Do you want to be more influential? For most of us, the answer is yes. Greater influence often translates to more power, enabling us to achieve our goals, drive change, and create a significant impact. But delving into the strategies and tactics of influence can leave us feeling uneasy. Words like “manipulative,” “sneaky,” and “coercive” come to mind. It’s because, according to my guest, Zoe Chance: “The idea of influence has been corrupted by tacky, greedy people using tacky, greedy tactics to sell used cars, to promote sponsors’ products on social media, and to get us to buy now, while supplies last!”
Zoe Chance, however, champions a different approach. As a distinguished behavioral scientist at Yale School of Management, she empowers smart and kind individuals to harness influence effectively. Her role at Yale involves guiding executives and teaching the highly sought-after MBA elective, ‘Mastering Influence and Persuasion.’ Her students achieve remarkable feats: they raise funds for charities, win political seats, kickstart successful startups, initiate social movements, save lives, and drive a culture change. And so can you.
In this wide-ranging conversations, we talk about the difference between transactional and interpersonal influence, culturally-driven internalized beliefs and the impact they have on our ability to influence, the “asking gap” and how we can level the playing field for others to bridge it if we are in a position of power, the laws of behavioral economics and how we can use them to change behaviors – and more!
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Aga Bajer 00:00
Welcome to the CultureLab. I’m your host, Aga Bajer. This podcast helps you turn your company culture into rocket fuel for meaningful growth. It gives you the tools and inspiration to make work, synonymous with fun, meaning, and belonging. This is where we explore how to cultivate remarkable cultures, cultures that scale and evolve as our businesses grow, and the world keeps on changing.
Zoe Chance 00:32
To consider influence from the perspective of asking gaps, as well so when you were talking about people who just charge ahead, versus people who hold back, asking gaps are distributed along lines of power and privilege. And people with more power and privilege ask more, more often for more than people without it, and what happens is those of us who are people pleasers people people or supportive and kind, we tend to be reflexively and reactively generous, we reward the people who ask, and we just don’t notice the people who don’t. And so my challenge to leaders who are in the situation that most of the people I like the most are in, is when somebody comes and asks you for a privilege or an exception, or some extra resources to ask yourself who could have asked but they didn’t? And is there a policy that should change?
Aga Bajer 01:35
Hello friends, welcome to episode 131 of the CultureLab podcast. This episode is brought to you by CultureBrained, one-of-a-kind accelerator program, where culture leaders get hands-on support and guidance on how to reach their goals faster – especially now, in this brave new world of remote and hybrid work. CultureBrained connects you with outstanding peers on the same journey, but also with world-class experts, including people you know from the show, and they will help you identify and implement new, better ways of creating a culture where people do their best work. Check it out, it’s tinyurl.com/CultureBrained. And no need to write it down. There’s a link in the show notes.
Aga Bajer 02:29
Do you want to be more influential? For most of us, the answer is yes. Greater influence translates to more power and enables us to achieve our goals, drive change and create a significant impact. But delving into the strategies and tactics of influence can leave us feeling uneasy. Words like manipulative, sneaky, and coercive come to mind. And it’s because according to my guest Zoe Chance, the idea of influence has been corrupted by tacky greedy people using tacky greedy tactics to sell, to sell used cars to promote sponsored products on social media, and to get us to buy now while supplies last. Zoe Chance, however, champions a different approach. As a distinguished behavioral scientist at Yale School of Management, she empowers smart and kind individuals to harness influence effectively. Her role at Yale involves guiding executives and teaching the highly sought after MBA elective, mustering influence and persuasion. Her students achieve remarkable feats. They raise funds for charities, win political seats, kickstart successful startups, initiate social movements, save lives, and change company cultures. And so can you, tune in to find out how.
Zoe Chance 04:01
My name is Zoe Chance. I’m a professor at Yale School of Management. And I’m the author of influence is your superpower, I teach the school’s most popular class. It’s called mastering influence and persuasion. And we practice the Spider Man doctrine, which means with great power comes great responsibility. So I love getting to work with leaders around the world, helping them be more influential, empower their teams to be more influential, and exert good influence on society around us.
