Louise Watts is Co-Director of HPC Global & Transition Hub where she is passionate about empowering people to embrace the future of work. Mike Petrusky asks Louise about how her background and experience in the performing arts informs her work as a high performance coach while encouraging us to be lifelong learners. In an era where human skills such as communication, connection and creativity are crucial, Louise shares how she helps to bring people together to spark ideas and prepare for new ways of working. They discuss how performers who’ve successfully applied personal development insights and confidence building techniques to the corporate world can help guide people from all professions, generations and diverse groups through personal transformation. With a shared interest in music, Mike and Louise also inspire us with a Spandau Ballet version of podcast karaoke!
Connect with Louise on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisewattshpcglobal/
Learn more about Transition Hub: https://transitionhub.com/
Discover free resources and explore past interviews at: https://www.workplaceinnovator.com/
Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/
Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com
Read the full transcript:
Mike P. (00:01):
Wow, this is cool folks. You’ve heard me talk about the iOFFICE Summit 2020, and I’ve just been given a free pass that I want to share with one of you, my podcast listeners, that’s right. You will be my special guest in Vegas, baby, Vegas. As we get a chance to interact with an incredible community of forward-thinking workplace leaders, your hotel room, and all your meals are included with this conference pass, but travel is not. So, you’ll just need to get yourself to Las Vegas on April 15th and 16th, and we’ll hang out together as we hear from awesome speakers and participate in breakout sessions, that will inspire you to create a connected workplace experience in your organization. Enter for your chance to win by emailing me at podcast at iofficecorp.com and then I will announce a winner on Friday, March 6th. You can learn all about the summit agenda by visiting www.workplaceinnovator.com. Send me an email and we’ll bring the future to life together.
Louise Watts (01:04):
So, I really want to say that health and wellbeing as a key aspect of the employee experience. And I think it’s time, everybody’s crying out for it and I think things like personal development, knowing that you’ve got something to learn, but also something to teach.
Mike P. (01:20):
This is the Workplace Innovator Podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate and facility management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOFFICE. The leading employee experience focused IWMS software that delivers real time data and mobile tools to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace.
Hi everyone! Mike Petrusky here welcoming you to episode 98 of the Workplace Innovator Podcast. I just want to take a moment and thank you for listening as always last week on the show, we had a great guest, Sarah McEnaney of PWC shared about the significant investment her company is making both financially and culturally to help with the upskilling of their workforce as part of an overall digital transformation strategy. And I want to continue on this theme of transition and transformation this week, as my guest is Louise Watts, the Co-Director of HPC Global & Transition Hub, a community of professionals that are passionate about empowering people to embrace the future of work.
And I know this is an important topic for all of us in the world of facility management and real estate. We see the impact of technology and culture change every day. And Louise has a unique background and an interesting approach to all of this. So, I asked her to join me on the show and chat about it. She offered a lot of great insight and practical information about how we can help our organizations deal and help people transition to the future of work. And she’s from Australia, which is awesome. You know I love that. So, I know you’re going to enjoy this as well, so let’s get right to it. Joining me today on the Workplace Innovator hotline all the way from down under in Sydney, Australia. I am pleased to welcome Louise Watts. Hi Louise?
Louise Watts (03:21):
Hi Mike. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me on the show.
Mike P. (03:25):
You’re very welcome. I am thrilled to have you. We had the chance to meet and speak together a few months ago on the stage at the Workplace Evolutionaries community during IFMA’s World Workplace in Phoenix. And I know you have a great background story, a unique one. So, please tell us briefly about yourself and how did you end up where you are today?
Louise Watts (03:48):
Thank you. Yes. So, my first career actually, Mike was on the stage, so a different stage to the one that we shared at IFMA. But I was a classical ballet dancer, and I worked in a classical company in Sydney and Australia. In fact, we traveled all over the world and after completing that, my mid 20s I decided I wanted to take that into the corporate world in some way. So, performance and presence became the way that I entered the corporate world as a coach. And at that time it really wasn’t that common. There were not many coaches around that were bringing the stage to corporate and having spent my life performing I felt this is something I want everybody to experience.
