Never in history has there been so much distance and isolation in the workplace. The mental-health toll that COVID-19 is taking on our employees—and ourselves—is beyond compare. In this episode, leading keynote speaker Rachel Druckenmiller shares practical tips for recognizing burnout, supporting the emotional needs of those under our leadership, and nurturing a sense of belonging in a virtual workspace.
About Rachel Druckenmiller
Rachel Druckenmiller is on a mission to humanize the workplace by activating hope, resilience, compassion, and connection in leaders and teams through interactive keynotes, workshops, and leadership training.
Recognized as the #1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. in 2015, a 40 Under 40 Game Changer in 2019, and one of The Daily Record’s Leading Women of 2020, Rachel is a national thought leader in the field of employee engagement and wellbeing.
She has delivered over 120 virtual learning experiences since March 2020 and has worked with dozens of organizations, including Citizens Bank, Junior Achievement, and the American Heart Association. Rachel has been featured as a guest on over 50 podcasts. She has a master’s degree in Health Science and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
In This Episode, You’ll Learn…
- How to foster trust, connection, and belonging in the virtual workplace
- Signs and symptoms of employee burnout
- How to combat “engaged exhaustion”
- The difference between checking in and checking on
- How to offer compassion and support to those under your lead
- “Just because somebody’s engaged doesn’t mean they’re firing on all cylinders. Somebody could be engaged and on the verge of burnout—and that’s often the case.” —Rachel Druckenmiller
- “A lot of organizations have not figured out how to foster a sense of connection, community, and collaboration in virtual spaces.” —Rachel Druckenmiller
- “When someone feels really stuck, they don’t want a platitude! They don’t want someone to be like, ‘You know, it’s going to get better.’ They’d probably want to punch that person in the face!” —Rachel Druckenmiller.
- “There’s always this sense I find that people are like, ‘I don’t want to cross over a line…’ Especially, you know, executives are like, ‘Oh, I don’t know, I can’t go there…’ No. You can go there. People need you to go there.” —Rachel Druckenmiller
- “This is how we rise up: by leaning on other people.” —Rachel Druckenmiller
Links & Resources Mentioned…
- Rachel’s LinkedIn
- Rachel’s Website
- Rachel’s Instagram
- Rachel’s Clubhouse
- Permission to Feel, by Marc Brackett, Ph.D.
- Emotional Agility, by Susan David, Ph.D.
- Dare to Lead podcast with Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Grief Curve
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Mike O'Neill: Welcome back to the Get Unstuck & On Target Podcast. I'm Mike O'Neill with Bench Builders, and we're speaking with thought leaders to uncover tips to help you break down the barriers that may be keeping you or your business stuck. Joining me today is Rachel Druckenmiller. She's the founder and CEO of Un-muted. Rachel has been featured as a guest on over 50 podcasts and you'll soon see why. Welcome Rachel.
Rachel Druckenmiller: Thanks Mike. It's so great to be with you today.
Mike O'Neill: Let me share a little bit more about you, Rachel, through interactive keynotes workshops and leadership trainings. She's on a mission to humanize the workplace by activating hope, resilience, compassion, and connection, and leaders and teams.
Rachel is a national thought leader in the field of employee engagement. And well-being since March, 2020, this is noteworthy. She has delivered over 120 virtual learning experiences and has worked with dozens of organizations, including Citizen Bank, Junior Achievement, and The American Heart Association. Rachel, I'm looking forward to our time together.
Rachel Druckenmiller: I am too. It's it's going to be a great conversation and I know it's going to really encourage and uplift anyone who's listening.
Mike O'Neill: I pause on the date March, 2020 at the time that we are recording this podcast, we've just crossed in the United States, the one-year mark in which COVID, began having the profound impact that has had over the last year now year plus, but the fact that you started your business on the very front end of that, and you were able to do what you're able to do. This is not something we said we're going to talk about, but I have to ask if you are a keynote presenter. And typically that means that a large group is together and someone like you, with your enthusiasm comes out and just energize the crowd when COVID hit, what did you have to do to adapt your business?
