More than ever, employers are struggling with employee engagement.

Some businesses claim that remote employees are harder to manage and many surveys indicate that remote employees feel disengaged from their peers and their companies.

But when they’ve tried to return to in-person workplaces, they’ve received pushback.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve argued that organizations with effective leadership and truly-engaged employees will be successful whether they are remote or not. But sadly, most organizations are lacking in both leadership and employee engagement.

Today’s guest says that creating a thriving company culture requires a unique understanding of what motivates employees.


Please take a moment to rate and review Good Morning, HR on Apple Podcasts!

Slide down the page to claim your HRCI or SHRM recertification credits!

Randal Weidenaar

Randal Weidenaar is a researcher, author and national speaker. His passion was born out of the pain of broken workplaces, and leaders that wounded rather than served. Randal set out to discover a method that leads to life giving leadership and culture. 

Randal created VP Culture a leadership system based on attachment science that inspires a powerful relational culture foundation. His research reveals that our neurobiology engages when our relationships are healthy and connected. This leads to actual health, vitality and productivity on all levels. Rather than just tips and tricks, VPCulture focuses on a profoundly relational way of leading and living. 

Randal has studied Business Processes Development at MIT Sloan School of Management; The Fundamentals of Neuroscience at Harvard-x, Quantitative Social Research Methods at University of Amsterdam, and Culture-Driven Team Development at University of Pennsylvania. He has helped corporations, government, and non-profit organizations unpack the art and science of leadership and culture creation. He wrote The VPCulture Workbook to help leaders develop this team culture. 

Randal has worked with diverse teams from over 42 countries and consulted countless organizations in marketing and culture development. Additionally, he is the founder of Notionfront, a marketing firm that has clients across the United States. He is also the director of Grace Encounter, a self-development organization. Randal lives with his wife on a sustainable farm in central Missouri.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Randal Weidenaar: So you’re putting people in the right seat and you’re keeping people, you’re leading them to their strengths. So you’re putting them in the right strengths so they can work on their strengths and then you’re coaching them to use it more, use it more, maximize this, instead of saying, “You’re not good at sticking to the project.” It’s like, “Well, duh. That’s not who they are.”

[intro music]

Mike Coffey: Good Morning HR. I’m Mike Coffey, and this is the podcast where I talk to business leaders about bringing people together to create value for shareholders, customers, and the community.

Please follow, rate and review Good Morning HR on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or at

More than ever, employers are struggling with employee engagement. Some businesses claim that remote employees are harder to manage. And many surveys indicate that remote employees feel disengaged from their peers and their companies. But when they’ve tried to return to in-person workplaces, employers have received pushback.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve argued that organizations with effective leadership and truly engaged employees will be successful, whether they are remote or not. But sadly, most organizations are lacking in both leadership and employee engagement.

Today’s guest says that creating a thriving company culture requires a unique understanding of what motivates employees. And here’s a hint, it ain’t just money.

Randal Weidenaar has worked with teams from over 40 countries in the areas of marketing and culture development. He is founder of Culture VP, a consulting firm that uses attachment science to help firms build thriving cultures. He’ll also be the luncheon speaker at Fort Worth HR’s October 20th monthly meeting. Thanks for joining me, Randal.

Randal Weidenaar: Sure. Thanks, Mike.

Mike Coffey: So before we get to our core topic, help me understand how somebody in the marketing world got interested in transforming workplace cultures.

Randal Weidenaar: Well, marketing is a lot about motivating people and you get into the nitty-gritty of what motivates all people. And I started doing a leadership series and that asked some big questions for me, I began to see that people don’t follow the individual so much as they want to go where the individual’s going already, that true leadership is truly establishing a place that some places someone is already going. And that’s true of the marketing world as well.

So that brought me into exploring this and I just kept going. As I explored more and more, I got more excited about finding this truth, that became my research passion and finding out, what is the one thing that motivates all people? And a singular thing, rather than, what are a bunch of things that motivate all people? If you knew what that one thing was, you could build a culture around that. And so that became my fascination, my destination that I set my course for. And it has affected me ever since on this journey towards building cultures.

Mike Coffey: So what’d you figure out? What’s that magic bullet? What’s that one thing? Because clearly it’s not standing behind your employees with a whip or…

Randal Weidenaar: Sure. Sure.

