HRchat Podcast - Interviews with HR, Talent and Tech Experts

Unlocking the Potential of Distributed Teams w/ Tyler Muse, Lingo Live

November 30, 2021 The HR Gazette Season 1 Episode 368
HRchat Podcast - Interviews with HR, Talent and Tech Experts
Unlocking the Potential of Distributed Teams w/ Tyler Muse, Lingo Live
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we consider ways to empower L&D pros and HR teams with the tools to unlock the potential of their distributed teams.

Bill's guest this time is Tyler Muse, CEO & Founder at Lingo Live, an online coaching platform on a mission to help emerging leaders at multinational companies gain the skills they need to lead their teams effectively.

Tyler is passionate about bringing the world closer together through meaningful human connections. As a leader, he experienced firsthand the transformative power of one-on-one coaching and built Lingo Live to marry the meaningful human connection of a private coach with the efficacy of skills-based development.

Over the past 7 years, the company has grown 10x, scaled up to dozens of employees and 100s of coaches worldwide, and raised nearly $10 million in venture capital funding.

Tyler is also the host of the awesome new Groundwork Podcast

Questions For Tyler Include:

  • We have incredibly talented engineers who work together to build innovative, superior products. Lingo Live is a key partner in unlocking the full potential of our technical talent by helping us remove our only significant barrier to success: communication and leadership gaps.” – Pat Poels, CTO, Eventbrite. Can you list some of the common leadership gaps and how they can impact performance when not addressed in a timely manner?
  • What do you think is going on right now with this "Great Resignation / Great Reshuffling" happening in the labor markets post-covid? How can companies that can demonstrate they have the mechanisms for powerful ideation and innovation, be better placed to attract and grow top distributed talent?
  •  Your users or 'learners' are connected with a live coach who delivers personalized learning through live lessons online using your proprietary Skills-Based Coaching methodology. Lingo Live talks a lot about Skills-Based Coaching, what is that? How do you define it and why are you all so passionate about it?
  • Lingo Live challenges teams to apply new skills throughout the process to ensure lasting behavior change. How do you help the lessons 'stick' through ongoing practical application?
  • Impact Measurement: Lingo Live aims to align coaching with a company's objectives and collects 360-degree feedback to measure the business impact. What is the process of aligning and measuring the coaching with corporate goals and where does the HR department fit in?


We do our best to ensure editorial objectivity. The views and ideas shared by our guests and sponsors are entirely independent of The HR Gazette, HRchat Podcast and Iceni Media Inc.   


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the HR chat podcast, bringing the best of the HR and talent communities to you.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to another episode of the HR chatbot cost . I'm your host today, bill Banham. And in this episode, we can consider ways to empower L and D pros and HR teams with the tools to unlock their distributed teams potential. My awesome guest this time is Tyler muse, CEO and founder. Over at lingo live an online coaching platform on a mission to help emerging leaders at multinational companies gain the skills they need to lead their teams. Effectively. Tyler is passionate about bringing the world closer together through meaningful human connections. As a leader, he experienced firsthand the transformative power of one-on-one coaching and built lingo live to marry the meaningful human connection of a private coach with the efficiency of skills based development. Over the past seven years, the company has grown 10 times scaled up dozens of employees and hundreds of coaches worldwide and raised nearly $10 million in venture capital funding prior to starting lingo live in 2012. Tyler co-founded an internationally focused mentorship program based for multi-lingual youth in New York city, and worked as an analyst for GE energy financial services. Tyler lives in sunny, Dallas, Texas, with his wife and three kids where he's not spending time with them. He enjoys boxing, tennis, hanging out with his extended family. And one of my favorite things, traveling Tyler, it's my pleasure to welcome you to the HR chat show today.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much, bill. It's great to be here.

Speaker 2:

So one thing I didn't mention in my intro as well, Tyler, and I'm sure we'll get into it as part of our chat at some point today. Um , is Tyler recently launched a podcast and , uh , he's a pretty awesome host himself, which makes me a little bit nervous. Um, I'm always, I'm always on edge when I'm interviewing another political status, but it's really great listeners. We'll include notes to that in the, in the show notes as well. Hey Tyler, why don't you start there by , uh, by taking a couple of minutes and introducing yourself to our listeners,

Speaker 3:

As you mentioned, I live here in Dallas, Texas, and I always tell my employees that I am trying to be a great husband, a great father, and build a great company in that order. And that's really important that we create the space for employees in this company to take care of the things that are more important than the work. Um, and so for me, that means my wife, Mallory and my three kids , uh, Charlie Rocky and bell , unfortunately Charlie and Rocky have a bit of a virus. So if you notice some gravelly sound in my voice, it's because I'm probably coming down with the same thing. Um, but I'm feeling good. I'm super excited to be here and excited to chat through this topic.

