Proven Principles Today's Leaders Use to Attract and Retain the Best Talent: Part 3

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the know about new podcast episodes and more!

In this season's final episode, we sit down one more time with Leighton Healey, CEO of KnowHow, to discuss our newest book, "Winning With Workers: The 8 Proven Principles Today's Leaders Use To Attract and Retain the Best Talent”. Join us as we unpack how to do just that with two more principles: using tight systems and rituals to bring order to a chaotic industry and committing to good communication to keep people around long-term.

Get your copy of Winning With Workers, here.

Episode Transcription

Leighton Healey
But at the end of the day, it's a skill that you learn. I mean, none of us just pop out of our childhood with fantastic communication skills and what communication training looks and feels like for your team. It's going to look and feel like they're acting like they're being insincere because they're actually learning how to do something that they do every day, talk and blab in a way that's foreign and new to them.

Paul Silliman
Hi there. I'm Paul Sillman, and you're listening to the Restoration Playbook Podcast by Know How. Today we've got Leighton Healey back for the last episode in our series on how today's leaders are winning with workers. We'll discuss how to avoid stagnation and better communicate. Let's dive in.

Leighton, if you could do me a quick favor. If we have any new listeners that are just now jumping onto the podcast, could you give just a short overview of what our new book is?

Leighton Healey
Absolutely. So one of the things that everybody knows. So I'll tell you about the book, something that you may not know about as a listener. So let me start by telling you something that you do know. What you do know is that trade services, field based workforces, labor service companies, blue collar industries, pick your title. They're in a labor crisis right now. They're struggling to be able to find quality staff, retain quality staff, and ultimately to be able know, promote people to take on management roles. And what you're seeing across North America is owners, senior managers just having to go over and above and do the type of work that they would love to be able to delegate down to a capable set of hands. But where are those capable set of hands? So that's what people know.

What they may not know is that we wrote a book that's a playbook on how to succeed in that dynamic. And the book is called Winning With Workers. It's based on eight principles, proven principles that we have studied and have. There you go. That have come out of the research that we've done. No one has done more research on the property restoration industry than we have. We understand what keeps the workforce, what keeps it moving, what are its obstacles. And so Winning With Workers is essentially a book where we have identified eight principles that are necessary to be able to attract, retain and win. When I say win, I mean achieve productive, profitable, and value creating experiences for this workforce and through this workforce. It's a book that we've made available for free online, Pretty easy to remember. You can get a copy.

And for those who are like me and you like to kind of write in the edges, you can go to and look for Winning With Workers, and you can get a copy there. But check out the e-copy first, because it's really good, and you got other things to spend your money on now.

Paul Silliman
Leighton. You know, I went to public school. So our next principle we're diving into, you're going to have to explain exactly what we're talking about. So we're talking about resisting operational entropy. What is that? First off, am I saying it right, and then, what do people need to know about it?

Leighton Healey
Yeah. Resisting operational entropy is by design. Let's call it a bit of an eyebrow-raising principle title, but let's just talk about what entropy is, essentially.

So, entropy, back in the day, a French philosopher, everyone was kind of a philosopher. If you were, like, a man of science, you're a philosopher, right? But funny enough, even if you graduate university and you're, like, a software engineer, you graduate with a doctorate in philosophy, it's kind of random. But anyways, so he's a French philosopher. Think about kind of like, early 17th century, and he came up with this theory that we now call entropy. And really, all he was doing is he was Observing that systems, without the constant application of some force or Tension, will devolve into chaos, right? And really, we see that around us.

So oftentimes, people may have heard of entropy in, like, a physics class or a chemistry class. But really, what we're talking about, Paul, is the fact that all things, in a sense, kind of move to a state of disarray and chaos, unless you bring management and leadership to the table. One of the things that I would say can be the most challenging and taxing element of being a great business owner and being a great manager or supervisor is the fact that things move towards disorder unless they are consistently well stewarded. And that's why, think about our muscles, think about sports themes. And there's a reason why we practice. There's a reason why we exercise.

