Podcast: The Boutique with Collective 54

Episode #71 – How a Learning and Development Firm Retains Key Employees – Member Case

Do Your Behaviors Align with Your Company Values?

“Your vision is something you want to dream about when you go to sleep at night.”

This may sound hot and heavy, but it doesn’t have to be.

At Vivo Team, we focus on the behaviors we demonstrate on a regular basis that are of high value to us, and we prioritize them; they formulate our core values: we are creators, we are leaders, we are champions.

Employee loyalty is a direct reflection of your company’s values.

We are Creators.

  • Our thoughtful and innovative approach to tackling new challenges results in impactful solutions.

We are Leaders.

  • Our passion and energy inspires our drive to achieve results for our team, our company, and our clients.

We are Champions.

  • Our success stems from our ability to build relationships, connect, collaborate, and celebrate across geographies.

As Renée shared with Greg Alexander, Founder of Collective 54 and The Boutique podcast:

“What’s important for me, as leader of the company, is I want to make sure that everybody (back to employee loyalty, employee engagement, and the intellectual capital of our organization) can embrace these core values. That I too want to be a creator. I want to be a leader. And I want to be a champion. If we can all align with that, then we’ve got something to build on.”

To ensure ongoing values alignment, and ultimately accountability, we’ve implemented a structure of “Feedback Friday”.

What does this look like?

On a weekly basis, we provide feedback to one another in response to the question: “What are the behaviors that I, or others, demonstrated that align with our values?” It keeps our coast-to-coast hybrid team aligned and accountable!

In this way, as Renée explained, we are also activating peer-to-peer feedback. Regular interactive feedback needs to become a regular practice within organizations.

Our vision, at Vivo Team, is to create winning companies and inspiring leaders. And our mission is to develop competence, motivation, and collaboration in the pursuit of outstanding results. Here, Renée expressed: “I also want my employees to be able to achieve that as well, in their day to day, and in their career achievement with us”.

Vivo Team has “attracted great employees because of our values, our vision, and our mission”, Renée stated. With good leaders and managers that are tightly connected around their accountabilities, we have an equation for success!

Be accountable to your values, your vision, and your mission. Accountability isn’t a one-and-done. It’s all about ongoing alignment.

Behaviors demonstrate accountability, so it’s important to behave in a way that supports and reinforces your vision, your dreams, and your aspirations.

Interested in what else Renée has to say? Listen to the full Episode #71 – How a Learning and Development Firm Retains Key Employees – Member Case.

Next-Level Manager

A Next-Level Manager (NLM) is the person you directly report to.

Do you have a NLM? Or, maybe you are one?

Your role as a NLM encompasses much more than just managing. It involves leading by example.

Lead with connection. Remaining connected with your direct report(s), especially in a hybrid or virtual work environment, is essential to maintaining clear communication, company cohesion, and accountability.

One way to do this is through a periodic check-in: a short, 10 minute semi-structured meeting between NLMs and their direct report(s).

If you’re a team member and you don’t regularly check-in with your NLM, consider introducing this idea in your organization or to your manager.

Why do an NLM check-in? 

It supports development and commitment, encourages active application of learnings, and keeps everyone in the know.

  • 25% of leaders and managers perform better
  • 29% are more committed
  • 40% are more likely to stay with the organization

What’s involved in an NLM check-in?

It’s an open dialogue between NLM and direct report. Consider key discussion points including: recent learnings, successes, and difficulties.

As an NLM, remember, your job is to listen, ask for clarification when needed, and refrain from prompting your direct report(s). This is an opportunity for them to demonstrate their ability to level up!

To ensure both parties are on the same page at the end of the check-in, conclude with a round of appreciations (something you liked), difficulties (anything you’re stuck on), and final statements (last words). At Vivo Team we make a concerted effort to end all of our meetings that way–encouraging immediate feedback, mutual understanding, and next steps.

8 Things Great Leaders Do

Leaders are great, but great leaders are better! So how do you go from being a good leader to being a great leader? As an emergent leader, or one who wants to level-up, what does this look like?

Check out the list of 8 things great leaders do that we’ve compiled from some of our great leaders!


1. Great leaders move decisions forward instead of sitting on them or procrastinating. This is something our CEO & Founder, Renée Safrata, models every day.

2. Make each day a series of small “yeses” and model this for your team. It’s a fundamental shift in approach and mindset. Encourage your team to bring forward solutions rather than bringing forward problems and expecting you (the leader) to solve them.

