Join us this week for our 54th episode of the Talent Experience Podcast featuring Larry McAlister! Over his career, Larry has built highly effective talent acquisition and enablement strategies and development programs. Larry is passionate about driving the human connection within organizations and is joined by Rhonda Taylor for this discussion. Tune in for amazing insights on how technology is claiming it’s space in the world of technology, the importance of figuring out your talent strategy, and how to effectively implement new technology within an organization.
Connect with Larry through his LinkedIn, and for more insightful conversations visit www.talentexperiencepodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the Talent Experience Podcast!
Rhonda Taylor 00:25
Welcome to this episode of the Talent Experience, a podcast that addresses everything that's relevant to talent. I'm your host, Rhonda Taylor. And with me today, I have Larry McAlister. Larry, who resides in California is a talent and transformation expert. He is a gifted presenter on topics such as leadership, the growth mindset, human resources, digital transformation. Larry, welcome to the Talent Experience. And I know I missed a lot, so you pick it up from here?
Larry McAlister 01:00
Well one, thank you so much, Rhonda, for inviting me and for that glorious introduction, I'm blushing as you introduced me. So yeah, similar to what you said, for the past 10 years, I've been doing very top-level HR transformation. So, improving the way that HR enables the organization to go faster and have better relationships and to really understand how they can grow inside this company, with mindset shifts and technology shifts. And just recently, I left my last company to go on my own. I've been doing it for companies for so long, I figured I would help the community understand better about talent, transformations, and technology, the three big T's that are affecting everyone. So, I started my own consulting company called the Corporate Humanist Consultancy, because I think everything, we should be doing moving forward is driving the human connection inside of companies and well-being and mental fitness. I think that's the next really big wave for organizations to think about.
Rhonda Taylor 02:01
I like that name! Any you know Larry, we've been in the space for a while, there was a time when HR did not have a seat at the corporate table.
Larry McAlister 02:14
Yeah, tell me about I mean, that's why there was rankings and ratings and nine boxes, because we treated people like cattle. And we put try to put them in tiny boxes. And now, you know, if you think of someone who's coding or doing major complex sales, how can you just rank them with a number? It's so much more nuanced, and so much more growth focus that HR has to be not only a voice at the table, but a leading voice. Because talent is everything! No talent, no business.
Rhonda Taylor 02:42
Exactly. And we're witnessing that in today's marketplace.
Larry McAlister 02:46
Absolutely. I mean, the Great Resignation helped people realize that talent has a choice. Talent wants to do what they want to do some of the power dynamic moves to the talent during the pandemic. And I think that's a good thing.
Rhonda Taylor 02:59
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, we're talking technology a lot these days in HR. And, in the past and my day, technology always came under IT. What is HR's role now, with technology that IT does not address?
Larry McAlister 03:17
Well, I think we're living in the golden age of HR technology, there's been billions of dollars spent in this space. And we've caught up to business technology. And the evolution of that was the big HRM, in the past, couldn't innovate as fast as the small AI companies. So, you've seen this proliferation of, of artificial intelligence, HR tech companies that are now connecting to those big things, making it easier for us. Now, I think IT is usually focused on big enterprise business things, revenue things, compliance things, and they're not keeping an eye on this explosive HR tech space. So, what I tell HR is you are a technologist, you have to get your head in the game of what's out there. You don't have to be an expert on what AI does, but you have to know the tools and what they can do for you. So, I would say do some research, hire someone to get an understanding of what's really out there because I didn't look for two years or something like that. Three and a half years ago, I looked, and I was like, oh my god, it's passed me by, and my competitors are gonna go faster than me and hiring and developing. So, we really put our foot on the ground and said, we need to really focus on this.
Rhonda Taylor 04:34
Yeah. And now we, you know, in the past, many employees and many people sitting at the corporate level thought of HR as the individuals that were warm and fuzzy.
Larry McAlister 04:46
Rhonda Taylor 04:48
And that's not the case anymore. Like, you're right, you know, they're, they're coding and they're able to take HR technology to a whole new level.
Larry McAlister 04:58
Right and what it does is it improves the employee experience. You know, I think people are worried the bots are coming to take our jobs or technologies coming to take our jobs. What I say is this new technology accelerates the discussion, the human discussion, you can get to the human discussion way faster with technology, and with more data than you ever could. So, think about someone like Fuel50, right, they're able to now say, hey, here's the next three jobs you could have in this company. So, when you go to your quarterly conversation or career conversation with your boss, you have so much more idea and future talk that you've ever had before the poor manager was always put on the spot finding a new job, now you're coming to them with data, and the discussions are so much better. And then a tool like Better Up mobile coaching, world class mobile coaching on your phone, for anyone in the organization. You know, we've had people, it's the whole person approach, how you feel at work is how you feel at home. And isn't that truer now that we're always at home? So, the coaches do a whole person approach. So, I've had people say, I have a better relationship with my daughter because of my coach, and I can sell my vision much better to my team, like that's two home runs, right? That's two home runs at a super democratized level in price.
