Mentorship Over Management

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“What is it like to work here?” 

Listen below to the latest episode of Head Heart & Boots on this topic!

This was the question back in 2015  that started a five-year journey for Clint Pulver; a journey that would ultimately become a whole new career helping owners, CEOs ,and managers around the world learn how to make their companies a place where their teams actually want to work.

Over the course of five years, Clint became the “Undercover Millennial” and with his backwards hat, hoodie, and sneakers, he interviewed more than 10,000 employees across more than 100 companies and multiple industries. 

But before we dive into what Clint learned from these thousands of interviews, you have to know a bit about his origin story; it’s an unconventional one.

Clint was a hyper, fidgety kid in elementary school. Easily distracted, constantly tapping his pens and pencils on his desk and the backs of people’s chairs- his teacher’s didn’t know what to do with him. Until Mr. Jensen.

Mr. Jensen asked him to stay after class one day. After all his classmates filed out of the room, Mr. Jensen pulled up a chair and said, “Clint, we need to talk.” Immediately Clint assumed he was in trouble for yet another round of tapping and fidgeting during class.

Mr. Jensen said, “Clint, I want to talk about you tapping your pencil.” As he said that, he rolled his chair back to his desk, opened up the top drawer and took out a pair of drumsticks. “Clint, I don’t think you’ve got a problem, I think you’re a drummer.”

That moment that Mr. Jensen created, Clint would tell you, completely changed the trajectory of his life. He went on to spend almost 20 years as a professional drummer, performing all over the world with top acts. Hit pause for a moment and Google “Mr. Jensen Clint Pulver” and check that story out in his own words.

Back to the Undercover Millennial work. 

Across those 10,000+ interviews with employees, 60% said they were actively looking for another job and as soon as they found something better, they were going to leave. Sixty percent! A common theme in those conversations was, “I’m just a number, just a cog in the system, there’s nowhere for me to grow here.” 

The discoveries weren’t all doom and gloom though. Along the way Clint and his team discovered companies that were creating wildly different experiences for their employees, and some common themes began to emerge.

Of the happy and engaged employees interviewed, most of them described their bosses as more of a mentor than a manager. They described feeling like their boss really cared about them personally and seemed genuinely interested in helping them with their career and goals, versus only caring about their contribution or value to the business. 

As Clint and his team drilled into all the data, they found that virtually all of the leaders fell into one of three categories, based on the feedback from employees: 

  • The “Buddy Manager”- this was the boss that was everyone’s friend. Lot’s of connection, but low standards and low accountability. 
  • The Disconnected Manager- this leader has both low relational 
  • The “Controller Manager”- this leader had very high standards and provided high accountability, but had very little connection with their people. 
  • The “Mentor Manager”- this leader managed to have high standards and high accountability, while also having a strong relational connection with their people. 

Of the mentor leaders they interviewed, there were five attributes they consistently exhibited: 

  • Confident- They can be depended on, they inspire trust
  • Credible- Their behavior matches their words
  • Competent- They have the specific experience and skill required
  • Candid- They’re honest and direct 
  • Caring- They’re concerned with their people’s well-being 

So how can all of us become more mentor vs. manager? What is one concrete behavior that we can all begin doing immediately? Well, Clint would point us back to Mr. Jensen. Rather than treating young Clint as a problem, Mr. Jensen created an intentional moment where he affirmed and challenged what he saw in Clint. He affirmed the talent he’d observed, and exhorted him to use it. 

This idea of creating intentional moments with our people was a recurring theme in our interview with Clint. Below, listen to the full interview with Clint on the Head Heart & Boots Podcast to hear more of Clint’s stories first hand, and more on how to implement a mentoring culture in your company. 

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Chris Nordyke

Chris began his business career in direct sales, selling Cutco Knives for Vector Marketing at age 19 while going to school. He was a personal sales leader, and subsequently a Top 20 branch office manager in Los Angeles, directly responsible for all recruiting, training, team development and revenue across a team of more than 40 sales reps.

Vector proved to be a foundational training ground in entrepreneurship, team-building, and sales leadership that Chris continues to draw on in his work with restoration teams. 

Chris’s primary B2B sales training came during his tenure as a Contract Sales Rep for Cintas Corporation, a Fortune 500 laundry services firm. Here, Chris was introduced to Requirements Based Selling (RBS) which informed the Pain-Solution selling model Chris continues to use today with clients. 

Prior to joining Summit Cleaning and Restoration in 2014, Chris spent 8 years with State Farm Companies, 5 of which he spent owning and running a successful agency. 

From 2014 to late 2019, Chris served on Summit’s leadership team overseeing all business development and marketing with a special emphasis on developing Summit’s customer experience and service culture. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Floodlight Leadership Circles. Chris resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 20 years, Cara, and their 3 children- Lily, Jack and Simon.

Email Chris at: chris@floodlightgrp.com

Listen to the Head Heart and Boots Podcast on Apple iTunes and Spotify.

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