’t yielding the outcome. They’re looking at this one piece. And it’s the same thing with hiring, for example, people say, Oh, we need to hire more diversely. And then there’s like, we’ve, we’ve got a 10 step process that people need to do, from the point of understanding the need to the point of actually onboarding, that really have to look across that 10 stage process, and look at each element of it to see where bias is baked in. Because that’s the real challenge with inclusion. It’s that we’ve built exclusion into the process. We’ve default we’ve built default into the process, and the default is exclusionary, that’s the problem. And so it’s requiring organizations to sort of look underneath the hood. And most organizations are like, oh, okay, didn’t think I had to do that.
Kim Meninger Hmm, that’s really interesting, because it does sound like there’s an un-learning aspect to this. I mean, there’s probably a better way to say that, but you like you’re saying, it’s not like we’re starting from scratch, and thinking about how do we build something that’s inclusive, with reverse, reversing a lot of the correct current way of doing things?
Jody Detjen And so it’s a change management process. So when we work with clients, the way we describe this as this is changing processes. So you know, back when we did, we looked at the supply chain, and we redesigned the entire supply chain. And now we’re looking at that, again, we’re looking at the supply chain again, and you’re re-designing all these different elements that we’re talking about doing the exact same thing with inclusion. And here’s the thing that I think people fail to see. And that is that, today’s, today’s approach is a default approach. And it’s going to yield you the fastest, most efficient as it’s designed today, outcome, but it’s not going to yield you the most effective outcome. So the intermediary step is to redesign the process. And in that intermediary step, it will be less efficient. But then you actually recalibrate under a new process. And so people get used to new processes, a new process becomes efficient. So there’s the step in the middle where it’s less efficient. So for example, if I have to go through and standardize all my interview questions because that’s one of the key ingredients to successful inclusion, you know, now I have to go make sure everybody in the organization is using the same interview questions for every time they’re interviewing, not, not across organization, but across their, you know, whoever they’re interviewing for. Initially, people are going to be like, groan, I just wing it. Yeah, why do I have to do that? So there’s going to be this resistance, it’s going to be less effective, people are going to push back. So there’s this noise in the machine. But then once you establish it, now it’s done, people go, Okay, here are the questions done, and I’ll just do it, and nobody thinks twice about it. So it’s just that we have to get through this intermediary period. That’s what people, this the way, we know the way out, we know what the end results gonna look like. So all we have to do is figure out how to manage this middle process.
Kim Meninger That makes perfect sense. And just as humans, I think no matter what, we’re always going to resist change. Right? It’s uncomfortable. It’s annoying to have to do things in a different way. But what I’m curious because you made a distinction early on between where I think you said tech and finance are versus banking, the people that are doing this well, or at least are further along in the process… Is it because they have different mindsets around this or what’s, what’s the underlying factors that make some organizations do this better or more quickly than others?
