How to Make Space for an Emotionally Intelligent Employee Experience

with Alan Winters, Chief People Officer and Chief Diversity Officer at Teleperformance Group

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Alan Winters

Episode 19

“When handling employee feedback, listen, react, and communicate openly. Employees learn to trust the escalation process, and that you value their opinion.”

Alan Winters is Chief People Officer and Chief Diversity Officer at Teleperformance Group, the worldwide leader in outsourced omnichannel customer experience management. Alan is responsible for HR, learning and development, and talent acquisition at Teleperformance Group, which has over 420,000 employees across 88 countries around the world. Alan was born to lead a truly global and diverse company, having lived and traveled around the world with his family growing up. In this episode, Alan talks about trying out new technologies like the Metaverse, what it takes to be a certified Great Place to Work, and how hiring a diverse workforce benefits your bottom line.

”In our world today, you have to have a broad view. And you have to have diversity with an open mind to understand where people are coming from. Or if you put it in today’s vernacular, the ‘emotional intelligence’ to understand how people interact with you, how they hear what you say, understand or take or do, et cetera. So I think my background has enabled me to have that broad thought process to think that way naturally. And it’s helped me in my career.”

Listen in to hear

  • How Teleperformance Group is implementing gamification in their digital EX engagement strategy
  • Ideas for employee recognition initiatives
  • What it takes to be a certified Great Place to Work

”If you have a vast, diverse workforce with different perspectives and mindsets, that allows all of those creative ideas to bubble up and to people to feel comfortable to say, ‘Hey, let’s do this, or this, or this.’ And that drives right down to, we firmly believe that if our people are satisfied and happy at work, they’ll provide good service to our clients and therefore our clients will be happy. And that is a direct reflection on the bottom line.”


Alan Winters Headshot aspect ratio

Alan Winters

Chief People Officer and Chief Diversity Officer | Teleperformance Group

Alan Winters is Teleperformance’s Chief People Officer and Chief Diversity Officer. He is responsible for Global Human Resources, Learning and Development, and talent acquisition. Alan has over 28 years in operations and compliance management with global Fortune 500 organizations, and has held leadership roles at Citibank, Sprint, and Express Scripts before joining Teleperformance. He has extensive operational experience in leading global teams in the Financial Services, Healthcare, and Telecommunications sectors.

Episode Transcript

How to Make Space for an Emotionally Intelligent Employee Experience with Alan Winters, Chief People Officer and Chief Diversity Officer at Teleperformance Group

Narrator: Big, global companies like the ones we talk about on Cruising Altitude can be naturally diverse just because they span a big area of the world. But not necessarily – it still takes intention and planning to bring together people of all different ages, abilities, genders, religions, ethnicities to work together on a common project or initiative. And we’ve talked about how that diversity of thought brings complexity and richness to the finished product. But what we haven’t talked about is that there are quantifiable and tangible benefits to your business when you hire a diverse workforce. A 2018 study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with above-average diversity on their teams brought in 19% more revenue due to innovation. But hiring a diverse workforce begins with leadership. It takes a real people person who is committed to inclusivity at all levels of the company. And that person is Alan Winters.

Alan Winters:  In our world today, you have to have that broad view and you have to have the diversity with a open mind to understand really where people are coming from. Or if you put it in today’s vernacular, the emotional intelligence enough to understand how people interact with you, how they hear what you say, understand or take or do, et cetera. So I think my background has enabled me to have that broad thought process to kind of think that way naturally. And it’s, helped me in, in my career.

Narrator: Alan is Chief People Officer and Chief Diversity Officer at Teleperformance Group, the worldwide leader in outsourced omnichannel customer experience management. And today he’s showing us how that emotional intelligence is a key attribute in successful leadership of diverse teams. And how prioritizing diversity is actually good for your bottom line.

On Cruising Altitude, we talk about employee experience lessons from leaders at companies with over 30k employees. A lot like reaching Cruising Altitude at 30k feet, things look a little different when you’re managing 30,000 people. On this podcast, we bring you insights from the leaders who inhabit that rarefied air. Today’s episode features an interview with Greg Sexton.  But first, a word from our sponsor.

