Detoxifying the Workplace (Starts with Cleaning Up Your Mindset) with Julie Bartkus [Podcast]

Posted on February 9, 2022 by Nate Regier / 0 comments
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Dr. Nathan Regier welcomes Julie Bartkus to today’s episode! She is an award-winning business owner, internationally known speaker, coach, and best-selling author. For more than 20 years, she has been helping leaders across the globe experience a workplace detox so they can cultivate a more harmonious workplace culture that leads to higher productivity, staff retention, and profits.

Julie has overcome several significant challenges in her life and in a pivotal moment, she realized that she had to detox and begin thinking new thoughts. Her mindset became a powerhouse that not only lifted far beyond what she thought possible in her life, but she also began a career of helping others do the same.

In today’s episode, Julie shares her unique definition of leadership: Doing what you love through other people. She shares her more formative leadership experiences, as well as the major transformation she assisted as a coach. Julie dives deep into mindset transformation and emphasizes the power of awareness as the beginning of any significant change. Julie shares the most common things that demotivate employees and tips to begin detoxing your workplace.


  • Leadership is doing what you love but through other people.
  • The first thing leaders can do to turn around toxic cultures is to get reconnected with their own vision and get crystal clear about what they want.
  • Communication gaps are one of the biggest demotivators in toxic workplaces.


VOICEOVER: Are you tired of the negativity and drama? Are you trying to make a difference only to be drained by people problems? The world needs more compassion not just more civility and empathy. We need in the trenches compassion that struggles alongside people instead of against them. We need a radically different way to engage for break-through results. And now here’s your host, Dr. Nate Regier.

NATE REGIER: Everybody is saying how tough it is to find and keep good people. The research paints a grim picture. Is everybody unhappy? Are they jumping ship left and right? No, there are workplaces that are thriving with great staff right now thanks in part to the work of my guest today. Julie Bartkus is an award-winning business owner, internationally-known speaker, coach, and best selling author. For more than 20 years, she has been helping leaders across the globe experience a workplace detox so they can cultivate a more harmonious workplace culture that leads to higher productivity, staff retention, and profits. Julie has overcome several significant challenges in her life. And at a pivotal moment, she realized that she had to detox and begin thinking new thoughts.

Her mindset became a powerhouse that not only lifted her far beyond what she thought possible in her life, she began a career of helping others do the same. As you all know, I’m a huge fan of mindset, so I’m so excited to hear more about that. Julie is a serial entrepreneur, and today her greatest joy comes from helping business owners and leaders transform their mindsets, reconnect with the heart of their business, and achieve great financial success. She believes that if a leader is authentically and genuinely happy in their own life they’ll have a strong foundation in place for cultivating a happy, healthy thriving team, which definitely comes back full circle, feeding into the leader’s continued happiness and success. As the founder of the Workplace Detox Movement, Julie partners with business owners to help them eliminate the toxic environments that are preventing them from creating the team of their dreams. When a workplace detox is achieved, an alignment is reestablished, leaders are in an incredibly powerful position not only to grow their business but to truly fall back in love with it again. Julie, welcome to On Compassion.

JULIE BARTKUS: Oh, thank you Dr. Nate, it’s such a pleasure to be here.

NATE REGIER: I am so glad I found you. When I saw the word detox, you talked about mindset, I thought, my goodness, we have got to connect because that’s something that we are so interested in is moving away from drama, changing our mindsets and starting to build thriving workplace cultures where people are happy and productive.

JULIE BARTKUS: Yeah. And the great news is that it is totally possible regardless of what we hear being preached right now, especially in today’s world that a lot of people are leaving their jobs. I think I heard the number was 10 million people over the past year have left their jobs, and the numbers are escalating. So how do you be the employer in your area who is not facing these challenges and not dealing with these struggles? And I really want to bring the message that it’s totally possible that you don’t have these struggles.

NATE REGIER: Well, I love that hopeful message from the beginning because, yes, when we look at the data, everybody is showing us the data about the bad things happening and what’s going wrong. But we don’t hear about the stories of success, we don’t hear about the companies that are somehow thriving. One of my recent guests Gary Ridge from the WD-40 company during COVID, during the pandemic, their engagement numbers went up, their productivity went up, their loyalty went up. So there are bright lights out there, and you’re helping companies do that. So would love to hear a little bit from you about your journey. Where did you get onto this detox thing and starting to help teams and cultures?