So, I started off as a coach and then I went back to school, did a communications degree. And that was great for my confidence, of course, but I quickly realized that there were a number of other fantastic people around who’d come from a stage career that really wanted to do the same as me. So, I created high performance coaching, which we now call HPC Global. And more recently we created Transition Hub, which we’re going to talk about today.
Mike P. (05:01):
Yes we are. And I’m looking forward to that, but before we get too far, Louise, I want my audience to get to know a little bit more of the personal side of my guests. And as a performer, I’m assuming you love music as I do. Do you have a favorite motivational song or type of music that gets you inspired?
Louise Watts (05:20):
Yeah, so I must admit I am an absolute disco fan. So, in terms of my go-to perhaps it’s because I love rhythm and I do love dancing. So, disco will get me out of my seat every time. But in terms of a go-to song, and we’ve used this a lot through our presentations and perhaps just motivationally speeches, I got to go with Spandau Ballet and the fantastic Tony Hadley and particularly the song Gold. So yeah, I love it. It’s my best.
Mike P. (05:54):
Of course, Spandau Ballet with ballet in the title-
Louise Watts (05:57):
Mike P. (05:57):
… and 80s classic you’re in my wheelhouse here, Louise.
Louise Watts (06:01):
I thought so.
Mike P. (06:01):
I remember they’re huge international hit. So true, funny how it’s seems…
Louise Watts (06:09):
Yeah, that is true.
Mike P. (06:10):
Louise Watts (06:11):
Gold. Oh, yes.
Mike P. (06:11):
I remember Gold. I’m trying to think of the melody there, but it was… I remember the part goes (singing).
Louise Watts (06:16):
[crosstalk 00:06:19]. That’s right. That’s the one.
Mike P. (06:17):
Louise Watts (06:17):
That is the one.
Mike P. (06:25):
Give it to me, Louise.
Louise Watts (06:25):
Mike P. (06:36):
Louise Watts (06:37):
Exactly. So yeah, great lyrics and what a great voice.
Mike P. (06:42):
Yes, indeed. Well, that’s got everybody fired up, continuing with the inspiration. How about a favorite motivational quote? Can you share one with us, Louise?
Louise Watts (06:51):
Well, I think this is one that I’ve probably just lived by and grown up with, and that is just that concept of always back yourself. So, I say that all the time when someone says, “I’ve got this idea, I’m just not sure whether I should try it or I should… would I be silly to give it a go?” And I just say, “Back yourself,” and it’s very simple. It’s something that I live by and yeah, I think it’s short and sweet, but that’s the one that I’m going to give you today.
Mike P. (07:19):
Yeah. So, be your own best supporter-
Louise Watts (07:22):
Mike P. (07:22):
… and believe in yourself, I like that.
Louise Watts (07:25):
[crosstalk 00:07:25] exactly.
Mike P. (07:26):
Boy, self confidence is 90% of the battle, I think, and capability and competence is certainly important too, but a smaller piece of the puzzle.
Louise Watts (07:36):
Exactly. And that’s really what we want to bring to people because that confidence is there, it’s in everybody and it’s really a matter of bringing it out in people. So, that’s the mission that we’re on.
Mike P. (07:47):
Very good. Very good. Is there a favorite business book we can recommend to our audience?
Louise Watts (07:54):
Yeah. Look, I just love Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits and it’s a book that everybody’s encouraged to read, but it just, it’s so relevant. It remains relevant. And those seven habits really just step by step, just keep those in mind and put them into place. I mean, when I sort of reflect on those habits, that number five that always seek to understand first before you then can be understood. I just think that’s the first, the first thing we should think of, listen to others, understand them, really listen to understand. And then be able to contribute to them so that I just love that. So yeah, that’s a great favorite.
Mike P. (08:35):
Indeed, a timeless classic human nature doesn’t change. Louise, we all are the same in so many ways, whether here in the U.S. or on the other side of the world, in Australia or throughout the globe, there are some commonalities that we can all certainly appreciate. And I think Covey taps into a lot of that truth and I’m really appreciate his work. Well, let’s learn more about the work you’re doing and the Transition Hub. You shared about it a little bit during the meeting of the Workplace Evolutionaries at IFMA’s World Workplace, you came all the way to Phoenix, Arizona from Sydney, Australia. I remember your speech because it reflected a lot of the same ideas that I like to share and encouragement for my audience, telling them that we have to continue to be lifelong learners and get outside of our comfort zone, the status quo won’t do. So, let’s talk a little bit about your Transition Hub project. What is that all about?