Jody Detjen I think the number one thing is that it’s become a strategic priority. So the organization says the only way we can succeed is by saying this is one of our strategies, we got to become more inclusive. So for example, you see an Accenture, saying we want 50/50 women in leadership by I think 2024 or something. It’s now a strategic priority. And it makes sense, right? Because at Accenture, their business is people. I mean, if they’re just taking from a very small pool of people, that’s not going to help their business at all. In fact, that’s true of most businesses, but most businesses don’t look at it that way. You know, and so that’s the number one step is that it’s, it’s a strategy, like any other business strategy. And when I talk about that people are like, oh, because here’s the thing, when we have a business strategy, oh, we need to create a new product line, we know all the different steps we have to do it and people, there’s resources invested in it, and the entire organization becomes aligned with it and then just does it. So when you make inclusion a strategic priority like that, the same thing happens, you put resources in it, you put your best people on it, it becomes part of their job, and you have this whole method and approach to actually making it happen. So if it does, there’s a lot of talk, and, oh, we need bottom up change. And I’m actually, that’s not what the research tells us. That’s not what experience tells us. When you look at organizational change, I’m not talking about societal change, I’m talking about organizational change, you can create noise and pressure from the bottom. But the only way you’re actually going to change that organization is if the people at the top, say this matters to our organization, and this is the way we’re going. And that’s the way that circa 2021, the way our organizations work, that doesn’t mean that people at the bottom can’t put pressure on it, they can. But if you really want to make systemic change the first places, it’s got to be a strategic change. And then from our research, we know that there’s really three components, there’s the mindset component, which you are talking about, you’ve got to say this matters. But also you got to say, Oh my gosh, I have to look at this in a different way. So for example, we talked about like, for example, socioeconomic bias in the hiring process. So a lot of organizations say we want people who’ve had internships. Well, guess what, somebody who’s working their way through college needs to have a job so they can pay for college, they’re not getting an internship. So now that person has been excluded from your pipeline. So that’s a bias, right? So we need to change our mindsets. The second thing we need to do is give people skills. So we need to train people so that they can give hard feedback, regardless of who’s receiving it. So there’s because there’s research that says that some managers are less comfortable giving feedback to women, for example, or people of color because they’re worried about what might happen. So they actually filter well then now these people don’t get developmental feedback. So we give managers skills to be able to do that. And then the third component which is where we’re not seeing as much change is you’ve got to change the processes, exactly what I’ve been talking about. So those three components, the organizations that are doing it while we’re doing all three,
Kim Meninger And how optimistic are you that there will be widespread adoption of what we’re talking about?
Jody Detjen So probably a lot of your listeners know the whole idea of, of new product adoption. There’s a curve that goes, you’ve got your early adopters, and you have people that start starts to become a little more mainstream, and then it becomes mainstream, and then you have your laggards. So what I think is going to happen is that we’re still in the early adoption phase, for a lot of, a lot, for most organizations. Once this becomes the norm, then you are going to, it’s almost gonna be like this tipping point, because what’s basically gonna happen is, the organizations that we work, are working with are sort of above, ahead of the curve. And so what’s going to happen is because the way they change the organization, they’re going to start to attract the best talent of women and people of color. So guess where these people are going, because they’re not going to go to the laggards, they’re going to go to the companies that are ahead. So now these companies start to attract the best and the brightest. And by the way, they’re also going to attract the white men, because a lot of white men want this too. A lot, you know, it’s like they, they don’t want to sit in a room with a bunch of white men that mean, right? So they want diversity, as well. And so you’re gonna start to get the best talent across the board. And now guess what, you get to start to compete, you’re ahead of the game. Now your competitors are going, what’s going on? How are they doing that, and then they’re gonna start to adopt it. And then the laggards are just gonna lose, they’re not going to make it because the laggards are just gonna lose, out of business altogether. How long will this process take? You know, I will probably say it’s probably gonna be a 10 year time frame, frankly,
Kim Meninger Hmm. I think it’s gonna be quite long. In the whole scheme of things, though. 10 years isn’t that long. I mean, it’s all relative.
Jody Detjen I think we’re gonna see a big change once most of the baby boomers are gone. I think the younger baby boomers that’s not relevant. But the older baby boomers are struggling, for example, you can see it a lot right now, with this return to office type work. You can see a lot of the older baby boomer managers like I don’t know how to manage unless you’re, unless they’re in office. And the younger baby boomers and Gen Xers are like, who cares? We’ll figure it out. Right? And so once these older baby boomers who are struggling, and this is the mindset piece, right? Once they go, I think that’s why it’s gonna take 10 years, because I think you’re gonna see a huge change.
Kim Meninger That’s really interesting. Yeah, that’s interesting, too, just because I wonder how you see the pandemic, which I see, you know, beyond the horror of it as, Yes, fascinating social experiment that no one volunteered for. Exactly. Does this? Do you think this is accelerating the process? Or is it having any kind of a meaningful impact on the trajectory?
