January 21

Episode 19: Maximize Employee Potential with Emily Melious


Emily Melious shares her insight on how to diagnose people problems in the workplace. She gives tips on how to look for opportunities and challenges for growth and how to improve employee engagement. By taking passion and motivation into consideration, a business can see an increase in productivity, production, and profit. Emily will help us understand how we are uniquely hardwired to get results and solve problems!

Guest Bio

Emily Melious, of Launch Consulting,  is a talent management consultant and career coach. Launch Consulting helps “people-first companies increase engagement, productivity, and profits by harnessing employees’ untapped talents.” Emily is a certified Kolbe consultant and a SHRM Senior Certified professional. 

In This Episode, You’ll Learn…

  • How to objectively look at employee engagement 
  • Tips on how to maximize the potential of employees. 
  • The importance of company culture – the values & mission of an organization
  • How to increase productivity in the workplace and honor how people naturally operate
  • The connection between productivity, efficiency, and profit. 
  • Look at people analytics to recognize patterns of behavior
  • How to elicit positive change


  • “One of the things we start with helping our clients understand is a third dimension of the mind” Emily Melious
  • “Each one of us has this instinctual need to solve problems” Emily Melious
  • “We give our clients clarity on the natural operating style of their employees” Emily Melious
  • “Do we have the people in the right roles?” Emily Melious
  • “We utilize… decades of research to bring our clients good and actionable data” Emily Melious
  • “Your people are your greatest resource… and if you don’t know how to use that resource properly, it can be an Achilles heel” Emily Melious
  • “We want them to set people up for success and we want to put people into the process that we know can succeed here” Emily Melious
  • “If you can know how [an] individual is wired to success, you know exactly how to fill their needs” Emily Melious
  • “The good part of the work …is to help people see the truth of the situation” Emily Melious 
  • “Awareness is 80% of the battle” Emily Melious

Links & Resources Mentioned…

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Read The Transcript

Mike O'Neill:  Hello and welcome back to the, Get Unstuck & On Target show. I'm Mike O'Neill with Bench Builders, and we're speaking with thought leaders to uncover tips to help you break down the barriers that may be keeping you or your business stuck. Joining me today from Pittsburgh is Emily Melius. Emily is a talent management consultant.

She's a career coach and she is the founder of Launch Consulting. Welcome Emily.

Emily Melious: Thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here.

Mike O'Neill: Well, I'm looking forward to getting right into our time together. Emily helps companies do three things in particular increase engagement, productivity, and profit.

And she helps them do that by helping them harness the employee's untapped talent. You know, we started that word engagement, Emily, I hear that term a lot, but I'm wondering. Hmm, the way I define engagement might be different than how you, how do you define this word engagement?

Emily Melious: I define engagement as how many of your team members are sitting on the bench and how many are in the game.

And, you know, it's really, as, as straightforward as that, we've got some sophisticated, wonderful technologies and platforms and metrics to go a little bit deeper, but at the end of the day, that's what business leaders are really looking for. Right. They want everybody in their company, in the game, you can have incredible amounts of talent and skill, but if those individuals are not motivated to apply it and put forth effort, you're not in a good place.

So that's, that's what I care about at the end of the day, is really making sure that we're maximizing all of the potential available amongst the employees.

Mike O'Neill: You know, you use the term getting them off the bench. Obviously I kind of lit up when I heard you say that, but that's the name of our business Bench Builders, but you know, if you're going to help your clients increase engagement, as we've now defined it, what are the ways that you go about doing that?

Emily Melious: Excellent question. And there's a couple of ways it's multifactorial. The first is, and I think most important. One of the things that we really start with helping our clients understand is a third dimension of the mind. So most everyone knows about skills and personality. That's often measured with the assessments that we're very familiar with, like Myers-Briggs and predictive index and Disc and, StrengthsFinders, right.

The list goes on and on. So most people are, are well aware of those traits of themselves and of their employees. But the problem is the smartest and most successful person, or I'm sorry, the smartest and most motivated person is not always the most successful. And what is important to, to see in the equation is how individuals naturally operate.

So each one of us has this instinctual need to solve problems and take action in a certain way. It's not necessarily what we were taught to do, and it's not necessarily what we want to do. And the reason why I bring this up in relationship to engagement is that when someone is in a role. That forces them to work against their grain.