Speaker 2:

I can very much relate to my boy who is 16 months old is always like on a weekly basis, giving me a new, a new illness to go through. I've never consistently been , uh, as under the weather as, as I have been over the course of the last year and a half because my lovely boy , um, but he's wonderful. So what, what are you going to do in fact, listen , just a quick side story. The first time Tyler and I spoke , uh , it was a very, very authentic introduction because I was trying to manage feeding author while having a professional conversation with Tyler , uh , on a video call ,

Speaker 3:

I was very impressed that you thought we could pull that off. Arthur was giving me a look like there's no way this call's going to go more than five minutes, so sure enough, it didn't and we rescheduled and it all worked out great.

Speaker 2:

We did, we didn't do a very patient with you to get to this point. And so thank you. Um, now then , uh , here's a quote from pat pools , who's CTO over event breaks , uh, and it is as follows. We have incredibly talented engineers who worked together to build innovative superior products. Lingo live is a key player in unlocking the full potential of our technical talent by helping us remove our only significant barrier to success, communication and leadership gaps. So my question for you is in two minutes or less, I do like to challenge my guests. Sometimes you need less some of the common leadership gaps and how they can impact performance when not addressed in a timely manner.

Speaker 3:

Sure. I mean, I think, you know, what pat was speaking to there , um , when he was at event bright , and this is a common thread that we see all the time is that hyper-growth technology companies. They end up promoting people into management roles internally who don't have the experience or the skills to manage teams effectively. And so they want to empower them. They want to give them the tools that they need. And we've been doing this for many years and I think, you know, we've, we've learned that it honestly bill it, it boils down to two things which are communication and emotional intelligence on. And actually, I would say it starts with the emotional intelligence. So how self-aware are you as a leader? What do you, what type of a leader do you want to be? Why are you in this job as a , as a people manager and what are some of your strengths? What are some of your growth opportunities? How do those show up in the workplace and how do those inform the type of leader that you want to be? And then communication is really how you put that all into practice and how you make sure that your team has everything they need to be successful. So whether that's being a really good listener and being , you know , being very strong at active listening and really understanding what the, what the individuals on your team need from you , um, whether that's painting a very clear vision of where we need to go as a team or having a really difficult conversation with someone on your team who maybe isn't performing, you know, communication is , is essential. And I'm sure we're going to get into that a little bit more.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. We'll say, well , what do you think is going on right now when it comes to this great resignation or some people call it a great reshuffling? It's we haven't seen anything like this before, you know, not, not even , uh, after, after the , um, also the recession in oh eight or nine, did we see labor movement? And at new desire to , to switch up how we're working in such a, in such a pronounced way, perhaps you can share how can companies that can demonstrate that they have the mechanisms for powerful ideation and innovation, how those guys can be better placed to attract and grow top talent in a distributed way do during this extremely interesting.

Speaker 3:

