Today we discuss the War for Talent and how community banks can attract and retain top-performers. We sit down with Travis Dommert, SVP of Talent for OneDigital. Travis loves to share actionable insights on the topics of talent, culture, and performance. As a life-long learner, business leader, and student of high-performance cultures, he blends research and real-world experience to help leaders and busy professionals overcome the challenges of today’s shrinking workforce.

The views, information, or opinions expressed during this show are solely those of the participants involved and do not necessarily represent those of SouthState Bank and its employees.

SouthState Bank, N.A. – Member FDIC

Intro: Helping community bankers grow themselves, their team, and their profits, this is the Community Bank podcast.
Caleb Stevens: Well, hello and welcome to another episode of the Community Bank podcast, thanks for joining the conversation today. We’re talking all about the war for talent, if you’re a leader in banking, that’s a term I’m sure you and your team are very familiar with these days, how do you recruit and retain top performers at your company? Well, our guest today is Travis Dommert, he serves as the Senior Vice President of Talent for One Digital, they’re a company based here in Atlanta, and they help businesses of all sizes with their employee and team member benefits among many other things and Travis has spent the better part of his career helping companies attract, grow, and maximize their top performers. In this conversation, we dive into what might seem like on the surface, some contrarian views that Travis holds on talent development, things like why you should not talk about your people as your greatest asset, why you might want to stop focusing so much on your company’s values and culture, and why trying to help your people balance their work in life is less productive than you think.
All these things Travis believes can be improved by simply changing one word and we dive into all of that in this conversation. Before we jump in, if you’re a community banker or board member, you are invited to our annual bank management conference this summer, July 6th through July 9th, down at the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. It’s a conference that we’ve been hosting here for over a decade, and we talk all about what it takes to build a high performance bank in today’s environment, we’ll be bringing in experts on the economy, leadership, technology, you’ll hear from John Corbett, our CEO, and we hope that not only you’ll join us, but we hope that you’ll bring your family as well. We encourage all of our attendees to bring their spouse, bring their children, it’s always one of the highlights of my year, and we think it’ll be one of the highlights of yours as well, to register for our annual bank management conference, just hit the link in the show notes of this episode and you can register on our website.
And now, my conversation with Travis Dommert. Well, Travis, welcome to the Community Bank podcast.
Travis Dommert: Thank you, good to be with you, Caleb.
Caleb Stevens: It’s been a little while since we’ve reconnected, I think you and I met back in, I want to say it was 2012 or so. I was a rising freshman going into college and had the opportunity to cross paths with you and at the time you were working on a startup, helping folks build better habits and achieve their goals. Give us a little overview of what that project was and since then, what all you’ve been doing to help companies and leaders develop their talent.
Travis Dommert: Sure, it’s amazing thinking back how time has flown since then, and congratulations on all of your success, Caleb. For us we started out trying to work with primarily sales teams, it eventually also involved leadership teams of helping them identify what are the typically five to seven most important things they need to do every week to be successful. And then gamifying that behavior and creating these accountability groups through an app called ‘I Run You Run’, ultimately it was a study of human behavior and how to grow a person, how to develop some skilled mastery. It was fascinating in several ways, one was because we found out most people are focused on getting things done, they’re not so in tune with what do they need to keep doing and then when they do get there, they realize they’re a handful of habits that determine the course of my life. Frankly, not just my success in my job, but they now more than realize what they are, and moments later quit doing them.
And it was confounding, it led us to ultimately study how people do hard things? And the great news was we found out people can do hard things. I think perhaps the disappointing thing is every great success is uphill from where you are. It does require that we lean in and do things that are challenging for us if we want to grow, but we also found that you just don’t do it alone whether it was a special forces unit or an Olympic team it wasn’t always money as the carrot. Typically, it was figuring out some part of their identity and then connecting them with others that either shared part of that identity or helped reinforce it and it taught us a ton about leadership. So, over the subsequent years, I went to work with one of my favorite clients, spent five years with a company here in Atlanta called Jackson Healthcare, a fantastic mission led organization and a big part of that focus was developing leaders.