Mike Coffey: … beating them.

Randal Weidenaar: Sure. It’s a curious question. So a lot of times when we ask the question, I go around and I sit next to CEOs and I ask, even welders and line employees, what’s the one thing? And I get a billion different answers. And that’s what’s interesting is, so what is it? And then you find out that 70% of employees are disengaged. And so it’s like, well, it doesn’t seem like the employees or the leaders have really figured out what it is. But when I asked the question differently, everyone comes up with the same answer. So I asked the question, people usually say, money and enjoyment and, or I want to do something big, big dream or something like that. It usually falls within those three categories of what just flies out of people’s mouths off the top of their head.

And then I said, well, so then I changed the question around a little bit so that the right brain actually engages with the question and ask people, if you had just one thing, narrows it down to one thing that could satisfy you, not just for now, but forever. So, that changed the question around completely.

And then I offer those three things that people always say, and that’s all you get, is just that one thing, money alone, or achievement alone, or an enjoyment of a job alone, to do that one job for the rest of eternity. I said, or you can be surrounded by those who value and care for you for all eternity, which would you choose? And I get 100% uniformity in everyone choosing I want to be surrounded by people who value and care for me.

And so that has become the one thing and that I structure cultures around. And I find that, that’s the number one thing is people are not focused. See, I don’t have to get people to think about it. They answer the question in a nanosecond. It’s not like they go, huh, let me think about those four. They just know, everyone knows. The audiences I speak to, just it’s immediate. And that’s intriguing. So the question becomes, why aren’t we focused on that then?

Mike Coffey: That’s the, what’s in it for me, for the employee, the ultimate what’s in it for me, or the ultimate Witham, is I want to work with people who value and appreciate me.

Randal Weidenaar: Exactly. That’s right, Mike. It’s the being valued by others and valuing others, that exchange of being valued in community, in cultures, in relationship, in connection with others. And ultimately when we’re in business, we’re doing that with we’re creating things for people. So essentially, we’re creating some valuing process service, or product for people, and we’re doing it with people.

So if there’s no people in the process, there’s no reason to have an organization to come together and form a culture. So it really is what we’re doing. The financial things are trailing indicators that we’re actually creating value for people. You don’t set up a business, some people set up businesses to extract finances out of people, ultimately that falls apart, because people want to be valued. That’s the bottom core issue, that’s the motivator.

Mike Coffey: That’s interesting because this is the podcast where I talk to business leaders about bringing value to shareholders, employees and the community. So, that make sense. Okay. And so really you’re just looking at employees as a stakeholder and as a customer of management.

Randal Weidenaar: That’s a good point. Yeah. It’s- they’re stakeholders, everyone is a stakeholder in the whole process, from the people receiving the product or service, to the teams that make it, to the individual that shows up, they’re all critical points in that chain of creating value. And it’s reciprocal. As the person comes to the workplace with self-value and they lend that to the team, and the team magnifies that by helping that individual feel valued in the what they do and how they do it, then the customers feel that, and they reciprocate with their gratitude and financial remuneration.

So it’s this nice reciprocal balance. And that’s not just balanced theoretically, it’s balanced in case studies and actual economics. So you could just imagine, as people thrive like that, they succeed. So you put a bunch of those thriving people together and you get even greater success. It magnifies the potential of each individual.

Mike Coffey: So this is more than just patting on the back and saying, Hey, thanks for what you did today.

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah. Yeah. So, that’s exactly the point, is like…

Mike Coffey: I need to send them a macaroni grill gift card too. Is that all?

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah, it’s actually interesting, because as you do what typically people think is, oh, this is valuing. I give you a reward, that actually can, it’s a chasing the tail because I contrast these two systems of a dopaminergic reward system versus a serotonergic, which is a different brain pathway that responds to relationships that’s never a game that gets diminishing. You can keep adding and adding and adding to that game. But every time you play the other game of dopamine, it always is a zero sum game where it subtracts and subtracts and subtracts, you pull out of that count and there’s less there every time you pull out of the account.

Mike Coffey: So explain to, okay, treat me like an idiot, which isn’t hard, dopamine versus serotonin. Tell me what we’re dealing with here.

