Our host Evan Hackel recently interviewed Dirk van Reenen, founder of BERGflow, for another great Training Unleashed podcast.
What is BERGflow? If you visit the company’s website, you will see that the company’s mission is “helping service-based companies build better teams.” But when Evan and Dirk started to chat, their discussion took off like a skyrocket. Yes, they were talking about building teams, but before long they were discussing how humans adapt to rapid change, about leadership, recruitment, job satisfaction, performance, and of course, training.
Their conversation was remarkable, deep, and extraordinary. We are pleased to offer you the following excerpts. Be sure to watch the podcast and learn more.
Evan – Today, we’re going to talk about a whole bunch of things. We’re going to talk about recruitment and retention. How do you keep people? How do you keep them excited? How do you get the best from your staff?
Dirk – In 2016, I was the CEO of a large organization with 500 salespeople who were doing over $800 million a year in sales. And I learned something that year that was very significant, and it had to do with the rate of change in the world and the human ability to adapt to change.
Several universities did research and determined that a human being has a static ability to adapt to change. And once the rate of change exceeds that, then the human starts experiencing a higher level of stress, anxiety and feeling lost.
That resonated with me on such a deep level, and I started understanding, this is going to start shattering the business world. Up until that point, leaders could tell their people what to do and leaders could navigate the world for their people.
But after that point, leaders could no longer by themselves navigate the world. They had to start switching to a collaborative team model to be able to navigate the increasingly rapid rate of change. So when I understood that, I resigned from my corporate position, and I started a company that could help businesses navigate building teams in this new kind of environment.
So when we looked at what we were going to be doing regarding teams, we said, “We want to be able to take on large challenges because only if you’re willing to take on big challenges in the world, will you be able to unlock big opportunities. And if you can unlock big opportunity and capitalize on it, then you get a big reward.”
Evan – Can you explain your company’s name? Berg means mountain, and that reflects what you just said about big challenges and big rewards, right?
Dirk – Yes. In the physical world, we said, okay, what represents something big? And for us, it’s a mountain. So that’s where the word “berg” came from in our name, it means mountain.
The flow part of it came from a documentary called “Happy.” If you’ve never seen it, I would highly recommend watching it. It looks at what creates joy and happiness within people. It identifies about five different elements that have to be present. One of them was this thing called flow. And that documentary was actually the first time I’d heard about the state of flow. It stuck with me.
Flow is that state where you are doing something and nothing else matters, time ceases to exist, and you’re fully immersed in what you’re doing. And the documentary actually presented research that flow had to be present in your life if you wanted to experience higher levels of happiness. So for us at the company, it wasn’t just about taking on big challenges, it was also being able to do work where you could experience flow, and that’s where the name BERGflow came from.
Evan – There’s been a seismic shift in the way we do business. The top-down authoritarian style is no longer effective. And you know, we’re in an environment where workers have never had more power than they have right now. It requires companies to be excellent in how they work with their team and staff to retain people. This is as hot a topic as there is right now. What are the keys to building a culture that retains great people?
Dirk – Well, I think the first thing to recognize is that there has been a really big shift. People who work for companies have said, “Hey, enough, if you can’t care about me as a human being, you know what? I’ll go find somewhere else to work.”
And I heard a prediction a few weeks ago that more than 30 percent of the workforce is going to change jobs in the next year. That is a massive number,
Evan – I’ll just share with you that for years and years, Gallup has done research that has shown somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of employees, if they could, would change jobs. So when you say 30 percent are going to shift? I totally get it because I think there’s pent-up demand of people that have wanted to but have been afraid to and haven’t had the opportunities to change. Now, they see those opportunities.
Dirk – Virtual work has completely changed opportunities for people. So today, people are saying, “Why do I work? Where I work? Why do I do the kind of work I do? If I could do something else, what would that look like?”
It’s essentially a buyer’s market today. Companies are scrambling to try to find good talent. The talent has the power in their hands. So the question that they have is, OK, if I have the control, where am I going to work?
Companies that understand the shift are gaining massive ground on the companies that don’t understand what’s happening right now.
I heard a John Maxwell podcast not too long ago, where he was [saying] . . It’s not about leadership anymore, it’s about collaborative teams. When we started in 2016, we knew that the key for companies to survive the future was that there would be no leaders that were smart enough to navigate all the changes, make all the decisions, or train their people
Suddenly, it had to be about finding the right people and teaching teams how to start working together and supporting each other. And I think one of the biggest changes in the workplace today is companies that are building that kind of environment and culture where it’s not about you showing up and doing your job, it’s about being part of a team. And part of that means that you are looking out for your coworkers, for your peers.
Evan – You’ve talked about the importance of getting to know people as people right now. By the same token, we’ve got training around that, sexual harassment training in particular, where there are very clear boundaries. You need to be careful that someone doesn’t feel like they’re misreading your intention. If you understand what I’m saying.
So I guess my question is, how do we connect with people and learn about their lives yet at the same time, respect a certain degree of privacy and boundary?
Dirk – Yeah, and this is a this is a really good question, because there’s definitely a clash between human resource type regulations and what it looks like to really get to know a person, right? There’s that there’s that clash within the workplace. And I think a lot of companies are so afraid of all the rules and regulations that they create a system where people are cogs because they feel like if they go any further than that, they’re going to put themselves at risk.
So the first thing I’d say is always follow EEOC compliance where, you know, within your state, within the U.S. and be compliant in what you do. Now, with that in mind, is there still an element of getting to know people?
On the Value of Training
Evan – Training in many, many companies is undervalued. Management doesn’t take it seriously, yet we know that effective training has a huge impact on companies and can massively improve sales margins. Operational efficiency can create people who really understand the brand. So you get brand stewards, and people who can deal with people with different personalities. A lot of times the training department doesn’t have the voice at upper management, or it doesn’t have the voice themselves to advocate. What advice do you give to people in training to help them as their team is part of the bigger team?
Dirk – And again, the short answer is, look, if you don’t have the right people in the right positions, it is going to be really hard to train them. If we understand more about the human beings that are in those positions, we can adjust the training to their preferred learning style, to their level of cognitive agility, how fast they’re processing.
A Special Offer for You from Dirk van Reenan
Dirk would like to invite fans of Training Unleashed podcasts to have a complimentary call and consultation. To take advantage of this offer, visit BERGflow.com, contact Dirk and his team, and request your free consultation. Be sure to mention Training Unleashed.
About Our Guest
Dirk van Reenen is founder of BERGflow, a training and education company specializing in working with CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs. BERGflow empowers these individuals to think bigger, gain massive clarity, find new purpose and passion, and become alive again through raw adventure!
Before founding BERGflow, Dirk was CEO of a large organization with 500 salespeople who were doing over $800 million a year in sales.