There's a reason why we try to bring care and attention to our homes, is because it just seems like left to their own devices, things just become chaotic and stressful and disorderly. And so companies, especially companies in, I would say, very unpredictable industries, like property restoration, they have to commit to a principle. If they want to appeal to the modern workforce, they have to commit to a principle of saying, we say, resist operational entropy. But really, what we're saying in that is you have to commit to a level of rigor, intentionality, and operational excellence that manifests itself in sweating the details and maintaining rhythms and rituals. And think of it as structure that allows your organization, your company to grow in a way that is not just organic and random, but it's planned and it's intentional.

A person has to look no further than my backyard right now, Paul. I'm kind of a hobby gardener, and my year has been particularly fulsome this year. And normally I'm a pretty active pruner of tomatoes and pruner of things like squash and eggplant, but I haven't got back there. And it's just like totally out of control, right? It's just totally out of control. And the fact of the matter is, like all things in life is that for things to be fruitful and productive and to maximize productivity, they require care and attention. And if left to their own devices, you have a boss who just doesn't really give himself to the finance side of the business or the HR side of the business, or creating operational tension in times where it's not chaotic.

Or you have a company that, they're kind of fair weather companies, meaning when things are crazy, everything gets more intense. And when things aren't crazy, they kind of just kind of let the workers in peacetime just kind of loosen their belts and sit around. That's what we're talking about here. It's about understanding that great organizations work very hard every day to keep the chaos at bay.

Paul Silliman
No, that makes perfect sense. I'm glad you were able to explain that to me. And so I'm curious, because restoration is chaos, but it is something like you mentioned, you're always flexing muscles. It's about the process of getting there. It's always growing and changing. So I'm curious your opinion. So how do you think that impacts the hiring process of new workers?

Leighton Healey
Well, workers need only to step inside your building or your facility or your office to recognize what you value, right? And they can tell very clearly, is this an organization where I'm going to be stressed? Is this an organization where, honestly, I can get away with a lot? Because look at this place. This place is a mess, right? Or is this a place where I'm going to have to really tuck in my shirt? Because it's a pretty straight laced place, right? And I thought these people responded tornadoes and hurricanes. I thought I'd be like, rolling into some kind of just wild man. But actually, this is a pretty finely tuned operation examples come to mind as I think a common visual would be like, I don't know, the military or working on an aircraft carrier or something like that.

There's just so many moving parts on an aircraft carrier. Not that I have any experience working on an aircraft carrier, but I've watched some movies. Right. And I can appreciate the fact that there's so much opportunity for chaos, and yet there is a culture of precision and excellence and ownership. And all of that goes into creating, I think, frankly, just a visual tour for A new worker where some people who just do not value that level of professionalism are going to say, I'm not going to get away with anything here, I'm not applying or I'm out after this interview. Whereas other people who have been maybe trying to think about getting into the trades.

One of the things we looked at in one of our last studies, Paul, is that nearly 60%, nearly 60% of new entrants into the property restoration industry came from industries that had nothing to do with general construction. So, meaning property restoration was their first foray into a job site based use, a tool based industry. So, meaning that they've been working industries where they probably wanted to get outside, they probably wanted to get on a job site, and they probably had kind of an idea in mind of what that looked like. And so when they show up and they see like, this is an organization that is well run, it's going to appeal to them and it's going to say, this is a place where people take their work and they take themselves seriously. And I would really love to be part of this.

And so, to answer your question, I think that it appeals to the right candidates and it repeals the wrong, or repels would be the right term, I suppose.

Paul Silliman
No, I think that's extremely important, because, like you mentioned, restoration is a somewhat form of chaos day to day. It's not something that we're not going to the store and buying a loaf of bread. The ceilings have collapsed, the roof caved in, there's a lot of moving parts. But also, how do you find that calm in the chaos? So, one thing I see, though, is we know it's chaotic, but does that mean a chaotic workplace is unavoidable?