JULIE BARTKUS: Well, it’s been many, many years for me. And I think it started very young in dealing with difficult people entering the workforce and having a lot of difficult people and difficult circumstances unfold. But I really became fascinated in my journey, and I have a background in childcare, have a background in retail and in corporate. And it became this fascination of mine to really study leaders and to see, well, where is it that they’re excelling, and where is it that they’re not getting people to do what it is that they want them to do? And I remember stepping into my first leadership role, it was in the retail world. And basically, I was really excelling in my position and I was offered the opportunity to do more of what I love but through other people. Who has heard that before, right?

But then you quickly find out, wait a second, it’s more than that. Because I could be excelling at selling clothing and matching accessories. But when they say, “Oh, now you’re going to do what you love but through other people,” it’s like, well, wait a second, how do I deal with this? And I remember one of my first employees that I had, she punched in the clock. I was almost a brand new spanking manager, and it was my first week of managing a team, and she punched the clock. And then she said, “Oh, Julie, you know what, I’m hungry, I think I want to go get something to eat.” And I was just dumbfounded, I was like, what do you do? And I found out that there was no manual for new leaders or for people owners stepping into a leadership position where you decide you need staff. It’s pretty much like good luck, figure it out there. There’s no step-by-step.

So I was kind of lost in terms of what do I say, what do I do? And with this one employee, her name was Shannon. And I worked at a clothing store, it was Ed. I’m not sure if you remembered that or if you heard that chain. But it was back in the times when everything was matching, we had matching accessories and socks, everything was the same color. And I just really got into this line of clothing at Ed. But I remember looking at Shannon saying the only thing that I could think of to say, which was if you want to go out to eat or get something to eat after you punch the clock, maybe you ought to think about working at that other place. And the next day I was greeted by my regional manager who wasn’t so happy with what I had said. And I’m not judging myself, whether it was right or wrong, but the thing is I didn’t know.

And so many leaders don’t know what’s the right or wrong thing to say, and how do you cultivate this dynamic positive team who’s going to pull together and work towards your vision as opposed to towards their own agenda? So ever since this time, that was one of my early fascination points. And then I went into corporate America where in eight years I had 12 different supervisors. And I was always studying, what are they doing that’s working, what are they doing that’s not working? Because my mind just really wanted to wrap around this concept of leadership and this concept of doing what you love but through other people. Because I was then finding that it could be done. I was like, how do you do this? How do you still stay in that zone of I love what I created, I love what I’ve built for myself, but now I’m going to pass the torch to other people who are going to help me fulfill that? So I really made it a big area of study for myself.

NATE REGIER: I love your definition of leadership is doing what you love but through other people. Sometimes we talk about, well, people get promoted because they’re good at their jobs, so now I’m going to make you the supervisor of all the people. Somehow you’re supposed to know what to do, and so many leaders fall into just continuing to do what they did and don’t know how to do what you love through other people. So that’s really significant. I’ve never heard that definition before, and I love it.

JULIE BARTKUS: Oh, thank you. That’s the way I’ve always thought about it. It’s like all right.

NATE REGIER: So we’re going to get to some of your discoveries and some of the things you do to help companies and teams detox and get back on track. But you’ve worked for a lot of bosses, you went all over, you’ve done a lot of things. I’m sure you’ve worked for bad bosses, good bosses. And I’m curious, what are some of the things that stand out of some of the best bosses you ever worked for?

JULIE BARTKUS: I love this question because I actually wrote an article. On my LinkedIn page, you’ll find an article called, was it be your best boss? And it’s my recollection of one of my best supervisors ever, and her name was Michelle. And this was in corporate America, and she was probably one of my last supervisors that I worked for before I decided to go into business for myself and speak and consult and help others with what it is that I have learned. But Michelle wasn’t necessarily this touchy, feely person. She wasn’t the person who was really trying to get everybody’s approval or give you a lot of nice gifts and things like that. But what I really admired about Michelle … And Michelle, if you’re listening, know, I love you because you changed my life in so many ways.