And then in the last several years have worked with another great organization based out of Atlanta called One Digital and what I love about One Digital’s mission is it’s not only do I get to work on developing our internal people and our leaders, but we’re on a mission to help create great workplaces around the country and improve the lives of millions of people. And a lot of that’s by helping them figure out how to do their best work and live their best lives.
Caleb Stevens: Well, you’re the SVP of Talent, and I’m sure many of our listeners are going, what’s an SVP of Talent? Is that just a fancy word for HR? Is there something more to that? What do you spend your weeks and your days doing?
Travis Dommert: That’s a great question. So, I have a very capable counterpart and partner in HR, and we’re not quite the same thing. So, we work in a department called People and Culture, and I lead the Talent teams, she leads the HR teams, we sometimes have a little playful banter about which one of us is the good cop and which one’s the bad cop but that’s all in jest. The key areas that I focus on are talent acquisition so it’s finding people, attracting them, drawing them to the organization and helping select the very best who are going to be successful in whatever roles they’re coming on board to do. And then talent management, which is partnering with leaders and helping them figure out how to achieve their business goals through the efforts of their team, through the talent that they have, what talent they need in order to execute their business priorities, and then learning and development.
So, that’s the third team and that indeed covers the gamut from helping somebody get into the organization, learn about us, get on board and successful all the way to career transitions, growing as a leader, developing thought leadership and expertise, building a personal brand throughout their entire experience with our company, helping them grow.
Caleb Stevens: Well, the war for talent has been a pretty big buzzword the past couple of years and what’s fascinating, we’re bankers, we follow the economy even with the Federal Reserve raising rates, trying to cool inflation. The labor market, at least as of this recording, is still tight and strong and the war for talent continues, we hear all about the great resignation, quiet, quitting all of these buzzwords now you’re hearing in articles and things Talk about your perspective on the war for talent, I know you mentioned recently to me an article that speaks to this demographic drought that might be coming down the line. What is the war for talent and why should leaders be paying attention to it?
Travis Dommert: The ability to attract and retain talent has become a CEO level priority through the pandemic but the reality is the tide was going out 20 years ago. At least we could see that we were going to go into a very shallow and increasingly scarce talent or labor market. It was surprising to a lot of people that this term was coined 25 years ago with a study that started in 1997 by a team at McKinsey. And what they saw was that demographics are destiny, you can look at birth rates and learn a lot about a country or its future and one of the things that we saw was that the baby boomers did not replace themselves. So, they were able to determine between 1980 and 2000 that we didn’t have enough kids to replace the folks who were at prime working age come 20 years later, which is now so they saw it coming.
What took our eye off it perhaps is other geopolitical and economic events. We had 9/11, we had a bubble burst with crash, we had the great recession, and just as labor markets, it heated up something that would suddenly let a lot of the air out of the economy. So, here we get to the pandemic and the thing that had changed other than just demographics, other than there just being fewer 20 to 25 year old’s than there were 25 years ago, attitudes toward work, shifted. And then the feeling about workplace safety, the feelings about, does my company care for me suddenly shot to the forefront and so you had people walk away in mass, and that was what was so shocking in 2021, voluntary resignations went up 55%, I mean, it was just slapping you with a two by four.
Well, again, we should have seen this coming and this whole thing is not about covid the labor shortages that we’re experiencing now and expect to, well, again, they were predicted and they’re predicted to continue. This is not an economic cycle, it’s a demographic cycle, and those last a lot longer, so we’re talking about potentially a 30-plus year run of having a hard time finding people to fill open positions.
Caleb Stevens: And I attend a fair number of banking conferences over the years, and that’s a common theme I hear as I talk to bank leaders especially community banks. You hear a lot about the big banks recruiting on college campuses and having a presence, but a small community bank, how do you show a 22 year old, a 23 year old, the next generation why banking can be a great career, why it’s exciting, why you’re helping businesses have the capital they need to grow? Why banking, in many ways, is the heartbeat of the American economy, but as bankers, we’ve got to be intentional about how we’re communicating that message and how we’re showing them that banking can lead to all various career paths and fulfillment. In your work at One Digital, how do you all approach talent acquisition? What message are you sending to the folks you’re trying to acquire that may separate you from your competitors?