Rachel Druckenmiller: Cool. So I was seven months into having launched my business, left a 13 year stable corporate career in the employee benefits space and March hit. And actually as of December of 2019, I was looking at my calendar and I had like two gigs for 2020.
So I was in this kind of panic mode of like, did I, what am I doing? Am I going to be able to figure this out? You know, because that's, that's cause for, for panic. And I started to reach out and connect with people and. Build momentum. And by the time March came around, I mean, I had keynotes booked and, you know, the opposite coast, you know, into, into October.
And I was going to be traveling to a bunch of different cities over the summer. And in September, I was actually feeling really, really good. I was feeling really excited about what was ahead and then COVID hit. And then it was like every other day, I'd get an email from somebody. Hey, we're postponing. Hey, we're going to cancel, Hey, we're going to indefinitely postpone, which might as well mean cancel.
And I just started to have this sense of like, Oh my, Oh my gosh. What's what's what's happening. Like I don't have a backup. This is literally all I do. And I don't like consult on the side a hundred percent speaking and training a hundred percent live engagements at that time. And I remember it was, it was St Patrick's day.
And I was in this mode of, of just feeling really down. And I got a message from a client I haven't worked with in three years. And she reached out and said, you know, works with a small wealth management company about 30 people. And she said, Hey, our people are struggling. This was only like a few days in, right.
You know, we were concerned about our people's emotional and mental health. Do you do virtual training? And like any good entrepreneur Mike, and that moment I wrote back and I was like, sure, do let's get on the phone. And that was the beginning. I, she, that was my first. That was my first engagement. I did a three-part series for them on, on building resilience.
And then I started offering free webinars. I just started putting out content. I started, you know, getting in front of people. I had a, this is the power of relationships. I had organizations and associations that had brought me in before that associated me with wellbeing, which was a really great association to have in 2020. And they were reaching out to me saying, we need to scrap our program for next month and we need to talk about what's happening right now. Can you come and do a program? And so little by little, these moments of building momentum, being willing to reach out to former clients hadn't worked with in some time and say, Hey, doing virtual, if you need it, I was still refining it as I was going, but it was just that I've always had that sense of agency of, I will not be a victim of this circumstance. I'm going to use my creativity and my gumption and this perseverance and hope. And I'm going to move through and figure this out.
Mike O'Neill: You know, in my introduction, I love what you just described. You know, the name of this podcast is Get Unstuck and many, organizations and individuals when COVID hit found themselves outright stuck. And as we're recording this, there is a growing sense of maybe we think we've turned this corner, but though you have been working with clients pretty consistently through all this. How would you characterize the overall, you mentioned, employee engagement. This has been such a protracted process.
What has that done to, an employee sense of belonging, an employee sense of. Can we get through this together? Is there any really hope that we'll get through this stronger?
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yeah. Well, I've seen a couple of interesting things I remember on the front end of the pandemic and the first six months or so I talked to clients that did pulse surveys, you know, with their people.
And they'd say. We actually having a an increase in employee engagement, I think because people were happy to still have jobs. They were happy to have the flexibility to work from home. They, you know, they were getting certain organizations were being intentional at meeting their tech needs or checking in on people.
And so I actually, in a lot of the conversations I had with clients saw an increase in, you know, anecdotally and again, some of their post-survey data and employee engagement. During that time, but there's an issue. I remember reading a Harvard business review article a few years ago, talking about this concept of the engaged exhausted.
So just because somebody is engaged, doesn't mean they're like firing on all cylinders. Somebody could be engaged and on the verge of burnout, and that's often the case, people who burn out are often some of the people that are typically the most engaged. And because they don't want to drop the ball and they're naturally viewed as people that are responsible and reliable and, and the people that get things done.
