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NextGen featuring Crystal Khalil

Crystal Khalil: How Mentoring Changes Early in Career Talent

Mentoring is something many leaders and companies say they do. Unfortunately, many mentor programs are inefficient and waste time. Crystal Khalil of Porsche Cars North America shares how she is using mentoring to encourage diversity and inclusion of the next genertation of talent.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - How Mentoring Changes Early in Career Talent

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent while you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
Hi and welcome to this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. I have a pretty special interview for you today. I got to interview Crystal Khalil who is the director of procurement for Porsche North America and everybody loves Porsche. They think they're super cool cars, but I personally happen to think that crystal is pretty amazing. She talks a lot about diversity and inclusion and as well as mentoring and the effects that those things have on the next generation of talent. In fact, I actually reached out to a few of Crystal's mentees and they shared with me some really from the heart words about what her mentorship has meant to them personally and professionally. So tune in and learn tons and tons from Amanda Hammett in Porsche North America.

Amanda Hammett: 01:12
Hi and welcome to this episode of the Next Generation Rock Stars podcast. I have a fantastic guest for you today. Her name is Amanda Hammett and she is with Porsche North America. Crystal, welcome to the show.

Crystal Khalil: 01:25
Thank you. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Amanda Hammett: 01:28
Well, I am so excited to tell you. I just shared with Crystal right before we hit record that I may have been Google sleuthing her, um, before we actually met in person and it was a total accident that we've met. Crystal, why don't you tell the audience a little bit about the list that you were put on?

Crystal Khalil: 01:52
So I was recently selected as one of the top 25 impact women impacting diversity and diversity plus magazine and that was launched at the weekend conference this year. So I'm really excited about that.

Amanda Hammett: 02:06
Yes. So, Crystal and I met at we bank, which is a phenomenal organization and it was funny because when the list came out, before we banked the conference, I actually printed it out, which I never print things. I printed it out and I circle and I watch it, Crystal because she was local to Atlanta as well as major Dixon from Accenture. And I just so happen was introduced to Crystal. I wasn't actually pursuing you, but I was introduced to you regardless. And I was so excited.

Crystal Khalil: 02:41
It worked out perfect.

Amanda Hammett: 02:45
It really, really was. So Crystal, why don't you tell the audience a little bit about you?

Crystal Khalil: 02:52
So I have been in procurement and supply chain for over 30 years. Out of those 30 years I've been with Porsche for about 18 years. I am currently the director of procurement for North America. Um, and that's where we do all of the purchasing activities for all of the North American affiliates and subsidiaries of Porsche here in North America. And that's all of the indirect spends. So it's everything on the operational side. We are the customs in Porter Group for North America though we import the vehicles and then get them out to our franchisee-owned dealers in North America. So all of the backend, the logistics, HR, IT, everything you can imagine to make that happen. My team supports those activities.

Amanda Hammett: 03:43
So just a little bit. I mean, not y'all don't do that much. So Crystal, you know, what I'm really excited to talk to you about today is two things, which are major for next-generation talent, the first being diversity and the second being mentoring. So why don't you tell us a little bit about how you see the world of diversity affecting the next generation of talent, whether it's recruiting or developing them. What is it?

Crystal Khalil: 04:17
I say diversity. I, I'm really excited about all of the diversity and inclusion that's, that's happening now. Because I think that as the, as the world changes and, and we're rapidly growing and the demographics are changing, it's important to have the talent in your organization that looks like your customers and you know, that can help give you a different perspective. So I'm really excited about, you know, the efforts here at portion, all the other companies that I'm seeing. I'm reflecting on it being, being intentional about the inclusion of diverse talent. I have for my entire career been the only African American in the room or the only woman in the room. And still to this day, I find myself being the only, you know a diverse person in meetings and in rooms. And I think it's important for them [inaudible] focus on how to make people feel included in those conversations.

Amanda Hammett: 05:18
I agree with that completely because it is one thing to actually be in the room, but it's a completely different thing to feel included in the conversation. And I think that that's something that really we're doing better on diversity, but it is something that inclusion piece is so, so very important.

Crystal Khalil: 05:37
Exactly. And it, and it's a two-way conversation. So one of the things that I expressed to my mentees is inclusion is a two-way conversation. You know, organizations have to make the effort to include you, but you also have to be open to that conversation and you also have to be transparent and allow yourself to be engaged in that conversation.