Travis Dommert: Well, I think it’s not that different, frankly, we’re trying to draw more increasingly diverse talent into insurance and financial services and HR and the things that we do for our clients. Frankly, they are things that most people, when they were in third grade, they didn’t say they wanted to go broker insurance and financial products or become an HR consultant. So, you’re having to educate, you’re having to inspire, you’re having to connect somebody’s purpose for being to this type of job and the impact that it can have on a lot of people’s lives but it’s more than spinning a good story. And I think some people can overlook they think that recruiting talent is all about marketing.
And while marketing is important, you do need to be able to articulate your story and get it out there. Becoming a talent magnet is not about what you say so much as what you do and recognizing what people are looking for. And this might even sound surprising or even bother some people, but there are some things about people that are all the same and there are some things about people that are completely different, and we need to understand those things if we’re to attract them to the opportunities in our companies. But the thing that is pretty consistent is people want to grow and so, I’ll sometimes use different analogies for talent and one of them is that people are like seeds, they have inside of them the desire to grow.
You don’t have to motivate somebody to grow, you just need to create the conditions where they can do it. And so, if somebody has that innate desire to grow and you are putting them in the dark, you’re giving them a job that doesn’t clearly show how it’s going, they don’t see the fertilizer, they’re not fueling the water, the love, there’s no gardener, you’re just throwing them in the dark and saying, grow, they’re going to leave it. It is just that simple, or you’re not going to get them because I think that’s the other thing now and this is where maybe it’s a little bit of marketing, but are they able to tell what it’s like inside your organization and are there growth opportunities?
So, places like Glassdoor where people leave reviews and they talk about what the culture’s like, what the managers like.What they’re looking for is an opportunity to grow. And so, if there was just one thing I would say focus on, is make sure your people are growing because if not, it’s going to exacerbate the problem, you might have a business plan or some goal that says, we probably need to add 5 or 10% to our labor force over the next year. It’s more aggressive, we’re growing at a hundred percent, we got to double the size of our team, well, nothing makes that worse than turnover and going backwards and having to hire double that number of people. And so, we’ll probably get there, but that’s another key observation is, if you want to attract talent to your organization make sure the people you have are growing.
Caleb Stevens: Well, along those lines, you have what might seem like on the surface some contrarian points of view on a number of statements or common phrases that you hear in the business and HR world. And I’d love to unpack just a few of them because I think that they are fascinating and when the listeners hear, they may say, what are you talking about, Travis? I thought that was important, so one of them you say is why you might want to stop focusing so much on your company’s values and culture, I mean, we just had Mark Miller on our podcast last week and it was all about culture and why culture is one of the things that’ll give your company a competitive advantage. You’re saying stop talking so much about values and culture, what do you mean by that?
Travis Dommert: Well, there’s a key distinction there, and I talk about values and culture all the time, so are you a complete hypocrite? The key thing is we often focus solely on the company’s values, we spend all of our airtime saying we believe this, we believe that this is who we are, this is what we’re trying to do as an organization and there’s a very interesting study, it’s been out for a long time, it was back, I think 2009. And it said, an employee’s commitment to an organization goes up if they understand their values rather than the company values, if they don’t understand and they don’t have clarity of their personal values, clarity of the company values can cause their commitment to go down a little bit, which is hard to understand or even believe.
But if they can gain clarity of their personal values, which is essentially giving them a compass, helping them understand who they are. You get about a 25% lift in their commitment to the organization just by helping them figure out who they are, then help them also understand the organization’s values and culture and you pick up another few percentage points. So, that top right box, if you were to look at this like a little two by two quadrant of personal values versus clarity of corporate values, when they get clarity on both, you do get maximum engagement but almost all of the lift comes from them getting clear on who they are and that is something so few organizations do. I don’t know if they don’t know how, maybe they don’t know why, but it’s remarkably quick, we do about a 5 to 10 minute exercise with everybody when they come into our organization just to have them look at a sheet, we put down about 80 values.