Leighton Healey
Well, I think that it's really what you do with chaos that matters. And no question, when you just reverse engineer why something went off the rails or you think about just the unpredictability of Mother Nature and a storm event or whatnot, what brings to mind is, and I think it was Napoleon Bonaparte that was attributed with it, but I'm sure someone else said it. BUt there's an old adage that says, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Right? And what he's saying in that is you can do all the planning you want, but when you hit warfare, the plan goes out the window, and you just didn't want to survive.

But what I think was Napoleon who said is, he know, really, it's not the plan, it's the planning that matters, and it's the rigor and the thought and everything that goes into the discipline of organizational thought and organizational rhythms. And it's those organizational thought and rhythms that become kind of like the sinew and the connective tissue of the parts of your business that allow you to kind of go into and come out of those storms. And do, you know, no different than a person who finds himself in a situation where they have to run and sprint to the bus or catch up with something. Your level of operational tension is much like your stamina, Paul. Is chaos avoidable? Sometimes, no.

But if you are a company that has established operational tension and you resist entropy when you can, I would say that you have operational stamina, meaning that even when things are chaotic, you can bounce back, catch your breath quick, and get back to order much faster than other companies.

Paul Silliman
What are some know management owners can take to build those tight systems and rituals and really give their workers order in the.

Leighton Healey
Know, Paul, I would say, number one, distinguish on your team between builders and maintainers. Some people are better systems builders than they are systems followers, right? A lot of times, the gunslingers that got the business going are just not very process-oriented, but they can tell you how it's supposed to get done. And so by distinguishing who are the builders and who are the maintainers in your company, it really helps, I think, clarify things. So rather than getting to try to kind of corral the founder or the boss or the mitigation manager, who kind of always shoots from the hip into a very rigid process. Sometimes you just identify them as a builder, and then you pair them with a maintainer or a team of maintainers, people who are just very good at executing on a defined plan.

And so I would say, first, understand who are your builders, who are your maintainers? And don't freak out your maintainers and turn them into builders. And sometimes you got to be careful how you pigeonhole your builders into making the maintainers, if that makes sense. The second thing is, and again, in the spirit of adages and sayings that get kicked around our society, control what you can. And there are a lot of things that you can control when it comes to reducing the amount of operational chaos, for example. Right. A person says, well, I can't control when a storm blows in. Yeah, but you can control whether you let your guys get away with leaving your work vehicles as a disaster and a garbage bin on wheels. Right. You can control that. Right.

And you control it by simply walking into the shop and just getting everyone together with a box of cleaning supplies and say, hey, I know that up until now I've been a little loosey goosey on keeping our vehicles clean, but going forward, a new expectation that I'm establishing is that at the end of every shift, your vehicle has to be spotless. And I expect you to take pride in the condition of your vehicle, in the orderliness of your vehicle, how well stocked it is for the next shift or the next guy or the next time you hop in. And so everyone here, that's going to be a new expectation. And it's going to influence where they put their cheeseburger wrappers because they know it's going to create more work for them when they want to get home at the end of the day.

And it's going to influence whether they wipe their shoes off before they hop into their truck back. It's going to influence whether they just toss the equipment in the van or they actually take some time to wrap things up properly because they understand that it's a new expectation. So control. It's an example of control what you can not, what you can't. And then, like I said befoRe, is that I do think there's something to the product of all of the tension that you try to apply with attention to scheduling, maintaining systems using tools like know how to establish a playbook that gives your staff a sense of direction in those crazy moments, they're not going to avoid the chaos. But I do think it'll, no question, it'll help your team to be able to work and play better together through the chaos.

And then when you come back, no question you're going to bounce back faster than your competitors because you're going to have that operational stamina. That's the fruit of resisting operational entropy.