It is so interesting. I'm glad you're asking about this. We're , we're doing a number of talks on this at lingo live with , um, thought leaders in the, in the HR and, and just more broadly sea level. Um, and it's, it is unprecedented. It's really fascinating. I've been reading a lot about it and trying to understand kind of all the facets that are going on. I think one of the biggest things that is happening that I didn't fully appreciate until I read an article in the New York times about this is we have one of the most diverse workforces in terms of a generational standpoint in history. So we have four generations in the workforce right now we have baby boomers on the tail end of their career. And then we have gen X and then millennials, which is the generation I'm in. And then we have gen Z and these generations could not be more different in terms of, you know, how they think about work and the , and the role of work in their life. Um, on, on one side of the spectrum, I think you really have stability and order. Um, and that would be kind of more on the baby boomer side of things. Whereas on the other side is, is kind of flexibility and optionality. Now, obviously I'm making very generalized statements about millions and millions of people. And so it's not meant to say everybody is this way and you know, these generations, but I think what's happening is I think that even if we hadn't had the pandemic and hadn't had this kind of shelter in place type of experiment, where everyone was working from home, I still think we'd be seeing a lot of movement in the labor markets towards , uh , roles and organizations that provide more flexibility and optionality just because of what millennials and gen Z are looking for. Um, and so without getting too much into the details of that, I think, you know, on , you mentioned my podcast, we had , uh , Kelly Dragovich, who is the chief people officer at Pendo. She talked about this concept of like, you have these two con concentric a work and life, and it may be used to be a Venn diagram where there was a little bit of overlap between work and life and maybe 15 years ago. Whereas now it's almost becoming like an eclipse where ultimately, I think it comes down to outcomes over activity. So no matter what generation you're in, you want fairness, you want transparency and clarity on what does the business need from me in my role to succeed. And so you've got to focus on outcomes over activities. What I mean by that is outcomes are right here are the goals that we're driving towards. Here's how we're progressing towards them. Here's, who's responsible for these things. Objective fair measurements around what success looks like versus activities, which are things like, you know, you need to be in the office, you need to be doing your work this way. Um, we expect you to, you know, work from nine, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but then never before or after that , that, that type of routine and stability is just not something that, that people particularly in the gen Z generation want. And so , uh, I think organizations you've got to put in place systems to show what the goals are that need to be achieved and why, and then how you're going to measure them and who is responsible for achieving these goals. Uh , so we use OKR objectives and key results. I know that's become pretty popular , uh , Google really popularized them, but it was originally , uh, Intel that , that kind of popularized the concept of OKR, but just really clear objective goals that we're aiming for. And then permission for you to work on your own terms to accomplish those goals. So whether that's kind of where you live , um, what hours you work , um, the goals should be set in such a way that it is going to take right , you know, 40 to 50 hours a week to accomplish this. And some organizations are going to be more aggressive than that. Maybe they expect, you know, 80 hour workweeks . I'm personally not a fan of that. So we say kind of 40 to 50 hours, but whether or not you're doing that work between the hours of nine to six central time is pretty much irrelevant to us. Right? You've got it . You might want to take your kid to the doctor in the afternoon. You might want to go pick up your kid from school. That's totally fine. You should do that. I mean, right before this interview, I, I had a plumber over here and I spent 30 minutes with him walking through things like that. It doesn't matter if that's type of stuff is happening. What matters is ultimately when I report out at the end of every week to my team, how I'm trending towards my OKR. So put the systems in place to show what those goals are that need to be achieved, give permission for folks to achieve them on their own terms, and then give transparency to employees more broadly about the fact that it's a two way like this, this model of you're going to work here for 30 years and you're going to get a Rolex. And you know, you're going to get a retirement party that happens when you leave the organization. Like that's just not realistic anymore. That's just not the way that the world works. And so I think being able to acknowledge that this is a two way street, you are here to grow in your career. Um, you're not just here to deliver on these goals and we need to figure out a way to make sure that we are helping you grow in your career. Um, but at the same time, we're holding you accountable to delivering on what matters. And we're being very clear and fair and objective on that, I think is the third piece. Um, and then the last piece is really making sure you bring people together , um, because community is lost in a distributed world. When, when I first started the company, and as you mentioned, I was at GE prior, we were in an office and it's obviously different when you're working from home and you're remote or distributed. It's very different. And so you've got to intentionally invest in routines that are going to bring the company together. Um, I would argue both in a virtual and in an in-person environment. So we do an annual offsite where we bring the whole company together for four days in person, and it's a mix of work and play. And then we've got certain routines virtually that we do , uh , every week, every month and every quarter to kind of bring folks together. Um, because obviously you , you lose that, not, not being in an in-person environment. So yeah. Put the systems in place for performance management , um, give people permission to work on their own terms to achieving that, provide transparency around it, being a two way relationship and bring people together, knowing that you're going to lose community. If you don't sorry. That was a long-winded answer.

Speaker 2:

No, no, no. I , I love that. I completely agree. In fact, I think we should just take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are as, as, as folk, you get to work in the 2020s. Uh , you know, I remember I only about 10 years ago working for a really cool , uh , tech company in , in west London, in the UK. And , um, I had a conversation with one of my bosses once and they said, bill, we appreciate your enthusiasm, but it's not cool if employees, if clients receive emails from you outside of work hours , um, those days are gone. You know, that , that the point is if, if, if you, if you do your job, if you perform well , um, everything else should be secondary. And , uh, there's, there's, there's a need now for , for the company to prove itself to the candidate or to the employee on an ongoing basis, which I think is fantastic. Anyway, this is an interview with you. It's not an interview with me, so let's continue through. Um, so I , I understand that your users or learners are connected with a life coach who delivers personalized learning through live sessions online using your proprietary skills based coaching methodology and lingo live talks a lot about skills-based coaching. So Tyler, what is it? How do you define it and why you also passionate about it?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, great question. Um, so if I had to summarize what is skills-based coaching, it's really more of a promise, not a methodology. Um, and the promise of skills-based coaching is that your employees are gonna focus on very specific skills versus traditional opened in executive coaching, which is sometimes a black box. These employees are going to focus on very specific skills that are in alignment with their team as being skills that are going to help them be a better leader. And we are going to provide you definitive evidence of behavior change in those skills. And so the way that we do that and kind of hold ourselves accountable to delivering on that promise of meaningful behavior change and very specific relevant skills is through this kind of methodology, which is you align at the outset with your team. So we have 20 leadership skills in our curriculum that we basically send a quick survey out to your manager, your peers, and your direct reports. And we have them provide input. And we say, okay, Bill's going to go through this program. What are some of Bill's strengths and what are some of his growth opportunities? Can you indicate from within these 20 leadership skills kind of where he is strong and give examples of each of those, and then where he could develop and give examples. And so what happens is you get this kind of, we say, it's almost like you're about to go into uncharted territory in , and you're sailing this boat into choppy waters, this whole concept of leadership development. It's so it's so scary for a lot of these managers and it's very opaque. They don't really know what it looks like. And so that skill alignment really provides a map for you to know, okay, not just where I want to go, but where my team sees me thriving and where they see me growing, developing. Now I've got a map to kind of chart my path with my coach to figure out what are the skills I want to work on, which is the next step. So you meet with your coach. You kind of make sense of this data that you've gotten from your team, and then you identify , um , what is a goal I want to work towards and what are some of the skills that were identified in the skill alignment step they're going to help me achieve that goal? So an example could be like maybe, maybe a goal is you want to get better at holding your team accountable to OKR performance and having difficult conversations around that, right? It's not an off the shelf skill from our curriculum. It's a very personal thing to you that you want to improve in. And that you believe is going to add value to your team. That's the goal. And then the will be pulled from our curriculum. So maybe developing your self-awareness, developing your confidence, develop your ability to speak clearly and concisely. These are all , um , naming examples of specific skills from our curriculum that will help you achieve that. And you meet with your coach to practice that in the safe space of a one-on-one environment, so that you're not forced to just go do this with your team, but that you have an expert that you can work with to practice this. So you could say, you know, Hey, I've got this guy, Tyler on my team, he's kind of a jerk. He's kind of like hard headed . And I, it's really hard for me to have these conversations with him. And you can explore that with a coach. Why is that? What is he doing that makes you feel like he's a jerk? What, or what's going on in your head, that's maybe causing you to believe that you don't have the authority to do this, and then let's practice it after we do that self discovery and explore kind of some of the things that are holding you back from feeling like you can lead with authority, let's now practice it. How would you go about doing this? I'll pretend to be Tyler. You , you give me the feedback and let's talk about how that feels and , um, really explore these skills in the safe space, confidential space of a one-on-one coaching environment. And then the last step is to put it into practice. Once you're ready, we , the coach assigns an action step, which is really how we think about homework is like, okay, you're ready to go do it now, bill, like go have that conversation with Tyler. He, you know, we've practiced it enough. You feel like you're confident, go practice it, go do it in the wild and then come back and report to me on how that went next week. And so that model of highly personalized goals that are in alignment with your team, plus practicing it in the safe space with your coach around those very specific skills and then action steps that hold you accountable to actually going and doing it in the workplace is what we're seeing is really driving the behavior change we need.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Thank you very much. So , uh, you've just walked me through there . Uh, most of that process, you know, from , from the initial learnings to, to mapping it out, to, to actually saying right, go out there and give it a go. Um, but th that, that final step I'd be keen to hear from you , um , as an addition to your previous answer, that , that final step Tyler, in terms of making those new skills stick, if you like through practical application, how , how does, how does your team, and how do the coaches work with learners so that they can check in on a regular basis that those lessons are , are working and they're practicing what they've learned on an ongoing basis? Sure.