Jody Detjen Well, I mean, yes, and no. So we work with organizations and trying to help them to create these hybrid workplaces that actually work for everybody. So you bring, you do a hybrid workplace, and it becomes inclusive. So I think but, but the problem I see is that a lot of people are doing it by dictate. So we’re going, everybody needs to be at work on these three days. And so rather than actually, if you think about inclusion, what inclusion means is that people have a variety of different needs. They might have elder care needs or childcare needs, or maybe they don’t feel comfortable, because they’re not back. They’re not vaccinated, or they get there, they’re immunocompromised or something, right. And so people have all these different needs. And when we have a dictate, it’s very, very rigid protocol. Inclusion requires more flexibility, by definition, it requires people to be, to step back from the autocratic approach, this is how we’re doing things, and actually become more fluid in how we, for example, facilitate a meeting. And so let’s just say for example, in a hybrid workplace, you’ve got some people who are in the office and some people online. So old school leadership would just say, Well, if those people who are dial in, who cares about them, but, but, but an inclusive leader would basically consciously think about how am I going to run this meeting so that I can make sure that everybody’s voice is heard, and that we’re all being involved in the decision making in the brainstorming part of it. So I’m actually being thoughtful about the way I’m managing the meeting. So, this COVID opportunity to rethink our business, this actually can accelerate it for those organizations that want to be thoughtful about it. But for those organizations that are not being thoughtful about it is actually not gonna they’re not going to reap the advantage of it. [Hmm.] They’re gonna lose out in my view from what I’m seeing.
Kim Meninger That makes a lot of sense, too. And I’m curious what your thoughts are on, you had alluded to this earlier, too, when you were talking about providing managers with skills around feedback and interview skills. How does this change management training too, because it’s been my experience, I used to work in tech, that you kind of proved yourself as a rock star. And then you got thrown into management and it was basically sink or swim. Right? There was a lot of support. But I, I can’t imagine that we will experience the full benefit of what the work that you’re doing until it happens at an individual leadership leader level.
Jody Detjen Yeah, totally agree. We do a lot of work around inclusive leadership, we considered inclusive leadership to be a fundamental 21st-century skill. Like we don’t think that you’re going to be able to be an effective leader, if you don’t have the ability to lead inclusively. So in our program, we focus really on four key skills. The first key skill is mindset shift in thinking about what are the becoming a, we’re aware of how our assumptions show up in the workplace, oh, you know, you just had a baby, oh, it’s okay. You take, you know, you don’t need to work as hard, we’ll let you, immediately letting you know, the job doesn’t matter. So now, we’ve made an assumption that that’s what the person wants. So you have to identify the assumptions. That’s part one. Part two is the ability to have the hard conversations. So there’s a lot of managers right now that are afraid of having conversations and, and I think, to an extent rightly so because there’s a little bit of this backlash against them, there’s a little bit of fear of being called out. And there’s a little bit of lack of understanding on the caller outers, which is hard because they’ve been put down for so long. So it’s very hard to ask them to have more space to actually forgive somebody. And yet, the only way we’re really going to get through this is to actually have these conversations one to one, or one to three have really small conversations. So we need to give senior leaders the ability to have these hard conversations, and to facilitate the conversation so that they can listen, they can understand different perspectives. They can speak their own truth. And they can ask a lot of questions and understand the other person’s truth. Because that’s how we come to solutions. The third skill that we talked about is this ability to facilitate, you know, most managers that I know very, very few have been taught how to facilitate a meeting. And yet, meetings are such a ubiquitous part of what, the way we do it. So we actually train people on how to lead a meeting, inclusively, and how to make decisions where you get all voices. And then the last piece is, is what we call allyship is probably not the most precise word, because it’s not allyship, as you’re often hearing it in the world, but more allyship is who you’re going to show up for, what changes in your organization are you going to make so that it broadens the pool, it broadens the opportunity for other people? Are you going to change the way you do promotions? Are you going to change the way you figure out how people are assigned to different teams? Are you going to change the way that people get their performance evaluation? What are you going to change about your processes to actually make them more inclusive? And so those are the four skills that we really, really focus in with the senior leaders that we don’t see happening in most leadership programs today.
