From Hiring to Inspiring with Julie Bartkus

Over the past 20 years, Julie Bartkus has helped leaders across the globe transform their workplace culture from negative and destructive to happy and productive. Julie has identified over 30 staff de-motivators that drain team members of their motivation and has developed The D.R.I.V.E. Method to help leaders attract the right staff to support their vision. Her Total Team Transformation System has propelled leaders out of feeling stuck and lost to experiencing tremendous joy in attracting, interviewing, hiring, motivating and retaining the team of their dreams.

Inside This Episode

  • Where to Start to Hire the Right People
  • Challenges of Finding the Right Person
  • Common Hiring Mistakes
  • Interviewing Strategies
  • How to Seamlessly Attract, Recruit and Train a High-Performing Team
  • Reducing Turnover
  • Building Connection Throughout the Organization
  • The Power of Vision in Shaping a Culture



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John Ryan
You're listening to key conversations for leaders. This is episode number 56. Hey everybody, and welcome to key conversations for leaders. I'm your host John Ryan. And today we have very special guests, Julie Bartkus. Over the past 20 years, Julie has helped leaders across the globe transform their workplace culture, from negative and destructive to happy and productive. Julia's identified over 30 staff D motivators that drain team members of their motivation. And it's developed the drive method to help leaders attract the right staff to support their vision. Her total team transformational system has prevented as propelled leaders out of feeling stuck and lost to experiencing tremendous joy in attracting, interviewing, hiring, motivating, and most importantly, retaining the team of their dreams. And we have are here today on our show. Welcome to the show. Julie, thanks for being here. Thank you so much. It's such a pleasure to be here with you. I'll think, you know, want to start by asking, you know, what was it that drew you to talking to companies and leaders around hiring and really developing that dream team?

Julie Bartkus 1:03
Well, you know, what started with my work experience. And I realized that when I was getting promoted, there wasn't a lot of support for people moving into leadership positions. It was you're really good at what you do. How would you like to do more of what you do now through leading a team? And I would jump on board and say, Yes, that sounds fantastic. And then you get a pat on the back, and good luck, you know, there you go on that. And that was it, you had a different place where you could eat lunch or hang your coat. But there wasn't a lot of step by step training in terms of what to do and how to manage and motivate and retain great staff. So right from that moment, that was early in my 20s, I got really fascinated by leaders who excelled at having motivated teams. And I was also really studying leaders who were demotivating their staff, meaning they wouldn't get the results that they wanted with their team. So I really made it an Abbott study, and especially as I moved up into leadership, I was like, oh, okay, that's what not to do.

Julie Bartkus 2:03
And sometimes I was just clueless. It was like, nobody's got a got a book here. So I just started putting the pieces together. But I became fascinated with it. And after doing a stint in retail, and then moving into corporate for several years, I decided to get out there and speak. And I was listening to motivational speakers who were changing my life, like Les Brown and augmon, Dino and Zig Ziglar. And all the greats and I was like, wow, if I could just get out there and speak and change one person's life with my words, that would be the ultimate thing that I would love to do. So started speaking, talking about workplace gossip, other issues, and it just became like, you know, just expanding from there. Well, now that we've got this great team, how do we attract more? So really, the topic just started expanding and expanding?

John Ryan 2:50
Well, the one place versus start, of course, is that beginning of the process, which I imagine, is hiring, you know, is it really hard to find the right person for the right job? Or is there just a skill set in going through that process that we need to learn?

Julie Bartkus 3:05
I believe it's a skill set. But I also believe that there's a belief system involved. Right now, many industries are struggling. And they're struggling to find staff, and some of them are looking and looking incredibly hard, and they're not finding the staff that they want. So what I really teach are attraction principles, for attracting the people you want, as opposed to trying to find them, because it's a different process to me. And I always reflect on who said Henry Ford, who said, whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. And that's why when I teach attraction principles, the first thing that we really have to shift is our mindset, to start believing that a different result is possible. Because let's face it, if you're out there, and you're trying to attract an amazing team, you're not going to be able to do it. If your mindset or if your belief system is it's just not possible. Nobody wants to work right now. They'd rather stay home, they can make more money collecting unemployment, whatever the belief system is, you're going to prove yourself, right. So with the work that I do, first part and foremost, first and foremost, we really have to come to agreement to say, Well, can you accept that something different than what everybody else is saying about hiring staff as possible? Because it might be really hard for them. But it doesn't mean it has to be hard for you.