Emergent leaders: this is an easy and effective way to level-up your leadership! Say “yes” and commit to giving this a try. Remember, as the first point identifies, great leaders action items; so start by actioning this one!

3. Great leaders use “The Platinum Rule” when interacting with people. The platinum rule involves finding out what others want, are interested in, and passionate about, and then doing everything you can to help them to reach their goal(s). Our VP of Talent Activation and People Analytics, Dr. Jim Sellner, practices this rule.

David Yudis, a Vivo Team Executive Coach, shares a similar mindset: engage with The Platinum Rule, consider how others need to receive communication and adapt your messaging accordingly.

This element of personalization demonstrates your awareness as a leader, and shows your willingness to work to best support your team.

4. Great leadership isn’t just about you, and what you do. Our Executive Coach, Petra Mayer’s favorite thing great leaders do is listen and encourage great listening skills on their team.

Active listening helps to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes while demonstrating an interest in what is important to others–the foundation of empathy. This is critical for emerging leaders. Empathy is the ability and willingness to seek to understand others and is also a key ingredient in emotional intelligence.

5. Great leaders are energetic and inspiring, shares our Coach Greg Basham. They are excellent storytellers with engaging visions. This skill doesn’t happen overnight; practice makes perfect. As an emerging leader, this is a great place to start—test the waters, practice, refine, and learn from your mistakes.

6. Great leaders believe in their people. Believing is the first step, but the level up is demonstrating this belief. Consider the ways in which you can demonstrate your belief in your team.

7. Great leaders benchmark the achievement of their aspirations with data gathered from their teams. Data, analytics, and measurement is necessary to chart growth and track development. Achievements and results are difficult to demonstrate and justify without measurable, data-driven indicators. Our team assessment is crucial in this process. It measures and tracks team and leader performance, check it out! And, try assessing your own team.

8. Great leaders embrace discomfort. They openly and excitedly work through issues when there are conflicts around strategy or decisions. This openness and willingness to engage with discomfort is key for emerging leaders as well as those looking to level-up.

Embracing discomfort (rather than shutting down in moments of uncertainty) displays a willingness to learn and an appreciation for continued learning, growth, and development. THIS is what you want to continually demonstrate as an emerging leader. Such comfortability with discomfort positions you as a role model for your team members–encouraging them to be equally open to exploring and accepting discomfort.

Whether you’re a long-time leader or an emerging leader, strive to be a great one!

Feedback Fuels Change Resilience

What’s one thing you wouldn’t share with your team? Would it be in your best interest to share it? What’s something you weren’t previously aware of, but now you are?

These questions relate to different quadrants of the Interactive Feedback Matrix, a Vivo Team model for developing emotional intelligence (EQ) and a method for building collaboration. The Interactive Feedback Matrix is composed of four quadrants:

The Public Self – The public self indicates levels of self-awareness. It’s what others know and are aware of about you.

The Private SelfOpposite to the public self, the private self represents what others don’t know about you. A large private self can be suggestive of low level social skills.

The Blind SelfThe blind self is what you are not aware of. In other words, it represents your own unawareness. Researchers have found that although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10% to 15% actually are. (Harvard Business Review) 

The Unknown Self – The unknown self represents your well of potential. For example, maybe there’s something you thought you couldn’t do, but now you do really well.


You might be wondering what this has to do with feedback. Self-disclosure and giving feedback, feedforward, and following up can increase your public self, resulting in deeper connection and collaboration with your teams and leaders. On the other hand, asking for feedback, feedforward and following up can help you with both your blind and unknown self. (Read more about feedback, feedforward, and follow up here.)

The Interactive Feedback Matrix is more than just a personal tool, it can also be applied in a company setting.

Imagine you’re the leader of your team and you recently learned some change-related information, but you’re hesitant to share it with your team because you’re afraid it will create fragility and uncertainty. 

In the context of the Interactive Feedback Matrix, this change-related information currently sits in the private quadrant, along with other items such as the organization’s financials, hiring/firing insight, etc. 

The blind quadrant refers to what others know about you, but you aren’t aware of internally–perhaps customer service has gone awry but the company isn’t attune to this mishap. 

Continuing with the organizational approach to the matrix, the unknown quadrant is simply just that–the unknown. Many organizations have likely sat in this quadrant at some point throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The unknown, however, is where innovation and gems hide. Companies need to strategically harness these “unknowns” to add greater value to client experience. 