But what she did do was have direct communication with me so I could see the areas where I needed to make improvements happen. And she was very direct in her communication with me, and I always felt that she had my back. I always felt that she hired me for a reason, and she stood behind that reason of why she brought me on board with her team. And that to me was very profound because the feeling of being able to learn and to grow in the workplace, knowing that I was fully supported to be my best was an ultimate gift to me to grow and mature into a better employee and an amazing business owner.

NATE REGIER: Those are some really important things, and wow. This boss sounds like she really encapsulated some of the best things that you’ve learned throughout the years about direct communication, have your back. I love what you said about she hired me for a reason and she stuck to that. Almost like there was a purpose and she was guiding and developing you towards that purpose and also guided you to be your best. So you weren’t just doing what other people wanted, but you were also able to find your passion and joy in it.

JULIE BARTKUS: Absolutely. She was brilliant at it. Even one day, I was doing something that wasn’t up to her measurements. And she says, “Julie, I realize that you’re really struggling with this.” And I believe in you, and I hired you and I want to get you some help with this. So here’s what I think our plan of action should be. So it wasn’t just a matter of you’re struggling with this, you suck at this, good luck, go somewhere else. It was I believe in you, I believe in the core foundation of why I hired you. And I think that is one of the most compassionate things that you can do as a leader. Well, actually this is two of them here. One is express your positive belief in your people but also know that it’s very compassionate to have that direct communication with your employees even if it sounds a little rough.
But that feedback is the best gift that you can give to your team. And if you short change them out of that, you’re short changing them out of the opportunity to grow. And that’s one big thing that she really taught me is, wow, she wasn’t trying to short change me, she was trying to really enhance who I was and to help me grow and develop and to coach me into that leader that she saw me to be in the workplace.

NATE REGIER: Well, fast forward the clock, now you’re the person that is coaching and teaching and training leaders to do this. On the way, I’m sure you’ve been part and helped facilitate and worked with some companies around some pretty major transformations. Any particular that stand out you’d like to share where you’ve been part of some major transformations?

JULIE BARTKUS: Yeah, absolutely. Some of the ones that really stick out in my mind are very severe things that are happening inside of organizations. So one transformation was there was a multi-site organization, they were about to close some of their sites. Didn’t know who was going to be keeping their jobs, who was going to be staying employed, who was going to be having what position. And I was able to go in there, I consulted with the executive director, we sketched out a plan of action. They wanted my involvement in announcing this to the entire organization. So we sketched out how it should go during the meeting so that everybody would leave feeling hopeful. And that’s really what we wanted, not to be deceitful about it, deceptive about it, but to really give everybody a sense of hope and to draw them into the bigger picture, which was this vision that we wanted to bring to life.

So I coached the executive director and the leadership team in how this meeting would work. And everybody literally we dance a lot during our programs, but during this one specific incident I remember everybody dancing out of the room. They were so excited. And we just made the announcement, they didn’t know if they would have their jobs. I’m like, whoa. This stuff can be very powerful when it’s done right. So you can take a really negative situation that’s happening in an organization, and you can really focus it on the big thing, the big vision and still get people’s buy-in because they want that vision to happen whether they can be a part of it or not. The hope is that they’re a part of it, but they still want to see the vision come to life.

NATE REGIER: I’m struck by how there’s several components into what you did there. We talk about compassion, there’s an emotional part, there is a cognitive part, and there is a behavioral part. It’s about our feelings and our connection as human beings, it’s also about problem solving. But it’s also about the highest accountabilities, purpose, ideals, and vision. And it seems like your strategy hit on all of those where you recognize the humanity here and the human beings here. But you also then drew them into a bigger picture and said there is a purpose and a vision and that we all are part of this solution. Wonderful stuff.

