In our Hot Topic this week, we have Stephen Chapman on the program to give us his take on organizational health and how it will help your business. Steven is an internal consultant at Allstate and is passionate about organizational health and what organizational health is and doing whatever they can do to help have as much of that in an organization as possible!
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Organizational Health-The Last Competitive Advantage With Stephen Chapman
It is January 31st, 2022. Can you believe it? We already have January in the rearview mirror. How fast this time is going this year. Again, this show is created by mortgage professionals. It is for mortgage professionals. We’re so grateful to have you as our reader. Our commitment is to bring you timely information that you can read anytime and anywhere. I’m excited about the Hot Topic. We’ve got Stephen Chapman joining us. He’s the Lead Organizational Consultant Internal to Allstate Insurance.
You go, “Lykken, are you spending the show to include insurance companies?” No, we’re staying focused on the mortgage industry. Again, as we said in the opening, this is for mortgage professionals, but we learn wonderful and valuable lessons to other corporations and other industries are doing. Allstate got something going when they brought in Stephen Champman to be the lead organizational consultant.
Organizational health is one of my passions I have. We’re going to be talking about that in the Hot Topic segment, and what you’re reading on the show can help you organize something with your business. You may not be big enough to have your internal consultant like Stephen Chapman inside of Allstate, but you can do something to make a difference.
I’m excited to get into that Hot Topic after we get through the first part of the show. I want to say thank you to the Industry Syndicate. I’m proud to be a part of them. It’s IndustrySyndicate.com. Check out all the shows there. Also, a special thank you goes out to our sponsors, and we got a new sponsor. One of our new sponsors is PennyMac and we’re thrilled to have them here.
I’m excited to be working with them and have them as a sponsor. They saw us as a way to get the word out to many originators, and we’re going to help them do that. If you’re not doing business with PennyMac, get out there and check them out. You should be. They’re a leader in the industry. Also, The Mortgage Bankers Association of America. I’m thrilled to have a partnership with them. Check out Michael Fratantoni‘s interview that we did in October about the economy. We got to get back on because so much is happening and we’re at the high end of the range.
Also, last Monday, I was at the Finastra Forum. It’s their annual event that they have, which is a User Conference that was going to be here in Austin. For everything up and down in North America and South America, they were all going to be here in Austin, but because of COVID, they had to, once again, move it to virtual. We had a chance to be there and we recorded on Monday and presented it on Tuesday, but we’re real thrilled to have our partnership with them. I got to meet Chris Zingo, who is the President of America’s division.
Everything that’s not Europe, because they’re big in Europe and all over Asia. They’re the biggest FinTech company in the world. Where could you expect that? There are two co-ops that we’re part of, Lenders One and Mortgage Collaborative. I’m thrilled to be partners with them and them with us. Check out both of these collaboratives. I just interviewed Rich Swerbinsky. Rich is going to be coming on and sharing that interview.
I’m very excited about what’s going on at TMC or The Mortgage Collaborative. We have the Winter Conference for both of these coming up. Mortgage Collaborative is doing theirs in Florida and at the Fontainebleau. They can’t think of a better place to go do that. Also, Lenders One is doing theirs and theirs is going to be in warm Arizona. Also, Insellerate.
Josh Friend does a great job at helping you connect with your borrowers and engage with them and their prospects in a meaningful way. Also, Knowledge Coop, Ken Perry, with their learning management system. Mobility MMI, the Mortgage Market Intelligence platform, along with Modex, both of these companies do a great job in helping you recruit and target your recruiting.
I want to talk more about recruiting as it is so critical in how companies do that. We’re going to be doing more on that in the future, but check out both of these companies. More of our clients are signing up on both of them because they see a great compliment. That’s what I always say on this show.
Both are necessary to get the full picture and database of what’s going on out there. Also, Snapdocs digitizes your mortgage closing. It offers a better experience for your closing teams. Check them out at Snapdocs.com. Also, SuccessKit. I’m thrilled to have our partnership with them. I love what they do in helping you tell your customer testimonies and sharing effectively.