John Ryan 4:30
Wonderful. So that's really one of the first things that we need to look at when we're hiring a team and going out and doing recruiting is the mindset piece. Are there any other mistakes that you know people make when they're looking to build that dream team?

Julie Bartkus 4:45
So when they're looking to hire? Yes, yeah. You know, so I think listening to everybody else on the status quo of what's going on out there is really it's a big mistake, but it's really hard when you're saying things with your eyes to pull yourself back to a place where you can actually start Getting a different result. But it's really important that you that you do the other mistake. That's a big one is Help Wanted ads. And a lot of times I just talked to a leader yesterday, I was advising her on how to attract and staff and she's like, I asked him, how's your ad? And she's, oh, it's great. It's colorful, and it's bright. And we offer competitive benefits and wages. And you know, all these things. I'm like, oh, wait a second, how old is that ad? She's like, Oh, well, you know, this is the ad that we've been using for probably five, six years. So one mistake, another mistake that we make is really pulling out that old time, tested, Help Wanted ad, putting it back out there and hoping we get a different result. And it's really the energy behind the intent, that's gonna get you results with your hiring efforts. And that's really important. It's the energy behind the intent.

Julie Bartkus 5:55
So I even have clients, they have fantastic Help Wanted ads, but they still shifted, because it's not the right energy. So they read the ad. And they ask themselves, well, you know, if I were my dreamy team member, would I be attracted to that ad? And if the answer comes back, no, then we have to rewrite it and put some different energy into it. And it's not about selling them on, on benefits on, you know, benefits and wages and all that. Today, it's really important that that ad, sells them on your vision, that that help wanted ad helps them to feel connected. And that's really the key word right there is we need right from the very start for people to start feeling connected with us. And that's what's going to cause them to want to work for us to want to buy into what we're doing.

John Ryan 6:47
I love that. So not only is the mindset, the beginning of the hiring process, make sure that you're not doing the same old thing that put up the same ad you've been doing for years, which is getting stale, and, and not really true to where you are now, and speaking the language. But more importantly than the benefits, and the advantages of why work with us, is helping them feel connected and connected to something bigger, which is the vision of the organization, which is why you want them to join you anyways. Am I on the right path here?

Julie Bartkus 7:14
Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Right. Because you know, and you're thinking, Well, you know, nobody wants to work right now. If you have people who you're thinking should be part of your team, and that person, you're visualizing their home eating Doritos watching TV, they're not your people, at least you are stepping up to your visionary role. They're, they're not your people. So you really need to identify clearly First, well, who are my people? What characteristics and qualities do they possess, and then what kind of ad would really pull them in either speak to their pain, or speak to something that they really want to be a part of. So when I help clients write ads, we often hear your ad spoke to me, I don't know what it was, but something about it, I knew I just had to respond to you. So and that's the feeling that we want to create with ads is like it's that first call to action that will really start pulling the right people in. And I've seen people who use indeed, or zip recruiter and not getting any results, they go back energetically shift their ad, they rewrite it, we go through our process, they put it in those exact same places. And in one weekend, they get 50 candidates, or they get three candidates or they get however many, but enough to choose from. And there are higher quality candidates. And that's really important because you can see the shifts.

John Ryan 8:31
So it if I can summarize where we're at right now. So you're telling me that the same tool as a leader that we're going to use to motivate our team that we have now is the same exact tool that we can use to attract the people that we want to be part of our team? Yeah, sure. Absolutely. I know it's a simple yes or no questions, but like, it just seems like it's just really it simplifies the process. And then when you when you have a vision, why wouldn't you start them, onboarding them into the vision before they even begin? Because then people are going to self select out? If they're not connected to that vision?

Julie Bartkus 9:02
Love the word self select out? Love it. Yes, I often use that one. And I often helped create that culture. Because yes, you're right, you're right. And it's important for people to self select out. But if we're not raising the bar, as a leader, we're settling for mediocrity, and we're letting people know hey, it's okay. No, pull your weight. It's okay if you don't want to do more than your fair share of the work and we're really training our people for how to be in the workplace. But if we're setting the bar in saying this bar is constantly rising, because our vision is growing, and we need people who are expanding and growing with the vision Wow, that it's it's a much more dynamic formula to work with for having a motivated team.

