TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast

Ep. 23 - Sharlyn Lauby

February 25, 2021 Fuel50 / Sharlyn Lauby Season 1 Episode 23
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 23 - Sharlyn Lauby
Chapters
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 23 - Sharlyn Lauby
Feb 25, 2021 Season 1 Episode 23
Fuel50 / Sharlyn Lauby

The past year has been an exercise in change and adaptability. In this episode HR pro turned consultant and the author of the well-known HR Bartender blog Sharlyn Lauby covers what management questions are top of mind for organizations, including how managing people has changed, the concept of self-management and helping managers manage in this new environment taking into consideration their well-being and stress levels too. 

Along with host John Hollon they touch on what organizations are doing to create a strong internal culture with a distributed workforce. Sharlyn shares some fun virtual ideas for reallocating the in-office experience funds to build employee morale, improve culture and the feeling of belonging.

Sharlyn Lauby is also the president of ITM Group Inc., a Florida-based training and human resources consulting firm focused on working with companies to retain and engage talent. During her 20+ years in the profession she has earned a reputation for bringing business solutions to reality. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter @sharlyn_lauby or on her website https://www.hrbartender.com.

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

Show Notes Transcript

The past year has been an exercise in change and adaptability. In this episode HR pro turned consultant and the author of the well-known HR Bartender blog Sharlyn Lauby covers what management questions are top of mind for organizations, including how managing people has changed, the concept of self-management and helping managers manage in this new environment taking into consideration their well-being and stress levels too. 

Along with host John Hollon they touch on what organizations are doing to create a strong internal culture with a distributed workforce. Sharlyn shares some fun virtual ideas for reallocating the in-office experience funds to build employee morale, improve culture and the feeling of belonging.

Sharlyn Lauby is also the president of ITM Group Inc., a Florida-based training and human resources consulting firm focused on working with companies to retain and engage talent. During her 20+ years in the profession she has earned a reputation for bringing business solutions to reality. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter @sharlyn_lauby or on her website https://www.hrbartender.com.

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

John Hollon  00:25
Hello, I'm John Hollon and welcome to TalentX - the Talent Experience Podcast. Today's guest is Sharlyn Lauby. Sharlyn is an author, writer, speaker and talent management consultant. She's been named a top HR digital influencer and is best known for her HR Bartender blog that she describes as, quote, a friendly place to talk about workplace issues, unquote. HR Bartender has been recognized as one of the top five blogs read by HR professionals by no less than SHRM the Society for Human Resource Management and it has also been honored as the best business blog by the Stevie Awards, the world's premier Business Awards. 

01:11
Publications such as the New York Times, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal have sought out Sharlyn's expertise on topics related to human resources and the workplace. She's also the author of Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success and The Recruiter's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Sourcing, Selecting, and Engaging the Best Talent, which are available both on amazon.com and in the SHRM store. On a side note, Sharlyn says that her personal goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet, which means she's probably been channeling Jimmy Buffett. So it's hard to top that. So I'll just ask you Sharlyn, how are things?

Sharlyn Lauby  02:00
Things are, things are good, things are good. I have my health, I have my family. So things are good.

John Hollon  02:08
You know, given how the times have been the last year or so that's about as good as it gets I think.

Sharlyn Lauby  02:15
It's an exercise in change and adaptability.

John Hollon  02:20
Flexibility and resilience. 

Sharlyn Lauby  02:24
Yes, exactly. 

John Hollon  02:26
Absolutely. So we have a lot to talk about, and our time on these things is always tight. So let me ask you, how have things changed for you in your work as an HR and talent management consultant during the past year? What are organizations looking for when they reach out to you now? And what kind of workplace and talent management trends are you seeing in the wake of the lockdown and so many people now working remotely?

Sharlyn Lauby  02:52
It's a great question. I think one of the first things that organizations are talking about is how do we help employees work better remotely? One of the things, I like to call it self management, a lot of times when we're in an office environment managers might manage/communicate by looking around. I can see you and I remember that I need to tell you something, or I need to brainstorm with somebody so let me just walk around the corner and go sit in that person's office. And now what you're finding is that organizations are saying, 'Okay, how do we do that in a remote environment? How do employees solve their own problems without anybody around? How do they learn without anybody else around? How do all of those things happen when we are independent or more independent?' And so I see a lot of conversation about individual accountability and individual productivity, that whole self management concept. 