Check out SuccessKit.io. Also, Lender Toolkit. I’m thrilled to be working with them. Again, our newest sponsor, PennyMac. We interviewed Kimberly Nichols on November 1st, 2021. Check that out. As well as a special thank you to Rob, Les, Alice, Allen, Matt, and Jack Nunnery. Jack, it’s good to have you on the microphone here with me. I appreciate you.
Thank you, David.
Welcome to the Hot Topic segment. It’s good to have you with us again. We have Stephen Chapman. He has done the program to give us a take on organizational health and how it will help your business as well as someone who has started and done a lot with organizational health. Stephen is an Internal Consultant for the huge company Allstate. If you know anything about me, I’m passionate about organizational health and what organizational health can help and whatever we can do to help have as much of that in an organization as possible. I could go on and on but let’s get into the interview with Stephen Chapman. Stephen, it’s good to have you here. I appreciate you taking time out of all that you do there at Allstate to be here with us.
Thanks for having me, Dave. I’m glad to be here.
Imagine you’re not well-known in the mortgage industry. Let’s touch base real quickly who you are, what’s yours about, and how you got into organizational health. What fascinated you about it? I love your story. Share it with us.
My organizational health journey started at the beginning of my career as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Early on, I did my education in biblical studies. I was a youth pastor for two and a half years whenever I was in college. I went to seminary thinking I was going to end up overseas. As I went through that journey, I realized I didn’t want to be sitting in a church for 40 hours a week and telling people how to live their lives.
Instead, I wanted to be able to be in the trenches with people and have those shared experiences and not be able to speak and try to tell people something that I wasn’t living myself. That started and kicked the journey for me. That was the beginning of the transition from ministry into the business world.
I remember vividly having a conversation with my wife. I was like, “How cool would it be if I could be a consultant to help change people’s culture?” Having no idea what organizational health was and what that would even look like day-to-day, but thinking that’d be a cool job. I spent a little time working at a nonprofit.
I’ve helped plant churches, and from there, I got into being an insurance agent. I did that for about a year and a half. I was doing some pro bono consulting on organizational health with a local nonprofit. I happened to be fortunate that there was a VP from Walmart, Lisa Riley, who was impressed with the work I was doing with the nonprofit. I reached out and said, “This insurance thing is not working out for me.’
I had four kids at that time and we were doing foster care. I was juggling a lot, and I was like, “I don’t think I could handle the ups and downs.” She set me up and I started working at Walmart. I did work with them for about four and a half years doing a job and organizational design stuff in the organizational health sphere, but more on the smart side.
I’ll talk later about smart and healthy. We were taking the smart approach to organizational health. I had the opportunity, after working with Walmart for four and a half years, to start looking elsewhere. I wanted to get closer to some family down here in the Dallas area and I was fortunate to find this position in Allstate. I’ve been loving it for a good two years now.
I should give a shout-out to Patrick Lencioni, who is responsible for connecting us. Patrick developed a group called CAPA Pro, but it’s one of the things Lencioni’s wanted to do to help organizational health. About Patrick Lencioni and the book, The Advantage, and so many other books like Getting Naked.
It is so much he’s written out. I’m such a big fan of his. When he started this CAPA Pro group, I bought into it, as did Stephen. That’s where we met and connected. I loved the concept that a company like Allstate would have an internal team. They’re not just one person there. There’s a team of you there, and you’re focused on various aspects of it. Has that been around for a long time at Allstate?
Our team has existed for about 15 to 16 years. There are about eleven of us now, and this is the largest it’s been.
We’re going to get into that, but let’s start with this. How would you define organization health? Help us put a construct around that if you would, Stephen.