Louise Watts (09:33):
Exactly. Well, I’d love to talk about that. And I’ll just also for the benefit of the listeners as well, just talk about how we came up with this idea. So, for the longest time as a high performance coaching, we’ve had the opportunity to work in organizations, really developing future leaders to become culture champions. So, the way we would do that is we would write a program that anybody could deliver providing that they were given that [inaudible 00:10:01] that time to develop their presentation skills, and to really connect with the material.
So, we’ve been doing this around the world and taking a five day period of time to work with champions to develop them, and to help them learn how to develop others. So, this wonderful pay it forward experience. And a few years ago, we really stepped back and said, “Well, you know gosh, that is quite a transformational journey that people go on over five days, magic really happens.” And it doesn’t matter at what stage people come into that room. They’ve been tapped on the shoulder. They’ve been asked to come in to learn a program, to then be able to deliver to others.
And the end of the week, they walk out just raring to go and so excited about their own development, but also their capacity to develop others. So, taking that concept, we just said to ourselves, “We have to make this available to everybody as the world transitions into what we are now starting to understand [inaudible 00:11:04] the future of work being more adaptable, organizations using agile as a culture, being able to do shorter projects, fail fast, you really have the end in sight, be able to contribute and be present, be that virtually or in person.” It’s so important for people to see themselves as capable.
So, we believe that as people make that transition, perhaps their roles have been automated or will be automated, AI will come into compliment. Some of the process roles and really free up humans to be able to do more satisfying and meaningful work. We feel that if people can have that moment where they really get to see themselves clearly and what they’re capable of, then they will go on and do amazing things. And on the flip side, if they don’t get to have that moment to really see what they’re made of, I worry about people not making the transition. And then we have spiraling mental health issues, a lack of belonging and people wondering how they’re going to find meaning in the future.
Mike P. (12:10):
Louise, we’ve discussed it a lot on this show, the marketplace is changing, corporate cultures are evolving rapidly. How can we help workplace leaders better navigate the needs of their organizations today?
Louise Watts (12:23):
Yeah, so I really believe in this, getting to know your people and having a great sense of care and interest in people. And that might just sound like, well, that’s common sense, but I think that we really… we’ve seen a number of years where leaders have had to focus on strategy, that will continue and they focused on efficiencies. Of course that’s important, but I believe that there’s been a lot of money spent on building out new platforms and not a lot of time and money and investment of time spent on the people.
So, now we have this situation where perhaps not all the people are going to be needed by organizations and there will be need for some to transition. We want organizations to feel proud of the way that they are transitioning their people, either out of their organization and in spring boarding into something new and different, and preparing them for that or redeploying people into new roles. Because it just makes sense as we automate the process roles, we’ve got so much more opportunity for people to do what we do best. And that is to be human, to communicate well, to provide great service. Right back to that first seek to understand, to really listen to the customer, to listen to each other.
And to provide that sense of culture and belonging that I think everybody wants. Whether that be that we’re working from home or we’re coming into the office at times, we actually really want to feel like we belong to something. And I think that that is at risk for people as the gig economy is on the rise, more people are going to be working for themselves. There’s a lot of learning that’s required for that anyway, but still people wanting to feel like they’ve got a sense of their tribe and that they are contributing to each other.
Mike P. (14:06):
Yeah. So much good stuff there to unpack, and I really agree with so much of what you just said. And we’re all seeing how technology and automation is requiring us to change how we approach the future of work and the built environment. Did you have any great conversations while in Phoenix with any of the… maybe the weak community about how this concept you’re describing is impacting workplace design and strategy?
Louise Watts (14:34):
Yes, I did. And I continued to as well. So, I just think that there’s a real turning point here and we’ve got an opportunity to really think about how are we going to continue to provide an inspiring place for people to come to Hub. We partner with… We work globally and I know, coworking spaces but more traditional workplaces as well. You know, really thinking about, well, what is inspiring to people? How do we get the best out of people? Is it all open plan? Is it about being able to come together and have some sense of privacy? Is it the phone booth to be able to do a great podcast interview? Is it a combination of the above? And I do think that there will never be a time when people don’t want to get out of their houses and come and have a place to meet, which is why facilities are going to still be important. No matter whether we have that blend of working from home or coming into what becomes our office.