John Ryan 9:44
I love it super exciting. So we let's say we get the vision I think about it. We do we do. So let's say we're excited we got the vision we get the mindset, we're sharing the vision people are attracted to that. We onboard them what what I should even before that before, we unboard them. So we're in the meeting, we're having the interview, what are some things we have to keep in mind? Is it really just simply sharing the vision and values of the company? and determine if we're a fit? Or are there other specific things we should do to kind of make sure that we are fit together?

Julie Bartkus 10:15
So the way that you know, I help organizations develop their their processes is that we look at the Help Wanted ad. And then we make sure there's a multi layered approach to hiring. So it's not just like, Oh, we had a conversation, they're a great fit, whoo, let's get them on board. We really want to hire slow, right? We really want to just like a really good parfait, or really good cake, I'm not sure what you're a fan of. I tried to do no sugar these days. You know, you're like the layers in these things, right? Chuck would say like an onion. But you know, you, you need the same thing in your hiring process to really slow it down. And, and part of that is sharing the vision. It's sharing your story. But then it's also asking very personalized interview questions. We hire from a place of who we're being in this world. And typically, I find that people are caught up in repeating patterns, meaning if I'm a leader, I tend to find the same kind of staff that I'm hiring. One leader I started consulting with said, Oh, well, we always find meeting people, they're always so needy. I'm like, Well, what are you doing in your process, that you're always getting these needy people or somebody else might get gossipers, or somebody else might get people who don't show up, or people who don't do more than their fair share, whatever it might be, but you might recognize some patterns in yourself in the way that you're hiring. And that's why we really need to break out of the norm. And you know, skip the ditch the books on all the best interview questions to ask and really look at a personalized approach to those questions that you're asking questions to really help you determine Is this a dream team member for me or not?

John Ryan 11:55
So that same thing about throw out the old interview questions that you have is the same thing as throw out the old ad you have, because you do everything in really blank slate it and start from the end in mind, which is the vision. And then what I want to know about this person what I want them to know about us to go through that slow layered process to overtime determine, you know, where to go forward. Is that is that on par with what you're saying? Absolutely. Sounds? I think it sounds like less stressful, I imagine. It's a lot less guesswork to

Julie Bartkus 12:29
Absolutely, you know, there's nothing like being a leader, right, and then getting blindfolded with a dartboard in front of you spun around and like, Alright, hit the target. And you're like, Huh, but we don't take enough time to really identify who are the people that we want to work for us, we feel that we get stuck with certain kinds of people who are out there and available to work. So we'll take them, where we really have to switch our mindset to think of the positions that we have open as a lead, we don't have and some organizations I work with do 30 4050 positions open. But typically, most managers are looking for two people or five people and they can't find them. So if we have to switch, if we switch our mindset to thinking, you know what, I'm a lead, and the person who gets to work for me is really lucky. And not, I hope they like us. But I hope I like them. And I hope they can serve this vision in a big powerful way. And I'm going to make sure that I asked interview questions to know that they're going to show up and serve the vision and that they want to be a part of it. And I'm asking a few questions to also know is this person a dream team member, as I've defined it.

John Ryan 13:38
So it seems like the onboarding process really begins even with the Help Wanted ad, that you're actually onboarding them all the way from the beginning? And even the pre work that you did ahead of time to design? What that that ad is? Do you have any best practices, suggestions for helping people to join the Queen the team quickly? And to integrate themselves into fulfilling that patient?

Julie Bartkus 14:01
Absolutely. You know, one of the things that I encourage our leaders to think about is, is how do you train your people. And, you know, turnover is really expensive. And part of that is because you're training and retraining. And you're getting exhausted repeating the same old thing over and over and over again. So in today's day, I think it's so easy to grab, grab your cell phone, and anytime you delegate a task, recorded on video, and then create a little video library that your new staff members will have access to on how to do all these little things. So that when you're in a crisis situation, or when you're not there can't be there to to really help that person along. They can be working through these videos really learning how to do these different tasks. And it doesn't have to be anything fancy. It doesn't even have to be it's not professionally produced by any means. Grab your cell phone, hop on zoom even with a free account, and it just makes some videos whenever you delegate a task, I think If managers do that, you're going to save a ton of time in the process of onboarding new people.