Aga Bajer 04:29
Zoe, welcome to the CultureLab podcast! I am so excited to be in conversation with you today. Because I think a lot of our listeners are so eager to learn from you. But before we go there and before we dive into the topic, I always kick off these interviews with the same question. And the question is about you and it’s about the early cultural influences that shaped you as a person. How did you grow up and what impact did it have on what you do today?
Zoe Chance 05:00
I love this question and I was thinking about this in preparation for talking with you. I love that you ask, I noticed that for me as a white person in the dominant group in the United States where I grew up, I didn’t think about culture. Because I didn’t think that being American is anything I didn’t think that being white is anything because I was just part of the dominant suit. My husband, for example, grew up as a brown immigrant in Germany, thinking about cultural influences all the time. But in my family culture, we had very strong micro cultural influences and my biggest influence was my mom. She is the funnest person that I have ever known. And she still lives with me and she’s still a good influence. I call her my Swami mommy, and she helps me raise my daughter. And she’s so fun that she’s just always encouraging me to look for the beauty and the joy and to create it if I can’t find it. So tiny example would be during the pandemic, we’re on lockdown. We have my mom, my daughter, my sister, her husband, their tiny baby, and their cat had moved in with us and our dogs and our cats over these close quarters, I’m teaching virtually all of us are going crazy. Plus, we have this one month old baby, and my mom comes into the kitchen. She has a cake with this giant not candle like a birthday candle, but fireworks, huge sparkler thing that shooting sparks and flames and the sparkler are going like 10 feet. I’m terrified. She’s going to set the house on fire and singing Happy Thursday to you. And I just love it. She inspired my daughter, who on it was two weeks after the lockdown happened in this crazy situation of stress and turmoil. And my daughter spent those two weeks plotting until April 1st as a April Fool’s Day where in our culture, we do pranks on each other. And she had plotted and planned 29 pranks that she executed against us these practical jokes.
Aga Bajer 07:07
Wow, that is nuts!
Zoe Chance 07:11
So, it’s been a real blessing to have a family culture of fun that comes into my work and my teaching and my personal life.
Aga Bajer 07:18
That sounds amazing, and I am guessing that your mom’s name is Karen, right?
Zoe Chance 07:23
She is and you know that because you read the dedication in the book. Thank you.
Aga Bajer 07:27
Exactly, exactly. And I want to talk about the magic of making good things happen. Because you dedicate the book to her this way saying that you’ve learned so much. And I love this introduction, because it’s a really vivid way to paint the picture of what those good things are, and how your mom has influenced you. You also said in the book, somewhere I think in the first chapter, if I’m not mistaken that your home was an adventure, but school was lonely for you. I’m going to read out now a passage, you say people talked over me when I spoke consistently, and making friends did not come naturally to me. And I’m curious, what has changed that because you don’t strike me as this person today? I can’t imagine that people would talk over you today. So for me, it would be really interesting to understand what was your journey? How have you been able to become a more influential person yourself?
Zoe Chance 08:33
I would say a core part of my identity remains being an introvert. And I connect, especially with a lot of introverts in the work that I do, and also with leaders who are leaders of teams of introverts and extroverts, of course, and one of the key things about introversion that I teach and this is relevant for me as a kid and also relevant for me now, this idea of behavioral introversion, so not just our trait of where we put ourselves, somewhere along the spectrum in general, but in a particular context, what are we manifesting in terms of our behavior? And the key difference between introverts and extroverts is that extroverts think, while they speak, they speak to figure out what they’re thinking. And introverts think before they speak. If we’re behaviorally introverted in a particular context, we have a higher bar that we have to clear before we share something and I’m still this way in a lot of contexts, not with friends and family, but you know, at work or in social situations with people I don’t know. And this also came up very strongly when I have been in situations and other people I think can relate where I felt like I didn’t have much power, or I wasn’t part of the dominant group. So actually growing up, I shared you know, I’m white, American, from the racially dominant group in my country, but our family was poor. And I grew up with a lot of rich kids. And so I felt like an outsider, so I felt like I didn’t belong. So I was reluctant to speak. And then joining the workforce, all of us joined at a junior level. And we feel the weight of the hierarchy upon us and if you’re the junior person in the room, it’s harder to speak up and your bar is higher, to think, you know, do I have a good enough thing to say, and then also cross culturally, if we’re talking about nations and languages, I spent a year living abroad in another country when I was in high school, speaking another language that I wasn’t fluent in. And anytime we’re speaking in a language that we’re not fluent in, we become a behavioral introvert. Because you have to think before you speak, because you have to translate that thing before you say it. So I love helping people and leaders especially, bring out introverts’ great ideas, because those ideas are the introverts ideas that are not getting expressed, on average, are better than the extroverts ideas that are being expressed. And that includes people in positions of power, like now me as a professor, we just get to blah, blah, blah, talk about whatever we want. So we don’t have a gatekeeper, and so our average ideas are just worse. The ones that get expressed, I mean.