I often like to speak about my own personal journey and our individual physical health. Organizational health isn’t a lot like our physical health in that it’s a discipline. If you’re looking for the next shiny object, this is not the thing. Much like with our physical health, we know what it takes to be healthy.Organizational health is a lot like our physical health. It is a discipline. Click To Tweet
Get plenty of sleep, eat right, and exercise. It’s not rocket science. It’s actually pretty simple, but it’s incredibly hard and difficult to do. That’s why the diet and fitness industry has all the fad workouts and diets that you can pursue and go after. It’s much in the same way. In our corporate lives, we have the next project management fad, the next technology that’s going to help us, and so on and so forth.
Organizational health boils down to four disciplines. One is creating a cohesive team, and that’s not at the top executive, although that’s probably one of the most important layers. For a large organization like Allstate, it’s about creating that healthy, cohesive team throughout the organization.
The second discipline is about creating clarity around six important questions. We can dive into those deeper later. Ultimately, it’s about getting everybody on the same page and marching in the same direction. Discipline number three is about communicating that clarity to the whole organization over and over again.
I can’t emphasize that enough. There are a lot of ways to do it. It’s through town halls or communication emails, but more importantly, it’s about how you show up with your actions and what you do day-to-day. Discipline number four is about putting enough structure in place to reinforce the clarity that you’ve created with discipline number two. The cycle repeats itself.
There is no stopping point in the journey. There’s not a part where you’re done and you’ve arrived. It’s about continually, progressively getting better. In some teams I’ve worked with, when we talk about cohesive teams, they’re like, “Pat has provided a model called Five Dysfunctions.” They may be green across the board in all five areas and knocking it out of the park, and they’re still looking for like, “We’re 4.9. How do we get to that five?” That’s exactly what the journey is about. It is how do you progressively continue to improve your organizational health?
Alice, let’s get over to you for the question.
This is wonderful. I love listening to him. There’s something like this I would want to measure. How can it help my business? You just gave us the four main areas, but can you get into more detail on how it can help us? Also, I’d love to know how you measure it.
One of the hard things in embracing organizational health is much like our own personal health, Alice. There are ways we can measure it. We can step on the scale and make sure we’re tracking it and getting enough hours of sleep. There are assessments and things that we can do. At the end of the day, by way of analogy, I would compare it to how you measure the relationship with your spouse or significant other. It’s hard to be like, “This is it. My wife and I were a 10 out of 10. We’re knocking it out of the park.”
When you have a bad relationship, you have a bad relationship. Things aren’t going well. The way that I’ve learned to gauge it, not just with clients but in the teams that I help lead, is that there’s a gut feel that something is not right here and we’re not moving fast enough and not delivering the results that we have.
The best way to measure it is, are the people on the boat all move in the same direction and are they engaged with where they’re going? Are you ultimately, as a business, achieving the results that you want to achieve? Plenty of businesses achieve the results with their people struggling as they go, and that’s the simplest, easy measure of it. Hopefully, that answers your question, Alice. It’s not a great way to measure it, but at the end of the day, your results as a company will show.
Jack, I know you had a big passion for organizational health. You have been involved in championing the organizations that you’ve led. Any questions you have or thoughts?
The first question that comes to mind is the obvious one. Stephen, why don’t more leaders and organizations focus on organizational health?
I’m going to give the Pat answer, and then I’ll add my flare to the end. Pat ties it to three biases. Number one is the Quantification Bias. It’s hard to track a metric, so how do you know you’re moving forward? That’s one reason people tend to walk away from it. Another reason is Sophistication Bias, which sounds too simple, but the reality is hard. We try in difficult and hard situations, and it’s our natural tendency.
As humans to make things very complicated and complex, and as a result, we tend to abandon it. The third reason, ultimately, comes down to, as leaders, it’s what do we get out of it. How do we benefit? As we weigh the investment we have to make in it, there’s not always as great of a reward for us as leaders or individuals on the backside of it.
