Q&A with Julia Markish, Director of Advisory Services at Lattice

Media 7 | September 22, 2021

Julia Markish, Director of Advisory Services at Lattice, has a professional mission to impact the way work works so that people can live more fulfilled, integrated lives. She helps business leaders create inclusive, supportive, and effective environments that result in organizational success and thriving teams. She has advised executives on organizational culture through her independent practice, Orca, coached and trained leaders on how to achieve clarity for themselves and their teams via Talentism, trained and led discussions about Reinventing Organizations with the Teal Team, which she co-founded, and started and led the Employee Practice at Medallia.

It isn’t stated values, but rather behaviors and norms, that actually comprise a company’s culture.



MEDIA 7: Could you please walk us through your two-decade-long professional journey and what made you choose this career path?
JULIA MARKISH:
Coming out of college, I chose consulting as a profession for the common reason of having little idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I stayed in it for as long as I did, however, not because the work proved to be so perfect for me (it didn’t), but because at Bain, I felt like a valued and cared-for member of a community — I belonged. This was my introduction to — or perhaps induction in — employee engagement: I was engaged because of my sense of connection to the people, not because of a (lack of) connection to the work. That was what made me go snooping around the world of eNPS at Bain; it was what pushed me to take up managing LinkedIn’s Talent Brand, and it redirected me to HuddleUp, the front-line-team engagement platform started by Bain’s NPS guru, Fred Reichheld. After we were acquired by Medallia, I quickly became both the internal and external advocate for Employee Experience, leading the Employee Practice there for several years.

This was also the time when my compass underwent an evolution — when I started thinking more about fulfillment versus fun, purpose versus passion. I began to consider cultures — and the people who make up those cultures — more holistically, in the context of history, society, and the natural world. I did some independent work around organizational culture and alignment. I became an executive Clarity Coach with a forward-thinking coaching company called Talentism. I co-founded the Teal Team, based on Frederic Laloux’s seminal work - Reinventing Organizations. Finally, mid-pandemic, I found my way to Lattice, which was just starting to think about an Advisory Services function. The moment I saw Lattice’s mission, to make work meaningful, I knew it was the right next step.


M7: How does people strategy drive business strategy? Could you please elaborate?
JM:
Global industry has been steadily moving in the direction of people-centricity for the duration of industry’s existence, but it’s only become a common philosophy in the last half-century or so. Now more than at any other time, a company is more likely to be thought of as an ecosystem than as a machine. Knowledge work, specialization, continuous innovation, a focus on customer experience — today’s most valued attributes all rely on employees being valued and encouraged to be individuals. The hallmark of a machine is that while everything is interconnected, it’s also expendable — any one part can be easily replaced.

This kind of approach is what the industrial revolution was built on. In an ecosystem, on the other hand, there is a delicate balance between each participant — its hallmark is more or less the opposite of expendability so each part defines the state of the whole. This is where we find ourselves today. In an ecosystem, in order to care for the whole (execute on business strategy) it is imperative to also care for the organisms that make up the whole: ensure that they are well adjusted to the environment, that they have what they need to flourish, that they can contribute in a meaningful way. Translated into business terms: people strategy drives business strategy.


Knowledge work, specialization, continuous innovation, a focus on customer experience — today’s most valued attributes all rely on employees being valued and encouraged to be individuals.



M7: How does Lattice manage to make the 'Remote Work', work?
JM:
Lattice has a number of principles and tools in place that first helped us adjust to remote work, and have continued to help make it sustainable.

  • In terms of principles, the most important one has been ‘Clear Eyes,’ which is one of our company values. Clear Eyes means transparency and honesty, no matter what. Whether it’s leadership sharing a WIP remote policy to keep the company informed of their thought process despite not having an exact answer or plan, or it’s individual employees who have the courage to call out when they are confused or taking on too much.
     
  • This segues into the second principle, which is to truly be people-first. Our policies focus on how to enable people not just to work well, but to be well. Leaders model behaviors that support that, too — they take time off, they respond to all-hands questions with a lens of self-care.
     