Paul Silliman
We'll be back with Leighton in a moment, but first, a word on KnowHow. Know How is an intuitive, mobile-first application designed to rapidly onboard new hires, upskill staff, and provide on-demand expert guidance for whatever task is next. Home to your company's proven methods, KnowHow ensures everyone has the skills they need to get the job done right with time-saving features that make it a breeze for management to build, maintain, and translate Standard Operating Procedures. It's time to ditch your outdated operation binders and dated, difficult-to-search systems. With KnowHow in their pocket, your staff have the how-to they need wherever the day takes them. Our new Process Creator makes drafting new SOPs faster than ever, helping you customize, edit, and share your time-tested methods and processes with ease.

And back to Leighton. The next chapter and principle we have is becoming communication athletes. In the book it states that 24% of Gen Z workers wish they had better communication with their managers. I personally wish the same thing. When I was out in the field. I can tell you how many times I've gone to the job, followed it to a T, just to say, well, why'd you do that? I would have done that.

I can't read minds.

I have no idea what you said.

You've never documented.

I went off what you showed me one time.

And the question I really want to ask, for the owners and managers listening, is what is the first step you would recommend to get a pulse check in on the company and to start improving the business communication?

Leighton Healey
Well, I think the very first thing I would do is I would probably have all of my supervisors, project managers and owners. I would send them home on a weekend and say, your job this weekend is to get two really good sleeps. And that might sound really silly, but so much of the communication that is toxic and unhealthy and contributes to workers quitting and creates so much just chaos in the industry is the byproduct of just people who are exhausted, fatigued, frustrated. And you just put all those people together and they step on each other's toes and they say insensitive things and their tone is off and they're just totally adrenalized or they're running on caffeine.

And so first thing I would do is I'd say, hey, I read this book, Winning With Workers and a principle that really resonated with me was become communication athletes. I want to start with that. Don't just sit down with your team and say, we're going to work on our communication skills, send them home, let them have a good rest, and then when they're fresh, come in and say, hey, we're going to start investing and taking it very seriously. Take a very serious look at how we communicate.

So that's the very first thing I would do is pose that conversation to well rested minds because it's going to push on them in a very personal way because it's going to ask them to be able to be very intentional about something that they've been probably pretty loose about now.

Paul Silliman
Anybody that's heard you speak knows that this is something that you excel in. The book brings up how to deliver and receive communication in a healthy way. What are some of those most common mistakes that you feel people in these areas or people are having in these areas and how can they be avoided?

Leighton Healey
So I think that the best way to understand the mistake, let's call it the cost of bad communication, is just to look online at Google reviews or online reviews. Insert online review board. Well, we did a study and we extended that study to 10,000. We did a sentiment analysis of 10,000 online reviews of customer reviews for restoration companies across all US states and to try to understand what ultimately is the result of what's behind a customer taking to a keyboard and just punishing a restoration company for bad behavior. And what we identified is that there are six common reasons why a company will receive a one star review. And it's very expensive. We've done the math. We can get into that about how much does it actually cost a restoration company when they get a one star review?

But the number one reason why restoration companies get one star reviews is because of bad communication. And people will, you know, we didn't call them, you know, those are, we got busy and we forgot to give them an update that comes up. But I'll tell you what comes up just as often, Paul, is customers saying the work turned out great. They did a good job, get my photo albums back together. My house doesn't stink like smoke anymore. It's got this nice lavender scent. But the way that they talked to each other, man, I didn't even want to have my kids on the front lawn.

When I hear that supervisor show up, the way I'd hear them bark orders at each other, the way I heard them talk about those subcontractors when they weren't here, man, if that's how they treat each other, how do they treat my stuff? Right? There's a lot to that. That's not just some passing example. I mean, 10,000 online reviews is a lot of freaking reviews. You can really arrive at some common denominators there. And no question, communication is an area where a lot of companies, if they made an investment there, they'd see an outsized return. So let's talk about that a little bit. When it comes to improving your communication, I know that you can improve communication. Why?