So, there’s good variety and breadth and then say, identify 10 that resonate with you, and then in the next minute cut that list in half and then in the next two or three minutes, I want you to look at that list of five and try to put the top three in order and tell me what is your number one and share it with others at your table. And it’s a challenging exercise but it’s not time consuming, it doesn’t cost the company any money, but suddenly it helps them see each other in a new light. It rapidly accelerates relationship development, it gives them that landscape on which to overlay your corporate mission and values, it is remarkably powerful and the other message it sends is that you care about them.
And so, I tell leaders the biggest thing I’ve learned, and a lot of this is frankly from forensic Gallop who’ve written prolifically on this topic, but they’ll say, being a decent leader isn’t that hard. You just need to get good at two things, helping people know that you care about them as a person and that you’re trying to help them be successful. So, things like this exercise can reinforce both of those.
Caleb Stevens: And I would think too, if the leaders are coming at them publicly saying to everybody, hey, here are the core values of our organization, but nobody internally is clear on their personal values. There’s going to be, I would think, a huge disconnect where the leaders are saying, here’s what we want to embody but if the team members aren’t clear on what they want to embody from a personal values standpoint, they’re not going to line up. And ultimately your culture’s going to be a bunch of people who have no clarity themselves and how would you expect the organization to ever have clarity, even if the five values are on the wall, if they’re not being lived out by the folks internally, you don’t have what you say you want to have.
Travis Dommert: Right, you’ll get, unfortunately, it’s sometimes a pretty healthy disregard for those values, they’ll see them with some cynicism. But when somebody understands who they are, and maybe those sound different, maybe they say, gosh, one of my core values is family or health or something and you’re like, well, what’s that have to do with your job? But they bring that to their job, they want to have family-like relationships, they want to love their teammates to make sure that they know that they care about them, that they’ve got their back that they want a healthy place to work, and they create a healthy place to work. Well, suddenly, your corporate value is to do the right thing or it’s something that doesn’t sound the same, but it’s getting lived out in a powerful and personal way because somebody better understands who they are.
Caleb Stevens: And is this something you try to bake into the hiring and interview process? I heard DeAnn Turner from Chick-fil-A say a while back that there doesn’t have to be perfect total alignment, but there needs to be a general alignment between the corporate and the personal values. But I’m just curious, do you screen for that at all to some degree early on, how do you identify that, so down the line you don’t have confusion and bitterness and that kind of thing?
Travis Dommert: Well, it’s a great opportunity to clarify what does it mean to fit a culture and so, there are people who’ve taken an issue with a notion of culture-fit, because what they believed you might be saying, and what you might be doing consciously or subconsciously, is carrying a bias against somebody who’s different from you. And so, there are people who say, do not use culture-fit in selection then, you’ve got these amazing successful organizations with very low turnover and very high productivity that say, well, culture is so important and you should screen for it. Well, ultimately, one of the things that we try to do is just clarify, what do we mean? We don’t say culture-fit, we say we’re looking for culture drivers, and so anytime we go to hire, we break every job into three elements.
And one of them is the skills necessary to do that job. One of those buckets is what are the behaviors, how should somebody think and show up and relate to other people to be successful in that role and then the third bucket is what are the culture drivers? And so, we have something called the One Digital way, but whatever your company values are, you want to make it clear which of those values, and maybe it’s all of them, but if you have multiple and you say, what’s important to be in this role and be successful, you have to be optimistic. You’re going to hear a lot of no’s, or you’re going to go through hard things, you must persevere, whatever that is. Well, you want to put that in the interview process because we want to know, not if people like that value, they’ll say, yes, of course.
Not if they share that value, probably say, yes, of course, we want to know when have you lived that value? So, I’m not going to tell you that we value perseverance, but I might ask you a question, tell me about a time where you faced a very daunting situation, everyone else quit and you kept going, how did you do that? Why did you do that? And then you want to ask those past event questions that show they didn’t know what it was called, but they got it, they did it, they learned from it. And frankly, I’m even open to somebody who didn’t do it, suffered the consequences of not doing it right, and learned the lesson, so tell me about a time when you didn’t persevere, you gave up too early, that can also tell me they had a deep regret. And so, they’ll tell you that’s why next time I doubled down, I showed up early, I did whatever it took, those interview questions also draw talent to you, they’re signaling to people, this is what we care about.