Rhonda Taylor 06:18
And that's right, you know, when we take a look at the way our career path has changed, and, you know, we all live in the world of GPS. So why can we not have a GPS for our career?
Larry McAlister 06:34
Yes, I really liked that we are giving you direction and giving you advice and telling you to get off this route now, there's gonna be a traffic jam!
Rhonda Taylor 06:42
Yeah, and you're gonna take a detour, but you'll get back to where you want to be.
Larry McAlister 06:47
And, you know, I think another thing that technology does is we know, through research that males, and females in general, look at a job description differently. So, males look at job description, if they're halfway qualified. They're like, I'll take a shot, fake it till you make it. Females really want to have every box checked. And I think what Fuel50 and the kind of companies that have you looked at a career, they're recommending jobs to you that say, you can do this, that breaks down a barrier of feeling you have to be 100% qualified or position you in a job, you never would have thought that was part of your career. So, this is really opening your brain to what your career can really be that we haven't had before this kind of tool.
Rhonda Taylor 07:32
Yeah. So now we've identified the tool. How does HR get started when moving forward with such technology?
Larry McAlister 07:40
Yeah, that's a I think that's the million-dollar question Rhonda.
Rhonda Taylor 07:43
Larry McAlister 07:45
Yeah, it's hard. So, I think the very first thing, at least in my experience, is you don't start with the technology. You start with your talent strategy. What is the talent strategy? Therefore, what's the employee experience? What business problems are you trying to solve? And how you're going to elevate the manager employee experience? How is it going to work in your company that has to be defined, and longer-term view. So then once you get those mindset changes in the organization, you're changing some behavior around how the interaction between the employees and the managers are, or any part of the enterprise, it's a different mindset. Then you look at the tech stack. So, we did. We call it a tech parade, where we brought in 16 vendors, and had them pitched to us and decided to move with three and then two, and then one. So, we have 6 technologies, and each one fits into a quadrant of my talent strategy, activate yourself, activate your team, activate the future, and activate the enterprise. We have technology around that entire wheel, that accelerates growth, accelerates performance. And as we'd like to say, in cloud, you know, these organizations need to move at the speed of cloud.
Rhonda Taylor 09:04
That's so amazing. And, you know, technology has changed the day-to-day activity in the HR department. We're seeing employees dealing with technology, and is that hard to get your employees on board with the technology?
Larry McAlister 09:28
You know, one of the things that we did, that really helped us bring in a couple of these things is we had a career week for all employees. It was all week long, three or four guests a day. We had some external speakers that talked about career and mindset. We had CEOs of some of these companies we mentioned today, and we had some internal speakers, and that was very well attended. It was like a gift for the employees. It was in the middle of the pandemic. And we said do the best work you of your career at this company from your, from your kitchen table. And that really accelerated the adoption. And we broke the record at Fuel50 for the fastest adoption. And what else happened was people started seeing connections to each other that they might not have had. And the real benefit here, I think if you're saying talent, strategy, and then tech, and then what, what I think is a hidden gem with these tools, is you get data on the backside of this that you wouldn't get anywhere else. So, you have your pulse survey, you get people talking about (inaudible), but you look at the back of Fuel50, you see what skills people want, what jobs they want to go to, that you'd never have before. And then like with the Better Up mobile coaching, you're seeing what, you know, anonymized of course, but you're seeing what people are talking to their coaches about. When you tie things like that together. You are now informing CEO, staff, talent, the company have here is the voice of the employees, what do they want in their career. And then year three, you're really doubling down on that stuff. And I think that's a hidden gem of these technology, forget that it's back-end information is so informative, enlightening. And we were thinking about how we can come back to work. Remember the future of work discussion, we use those tools to help us decide that we aren't going to push people back to the office, we're going to leave it up to them and their teams. And I think that would have been a harder sell without that data.
Rhonda Taylor 11:26
Yeah, I'm sure that this data was very relevant for you when presenting to your executives.
Larry McAlister 11:33
Oh my God, when I first saw it, I was like, Oh my God, I never, like I didn't even think I would get this kind of information. And then to piece it together. And there, there are tools out there that can do it automatically, and say, I want how I got funding for some of this, I was saying we are flying blind, we are flying blind, we're not going to be able to hire at the same rate as others, because I don't have an AI matching technology to speed us up to get right to the candidate. I don't know what our employees are even thinking where we're going off or old stories. So, to bring in these tools, the voice of the employee is constantly being evaluated. And we're given them what they want. So, one of the survey results is always thank you. NetApp for caring about us, you care about us. So, it affects employee experience, affects engagement and it affects morale.
Rhonda Taylor 12:21
So Larry, you came on board as a Senior HR Executive to NetApp, how did you get a buy in at the executive level?
Larry McAlister 12:34
So, I think the greatest slide that I had to change person, Vicki Costas (sp?), that helped me the greatest thing was we had a from, here's what we're doing now, and then a to, this is what will happen. That one slide was, is this painful? Is this painful? Is this painful? Why do we keep doing it? Because there's no alternative. You know, a lot of companies took out the old HR stuff. That's the headline, but not the story. The story is what you replace it with. And I was hired to build high performing teams. So, we built this Thrive ecosystem for high performing teams. And I talked about earlier, where we said, this will accelerate us, this will make it so much easy for our managers and employees to have a relationship. And this will drive growth of the company. And I think having the talent strategy story and ROI, and I don't mean ROI around dollars, I mean ROI on what this will do for our employees. That's talent's goal, what will this do for our employees? So, they drive the business goals?