All those things are much like our own personal health. I could cut out all the foods I may drink, caffeine, or sweets, but that chocolate cake is delicious. Do I want to eat spinach for the rest of my life, or do I want to have a chocolate cake now and then? It’s much the same way. I’ll use gossip as an example.
It’s freeing at times to be able to let off your frustration with a coworker, and that feels real nice. At the end of the day, that is part of the problem of why organizations aren’t healthy. There’s a yin and yang. Do we get as much reward out of it individually as we feel like we’re going to get organizationally? Does an organization benefit? There’s an element of self-sacrifice that is required to make it happen.
Allen, any question that you have for our guest Stephen?
Yes. How does someone get started with organizational health? If I could intercept that and want to take the blame, technology has hurt organizational health as much as it’s helped our business. I look at what has happened with the pandemic. I was wondering if I could throw that caveat out there. Maybe you could talk about how we have this disease of technology that has removed the human element of what creates organizational health, in my opinion.
The secret sauce is in our conversations, working through, and communicating with one another, and technology, in a lot of ways, can hinder it. One of the things, Allen, that I’m personally passionate about is organizational health, especially for a larger organization and the customer reserve. I mostly work with executive and senior leaders. Technology might hold a key for us to help unlock it for all levels of the organization. How do we take and turn some of the great technology that’s out there? There are plenty of apps for developing and building habits. There are plenty of apps that teach and help people learn languages and how to improve their productivity.
Something we’re working on at Allstate is how we make it simple for leaders at all levels, in 10 minutes or less, to be able to pick something up and start to begin developing small habits. The best way is to start from the beginning and develop a cohesive team. Start with discipline number one, but at the same time, it’s not realistic and practical for all leaders at all levels. Maybe the best thing that they can do is take a little practice every day to say, “What’s the most important thing that our team needs to be focused on, and how do I eliminate the distraction? How do I not get caught in the fire drill from day to day?”
It can start in small ways like that. Not doing that as a leader, but helping your team and empowering your team to do the stay. It’s to take control of their days and be able to prioritize what’s important so that they don’t waste time and energy on building PowerPoint decks or all the other hundreds of useless activities that we might do within our corporate environments.
Give some examples of companies or leaders that have embraced organizational health. Allstate has got full of staff to work on this. That’s a good example.
One of the things that Allstate is doing well is talking about purpose. Tom Wilson, our CEO, is not just being clear about our company’s purpose but also about empowering employees to determine their own purpose and getting them into jobs that align with their individual purpose, but other companies are doing fantastic jobs like Southwest. If you follow Pat Lencioni and The Table Group or any at all, you’ll hear him mention Southwest in a heartbeat. Another big one is Ford. It’s one of the most phenomenal stories. If you haven’t picked up Alan Mullaly’s story of his time with Ford during the financial recession, it’s amazing.
One of the key ways that it shows up is he talks about his strategy. He sets his strategy probably within the first 2 or 3 months of being at the company. He holds that throughout his tenure. He’s constantly frequently asked by reporters and market investors, “What’s next strategy?” He’s like, “This is the strategy.” He sticks to his guns and shows discipline. It helps bring the company back. It’s 1 of the only big 3 that does not need a financial bailout during the Great Recession. I go to nonprofits and smaller companies that I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with that are impressive.
Even within bigger companies, Pat talks about how the best leaders are probably some middle managers within a medium-sized company that you’ve never even heard of because they have this self-sacrifice to do what’s right by their employees and by the organization. Sometimes to their own detriment.
Alice, I want to give a shout-out to Union Home. They do a great job of focusing on this. I want to say Union Home is a good example of how organizational health is respected. Do you want to give an example, Alice, that you could share this with our audience?
One of the things that we do, for example, is we participate in the top workplace surveys. There are a lot of other things that you can do, but this is the one that comes to mind because that’s coming out now. Having an independent third party come out, survey your partners to get feedback and understand where everyone is is huge, especially in this type of anonymous response process.