In other words, they're doing activities that don't come naturally to them in order to push to get results or maybe push to please the manager and get the job done. That creates an environment in which that person is set up for exhaustion, health problems, burnout, and that leads to decreased motivation, decreased morale.

And we find that, that affects their engagement. So the very first thing that we look for when there's, either a problem with engagement, too many people on the bench or a company is looking to increase engagement. Again, keep putting people back in the game is, do we have the people in the right roles?

And I know, you know, we're all familiar with that. Get the right people on the bus, get the right people in the seats on the bus. But most of the time, people, appreciate that saying, but they don't know how to actually measure that or accomplish that. So we put the data to that. We really give our clients clarity on the, natural operating style of their employees.

They can define the expectations of those job roles. And so we can align those scientifically and with certainty and confidence. So that, just at that level, we're setting people up for success in terms of motivating roles and, you know, really giving them the best chance at high engagement. If we're still having engagement problems, and that's where we have to look at things like company culture. And are there clear mission, vision, and values statements? Are we unifying around, our values and mission as an organization? You know, are our people going through, I mean, think about what we just went through with COVID, is there a significant change or disruption or stress or tension or conflict in our employee's lives that impacts engagement.

So, there's a, Oh, and lastly, you know, if people are not skilled, if they don't have the right kinds of training to do their jobs, you know, right now, again, because of COVID jobs and, and the environment has changed drastically. Some people might not feel completely equipped to do their roles, not to the same degree as they did even a couple months ago. And if they don't feel equipped or skilled, then again, engagement goes down. So, to zoom out from that really the framework that we always come to our clients with both their opportunities and challenges is looking at, is there an issue or opportunity as far as skill, is there an issue or opportunity in terms of passion and motivation?

Again, engagement. Is there an issue or opportunity when it comes to alignment with how people naturally operate? And that's that framework for both diagnosing people problems, but also setting people up for success in a way that honors all of them, not just those skills and personality pieces.

Mike O'Neill: Emily.

That was one of the best explanation of engagement, ever heard. And let me tell you what I heard also, and that is when I hear the word engagement and you try to measure it, it seems to me that most approaches to measuring a kind of squishy. And what I heard is you operate off hard data, and, you know, leaders who are listening, that's how they want to run their business.

Give me the data and I can act on the data. You know, I introduced what your firm does for clients as helping clients increase engagement, productivity, and profit. How does increasing engagement fit into, productivity? How does that fit together?

Emily Melious: Well, really all three are intertwined. So when you have your team members operating on all cylinders, right?

They're putting forth maximum effort. They're totally motivated. They're all in. If you will. Then they're going to be more productive. They're going to be, creating greater output. And especially if we're doing that good and important work of lining people up to roles that honor how they naturally operate.

We're picking up efficiencies.  There it's this it's this positive cycle of them feeling, good and satisfied about the work that they're doing. You know, feeling like this is my fit I can produce here. And then that leads to the profit piece, right? Because if you're more productive and efficient, obviously, you're reducing wasted effort, reducing inefficiencies, so you can grow that bottom line.

So they, they play in together, which is great, cause they all rise together, but they can fall together as well. But what I find, you know, to your point about hard data, you know, just show me the numbers is that when it comes to people, or people problems. For a lot of business leaders, it feels like a big black hole, you know, it's like, ah, you know, we're, we're guessing, we're hoping we're hunching, you know, making playing hunches.

And the good news is that we don't have to do that anymore. I mean, technology has made incredible advances and, we utilize research and tools from companies that have proven themselves with decades of research to bring our clients good and actionable data. And we believe firmly that good data makes good decisions and it takes out all that messiness and mystery and trial and error that talent strategy often has.  And that's what holds you back as a company. You know, we say all the time, your people are your greatest resource, but if you don't know how to use that resource properly, it can actually be an Achilles heel. You know, can actually be the thing that holds you back. I mean, how many companies have been kept from their vision or have struggled to grow because they're just bogged down constantly in people problems.

Mike O'Neill: You know, you mentioned getting bogged down and, and keeping with the, the theme of our podcast. Let me get you to kind of reflect on maybe a client situation where they concluded that they're stuck and they came to you for help. Can you maybe give us an example where you were able to help a client get unstuck?