04:17
The other thing that I see a lot of organizations talking about right now is how do we create learning opportunities for people without sacrificing quality? How do we create virtual learning opportunities without sacrificing quality? I think when all of this started a year ago, gosh it's hard to believe it's been like a year ago. When all of this started, I think a lot of organizations said, 'you know what, we're going to be all back together again. So we don't need to think about certain stuff.' Like how to do a performance appraisal when we haven't seen our employees for the past year, or how do we conduct in-person training, we don't need to think about those things. And now it's been a year, we have to do that stuff. We just can't simply say push it off anymore.

John Hollon  05:14
Well, this sort of leads into, you touched on this a little bit, something we were talking about earlier and that's the challenge and difficulty of building a strong workplace culture when so many people are working remotely and the workforce is so widely distributed. How have organizations fared in this regard? Because I was a proponent when I worked in a office of the whole trend of managing by walking around where you talk to people, you are bouncing in. Since I worked mainly as an editor in creative endeavors, oftentimes problems got solved when you just popped into talk to a person about something fairly minor and then it somehow got you into talking about something else and it led to maybe some possible solutions to a problem that you had been trying to solve. So are are companies right now concerned about how they are building their own internal culture, when everyone seems to be working someplace else?

Sharlyn Lauby  06:22
Well, I think and you probably saw this too. A year ago when all of this started, I think companies made a lot of decisions on the fly. They just decided this is what we need to do and I don't criticize a company that made that call, they needed to make a decision that was good for their workforce and they did that. But now, time has passed and it's interesting because I think that there's a percentage of the business world that's saying, we can't, if we don't all get back together and start having an office environment we're going to dilute our culture. And then there's, I tend to fall into a different camp and that's the group of people who are saying, these changes are now becoming part of our culture. Granted, I think managers and organizations have things that they need to figure out. But I do believe that companies are looking for ways to be more intentional with their actions, setting up those one on one meetings, trying to find ways to do virtual fun things and brainstorming. So I think organizations are really trying to evolve their culture as a result of everything that's happened.

John Hollon  07:55
Is it possible that the company or an organization can have a hybrid model? I've been reading that some companies are talking about, maybe the way to help with the culture is to have a day or two or three, depending on the company, a week where people came back into an office, and were there and so you work from an office part of the time and you work to home part of the time. And the office work would be for checking in seeing a person's eyeballs talking about things that perhaps aren't as easy or as good to talk about on the phone or through like email, doing those kinds of things. And frankly, that kind of model like appeals to me. If Fuel50 was based in say, San Diego, I could take the train go 90 minutes to San Diego a couple of times a week and that would be just dandy by me and I would feel closer to my co-workers and the people that I work with and with my staff. Are you seeing that? Is it possible to like do that. And by the way, I agree with you that what we've been doing for the last year is now part of the culture whether we wanted it to be or not and we have to just cope with that.

Sharlyn Lauby  09:20
I agree with you that there will be moments in time where employees will want to connect in person and the hybrid model is being talked about a lot. I used to work for a consulting company and this was many years ago, but I worked for a consulting company where none of us really had an office per se. We would come in to a space and let's say for example, you and I were working on a project together. We would arrange to be in close proximity to one another because that way we could work on our project together, we weren't interrupting anyone, we could brainstorm together, we could work on deliverables that we needed to work on and the next day, maybe I needed to work with someone else in the office. And so the next day if I came in, I would work with someone else and maybe you didn't need to come into the office, so you would not show up. But it's the idea that office space is used a little bit differently. 

10:30
And I'm hearing organizations talk about think of it like reserving a space and we reserve a space, it's cleaned for us. And then if we're not using that space, someone comes through and they clean it for the next people who are going to use that space. So instead of thinking of, I have an office maybe with pictures and plants, and all of that kind of stuff that we typically have around our desk area, think of your office as being very portable, that the focus is on the relationship and the work, not on the space.

John Hollon  11:12
I know you watch leadership pretty closely. Can you, have you seen anything, any decisions, any things that companies or organizations have been doing during the lockdown that particularly impressed you, or struck you as a really innovative solution to some of the workforce and talent management challenges that we've been facing?