We talk about it’s great to win awards, and we’ve won a top national. We were number one for our number of employee categories, but for us, it’s about how to get better. The main reason we participate is how to get better. That’s one example I can give. Leadership development is another one. A commitment to training folks so they can have an outlet and a place to continue to learn and grow.
Ongoing education is a big part of it. Stephen, do you do that as a part of this?
We have a learning and development department here at Allstate. We have a large team that helps do a lot of leadership development. We also have an executive development team that comes alongside leaders. Our role, in particular, is not about education so much as it is about coming alongside leaders and helping them develop habits and discipline through facilitated sessions, executive coaching, and ongoing learning and development. We use assessment metrics and a lot of the different things that Alice mentions. The big environment is predominantly to come along and help. You educate a little bit but spend a lot of time helping them apply it.
You do some independent consulting separate from Allstate and with the blessings of Allstate. Let’s talk about some of the issues that have come up that are being presented by some of our readers. We got one particular reader, and Rose says, “We have an individual who’s made a significant contribution to our company for a number of years. They’re valued. We couldn’t be where we’re at without them being there.” This is a statement that could be said about many employees across many industries and companies, but the problem is the company outgrew them and their interpersonal skills are rough. They got there in spite of their interpersonal skills and their organizational health.
It’s because this person, because of things of their background, gets triggered, so how do they respond? I don’t think there’s one size fits. How should a company determine in a situation like this? Should we keep them around forever? Should we have them stay here and be a part of our organization even though they’re creating some dysfunction that’s negative? Do we help them to find another better opportunity, or do we work with them in the journey by staying with us? Talk about that.
It’s an important part because one person on a team can ruin it for everybody. I was talking with somebody that had an individual and they were struggling with this topic. In particular, they kept him around longer than they thought they should have, and seven people ended up leaving as a result. It is not uncommon. My first question to leaders on this topic is always, have you told the person? Are they aware that they have interpersonal issue problems?One person on a team can ruin it for everybody. Click To Tweet
Often, people think that they’ve addressed it or talked about it, but they haven’t had an honest conversation with them where they’ve sat down and said, “You’re a phenomenal employee. You’ve done a great job, but the way you interact with other people is not okay. I want to help you get better at that.” If that is a genuine yes, then without a doubt, it’s time for that person to go regardless of how the result of one individual. You can’t let that one person stick around.
I agree, even in a situation where they have made a valuable contribution to the growth of where you’re at. You can say, “We wouldn’t be here without them,” but you can’t get to where you want to go with them either. That’s that conundrum everyone feels as an executive working with individuals, and that’s where you need to reach out and get some great advice. I got another question that came in, “We have a top performer who’s run into some significant personal issues. We think it’s health-oriented and it’s almost altered their personality.” What do you do in a situation like that?
They’re dealing with some personal challenges that they haven’t necessarily shared or brought into the workplace.
Someone who is normally very patient and kind and works with someone is putting their hands off of people. The person wrote back and said, “Exactly.” Again, it’s the same principle. It comes down to what extent you work with someone because of things going on in their personal lives. I love to have your thoughts on that. There’s no easy answer to that one.
There’s a very delicate balance to this one because I will say that my team at Allstate is phenomenal about it. They have done a tremendous job. I feel the safety that whatever’s going on in my personal life, I can share openly with any of my direct colleagues and team. That’s critical. Does this person feel safe talking about that? You don’t have to be the one to help them or solve the problem for them.
Help them get the help they need, get connected with a counselor or whatever resource they need, and know they’re accepted for where they’re at. That being said, at the end of the day, we are running businesses and organizations, whether you’re for-profit or nonprofit if that person’s personal journey is keeping them from being able to help deliver results or is holding the organization back. This is coming from a youth pastor, so know that I care a lot about people, and we can’t let the organization become about that person. In interpersonal relationships, we talk about codependency, and you see it all the time.
