TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast

Ep. 16 - Trish McFarlane

November 19, 2020 Fuel50 / Trish McFarlane Season 1 Episode 16
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 16 - Trish McFarlane
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 16 - Trish McFarlane
Nov 19, 2020 Season 1 Episode 16
Fuel50 / Trish McFarlane

Trish McFarlane, CEO and principal analyst at H3 HR Advisors is a self-confessed dreamer. Moving on from HR’s biggest current concerns naturally we find the space to really dream as we look to the future of HR, the workplace and the workforce. Together Trish and host Rhonda Taylor rub the crystal ball and ponder where HR is going and envision what it’s going to look like on the other side. 

How can we move people into jobs that aren’t yet created? How might AI adapt to meet our future lifestyles and work environment? How do you plan ahead when the future is so uncertain? They touch on these questions and more in this future-focused episode.

Trish McFarlane is also the co-host of The HR Happy Hour podcast and the HR Happy Hour WORK BREAK! daily vlog both with Steve Boese. Connect with Trish at www.H3HR.com, on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/trishamcfarlane or on Twitter @TrishMcFarlane.

For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentxpodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the TalentX podcast!

Show Notes Transcript

Trish McFarlane, CEO and principal analyst at H3 HR Advisors is a self-confessed dreamer. Moving on from HR’s biggest current concerns naturally we find the space to really dream as we look to the future of HR, the workplace and the workforce. Together Trish and host Rhonda Taylor rub the crystal ball and ponder where HR is going and envision what it’s going to look like on the other side. 

How can we move people into jobs that aren’t yet created? How might AI adapt to meet our future lifestyles and work environment? How do you plan ahead when the future is so uncertain? They touch on these questions and more in this future-focused episode.

Trish McFarlane is also the co-host of The HR Happy Hour podcast and the HR Happy Hour WORK BREAK! daily vlog both with Steve Boese. Connect with Trish at www.H3HR.com, on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/trishamcfarlane or on Twitter @TrishMcFarlane.

For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentxpodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the TalentX podcast!

Rhonda Taylor  00:26
Hey it's Rhonda Taylor. I'm here with another episode of TalentX. And today we have an incredible analyst with us from the HR space. She is the founder CEO of H3 HR Advisors. She is well known in the women of tech world. And joining us today is Trish MacFarlane. Welcome Trish.

Trish McFarlane  00:51
Thank you, Rhonda. It's so exciting to be here with you.

Rhonda Taylor  00:54
Awesome. What's on your platter these days Trish? What's the hot button in your world?

Trish McFarlane  01:02
You know what that's a great question and it changes from week to week and month to month, I've been noticing even faster paced than in prior years. But typically, my days are made up of working with primarily vendors in the HR space, about dreaming and thinking about what needs to happen in the future of HR. Because I was an HR practitioner for almost 20 years and I always had this sort of running laundry list of things I wish I had. So I turned that into my next career phase, which is really just trying to be a dreamer.

Rhonda Taylor  01:38
Yeah, and you know what, that's where this conversation is going, you and I are going to dream. But first of all, we're gonna benchmark. Trish, I can do that with you. What do you see as HR's biggest concerns right now? 

Trish McFarlane  01:59
You know, I think for me, with all of the HR people I'm talking to, it's really about a couple things. It's still about meeting the needs of some of the core HR capabilities around compliance, making sure people are getting paid, getting the benefits they need, and getting the support they need. That's still top of mind and probably because of the world situation with a pandemic. I think that's where their heads have to be first and foremost, making sure that at that base level that employees are feeling cared for and supported. When you start talking about kind of that next level in, I still believe that things around the way that we look at jobs and the way that we move people into jobs that may be not yet created, which is we can get into the future a little bit later. But I think that HR people are starting to really spend time there too. 

And lastly, I would say they're really focused on how do you plan for a year ahead, like we normally would at this time of year, when you have so much uncertainty. So it's challenging, I think this more than any year, they're having to get out the crystal ball, and try and make some recommendations with maybe very little information or incomplete information.

Rhonda Taylor  03:21
Right. Trish, this is where we're going to take and rub our crystal ball. And we're going to start thinking, okay, where is HR going? You know, today we're witnessing a lot of transitioning that's going on and you know what, it's interesting to see how every company is dealing with it. But I want to talk about HR on the other side. What's your vision Trish?