  • And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lattice uses Lattice — it’s been a critical tool for engaging employees in their work and each other, be it through private feedback, pulse surveys, praise, 1:1s, or even performance reviews.


M7:  Employee engagement and performance feedback help to shape company culture. Could you please shed some light on this?
JM:
I often remind our clients that engagement and performance programs are as much communication devices as they are requests for input. How frequently we run engagement or performance cycles, what questions we ask employees to respond to, the attention we give each cycle, and the actions we take as a result — in the case of engagement surveys, action plans at the team or company level; in the case of performance reviews, discussions between the employee and their manager — are all indicators of what’s important ‘around here,’ and what isn’t. For example, a company that asks only managers to provide a series of ratings for each of their team members’ accomplishments is sending a very different message from the company that requests qualitative input on the strengths and potential of employees from across multiple sources. These messages shape the company’s culture: they demonstrate to employees what behaviors are encouraged and which ones will go unnoticed. In the case of these two hypothetical companies, for example, I would expect collaboration to be much more prevalent in the latter company than in the former.


The most essential way to stay competitive is to continuously analyze for product-market fit.



M7: What do you think is essential to stay competitive in a market that is going through constant digitalization?
JM:
At the risk of coming off as simplistic, I think the most essential way to stay competitive is to continuously analyze for product-market fit. In addition, it’s critical to be aware of whether the digitization of a given market is accompanied by an updated philosophy, or if it’s simply a simplification of an analog process. Digital technology reaches different functions and different sectors at different paces, and it’s just as dangerous to try to ‘revolutionize’ a given sector earlier than it’s ready as it is to arrive as a late entrant to an already highly competitive market. When I look at the Performance Management industry, there are some companies that are running annual paper-based reviews, others that are relying on their HRIS to provide the digital equivalent of a paper-based review, and then there are those that have embraced a completely different approach to performance management — one that has only been made possible by new technology (continuous feedback, goal alignment and integration, and so on).


M7: What advice would you like to give our readers?
JM:
One of the biggest exploding-head moments of my career was realizing that it isn’t stated values, but rather behaviors and norms, that actually comprise a company’s culture. And that those behaviors and norms are not just a result of the combination of employees’ personalities; they are eminently open to influence. Just as described above, what the leadership of a company communicates to be important, worthy, rewarded is what rises to the top of the behavioral pyramid. And of course, I don’t just mean ‘say’ when I write ‘communicate’ — talking about the importance of something is step one, but then there’s ‘walking the talk.’ What gets spotlighted at allhands? Who gets praise during a team meeting? Who got the most recent promotion? What gets asked about in the engagement survey and what gets acted on? These are all signals that shape a company’s culture. And it’s only when the company’s stated values are aligned with those signals that the values are worth the paper (or walls) they’re written on.

ABOUT LATTICE

Lattice is the people management platform that enables leaders to develop engaged, high-performing teams. By combining performance management, employee engagement, and career development in one platform, Lattice provides powerful, real-time insights through analytics. Lattice's Advisory team brings together client data, industry knowledge, and market research to distill successful practices across People Programs.

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About TELUS Corporation TELUS is a dynamic, world-leading communications technology company with $17 billion in annual revenue and 17 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security. Our social purpose is to leverage our global-leading technology and compassion to drive social change and enable remarkable human outcomes. Our longstanding commitment to putting our customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. The numerous, sustained accolades TELUS has earned over the years from independent, industry-leading network insight firms showcase the strength and speed of TELUS’ global-leading networks, reinforcing our commitment to provide Canadians with access to superior technology that connects us to the people, resources and information that make our lives better. TELUS Health is Canada’s leader in digital health technology, improving access to health and wellness services and revolutionizing the flow of health information across the continuum of care. TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods is a global technology provider of innovative data insights and digital solutions, creating a unified, trusted and sustainable value chain. TELUS International is a leading digital customer experience innovator that designs, builds, and delivers next-generation solutions, including AI and content moderation, for global and disruptive brands across high-growth industry verticals, including tech and games, communications and media and ecommerce and FinTech. TELUS and TELUS International operate in 28 countries around the world. Driven by our determination and vision to connect all citizens for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired TELUS, our team members and retirees to contribute more than $900 million, in cash, in-kind contributions, time and programs, and 1.8 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world. Together, let’s make the future friendly. About LifeWorks LifeWorks is a world leader in providing digital and in-person solutions that support the total wellbeing of individuals – mental, physical, financial and social. As the trusted leader in mental health and wellbeing, LifeWorks delivers a personalized continuum of care that helps our clients improve the lives of their people and by doing so, improve their business. Guided by our purpose to improve lives and improve business, we help our clients improve the wellbeing of their people, we help them improve workforce engagement and productivity, thereby improving the performance of our clients’ organizations. LifeWorks is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. LifeWorks has approximately 7,000 employees, 25,000 clients, and serves 36 million individuals and their families in more than 160 countries.