18-year-oldBecause years ago when I started my first construction company and I was canvassing door to door, trying to get people to give this 18 year old kid a contract to build a garage for them or something like that. The most common advice and the most common feedback that I got was, come again? I can't hear you. And I had a tendency to mumble. I wasn't clear. I was soft spoken, I was shy and nervous. I'm sure there's times where I could still get that feedback, but I have had to learn how to communicate. I've had to learn how to do basic things like how to enunciate. I've had to learn how to be conscious of what my body language is communicating in a conversation. I've had to learn how to read the room and understand when a person is perhaps feeling a certain way.

And some people call it EQ, some people call it SQ, social, intelligent quotient. But at the end of the day, it's a skill that you learn. I mean, none of us just pop out of our childhood with fantastic communication skills and what communication training looks and feels like for your team, it's going to look and feel like they're acting like they're being insincere because they're actually learning how to do something that they do every day. Talk and blab in a way that's foreign and new to them. But we wouldn't think twice about feeling a little weird and awkward when we learn a new sport or learn a new dance or language, and we wouldn't think twice about just feeling a little awkward, being a little clumsy.

But when we think about learning how to talk and communicate and listen and project our tone and our emotions in a more professional manner, we get all out of sorts and we think that, well, I got this far, talking like this, like, why do I need to work on this? You say because you create chaos in your life, in the lives of others. So it's a learned skill. And hey, if you want, we can go through a laundry list of very tactical things that you can do to be a better communicator if you want, and to help your team become communication athletes. So you let me know if we should get into that.

Paul Silliman
I think we could hit a couple of points on that because I actually was on a webinar today where were talking about the importance of your tone answering the phone in restoration, how that first call sets a call up for success. If you're answering a call saying, thanks for calling XYZ, what can I do for you? Compared to thank you for calling us. How can I serve you today? And giving empathy, setting yourself. But just the way you talk, that is a small thing that people don't even think about. Are you converting those leads?

And I'd love to get a couple of quick points for you on some ways that you can really drive that forward.

Leighton Healey
Well, let's talk about some communication best practices. And I think there's a lot of angles, right? I mean, many people in this industry, English isn't the first language that they grew up speaking. And so there's a lot of directions we can go, but let's just get down to some of the fundamentals. Very little of the message that you send to somebody has anything to do with the words that you choose to say. As little as 20% of communication is verbal. The vast majority is nonverbal, meaning that it has a lot more to do with tone that you use, the body language that you use, even the inflections, the timing, all of those things have just as much, if not more influence over someone than the actual words that you use.

I mean, a simple example, if everyone listening to this was to just picture in their mind's eye someone behind them just saying something like, stop doing that, you'd immediately think that they're being accosted or someone's doing something wrong to them. But if you turned around and I don't know, someone that they loved and trusted was, I don't know, maybe tickling them or teasing them, and they were just teasing back, because you can't see what's going on, you can't see that their facial expressions are actually very positive and animated, you can completely misinterpret the conversation. And emojis are not sufficient. Right.

When a person understands, really the cost of miscommunication, the cost of poor communication, the downstream effects of just, I would say just careless communication, you recognize that ensuring that what I'm trying to say comes across as accurately and as sincerely as possible is super important. And so organizations recognize that when you're having important conversations that deal with high stress or critical, high stakes topics, rather than retreating into an email or a text message and thinking that's some layer of security, is firms that are world class recognize that the conversation has just become high stakes. Okay, this matters way more to this employee than I thought it did, or there's a lot more stress in this conversation than I thought, or that customer was way more attached to those items that we've misplaced than I thought they were.

Rather than jumping into an email rather than jumping into a text message conversation or writing a letter, recognizing that the accuracy of the communication that we have just got real. And then the question is, practically speaking, how can we make sure that we are maximizing the amount of communication that we can have? So face to face is best, because that's the best way for you to be able to communicate the sincerity of your concern, the honesty of your willingness to do something about it. Because they can see it. They can see it in your body language, they can see it in your facial expressions, they can hear it in your tone, they can see it with your gestures. You just can't get that in an email.