Trish McFarlane  03:54
You know, first of all, can we coin that term HR on the other side? Because I think we haven't heard enough about that, right? Everyone is so focused on where they are right this minute and like anything that happens, any disaster, anything that's thrown at us that's very disruptive, there is another side. So I think that they need to start looking at what are the things that make their organization most stable, right? Look at that as your foundation, and then start thinking about from a business perspective. Again, it's sometimes hard to do when you're in the middle of all of this yourself. But from a business perspective, what are the accomplishments that we want to look back in a year, two years, five years, 10 years, and say we were able to achieve with our people. I think it's going to be more around ability to look at jobs that have not yet been created, and be super creative about finding the people with the right skills to fill those roles. And that's a tall order to fill.

Rhonda Taylor  05:00
I know aye. Will there be such a such a term as job descriptions in the future?

Trish McFarlane  05:10
I hope not. Can I say that?

Rhonda Taylor  05:13

Trish McFarlane  05:15
Look, in one way Human Resources moves fairly slow, because we are at the mercy of the other parts of the organization typically, who keep us along a certain path. However, there are a number of innovative HR leaders out there who are really thinking about this idea, maybe for example of employees owning all their data, employees having more over their mobility. To me, if I'm thinking along those lines, I can absolutely see that if I'm the employee, I would own my skills, I would own my capabilities, I would own my competencies. And I would use all of those things to bring to bear upon many different organizations, potentially. I'll give you an example of how this played out. 

When I was in college, so a million years ago, I recall one of my professors telling me that in my lifetime, I will say I was born in 1970. So kind of middle Gen X, right. And I was told we would have, on average, seven different employers. Now I came from a family where my dad worked at the same employer his entire career, and told me and taught me that's what you do you find a job, you stick with it, right. And sure enough, fast forward almost 30 years later, 25 years later from that person saying that to me, and he was right. And so I think that if you just extrapolate that I think people are going to have so many different employers, but the benefit is you work with so many different creative minds, that it really enhances your own learning and your own satisfaction over time. That's what I would hope. 

Rhonda Taylor  06:58
Oh, exactly. And let's face it, we may also be looking into the future of the mega employer, you may be working for the same company, but doing a series of different roles throughout the company globally.

Trish McFarlane  07:14
Wouldn't that be amazing? Truly. I feel like that would be, I mean, they have the capabilities right now to make that true today. And some do, I think some do. But I was thinking back to when I worked in healthcare, for example. And again, there wasn't technology that I'm aware of that helped us do this. But what we were doing is we were looking at people and saying like, Okay, if we have roles to fill, maybe in accounting and finance and whatnot, instead of just going out and looking for people with those degrees, or maybe those job experiences, like looking internally. You might have someone who works in grounds keeping, who happens to do the books at their church, right. So we all have these skills and abilities and capabilities we have outside of our job, but we don't bring them to bear within our job within our organization. So maybe organizations like you're saying these mega organizations will get smart and actually start truly tapping into what people know how to do without having to always look externally for it. 

Rhonda Taylor  08:16
And not only what they can do, but what they love to do, what they want to do. 

Trish McFarlane  08:21
Yes absolutely. 

Rhonda Taylor  08:23
You know, you and I both watched our fathers go to work, and they did not necessarily want to go to work, but they had to, and that mentality is not in the future.

Trish McFarlane  08:38
I agree with you, Rhonda. I just had this discussion with someone yesterday where we were talking about he's been laid off during COVID, and has a really good background when it comes to both his education and his just general abilities as a leader, but he can't see his way out of the industry he's been in his entire life. And so it's like people like that I want to just sort of inject a little bit of spark into them and say, Look, you can take those same things that you love to do and do them in a different industry. But I feel like sometimes we get so shut down and we don't even think outside the box when it comes to what we know how to do and what we love to do.

Rhonda Taylor  09:24
And what everyone needs to keep in mind is that, change is good. It's always a positive step forward with change. So you brought up something earlier about the transparency of owning your own competencies and owning your own skill sets. Talking about the future, um, you know, I heard about a company that was coming up with an app and it's like a GPS, your career GPS, and this is really talking into the future, but it may be around sooner than later. And it's like the Uber, this is where I am today and I want to go to plan B, I want to become the CMO of some company someday. And the platform will say this is where your weaknesses are, here's your strengths, here's where you need to do some reskilling. Isn't that marvelous that you think that we all could own an app like that down the road?

Trish McFarlane  10:32
Oh, my goodness, that would be amazing. I think you bring up a great point to just about the idea of an employee owning everything about our employee experience about our data about everything that pertains to us. There are so many times where we give up authority, whether it be to an employer, or if you think about even like more of a like a medical record, not just your personal right, it all belongs to someone else. I think you're going to see more and more. The more that you give people the ability to own their own information and make that portable, then the more they're going to want to be invested in making it better. But if I feel like my employer is really the one that benefits from my skills, and my learning and my just performance in general, I don't necessarily have a good understanding of how do I benefit other than a paycheck? So maybe with a GPS app like that, a GPS career app, maybe the employee would finally start feeling like, you know what, this is mine to own ,mine to have, mine to nurture in taking your own leadership and responsibility for yourself, it'd be interesting to see it happen.