Alan Winters: As the Chief People Officer for the company, I’m responsible basically for HR learning and development and talent acquisition. So all of the people functions, hence my title. So, you know, we’re in 87 countries, 420,000 people around the world. So I am responsible for the HR function for the entire group.

Narration: Teleperformance Group is actually now in 88 countries around the world, and they might just be the biggest company to be featured on Cruising Altitude yet. Like if cruising altitude is at 30,000 feet, which is in the troposphere, Teleperformance Group exists in the thermosphere, where the aurora borealis and satellites are. That’s wild. But back to Alan – he was basically born to work with people from all over the world. Let’s just say he had a truly global upbringing. 

Alan Winters: I’ll start with, uh, a little bit about my parents, cuz I think that’ll give you a good context. I was born in Anchorage, Alaska. And the reason why I was born there is my father watched an old John Wayne movie called North to Alaska when they were living in San Francisco and said, Hey, let’s go. And my mom at that time was pregnant with me. Um, and I was born in Alaska and we stayed there for a little over a year and then kept on moving, uh, after that. But growing up, I went to school mostly in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK. Actually never went to school in the us until undergrad and grad school. Um, and, uh, lived in those countries, but traveled, uh, most of my life until maybe 11th grade in high school. And didn’t stay more than a year in one school growing up and just traveled from country to country, to country. um, And I think today I can travel anywhere in the world and not be, uh, concerned or afraid and pretty relaxed in almost any culture. And I think that’s because of the upbringing and continual change and experiences of different cultures around the world.

Narrator: Even within Teleperformance Group, Alan has moved around to really explore every opportunity within the company and learn as much as he can.

Alan Winters: If you look at my work background, I’ve been with Teleperformance for nine years, but I’ve been in multiple different companies – five or six – and that was on purpose because I wanted the exposure to the different ways companies work. Similarly, if you don’t have the exposure from a culture perspective, you can have a very narrow view of cultures or people’s experiences and diversity. And in our world today, you have to have that broad view and you have to have the diversity with a open mind to understand really where people are coming from. Or if you put it in today’s vernacular, the emotional intelligence enough to understand how people interact with you, how they hear what you say, understand or take or do, et cetera. So I think my background has enabled me to have that broad thought process to kind of think that way naturally. And it’s, helped me in, in my career. Yeah.

Narrator: While we get settled for our flight, let’s take a minute to get to know Teleperformance Group and their employees in The Flight Plan. So Teleperformance is a diverse company. But let’s take a minute to define diversity, because it isn’t that cut and dry. 

Alan Winters: For a lot of people, when you think diversity is either black or white or male or female. And if you think about a company like Teleperformance, we operate in 87 countries. And diversity means something if I’m sitting in India different than the Philippines, different than the U.S., but broadly, of course, it’s a gender mix. Of course, it’s um, ethnicity. But if you look at the broad spectrum in today’s world, whether it’s LGBTQ plus, or any aspect in that spectrum, that’s what diversity means for us. And what’s important is we don’t define someone based on however they identify. We define someone based on how their performance is and they contribute. So whether it’s male or female, you’re gay, straight, transgender, that doesn’t matter has no impact on your work life in terms of performance, it certainly has impact on your work life in terms of belonging. And we work on that from employee research groups to help people feel like they belong to whatever, uh, organization they would choose to interact with within the company. And that’s how we think of ourselves and operate within Teleperformance. 

Narrator: Teleperformance itself is going through some changes as a whole. Three or four years ago, they would have said they were in the BPO space, or business process outsourcing, customer service outsourcing. But that’s changed.