Aga Bajer 11:22
Makes total sense to me. And I’m an introvert myself. So this really resonates, and I know that it’s hard sometimes to speak up to use our voice, you actually start your book highlighting the fact that in spite of that, in spite of the fact that a lot of people feel this way, we were all born to influence. And I couldn’t agree more with this, but what strikes me, as I’ve mentioned, is that, you know we are born with actually probably many other superpowers as well and influence is just one of them. But then we lose them as we grow up. In your view, what are the key factors that diminish our influencing superpower? Perhaps internal factors? You’ve mentioned some of the external ones? And how can we reclaim this superpower?
Zoe Chance 12:17
It’s interesting that you asked about internal ones, because the ones that I can think of that are internal, come externally, and then we internalize them, like patriarchy, right as a cultural influence that is probably impossible for us not to internalize and almost whatever culture we’re in, and in a lot of cultures, this is changing. The well-meaning people who teach us to play small, are to me the most poignant influence of this external force that becomes internalized where we diminish ourselves and this is our parents and our teachers, who are teaching us to be good students and to play nice with others, and to fit in. And they’re teaching us the rules of being a good team member or being a good person in a group. They want us to succeed, they want the group to thrive. It’s all good intentions, but what happens is they’re telling us don’t speak up, don’t advocate for yourself, give space to other people. And while yes, we all need to have space, we all need to be able to advocate for ourselves and, you know, we need to make compromises and listen, and we do need to play well with others. But what we internalize from that ends up being at a deep level, maybe I’m not worthy, and maybe I shouldn’t speak up, and maybe I shouldn’t take up space. And we’re not even conscious of a lot of these messages that we’re getting and then it gets very difficult to overcome. And when we have these good student habits that we carry to the workforce, we are really doing everybody a disservice when we expect that just working hard will get us rewarded and recognized like we’re waiting for a gold star from the teacher, and everybody else is just busy doing their own work. And they’re not there to evaluate us and give us feedback and develop us except for the best managers well, or maybe the worst managers as well. And we just need to in order to shepherd and develop ourselves in our careers, we need to still practice influence and advocacy, self-advocacy, but also practicing advocating on behalf of others to so influence is this. It’s not just a superpower, it is the key skill for getting the things done that we want to do and it becomes more and more and more important as we rise in positions of increasing power and responsibility because there’s so much we can do and because our great ideas depend on so many people to make them happen.
Aga Bajer 15:06
Yeah, and I love how you talk in the book about the fact that we are born with this and we just need to reclaim it, it really resonates with me. And interestingly, you know, when you’ve mentioned these things that we have internalized and what impact they have on how we show up, we had a workshop yesterday in the community that we run for cultural leaders on conflict, and the person who left this workshop asked us a really interesting question. And the question was, what is your conflict rucksack or backpack? I think you would say in America, and what the facilitator meant by that was, what have you learned and internalized about conflict as a child? It was so eye-opening for me because I realized, for example, for me that I grew up in a family where a) my dad had a temper, and so he would get irritated easily, and b) my parents weren’t very happy together, so there was a lot of conflict happening and I always felt like I need to harmonize. And reflecting on that was really insightful for me, because I realized, you know, why I show up in conflict situations as the harmonizer, for example, all the time and I think it’s a very useful exercise to do around influence as well. So what are the kinds of things that we have internalized as children, and how they stand in the way of us basically unleashing the superpower that we have, inherently, but which is blocked right now. So I really appreciate the way you talk about this.
Zoe Chance 16:47
So interesting, this example, when you said, what’s in your conflict, rucksack, I thought you were gonna say, what are the tools that you have at your disposal? But it was also like, what is the burden weighing you down?