Rhonda Taylor  11:38
And you know that in the future a lot of companies in the future need to understand that there's going to have to be transparency with their employees. And just the nature of the political world, it's so important for employers to be totally transparent with their employees about their careers, because there's nothing more important to an employee than their career.

Trish McFarlane  12:08
I agree, I think too you just hit on something for me when you said that, was that there is always such a political atmosphere within an organization that even when you're doing well, sometimes you're not because you don't even understand the politics that are going around your organization. It's not transparent. And really, when I think back to many of the employers I worked for, which were great employers, it was always hidden, right? There was just this underlying agenda that you didn't quite have a handle on. And sometimes by the time you're astute enough to identify that or maybe start making the right connections, sometimes it's too late. Or sometimes you figure out you don't fit with that. So yeah, I agree, I think the more you can be transparent the better it is. 

I'll give you an example, when I worked, I spent 10 years with Price Waterhouse Coopers, and we were that was sort of how I was raised up in human resources. We were very transparent with people. If someone just wasn't a fit, we just had a frank discussion and talk to them. It wasn't meant to be harmful to them, it was meant to help them. And then we would help them find maybe work at one of our clients where they were a better culture fit. Again, this is back before that was even a big discussion. Right now we talk about employee culture and employer culture all the time. But we were always transparent about compensation. We were always transparent about performance. We were always transparent about our goals and I felt like that was the way it was. Fast forward to taking my next couple jobs after that, and it wasn't transparent at all. 

So it's very difficult I think, depending on how you're raised up. I think if you're raised up without transparency, it feels scary to suddenly be open about things. If you're raised up with a great deal of transparency, you feel like the rest of the world is a little bit crazy, because they're not. So I don't know, are you seeing that? I mean, when you're dealing with organizations as well.

Rhonda Taylor  14:09
Oh, exactly. Transparency is the new currency in the world. 

Trish McFarlane  14:14
Oh I love that.

Rhonda Taylor  14:18
People have complete trust in what they see. So we're seeing that more and more now. And we're also seeing that the Black Lives Matter and all the movements that have occurred in the past, are driving home some new behaviors. Whether you're a white Anglosaxon and working in a major corporation, the tap on the shoulder to say, you're going to be promoted because I like you. We have to thank Black Lives Matter because they've taught us that we all need to treat people fairly. And that's going to be part of the future.

Trish McFarlane  15:11
I agree with that. I think that anytime you have social injustice against anyone, when people are brave enough to stand up, you can't help but take notice. And to your point about changing behavior, I think that's the critical step. Because, again, when I think back to, you know, I've not been a practitioner now for about almost seven years and back then even and that's not that long ago, it was still an initiative, it was still something like check the box when you talked about diversity or inclusion. I think it's come so far. And again, it feels like it's moving maybe slow, if you're someone who's impacted. 

Sort of like before that, Me Too, there's still hesitation for women who are being abused in the workplace every single day and we're so used to it. These things take time but I think when we look back, you're talking about the future, I hope in 20 years, when we're looking back on this time, and we look at what progress we've made, I hope that it's faster than the previous 20 years. And that's what we can hope for is that some of these really vocal people are actually pushing behavior change.

Rhonda Taylor  16:28
Exactly, exactly. And in the future, AI is going to be a part of the old regime.

Trish McFarlane  16:40

Rhonda Taylor  16:41
What do you think is going to be replacing AI? Or is AI going to go to a new level?

Trish McFarlane  16:49
You know I guess my hope, since I hope it is more of a phased approach. I think that right now, we use AI predominantly in our culture for giving us information, right? Whether you're talking about your Alexa device, or Siri or whatever people do use it a lot, a lot more than even two or three years ago. But it's primarily just to get information, you're asking a question it's regurgitating something. When I worked in product development, one of the things we were dreaming up was then how do you really truly start making predictions based on that, and that's what's challenging, because people are sometimes quite predictable, and sometimes completely not, as we all know. 

So I hope that the future, if I'm thinking 10 years out, 20 years out, I hope that it truly is able to predict how humans behave, so that we can be better as the organizational leaders in meeting their needs. Because I think right now, we're always again, we always think about, how do you make the company more productive? How do you impact the bottom line? And that's always going to be important but really, if we don't start thinking about how do you truly make people feel valuable you'll never retain the good ones. You just won't. 

Rhonda Taylor  18:10
Yeah and, you know Trish, I'm really dreaming now. We have the remote workers, there's so many people working from home. What are the builders? How are the builders going to be changing home designs? What do you envision there?