Randal Weidenaar: Sure. Sure. So this is part of the problem is people, there are two systems that give a reward in human brains. Okay. And they’re very similar in how they feel, like I feel happy when I reach a goal, or get a surprise. Yay. My brain goes, yes, something good. And gives me a little boost of happy hormones and happy neuro-transmitters. And the same thing happens with serotonin, which is basically gives me a rewards when I feel like, Hey, I’m connected and valued in the communities I am, in the culture that I’m in. The difference between the true is that dopamine is, yes and diminishment. So it’s like, yes, but not satisfied. And this is yes, and content and satisfied. I don’t need more. So this is constantly needing more, and this is constantly gaining and strengthening the mind, the brain, the body in that positive outcome, that positive thriving of a human being. So this one’s diminishing us, even though it makes us happy, this one’s increasing us.

Mike Coffey: Okay. So just more and more serotonin makes me feel part of my, we’re hardwired through evolutionary biology to be a part of a tribe, be a part of a group, to have connections.

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah. We’re designed for that. Yeah, exactly. And it’s amazing. You crack open the brain and people just aren’t aware of that. They think that these rewards come very quick and often, and they’re everywhere. The swiping of our phone to the bingeing of our entertainment, to the way that we’re managing people. And all of those things combined, and that’s the cycle that management knows and individuals know. And so they just spend their lifetime pursuing it. And they’re wondering, why ain’t I satisfied? So, that’s where you get the 70% of people, and 50% of people are always looking for new jobs, because they’re thinking, if I just get to something new, if I just get to the nother pathway, but they don’t know what they’re really want and what they really want to focus on, what really motivates them. And once they start to know that and orientate their lives and their culture around that, things start to move in a different direction completely.

Mike Coffey: And that’s interesting because maybe we know subconsciously, but it’s amazing how many people, I’ve interviewed easily thousands of people over my HR career. And it’s interesting how few people know what they really want, or how few people can articulate even what their own values are. I’ve got a series of presentations I do for leaders and at HR conferences around values and ethics and all of that. And when I started asking people, so tell me what your personal values are? I get dumb looks. And so how does an individual even respond or know what their values are in order to know what kind of company they want to work for?

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah, exactly. So the first thing is I help people find that one thing, which is valuing people. And then the question is, well, how do you achieve that? And I’ve got three core sciences that I help people develop, because there’s more methodology, there’s more detail to that, that finding a value and maintaining a value between us as human beings. And it falls in three nice categories. There’s the science that deals with the past, which is your personality, the science that deals with the present, which is your emotional ability to emotionally engage with others, so it’s an emotional science component. And then like you were saying, there’s a value science component and people aren’t really educated in how to actually accomplish those three different arrows that are all pointing to how to value one another. And so when you start setting up structures with these three core skills, then people and leaders can start generating that space of value that people are attracted to.

So, they’re not attracted to the individual, they’re attracted to communities and groups where I feel really valued here. I can express those three different timeframes and those three different sciences and skills in your culture. So those are the details that help you build the value in culture, because it’s not enough to just go, I’d like that, because most HR staff, I’m preaching to the choir, they all want to create a culture that values people. They just need more structure and more detail to be able to build a culture that actually does that.

Mike Coffey: So this is the flip side of, people don’t leave companies, they leave managers, but the flip side is they stay, but they stay with companies because of the culture then is what you’re really saying, because they’re part of that in group. So I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about in-group bias and how to overcome in-group bias and employee selection and things like that. But this is an instance where we want to promote in-group bias, or at least we want people to be connected and be part of an identifiable group, assuming that it’s not 1938, and it’s the Nazi party, if we can find positive groups for folks and create a positive environment that people want to be part of they’ll stick around.

Randal Weidenaar: That’s right. That’s a really good point, it’s the creation of cultures, of communities, of groups that create and foster that valuing experience that causes people to be attracted to that, it’s attachment. So what I’m saying is that our fundamental wiring as human beings is that’s our fundamental wiring is that, we’re not fundamentally wired to use dopamine the way we’re using it. We’re hacking it and jerry-rigging it with so many things that are in our culture. Our food is engineered that way. Our marketing is engineered that way. Our electronics are engineered that way. Our leadership is engineered that way. And so we’re wired for this [crosstalk 00:14:50].

Mike Coffey: It’s why we’re exhausted all the time.

Randal Weidenaar: … exhausted.

Mike Coffey: Yeah.