Sharlyn Lauby  11:37
One of the things that I thought was pretty impressive when companies were making the decisions to send employees home was, several companies just said, 'Take whatever you need. You need your chair, take your chair. You need your monitor, take your monitor. You need files and pens and whatever, just take it.' There wasn't a, 'oh, we need to worry about the inventory', or that kind of stuff. It was, take whatever you need in order to be productive and I think that's awesome. 

12:15
The second thing that I've noticed is, and you've probably seen this too a lot of organizations that have funds dedicated to the office in experience, you know, we're gonna have baristas in the office, and we're gonna have free food and those kinds of things. They've taken those funds and said, we're gonna send pizzas to everybody's house, or we're gonna send gift cards to everyone and say, have lunch on us today, get it delivered. That kind of thing to help employees feel a little bit like the company remembered them, and some of the things that are going on. If you work from home, you're used to having all your meals at home and you work from home, you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home. If you work in an office environment, you might have breakfast at home. But you're used to grabbing a coffee outside of the office, you're used to having lunch out and so I think that some organizations said, let's try to do something nice and special for employees. 

John Hollon  13:43
Well and the thing that I like about that is the unexpected nature of it, because my experience has been employees really love it when they get caught off guard a little bit, and you do something nice for them that they didn't see coming. I think so much of us, what we do, how we judge things, runs on our expectations. And it's when you have no expectations at all and something nice comes your way that you're really pleasantly surprised and pleased. And that's a real morale builder and you want to build a culture, that helps a little bit, that is one way to do it.

Sharlyn Lauby  14:29
I used to work in the hotel industry and one of the things that we did all the time was thank families for sharing employees with us. And I could see this as being a perfect time to send dinner to somebody's house and say, 'Hey, we just want to let you know that we're thinking about you and your family and we hope you're safe and we hope you're well'. Awesome. That is just fantastic.

John Hollon  14:57
Well, the whole irony to me about this work at home. I can remember as far back as 20 years ago talking to a CEO or boss about working at home part of the time and getting it routinely rejected. And then suddenly, everybody's scrambling to do it and then all the objections they had, that I heard for 20 years, suddenly are moot. Because they had to do it.

Sharlyn Lauby  15:25
You're absolutely right. A lot of organizations that did not think the remote work model was going to be feasible are now stepping back and saying, you know what, this really is very feasible and employees are doing a great job.  

John Hollon  15:50
So do you hear much or get much in the way of companies reaching out to you to talk about maybe have you work on things having to do with employee morale during all of this? 

Sharlyn Lauby  16:04
One of the big areas that organizations are focused on is helping managers manage. You mentioned it, a lot of times managers are used to managing employees that they see all the time. Now, we're talking about an environment where I don't see an employee, I manage them not based on time, but I manage them based on results. That means having more intentional conversations about what expectations are, what the deliverable is going to look like, making sure that employees feel like they can reach out to their manager if they run into any obstacles along the way. So helping managers manage in this kind of environment is important. 

16:54
I also think and I could be really wrong about this, but I think that there are a lot of managers who, when you think about the fundamentals of management, they spend a lot of time in meetings, running their departments, and they're not doing that now. So what kinds of things, what kind of direction do we need to give to our managers, so that they're staying, not just managing everyone else, but that they are feeling well-being and they're not stressed out. 

17:32
Managers are working from home too and they have all of the same challenges that we talk about employees having, right? They have kids that might be partially being homeschooled, and they're working at home with other members, or maybe they have a caregiving responsibility and so we have to view our managers not only as the people who are taking care of our employees, but we have to view managers as employees, and they need that same kind of direction and coaching so that they can be successful.

John Hollon  18:14
That is a great observation and I wish we had more time to talk about it. But as I said at the start we run out of time real quick. So one last question, here at the TalentX Podcast, we wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have a job that they love, one they're passionate about. So Sharlyn, what do you love about what you do?

Sharlyn Lauby  18:37
I love that it's always changing and evolving. I have a personal confession to make here. I have a very low tolerance for boredom. So the fact that you look around you and the work is always changing and growing and expanding and evolving, is very exciting to me.

John Hollon  18:58
Well, my guess is that you experienced a lot of that during this past year. Well, thank you, Sharlyn for chatting. This has been wonderful, we really appreciate you being here and we'll have to have you back again at some point.

Sharlyn Lauby  19:15
Well, thank you for having me.

John Hollon  19:17
It was my pleasure. So for the Fuel50 TalentX Podcast, this is John Hollon. Thanks for listening.