Speaker 3:

No, I'm glad you ask it's. I mean, it's the most important part of the process is what, what is actually going to drive behavior change is not that you're working on skills with your coach. It's that you're , you're actually practicing what you're working in the workplace. So we're big believers in the 70, 20 10, if you're familiar with that. But the idea that 70% of the learning happens outside of the classroom through applied learning. And so that's where those action steps are so key. So how we make sure it sticks is a couple of things. One, the action steps are actually codified in the system. So again, in that example, it would say, okay, bill, you're ready to go, go have that conversation. Here's your homework. Go have that conversation with Tyler and report back to me next week. So the coach is helping me keep you accountable, such that if you don't actually go do it, the coach is going to say, bill, why didn't you do it? Let's explore that. And they're not going to let you off the hook until you go do it. And then the second piece is how we actually measure behavior change. So I mentioned before we do this kind of skill alignment, where we get input from your peers, your manager, and your direct reports, we will actually go back to them and check in with them every six sessions to say, Hey, bill has been working on these skills that you identified. Have you noticed improvement? And if so, can you indicate which of these you have seen improvement in and why, what are examples of things you've noticed that are different from what he was doing before? And so sometimes that data isn't conclusive. It's no it's too early. We haven't seen improvement. And so again, that's information that the learner and the coach can use to say, okay, we need to focus on this a little bit more. It sounds like we feel like you're improving, but it's not showing up with your team. What do you think's going on there? So those, those two pieces that the action steps and the accountability with the coach, making sure that you do them, plus your team, providing feedback as to whether or not they've noticed an improvement is what helps to make sure that those skills are actually being built and that they stick

Speaker 2:

Well. That was a pretty comprehensive , uh, uh, we told that

Speaker 3:

I got over this stuff, sorry if it's too much,

Speaker 2:

But not too . I just don't know. It was comprehensive in the sense that , uh, it sounds like you guys have got a whole bunch of , uh, of checks in place to make sure that , um, these lessons are all sticking and , uh , and people are practicing them. So that's, that's great. Um, let's talk a bit about impact measurement Tyler. So lingo live aims to align coaching with a company's objectives and collect 360 degree feedback to measure the business impact. We've just been speaking about , uh, the, the , uh, effect on an individual learner at a higher level though . What is the process of aligning and measuring the coaching with corporate goals? And, and where does, where does the HL to PIP department fit in with that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a good question. Um, the, before we start a coaching engagement, so I just walk you through the individual experience, but before we even start bringing learners on board, we, we work with the HR department . So that's our, that's our buyer, that's our customer. And we will learn from them. Okay. What are , why are you here basically? Why are you bringing in a coaching provider to help your managers? What, what is going on beyond the high level of well , they're , you know, they don't have a ton of experience or skills and it's really holding back their ability to lead effectively. What does that mean? What are some of the behaviors that you're seeing them show up with? What are some of the values of the organization that you want to make sure that the behaviors are aligning to? Um, and can you give examples of feedback that you've gotten or things you've observed yourselves, that show kind of the behavior that is happening versus the behavior that you want to happen. And so, based on that kind of initial design phase, where we're connecting with the HR department to understand that we use that to inform what coaches to bring on , um , because not every coach is going to be a great fit for every organization. So understanding what those organizational objectives are, help us kind of curate a community of coaches, a cohort of coaches for that organization. And then we share that information with them to say, here's what we learned from talking to the HR departments across the entire , uh , cohort of coaches. Here's some of the behaviors that are showing up here , some of the behaviors that they would prefer to see and hear the values of the organization and how that connects directly to manage your development as a priority. And so then coaches have that kind of in the back of their mind, such that when they go into the more granular data from the team level around the specific individual, they can kind of reconcile that with the organizational goals. But I will say bill , like the biggest thing that moves the needle for these companies is the behavior change in skills that matter to the team because the HR teams, as much as they have opinions and insights around kind of what more broadly the organizational change needs to look like at the end of the day, they differ a lot to particularly the managers of these folks to determine like, what is the actual gap, because it's going to be different for every single person. What is the gap and is lingo live, helping us close that gap.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Thank you. And just finally, for today, how can our listeners connect with you? So maybe you want to share your, your LinkedIn details, your email address, whatever you want to do there, and how can they learn more about lingo live? And of course, your awesome new podcast, which is called the groundwork.

Speaker 3:

Sure. So yeah . Subscribe to groundwork , uh , lingo lives podcast on any, anywhere you download your podcasts. I don't know I'm a Spotify guy, but , um, if you search groundwork lingo live, you can find us there. But , um, in terms of getting in touch with the team, come to our website, lingo, live.com or email me@tyleratlingolive.com.

Speaker 2:

Perfect. That just leads me to say for today, Tyler, thank you so much for being a guest on this episode of the HR chat show.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much, bill. It's great chatting with you. I'm looking forward to doing it again sometime soon

Speaker 2:

Listeners as always until next time.

Speaker 1:

Happy working. Thank you for listening to the HR chat podcast brought to you by the HR. Does that .