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HR STRATEGY

Tandym Group Announces Acquisition of Longford & Company

Tandym and Longford & Company | August 04, 2022

Tandym Group, a leading national recruitment, contract staffing, consulting, and workforce solutions company, has acquired Longford & Company, a Boston-based technology consulting and executive search company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Tandym is backed by Mill Rock Capital, a growth and operations-oriented private investment firm that invests in well-positioned industrial businesses in North America. Longford provides technology consulting and executive search services, primarily to clients in the Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical, and other industries. The acquisition further enhances the scale and scope of Tandym Tech, Tandym's technology vertical, and comes shortly after Tandym's acquisition of Metro Systems. As a result of this partnership with Tandym, Longford's clients will be able to access a broader range of services and expanded capabilities. It also strengthens Tandym's position as a trusted technology partner to its clients. "Longford has a sterling reputation in Life Sciences, In addition to having an outstanding industry track record, Longford shares our commitment to delivering exceptional client service through a high-touch, highly personalized approach." -Larry Dolinko, CEO of Tandym We're incredibility excited to join forces with Tandym, Tandym is aligned with our commitment to service excellence, honesty, and creating value for our clients or candidates. With Tandym's infrastructure and broad service offerings, we'll be able to provide tailored solutions for our partners on a greater scale and at a national level,added Sean McCourt, Founder and Managing Director of Longford. Charles Heskett, Executive Chairman of Tandym and Senior Partner at Mill Rock Capital, added, Longford's deep-rooted relationships in the Life Sciences industry in Boston and New England will foster commercial collaboration with Tandym's Life Sciences vertical. We are very excited about the expanded scope of services the combined platform can offer to the Life Sciences industry at large. About Tandym Group Tandym Group (formerly The Execu|Search Group) is a leading national recruitment, contract staffing, consulting, and workforce solutions company with offices throughout the U.S. The company serves clients across a broad range of verticals, including Healthcare, Technology, Life Sciences, and Professional Services (which includes Accounting, Financial Services, HR/People & Operations, and Legal). For more information, please visit: tandymgroup.com About Longford & Company Longford & Company is a strategic consulting and executive search firm committed to helping their clients solve technology and business problems. Longford focuses on providing highly specialized consultants on a wide range of technology and business-related projects and performing executive level search services for various industries. About Mill Rock Capital Great Mill Rock LLC dba Mill Rock Capital is a growth and operations oriented private investment firm that invests in well-positioned middle market industrial businesses in North America. Founded by Christopher Whalen and Adi Pekmezovic, Mill Rock Capital is purpose-built to invest in family-owned businesses, owner-operators and founder-led companies across six industry verticals. Focus sectors include chemicals, materials and packaging; industrial distribution; services; metals and engineered materials; transportation and logistics; and specialty manufacturing and industrial technology. This strategy leverages the deep expertise of the firm's principals, a majority of whom have direct operating experience in these same industries. Mill Rock Capital supports business transformation through a dual-sourcing strategy encompassing majority equity and Activ Capital® – debt, senior equity or hybrid investments which provide business owners value-added financial partnership without relinquishing a controlling stake.

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Lattice

Lattice is the people management platform that enables leaders to develop engaged, high-performing teams. By combining performance management, employee engagement, and career development in one platform, Lattice provides powerful, real-time insights through analytics. Lattice's Advisory team brings ...

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