Rhonda Taylor 13:36
How long did it take you to get that buy in?
Larry McAlister 13:40
So, one benefit is I did a similar thing in my last company. And my boss and I both moved to NetApp at the same time, so we were two headed monster. And I think that helped, you know, talking about having a voice at the table. They're letting me come into the CEO staff meetings the minute I'm there and start telling them my future. Well, here's another great secret. So, we had what we call the business advisory group, which were 12 or 15 VPS around the world, and we were building out this strategy, we were getting feedback from them. So, if you as the head of talent, walks into CEO staff and say these 12 VPS are on this team. That's almost well, that's validation. And that helps speed up CEO staffs being like, you only get so many minutes in front of them. So be able to say I had 12 VPS support this voice this, their inputs here that that made it go a lot faster.
Rhonda Taylor 14:35
Yeah. And as this happened, I'm sure you saw the evolution of the corporate culture change. Can you share with us some of the changes you saw?
Larry McAlister 14:47
During the pandemic?
Rhonda Taylor 14:48
Well, using technology.
Larry McAlister 14:52
Okay so, the conversations and interactions got much more informed. And by doing that, I think people are starting to speak the same language. Like I always say, I have this analogy that if you just go to a training by yourself, you know, it's like putting on a Bazooka Joe tattoo it goes on blurry and disappears in two days, a group of you go, and you come home, you come back to the office, and you're really trying to work together. That's like a henna tattoo, where every I like, it lasts for a couple of weeks or months, but then it falls under the pressure of no one else in the organization is doing it. But what when you bring a technology, enterprise-wide technology, that people are using the same language, the same tools, they know the same vision of the Thrive ecosystem, that's the permanent tattoo. Because everybody's doing it. It's the same voice as the same platforms. People who were going to mobile coaching are talking to each other about what they're doing with their coaches. Everyone's having a conversation about what Fuel50 is giving them, we brought in this company called Imperative, which is peer coaching. So breaking silos, your meeting people organization might not meet on a platform that's helping you be accountable to each other, and you meet someone new, and you meet five times guided through this peer coaching. And we've seen data like the first time you meet we asked the first question is how are you feeling today? And they both say overwhelmed, tired, burned out, by the end of the first session after one hour, the other the last question is how are you feeling now? Relieved, focused on the future glad we had this just in one time. So breaking silos, accountability, and making people feel they're supported. All these things together in one talent strategy changes a culture.
Rhonda Taylor 16:37
Yeah. And so, you had to have had some obstacles. What were the challenging obstacles that, you know, HR can expect when onboarding and committing to a technology?
Larry McAlister 16:55
So, a couple of things, one is the dollars. That's always the first thing. So, you have to show what this is going to provide for the future. And maybe you move dollars, whatever, but you have to have a, you have to have a good budget discussion, you have to be smart about the scope. I think two is just making sure that your IT group or your HR ops group, whoever is really helping you is there from the start. So, we had them there at that tech parade. So, they saw all the vendors, they voted on who we thought we should have. So, they were on board from the start, not I bought it and then try to sell it to them, they were part of the sale goes back to that business advisory group, take people along with you from the start. Then the third thing is adoption. And that's why I say we did we tied it to our talent strategy. We had a career week, we've done two now over two years, where we're saying this is it. Right? This technology is part of this larger goal of helping you grow. We did Thrive Thursdays, and we did dare to dream, dare to dream we brought in third party, people from the outside came in and talked about their careers, what was good, what was bad, what mistakes did they make? And the question that people on that call always love to hear is, when did you make a mistake or have a bad time in your career? And how did you overcome it? So being super transparent, constantly enabling the employees to realize that we care about this, we're investing in you. And here's all the ways you can think about your career here, sped up the adoption.
Rhonda Taylor 18:23
Larry, this discussion could go on and on, you're such a wealth of information. But we have the Talent Experience take pride in asking our guests this question. Larry, you excel at what you do. You're recognized as a peak performer. How does Larry McAlister stay on top of his game?
Larry McAlister 18:44
Yeah, I think it's just constantly finding out what's going on out there. It's this growth mindset of I want to know what's out there. I want to know what's out there. And then really working with my peers to always dream about the future. I mean, my number one strengths finder is futuristic. So, I'm constantly thinking about what's coming next and then seeing what other people are doing. And right now, as I'm transitioning to my consultancy, I take any call that anybody wants to have, and I reach out to everyone and just constantly understanding what's out there. So, think about the future is my advice.
Rhonda Taylor 19:15
Excellent. And, and on that note, I would like to thank Larry McAlister for joining us today.
Larry McAlister 19:21
Thank you, Rhonda.
Rhonda Taylor 19:23
And this is Rhonda Taylor from the Talent Experience saying thank you and be safe.