And so we go to them and we pile on more and more and more. And so what I've started to see happen, I've seen a shift in kind of language and conversation and what I've heard more recently, like in the past month or so from people is people are feeling the word I've heard used is, defeated.
Mike O'Neill: Hmm.
Rachel Druckenmiller: People are feeling defeated. They're like, we thought this was going to be over by like 4th of July and it's been over a year and we're still in it. And so in that sense, I think a lot of people you asked about belonging, a lot of organizations have not figured out how to foster a sense of connection community and collaboration in virtual spaces.
And I saw that from the get go. It was like, they knew this was going to be an issue I already had been speaking about. The loneliness, you know, epidemic that was global before COVID hit. And I have just personal connections to that. Cause I grew up not feeling like I belonged and really struggled with that into my, even my late twenties and early thirties.
And so I saw this, that this was going to be an issue. And so I really decided to focus what I was doing on how can I help to foster connection and conversation. And so that's often what I get brought in to do is companies are like, look, we don't, our people do not want like another talking head and a bunch of slides across the screen, telling them what to do.
People are over that they can Google that stuff, you know? And so they bring me in because I helped to facilitate conversation and connection and laughter I mean, I was doing a session for, a pharmacy benefit management consulting firm on a Wednesday. And by the end of the session, one of the employees who everyone knows, loves that loves the band Journey.
She is like air guitar string to don't stop believe in and everybody's laughing. And in the chat was one of the new employees, had a bunch of new employees, like they've had a bunch of new hires. One of the employees wrote. I can tell this is going to be a really fun group of people in person. Like, and so just that, like having this levity, have they seen people laugh together, giving them an opportunity to connect and have conversations and share what's working and share what's not, it's just been, so life-giving to see what happens when you put people in environments where you just ask the right kinds of questions and create safe spaces so that they do feel like they belong and they do feel connected and they do feel seen and heard.
Mike O'Neill: Our listeners are leaders they're in decision-making roles. And therefore they're in a position to say, Hmm, is what Rachel describing does that describe the organization that I lead? And what I'm hearing you say is early in the pandemic that might've been an uptick in productivity, but you've introduced something that I think I'd like to dig a little bit further, and that is engagement.
It's a term that we read about we hear about, but you've married up that the most engaged employees may be that you say exhausted, is that the word you use exhausted engagement, which are really somewhat polar opposite in terms of the feelings it evokes. Let's step back if there prior to COVID was an employee who was just really engaged in it's really all kind of clicking.
If this Harvard business review article came out pre COVID, if they were, if the same people who wrote this article wrote that a year into this, would they probably find the same thing is exhausted and engagement is that still a major issue?
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yeah, I would say for sure. I mean burnout, I mean, that's another thing I'm hearing from almost every organization I talk to, like, people are burned out and people don't realize, you know, we often see and I burned out right I, four years ago I burned out, got Epstein-Barr virus, which is an acute form of mono. And so I had you know, that experience of, of, of occupational burnout and some of the symptoms of that are one exhaustion so someone's just absolutely just done. They're exhausted. Another one is an increase in cynicism and negativity.
And then another symptom. The third primary symptom of occupational burnout is that we have an increase in making errors, a sense of increase in making errors. And so people look at people who are negative, cynical, exhausted, checked out, messing up. And they're like your performance sucks. We need to have a performance conversation.
If that person is usually a high performer, you should be really concerned about their mental health, because that, I mean, you should be concerned about everyone's mental health and care about it. But particularly with someone like that, because I remember what I did is I just hid. Because I had the sense of first of all, I was a director of wellbeing.