Aga Bajer 17:00
Zoe Chance 17:03
In terms of tools, though your comment also reminds me of some interesting research that I have read about adult children of addicts, alcoholics, drug addicts, and how very commonly, they develop a very keen EQ and a very keen attunement to other people’s emotions, and so people like you and I relate to the kind of family situation you grew up in. Because we had to be very careful to notice when there’s conflict, or we want to notice before somebody loses their temper, so that we can protect ourselves or protect other people, we can end up bringing it as a skill, which you and I now do in our work.
Aga Bajer 17:03
Yeah, so true.
Zoe Chance 17:03
I also want to recognize and appreciate that you sharing that you too, are an introvert and I think that you identify, at least internally as an introvert. And a lot of people wouldn’t expect people like us to be doing the work that we’re doing. But so many of us who do work actively with people and like you professionally, having conversations and making them public, right? It seems like, and leading all these workshops and change interventions that you do, people would probably guess that you’re an extrovert, but that’s not necessarily the case at all.
Aga Bajer 18:17
Absolutely and actually, I find that a lot of people who have social anxiety even and are introverts and or are introverts, they often actually seek roles or jobs that require some exposure. Because it’s almost like, at least for me, you know, it’s a role that I play and this role allows me as a facilitator, or as an interviewer, it allows me to tap into something in myself that otherwise perhaps I wouldn’t be able to. And it creates also certain constraints and I think we all need constraints when we are in a situation that is not entirely comfortable. Because roles are prescribed, you kind of know what you’re supposed to be doing in this context at least this is how it’s showing up for me. I’m curious what you think about it.
Zoe Chance 19:06
I just want to say yes, absolutely. To everything that you just said. Yeah, I completely agree. I got interested in understanding how people relate to each other, perceive each other, interact with each other. When I started doing theater, for similar reasons, being in a context where you are in a safe, prescribed rule based environment, where it’s clear who’s talking, who’s listening, and what you’re gonna say. So, I hadn’t thought of it in the way you describe that I relate to it a lot.
Aga Bajer 19:42
So our Zoe are predominantly people, people. They are HR leaders who want to create a culture where people do their best work. And they think about those things all the time, they think about introverts and extroverts and they think about how to enable others to do the best work. They have a lot of passion. They have plenty of great ideas, how to make work, work. But often these ideas fall on deaf ears and I want to ask on behalf of our audience, what should they do? And where should they start? Should they start where your book starts? Which is becoming the person that others want to say yes to? Is that a good place would you say?
Zoe Chance 20:29
I think it depends who we’re talking about, and where they are, I mean, it will be all context dependent. A lot of people, people and HR leaders, who I work with and meet have spent so much time working on developing other people that they may not have given themselves the space and the time for self development. So for someone in that situation, absolutely, absolutely. If you don’t feel that you are able to be walking the talk, because you’re giving so much to other people, whatever it looks like for you to take time to develop yourself into the real role model that other people can look up to and emulate, I would encourage you to take that time and space. And for anybody who wants to start a practice. I expect this is what you teach in your coaching, but whatever the practice is, I would just start with something small and concrete, because it’s very hard to change more than one behavior at a time. And when I’m teaching my boot camp class that I teach on influence with MBA students at Yale, the very first challenge we do when we start the class is 24 hours of No. So a lot of people find this kind of scary and enticing, so this might be the thing to try. 24 hours, you saying no to each person who comes and asks you for something, or invites you to do something. And the idea is not that you ruin your life, so take care of yourself. But the idea isn’t that you have to say no to every single request. It’s to experience saying no to each person. So let’s just say you have a child who’s coming and asking you all kinds of things. You’re going to say no to that kid for 24 hours. But if it feels unnatural, to say no, the first time really feel what that’s like, experience that experience, their reaction. How about saying no to a boss, right? Many of us feel that we can’t, that it’s impossible, or saying no to a colleague or a partner. What we find typically when leaders, employees, students try this challenge is that maybe 90% of us discover that we’re even more of a people pleaser than we thought that we were. And lots of us know that we’re people pleasers, I still am. But we don’t know how much until we realize that our default reaction is just to try to say yes, because we like people, and we want to be helpful, and we want to be generous. And what ends up happening is other people, just they get to be the boss of us, and they get to be the dispensers of our time, which is this incredibly valued finite resource. So first, oh my gosh, I could have so much more influence over my own life. If I said no, but also what the vast majority of people who try this exercise experience is that other people hearing no, are typically fine. And it’s not a big deal, or they just say like oh, why what’s going on? Are you okay? And it’s not that they are horrified or hate us or think that we’re greedy, or whatever. So we realize there’s just a lot more space and a lot more freedom we could give ourselves. And then the secret sauce magic of this, that’s not obvious, that only comes through practice, and if you continue and then start paying attention to your own request to other people after this, is that when we get comfortable with saying no to other people, we get more comfortable with the idea and the experience of other people saying no to us. And when we’re more comfortable with other people saying no, than when we’re making requests and using and expanding our influence they have less neediness. And they’re not repulsive in that way that somebody who’s needy or entitled. It doesn’t matter what their request is, if they come to you in that way you just want to say, oh, no, no, no. So this is a small but really important piece of the magic of becoming someone other people want to say yes to.