Similarly, when a person is expressing praise or encouragement, it's so easy to just text somebody or send them a thumbs up emoji or whatnot. But again, if the goal is to retain the person, if the goal is to accelerate the person, then organizations that are communication athletes. And when I mean athlete, I mean someone, when we think of an athlete, what's the difference between an athlete and just a hobbyist? Intentionality. Focus on winning. These are people who understand that it's game day, right? And so people who apply that same thinking to how they work and how they communicate what they do is that they say, how do I maximize the impact of this communication? And sometimes it's about providing candid feedback to a worker where a behavior or a performance matter has to change. Again, what is going to have the most impact?

And it's going to be when that person can receive the maximum amount of accuracy of communication. And so we start thinking about, how do I do whatever I can do to make that conversation as impactful as possible? Hopefully those are some practical examples. Another practical example is to understand that there are four communication styles, and helping your team to understand the difference, especially when it comes to resolving conflict and dealing with stressful situations, can really help them to be more effective and give them a North Star to look towards to model their conversation after. So, as an example, conversation styles are generally marked by what we'd say is, who's being respected at this moment? Who's being respected? So people have maybe heard of terms like passive aggressive, aggressive, or assertive communication. So passive aggressive, or assertive communication.

And so what we're talking about there is communication that has an imbalance of respect. So people who have a preference to speak in a very passive manner, those are individuals who might say something where they never really stick up for themselves. You might consider them as kind of a doormat in some industries. You might say that they're a pleaser. They might be someone who seems to be very oriented around customer service, but in reality, what they're doing is they're deciding that I'm really not that worthy of respect in this moment. The other is worthy of respect. And so whatever is going to make them happy, I will sacrifice my own respect, my own self respect for them. Passive aggressiveness. Passive aggressiveness is really about, again, a complete imbalance of respect. Passive aggressive I often refer to as, like, punching someone through a pillow. Right?

Like, are you upset right now? I don't know. Should I be? Right. It's this cloaked aggression, and it's so common. I live in Canada, and passive aggressiveness, it's an unfortunate Canadian characteristic. And then you have aggressiveness. If we had to kind of pick what side of a communication style, I would say, culturally, you'd probably think of maybe an American citizen as someone who maybe is oriented towards more that aggressive style. And again, aggressive style communication. Also, you think that what I'm doing is, I'm saying, no, I have to be respected here, and you will be disrespected here. But in reality, aggressive communication is actually disrespectful to both parties. Right. By taking an aggressive and a commanding approach to a situation, in reality, you're being quite disrespectful to yourself, because, again, you're not in any way painting yourself in a good light.

So in professional environments, what we want to move towards is an assertive style of communication. A style of communication that balances respect. An assertive person recognizes that the person I'm speaking to, I would say, has innate worth, and that individual is worth respect, and I'm worth respect as well. And so a person that takes an assertive communication style, where they're able to look at someone and say, I understand that you're disappointed and you're frustrated, you have good reason for that, but you need to understand that up until this point, I was not aware that this was something that you were concerned about. And I'm willing to take you through a list of things that we can do to resolve this situation.

But I just want to let you know that the way forward is in no way going to be improved by the language that you're using right now, the expletives that you're throwing at my team. So I'm here to help. I recognize we've made it a mistake, but the shortest distance between where we are now and where we need to be is that you and I need to find a more respectful way of communicating so that we can get things back on track and get Your home back together again. I'm not a doormat. I'm not apologizing for everything. I'm admitting what I did wrong. But ultimately, I'm choosing an assertive style where I give respect and honor to that customer and I give respect and honor to myself. Does that make sense?