So I felt like I had a certain mantle to carry of like, you should be, well, what the heck are you doing? And I did not feel well. And I felt exhausted and I felt I felt checked out and I felt, but I really cared about my work and I was putting in so much energy and effort into it. And I would avoid people because I could sense they might be disappointed in me, or I would procrastinate doing certain things, or I would come off I know as a bit, either dismissive or, or snippy with people. I wouldn't respond to things. They would send me. And instead of anyone ever at any point getting curious and this isn't to blame, but it's just to say, I have an awareness now that I think it's important to bring up. If you're noticing someone at your organization that is acting in any way that I just described, it may not be that they're just suddenly a poor performer.
It may be that they're really, really struggling and just don't feel like they can talk about it because they're afraid, especially right now, if I'm the squeaky wheel, am I going to get cut? I'm going to get cut from the team. People are, you know, people are afraid of that. And, and they've seen their, they've seen their friends and they've seen their peers and colleagues and family members get get laid off. And so they don't want to be the one to speak up if they're struggling. So they just hunker down and they suck it up and they keep going and they get to the point where it's affecting their family. It's affecting their sleep. It's affecting their relationships, it's affecting their physical health.
And again, this is from experience. Like I went through that and it was the worst. And, and I think that's why right now, more than ever, we need compassion for people and a sensitivity to really noticing if somebody's off. And there's always the sense I find Mike, that people are like, I don't want to, I don't want to cross over a line.
I don't want to be especially leader. Like, you know, executives are like, Oh, I don't know. I can't go there. No, you can go there. People need you to go there because. Otherwise, you might lose them. They might burn out. There might be some other thing going on that you don't even know about. It's even more extreme than that.
I mean, I heard a situation, colleague of mine is another speaker was speaking at event, you know, maybe a month or two before the lockdown happened. And he was with a group of executives and one of them was the CEO, CFO, and others. About a couple of weeks into COVID. He gets a phone call from the CEO who is just really shaken up. And he said, I don't know how to tell you this, but our CFO took his life because he was afraid of the repercussions of what COVID would mean for his job. And I thought to reach out to him the day before it happened and I didn't, and I'm really struggling with that.
That is an extreme example, but we are on the, we are in the midst of, and on the precipice of an even larger mental health crisis and no to be a downer. It's just, just, just be honest about what's going on right now. And we really need to activate the care and compassion and hope inside of ourselves. And be willing to ask for help and let people know about mental health resources and check in on people and make sure they're okay and see what resources they need. We need these things. I mean, I, I, I feel very strongly about this and we really need to change how we're leading and interacting with people.
Mike O'Neill: You know, this conversation is intended to kind of plant some seeds in the minds of our listeners of the kinds of things that they can and should be doing, but why don't we step back in just a moment. I know that organizations invite you in. And we can see the energy you bring to the, the experience, but our listeners, if they're leaders of an organization and they're listening, and if they're nodding like I am, as you're speaking, then what might be the practical kinds of things that you are encouraging leaders to do?
For their organizations. Of all the things we've talked about thus far and what we will talk about, what are the kind of must that you try to make sure that these leaders who engage you to come into the organization? What are some of those, pillars that you try to get established in that relationship?
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yeah. So one of the things I would say first and foremost is being willing to acknowledge what's going on and to acknowledge your own experience of that as a human. I've heard a lot more leaders you know, putting, you know, coming out as the face of the organization and, and doing whether it's videos or town halls or that kind of thing.
And, and, and, and acknowledging their own challenges of like, yeah, this has been, this has been really hard. Like I've got a kid at home and like, I'm trying to do this. And this, this is really, this is really difficult. So like first and foremost, acknowledging your shared humanity instead of acting like, you know, the wizard behind the curtain. To be accessible to people in that way, to be relatable.
Another thing, a couple of things, one is to check in on people. There's a distinction between checking in on people and checking on people, checking on micromanaging, right? Checking on people's micromanaging. Nobody wants that. And a lot, I mean, I've heard companies that are like, You know, tracking how long people are at their desk.
I'm like stop doing that. Like, if that's an issue the issue at your company is not that your peoples, it's not your people's performance. It's a lack of trust. And so like that, checking on people increases paranoia and anxiety and it's really, really ineffective. And so the distinction is to check in on people and checking in on people is question as simple as how can I best support you right now?