JULIE BARTKUS: Absolutely. And I think that’s a great synopsis, and that’s a wonderful summary. But we have to really start at the very top of the organization, and we have to look at how can connected is the leader feeling with their vision. And if they’ve lost their connection, regardless of what they’re going through, the people are going to lose their connection as well. So in absence of a vision, the people will perish, we’ve all heard that. But it’s so profound when you as a leader, whether you’re the owner, whether you’re an executive director, you really step back and go, “What is the vision? What is it that we’re working towards, and how connected am I to it?” And you engage and reengage your heart with it first. And then when you are reengaged with it, then you are in a powerful position to engage other people with that vision. But when you’re running around and we’re confused, we don’t know what’s happening, we don’t know what’s going to be, when we present this confusing message, everybody’s going to be just in a state of chaos as opposed to, yeah, let’s make this thing happen.

NATE REGIER: Well, two powerful messages again. We all have heard, it starts at the top, it starts with leadership. But what you’re also saying is with the leader, it starts within them and it ends within them. They have to engage and reengage their heart with that mission because if they’re not connected to it, how can they possibly lead others in that direction?

JULIE BARTKUS: So true, so true. So that was one of the big transformations I’ve seen happen. Another one is a client, she had a one location business. And basically she was getting slapped with violations and she was not having staff showing up and staff were quitting. And she couldn’t really make her vision or her business work without having the right staff in place. So I came into the picture to really reconnect her again with the vision and then get the right staff in place so that she can slowly get herself out of this hole because that’s what it comes, it becomes this big black hole once you start going down it. The vision’s collapsing, the people aren’t showing up. There’s not enough staff, there’s not enough clients, there’s not enough money.

And you just get yourself into this big black hole. And it’s really about, well, where do we start to bring this back to life? And where’s the most important places to reconnect and to take action and to have the right strategy in place because we could all implement a hundred million different strategic ideas. But if they’re not the right ones that align with our mindset and align with our vision, what difference does it make?

NATE REGIER: Wait, so are you trying to tell me that perhaps if I have a problem with retention and engagement and attracting the right people it might not be about the conditions out there, it might not be about maybe what I’m paying them or the job market or I just can’t find any qualified people, it might actually have something to do with my connection to the vision within my own company? Are you trying to say that?

JULIE BARTKUS: Such a powerful … Oh, yes, I am. Such a powerful observation, it’s true.

NATE REGIER: That’s both scary but it’s also liberating. It’s liberating, meaning, hey, maybe I have some influence over this, maybe I’m not a victim of the conditions. It’s also scary because maybe I am responsible for more than I thought. Let’s talk about workplace-

JULIE BARTKUS: That’s true, that’s so true.

NATE REGIER: It’s scary stuff. But that’s what leadership is about. And I know you are not here to make us feel all good, you’re here to help us look at the real stuff. And compassion sometimes means telling the truth. Well, it always does in a caring way. I want to get to this workplace detox. How did you come up with this? What is workplace detox all about?

JULIE BARTKUS: So when I was working in the corporate world, I was just really looking at everything that made up a toxic workplace. And there was a lot of it. There were a lot of different symptoms that we could identify of things that aren’t working well in a workplace, gossip, negativity, drama, people not coming in and working the hours they should be working, people not having integrity in the workplace. So there’s all different kinds of symptoms that we could identify. And then I started speaking and consulting, went into business for myself at a pivotal time in my life. And I realized that in workplaces it’s not so much about what we need to do to have a motivated team because I started getting calls from all over the world, Japan, Italy when I started speaking internationally. And they would say, “Julie, what do I need to do to have a motivated team? What do I need to do?”

And my thought process was, well, wait a second, it’s not necessarily what we need to do, it’s who we need to be. But it might need to be looked at in terms of, well, what is it that we need to stop doing? What is it that we need to remove from the workplace that’s causing the toxicity to survive and to thrive in the workplace? So what is it that we need to take away from the environment to make it back to that place of excitement and that place of vision and that place of focus?

NATE REGIER: Well, I’m curious, so what do we need to take away?

JULIE BARTKUS: It really depends upon the organization that we’re looking at. And I think the biggest thing that we need to start looking at is, and I know you’re an advocate of mindset, but we really need to start looking at, well, what’s the mindset that we have from the top of the organization downward, and how is that impacting our entire team? And mindset is crucially important. And I remember reaching a pivotal point in my life when I was about to go into business for myself. I hadn’t left corporate America yet, and I was in the midst of leaving an abusive relationship. And I remember thinking to myself that there’s a different way to think. And if you could adopt this different way of thinking, you’re going to start getting different results in your life. And I really wasn’t aware of this until I hit this pivotal moment where it’s like I’m leaving corporate America, leaving an abusive relationship.