Aga Bajer 24:44
I love that because a) it’s quite counterintuitive, and I love counterintuitive advice. And it’s so true that, especially for people, people it’s not so much about accommodating or building relationships because they already do that what they do need is to set some boundaries sometimes and feel more comfortable. It almost sounds to me like it’s reclaiming our sense of agency first. So in a way, we are becoming stronger in ourselves and reclaiming the agency so that then we can influence others because it’s important, I imagine right to influence others to have that sense of agency, ourselves first.
Zoe Chance 25:28
Yes. I love the framing of it, that you put around that.
Aga Bajer 25:33
I’d love to explore the opposite scenario, though, as well, because our people, people which to a great extent is the audience of this show, I can only imagine how they will struggle with saying no, how hard it will be to set boundaries and how empowering it might be. There are other people in their organizations, and especially I think, some leaders in high growth and very fast-paced organizations that actually use a lot of these transactional influence tactics. And when you start talking to them about becoming the person that people want to say yes to, and sort of personal influence, they intellectually, of course, get it, they understand that influence is a two-way street, but their pushback is going to be I don’t have time for that, you know, I need to move fast, I need to get results really fast. What would you say to that?
Zoe Chance 26:31
I would ask about a particular context, because I’ve actually never heard anyone say, I don’t have time for that. So I think you must be thinking of some particular kind of situation,.
Aga Bajer 26:41
I don’t want to get too specific, I do have a specific situation in mind. But a lot of times, people in positions of formal power, they will mandate something without really investing time in influencing others, because they feel like they are in this position of power, where we’re basically for things to happen. it’s enough for them to tell people that these things need to happen. And you know, very often it works, right? Or at least it seems like it works because to their face, people will say sure, we’ll give it a go. We’ll do it. So I find that for a lot of senior leaders, they don’t necessarily always see the business case, you know, for personal influence.