Emily Melious: Sure. Yeah. I love a real-world examples and one, actually a client that I've had the pleasure of working with over, gosh, probably at least 15 years now, but more recently we've been working together because they are a very well-known great reputation of financial services company. And, that industry for those that are familiar with it is, is, sort of notorious for pretty bad retention, tons of turnover, you know, there's lots of people that get into that career and quickly get out, you know, they just don't succeed.

So this particular organization actually has, has better numbers on retention than most. So they're, they're doing some things, right. But they still wanted to do better and they were struggling because, some people were working really well. Some people were succeeding out of the model that they had for hiring and training.

Some were not. So it was a complete mixed bag in outcomes, even though their process for hiring and training and equipping was the same. So they're scratching their heads, you know, saying where we think we're getting these, motivated talented, impressive people, but why are some working in, why are some not, this is not good for them.

This is not good for us. You know, we want them to set people up for success and we want to put people into the process that we know can succeed here. And so what we were able to do is come into that process and actually do the people analytics. So we were able to, to assess the MO's, the modus operandi, that operating style of the advisors that they had. And that illuminated for us patterns because we could see, first off, is there, is there a commonality? Do you have, all different types of operating methods represented amongst these advisors? Or do certain people tend to be attracted to this role?

And then we can also drill a little deeper and see for those that are succeeding. Did they have a commonality in how they operate? For those that are struggling is there something there, is there a pattern there? And then how can we take that insight? Basically, you know, here's that ideal operating style of the person who thrives in this environment.

And then we can take that insight and apply it to our hiring practices. So the new people that we bring in, we know that given our process, they're going to succeed here. And then for those that are already advisors, how can we tailor our training, our development programs, the tools and resources and leadership that we have to match them better?

And it just shortens the learning curve. Right. I think, you know, people, particularly business leaders, you know, they've got a good sense of, of intuition about people. They tend to figure this stuff out eventually. But what's the cost of the learning curve? It's usually pretty expensive and you know, that trial and error of trying to figure each other out and, and, on a larger scale with talent strategy, that's just not worth it.

So if you can know day one, how that individual is wired to succeed.  So you know exactly how to fulfill their needs. That's not only a win for the company, that's a win for that individual. And then it goes right back to how we started. They're going to be more engaged. They're going to be more productive.

And so everybody's more profitable.

Mike O'Neill: I love just the, the way all this kind of ties together. As I understand, when you have a clear idea of the, the type of candidate based on the assessments that you're able to offer your clients where that's a better fit.  You talked about shortening the learning curve and they're starting with, you know, an advantage, if you would. I'm gonna be a little bit curious. As you were working with this client and you were beginning to identify that there are folks who don't really fit that as well.

You mentioned that there were, you can modify training in the light, but can I assume that part of what ended up happening is that some folks didn't respond as well to training, but they wanted to keep them. And so they found maybe a different role in which they could excel at?

Emily Melious: Yeah, this unique situation, doesn't lend itself as nicely to transitioning inside of the company, just because of what industry that they're in.

But those people had an opportunity to rethink the way that they were doing their work. And now that we have the information to help them do that. So I'm, I'm not in the business of coming in and saying, you know, fire half the people I, I want, every, last resort to be, how can we best utilize this person inside of this organization?

There are some times where there's a mutual agreement that that's just, isn't going to work. But that's, again, the very, very, very last option. But absolutely. When you have a, I've worked with another organization that's coming to mind international company, your listeners would absolutely recognize this probably bought products from this company.

And they had an individual in the HR department that was just not wired to do the job. And unfortunately, what was happening was not only was she underperforming. She was starting to actually experience health problems, which were directly related, I think, to the stress that she had at work. But now she was calling off work.

She was becoming an unreliable employee and she actually started salary morale. So when she was in the office, she wasn't the nicest person and it was affecting everyone else around her and the team could feel it. The team also felt like they were taking on the burden of her work. And when we went through this exercise, you would think that she might be upset to sort of be exposed if you will, as not being in alignment with her job. But it actually was tremendous relief for her. Because another thing that was happening in that circumstance that I really caution listeners from doing.

Was that she was actually asking, she had been asking prior to us entering that, engagement for a job change. She was asking for an internal transition and the managers, she had a, two managers over her. Didn't feel like she deserved the reward of a job change when she was so, underperforming.