And I remember sitting there in the dark corner of my room reading a book because Borders and Barnes & Noble became my date nights for Fridays and Saturdays. And I just started finding these books that were resonating with me. And I came across Norman Vincent Peale who said that if you could change your thoughts, you could change your world. Or Dr., excuse me, I don’t think he’s a doctor, but Og Mandino who said that you are not a tree condemned to a small plot while the wind and world abuses you, you can run and stretch and dance and work and play. But I started feeding my mind with all of these different thoughts, and I’m like, “Wait a second, I could think different, and I could start getting different results.”

And this became such a transformational moment for me in my life. I started applying it to what I was teaching on a leadership level. And I’m like, wait a second, we could start treating the symptoms. We can look at workplace gossip, we can look at negativity, we can look at this and start throwing bandaids on everything or we could dig a little bit deeper, get to the root cause of the issue, transform that. And then voila, we’ve got long-lasting positive results. And that’s what happens when you shift your mindset just like I had to shift my mindset in that room reading there in the dark with my highlighter letting these words transform my heart and soul. That’s the same thing that’s true in our workplaces. So one of the first things that we really have to look at that’s a pivotal place to start is, well, what are the thoughts that you’re thinking about your team? What are the thoughts that you’re thinking about what’s possible in this economy? What are the thoughts that you are thinking about what you can achieve this year?

And when I look at this and how it pertained to my personal life, I started thinking like, wait a second, I had all these limited thoughts about what was possible in terms of the relationships I was having. Once I changed it, the relationships changed, and it was like magic. So the same thing is true, and I see this happening, and I’d love to hear your stories too because I’m sure that you’ve seen this totally change leaders and what they’re able to do in their workplaces once they shift their mindsets and once they recognize, well, hey, what are the thoughts that I need to start detoxing here? Meaning what thoughts do I need to stop thinking so that I’ll get a different result in my life personally and professionally?

NATE REGIER: So powerful Julie. And I think you’ve really hit on something so critical. And we discovered the same thing in our work that sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how motivated you are, no matter how much effort you put forward, no matter how smart you are, if your mindset is flawed, you’ll just keep getting the same results even with lots of effort. I think that’s really profound. I want to repeat this to the listeners, sometimes it’s not about what else do I need to do, sometimes it’s about what you need to stop doing or do differently. That will help us start getting to the root cause and putting bandaids on things and just getting busier and have more things to worry about. Thank you. And I also appreciate you sharing that personal story. Before we go on to-

JULIE BARTKUS: You’re welcome.

NATE REGIER: What this looks like … Yeah, you bet. Before we go on to what this looks like professionally in your work, was there a particular thought or way of thinking that really stands out that when you changed it it made the big difference for you? Would you be willing to share any small way in which you were thinking that when you dig deep, you did the work, you opened yourself up to that transformation, what did you discover?

JULIE BARTKUS: There definitely was. And what I realized was that there’s these repetitive thoughts. And according to most leading psychologists, we have approximately 60,000 thoughts every single day, 87% of those on average are negative. And what was really mind blowing to me was that 95% of these thoughts that we think every single day are repetitive. So I started thinking about the thoughts I was thinking. And I would catch myself with some old programming from being a child growing up. And I had somebody who was very close to me, whenever I screwed up or whenever he felt like it, he would say to me in his loud voice, “You dummy, you dummy, you dummy.” And he was just doing the best that he could with what he had and with what he learned growing up not realizing that you are putting these thoughts into my head that I’m going to be thinking repetitively for years. So I could be 30 years old driving down the road, I miss my exit, what do you think is the first word that pops into my head?

NATE REGIER: You dummy, you dummy.

JULIE BARTKUS: Oh, you dummy. Right, exactly. But how many times do we do this in life where we have this old word, this old pattern and it surfaces? Whether we’re driving down the road, we miss our exit or we mess up a project at work or something else gets skewed, what are you saying? For some people it’s like you idiot, you dummy. How did you do this? And we feed ourselves and reinforce ourselves with all these different negative messages. So that one was a profound one for me that I had to rework. And I actually came up with a formula for reworking my thoughts. Every time I identified one that didn’t serve me, I would write it down and I would become aware of it. And when I became aware of it and it was right there in front of my face, I couldn’t deny its existence.