Zoe Chance 27:29
My experience with senior leaders has been that senior leaders really get the business case for interpersonal influence. So I’m sure there are some who don’t, and absolutely understand the rush of I don’t have time for consensus building, say in some sort of formal way. But what I see more often, that’s harder to deal with is that it’s very difficult to foresee what kinds of changes are not going to be a big deal. And they can be mandated. And you know, like let’s say, you have some little change that’s going to save people time in the work that they do. Okay, great, wonderful. Maybe that’s something that can just happen and you just tell people, Hey, there’s this new process, although even something like that, because you’re asking people to change a habit can be more effortful than you think. But an example of this wasn’t even an attempt at a culture change, this was a beta test pilot that was people really trying to do the right thing, and didn’t foresee the backlash that they would get. So I share this in the context of expect to have some backlash, and also expect that there’s things that you can do to prevent it, even when you’re doing something really, really tiny. This was the Google Food Team who have done a bunch of consulting work with, they were interested in helping people eat more sustainably and lots of Google employees care about the environment and one of the ways to do that is eat less meat. So there was this movement that I think it started in the States and definitely expanded through a number of countries in Europe that was called Meatless Monday. And it was organizations like companies and schools, feeding employees or students they did in the military as well, one day a week for one meal. There’s no meat on the plate, and you get to experience that you can have something tasty and filling even if it doesn’t have meat in it. So overall, seems like people should be so happy with this. However, the Google Food Team hired us to come on board and help them with interventions later after this because they had Meatless Monday at one out of the 24 cafes in their headquarters. And obviously one day a week because it’s Monday, one month of the year and even though it’s one out of 12 months, one out of 24 cafes, and one out of seven days of the week, there was a huge uproar. When I say huge uproar, not the majority of people, but enough vocal, angry people who were highly influential, that hosted a pig roast in the parking lot of that cafe and they went into that cafe to get the plates, the cups, napkins, and they publicize it to everybody. And what the leaders didn’t foresee, by the way, this didn’t just happen at Google. But I’m told that in Germany, maybe the Green Party actually lost an election because of the Meatless Monday campaign, people were so upset about it, and there have been widespread protests at schools in France and in the UK, for similar reasons, people don’t want to be told what to do. So we have this inner two year old that’s resistant and reactant. And if you think I’m telling you what to do, especially if you think I’m telling you how to be a better person, and then I’m telling you that you’re a bad person meatless is focused on, we’re taking away your meat, we’re not giving you a choice, and we’re doing it because you’re a bad person, you don’t care about animals, you’re a murderer, you don’t care about the environment. And so, you know, we’re going to have this paternalistic influence that everybody hates and that’s a huge risk for a lot of culture changes. So a small kind of thing that a lot of people listening in the audience will already be doing, but maybe not everyone has thought about it in this way, is that people are more open minded to coming on board with principles, or values, because a lot of us share common values. And these are things that can be discussed, but like, just imagine any corporate value in a mission statement, there are very few people in any organization who would disagree with it, we can find better fits in some organizations than others. But typically, these are universal values, but where people can get very resistant, and difficult is about the behaviors, and the actions that are getting taken in support of those values and so doesn’t have to take a long time to discuss and bring people on board with the values, but then just reaching out to ask people for their thoughts, you know, doing surveys having conversations, focus groups about okay, if this is the value that we agree on, what are three simple actions that we can do to put into place to support that value. And the actions might be themselves less important than the fact that it’s the employees who generated them, and suggested them, and you’re creating an inclusive culture in this way. And nobody’s saying employees were telling you what to do. It’s okay, guys, this is what you said you wanted. So sustainable eating isn’t something that people hate in general, it’s just that they want to choose what does that look like?
Aga Bajer 32:59
Obviously, now, I’m curious, how had you advise Google on that? And what did they do? And what impact did it have?
Zoe Chance 33:07
We’ve done a lot of experiments with them and a lot of different campaigns, with specifically, having people eat less meat and more vegetables. We just made the vegetables delicious, and fun and beautiful and we had special featured veggie of the day, instead of Meatless Monday. There’s veggie of the day and we made fun posters, with trivia and weird facts and questions and things like that, like it’s not rocket science. They did an intervention that I was not part of and I have mixed feelings about it, but where they hired very attractive people, and had very attractive people going around and offering you samples of whatever vegetables, essentially, like, here’s some great vegetables, try some great vegetables, we’re not telling you that you can’t eat meat. And we did that, the veggie of the day intervention with the five most hated vegetables. So we did a survey first to find out what veggies do people really, really hate, so there were parsnips, which happens to be my least favorite, brussel sprouts, which is crazy, because they’re delicious. Butternut Squash, which is also delicious. Beets, which are also delicious and I think, I don’t know, maybe it was cabbage or something, the last one, but even with people’s most hated vegetables, they ended up eating about three times as much as when we didn’t do the fun interventions.
Aga Bajer 34:30
Wow, that’s amazing and, of course, it makes intuitive sense and there’s plenty of research to support this. I love this example that you gave in the book about what Domino’s did to increase the orders. I don’t know if you want to share this story because it’s also such a beautiful illustration of how by making the desired behaviors easier for people you can achieve so much because you are just creating the right environment for them to take the decision that ultimately is going to benefit, of course, both parties because we certainly are not talking here about manipulating people into doing something that they don’t want to do.