John Ryan 15:07
That seems really practical. And I love how you're lowering the bar that doesn't have to be well produced, you'd have to edit it no intros, outros name it based on what it is, I imagine, and put it somewhere with accessible. And it sounds like that'd be helpful, not only for people working on site, but also off site, where as we continue in this ongoing evolution of the potential hybrid workforce that we have, are there any specific things that we should be thinking about, for leaders who are working with kind of a hybrid workforce. Still,

Julie Bartkus 15:39
even if your workforce is hybrid, live events, live staff meetings, there's nothing like it, nothing replaces it. So I really encourage you, even if we're hybrid, and it's so easy to hop on zoom and say, Okay, we're going to do staff meeting, or many of my leaders are renaming them like inspire meetings, whatever it might be, but think, to have every other one of those live so that you can connect in person, because there's nothing like bringing everybody together in person to unite as a team. So I think that's really important to keep in mind, because it's really easy to say, Alright, I'm gonna keep my pajama bottoms on for the next three months. And there'll be as to see me. And, and, and not do anything, live and in person with everybody. And it's so important because it helps people connect in a way that's not possible on zoom. Or on the internet,

John Ryan 16:31
Sure, sure. If you could banish one negative work behavior that you've observed in your career, what would that be?

Julie Bartkus 16:42
I would say that it would be gossip, and gossip can be defined in many ways. But gossip really brings organizations down quicker than anything. And gossip can also be defined as indirect communication. So when I was in corporate, there was a lot of secrecy. And a lot of the secrecy led to mistrust and mistrust leads to lower productivity that leads to lower profits. So you can follow the chain. But I would really focus on how can we communicate in the most constructive fashion possible where everybody here is taking responsibility for their own actions, instead of playing victim? And oh, did you see what so and so it was doing an Oh, my goodness, what was going on in that meeting today? You know, it's almost a matter of how can you be most effective to serve our vision and step up in a big way. And if everybody can do that, and find their own internal happiness with the work that they're doing, taking full responsibility for that? I think a workforce can be unstoppable a team.

John Ryan 17:45
So reducing gossip, and if you have someone who comes to you with gossip, you know, would you recommend turning towards them and get them focused on a productive thing? or How would you respond to that kind of situation? Yeah,

Julie Bartkus 17:59
So we try, we do do a training on workplace gossip. And there's like six different responses. But one thing we have to understand is that gossip is typically a habit. And if you have a gossiper or two in your workplace, people have a need to fit in, in the workplace. So if the culture is gossipy or negative, or drama ridden people are going to fit in to that culture, because that's the overriding need, as opposed to saying, Oh, no, don't want to be a part of it. But when we do training, and we get the entire team on board with how to break that gossip chain, it is about knowing how to do things like changing the subject, or pointing out the positives in the situation. Or sometimes it is about walking away saying, you know what, I'd really rather not go down this path of talking negatively about somebody. And I'd really rather focus on how to bring the vision to life. But the leader has really got to do due diligence with keeping the vision alive, growing and expanding every single day. Otherwise, your employees agenda become the agenda for the day or the week or the year. So instead of the agenda being vision driven, it just becomes stress driven, or what do we need to do to make it through the day. So that's why it's really important to have the vision be this powerful force to be reckoned with. And there's some mistakes people make with that vision that we can, I'm happy to talk about, but it's really about, do we feel it? Is it alive with us?

John Ryan 19:32
Well, I mean, vision, culture, these are definitely some of the major themes that that you're bringing up here today and in maintaining that because culture is what we do, not just what we say it actually is. And it seems and I'm sure you're aware of the you know, perceived impending resignation wave that like is undergoing right now. We're about to hit on that we know we're not sure exactly what's going to happen with that. It seems like some of these things you're talking about culture accountability, self ownership that really can help Are there any other things that you maybe your clients are struggling with right now that you suggest to them to help fight off that potential wave? Well,

Julie Bartkus 20:10
if I'm understanding your question correctly, you know, one of the things that I think our clients are dealing with, some of them are feeling really disconnected from their jobs, they're feeling disconnected. In the unit, they're a solo entrepreneur, they're feeling disconnected from the business that they created. So what we want to do is just really reconnect and reconnect that passion so that our people can fall madly in love, again, with the work that they're doing, which is the way to be right, because we're spending so much time in the workplace. So I would be thinking, if I were a manager, how connected am I, to what I'm doing, because your people, it's gonna be hard for them to be more connected to what they're doing. If you're not connected to what you're doing, right, because it's gonna start at the top, it's a powerful model, you're a powerful model, you don't realize that, but it's like the spotlight is on you, right? You're on the red carpet, when you're on your zoom meetings, or when you're coming into the workplace. And it's like, all eyes are on you. So you're setting the protocol in a very powerful way, for how passionate how joyous, how excited your people are to be at work. And sometimes you have to be that crazy visionary, to get good responses from your staff.