Caleb Stevens: Well, one of your other statements that cuts against the grain, at least it seems like on the surface, you say, it may not bode well to talk about your people as your greatest asset. And again, people hear that and they say, what in the world, if we didn’t have our people, well, we would have no business at all. So, again, what do you mean by that?
Travis Dommert: Well, it’s a phrase I’ve used, I’ve heard, on the surface I like, because I think it’s well intentioned, it’s just not true. I mean, that’s the only reason I buck against it, we have to be very careful, words are powerful and when we say things like that, we think we’re complimenting our people, we think we’re elevating their value and we have to remember a couple of things. Number one, is that people don’t show up on our balance sheet, sadly ask any of your financial peers and where do people show up on the financial statements and at its expense. I hate that mindset and that’s why when you say people are our greatest asset, I think what you’re trying to do is help them not think of them as an expense yet that’s how you report it, that’s the message you send to all your leaders when you’re managing a P&L and they typically look at anything driving the L and try to minimize it.
And so, there’s the actual financial truth, well, the other thing is that we don’t own our people, if this was an asset class, it’d be a very unique asset class because it’s the only asset that can walk away. You don’t own your people, don’t pretend like you own your people, don’t think that you own your people, you don’t and so just because you pay them doesn’t mean you own them, they are not an asset of the company. What I like to do is just tweak that a little bit and say, rather than talking about people as your greatest asset, first of all, get to action treat the relationships with your people as your greatest asset, that is real, it’s goodwill that sits on your balance sheet, it’s something that you can generate value from. The relationship also started before they took the job and it continues typically for decades after they leave the job and if we think about how do we maximize the value of that relationship, we will do different things.
So, we want to make sure that the folks who come in have a great experience, we want to make sure that they get up to speed quickly, they’ve got the training that they need, we want to make sure that they ideally stay as long as possible when they’re producing and they’re very successful in their role. But a key thing is everybody will leave their job someday and often, and I say often as in the national average rate now for private sector companies is less than 4 years, 3.7 years, they’re often going to leave their job in less than four years, which means on average, they’re probably going to continue to either create or detract value based on that relationship for 30 to 40 more years that they don’t work for you. They’re often the wild, you don’t control them, is that going to be value creation or is that going to be value destruction?
And so, then if you think about the relationship, you start to think like, let’s make sure if somebody does leave the company, they leave and have a great experience. We celebrate them even if they weren’t perfect, nobody is, if five years later you, you think of that person, you reach out, you invite them to events, you share things with them, you create an alumni organization because the goodwill of that relationship can create tremendous value for decades for the company or you can disregard them. You can fire them after a bad quarter, you could say, hey, it’s only business but you need to leave, you kick them out the door, they become a terrorist, they are blowing up your brand, and they will continue to do so until the day they die.
We talk about the first day at a company as the most important impactful day of their entire career. There’s science, there’s psychology involved but the last day with your company lasts forever. So, how they feel when they walk out the door typically lasts for the rest of their lives and so, with so many people who are getting discarded, especially in an economic downturn, leaders are destroying value like crazy because they thought they were an asset that they could buy and sell and it’s just not true.
Caleb Stevens: Well, in the words of Tim Elmore, who we had on the show a couple of months ago, the corporate ladder has become the corporate lily pad, at least amongst Gen Z millennials and I’d love to maybe pause there for just a second. What’s concerning about that to you, this perennial job hopping, the person that’s had 10 jobs by the time they’re 30 and in what cases is it a good thing to move on? When someone leaves on their last day, what does it look like for that to be even a celebration for both parties involved because they got a better opportunity, how do you think about that? On the one hand, we don’t want to hire people who are entitled or looking to make a quick buck and bounce a year later but we also know people want to grow and sometimes that means the next growth step is not at our company.
Travis Dommert: Well, a couple of things there, one is I heard somebody refer to the corporate ladder now as the corporate jungle gym. People are getting comfortable with climbing, with going sideways, with just getting off and it’s up, down, around, it’s all kinds of things that aren’t necessarily linear and that creates a tremendous opportunity and it does create some concerns. So, I’ll start with a couple of the concerns and I think the biggest one is that people don’t necessarily grow a lot through success, they grow through adversity and if somebody leaves when the going gets tough, they typically don’t learn much. So, if you’re hearing this and you’re like, you know what, I don’t care for my boss, I don’t like the decision that was just made before you leave, lean in.