Zoe Chance 35:12
Right, and with any behavior that we would like people to change, making it as easy as possible is the most influential thing we can do usually. And the Domino’s example was really impressive to me because it helped them go from number two pizza company in the United States in this market, which is so saturated to number one biggest pizza company in the world, and not just surpassing their competitor, which at that time was Pizza Hut. But, they expanded the market for pizza even in places like the United States where anyone who’s been here for any amount of time, will know we just eat a ton of pizza. It’s crazy. So they made it easier to eat pizza, than to eat other kinds of foods and far easier to get pizza from Domino’s than from Pizza Hut or another place. And I like this example, because they were not being too creative about it, they were copycatting Amazon. So, anytime you want to be more influential, and you see somebody doing something that you could just copy, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you don’t need to be creative. Just copy their thing, so Amazon had really created the success of their company based, first of all, on one-click shopping, and Subscribe and Save. So Amazon said, we know where you live, we have your payment information. So just click a button every time you want the thing and you don’t have to go through the checkout process. At that time 78% of items in customers digital shopping carts in all digital retail were getting abandoned because of friction in the process. So this was huge innovation by Amazon. Domino’s then says, okay well, we want to make it as easy as possible to order a pizza. We know where you live, we have your payment information and we also know your favorite pizza. So if you just text us or tweet us an emoticon of a pizza, then poof like magic your favorite pizza shows up at your house. Amazon had Subscribe and Save Domino’s said, Hey, we noticed a lot of people actually get the same pizza every week, so we’ll offer an option like Subscribe and Save just sign up once and then poof like magic your favorite pizza shows up every week. This was I think more of a PR thing for Domino’s, but Amazon had a physical button called a dash button that you could push, put it anywhere in your house and it orders one specific product of you know, maybe you programmed it for cat food and orders your cat food. So Domino’s had the pizza button, that’s a physical button that you could push when you want pizza. I think because of kids, not a good idea for any company to have a physical button, push and then products appear like magic at your house. So, this campaign in 2018, within one year, just launched Domino’s over their competitor into the stratosphere, they’ve maintained this market share. And another thing they do now is that they make it feel easier to get your pizza. And this is important that it’s not just logistically how easy is it to do something, but subjectively how easy or difficult does it feel? And what Domino’s in this case copied companies like Uber, that show you the trajectory, moment by moment of your person coming to you to pick you up or make the delivery. And so you experience that the thing you’ve asked for is coming, and it calms you down and makes you feel like okay, great t’s on the way, you don’t have to wonder, did they really get my order? Am I really getting a ride? And there’s this consultancy, leadership consultancy that has, for anyone who’s just super nerd, there’s a book but actually, let me recommend instead there’s an HBR article that is called something like the effortless experienced, that’s the name of the book. This is about the customer effort score. And the customer effort score just essentially asks one question, which is how much effort did it take to do that thing you were trying to do? Like, maybe it’s to say order a pizza? Maybe it’s to resolve a problem with customer service? Maybe it’s to find the information that you need? And the way you answer that question, how much effort did it take is more predictive of some of the most important outcomes in business like customer loyalty, or repurchasing or negative word of mouth, which is more powerful than positive word of mouth, which is more powerful than advertising and marketing. All that matters is how difficult you say it was, and Aga that customer effort score is cool because it’s not actually measuring effort. It’s measuring perceived effort, and that’s what makes all the difference. Like when you think about last time you’ve been on hold, waiting for customer service to pick up, it should be the easiest thing in the world because you’re literally doing nothing. But it feels so onerous, and as the seconds tick by, I get angrier and angrier waiting for them to pick up. Customer effort score, it doesn’t have to be just in a marketing context, but we can use this measuring with employees, how difficult was it for you to do that thing that you needed to do? I hope that this will help us strip away some bureaucracy.
Aga Bajer 40:31
It’s a really fascinating thing, how powerful that can be. So we already have a few principles Zoe we talked about becoming the person people want to say yes to, we talked about making things effortless or easy if we want people to change and I’d like for us perhaps weave in some of the other principles that you talk about into sort of a case study, because the people who listen to this show are usually people who are always tinkering with company culture, and they’re trying to influence behaviors and convince others that there are possibly better ways of doing things and making work, work. So let’s say that someone is trying to influence everyone in the organization, to engage in daily exchange of candid developmental feedback and I’d love for you to guide this person, like what do they need to know or do to maximize the chances of success of this?