John Ryan 21:22
So connection, conversations, vision, culture, all these concepts, that beginning to end that really how you begin is how you have to add right to begin with the end in mind is Stephen Covey would say I'm sure you're familiar with that as well. You know, conversations are so important. And here on key conversations, we think conversations are one of the main tools we have as leaders. And really, if you allow me asking you, can you think of a conversation that maybe has had a significant impact the field share other personally and professionally?

Julie Bartkus 21:51
Oh, my goodness, there's probably somebody and my life has thrown me many curveballs, where I'm reinventing my vision Ria re looking at, well, what is it that I want to bring to life, I'll go to a workplace conversation. And I remember the best boss that I ever worked for, I could share with you, Michelle. And Michelle took me under her wing. And I just remember that I was doing my job. And, you know, I was writing emails and doing this and that I was in my little cubicle. And I remember one day, she came up behind me, and she says, Julie, you know, I've been looking at some of the emails that you've been writing, and I realized something. And I realized that, that you can't write emails very well.

Julie Bartkus 22:31
And at first, I was like, Oh, you know, and this was to me, it was like, Wow, that's pretty directed. That kind of burns a little bit. But then I thought about it. And the conversation continued, I'm like, Oh, really? Okay. What can I do? And she's like, you know, well, how about this, how about, we get you some training, some writing training, and we'll just really help you accelerate with this skill will help you to really move beyond where you get stuck with this, you know, and I kind of, I probably felt I was struggling a little bit because I didn't have the handle the corporate email thing or whatever. But now, you have a best selling book, and all these articles that are out there. And I feel really blessed that Michelle was courageous enough to have that conversation with me. And sometimes it's in those moments of the direct communication, that direct conversation that enable and empower the most growth from your people. And people will always ask me, do we Well, how do I say this, and sometimes, it's not so much the how, but it's that you do say it, and that you swallow your pride and your ego a little bit just to say, Okay, my role here is to grow this person. And they're either going to grow under my leadership, or they're going to grow somewhere else, but they're going to grow. And if you make growing your people the priority, you will have the right conversations with them so that they can grow and growth is the number one motivator, not money, it's growth.

John Ryan 23:55
Well, what a great outcome from an important conversation in your life and, you know, feedback, not always comfortable, but certainly well received. When it's received. Well, it can really do wonders. So congratulations on your book and all the things you've done since. Julie, what thank you so much for being here. What is the best way for our listeners and watchers to get in touch with you find out more about what you do? And of course, your book as well.

Julie Bartkus 24:16
Absolutely. Thank you so much for that opportunity. Let's see. So the best place people can get in touch with me you can go to And there is a free getting unstuck consultation. So if you want to have a conversation, leadership conversation, but if you want to have a conversation and really get some strategies that are tailored for you to move your past where you're feeling stuck, then that would be a great opportunity for you. And the book that I wrote is specifically for the childcare industry called childcare business success. So I wrote that back several years ago. It's one of my big niches that I deal with is the childcare world. People who own brick and mortar childcare businesses, so that's the book. It's amazing. on Amazon, and there's a lot of great business stories in that book, a lot of conversations that we had with leaders in the industry in a really triumph over tragedy in their life to bring success in an amazing way to their business.

John Ryan 25:15
Excellent. Thanks so much for sharing that. I'll put all the links in the show notes. And again, Julie, thanks so much for being here. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much. It's been an absolute pleasure. And thank you all for listening and watching until next time, develop yourself, empower others and lead by example. Thanks for listening to key conversations for leaders with your host John Ryan. If you enjoy the show, please let us know. Give us a rating or write a review. And if you'd like to connect with me and other like minded leaders, I invite you to join our Facebook group called Develop, Empower an Lead where I deliver free live training every week. If you go to It will redirect you right there. Hope to see you there soon.

Transcribed by

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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