Paul Silliman
No, that makes a tremendous amount of sense. And I'm glad you dove into that because it's something I've seen before I've been part of and people, just like I think you mentioned earlier. Oh, that's just how it is. That's just how we communicate, which it's not successful for anyone. And a perfect segue on that is changing the way employees communicate can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you have those different ways of communicating. If you have those workers that are maybe set in their ways or resistant to change, how would you go about recommending changing that? Or if you're experiencing pushback to the conversation of changing that? What's a couple of tactical ways that you can have that conversation?

Leighton Healey
Well, let's bring some assumptions to the conversation and some assumptions to this scenario that we're building. So we're creating a scenario in which we assume that we want to make a commitment to becoming communication athletes. Adopting this principle that know how seems to think is important to win with workers. And so you're past that point, and now you want to bring that principle to bear within a workforce that hasn't read the book, hasn't had this aha moment that this would be valuable, and now you have to get them on board. And you just know you can already picture the person in your mind who's going to give you resistance and pushback. Okay, so the very first thing that I would say is that you need to understand how to have what I often refer to as going forward moments. Right.

And going forward moments are moments that really only leaders and people of authority can have. And what that sounds like is the ability to walk into a room, walk into a conversation, and say, look, I've made a decision that we're going to make some changes and we're going to make some investments in how we communicate with each other, with our customers. And I think it's going to have a significant impact in our ability to be a world class organization. I know that up until this point, I'll be the first to say I've said some pretty careless things. I've said some things that are downright inappropriate. I've said some things about customers that if they had been present, they probably wouldn't be our customers anymore.

I've made some jokes that were totally not appropriate, and I've snapped at some people in this room, and I'm not proud of that. But going forward, right, but going forward, I've made a decision that we are going to set a target and set a goal of becoming world class communicators, because we think that is going to really, number one, it's going to set us apart in the market. Number two, it's going to create an environment that is life giving and not life sucking. I think it's also going to eliminate a lot of the stress that creates some of the most dissatisfying elements of our work.

And I think when it's all said and done, it's going to allow us to attract world class team members, and it might help us to be able to filter out some people where maybe this isn't the right place for them anymore. And so again, it's being able to have those going forward moments. Right. Those conversations that really, a new technician just can't stand up and say, they just can't stand on top of a pack out crate and say, hear me, we should get better at communication. So this is no question. It starts with a leader being able to have a going forward moment. The second thing is that anytime you have something that is so, I would say, central, like communication, that comes into the crosshairs of change, it requires leadership and management to adopt it, to change it, and to role model it.

And especially when you've had staff that have worked with you for a while, they've grown accustomed to how you react to certain situations, they've grown accustomed to how you respond to different scenarios. And they know when you go off, they know when you get mad, they know the types of people that you like to pick on. And so when they come to those crossroads, those moments where you've so often turned left, meaning communicate in an unhealthy manner and you consciously turn right, you choose to actually not disrespect that person behind their back. You choose to take a breath and not say something inappropriate or curse or swear or bang your fist or scowl, but you actually go in a different direction. It's actually very disarming for staff. And they'll leave a meeting and they'll say, well, that was different, right?

Like, normally Sheila gets piping hot, but.

Paul Silliman
What's wrong with Pedro? Is he sick? Is something going on?

Leighton Healey
Yeah. Is he one of those meditators? Now, you know what I'm saying? Is he doing smoothies? Like, what's going on here, right?

And at the end of the day, it's very disarming. And when you practice what you preach, when it comes to communication, and you're not always going to get it right, and so you learn how to apologize and you learn how to sincerely apologize. And like we talked about earlier about communication, you don't apologize in some gutless text message. You apologize face-to-face like an adult. People will realize that something is afoot, right? There is really a commitment here to change the way we communicate. And so the first thing is learn to have going forward moments.

The second one is leadership. And management need to actually role model it, and they need to role model it, not just with the staff, with the front line staff, but they need to learn how to role model it with each other. So often, managers and senior leaders, they become so comfortable and accustomed. They've gone through so many battles together that they just extend each other so many social graces that they wouldn't extend to someone else. And you need to raise your vision and your bar for each other and call each other to a higher level of communication and give each other permission to call you out and know when the meeting's done, say, hey, Mike, you want to stay back? Hey, Mike, we've been working together for a long time, man. And hey, we struck hands together and said we're going to do a better job communicating.