Randal Weidenaar: And people are constantly searching, where can I find it? And it actually does exhaust you physiologically. It tells your brain to down-regulate, it’s like, don’t show up. We don’t have very much energy. And so it physiologically makes you less intelligent, less energized, less happy, more depressed. And whereas the other pathway makes you physiologically more energized, more intelligent, more engaged, and just thriving as a human being, peak humanity happens in that kind of a culture.

Mike Coffey: Peak humanity. I like that. Yeah. So you mentioned three kinds of science, and the first was personality. Are we talking about the big four, or the big eight? Those traditional things.

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah. The big five. Yeah. Exactly.

Mike Coffey: Yeah. Yeah. And so we’ve seen that at MBTI or DiSC, those are the kinds of sciences you’re talking about there on the personality side or?

Randal Weidenaar:

Correct. Correct. So I walk people through, what is best practice? So I like to use those three areas and label them as three sciences so that people don’t think this whole realm is just woo-woo feelings. There’s validated studies that have been done for 30 years in each one of these areas that I’m talking about that have been done in the workplace for decades. So we’re not talking about, gee, I hope this works. And gee, I hope this has outcomes. No, these things are almost psychological laws that you’re applying to the communities that you’re working in. And that’s what I’m bringing to these organizations so that they feel comfortable as organizations in implementing these things, that we’re not the first people to implement this. And we’re not the first people to think this through.

What is unique is that I’m bringing these together as methodologies to help create value space, valuing culture with others, personality science in particular helps people to engage with their past and lead them towards their strengths. So often in leadership, we find out right away what somebody is not good at. And we tend to give them their performance report based on what they’re not good at, versus here are your three top strengths. How do we maximize that? And let me help you coach you to how to maximize your strengths. And you can never do that if you don’t know what they really are. So the big five personality tests is better at popping out those strengths, those personality strengths, better than any other tests, because it’s so highly validated. And you’re not going to get some errant response because of the gender of the individual taking the test.

Mike Coffey: Without diving too deep, let’s talk about that a little bit more. What does the big five tell you about an employee?

Randal Weidenaar: Okay. So it’s five factors, which is, the acronym is OCEAN, which is openness. So openness is critical. If you’re going to launch a new software initiative, you’re going to know which employees are going to respond like, yay, this is a great idea. And the other ones are going to be like, no, I don’t want that. And you think, oh, the people that are resisting it they’re bad people. No, they’re not. They’re the people that once you give them the software and they’re used to it, they’re going to be like, let’s never change this. I like it so much. Whereas the other guys are going to be like, Hey, I found a new piece of software, we should try this. And you’re like, stop it.

Mike Coffey: Shiny objects. Yeah, yeah.

Randal Weidenaar: Shiny objects. So knowing the dynamic, because it literally changes their perception that that employee will have. And that’s just one factor. There’s four other factors that we could go into. But that’s huge. If you know half of your employees are going to thrive under a change process, and half of them are not, and which ones they are, that’s a game changer.

Mike Coffey: So that controls how you roll out a program, an initiative, or whatever it is how you sell it to employees.

Randal Weidenaar: Exactly. And what seat you put them in, you put the highly open people in the research team, you put the highly stable people in the accounting team. You don’t want them to innovate, you want them to stick to the rules.

Mike Coffey: Right. I want them to execute, execute, execute. I don’t want them thinking big all the time. That makes sense. Yeah.

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah. And the people, the law in the office, they never get bored of executing the rules well, they just love it, it just makes them happy. And these people over here, it’s like, after a week, they’re like, can we change the rules? No. So you’re putting people in the right seat and you’re keeping people, you’re leading them to their strengths. So you’re putting them in the right strengths so they can work on their strengths and then you’re coaching them to use it more, use it more, maximize this, instead of saying, you’re not good at sticking to the project. It’s like, well, duh, that’s not who they are.

Mike Coffey: Put a square peg in a round hole.

Randal Weidenaar: Exactly. Exactly.

