On this week’s episode we welcome workplace behavior expert and award-winning business coach David Nast. David has over 25 years of experience in human capital management, talent optimization, executive coaching, and leadership development. He is a top-ranked influencer on LinkedIn as well as a columnist for Raconteur and the business section of the Huffington Post. David is also a certified partner for the Predictive Index, a six-decade old program focused on understanding people and teams and what drives behaviors at work.

In his work, David has studied why companies often struggle to hire the right people for the right roles and how to prevent those situations. More recently, he has focused on how the pandemic has affected employee roles and how the workplace landscape is likely to look in 2022 and beyond. He shares his insights with us, including:

  • Why proactive companies are doing engagement surveys now
  • The coming “turnover tsunami”
  • The new balance of employer/employee privacy
  • And much more

All business problems are people problems. Measuring what drives employees allows you to predict their needs, which in turn allows you to predict behavior. David’s work, and partnership with the Predictive Index, is all about taking the guesswork out of talent optimization now and into the future. Listen in to make sure you aren’t left behind!

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese. And it is time for Conversational Selling. The podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Today we speak with David Nast, a workplace behavior expert, and an award winning business coach with over 25 years of experience in human capital management, talent optimization, executive coaching, leadership development, corporate training, and more. 

David is the certified partner for the predictive index, which was founded more than six decades ago. Their passion and his passion is to understand people in teams specifically, what drives behaviors at work. David is a top ranked influencer on LinkedIn with over 25,000 followers. And he writes a column for the business section of the Huffington Post, Raconteur, and tlnt.com. So we had a moment or two before the podcast. And as I shared with David, I think making sure that all my people are in the right roles is been a struggle. I think I can speak to the audience out there we go through the same thing. So let’s, let’s just jump right in. Welcome to the show, David.

David Nast: Thank you, Nancy, how are you today?

Nancy: Just dandy. Thank you, and how were you? 

David: Excellent, excellent. 

Nancy: You know, I really want to start with why is this such a struggle? You know, we do our best we’d like to think that we interview, we really have a good sense. And at the end of the day, many people that we hire are just in the wrong roles. Why is that such a struggle?

David: I would say it’s for two reasons, really, number one, we go with our gut. And number two, we tend to hire people for what they know, rather than who they are. And when you shoot from the hip too often, oftentimes you’ll shoot yourself in the foot. And when it comes to hiring people for what they know versus who they are, the what they know is subject to change, and who they are isn’t. So I think if we have some information behind that, it’s going to help us do a better job.

Nancy: Okay. So I’m thinking that if we have the people in the wrong roles, it really destroys the culture, wouldn’t you say?

David: Yeah, because you’ll end up with disengagement. When people are not hardwired to do the work that’s in front of them, they get frustrated, they’re not gonna give any discretionary effort. So all that really good stuff isn’t going to come out. And they’re also going to look for a way out. So people who, especially those of us who are wired for change, when we’re not enjoying what we’re doing, we’re a flight risk. So we’ll start looking for something new, the grass is greener over there versus treating people like the investment that they are. Part of that is putting them into the into the right role. And you know, the grass is greener, where your water is, is what I say.

Nancy: Yeah, wow, so how do you? How do you know, when you do have issues internally? What are some of the telltale signs?

David: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, if you’re looking at the balance sheet, and the numbers and the facts and the figures, production will be off, quality will be off, mistakes will happen. If you’re looking more of the human interaction side, people will disengage, you know, those folks that show up late and leave at [4:58]. And that sort of thing. I think we’ve all had that job somewhere in our career, where we just like I can’t wait to get out of here. So looking for those types of signs. distractions at work are fine, unless they’re taking away from work. 

So for instance, we’re all you know, going to sit around and chat with a friend, text our spouse do something like that. But if you’re hardcore going on to level 18 of Fortnite, you’re not working. Right. And also there are folks that are sitting around at work and scanning looking for their next job. And I think during the pandemic, when we all went home and we all started managing remote teams, it became very hard to know how people were doing and things change. Some of those that were thriving the office languished at home, and vice versa. 