How can I best support you right now? So every time you have an interaction, a one-on-one. First of all to have like a person to person human, you know, human to human check-in of, Hey, you know, how are you doing really? Is there anything I can do to support you right now? I know this has been a lot, or even just acknowledging what you might know about the situation they're in.
Like, Hey, I know your team has like really been pressed. Like we're what, what can we do to support you? And what we found. Through, research is that there's, you know, there was a study done over 50,000 managers and they found that one of the most effective ways that leaders can build, trust and likability, which are connected to a sense of warmth is to ask for and act on feedback.
So ask for and act on feedback. A lot of organizations, they do pulse surveys, they do engagement surveys, they ask for feedback and then they don't act on it. That is a, that is a major issue. You're better off not asking for their feedback at all. And just really acknowledging that you don't actually care are not actually going to move forward and do anything about it.
Then you are, if you just like, you know, like that, I would have, you know, encouraged people to not do that until like, if you're not going to do anything about it and don't ask for the feedback. But if you're willing to say, look, we're going to ask for feedback and we're going to act on it and respond accordingly, then people are gonna appreciate that.
So before I do any, any of the workshops I do, I always do an intake survey. And I ask people specifically what they're hoping to get out of it and where they're struggling and where they feel stuck? And, and as a result of that, I get in their own words, what they're dealing with. And so when I go in and then I'm with them, I have a connection in their own language of like, what are you really dealing with?
And then I can say, Hey, I read through all your surveys. And it sounds like you're feeling this and you're feeling this and you're feeling this and that you're you're here today because you're hoping to find this, this and this. And so people really appreciate like, Oh wow. Like she really listened. And that is something that a lot of organizations, I don't think it's because they're necessarily careless.
They're just not intentional. And so that would be one thing I would do. So ask for an act on feedback. Another thing is that when someone given that example of the CFO, I shared, when someone comes to mind for you pop in your mind all the time we had this happen, right? Every day, I'm sure you can think of somebody, Mike or anybody who's listening, that you have someone pop in your mind randomly.
And you're like, Oh yeah, I need to reach out to them. And then you just go back to whatever you're doing. And then you like, forget to reach out to them. And we all do this. That's not a way to like heap more guilt on ourselves. But what I have learned is that when someone comes to mind for me, I can, at the very least take 10 seconds to send them a voice text, or just send a message that says, Hey, I'm thinking of you.
Like. Or, Hey, I appreciate you. There's just those little, little steps where like, it takes next to no effort at all, but a lot of us just don't do it because we get so wrapped up in our, in our, in our reactivity mode. And so I would encourage people to say, if anyone comes to mind for you, whoever it is to reach out to them and to, and to just touch base, Hey, how are you?
How you doing or, Hey, I'm thinking of you or, Hey, I really appreciate and then say something specific. I really appreciate, you know, that, that, that funny gift that you sent me last week, or I really appreciate, you know, the way that you were there for me last year. I really, you know, I do this on LinkedIn with bright spots where I call, you know, I, I highlight people that in the past year were real bright spots for me. And I I just like shower it's it's like a it's it's, it's a post that just showers them with praise and goodness, because I believe it's important to highlight people in our lives that make our lives better. And so, you know, that's, that's something. And then just as a leader, there's a book that I would recommend everyone check out.
I know you're familiar with the Permission to Feel by Dr. Mark bracket, because I think a lot of leaders are out of touch. A lot of people in general are out of touch with their own emotional responses. And so that permission to feel and Emotional Agility by Susan David, those are two books. I would recommend that every leader read, just to have more awareness of how you're showing up, how it might be affecting other people and to be willing to kind of, you know, check yourself instead of being reactive, which is our go-to when we're anxious and scared.