Alan Winters: We’ve actually been going through a pretty significant internal transformation that has impacted how we serve our customers as well. Today, we would say we’re in a digital transformation company and because we certainly do customer service, we do that as a part of our bread and butter every day. But more importantly, we are looking at adding real value to our clients in terms of helping them transform their business. If you think about how people interact with companies today in a bank, when was the last time someone went inside a branch bank versus self-service or an ATM or online banking, as an example, or even FinTech organizations say, that sort of transformation that’s happening within businesses is what we help our clients do in terms of how they interact and service their customers. So from an employee perspective, if you think what that means then is, you know, we have 420,000 people around the world, 60 plus percent, female to male mix today on average, depending on the country. Um, but we are in most of our frontline, um, customer advocates or agents are Gen X, Y, and Z. How they interact or how, what they like from a company is very different than someone that would be from my generation. So we take that transformational mindset that we have with our clients. And we do that internally as well, whether it’s through a digital recruiting process or our cloud campus at home work environment, which is a set of really interesting, cool collaboration technologies that allow people collaborate from vast distances apart from each other. We incorporate gamification into that process to make exciting and just not as mundane as a historical, uh, service job would be, or, and we’re now looking at the Metaverse. And what does that mean and how do you drive the virtual reality aspect into what we do with our people and our clients. And soon we’ll have a very robust Metaverse process that people will be interacting virtually on a regular basis. That’s a couple years away, but we’re actively looking at that today as an example of the cool tools we’re bringing inside and how we interact with our people on a daily basis.

Alan Winters: What we like to say within Teleperformance is we wanna be the disruptor in the industry, not being disrupted. And to do that, you have to be on the forefront. You have to test a lot of things. Be open minded, take chances. Um, and then as things kind of mature, you’re in a much better position to take advantage of that maturity.

Narrator: Teleperformance does a lot of things well. And now that we’ve gotten an overview of their industry and company makeup, let’s head on over to First Class to talk about their best practices when it comes to the employee experience. Teleperformance is pushing the envelope of what you can do with technology, from prepping for the Metaverse to their suite of tech tools. 

Alan Winters: We like to say that we operate within the united cultures of Teleperformance, And even in some cases within the countries of very different culture and how people are motivated. So we have a suite of technologies, um, if you think about the hard technology side to help with that, but we also have from an employee engagement perspective, a vast, um, array of, engagement opportunities for people to be engaged and excited, whether it’s employee research groups like LGBTQ, or it could be, we have a global For Fun Festival that we have anyone in the company can participate in that’s now virtually, and we have global, a country level and region level and global winners, and it could be art, music, singing, any talent anybody has, can come to the table and show their talent and participate in that. So it’s though that type of environment that we try to create that really speaks to people’s passions and their cultures however, they choose to define that. And it’s completely up to the individual.

Narrator: And during the For Fun Festival, they had some standout performances. Giving employees a platform to showcase their passions is one way Teleperformance celebrates their individuality and fosters a sense of belonging.

Alan Winters: We’ve had some amazing singers. Um, we actually just finished virtual event with Norah Jones and one of our winners sang virtually side by side with her in a duet that ended up with, uh, well over a million hits on the internet. So it’s that type of stuff from, uh, writing their own song and performing that, or artwork or, you know, anything along those lines to let people kind of show their creativity and passion. We are a people focused organization. And if you start from that in mind, the world is really open. Nothing is off limits, including reaching out to a famous person and see if they’d be willing to participate in something like this with the company. We work with Great Place to Work, which is a global organization. It in essence certifies companies based on a whole host of attributes and the way the process works is they would contact all of your employees and ask certain questions. Do you feel safe? Do you feel nurtured? Can you be yourself? Can you be open? Do you feel valued? That sort of those questions? So we’re the first one in our industry to do this two years in a row. And we formed a global strategic alliance with the Great Place to Work organization. And we did this across all of our countries, we gave them a list of all of our employees and we had over a 50% response rate of our employees telling them how they were feeling, which I had no insight to until we get the results. And last year we were certified as a Great Place to Work organization. This year, we will be as well with over 97% of our people working in a certified great place to work organization. Why I use that as an example, that sets the tone. Because our people know we’re interested in what they’re thinking and feeling. And more importantly, we take action on what they say. And that includes being that authentic self. And I’ll use myself as example, I’m gay, completely open at work, no issues at all at my level. It’s the same thing when I interact. I was just in Bogota, Columbia last week. It was pride there and we were, had some events going on and everybody was completely open, comfortable. So when I see that sort of feeling, and then I get the feedback from those third party resources that are people that telling them that they feel what I see, that’s validation. And that’s how we manage the process on a regular basis to help create that. Now and create is an interesting word, cuz I can’t create it. I can have an environment that allows that to bubble up and people to feel that way. But I’m not empowering them to do that. They have that power. I’m just giving them the space to feel comfortable to use it. For us, if you look at our company growth and we’ve got the 27 or 28 consecutive quarters of double digit growth, as I mentioned before, we’re in the middle of this huge internal transformation into a digital transformation organization. That comes partly from technology and investment, but the majority of that comes from our people. So if you have a vast diverse workforce with different perspectives and mindsets, that allows all of those creative ideas to bubble up and to people to feel comfortable to say, Hey, let’s do this or this or this. And that drives right down to, we firmly believe that if our people are satisfied and happy at work, They’ll provide good service to our clients, customers, and therefore our clients will be happy. And that is a direct reflection on the bottom line. High level of customer loyalty and client loyalty with customers and clients we’ve been dealing with for years, cuz they’re happy with service. All of that is related to how we perform and what our financial performance looks like.