Some of those that were not doing so well in the office started to flourish when they got home, which was interesting because at the beginning of the pandemic, productivity was actually up. And now the latest thing that’s been happening is everybody’s burning out. Burnout is at an all time high. If you look at the engagement survey data from energage, and some other Gallup and other, you know, engagement has gone down quite a bit in the last three months, people are really starting to burn out.

Nancy: And what do you think is going to happen, you know, now, as COVID starts going away.

David: I think we’re gonna see what we’re calling the turnover tsunami. I think you’re gonna see a lot of people who are dissatisfied with how their employer responded to things, they’re looking for a new culture, or their culture eroded. So it’s not what it once was. So they’re going to look for the greener grass. So I think you’re gonna see a lot of musical chairs going on, in the next year where people start looking around for different jobs. And the really, really adept companies out there are preparing for this, they’re getting ahead of it. Now they’re doing engagement surveys. 

Now, they’re looking at things, we have a tool that we use called the predictive index. And there’s something called the job target, which is the secret sauce. It’s the benchmarking tool for what it takes to be successful in a role that changed last year. So people updated that, and it created new fits and gaps for the people that have been in the role for years. So people that adapted

Nancy: How did in change, though. I mean, give us examples. Besides going virtual, how does it change?

David: Going virtual created a lot of different things. It wasn’t just the social interaction piece, it was how you have some people that respond very quickly to change, and they respond well to train change, they thrive on change, then there’s others not so much. There was a different level of detail orientation required for those of us that had to go home for work. And then you have the independent versus the collaborative types that got in the way, a lot of things procedures changed. So those that are really procedural and good with that they did well, were those of us who don’t really follow a lot of procedures had all new sets of rules and logins, and what’s the VPN line anyways, and all this other stuff happened. 

So a lot of things change last year. And when you update the job target, it creates new gaps for an existing employee. So if you adapt to that change, quickly, you could stay on top of it, give the people what they need. So the whole thing about gaps, we all have gaps in our jobs between who we are, and what we’re required to do that’s natural and normal. And I’ve measured about 17,000 people, so I can prove it, because I think I’ve only had like nine or 10 that were perfect matches for their jobs. So nine or 10, not 9 or 10 thousand, just nine or 10, total. 

Nancy: Oh wow.

David: Yeah, so there’s always gaps and gaps are fine, because we’re all capable of stretching. So if I know what drives someone’s behavior, I can help them stretch in a way that’s comfortable and satisfying for them. So on the warm and fuzzy side, it’s a better place to work. But on the cold hard cash side, the business is getting the results that it needs along the way. So a lot of change happened last year, and we’re going to see more change in the next 12 months. No one’s going back to the way it was. 2022 is not going to be like what 2019 was, it’s going to be different. And I think people need to be prepared for that. 

Nancy: And in what ways do you think it’s going to be different, and the same. Talk about what might be the same and what might be different.

David: I think the way we engage with customers. So I think a lot of sales techniques, tactics have changed. Therefore sales training is going to have changed and get up to speed. I think technology was thrust upon people, some adapted really well to it and love it. Other people are still struggling with technology and how that can help them reach customers reach one another. I think depending on the industry, we have a client that’s an international shipper, they went completely virtual. 

And they outsource enough stuff like their warehouse space that they don’t need to have offices. So they went completely virtual, and they’re never going back. There’s a lot of companies that have done that. Some are still trying to meet their, you know, employees where they are and have a hybrid model, you can come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And I think that you’re gonna see some of that stay. I just, I remember back in 2018, I actually wrote an article about this called performance over presence. And there were just a lot of people that insist employees must be in the office to be productive. And my argument was, if I can work from home on a snowy day and be productive, I can work from home any day.

Nancy: Right!

David: That’s right. 2020 was the longest snow day ever. And so we all had to do that. So I think you’re going to see some people continue to embrace it. I think you’re gonna see some traditional folks that are really going to it’s going to be a rubber band for them. They’re gonna want to bounce back and just go no, we’re do it. We’re going back to the office right now. And I have some clients that are like that by the way, that are just, you know, we have clients that are just telling the people get back in here, that sort of thing. So I think that’s going to happen. I think that employers got more into their employees business in the last year or so. 