So, you know, and then of course the things that I do, I mean, I, you know, bringing organizations, bring me in to help foster those connected conversations, whether it's a all hands or a, or a keynote or a leadership retreat or something like that. And they're like, we, we just, you know, we want people to feel a sense of connection.
And so that's, that's what I basically get to do all day. I mean, it's kinda cool. Feels weird to get like, paid to do that, but I love it.
Mike O'Neill: It is cool. And it's clear that you're very good at this. Let me, I was making notes and I don't know if I've got all this, but let me share with you kind of what I heard. Just you share, as a leader, you're encouraging us to be accessible to those. We lead. Be accessible, but in being accessible, be authentic.
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yeah.
Mike O'Neill: And in crisis mode, authenticity can carry considerable weight when you're talking about trust. Because you may be sharing information that they don't particularly want to hear, but if it's coming from you, the leader, then you're fostering trust because they're hearing it from the source.
You've encouraged us that checking on versus checking in is a very powerful tool for a leader. And the purpose of checking on is to foster. That one-on-one sense of connection if I'm hearing.
Rachel Druckenmiller: So flip it I'll real quick, so well, and this is a great, so you know what? This is a great way to, to remind people because it's easy to confuse.
It's easy to mix them up. And I think the fact that we're at this point right now will be really good for people like this'll sync in with them to check on is like over your shoulder. So things on his over check, checking on his, over your shoulder, checking in is like this I don't know how, what other I were to use for that.
But checking in is like really this indication of caring. So the checking in is like, almost that leaning in of how are you checking on is like a monitoring. So we want to check in
Mike O'Neill: So. Check in is the term I should be using. And checking in is really trying to, to be, to connect with and in checking in, you've encouraged us to ask for feedback. Feedback, literally as to how are things going? How am I doing? What can I be doing as a leader, to be more effective? What support can I offer you? But you've also said if you're going to ask for that feedback, you need to prepare to act on that feedback.
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yes.
Mike O'Neill: And so you're, you're checking. And if you are in the process of a busy day, which we all have.
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yeah.
Mike O'Neill: Your suggestion is that if something crosses your mind, particularly if it's to be to, to, to be willing to connect with someone who's on your mind, it could be your staff. It could be whatever you're saying don't miss this opportunity. We have the ability to drop a quick note, make a quick call, but rather than wait, do it when you think about it. And the fact that you're almost spontaneously doing that probably is conveyed in the message that the person that you're reaching out to senses, this is not a calculated effort. She was thinking of me.
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yeah.
Mike O'Neill: She took her time send me a quick note, how nice. And that, that goes a long way. You've also suggested a couple of books and we may try to put this in the notes. One of them is a book entitled Permission to Feel, and that author is again?
Rachel Druckenmiller: Mark Bracket out of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
Mike O'Neill: Got you. And the second book, I didn't get a chance to write that down. What was the second recommendation?
Rachel Druckenmiller: Emotional Agility by Susan David, and she has done a two-part series very recently on Bernay Brown's Dare to Lead Podcast, highly, highly, highly, highly. Highly recommend. Just basically really talking about toxic positivity and how over the past year, I mean, I had this happen when I know that you know this, but I was hit by a pickup truck in may and fractured my back and had people say things like, Oh, well I know somebody who got hit while she was biking and like had to get all these pins in her leg and had to have back surgery. I'm like, I'm not sure how this is helpful to me. It's called comparative suffering. But this idea of just like, just come on, push through, get through it. There's a silver lining. What that does, is it dismissive of people who are in a low spot it's dismissive of people who are in a place of depression or sadness or stuckness, as we're talking about, when someone feels really stuck, they don't want a platitude. They don't want someone to be like, you know, it's going to get better. They'd probably have to like punch the person in the face. You know, what would it really is, is what we just do need to acknowledge when someone is having a hard time. Like there was a woman who made a comment. I put up a LinkedIn post the other day and someone made a comment and said, I'm really struggling because I did a LinkedIn live and the audio and the video quality was so bad. I did everything to prepare. I'm so embarrassed. And I sent her like three voice messages on, on, through audio messages on LinkedIn messenger. And I was like, look. Like it sucks. Doesn't it? It's just super sucks when this thing that we worked so hard for and plan doesn't go as we hope. Doesn't it? Gosh, it does. It sucks. I'm sorry that you went through that. That is so frustrating. I know what that's like. I've been there. I was doing a keynote for a group of 300 people virtually and my internet decided to cycle off halfway through the keynote. And I just got kicked out of the thing for like two or three minutes and I was in panic mode and I was like yelling for my husband, like fix the internet.