Narrator: We come back to this idea often, that employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction. And the employee experience is a combination of both in-person and online engagement.

Alan Winters: Everything I have said is a balance and we do equally digitally as we do well we would say brick and mortar or face to face. So you think about what the pandemic has done, which has really rapidly pushed companies to be a lot more open-minded in terms of what does the workspace really look like in today’s world? And so 420,000 employees, the peak of the pandemic, we had 80% of all of our people working from home globally. And we did that in a 10 week time period, removed them from our face to face facilities to a remote, uh, work environment. And I used the word cloud campus earlier. That’s our work at home technologies is suite of collaboration tools that allow us to deliver the employee experience digitally in today’s world. And now think I’m not sure I would say we’re post pandemic, but on the other side of the pandemic, um, that’s what people expect today. People are want to be able to have either a hybrid or work at home environment. And I’ll give you one example of a tool set that we’ve been working on pre pandemic, but it’s a, we call it digital recruiting. So in today’s world, based on a candidate having more than one job opportunity because of the scarcity of resources, the goal is to have a provide a really good value proposition for someone to come work for us, and do that as quickly as you can. So we’ve developed with a tool, a digital process that allows someone to apply, take a set of assessments based on requirements, go to, um, an interview if there’s an interview, and be selected for the role and go into that role. And that can happen in 10 days or less. Some cases, we’re doing an application, a job offer in two days and a job offer to start in seven. And that enables us to take really, really, really cool digital technology and add real value for our people. So they can move from, their old role to our role, be happy, start work and, you know, training and all that stuff. That’s one example. And we have similar in production. We have this gamification or we’re testing, all sorts of new training methodologies to get people through training faster and make it more exciting. Because from a work on home environment, you just don’t want to be in your home office, in front of the computer for eight or nine hours a day. We have to make it really engaging. So we’re using those type of technologies to really revolutionize how we deliver that, work to our people.

Narrator: Teleperformance Group offers education, training and professional development to employees to help them grow within the company. Because it’s important for employees to know they have room for growth and a defined career path to take.

Alan Winters: From a training perspective, similar to what we’re seeing today, you’d have a trainer and then maybe 15 of their trainees on a class in a virtual classroom like this. And we have technology with, uh, smart boards on either side and the trainer can look at the curriculum on one board and the people on the other and ask real time questions and collaboration and send information between people and stuff from a training perspective, or even, the assessments or tests and stuff that happen with training as one example, or if you’re in what we call production or you’re out of training or working in similar environments set up with your supervisor and real time questions, I need help or don’t understand this, or whatever, you know, may happen to drive that collaboration and, make people feel like they, have a place to go and someone to go talk to when they have, a concern. Similarly on the engagement side, there’s lots of research out there now that what’s the psychological effect of being at home and not having the face to face interaction or depending on the type of work you’re doing that’s high stress. And so we have employee resource groups or, people available in some of our centers or virtually where you could speak to a therapist and confidential and talk about what’s going well. Or what’s not, or whatever you’re thinking or feeling. We also have implemented virtually what we call a sentiment, uh, survey. So historically most companies would be just asking your people once a year. How do you feel? What do you like? What’s working? What’s not? We’re doing that almost daily now through our sentiment survey, real time. How are you feeling? Are you feeling happy? Are you not? Why? What resources do you need? What help do you need? That sets up to really drive that engagement, because we’re working in a very different environment today from working home or remote than what most people are used to. And we’re still learning a lot. I mean, that’s gonna continue. So we are developing these digital technologies or processes or communication paths is probably a better way to put it, to allow people to give us and express what they’re thinking and feeling so we can take action.