Mike Coffey: And I remember the first time back in the nineties when I took an actual, in the early nineties and there were a lot of bad behavioral assessments out there, but I took a really good one in the mid to late nineties, around 97. And it was so liberating for me, because suddenly all these projects that I could never quite complete, I’m horrible at finishing projects and executing details and all of that. And I beat myself up for it throughout the first part of my career, because why can’t I get this done? And then I realized, oh, well, that’s because I’m what you would call a highly open person, I guess. in DISC, I’m a high D, and in Predictive Index, it’s a high A, but that whole idea that this is where I’m good at. I need to focus on big picture stuff and solving big problems, and doing those kinds of things. And then have people around me who love to execute, and who like to follow through on that, and will trust me and take my lead. And it’s so liberating. So, that’s the personality part. So then [crosstalk 00:20:39].

Randal Weidenaar: Can I interrupt just for a second and take a small break? Unfortunately, utility just turned on my gas and I’m starting to smell it in this room, I’m just hoping…

Mike Coffey: Oh, no. Okay. We’ll wait for you.

Randal Weidenaar: Sure.

Mike Coffey: And let’s take a quick break.

Good Morning HR is brought to you by Imperative, premium background checks with fast and friendly service. If you’re an HRCI or SHRM certified professional, this episode of Good Morning HR has been approved for one half hour of recertification credit. To obtain the recertification information visit and click on recert credits. Then select episode 14 and enter the key word Randal, that’s R-A-N-D-A-L.

On Thursday, October 14th, I’ll be hosting a free webinar entitled the Business Case for Becoming a Second Chance Employer. This free webinar is approved for one professional development credit for HRCI and SHRM certified professionals. You can register for the free webinar at And if you’re listening to this podcast after October 14th, you can still watch the recording of the webinar as well as all of our previous webinars on our website for credit, for free.

And now back to my conversation with Randal Weidenaar.

Randal Weidenaar: My apologies. I just didn’t want to pass out halfway through the…

Mike Coffey: No worries. Yeah, it would certainly be a memorable podcast if you blew up halfway through it, but yeah. Okay. Well, we were talking about the person, and we’re just going to go right on. We were talking about the personality piece. What’s emotion? When you’re talking about the emotional science, where does that come in?

Randal Weidenaar: So this is the biggest and probably most difficult for most leaders to execute, because in business school, or engineering school, you get elevated to your position because you’re a great engineer, a great software engineer. You’re never taught, oh, there’s emotional science 101, most people think I need to get my fellow employees to stop feeling whatever they’re feeling, they’re agitated so I need to fix them, to tell them to stop it. And really it’s about engaging with them where they’re at emotionally. And that creates emotional safety, which leads to all of these great outcomes. It increases the ability to learn, the ability to feel known, the ability to research, to fail, to grow. All of that requires an emotional component.

And people don’t realize that really emotions is a language that is really our first language. There’s actually half of our brain and neuroscience, it’s attuned to the grammar and the words on the left side, and the right brain has the similar patches of the brain that are just decoding the emotional nuance of everything that’s said, the face that you have, the attitude, the body language of the boss when he walks through the door, all of that’s processed and there’s huge portions of the brains that are dedicated to decoding the emotional nuance of every interaction.

And so the leader that ignores that is only communicating with about 20% of actual communication that happens. So it’s critical to create that emotional space that’s safe, that when I come in and I say, we just missed the deadline, the boss is already there going, this is going to be hard for us all, just like mostly in customer service, they understand this right away when the customer calls and then complaints, they teach the customer service agent to go, oh, that must be really difficult. I’m so sorry that happened to you. And then suddenly through that empathy, the whole situation is diffused, whereas a lot of leaders aren’t trained in that similar technique of being able to do that. And it requires a different approach to handling emotions than most people are aware of it. I use a science called ACT that is developed by Steve Hayes. And again, has validated over 30 years of studies that helps leaders and teams to be able to gain perspective on emotion rather than trying to shut emotion off, which is impossible.

Mike Coffey: And so, if a manager is equipped to recognize somebody’s, or even anticipate somebody’s emotional response to a circumstance, then again, they can manage their, how they communicate things to even maybe the kind of a, there’s certain people would be great on the customer service desk at a Target the day after Christmas and other people just wouldn’t. And so dealing with those kinds of stressors, those kinds of things would be… Okay. That’s interesting.

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah. And uniquely, most leaders can’t do that for themselves. So the first step is being able to recognize your own emotional responses and gain perspective on those so you’re not overreacting. Most leaders use the strength and the power that they’re given to silence the emotions of the people in their team. So, because they’re uncomfortable with the feelings of the team, they just go with the power and they go there, it’s all better. And most employees will smile and nod and move on. But once they get back to their desks, they’re just like, they let go.