We chose we’ll work to run Transition Hubs globally because we know that whilst people are transitioning or finding that lifelong learning sort of interest, then coming into a place where there are many people doing many different things is very inspiring. And we’re seeing a lot of big organizations provide both coworking as well as more traditional office spaces. So, I think it’s a really interesting opportunity for us to work directly with the facilities managers and I’ve continued to have good conversations about how do we make sure that the people come along on the journey.
Mike P. (16:10):
I love that. Well, let me ask you this, it shows about the future of work and certainly experience is a big part of that. These days meeting the expectations of the occupants of our facilities through services and technologies and strategies, what do you think about employee experience? How do you define it and what would you say to our audience about the way it can really have an impact on organizations going forward?
Louise Watts (16:38):
I think that we, and we’re seeing a lot of this happen, but I do think that we need to really start to look at employee experience has been completely connected to health and wellbeing. So, if people are coming into an office and they’re feeling that they can be heard, that people are interested in what they’ve got to say. Yes, there’s flexibility and they can sometimes of course, work from home and be able to use the technology like we’re using right now. But I think that we have to start to connect the health and wellbeing necessity that is now really very much, I think a goal for the future of work. How can we do it better? How can we help people, both take care of themselves, their own health and wellbeing, that of their family and the customers that they’re dealing with as well?
So, I would love to see that become more clear for how organizations can contribute to that. And that’s not just the yoga classes at lunchtime, which are wonderful and it’s not just offering flexible workspaces, but it’s actually, it’s… I think it goes back to belonging. People feeling like I’m here doing a job that is actually making a difference to other people. We ask everybody, what do you want to do with the work that you’re actually engaged to do? And the first answer will be, I just want to help people live better lives, or feel good about themselves, or make life easier for people. So, I think that’s the mission that we’re all on as workers in this century.
And particularly in this decade that I’ve sort of coined the conscious decade. Because I think it’s time that we became not only more conscious about our environment, very important, but also more conscious about the way we treat each other. The way that we look out for each other, the way that we help each other learn, spark ideas for each other, that’s going to be so necessary. Particularly as we see a lot of people step into the gig economy and they are going to need networks, they’re going to need support people, and we’re going to need to replace some of that more typical traditional way of working where people are full time employed.
We’re going to need to find ways to be able to support people whilst they are perhaps working more independently. So, I really want to say that health and wellbeing as a key aspect of the employee experience. And I think it’s time everybody’s crying out for it. And I think things like personal development, knowing that you’ve got something to learn, but also something to teach. Our experiences that we bring to each other are quite unique and not everybody has the same experience. So, we’re always looking for Transition Hub coaches who were not formally trained as coaches, but they have great experience that they want to bring to others. And this is a fantastic mechanism, similar to the way we trained in-house champions for the high performance coaching work that we continue to do, but everybody has something to offer. And I think that’s an important message around that employee experience as well.
Mike P. (19:32):
Well, that’s wonderful. And Louise, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you and getting to know you a little bit, and I want to thank you for taking time to be on the Workplace Innovator Podcast.
Louise Watts (19:42):
Oh, thank you, Mike. It’s been great. And I love your show. So yes, keep up the great interviews and thanks for having me.
Mike P. (19:49):
Thank you. There you have it folks, Louise Watts of HPC Global, sharing just a little bit about training future leaders to become inspirational communicators with the Transition Hub initiative. And I know you’ll want to learn more about the program. So, please check the show notes for this episode, as I have provided you with some links to connect you with Louise and the work she is doing, I encourage you to reach out to her directly to find out more. And I also encourage you to visit our podcast page www.workplaceinnovator.com. We’ve been up for a few months now. We’ve got some great resources there. You can subscribe to the podcast. You can reach out and connect with me. You’ll find industry resources and more conversations each and every week that will inspire you to be a workplace innovator, peace out.
You’ve been listening to the Workplace Innovator Podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information about how iOFFICE can help you create an employee centric workspace by delivering digital technology that enhances the employee experience visit iofficecorp.com.