Zoe Chance 41:34
This is a great topic because it’s of common concern and it’s so rare that employees get the amount of feedback that they want. And you said daily, in the moment, informal developmental feedback and that’s exactly how we need it and how we want it. Right, but first of all, most people are not trained in doing it well. And so let’s just say you’re the person running HR in your large organization and I would be asking you, okay, Aga, what kind of training do people have right now in your organization? To be better? I’ve given this developmental feedback, so we can find out, are we supporting them?
Aga Bajer 42:18
People are getting a feedback module as part of the leadership development program. So one of the modules is on how to give feedback, and they learn a few models of giving people feedback nd then we also have online self paced modules available for anyone who would like to refresh that. So these are the two things that are being on offer right now in our organization.
Zoe Chance 42:48
And I’ll ask you, how do you know how effective those are?
Aga Bajer 42:53
Well, we have these heavy sheets. So we evaluate whether people enjoyed the training, but also whether it has helped them to develop the skills that they need to give feedback, obviously, you know, the experience and the skills of the facilitator and solving, so we collaborate with an amazing provider. They’re really good at this and people are always very happy about what they’ve learned as part of that training.
Zoe Chance 43:23
Are the employees being surveyed to measure how effective the feedback is? The feedback training?
Aga Bajer 43:30
Yeah, we have the annual employee engagement survey and this is actually the main reason why we want more feedback to happen in our organization. People say that they don’t receive enough feedback, especially that informal, daily feedback. It’s an issue, obviously, we know that it has an impact on performance, we know that it has impact on employee growth and development and satisfaction and engagement as well. We talk to people during exit interviews, and it’s actually one of the reasons why people leave because they don’t know how well they are doing and that can be very demotivating.
Zoe Chance 44:12
So I guess I would question the confidence and comfort about the training that’s happening, if it’s not leading to employees feeling like they’re getting the kind of feedback that they want. Because a lot of times the feedback that is comfortable for a manager to give is different from the kind of feedback that an employee wants, and especially when we’re talking about developmental feedback. So a lot of managers are comfortable giving praise, because it makes people feel good, right, but then it doesn’t help the employee do their job, or they’re comfortable with getting trained in conversations that might happen at say, an annual employee review where they can have a difficult conversation give that developmental feedback, and the employee ends up feeling traumatized. Even if they’ve done it in a supposedly skillful way, because it wasn’t happening on a regular basis, like you’re talking about. So, you may already be working with the absolute gold standard feedback delivery, consultancy and there might still be some pieces that could be shifted around meaningfully in the kind of training that happens. I’m also curious about when you say employees are not getting this kind of developmental feedback. A lot of times, what I hear from the leaders that I work with I do a lot of leadership development programs is that it just doesn’t feel comfortable telling somebody something that they didn’t do perfectly, because in a one off situation, like somebody’s basically good, they kind of didn’t do their best on this one project, but you don’t want to complain every time, they didn’t do something perfectly, because you don’t want to demotivate them and this is like in any close relationship, right? Like, with a partner, or a friend, you don’t want to complain every time they didn’t do something perfectly and the employee then really doesn’t know, what did they do perfectly, what did they do imperfectly, and they don’t feel that you have their back and you have their best interest if you’re not giving them developmental feedback that is very, very concrete, giving them something one thing that they can work on, and they can be changing, right then. Also, this is probably not with your employees because they have this great developmental feedback program, but what I hear as a complaint from employees frequently, is that the developmental feedback they get is on how they sucked in this thing that they already did a mistake that already happened, but it’s not couched and delivered in a way that says, here’s what you can work on to help be even better in the future. And it’s so I think, also just people are so sensitive, that it makes a lot of us reluctant to give developmental feedback. And also, for people who are giving developmental feedback, and are kind of the brusque sort of hard driving person you were describing before. It’s like, I don’t have time, like, listen, you did this thing, it’s crap, you can’t do it again. We’re underestimating how sensitive people are and how it’s literally hard to hear. If the impact of the feedback isn’t being measured, the employee level, if it’s being measured at the manager level, that’s not very meaningful. If what you care about is the actual outcome. What