There’s one person with detrimental behavior and the other person is the savior that’s trying to constantly pull people up. It’s very easy when organizations create safety to also become a crutch for those people. There’s a very delicate balance of, “We want to help and support you. We’re alongside you on the journey, but at the same time, maybe you need a job that is going to allow you to work through your own personal journey while also still being able to help your organization.”We need jobs that allow us to work through our own personal journey while also being able to help the organization we belong to. Click To Tweet
Alice, we got to wrap this up, but I want to get your thoughts as you’re listening to this. I know you, like Stephen, and your whole organization is famous for this. He has got real compassion to help people through this, but he has dysfunctional behavior for whatever reason. For a period of time, you cannot deteriorate the health of the overall organization. Thoughts on this, Alice?
I agree. It only take one person to have that ripple effect as you’ve described, and it is ongoing coaching, but you have to know when it is time to let someone know that they have to move on. Now, if they do have something going on personal, there are exceptions in trying to help that person work through it if it appears to be temporary, but that’s a wide spectrum of things that you may not be able to know.
Is this something we can overcome together, or if it’s affecting work, having to come up with a different plan? Those are exceptions. The more of the rule is keeping in touch with people, and Stephen, to your point, you got to have someone like you in the role. I’m interested in this role. It’s incredibly valuable and very impressive that Allstate has this in place.
Stephen, we could go on and on. It’s a passionate topic for me. One, I’m committed to doing everything I can to help leaders in this particular area, but you’re focused on it deeply. You do some independent consulting and you’re a resource. How can people get ahold of you where you can help them?
I put the offer and invitation out there to anybody. I’m not worried about paying for it like you. This is a passion of mine, and I have a day job that keeps me paid. A lot of the times, when I’m helping leaders or individuals, it’s like, “Let’s get a conversation.” Sometimes that conversation is a one-and-done. Other times, it may turn into something that’s more long-term. I say start with the conversation. I know my LinkedIn profile is out there and available. If you’re not on LinkedIn, then feel free to send me an email. My personal email address is [email protected].
Stephen, you’re a busy guy at Allstate. I’m so grateful that you take time out to share with our audience these principles and what you’re doing there. I celebrate AllState for what they’ve done and are doing to have an eleven-man team working inside that organization to help bring organizational health there and what you’re doing outside the organization to help other smaller companies that don’t have those resources that need to rely on a third party.
I’m glad to do it, and thanks for having me.
It’s an honor to have you. I do appreciate it. I’m so grateful for our relationship and I want to get you more involved in all that we’re doing. That wraps up the Hot Topic segment. We’re going to have next time Rich Swerbinsky of TMC coming on. We recorded an interview with Rich. I like Rich and I like what they’re doing at TMC. You’re going to want to tune in to some of the exciting things, but not only that. It’s the teams of where the industry is at from one of the collaboratives and specifically the Mortgage Collaborative.
Special thank you to our sponsors for Finastra, Lenders One, Insellerate, Mobility MMI, Modex, the MBA, Knowledge Coop, Mortgage Collaborative, Snapdocs, SuccessKit. Lenders Toolkit, and our newest sponsor PennyMac. Be sure to go get out to PennyMac’s website. They’re doing a great job of getting into the third-party broker business. Be sure to check out the last interview that we just did with them. Thank you so much. Have a great week. I look forward to having you back here next episode.
- Stephen Chapman – LinkedIn
- Allstate Insurance
- The Mortgage Bankers Association of America
- Michael Fratantoni – Past Episode
- Lenders One
- Mortgage Collaborative
- Rich Swerbinsky – LinkedIn
- Knowledge Coop
- Mobility MMI
- Lender Toolkit
- Kimberly Nichols – Past Episode
- CAPA Pro
- The Advantage
- Getting Naked
- Five Dysfunctions
- The Table Group
- Union Home Mortgage
- [email protected]