Kim Meninger Yeah, it’s so interesting when you think about it from all these different dimensions, because even to something that really stuck out to me when you talked about facilitating a meeting. And I thought when I’m thinking about impostor syndrome, and how so often, these situational factors of sitting in a meeting and not feeling heard, or being afraid to speak up because you’ve got all of these dominant voices in the room, and so much of that you would, when you say it that way, if these people haven’t been trained to facilitate a conversation, a lot of these effects are a function of, I don’t want to use the word ignorance, but just the lack of awareness, right? Lack of awareness and skill. Yeah, it’s not it, you know, there are certain elements of the system that I think have a different level of impact. Or perhaps were, you know, I don’t think of anything as being intentionally malicious, so to speak of the unintended consequences of different. [Yeah.] But you just it really brings to the surface, the ripple effect when managers don’t have a basic understanding of the psychology of a group.
Jody Detjen Exactly, exactly. And that’s really what this is, and that’s what they’re supposed to be, they’re supposed to be leaders of people. And yet we’re not training them to be. That immediate example that you gave about, it’s called the Peter Principle where you’re actually promoted to your level of incompetence, is the, is the saying and so basically, it’s this idea of you’re great at tech, so, therefore, you’re gonna be a great manager. Why? I mean, it makes absolutely no sense. And oftentimes in my talks, I’ll talk about you know, you’ve got this group of HR people who are predominantly women and you got this group of engineers who are predominantly men. Why the heck are you taking the people who have never been trained in leadership and putting them in leadership? We’ve got this entire group of people, you can train a lot of the technical at the manager level, you can train some of the tech thinking. But it’s very hard to train some of the people management. So why wouldn’t you actually hire people from HR and put them in the line? That’s a great point. Makes no sense to me, by the way, as people, some, some tech people may be groaning. But you know, I used to be a programmer, so I fully understand what it takes to be tech. And I also understand that, that management of tech and doing tech are not the same. They’re two different pieces. So, yeah.
Kim Meninger I hear from a lot of people in tech. And I think any kind of a specialized field where you’ve invested a lot in your education, and you might even enjoy work, that there’s a hesitation even wanting to go into leading people and so, but the way the system is structured is, in order for me to progress, whether that’s compensation wise, or title wise, I have to give up the part I really like of my job, exactly, for a function that doesn’t come naturally to me, I might not have trained it and that I frankly, don’t want to do exactly.
Jody Detjen I think some organizations are doing that very well. There’s like Microsoft, for example, more, a lot of the big tech companies have two tracks. So you have the managerial track, and you have these senior tech tracks, you can really become techie, you can just dive deep into the tech pieces still get the promotion piece. I think the best organizations do that. Because if you don’t do that, then you have this problem of people who, frankly are not capable and don’t want, don’t want it. So you’ve got lack of capability and lack of desire. And you’re putting people into these roles that makes absolutely no business sense. I always tell my students, it’s like because one of my students raised this question. And I was like, the reason in my view, my theory, my hypothesis on why bad management exists is because bad management exists. The minute you have more than 51% of good management, bad management will never be able to compete, so therefore it will disappear. It’s the tipping point. Again, as soon as you need it to compete, it will, it will become a key criteria. But right now there’s enough bad management around that people can compete with it. But I want to ask, I want to bring up I want to follow up on one of your points earlier because I think it’s really important you talk about the impostor syndrome. And I read this really interesting article, this HBR article earlier this week that was talking about impostor syndrome from the external perspective. And I think we can’t forget that oftentimes, you talked about the norm. So in research, what you see is that the white male is considered the default. So, therefore, and I’m not, this is not a judgment on white men, which is basically saying that if you are a white man, you are given the benefit of the doubt because of your race and your gender. It’s basically this is the normal person who should be in this role. Therefore I’m not I don’t have to question on all these other capabilities, I’m going to assume a lot of the stuff is there. And then I can just focus on a much more narrow band. Whereas if you’re a woman, showing up in that role, or person of color showing up in the role, I now have to test all these other pieces about your capability, because you’re not the norm. And the best way to think about this is back in the 80s. It’s not so true now, but this I think, example still fits back in the 80s. Peak managers would always buy IBM, because