Amanda Hammett: 06:01
I really love that. I think that's great advice for both sides of that conversation. That's wonderful. So let me ask you this when you're thinking about recruiting or I know that you don't specifically have that role in recruiting, but you do bring people onto your team. So when you're thinking about your team and the dynamics, how big of a, how big of a conversation is diversity? on the day today?

Crystal Khalil: 06:27
So when we we're recruiting, we want to make sure that we have a diverse group of talent and we also, um, we do panel interviews here. So we make sure that also the people, um, that are helping us with the interview process are a diverse group of people so that the talent can see people that look like them in the room as well. So, and you get a diverse perspective.

Amanda Hammett: 06:50
Yes. That's really fantastic. I love that you're able to actually pull in that diverse diversity on the panel because it is so very important, especially for young talent, for them to see someone that they can see themselves in up there. So that's I love that you think that through because so many people would miss that one integral piece. So I love it. I love it. All right. You, you mentioned this just a second ago, but I'd like to circle back to it. You mentioned to you, your mentees. So tell us a little bit about how you see the world of mentoring before we actually deep dive into your mentees for a second.

Crystal Khalil: 07:34
So as I've grown up the corporate ladder and open doors that were perceived to have been close to me or you know, keep through glass ceilings I've always felt that as I opened the door, it's my responsibility to hold that door open and not close it behind me. So I'm very intentional about when I learn something new, sharing it and, and helping others that are coming behind me to, to navigate, but do a lot of mentoring and sponsoring to, to help our young talent and our diverse talent. Find your way in the organization. Just sharing with them. I strive to be the leader that I always want it. And I know that you know, for many years I didn't see anybody above me that looked like me. So it's very important for me to use this platform to help young people coming up in the ranks and help them to understand what it takes to get to the next level.

Amanda Hammett: 08:38
I love that so much. I really, that really touches me. Um, so thank you for doing that on their behalf. So I really want to emphasize for those in the audience who may not know exactly what mentoring is, but would you also share with them like you, how do you see the difference between mentoring and sponsorship?

Crystal Khalil: 09:03
Absolutely. Good question. So for me, mentoring is showing you the way you know, showing you how the gangs are played. Because whether you know it or not, there's always a game being played, right? You're playing or you're being played. So showing them how the game is played and how to navigate the corporate structure is mentoring. Sponsoring is when someone speaks for you when you're not in the room. Monstering is when, when I can say, have you considered this person for this opportunity? Or when you get the tap on the shoulder for an opportunity. So I think you need a sponsor for every new level. Every new level requires a sponsor.

Amanda Hammett: 09:47
Now I would assume, and I may be very wrong and please, please correct, but I would assume that you've probably had some pretty great mentors as well as sponsors throughout your career.

Crystal Khalil: 09:58
Absolutely. I wouldn't be here without the great mentors and sponsors that have helped me along the way. And it has it's cause it's been a challenge, you know, you know, growing myself, learning what is required to get to the next level. Learning the difference between being an individual contributor, a manager, and a leader, you know, and in that growth process, what the sponsors along my way to have challenged me or that have spoken up for me. My current CFO, I'll forever be grateful for him because sponsors a lot of times have to put their own credibility on the line to bring you to the next level. And so I'm so very appreciative of those people in my career and in my life that have stood in the gap for me and given me a hand up.

Amanda Hammett: 10:50
I love it. That's wonderful. And I just want to note something really quickly here. We were originally scheduled to talk, was it last week or the week before, and you were actually asked by your CFO to go represent him at a meeting. And I think that that speaks for you.

Crystal Khalil: 11:07
Yeah, no, I'm so appreciative of those opportunities and of the trust, you know that he has in me.

Amanda Hammett: 11:14
Absolutely. And, and I mean, you sent me the sweetest note like, I'm so sorry. Can we reschedule it? And I was like, girl, please. Absolutely. So you're currently doing a lot of mentoring. I actually at Webank had the opportunity to meet a few of your mentees and they were raving about you. I mean, just raving about you. But I actually went to a few of your current mentees and have them write something for me and I'm not gonna read everything that they said because we'd be here for the rest of the day. Um, but they had a lot to say. And I think that this is really something that's important for everyone to see is that you are pouring into them and they are so incredibly grateful and appreciative and they're sucking it up like sponges and really using it to better their lives.

Amanda Hammett: 12:12
But I'd really just like to read it, just a couple of little comments that I highlighted and pulled out. This is from a young man who's in his late twenties to early thirties, and he says that you have been instrumental in my development as a leader and a team player at Porsche. The lessons you have taught him have carried on past the workplace and have allowed me to be a better husband, friend, and citizen. I mean, come on. That's you. Your care, your enthusiasm, and charismatic nature have made her an important asset to our company. And to my personal network. Wow. I mean I'm like, I'm tearing up. Another, another woman who's in her late thirties, she said, this is no joke. My experience with Crystal has been life-changing. Like she really doesn't need to write anything else, but she does you have some raving fans here.