And I would say that’s where you could potentially learn a lot, is to have some hard conversations and if you’re committed that I’m planning to quit, you don’t have a lot to lose, what is about to be your former manager probably is going to respect you. If you said, I’d like to have a hard conversation with you, there’s some things happening here that I don’t understand or I don’t agree with, they’re making me think you don’t care about me as a person or we’re not necessarily thinking long-term and they’re making me think I want to leave. Most people don’t have the courage to have that conversation, learning to do so will benefit you on so many levels because you’re going to realize, wow, nobody died. The amazing thing from hard conversations, they often cause people to get closer.
And so you’re building valuable self-leadership skills, relationship skills, these highly transferable power skills. When you lean into hard things and the hard things don’t always show up in the first month, the first year, the hard thing might not be for two or three years down the road and you’re thinking, well, shoot, all my friends have left the company, I think it’s time I go, lean in first. So, that’s my big concern is people are missing out on opportunities to grow because they’re leaving thinking that they’re going to grow by going to the greener grass, so that’s probably that big thing. Here’s the opportunity, Talents on the move, there’s loads of talent out there, there are millions of people who are changing jobs and who are open to new opportunities.
And so, if you’re trying to grow a business, a nonprofit, whatever your organization is, if you’re a community bank and you’re trying to grow and you think, gosh, I just can’t find people. Trust me, there are people out there looking for who would help me grow, who would love on me , where could I get a better boss, a better opportunity? And so, that mobility is part of the answer, it’s unfortunate that there isn’t enough talent to go around.
Caleb Stevens: Well, you’re echoing a sound bite. I heard recently from Simon Sinek when he was saying how a lot of the younger generation, and I’d put myself in that category, many of us would rather just quit than have a hard conversation with our manager about something that we feel like we need to talk about. We’d rather just move on than embrace maybe some fear and some risk of having a hard conversation. But I think what you’re saying is don’t be afraid of that. That’s where a lot of growth learning happens, and maybe even you come out on the other side of that stronger, maybe even with a better relationship with your manager or your coworkers through that.
Travis Dommert: Right. Yes. And leaders say take this opportunity before it’s too late to lean into this to talk about the power of hard conversations, model hard conversations, practice hard conversations. So that when this particular hard conversation comes up about maybe they’re thinking they want to leave, they know they can bring it to you. And so that’s another one of those little word things that switching one word to make a big difference. And I learned this from our friend David [unclear 32:59], but he said, make sure that people know that you want more for them than from them. And if you didn’t do it on their way in the organization, then do it today. You need to have a very humble fourth rate conversation. Get your heart right, get yourself right. Do you believe that? If you don’t, then you need to figure out what it is that you do want from someone. And then I would challenge you to realize you’ll be more likely to get it if you get for them. But anyway don’t wait till it’s too late, practice and talk about like, let’s do some hard conversations. And you know what? You’re helping that person at home. You’re helping them ask somebody out on a date. You’re helping them talk to their whatever, maybe it’s their mortgage company or the cell phone company about a late fee that was somehow mistaken. And that’s what’s amazing. Even with my kids, I’ll find out they’d rather just pay it than dispute something that rightfully should be corrected. So anyway, that is again, it is a concern, but it’s a huge opportunity, Caleb.
Caleb Stevens: Yes. Well, last statement I’d love to unpack with you, one of the things you say is trying to help your people balance work and life is probably less productive than you think. And again, many people hear that and say, well, isn’t work-life balance a good thing? Ought we not be asking our people to work crazy hours? Shouldn’t we be valuing them having quote-unquote work-life balance? How do you respond to that?
Travis Dommert: Yes. Well, work-life balance has unfortunately become something that I don’t know if it was intended. I do believe that mental health is a near crisis state, I believe burnout is a real thing stress can kill you and is killing people. But the answer is not necessarily what I think a lot of people hear, when I say Caleb I’m a little concerned about you and I think you need to focus a little bit more on some work life balance. Caleb, what most people heard was, I think you should be working less.