Are you getting vaccinated? Do you have kids at home? They found out about stuff that they didn’t necessarily know before. Some of them handled it well, some of them did not. So I think there’s still we’re gonna have to return to some sense of what’s privacy, what’s getting up in all my business. And so I think you’re gonna see policy changes come and a whole bunch of other things.

Nancy: Holy cow, so right, when we think we’re getting out of the worst, we go right back into something totally new.

David: It’ll just be different. Yeah, the economy’s rocking and rolling. You know, when the when the money is flowing, it hides a lot of things. And I think the money will be flowing again. We know all the analysts are saying interest rates are going to go up. So it’ll change the housing market, the credit market and other things. So, you know, all the folks that I talked to who are a lot smarter than me with letters after their name, are saying that we’re heading towards a correction, not a recession. Where things will flatten out. 

So I think you’re gonna see people being nervous, I think you’re gonna see budgets get a little bit tight towards, you know, maybe middle of next year, and they’re not gonna be sure. So that’ll affect how much money they spend with their vendors, and how much they outsource versus bringing in in house and those types of things. But I do think you’re going to see the floodgates open, and I think there’s, people are tired of being cooped up. So I think when the world opens up, when we can like go to the movies, again, I think that it’s going to have a psychological effect, where people can kind of relax a little bit, and then you’ll see attitudes improve. 

But I also think you’re gonna see employees, you know, having lists of demands now like, hey, they’re not the only game in town, this needs to be a better place to work. They’ve had to do a lot for themselves now. So I think, what was it 5-10 years ago, was the gig economy. I think you’re gonna see a lot of people, you know, entrepreneurism is up. And a lot of folks that got laid off in the last year are not going back to work because they found a way to survive without an employer, and they like it.

Nancy: Yeah, I like it.

David: As do I, and I think, you know, before all this happened 50% of the gross national product, whatever, was small business anyway. So that percentage might go up a little bit.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, I want you to share what the predictive index is, specifically, we had the good fortune, my leadership team, and I sat through a session with David, and it was eye opening. I don’t know if you’ll remember it, David. But Tim, in my office is the solid rock. He’s the one in the center. Now, this might not make any sense to anybody, but give us a at a high level an overview of what what you behaviors you look at, when you evaluate companies. 

David: Yeah, PI is a wonderful tool. It’s been around for almost seventy years, like you said. So it measures what drives behavior. And that’s incredibly different. So if you picture an iceberg, the stuff on the surface is the behavior that we see, there’s a ton of stuff out there that measures that. PI measures the stuff under the water, the stuff, we can’t see what drives the behavior. And if you have the drive, you can predict the needs. And if you can predict the needs, you can predict the behavior. But if you’re just going off the behavior, that’s tip of the iceberg stuff, which means you’re guessing at the drives in the needs, and that’s where misalignment happens in jobs and enrolls. PI’s a system. 

There’s that benchmarking tool for every position in the company called the job target. Now we take the person’s results and measure it up against that role. It’s great to know about a person, it’s wonderful to know how they need to be motivated, how to communicate with them, what drives their behavior. But if we measure them against the job that they’re in, that’s where the data set gets really, really rich. Because now I can look for fits and gaps. We can navigate them throughout the organization through change, succession planning, promotions, all that cool stuff in your employees. For most businesses, it’s the biggest expense in their business is people. You got to protect that investment. 

If you’re going to spend money with a recruiter to bring someone in there in the business if you’re going to spend money to get them trained and up to speed, protect that investment. And this will help you to do that to ensure during the hiring process, it is scientifically validated as a pre hire solution to put someone in the right role and then use it after they’re there to ensure their success. To onboard them faster. There’s relationship guides that you can do for two people working together. You can kind of throw them into a blender and it’ll spit out the relationship strengths, the cautions and the coaching tips to get the most out of that relationship. That helps make the organization stronger.

Nancy: But and yet relationships change, right? Human nature. So how often do you recommend testing a group of you know, within a company?