So I started reflecting and I’d go, “Wait a second, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I don’t want to think that anymore, I need to interject something different here.” So I started coming up with different thoughts that would serve me. And typically, they start off with I’m thankful for or I look forward to or I am. So I would start using those phrases to really detoxify my own thoughts to get to the place of this feels different to say every day I’m getting better and better or I am amazing at what I do.

To sit in that space that energetically served my vision felt outstanding. And such a difference from having that negative word of you dummy. And there’s a lot of other ones in there too, but that to me was probably the most profound because it was there through my childhood, through my adulthood, and it was the pivotal moment. When I was sitting there in that room highlighting those books, I was looking for thoughts to replace you dummy because that’s what was going through my mind. And that was at the foundation of me making a lot of decisions.

NATE REGIER: Well, I think you’ve really illustrated a great principle of mindsets is that a mindset is a decision. The practice of making that true is definitely a practice, it’s a skill, you have to do this every day. But it started with you making a decision that … And when we talk about a couple of switches, one of them is the switch of value, am I valuable or not or is my value conditional on someone else not calling me a dummy? And you made a decision that I am valuable unconditionally. So therefore here are the things I’m going to say differently, I’m going to do differently, I’m going to practice every day. Because I’m guessing it’s easy for us to slip back into those old habits if we don’t cultivate the new things every day because we’ve been practicing those repetitive thoughts for a long time.

JULIE BARTKUS: Yes, absolutely true. And to me, the step before decision was awareness. And once you have awareness, then you can make that decision. But if you don’t have the awareness … And a lot of people, I don’t think have the awareness. Let’s say you’re an owner and you have employees and they’re leaving or they’re quitting and they don’t tell you the real reason why they’re going. And maybe it’s because they’re not happy with your leadership style. But they keep telling you different things and you don’t really get to learn the truth. You get short changed out of that awareness until you gain it some other way. So you really have to get the awareness and the awareness leads you to the point to say, “Do I want something different? Am I’m going to make a new decision?” And then you could go forward with it. Which is the point where I was at where I was like, “I need a new decision here because I don’t want these continued results.”

NATE REGIER: Wow. So for listeners, just a couple things we’ve covered so far, we’ve talked about Julie’s definition of leadership, which is doing what you love through other people. What a profound way to think about. That’s already a mindset shift for me. We’ve talked about some of your formative influences, some of the best leaders that you had and some of the transformations that you’ve had in those businesses. You’ve opened our minds to what mindset is and how it starts with awareness, the next is we make a decision. And that sometimes changing toxic cultures is not about doing more, it’s about doing less of the things that are bringing us down and replacing those with positive things. I want to leave our listeners with some practical things. And I know you mentioned that you have identified some things, you’ve seen some stuff and figured some stuff out. One of the things you talked about is all of the things that demotivate people because if there’s anything leaders need to do, it’s motivate people. So what are just a couple, maybe mention a couple of the most common things leaders do that maybe inadvertently demotivate their people.

JULIE BARTKUS: So I would really like everybody to think when you first hire an employee, how excited are they to work for you or at least what’s the impression? Are they pretty excited on a scale of 1 to 10? Is it number 10? And I would hope so. If you’re making some good hiring decisions, you’re hiring those people who are really enthusiastic, really excited to work for you. But what we find in organizations is, yeah, that employee comes in at a level 10, they’re so excited. But then an hour or a week or a month or a day later, it’s like it changes. So what I began becoming fascinated about, well, what’s causing this change to happen? And what’s causing these folks to be, what I call, demotivated? And that’s why I really started going into organizations and asking employees all different levels from a cook to an executive director to an owner, what motivates you in the workplace and what demotivates you?