nobody would question them if they bought IBM, right. If they hired IBM, nobody would question them. But if they hired somebody else, people will be like, well, why’d you hire that if it goes bad? That’s your fault. But if it goes down with IBM, well, that you know what, nothing I did. And it’s the same thing with white men, right? If I hire or promote a white man, people aren’t going to blame it on me. If that person doesn’t work out, it’s their fault. But if hire a woman, why the heck did you hire, see, we put her in that role, you took a risk and look. And so this and it’s not saying that white men are bad, and please, I hope for the white men listening to I’m not I have two white sons. And I have married to a white husband. So I’m not putting down the white man. Now what I’m saying is, is that this is the way society has been organized. And so therefore it is the default. It’s the same reason, for example, that when we look at the president, and we try to imagine most, many Americans, imagine a woman in the presidency they can’t. Because humans are essentially, we have to see something to believe it. So as our management starts to diversify, this norm shifts and we start to accept the fact that more people can be managers. So this piece, I think, it creates impostor syndrome simply because we are not what the norm is. Right? Does that make sense? So it’s sort of like it’s the norm that’s the problem. Not necessarily the person.
Kim Meninger Yes, you’re absolutely right. And I don’t know if you’re referring to the stop telling women they have impostor syndrome article. [Yes, yes, that’s right.] I, I wholeheartedly agree and I think you know, the one thing that I would say is whether you call it impostor syndrome or anything else, it doesn’t change the feelings that individuals or others are experiencing as a result of the environment. But I think it does a really great job of shifting the focus and the responsibility away from the individual who feels that way, and really looking at it through a more systemic lens. Because you’re right, I could do all, all the work in the world on my own limiting beliefs, if we want to call them that, right. But if I still have to show up every day, in a system that sees me as different from the norm, as you’re describing, I’m always gonna feel like I’m a little bit less than [correct] and that needs to be addressed.
Jody Detjen Well, and that’s why when I talk about the tipping point about organizations working on this, that’s why the organizations that work and work on this are going to get the best talent because this talent is going to say, I’m tired of feeling like this, I’m going here because I don’t feel like this. I feel welcomed here. So the best talents, going there. And that’s why I think you’re going to see the systemic shift. But I want to reinforce what you’re saying though, I do still believe that women, people of color, whatever whoever the disadvantaged group and white men too have to work on the internals as well, because what happens, we’ve seen a lot of that the external messages get internalized, and then we beat ourselves up for it. The classic example of is, is that if you see if there’s a job listing, and men feel like they can, they only need like, I think it’s 60% of the criteria, women still feel that there’s 100% required, this is still true. This hasn’t changed. And so this is that particular piece is a limiting belief on women, I don’t think that we have to, I don’t think that women should stop thinking along this limit, we should still reframe our limiting beliefs. I’m good enough, I got six out of 10 of those criteria, I think I can do the rest, I trust in my ability to do the rest. And the reason we have to shift those limiting beliefs is because if we still carry those limiting beliefs, even in a welcoming environment we’ll still get held back. The second reason that we have to shift our limiting beliefs is because it’s a hell of a lot more freeing. When I sit there and change my limiting beliefs about myself, I’m not beating myself up, I’m not spending all that psychic energy beating myself up, doubting myself, I’m actually using that psychic energy to change the system. Okay, so I don’t, I don’t think we should say that women shouldn’t reframe or even other people as well. It’s just a question of, it’s just not only their responsibility, yeah. And that, that, to me is personal development type growth. That’s, that’s personal leadership, personal development type growth, which I think is always useful activity.
Kim Meninger And I’m really glad you brought that up because I was trying to figure out how that fits into the model that you were describing, too, because like you said, you could have a very welcoming, very inclusive environment. But if I, as an individual, for whatever reason still hold back, if I still have a lot of self-doubt, and still have these limiting beliefs. Am I in a position to take advantage of what this welcoming environment offer? And what responsibility lies within me? And what responsibility lies within the manager? Perhaps to try to pull that out of me or, you know, you don’t want managers showing up as therapists, right? Obviously, they don’t have… God no, because they don’t have the skills to do some of the basic psychology. But I wonder to you, you know, is there any role for a manager to recognize when someone’s struggle is with confidence as opposed to competence perhaps or, you know, they do?