David: Every time you add somebody to the team, you’re going to change the team dynamics. So there is like a group analytics component to the predictive index. And there’s a way that you can look at the group and the team. So the other thing that changes too is the strategy. Strategies changed last year, so but the thing is, your team didn’t. So you have the same people going after a new strategy, how is that going to work? So if you can understand that the analytics will give you solutions, ways to close those gaps, and look at different things. We also have a solution, called perception predict, which uses artificial intelligence to basically predict sales success. 

So you can actually have someone take the assessment that’s involved there, it’ll tell you how quickly they get up to speed. How many phone calls they’ll make. How many appointments they’ll get. How many deals will close, and what the revenue associated with that is. And because it’s artificial intelligence, it gets more accurate as time goes on. And you can actually get to the point where you can get into the 90 percentile of accuracy. So you know, I think this person in that role is going to do this. And then that can work in conjunction with the predictive index.

Nancy: Would you would you use that test in a pre hire process?

David: Yeah, yeah, I look at the artificial intelligence and say, that’s gonna tell us what this person will do in this setting in this job. The predictive index is going to tell you how they’re going to do it, and how they’re going to work with others. And I think of it like, you know, when you have financial arbitrage you you buy low and sell, I’m sorry, you, you buy low, and you sell high. I got my mix all talked up. So you can do sales arbitrage, too. So you put people on the spectrum, it’s going to give you a good insight into your team. So you know, it’ll tell you who are your A players? Great. Leave them alone. 

Who are your B players? Who out of your B players will respond to training and coaching to become A players? Well, let’s invest some money there. Who are your C players, your steady Eddie’s and then who are the dead wood that you should probably part ways with? And we have a study, actually with one of the clients where if you replace three of the dead wood with three steady Eddie’s, not even an A Player B player. In this one retail environment of salespeople, it actually increased revenue by $4.3 million within the first year. 

Nancy: Wow. 

David: Yeah. So just knowing what that is, using the analytics, and again, adding on their predictive index. What are they hardwired to do. Setting people up for success. Things are easier.

Nancy: Yeah.

David: If you understand yourself, you know, for instance, you know, with me, put me in a role where I can create something put me in a role I can interact with people put me in a role that doesn’t require me to have great attention to detail. That’s easy for me. And then then in that role, I’ll get creative. I’ll start innovating, I’ll think of new ways to do it better, and all that kind of stuff where you put me in a role that’s not that. I’m just trying to get through the day. You’re not gonna get extra effort out of me, because I’m just trying to survive.

Nancy: Well, David, I can’t believe we’re at the end of the program and you know, we could be talking for hours. You know, this is really fascinating, especially as it relates to evaluating the strength of your sales teams and 4.3 million sounds appealing to me. Yeah. So in wrapping up the program, just a couple of questions. I mean, what, if anything, is the one takeaway you want to leave the audience with?

David: I look at predictive analytics as talent, intelligence. And all business problems are people problems. So if we can get some more intelligence around that, that’s going to help.

Nancy: And how can my people find you?

David: Oh, thank you. The best way is probably our website, which is www.nastpartners.com Nast is like nasty without the Y. nastpartners.com that’s probably the best way. And for all the different solutions we have we have, we a separate page with a little two minute explainer video on each solution as well.

Nancy: Okay, fabulous. You know, a huge thank you, David, for spending time with us. And I want to thank all of my listeners out there. You know, remember to reach out to David when you want to get things right, especially as it relates to sales. And David, I hope we can do this again. You’re more than welcome to come and continue your discussion. Have a fantastic day, everyone and David, you’re going to be back now aren’t you?

David: I am. Thank you so much.

Voiceover: The Conversational Selling Podcast is sponsored by One of a Kind Sales. If you’re frustrated that you don’t have enough leads or your sales team complains that they just don’t have enough time to prospect, we can help. To work with Nancy and her team one on one to help you manage your sales team, install her proven outbound sales process and create more bottom line results, email her now at Nancy@oneofakindsales.com. To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at oneofakindsales.com/book.