And finally, the public quadrant. This refers to the public-facing brand of the company/organization–what employees and the public are aware of. 

The matrix seamlessly shifts from being an individualized, personal tool, to being a company/organizational business tactic. 

Understanding both the personal and organizational applications of the Interactive Feedback Matrix facilitates emotional intelligence, collaboration, and ultimately change resilience.  

To start to uncover personal and company blind spots or to dig into that well of potential of the unknown, start asking for and giving interactive feedback.

2022 Learning and Development Trends

Trying to digest the buffet of 2022 learning and development (L&D) trends? We’ve done the taste testing for you! Here are our top five research trends in people analytics and L&D for 2022, served to you on a silver platter.

Change and adaptability are the dominant flavours, but don’t let them leave a sour taste in your mouth. Change is the spice of life; be aware and prepared, and you’ll be resilient!

Sample the 5-course menu below:

1. Reframing soft skills to “power skills”

Soft skills (i.e., communication, interactive feedback, structures, accountability, cohesion, and emotional intelligence) don’t reside in the periphery anymore, they’ve become essential, some may even say “powerful”. These skills give you, your team(s), and your company an edge–they’re critical to performance and success.

2. Employee engagement

Ensuring employees remain engaged and feel heard and respected supports longevity and retention. Communication, collaboration, and cohesion are key. Remember, a satisfied and supported workforce is a successful one!

3. Hybrid and virtual training is here to stay

63% of high-growth, high-revenue companies have adopted a hybrid working model (Accenture). Consider joining this club–they clearly know what they’re doing!

4. Collaboration

Gone are the days of siloed office cubicles. Collaboration among teams and leaders fuels creativity and innovation. Get ready to watch your productivity soar!

5. Application of learning

Listening and learning is one thing, but applying your learnings is another. Successful application of new knowledge is key; and our Team Assessment measures and tracks performance improvements–check it out!



(Based on reports from Training Industry, Udemy Business, SAP Litmos, Josh Bersin, Cindy Huggett, The Learning & Development Podcast, Jam3, and Dr. Nick H.M. van Dam.)


Virtual Onboarding

How to effectively and efficiently onboard a new employee virtually.

Meet Johnny Okito, Senior Software Developer; Fortunate Douglas, Client Experience Coordinator; and Darren Singh, Junior Software Developer. 

Did you know Vivo Team has 10 years of experience as a coast-to-coast, remote-first team? Even though we hire, onboard, train, and develop everyone virtually, several of our team members say that they’ve never felt more connected to their coworkers in spite of never being in the same room.

So, what is the secret sauce? We walk the walk, using the tools and processes that we teach daily in order to set up our new hires for success. Your team can easily onboard new team members virtually if the processes are clear and the tools are effective.

“Consider the efficiencies of the new digital tools and processes you implemented over the past two years. You want to keep those—they’re transferable! There’s no need to go back to the way you did it before if it works better.” – Renée Safrata, CEO and Founder, Vivo Team

The most important element isn’t the tools, but getting alignment and agreement on the norms of engagement, so people know what behaviors will set them and their team up for success. Here are some items to consider and evaluate:

1. Planning – Structures & Communication

Build a 4-6 week onboarding plan for every new hire which includes a checklist of tasks and a schedule of what they can expect.

2. Transparency – Accountability & Communication
Increasing digital visibility among your team boosts productivity and reduces stress. It’s not fun to have to track people down or to be tracked down. With a bit of structure and accountability to digital transparency, your new employees will thrive.

At Vivo Team, we have access to everyone’s calendars, and everyone does a daily check-in on our internal communication platform (we use Slack). This makes planning meeting times a breeze because you already know who’s available when. Also, by checking in each day, you won’t have to spend time and energy wondering where people are or what they’re working on.

3. Norms – Structures
Just because it’s obvious to you doesn’t mean it is to everyone! By agreeing to a set of behavioral norms, teams increase productivity and engagement significantly.

Clearly outline the types of behaviors that are expected of new employees. Do you have email norms? Meeting norms? A particular way files are stored and shared? Make sure these things are clearly laid out and that everyone understands and is aligned.

4. Create Connection – Emotional Intelligence & Cohesion
Being in the same building doesn’t ensure employee connection; the key is really about developing a thriving company culture.

During onboarding, we ensure that every member of the team books our new team member for a casual get-to-know-you chat. They also get invited to participate in internal weekly training sessions on our core teachings to build their knowledge and connections.