Narrator: The training program at Teleperformance group is called Jump. And it’s a way they empower employees to take the initiative to educate themselves. Then they can choose their own career path and the company is helping them to do that.

Alan Winters: And so if you’re an agent and you want to go to workforce management or want to be a supervisor or any other role, we have a defined career path to help get you there if that’s what you choose to do. And so you could on your own, you could start preparing based on this Jump program. So you’re ready when the next position opens up and we post the position. So you see the position is posted and you could apply for any of those jobs. And so that jump program is there to help people cuz it’s important. That’s part really a significant part of engagement is I have a career path. I have a runway of where I wanted to go. And you know, and maybe it’s going to school and then coming back or it could be I’m a high performing agent and I really wanna be a supervisor cuz I love my supervisor and what that person does and all the people interaction. There’s a path for that. Or I want to be a director and I want to interact in technology or where our clients is a path for that. Um, and so we, we promote from within and we actually have a program called, refer a friend. So we measure how many, what percent of our employee base refers their friend to come work with them, cuz they love the environment. And it’s over a third of our hiring comes from that process. So that tells you that people want their friends to come here because they love what they’re doing and they wanna work with their friends and there’s a path forward. You’re not gonna be stuck in the same, unless you choose to, you’re not gonna be in the same position for the rest of your career. But if you choose to do that, that is perfectly fine. You’re happy with that. Great. But if you want more, there’s more for within Teleperformance.

Alan Winters: We have connection with LinkedIn Learning that it offers a massive amount of learnings across any category you could think of that people can take advantage of as well. So we absolutely provide that learning and development opportunity.

Narrator: Alan tracks how well employee experience initiatives like the trainings are going based on metrics they gather along the way.

Alan Winters: We have a really rich set of data, whether it’s at a country level or global. And I have a team that does analysis and we can identify through Six Sigma methodology statistically significant responses of potential challenges. I can then take that and I have a team that can go look at that and work on that. So whether it’s maybe my tool set isn’t working on a consistent basis at home, or my connectivity isn’t where it needs to be, or, you know, I had a bad day and I had a bad interaction with my supervisor. You know what, whatever that is, I can take that and do the analysis. And is it a single problem or is it a, consistent problem that many people are having? And then what do I need to do to address that to fix it? That that’s an example of, of what we do.

Narrator: Alan knows first hand the importance of diversity and representation in the workplace, and especially in leadership. 

Alan Winters: I had this interaction with somebody maybe first week of June. So the beginning of pride month when all of our activities were starting, and I did an article that was internal about my story and coming out. And I received some really heartwarming responses from, a certain segment of our employee population just thanking me for being open, but made them feel like they didn’t have to hide, that they could be open. They loved the company, they love what they do, but they always felt like, um, they couldn’t tell people really who they were at home and at work. And that person’s come out and they’re completely out and open now. Um, and the last time I talked to them, they were very, very happy. So just, just one example.

Narrator: It’s in moments like that that employee experience leaders find so much meaning in their work. Those goosebump moments where you know you’ve made a difference. We’ve covered a lot of ground so far. Let’s get into the rockier parts of employee experience and talk about some lessons learned in Turbulence. Alan says he’s seen some pretty rough experiences in his career.


Alan Winters: I won’t give specifics from the company. It’s not Teleperformance, but I was working for an organization that was trying to really focus on reducing costs. And what they did is they took a segment of their customer base, who had they considered were low value from a revenue perspective. And this is probably 15 years ago. So really well before the digital transformation age, but, and really pushed that customer segment into a automation only service. They could never speak to a human being. They had to go through an IVR or interactive voice response unit to try to get service. And when that was implemented, which I didn’t agree with, but it was implemented, um, it ended up being on the front page of the Wall Street Journal as one of the worst customer experience as a case study perspective. And this was, we’re talking probably 500,000 customers or so within that space. So anytime when I’m faced with that sort challenge or decision I always look back on that as a key learning, cuz there were a lot of learnings from that, both what I could have done better, but also how, that sort of view from a customer purely from a financial perspective versus overall value perspective can really take a negative turn.