Amanda Hammett: 13:20
She said working with you has been the best thing that I could've done both for my professional and personal life. She said when she was working with you to Dah, Dah, Dah, I received one of the largest salary increases that I have ever received.

Crystal Khalil: 13:39
Wow.

Amanda Hammett: 13:40
Life-changing. That's life-changing. And she said crystal has been a Godson and it definitely changes the blueprint for women here at Porsche North America. And we celebrate her daily.

Crystal Khalil: 13:51
Oh, come on.

Amanda Hammett: 13:55
I mean like, this is crazy. I mean, crazy good. One last one. This is a woman in her fifties and she says a lot. But one of the things that really stood out was that crystal has pushed me to come out of my comfort zone and what I consider normal. And she's not allowed me to settle for less than. And my professional and personal journey have been easier because of her brilliance, patience and consistent encouragement.

Crystal Khalil: 14:27
Wow. That's overwhelming.

Amanda Hammett: 14:30
Yes. And when you read all of it in, in their entirety, it really will be. But what this says to me is that you care about them and it goes far beyond just a checklist. You care about them and they feel it. And I think that it's obviously changed their lives for the better.

Crystal Khalil: 14:50
That makes me proud and it makes me happy.

Amanda Hammett: 14:54
Yeah. I'm absolute. I mean, and that really is the power of mentoring. That is the kind of difference that a good mentor makes.

Crystal Khalil: 15:04
Yes, yes. And I, and I do, I care deeply about them. I want to see them grow professionally but also like in there, in their personal lives. Because a lot of the lessons that I teach them can be applied to other areas of your life as well. And it's about just being a good person, just doing the right thing every day, being a good person, doing your best. And I love when we have our mentee sessions and I get that Aha moment from them where it's like, and I can tell that they're really processing it. And then they come back and they tell me, Oh, I had this thought and I applied it this way and this is what happened. It just, it makes my heart overjoyed because ultimately, you know, what I always tell them is I want to see you be successful, whether it's here at Porsche or anywhere else in your life. I want you to be happy. I want you to be successful. I want you to grow because growing people grow companies, you know, if you're happy and you're, and you're doing what you love, you will, you will grow the organization, whether it's Porsche somewhere else or you're even your own company. I want them to see happy and successful no matter what it is they decided to do in life.

Amanda Hammett: 16:17
Well, they have gotten that message loud and clear from you. But for the audience here, I think that there's a lot of, I feel like misinformation out there about mentoring, about how to structure it. And there are a thousand different ways you could structure it, but could you walk the audience through how you A pick out mentees and B, how do you structure that time with them?

Crystal Khalil: 16:46
So there's a couple of different ways. So I'm a John Maxwell certified trainer, so I use a lot of dime Maxwell's techniques and my mentoring. And then just everyday life, you know, and, and the lessons that I've learned in the last 30 years do it, you know, doing what I do in procurement and supply chain and just throughout my life. But the mentees tend to select me and it's, and I can't turn anybody down. So I'm like right now I have 32 active mentees here at the organization.

Amanda Hammett: 17:19
When did you work? I mean, we'll do you have time?

Crystal Khalil: 17:23
Everybody else goes home, Huh? What I do, I have 32 and I do, um, I meet with them in groups of 10 to attend to 12. And we have regular scheduled sessions for one hour where we talk about a particular topic. And it's just, it's based on trust, truth, and transparency. And my model is excellence and but my brand will be service excellence and humility. So I, you know, it's, it's focused around service excellence and humility in your everyday life. And so we take a little bite-size chunk of one of those three and we meet for an hour and it's just, I'm transparent with them. I tell them the struggles I've had in my career and how I overcame and, and I allow them to be truthful and what, what, what we say in the room stays in the room. And I'd give them my best advice, but even better, they laugh from one another.