We have tools and techniques embedded at the start (check-ins) and end (appreciation, difficulty, final statement) of every meeting to help build connection and increase interactive feedback.

5. Beyond Onboarding
Here are some workplace activity ideas that promote connection and can be easily conducted in a virtual environment:

  • Share and celebrate wins, often—even the small stuff! Try a D.O.S.E.—the 12-minute weekly meeting that saves time while increasing connection and productivity.
  • Plan weekly development meetups to stir the creativity and collaboration juices, where smaller groups work on learning something new together.
  • Assign a mentor to new employees for 30-minute chats once every week or two.

Virtual onboarding can be effective, efficient, cost-saving, and develop a solid and rewarding company culture.

5 Tips for Virtual Meeting Success

Tee Komsa, Vivo Team’s Manager of Client Experience and Product Delivery, shares her top 5 tips for setting yourself up for successful virtual meetings:

  1. Mute internal communication softwares
  2. Wear headphones
  3. Have the meeting agenda/notes open and ready
  4. Log in early
  5. Hydration

How do you set yourself up for success in your virtual meetings?

Is Team Alignment all BS?
How behaviors and structures cultivate cohesion.

Behaviors and structures are the secret to hybrid efficiencies and team alignment. 

What does this mean? First, let’s start by defining team alignment. Team alignment affects how your employees work together on a day-to-day basis, but it also has significant effects on your overall company culture. 

When your team is aligned on priorities and works collaboratively you can create a workplace environment that fosters cohesion and attracts new hires.  


By defining a clear set of behavioral expectations among your team everyone will know what successful behaviors look like, especially if you model those behaviors.

How does that look in a hybrid workplace? Consider using (or reconsider how you’re using) digital docs and collaboration tools. Taking notes in the background of meetings using the share screen feature cultivates clear communication, an open and transparent meeting culture, and alignment in the moment.

This behavioral tactic is excellent for hybrid teams—focusing attention and collaboration regardless of place and space. It also fosters leadership, ownership of ideas, commitment and accountability, and replaces the need for meeting minutes and follow-up emails. 

Utilizing digital docs also serves as a great opportunity for mentoring and coaching junior employees. Encourage them to share their screen and take the notes, promoting a supportive culture of leadership while reinforcing behavioral expectations.


Efficient, successful teams depend on a structure everyone knows and anticipates to unify and streamline processes for conducting work.

Effective and jointly agreed upon structures, norms, and processes are a staple of successful business operations; they are a critical way to connect in person, in an age when it’s all too easy to focus on tasks instead of the outcomes required to achieve business results.

Team norms and decision making practices are key structural elements for team alignment. Scheduling and meeting structures are essential norms and structural processes. Having such structures in place ensures teams are aligned to, and prepared for the flow, priorities, and associated demands of the upcoming week.

Consider establishing a set of meeting norms. By agreeing to a set of meeting behaviors, teams significantly increase productivity and engagement. Some highly effective meeting norms (applicable in hybrid, virtual, and in-person settings) include:

  • Arrive on time; be prepared
  • Look at your co-workers
  • Listen and reflect 
  • Resist temptations

There’s no BS here! By focusing on behaviors and structures sustained team alignment is achievable. 

Actionable Accountability

There’s no “foolproof” way to achieving accountability—we’re all human! There are, however, simple and effective methods for holding yourself and others accountable. Let’s break them down:

Hold yourself accountable: 

Step 1: Get clear on the required task

Step 2: Understand what a “good job” looks like

Step 3: Just do it!

Click to download PDF of the Video TestHold others accountable: 

Step 1:
Use “I notice…” statements to describe what you observe. E.g. “I notice that your progress report is three days late.”

Step 2:
Outline the goal
. E.g. “The goal is to have your progress report submitted by noon every Thursday.”

Step 3:
Request a solution. E.g. “How will you make this happen? If you need help, let me know.”

“I’ve already used the “I noticed” line with one of my managers in a coaching conversation, and it is very powerful.” – Vivo Team Learner

The Video Test is a great place to start—actively observing a person’s behaviors so you can accurately describe those behaviors.

Make a commitment to be accountable (to yourself and others) in order to achieve collective goals—ultimately creating a sustainable system.

Level Up!

Our Customer Success Manager, Tee Komsa and Dr. Jim chat about the importance of staying connected with your Next Level Manager (NLM)—especially when working remote.

Strong communication, active listening, accountability, and feedback are key!