Narrator: And he says personally, he learned how to better handle change management.

Alan Winters: Remember what I said, we were moving towards this digital transformation from a recruiting perspective. Well, that was a real change to our recruiters. What do you mean I’m not gonna interview or I’m not gonna interact live or virtual or phone or live with a candidate? How do we assess them? And we knew it would be overall successful. we didn’t anticipate how hard it would be for people to make that shift and the change internally. Now we’ve overcome that. And there was a lot of communication and handholding and you know, why are we doing this and that sort of stuff, but I would probably answer it this way, that anytime you implement a pretty significant process change, don’t underestimate the unintended consequences behind the change, the people change management experience part of that. Everybody digests or processes change differently. Some people get it fast. Some people get it slow. And it just takes a lot of communication. And, what we call high touch communication process to help people move through that change.

Narrator: He says one thing he learned is to be present and communicative. To not hide or back down from conflict.

Alan Winters: Because we have an open communication process and we have multiple channels for people to express some come directly to me, some go directly to our chairman. It all depends on the nature, you know, of the issue. How we handle it is very open, clear, and direct communication. So, uh, you know, we’ll look at whatever the issue is and do an investigation or look at whatever the underlying causes are. And then we tell people what we find. And we hold people accountable. Could be good, could be bad, may not be real issue. Somebody may just maybe taking advantage of a situation, et cetera. But the key is, you listen, you react, and you communicate with what you find openly. If you do that, people will have confidence in an escalation process. They’ll have confidence that you value their opinion and people will be more apt to express their opinion cuz they know it’ll be listened to. And that’s where the real, um, gold is in terms of employee feedback. Cuz once that confidence is there, people will share things that you had no idea may be going on. Or share good ideas to change. Right. And that’s really the point.

Narrator: Especially in times of difficulty or change *ahem* like the pandemic, strong leadership becomes even more important. And just making sure your overall goal is to take care of your people, and make sure they’re safe. 

Alan Winters: Communication is important. So, you know, COVID is a great example when we were in the midst of think about our organization and that impact. So how COVID spread globally, Every country was managing their COVID protocols or hygiene re requirements or safety requirements very differently. And we had to adapt to that. Um, and how you do that is how you make people feel comfortable is through open and clear communications. You cannot sugarcoat things like the pandemic as an example. And in our environment, in our company, we’re pretty representative, uh, of what was happening in the communities that we live and work in. And so we were having people that got sick and we were having people that were really, really ill. How you respond to that, how you communicate and more, and just as importantly, the, we call it hygiene protocols that we put in place that made people feel like they were protected, whether they were at work or at home, including we were one of the first companies to go out and we bought vaccines and we supplied our people with vaccines, even in the countries that were not providing that, I went out and bought, we bought I think, 11 million masks and we were giving everybody a clean mask every single day. We were disinfecting the work stations and the work environments and transportation and all that stuff multiple times a day, all to create that environment that is safe, but that’s an outwardly outward, visible act of communication, open and honest of the significance of the pandemic. Right? So it’s that sort of stuff that you’ve gotta do. You can’t hide. You have to be out in front, you have to be visible. You have to communicate, it has to be authentic. Uh, and you have to back all that up with action.

Narrator: But of course it’s tricky when you’re working for a global company and every location has its own rules.

Alan Winters: Everybody thinks differently. Some people don’t want to take a vaccination. Some people don’t like to wear a mask, you know, that sort of stuff. And every country was reacting very differently. United States was probably the slowest to respond, right, from a country perspective. And so dealing with that sort of thing and the individual people’s view on what they want to do personally, which is important. Like most companies, countries, and we did the same, you have to make sure you’re protecting people overall, but it’s just working through those type of unexpected, um, feedback or communications.