That is the message that is delivered when you talk about work-life balance. Work-Life balance equals, for most people, not everyone, but for most people, it equals work less. And what I would encourage leaders to do if they’re for their people, is say, I want to focus not on helping you balance work and life, but I want to help you focus on improving work and life. And if I can play any part in helping to improve your work and life I’m in, I want to have that conversation. And it spawns a whole different cascading series of thoughts. If we talk about how do you improve work and life? Often the thing that I hear is people say, wow, I need to do a better job at prioritizing. I’m too busy. I need to actually raise my game in some skill areas and say, great.
Alright, let’s talk about the skills that are essential for your job. Do you know what the top three skills are that you need to master this role and to be the best there is at it? And suddenly you’re having a conversation about training, mentorship, reading a book or doing a lunch and learn. And then if you said, I want to make sure that you’re also improving in life. Well, they spend a lot of life at work, one of the things you can very safely say is, could you tell me two or three things that I could do to help improve your life at work? And you find out, you have some stupid policy that they hate, or you have a schedule that doesn’t allow them to put their kids on the bus. Asking these things suddenly shows you care about them. And what the outcome is, is they typically become more productive. When you say, I want you to focus on work life balance. They typically hear work less. It’s just less of this crazy thing, it’s not making it better, it’s not fixing it, it’s just walking away. So anyway, I think there’s a better outcome by just tweaking that word a little bit.
Caleb Stevens: And it seems like it shifts it from an adversarial relationship where you have life over here, work over here, and they’re always butting heads and one’s always going to win out versus they go together. You can’t separate your work from your life and your life from your work. So, how do you improve both? And I guess what you’re saying is, maybe reducing the quantity that you’re working isn’t so much the solution as improving how you’re working. Are you in the right role? Are you developing the right skills to be successful? Do you have your priorities in order to begin with? So that’s a key shift. Yes.
Travis Dommert: Yes. And even that whole idea that there being an equation of work-life balance implies that they’re on opposite sides of an equal sign and I’ve gotta somehow balance them. I believe that it’s work times, life equals results. For years with I run, you run, we like, for example, those five to seven behaviors. What we consistently found is some of them were work and some of them were life. So much so that we ultimately said, you probably need to track those two things separately and be accountable for what are the top five things you’re doing to make sure you’re living the best possible life, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and strongly. And then what are the top five things you’re doing to kill it in your job and deliver great results, build awesome relationships, be a thought leader and deliver tremendous service.
And then let’s be accountable for both of those because they multiply. If work goes to zero, you’re fired. If life goes to zero, you’re dead, neither one of those are a good outcome for anybody. So yes, just thinking about it differently I think can produce a tremendously different outcome. And as well talking about the war for talent, you help people be successful, they want to be with you, you help them grow. They’re more likely to stay, ironically, make sure they’re growing or they’ll be going, don’t think that you can pay and they’ll stay. And that’s where we talk about focus on growth versus a focus on retention.
Caleb Stevens: Well this has given our executives and our leaders that listen, I think a lot to to ponder and to think about if folks want to connect with you online, on LinkedIn, if they want to hear more about the resources that you provide, not just for one digital, but for all kinds of leaders, how can they find you? And I know you mentioned maybe this could even be a book at some point. So, anything in the works there?
Travis Dommert: Yes. Thanks Caleb. Appreciate that. Yes, people can reach out to me and connect on LinkedIn. I’m the only Travis Dommert out there, so that’s pretty easy. I also, am starting to stand up more of this concept and share these thoughts on my website, And then of course if people have more workforce strategy related things or they’re interested in the things that our company does, they can visit us at So, anyway, I would love to help. And yes, the book is in the works. There’s two or three that I need to get focused in on because again, these things, they’re just not changing. And I think we gotta wake up, especially if we’re going to find our organizations thriving versus struggling in the years ahead.
Caleb Stevens: Well, when that next book is out, we’d love to have you back. Thanks for joining us.
Travis Dommert: Alright, thanks Caleb.


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