Jody Detjen Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think, I mean, this is, this is managerial work, right? The manager or work is to say to somebody, okay, your next step in your career progress is that you need to go out and do some presentations to clients. And that person’s like, I’m not capable. I don’t know how to do that. And so then the conversation then is okay, what do you need? This is scary. I totally understand. So naming it right, naming the fear. What assumptions are you making about yourself? Naming the assumptions, and then helping them reframe those assumptions. Well, you know, the last three times that I gave a talk, I froze in the middle and so what’s your assumption, the assumption is the next time you do your talk, you’re going to freeze in the middle again. Okay, so how can we reframe that? Actually, if I practice and I prepare and maybe if I present with somebody else I can try practicing a different way. What help can we get you? Well, let’s get you, you know, I know Siliqua down this down the street or down, you know, the next floor, She’s incredible at talking. Maybe I can ask her to coach you a little bit on this and prepare you. What else do you need, right? So it’s like the manager has to be the support, but they also have to push absolutely, they have to push. And then if the person still says no, then it’s on them right, now it’s on the individual, because the individual that has, there’s two responsibilities to raise their hand, and because they’re the ones that know what they want, but the manager also has to raise the hand, because if they only rely on the person raising their hand, we know from research, guess who gets it, gets who gets picked, because men have been trained to raise their hand more so, therefore, men get trained. Also, people who are extroverts get trained to speak out. All of a sudden, what we’ve done is we’ve just prioritized that. So it is manager’s responsibility to see some of this innate talent that needs to be, you know, fostered.
Kim Meninger Yeah, absolutely. And I think about it, too, I can imagine over the long term, as maybe even newer generations step for the first time into a more inclusive environment, they don’t carry the, the, you know, trauma, and I don’t use that in most powerful sense. But you know, there’s a lot of toxicity in the workplace that a lot of times people are, you know, they’ve come from a bad manager or a bad environment into a better one, and they’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop and like, Can I really trust that you’re on. And so I think it takes a while to for that trust and confidence to build, not because of the system they’re in now, but because of everything that they’ve experienced in the past.
Jody Detjen I know. And that’s a tough, that’s tough work, I know, of two different senior leaders who had worked in an extremely toxic managerial environment. And both of them left because of the level of toxicity. And for both of them, one actually had to leave and stop working for six months to recover. The other one continued to work, but took probably about 18 months to get past it. I mean, the trauma that you talked about is was legitimate, and it took them that long, of course, it’s not just a one and done, it took them, you know, it’s a gradual process of a time of healing. And actually, and that’s just inner work. And there’s, there’s nothing much that other, but the manager can’t, what a manager can do in that situation when that’s not toxic, is actually provide that supportive environment to help the healing. But, you know, that healing is that’s human, unfortunately. It makes me so sad, how much toxicity is still there really makes me sad.
Kim Meninger I agree with you. And, and I think you’re right, that the new manager or the new system can create consistency. Yeah. in expectation and experience more quickly, trust that these things are different here. Yeah. Yeah.
Jody Detjen And I actually think, well, I can tell you, you know, as I mentioned, I teach MBAs, we teach a new, the new kind of management. So we’re certainly teaching that. I can tell you from, you know, executive work that we do, we’re teaching this new kind of management, some of the research that I’ve done, these senior leaders know, and want to be better leaders. There seems to be a real push towards this. The challenge, I think, is really in middle management because middle management doesn’t get enough investment. [Good point.] And so I think it comes back to the point that you made earlier, which is we’re not really training people for just pushing them into the roles. And so I think that’s where the problem is. And it’s a lack of investment at that level. And that’s pretty well documented actually.