And, and I was like texting the person, you know, who was my contact. And I was like, I don't know what's happening. And I got back in there pretty quickly, fortunately. And the team had stepped in and they were able to kind of take the group just in, into a direction of reflection for the two minutes I was gone.
And then it gave me an opportunity when I came back in to say, Hey, this is the power of teams. As we were about to talk about the importance of community and connection. Like, this is the power of teamwork. This is the power of feeling like someone has your back of knowing that if you get kicked off the internet in the middle of a keynote, that someone is going to step in and, and have your back. And that's what this is about. That's really what, how we rise up. We were talking about rising up with resilience. This is, this is how we rise up by leaning on other people. And so I was able to take that moment that sucked and it did suck and I felt every bit angry and I felt all those emotions in the midst of it.
And even afterward, I was like, Oh my gosh, I can't believe that happened. But I, I chose to look at it and say, I'm going to do something with this. I'm going to use this. And so I left her a message and she said, you know what? That is really helpful. And I am going to see what I can do to spin a message off of that.
As I've reflected on it. So thank you for doing that. So just that acknowledgement, like acknowledging to people that yes, this really sucks. And people and we're tired. Yeah. People just need that acknowledgement and they don't want to just be pushed along to get over it. They, they want that acknowledged.
And then, you know, that we would create that space for people's different timelines of, of getting back. Not letting them stay there, not letting them stay stuck there. But to the, one of the ways we help them get unstuck is by acknowledging where they are in the moment.
Mike O'Neill: As become the custom on this podcast. I do ask that question and you just spontaneously offer an example and the preface is, you know, getting stuck does suck. And what happened to her? Yeah, you've experienced, but you reached out and she's found a way to take that situation, and get unstuck. Any other examples come to mind of maybe clients that you've worked with got stuck and w what did it take to get for them to get unstuck?
Rachel Druckenmiller: Well, I mean, I often get brought into organizations that are highly left brain dominated, like you know, often male dominated industries, where there you know, really smart, but also a little cynical. And so I get that. I get brought into these environments a lot of times, and there's a little bit of like, I'm not sure what this lady is going to make us do.
And so one of the things I've seen, that's been, been really neat. I was working with an accounting firm and, we were doing a workshop on resetting mindset and helping people understand how to navigate emotional reactivity and move to be more responsive and help themselves discharged stress. And we had them in a couple of interactions in breakout rooms and in one of the interactions I sent them out to talk about a way they've adapted in the past year that makes them proud. And prior to doing that, I had sent them, I had shown them Elizabeth Kubler Ross's, Grief Curve to help them understand the process of shock, denial, frustration, sadness, and then, you know, acceptance and meaning making.
And I just said, wherever you are on this path is, is human. Like there's not a certain place you're supposed to be. So they go in this room, have this conversation, come back. The first person who asked that I, you know, opened up the floor for anyone who wants to share. First person shares, you know, that was really helpful just to talk with everybody and to understand that I'm not alone.
She says, as I, as I was reflecting on it, I realized I am in that depression spot. She acknowledged this in front of like 60 of her coworkers. It's like, Oh my gosh. I mean that somebody being that brave in the face, I mean, it's sad and it's saddened to me to hear that she was feeling that way, that she was feeling so stuck.