Narrator: This move to remote work has taught Alan a little something about handling the co-mingling of work and life.

Alan Winters: You know, people confuse work life balance, and what that means to a term called being fully present. So, in today’s world, there’s no such thing as 50/50, right? It’s not 50% friends or 50% family or 50% work. Days differ. Sometimes long days, short days, all that fun stuff. But the, the thought about being fully present is whatever you’re doing, you are 100% focused and present with those that you’re around. So if I’m at work, I’m fully present, focused, engaged, providing support for my people. If I’m at home, I’m fully present with my grandchildren or friends or family, and they deserve time. By thinking about it that way and forget about the percentage breakout, cuz that actually doesn’t matter. But that for me anyway, that aspect fills both sides of my cup, so to speak. The work side and what I love and the value and the engagement, and the family side, the energy, the fulfillment, you know, that sort of stuff. And that’s what motivates me. And that’s what gets me up every morning. So I think about it that way and that’s what I try to lead. So when my people are on vacation, that’s their vacation time. I’m not gonna disturb them. They need that to be fully present with whatever they choose to do on their vacation. It’s important for people to know that you’re human, right. And because we’re human, we all make mistakes. And if you don’t own up to them or admit them, that’s not a positive quality. And I think in order for, for anyone to be a good leader, your people or the people you work with need to understand that they make mistakes and you make mistakes and it’s perfectly fine to make a mistake. That’s how you learn. So that has to be that safe environment. Now, if you’re making the same mistake over and over and over again, that’s a different discussion from a performance perspective. But by admitting that I make mistakes, and I do. And I admit that to my team, that creates a safe environment for them to feel like they can do the same thing and they can say they made a mistake. And why that’s important from a business perspective is the faster you understand there’s a mistake made the easier it is to, to fix it. If it become, if it festers and continues on and on, it may end up being a much bigger problem, a few weeks or months down the road. Right? So you wanna create that environment. From a leadership perspective. So you can, you know, what’s going on and you can go fix the problem and you do that together.

Narrator: We’ve learned a ton about making space for an emotionally intelligent employee experience. But before we land this episode, he has one last piece of parting advice for other EX leaders.

Alan Winters: Be authentic. And I’m not talking about LGBTQ or anything. Just be authentic, who you are, don’t be afraid. And, um, the other thing I would say is, and this goes back to our previous company. I was in I’ll just give you a quick story, cuz I think it answered the question. So I was maybe a year and a half into the company. I was running the customer service function for the company. And myself and my peers and my boss were invited to a board meeting with all the C levels of the organization. And the way the meeting was set up, there was a board table at the, at the center. And there was chairs around the room and all of my peers sat around the room and I sat at the table. And they said, oh, you can’t sit there. That’s for these people. And I said, what? Well, if they’re gonna invite me to the meeting, I’m gonna sit at the table. So as an example, that’s one of the things I would from a suggestion to anyone new into the role is you’ve gotta sit at the table. You have to participate. That’s why you’re in the role. And don’t be afraid to do that. You gotta have courage and you gotta jump in. By you being authentic means you end up being relatable, which puts people at ease and comfortable, which is what I was talking about as well. So if you don’t do that, and that’s your natural way, the energy between the two people, you can feel that. So if you’re authentic and you are able to put people at ease and make people feel comfortable, that is what I’m talking about. Cuz you get a lot accomplished. 

Narrator: So give the authentic energy you want employees to reflect, welcome employees of different backgrounds, experiences and orientations, and have a seat at the table.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Cruising Altitude. This episode is brought to you by Firstup, the company that is redefining the digital employee experience to put people first and lift companies up by connecting every worker, everywhere with the information that helps them do their best work. Firstup has helped over 40% of the Fortune 100 companies like Amazon, AB InBev, Ford and Pfizer stay agile and keep transforming. Learn more at

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Cruising Altitude

Lessons from companies over 30,000 employees

Conversations with leaders who are designing the best digital employee experiences in the world – from the front lines to the back office. Life is different over 30,000. Welcome to Cruising Altitude.

Hosted by Firstup Founder and CEO, Nicole Alvino.

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