Kim Meninger Well, I’m also interested in, interested in hearing, if you have thoughts on this other dynamic that I’ve been running into, too, with some of the clients that I’ve been coaching is, there isn’t enough bandwidth, because often middle managers are also working managers. And so it’s almost creating a conflict because I still have my job to do. And now, the role of leader is almost one of resentment. Because now in a way as my employee, you’re taking away from the time I need to be spending on my own work and the kind of conversation that you were describing earlier of how can I help and let’s think through this together what you need. A working manager doesn’t necessarily feel like they even have the time to have that conversation.
Jody Detjen And this is, this is the nature of, of US business circa 2021. You know, we flattened our hierarchies, which I think was a good thing because there was a lot of waste. But I think we’ve almost undervalued the managers. And I don’t know what’s going to happen with this. But I do actually think if, I find it ironic that we have this increasing automation going on. And the one thing we can’t automate is this human interaction. So I wonder whether we will start to see a shift in value managerial, pure managerial skills more highly because we can automate a lot of the other stuff. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens with that.
Kim Meninger I agree. I’m very interested in the long-term trajectory there. [Yeah.] Yeah. Because it really is a different, as we’ve been talking a different skill set the ability to empathize [I agree] with people,
Jody Detjen You know, it’s interesting. I’m a Star Trek fan, and I’ve been watching Star Trek Discovery because we just got whatever the channel that has it. I wasn’t gonna, I was gonna say, and then I’m like, No, I’m not gonna actually advertise for them. That’s exactly what the leaders, the commanders in the Star Trek series, do the tech’s there, and the tech does amazing stuff. But it’s the people management that actually matters in that organization. And you can also look at Ted Lasso, same thing, right? Those types of stories, it’s the people management, that’s the most important piece, not these technical skill pieces. And in all those in both of those storylines, their successes because of the incredibleness of their managers. So there is something going on here.
Kim Meninger Yeah, that’s, that’s a very good point. And when you put it that way, imagine the possibilities if you were to get rid of your toxic leaders, replace them.
Jody Detjen Yes. And you think that they’re big, they’re these big rainmakers, but the reality is, they’re actually costing you a ton of money. People are leaving, or they’re not as effective.
Kim Meninger Oh, my goodness, Jodi, I really mean it. When I say I could spend all day talking to you, It’s so fun. Do you have any final thoughts or anything that you want to share in closing today?
Jody Detjen Um, I just think that for organizations that aren’t quite sure where to go next, I think, the most important piece is to start walking the path. And don’t worry about getting it perfect, pick a place and start, whether that’s hiring people, promoting whatever it is, you pick the place to start, and then the rest will come.
Kim Meninger And do you think to that point, that you can start from anywhere in the organization? So if I am a mid-level manager, let’s say I am, I believe, well, I this is I can’t boil this ocean, right? I don’t have the kind of influence that’s going to affect the overall culture. Is it still worthwhile for me to say I can do something within my own?
Jody Detjen Absolutely you can, you can figure out how to change the processes within your own team, you can manage teams more inclusively. What I would say is that if you’re that middle manager, measure, measure the outcomes, whether that is asking people how they felt about a particular meeting, about their level of input at point one versus point three months, six months, 12 months. Measure so that you can start to track what’s going on. And then take that beautiful measurement, and go start shopping it around the organization and watch what happens. It’ll start to change. People will talk. So yes, start where you are. That’s great.
Kim Meninger And then before we wrap up, I want to take a minute to ask you about your book.
Jody Detjen Yes. So my book, The Next Smart Step: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes and Build a Stronger Organization came out in February, so you can get it on Amazon. We actually, it’s we have a gender focus for this particular book but the processes that we talked about are actually regardless, they’re all really inclusion-based. So they’re really good for want to know how to do it. That’s your how-to guide.
Kim Meninger That’s wonderful. And I will make sure that there’s a link in the show notes for anybody who’s interested and wants more information about you as well. Anybody who wants to learn more so. Thank you so much, Jodi, this has been such a great conversation.
Jody Detjen Thanks, Kim. Have a great day.