Mike Coffey: There’s no crying in baseball.

Randal Weidenaar: That’s right. And everyone will show their game face to the boss, but when the boss is gone, all those emotions will come out and they will have that detrimental effect of, he really didn’t understand me, or she didn’t really understand what was going on. I felt shut down. I felt closed off and I’m never going to trust that person again. It’s in those engagements where trust is lost. So these are critical and it’s…

Mike Coffey: And that’s easy to lose and hard to get back.

Randal Weidenaar: And if you’ve been in management, you know when you’ve lost it with a coworker, it’s like, it’s gone and it’s really hard to bring it back.

Mike Coffey: And that third part was what? Values, right? That was the third science.

Randal Weidenaar: Values science. And it’s just something…

Mike Coffey: And so what does that Look like? Yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah, we’ve been big on that for a long time in our organization. And I always argue that most of the time, when you have to terminate an employee, it’s not because of competencies, or even usually even their day-to-day job performance. It’s almost always a values issue. And usually if the values aren’t aligned, I blame the employer more than I do the employee, because they put the wrong person in the wrong seat.

Randal Weidenaar: True.

Mike Coffey: So tell me how you’re using values in creating a workplace?

Randal Weidenaar: Sure. Sure. There’s two different ways. First of all, a lot of times values are created in most corporate situations from the corporate down, and what you’re describing is really important, that individual has to discover their values and how they fit with the corporate values, so they can say, this is my value. This is why I’m doing what I’m doing and how I’m doing what I’m doing, because of my own personal integrity, my own personal values. So, that’s one level. And a lot of times the other level is, is that I connect it to that universal motivator of the highest value is really valuing and valuing others. It’s not random.

I actually give a rubrics for people to understand values with. And it’s not just something that I’ve developed, it’s something that was developed by Victor Frankl. If you’re familiar with Man’s Search for Meaning.

Mike Coffey: Mm-hmm. Man’s Search for Meaning.

Randal Weidenaar: He gives us three tiers of values that when you start to understand those and you start to dissect values in that way, you can start to see your way through it, because there’s thousands of values words. And I used to hand out just, here’s a sheet of paper, pick out what you think are your values. And it was very disorganizing and it didn’t really help people to understand themselves or values very well, and how they were all interconnected. I really see all values as a subset of valuing people. Everything that we do, that is under the term of values, it basically is connected in some way of form to valuing people, and helping people to understand how that thread comes through is very powerful.

Mike Coffey: So this, especially when it comes to values and emotion, but probably all the way across, it sounds like to have any understanding of this, you’ve got to have a pretty self-aware manager to start with. And I’ve seen a lot of managers over the years who thought they had some unique insight into the human soul and what they were really doing is playing to their own biases and things. So how does a manager develop the self-awareness to understand where they stand, and so they can begin to understand their employees and the relationships there?

Randal Weidenaar: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. So that’s a good question, Mike. And that’s why I feel it’s really important for there, I take people through three demographic levels. First, I start on the level of self or individual. So that manager needs to go through those three sciences about their own personality, their own emotional awareness and their own personal values first. And then they can get to the team level, which is the second level where they start to coordinate like how do our personality dynamics work out as a team? Are we functioning well emotionally as a team? And how do our values work together to achieve what we’re doing? So it really, that manager needs to start off with himself first. And if they don’t develop that self evaluation, or that self-awareness first, then when they go to the team, they don’t have much to give.

So it is important for higher leadership to catch onto these concepts very early on, and even beforehand. And then, the process that I have worked out has a workshop where you get the download, but then there’s nine weeks of review because if you go to a foreign culture, you don’t expect to visit Japan and understand Japanese culture after you’ve been a tourist for a week, you have to dive in, immerse yourself, learn the language, spend the time, and then you learn the culture. So, that’s true of organizational culture too. It takes a lot of intentionality, a lot of time, and a lot of focus, but the payouts are huge.

Mike Coffey: Yeah. And I think a lot of managers and business leaders want quick results. I’ve got a turnover problem. I need to fix it in this quarter. And it sounds like that’s not something you’re going to fix in one quarter necessarily, that, that’s something that’s going to take a lot more time than just culture in three easy lessons or whatever.