And I get where they were coming from. But, that actually just made that situation worse. Because it's not, it's not a punishment or reward. Right? She was just in the wrong spot and it wasn't because she wasn't trying. I mean, she had really tried so much again, she was making herself sick. But,  it, it wasn't a matter of more training.

It wasn't a matter of double down and try harder. She, no matter how much effort she put forth was not going to be successful in that role. And I, you know, I wish they had considered job transition, sooner, but after we were able to work with them and they saw in the data that, wow, this really, you know, the expectations we have for how this role needs to be performed.

And how this person naturally operates. They just they're in congruent and that's not going to change. So then we were able to find her another role inside of the company that was so much better suited for her. And as soon as she moved on, she was happier. She was more productive. All of those issues we had with her past team, with morale and everybody feeling like they were taking on all the extra burden, those things went away. But it started with having that clear data.

A mentor of mine, Dan Sullivan of strategic coach. He says all progress starts with telling the truth. And, sometimes the tough part, but the good part of the work that I get to do is to help people see the truth of the situation so that they can do the right thing and find the right fix.

Mike O'Neill: Emily.

Those are two great examples, a company example, and an individual example.  We kind of reflect on what you shared with us thus far, how you help companies improve engagement, thereby productivity and profits result as that. You've shared with us two examples where you help clients get un stuck. If you were stepped back into kind of, kind of summarize what you would hope to be some takeaways for our listeners, what might they be?

Emily Melious: It comes back to those three parts of the mind. That there are in fact three, there's your, what, what, you know, your skills. There's your why, which thanks to Simon Sineck, we're all very familiar with, right? Your passions, your personality, your engagement level, but there's also your, how.  How you naturally operate, how you are uniquely hardwired to get results and solve problems. Your skills, your passions will change over time. How you do things is fixed.

So that's the non-negotiable in terms of, as individuals advocating for ourselves, putting ourselves into roles that are a good match and which were set up for engagement, productivity, and profit. But also when we look at that on the company scale. Getting that matchup right. In all three of those pillars, and when we know they exist, I mean, awareness is 80% of the battle, right.

And then when we're equipped with that good data, we can make clear and confident decisions. And I'll add to that, that that's where we get that win-win between companies and employees. It's,  it's sad to see. I think there's a misnomer out there that, if a company wins employees have to lose or if employees win, that means the company loses and it's simply not true.

There really is a win-win and it's the best win overall. And it's by again, getting those three things lined up. And if we do that on the individual level, it builds to be, fantastic at the company level. And we get those kinds of results that everybody's looking for.

Mike O'Neill: It's a great takeaways. I already shared with Emily before we hit the record button.

One of the things I've really enjoy by doing these podcasts is that come in contact with folks like Emily. And I couldn't write down, but I'm going to be going back. Some of the things you have said are really strong takeaways. And so I want to encourage the listeners. If you've been driving down the road, listening to this fret, not this will be recapped and will be included in the show notes.

So this has been really excellent. Emily, if folks want to reach out and connect with you online, what's the best way for them to do that?

Emily Melious: First off on LinkedIn, find me there. I post daily. We'd love to connect up with people there. And secondly, please visit us at our website launchconsulting.io. Again, that's launchconsulting.io.

Mike O'Neill: So the, the spelling of your last name, if those it's going to be in the show notes, but just do that for, so they want to find you on LinkedIn. It's a little bit tricky. Would you spell it for us?

Emily Melious: Yes, and it's pronounced Melius and it's M as in Mary, E L I O U S

Mike O'Neill: Emily. This has been a great opportunity to spend more time with you.

I wanna thank you,  for sharing your insights. This has been a real delight.

Emily Melious: Agreed. Thank you so much for the great conversation. And I look forward to connecting with all your listeners.

Mike O'Neill: Excellent. And I also want to thank our listeners for joining us for this episode of Get Unstuck & On Target.

Emily is typical of the great guests that were lining up. We upload the latest episode every Thursday, and I hope you'll subscribe, be it Apple, Spotify, but whatever your favorite platform might be. But if you've been listening to my discussion with Emily and you're realizing that something's keeping you or your company stuck.

 Let's talk, visit unstuck.show and schedule call we'll explore, what's got you or your company stuck and maybe what you can do to overcome it. So I want to thank you for joining us, and I hope that you've picked up on some tips. That'll help you Get Unstuck & On Target. Until next time.
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