And I started really looking at the root cause of what’s demotivating people so that we can put long-lasting solutions into place. So think about that, think about a new employee coming in, they’re really excited. They’re already excited, you don’t have to do anything else. It’s not like you have to give them a puppy so they’re going to be more excited. It’s a figuring out of, well, hey, what’s depleting the motivation now that they’re in our workplace? And that’s what I’ve identified is about 40 different things that will really drain that motivation. And it’s individualized, different for each organization that I work with. But it’s really important to think and to flip your mindset to be thinking like, oh, well, once I get them in here, what’s going to demotivate them, what’s going to drain that motivation?

So if we were to look at a few that I think are really top ones that I’ve identified, the first one is lack of new staff orientation. And I was thinking about this in preparation for our interview today, I was like, all right, what are the biggest ones that I see out there and the ones that we’re continuously working on? And one is really you hire the person, you do the happy dance, they’re in place, “Woo-hoo, we got somebody. Let’s go, let’s rock,” and you’re just onto the next thing. And then you forget about that person. And that person a day, a week, month later, they’re struggling. And there might be things going on that you are totally unaware of. There might be judgments happening from current staff. There might be things that they don’t know how to deal with. Maybe it’s a customer, a process or a procedure. Or maybe they do something wrong and now they feel bad about that and they don’t know how to deal with that communication.

So we really have to look at how are we setting our people up for success from the very start? And that would be one of the hot ones for me right now, especially with the hiring crunch that everybody seems to be in that when we get somebody in place, we’re like, “Yes, we got somebody. We need three more people and we’ll be good.” But you get the third person in and the first one’s ready to leave. So we really want to look at what’s your orientation or onboarding process like, and how are you removing overwhelm from the new employee once they start with you? Because a lot of times new employee comes in and right away, boom, overwhelm with everything they have to deal with. So now we want to pull back the layers and understand, well, what’s overwhelming this person, what’s draining their motivation, and how do we set them up success? What do you think of that one?

NATE REGIER: Those are really important, really important. Give us one more. And then I want ask you where do we start to start getting things turned around? What’s one more demotivator?

JULIE BARTKUS: That’s an important question. All right. So another big one, which one should I share with you? All right, I’ll do this one. Communication gaps is another one, is to really identify where is there a gap in communication? And here’s the thing that I want you to understand, it’s not necessarily about, well, where’s the reality of the gap, it’s understanding where does the employee feel like there’s information that they’re not getting? So what information do they feel that they’re not getting in order to do their job successfully? Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you as an owner or as a leader agree that, hey, this is information that they need. But it’s information that they feel that they need or information that they feel is missing. And that’s really important to understand is to look at your organization and say, well, what are all the different communication gaps that are happening? And how do we close that gap so that everybody feels like communication is flowing, communication is good? And again, reducing overwhelm and reducing the turnover.

And the thing that’s really interesting with these demotivators is that we can fix them all from the top down. So if you’re an owner, they could all be fixed, a leader, they could all be fixed. But we also have to, like we talked about earlier is just take responsibility. Swallow that tough pill and understand that when we don’t take responsibility for the chain reaction of destructive events that’s going to flow as a result of these things being present, we’re going to get stuck and our employees are going to feel stuck. So we really want to remove that feeling of being stuck.

NATE REGIER: Yeah. No, I like what you said there about it’s not the reality of the communication because it’s so easy for leaders to say, well, I’ll tell you what you need to know. But it’s really about their perspective of what information helps them feel confident, get the job done and can help them be successful. And that is a tough pill to swallow because I know a lot of leaders who actually get their power and boost their ego by their control of information and not really thinking about is information going to empower people or is it keeping me in control? So thank you for that. I’d love to jump just real briefly to how we turn things around. What are some just real quick tips or just … I know you can’t go into a lot of detail, but where should we art? Where do leaders start in turning around a toxic culture or detoxing?

JULIE BARTKUS: Yeah. So when we look at detoxing, I actually came up with a meaning for each letter of the word detox. And the first letter D is for desire. You’ve got to get really clear on what it is that you desire and what you want to bring to life. It is really easy when there’s a lot of toxic behaviors going on in the workplace to focus on what’s not working, to focus on what we want to change and have conversations. So think about the conversations you have with loved ones or when you go home in the evening, and are you focusing on like, wow, Susie really blew it off the table with this fantastic thing that she did or are you talking about, man, yeah John was late again and this was going on and this was going on?