Randal Weidenaar: A culture pill that you can take and everything will be fine.

Mike Coffey: Exactly.

Randal Weidenaar: Yes. This is a change dynamic. And interestingly, studying at MIT, they actually have this dynamic where it’s called the capabilities trap, as you grow capabilities, your capabilities drop. And you have to be very aware of that as a management team, as leadership that as you say, Hey, I’ve got a great new culture program, everybody’s going like, yeah, but it takes too much time. We’re getting less done. And then they bail out at a program and criticize it. So it takes a lot of fortitude from the leadership going, this is going to work, and to show people that dynamic, it’s going to go down, but then we’re going to rise way above our starting point and become a culture that can do that dip, gain, dip, gain.

And so you have a constant, a culture that does these little maneuvers, but they’re constantly going up is the culture that can have that long game mindset. It’s the short-term, Hey, we lost five minutes of productivity. So I’m going to bail out and do my shortcuts and forget about this culture stuff. The long game of this is statistics show that according to Gallup with disengaged employees, you’re losing up to 20% of your productivity. That’s a day a week. So if you can’t take 15 minutes to work on culture, to eventually gain a whole day of productivity, that’s very short-sighted management indeed.

Mike Coffey: And you look at the cost of replacing the employees who’ve decided this isn’t the place they want to be, and move on to greener pastures and fades 15 or 20 or 25% of your workforce annually. And it’s real expensive real quick.

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah. And for HR directors, it’s the difference between that 30, 40% turnover, and 12% or 10% turnover, which is more just natural attrition. So, it’s huge, particularly in today’s workforce marketplace, the workforce marketplace in most regions is so competitive, people just can’t find workers, let alone retain them. So to me, this is going to be the competitive advantage of organizations in the future. This is that extra 20, 25% efficiency, that’s going to make you more competitive.

Mike Coffey: One last question. You work with a lot of companies and a lot of them I’m sure are remote. How have the sciences and this stuff affected employers who have a remote workforce, or a hybrid workforce, even?

Randal Weidenaar: For sure, it’s been very difficult. When you talk to HR directors everywhere, I was just at a trade show with HR directors, and they were like, we’re exhausted, we’re falling over. We used to come to these shows and got rejuvenated. We’re just collapsing on the shores of them. I think it’s exhausting for everyone. And there’s studies that show when you shift an environment, there’s an initial, like when you change the lighting and you put more lighting in a warehouse, the warehouse workers work faster for about a certain period of time, but then when you go back and turn the lighting back down, the productivity goes up again, because you made a change to the environment. So we’ve seen a little uptake in the working from home, because it’s a new environment, but eventually that lack of connection, according to just scientific studies, it’s going to go down.

So it’s critical that we come back together and not leave things in permanent remote status, even though you might gain some finance for having fewer square feet that you have to rent. But ultimately people are made to engage with people and in a real world physical way. And there’s a veil that happens through Zoom that just is not the same. There’s actually a two nanosecond lag before I say something and actually something becomes conveyed, and that’s confusing to the brain because we’ve already ascertained emotion in two nanoseconds. And when everything is two nanoseconds behind our brains are not catching the emotional connection that you do in a live connection. There’s just no replacing that.

Mike Coffey: That’s great. That’s all the time we have. If listeners want more information on Culture VP, where would they get that?

Randal Weidenaar: Yeah, they can go to

Mike Coffey: Oh, VP Culture. I said, Culture VP…

Randal Weidenaar: VP Culture, so that stands for valuing people culture.

Mike Coffey: Oh, okay. Valuing people culture.

Randal Weidenaar: There you go. So, because that’s what it’s all about.

Mike Coffey: And, of course, anybody who’s in the Fort Worth area can see you speak at Fort Worth HR’s Monthly Luncheon on October 20th, and they can register for that at Thanks for being with us today, Randal.

Randal Weidenaar: Thanks so much for having me.

Mike Coffey: And thank you for listening.

You can find previous episodes, show notes and contact info for our guests at, or on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. And don’t forget to follow us wherever you get your podcasts.

Rob Upchurch is our technical producer, and Imperative’s marketing coordinator, Katy Bautista, keeps the trains running on time. And I’m Mike Coffey, as always don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of service to you professionally or personally, I’ll see you next week. And until then, be well, do good, and keep your chin up.