Trish McFarlane  18:32
You know what I would hope so. I would love, it's sort of like the Jetsons view on steroids if I had my way of about dreaming of the future. Yeah, I think you know what, it would be a home or work environment, whether that was in my home or somewhere else that's just very responsive to me so that I'm not having to think about all the million little details that clog my brain, and keep me away from being creative at work. So even now, I work from home always anyway and I have a very nice office setup. However, I'm thinking in the back of my head about kids and dogs and is my water conditioner filter needing to be changed and is the temperature right? And all these other little things. I wish I had a smart work environment where things like temperature, were constantly adjusting to what my body temperature needed. I wish that my lighting, you know how many times now we're all on zoom, right? Or some version of that. 

And we're all worried about our lighting, is the lighting right? Did I buy another light? Is the ring light reflecting in my glasses? I wish I didn't have to think about lighting. I wish lighting would just be what I needed in the moment. And really, from a work perspective, I wish I just had tools to where when I logged into whatever it is, maybe it's not even a laptop anymore, right? Maybe it's some sort of a visual clear board that would be in front of me and it just knew by my thinking about it, what I needed to see next. We all struggle with things like prioritization of our work, because we're so scattered? What if we had technology that would truly prioritize our work by the things that were most valuable to us in the organization? What if the technology just knew that inherently, that would be amazing I think. I don't know. I mean, what are the things do you think about?

Rhonda Taylor  20:23
What if we never had to worry about WiFi?

Trish McFarlane  20:26
Oh wouldn't that be great! It's the simple things right.

Rhonda Taylor  20:31
And now we're all seeing, everybody was working in an office or at the kitchen table, but I really, I was talking with a builder and they're saying that they're setting up workstations in homes now. That not only you know, Mom and Dad can work out, but so can the kids. Little nooks and crannies where a workstation can be built. And let's face it, when I bought my first home, there were no docking stations in my home and today is the norm. Every home has got a docking station in it.

Trish McFarlane  21:10
Oh, absolutely. I remember when computers came out, and well my family couldn't afford that we didn't grow up having that. So yeah, having to sort of learn to use all these tools it's interesting. You know, another thing as we're talking, just thinking about what I wish was really different in the future is I wish that there would be a greater understanding that you don't have to work 40/50/60 hours a week, visible to your boss in order to make an impact on your organization. And what I'm seeing now is actually, I feel like we're moving kind of the other direction of it. There's so many people working more hours, now that they are at home, because they're getting on at all different hours. They have the full flexibility we've been craving but they're working even more. And I really hope that that kind of stops, and we start seeing that there is maybe this week, you only need to work 25 hours in order to achieve the goals of the organization and to be valuable. And maybe next week, it is 50. 

And I would love to see more flexibility around the way that we quantify the amount of time that it takes to work. Because I can tell you the last team that I led that was a very large team. I would challenge them, and most of them worked from home, I will say, but they would still stay in like some little office or like you're saying a little workstation a little nook in their own house. I would say no, I want you to literally go out, go find a lake, go find a pond, go find a stream, whatever, go sit by water, go sit in a field and just take a pad of paper and think. I wish the future of work was really just about thinking more to spark creativity somewhere other than in a room with four walls, whether that's an office building or in your home. I feel like we need to get out. 

Rhonda Taylor  23:08
You know, Trish, this has been so much fun and we could go on for hours. It's just so amazing but we always wrap up our show, asking the everyone the same question and I know you so well, I'm looking forward to your answer. And it's you do your job so well Trish, you're excellent at what you do. Being an analyst in the space, you're well respected. What drives Trish McFarlane every morning to get up and put her happy face on?

Trish McFarlane  23:48
I love that question. For me it's all, I'm a true extrovert, and I get my energy from other people. And so a lot of people are money driven and we all like money, but I'm not money driven. I'm not titled driven, because if I was I would have stayed in professional services for example. For me, I'm driven by when I have a conversation with someone, like we are right now and you just feel a spark. And then it's that feeling of like when I hang up that call or leave that person's presence, that I think about them for the next day and the next day and the next day and then a week later I think about them again in the conversation and that's what gets my creative juices flowing. So that's what drives me I'm addicted to sort of that spark of another person's ideas that are different than mine. Crave it.

Rhonda Taylor  24:46
And your answer does not surprise me one bit. So Trish, I can't thank you enough for joining us on TalentX.

Trish McFarlane  24:56
Thank you. This has been really fun, I'll come back anytime you want me.

Rhonda Taylor  25:00
Well thank you and this is Rhonda Taylor from TalentX asking you to have a great weekend. I'm sorry, we've got to bring you back to the present after being in the future. Bye all.