Chances are we focus on the problem? So what we want to do is switch our mindset to start focusing on what it is that we desire, what it is that we want to bring to life and get really clear about that. And if you can even just get to the place where you’ve got your desires written down on a piece of paper, that’s going to be monumental for helping you make some huge shifts happen in the next 12 months.

NATE REGIER: Fantastic. Thank you, that’s great.

JULIE BARTKUS: You’re welcome.

NATE REGIER: We can do a whole nother conversation on any one of these topics. And I so appreciate all that you’re sharing, it’s just wonderful stuff. Before we wrap this up, I am just curious if there is something right now that you are really excited about, really passionate about? What gets you up every day today?

JULIE BARTKUS: What gets me up every day? That’s such a powerful question. It’s being able to instill the hope within our leaders out there in the world, I’ll say worldwide, that there is something different that is possible in spite of the message that you’re hearing on social media, in spite of the message that you’re hearing via the news. There is something that’s different that’s possible for you if you are brave enough to cultivate the desire and cast a big, bold, amazing vision. And when I see leaders making the shift from not being able to attract any employees to getting 40 amazing applicants in two days, I’m like, yes. That to me is just showing how amazing this world is and that we are a world of abundance and a world of prosperity. And I love those two words. And I think that if we could all see a different side of the equation, we can bring a whole different result into our life.

NATE REGIER: So the message of hope here, Julie, is that the news maybe looks grim, but there are many successes out there. And we don’t have to be a victim of what’s going on because leaders can take initiative. Make the choice, become aware, set their desire, get crystal clear about what they really want and move towards that. And they can have so much influence over that. And you just gave an example, a leader thinking they can’t attract staff to two days later know they got 40 people. So change is possible, and it starts with being able to be brave enough, like you said, to cultivate that desire and cast a big, bold, amazing vision. Julie, how can people-

JULIE BARTKUS: Absolutely.

NATE REGIER: Sorry about that. How can people get ahold of you if they want to work with you, learn more? Where should I send people?

JULIE BARTKUS: Thank you, and thank you for that opportunity. Yes, please come visit me. I’m, J-U-L-I-E, B-A-R, T as in Tom, K-U-S. And there’s actually a form up for a free getting unstuck consultation. If you want to just have a conversation with me and see if it’s a good fit that I can move your organization forward, I would love to chat.

NATE REGIER: Thank you. and a free consultation, that’s fantastic. And we will put this in the show notes so people can get a hold of you. Julie, thank you again so much. I know that there’s so much more we can talk about, maybe we’ll have to get together again. But for now, what a joy. Thanks you for being-

JULIE BARTKUS: Would love it.

NATE REGIER: Thanks for bringing compassion to the work you do, to your clients and to this show.

JULIE BARTKUS: Oh, you’re so welcome. And thank you so much for putting out such a fantastic show. I’ve listened to some previous episodes, and I really encourage everybody to binge listen to a lot of the past issues. There’s so much fantastic information there.

NATE REGIER: Here are my three takeaways from a wonderfully inspiring and eye-opening conversation with Julie Bartkus. First of all, leadership is doing what you love but through other people. This is such a fresh new perspective for me. Of course, it’s nice to do what we love, but the idea of doing it through others gives a new purpose and passion for becoming a great leader. Second, so often we look outside of ourselves or side of our organization to figure out why we have low engagement, turnover or difficulty finding great people. But maybe Julie says the problem starts and lies within us. Her research and experience show that the first thing leaders can do to turn around toxic cultures is to get reconnected with their own vision and get crystal clear about what they want. If they lose this connection, so will their people. And finally, communication gaps are one of the biggest demotivators among toxic workplaces. Closing this gap starts with asking your employees what they need from you in order to do their job better. This may not be the same as what you think they need to hear or what you think is important.

VOICEOVER: I hope you enjoyed this episode of On Compassion with Dr. Nate. If you found new hope or guidance for your life, will you share it with your tribe? If you know someone who could be a great guest, please let us know. Are you ready for a practical way to bring more compassion to your organization? We have a solution. Visit Check out the show notes for links and contact information. And remember to subscribe, rate, and give a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening, until next time. Keep your compassion mindset engaged.

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