And I thought the way that you really went off on Mark there was, I don't think that reflects what you and I have committed ourselves to. So, hey, this isn't comfortable for me to bring up, but, Mark, I think you should go apologize to Mark. And I think that we should try better next meeting. And you know what? They might say, screw you, but they'll go home and think about it, right? And hopefully, if you've got the right partners, if you go out the right people and you're doing your part, they'll say, you know what? It took a lot of guts to say that. And I talked to Mark and he said, no big deal, but I know it was a big deal, and I'm going to work on that. And you know what? It makes a difference.

Nothing says your team culture is where it should be when it polices itself. And that's not just top down, that's all the way through the organization. When you can hold your own team accountable and let them be able to bring up those conversations, man, you've set something up for success, that's for sure.

Yeah. So at the end of the day, here's what we know. What we know is that few things are more telling of what your company produces, like online reviews. And we know from looking at thousands and thousands of reviews and bad ones, some of them are really bad. But when you look at the common denominators, people are busy, listeners busy. Paul, you're busy. Right. Customers, they're busy. Right. And their life is super busy. Why? Because their home just got destroyed. Their commercial business just got destroyed. Right. So these are busy, stressed out people, and yet they took time to pull out their keyboard, figure out how to log into their Gmail account again and figure out how to leave a review and just hammer a company.

And so you take 10,000 of those situations and you say, so what are the most common reasons why people take to their keyboards? And it's because of companies that just do not place a lot of value and emphasis on being world class at communicating. And there's a lot of angles to that. But we believe that and we've seen it because we get to work with tremendous world class companies in this industry. But what we've seen is that the companies who commit themselves to becoming communication athletes with all of the connotations that are associated with an athlete to be communication athletes, they are winning with the workforce. They are attracting great staff. They are pushing out people who just want no part of that Girl Scout, Boy Scout environment, and they're experiencing more health and vitality in their workforce.

They're finding that the skills and the commitments that they're making to communication, they're taking home and proving the interactions and the interpersonal relationships, the interpersonal interactions in their home life and with their friends. And they're experiencing fruit in relationships that aren't part of their work experience. And that is when people have a light bulb go off and then three years later, five years later, they interact with someone who hasn't really talked with them much since they've gone through this transformation. And they say, whoa, you sound different. You talk kind of different. You sound like an adult, right? They sound like a. Sound like an executive. And they say, oh, it happens so gradually over time that as you invest in your team becoming excellent at communication, it just sneaks up on you.

And then one day someone comes in and they say, your team, they are excellent communicators. And you say, oh, well, thank you. We've been working on that. And I appreciate know that's what workers want. People want to work in that work environment.

Paul Silliman
Absolutely. Leighton, this has been absolutely fantastic. Hopefully the listeners are able to take these just golden nuggets away and go put this in action. Go take some of these steps. That's why we put these principles together in this book. Go take them. Implement them in your workforce.

This is what top restoration companies are doing, and we're seeing a lot of fruits of their labor from it as well. Leighton I really appreciate your time.

Anyone looking to get a copy of the free book, definitely go to You can get a free copy of it, and if you need a hardback copy, it is on Amazon, but definitely Leighton, thank you so much for your time today.

Leighton Healey
You're welcome, Paul.

Paul Silliman
Thanks for joining us today. We really hope you enjoyed this episode. If you're hungry for more insights about the restoration industry, feel free to check out our past episodes or head to for more data-driven insights from the KnowHow Research Team. And that's a wrap to season one of the Restoration Playbook Podcast. Thanks to everyone who joined us this season. Whether you're a guest of the pod or a listener tuning in, it was great having you, and we hope you took a little KnowHow away with you, wishing all of you a happy holiday season and all the best to come in 2024. Take care.