But as a facilitator, you're also like. That is gold because she just normalized being honest with everybody else. She was willing to be courageous with everybody else. And, after the session, a bunch of people were reaching out to HR to check in and like, Hey, so the check-in was on. Hey, sh she, okay. Is there anything we need to be doing for her?
So like suddenly that, that created this, it activated this compassion and people, right. To hear and see that somebody they didn't know was struggling was struggling and they've since formed you know, they, they had told me that people were struggling with as working parents or caregiving, which are, you know, certainly two different things.
And I said, well, why don't you set up a forum for them to have conversations with each other? And so they now have an employee resource group. Parenting and the pandemic and then another one on caregiving and they give them the opportunity to come together and talk about what's working with each other.
I give them some prompts and the cool thing, Mike was at the end of this session and I'm doing another one for them. And, in May, at the end of the session, there was a guy probably mid fifties who comes on the screen. He goes, all right, I gotta be honest. I kind of thought you were going to be like a happy-go-lucky yoga person, no offense.
And, this that's not what this was. Like this was actually, I got a lot more out of this than I was expecting to get out of this. And like, everyone on the screen is nodding their head. And so I think it's important to recognize that when you're in the role of being a facilitator, speaker, trainer, the importance of just being real with people and meeting them where they are is so crucial.
And there've been times when I've messed that up. When I haven't gotten the information I need from a client ahead of time and I get in the room and it's not gone well, because I didn't know the temperature of what I was walking into. And in this particular situation, I did know that. And so I was able to steer the experience to be something that didn't just feel like a fluffy cloud, or just telling them, you know, to, to, to focus on the silver lining, you know, They didn't need that for me in that moment.
And so, you know, those are, those are some things that come to mind in terms of, a client that was just like, I didn't even know our people would open up like that. So that's been cool.
Mike O'Neill: Excellent. I appreciate you sharing that story and the fact that through this effort, connections was made emotional connections were made. Opinions were changed. That sounds as if they're lasting, because they've invited you back to for a follow-up. That's really, really cool.
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yeah.
Mike O'Neill: Rachel, we've covered a wide variety of things in our time together, and I'm confident there's going to be folks who want to know more about you. What's the best way for them to connect with you online.
Rachel Druckenmiller: The best way is on what LinkedIn I'm on there super active. So if you, you know, send us, I love hearing notes of just saying, Hey, you know, Well, I listened to your podcast with Mike and would love to connect. So, and let us, both of us love to hear what resonated with you. So certainly that's the way to do it.
And then you can learn more about my work and hear, you know, listen to podcasts like this one that I've been on and other blog posts I've written and different workshops and stuff I teach at my website is un-mutedlife.com LIFE. And then I'm also on Instagram @un-mutedlife. Do you want to get some more of the personal things on there though?
I do post a lot of very personal things on LinkedIn. And then for anyone who's on clubhouse, I, I dabble in that occasionally and I'm @RachelDruck right now. So that may change. But anyway, so those are some of the ways I say the first two are the best to, to, to get connected.
Mike O'Neill: We will include that information in the show notes. So Rachel, this has been as expected, quite a treat. Thank you so much.
Rachel Druckenmiller: Yeah. Thanks Mike. I really enjoyed it and I can't wait to hear can't wait, resonate with everybody?
Mike O'Neill: Well, me too. And I also want to thank our listeners for joining us for this episode of Get Unstuck & On Target. We upload the latest episode every Thursday. And if you haven't already done so please subscribe. But we at Bench Builders, we love to help companies get unstuck with practical management training, leadership coaching, and better business planning and execution, but if you've been listening to my discussion with Rachel and you're realizing that something is keeping you or your business stuck, let's talk, visit unstuck.show to schedule a call.
So I'd like to thank you for joining us. And I hope you've picked up on some tips that will help you Get Unstuck & On Target. Until next time.