Crystal Khalil: 18:24
So what when it, when I know the class is most successful is when I talk the least amount and they talk the most and they are answering questions for each other and they're having healthy debate and they're collaborating and they've started to become, they, it's, there's like a, a network of them within your organization where they, it's a positive support group. So you know, if they can't, if they can't get me in, they have a pressing issue, they know that they can go to one of my other mentees and they're all on the same page and they're all encouraging and positive and there's nobody that's going to sit there and soak with you. They're going to tell you to get up and do what you need to do and you know they're going to give you positive reinforcement and encouragement to do whatever it is that needs to be done. So I'm really proud of that when I see them together and I see them networking. And the other thing is they come from all areas of the ordinance organization. If some of them come from some of our affiliates and subsidiaries, most of them are very different departments. So it's created a network within. So, you know, whereas they used to be hard workers sitting at their desk just doing their job. Now they're meeting people from other areas of the department and it's helping them to understand where they fit in into the big picture.

Amanda Hammett: 19:40
Oh, that's a beautiful side benefit that I feel like most people probably didn't see coming. I didn't see that coming.

Crystal Khalil: 19:50
Exactly.

Amanda Hammett: 19:51
That's beautiful. I love it. I love it. So I mean if you were to advise a young employee right now, um, outside of, of, of your company that is looking for a mentor, someone that can really give them this kind of guidance, what advice would you give them?

Crystal Khalil: 20:11
Look for people that you admire in, in, um, in leadership and you know, as be gracious enough to ask people to sit down and if you can, if you can have a coffee with them, a 30-minute coffee or something, not a lot of time. And be curious about, you know, how did they get where they are today and, and learn more about them. I've never reached out to someone and asked them could I sit and talk with them and been turned down because people like to talk about themselves. Right? So if you just wanna hey, I just love to, you know, learn more about you and how, how you achieved what you've achieved in your career. And you know, if we can just sit down for a 30-minute coffee and I won't take a lot of your time, but I just wanted to learn about you, people will generally say yes. I've never had anybody tying me down for that. And if you do that with a couple of people, sooner or later you'll start to build connections with people that can become your mentors.

Amanda Hammett: 21:08
Absolutely. I love it. So, um, do you generally think it's a better idea for people to have a mentor inside their company or outside or both? Or what is your advice on that?

Crystal Khalil: 21:22
I would say you should have as many mentors as you can. It's great to have one in the organization because they will help you to understand how to navigate your corporate culture in your organizations, culture, but then also externally because you want to build that network outside of your organization as well. Your network should be three 60, so you'll find people in your church, you'll find people in industry associations, you know, that, that can help you to navigate to the next level. So I would say is, you know, as many mentors as you can find that are willing to invest in, you, don't turn anybody down.

Amanda Hammett: 22:04
I love it so much. So great. Crystal. So you know, you have said so many great things about the world of diversity and inclusion, the world of mentoring. And you know, for me it's all about the young employees. So next generation of talent, whether it's millennials, whether it's Gen z, but what would you say to a young employee who is going to be a leader for the very first time? What advice would you give them?

Crystal Khalil: 22:35
The first thing I would say to them, it is known the difference between a manager and a leader. So more managers maintain systems and processes, right? Leaders are strategic and they look to take the organization to new levels. They're problem solvers. To understand which one do you want to be? You want to be a manager or leader. Leaders are more valuable to the organization. So focus on your leadership skills, your people skills, invest in yourself and never stop learning. You know, really take the time to enhance your knowledge of people skills. Take, you know, if there's training offered by your organization, take full advantage of that. But if it's not, go outside of your organization and get what you need to be the best leader possible.

Amanda Hammett: 23:27
I really don't have anything to add and we have quickly come up to the end of our time. So crystal, I'd like to thank you so much for being on the Next Generation Rockstars podcast, wealth of knowledge, wealth of knowledge. So again, thank you so much.

Crystal Khalil: 23:43
Thank you.

Amanda Hammett: 23:44
Thanks so much. Joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader, and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the Next Generation Rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

NextGen featuring Tonia Carty Hau

Tonia Hau: Leading Early in Career Talent

Developing early career talent is a struggle for most companies. Yet, some leaders, like Tonia Hau, seem to be able to do it with incredible ease. Learn from Tonia as she explains for a simple method for developing early-career employees.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Leading Early in Career Talent

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent, well you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
All right, so today's episode of the Next Generation Rockstars podcast has a very special interview. This is actually the leader of two of our gas from season one, two of our rock stars from season one. So today I interviewed Tonia Hau who is an account director at Communique-USA here in the Atlanta, Georgia area. And she talks about how wonderful it can be to be a leader of early in career talent. So everybody on her team has less than five years of business experience, less than five years, and she really pours into them and really develops them and turns them into some amazing employees that will go on to have phenomenal careers. So I hope that you get out your pen, your paper or you take lots of mental notes if you're listening to this while you drive into work because Tonia Hau is going to break it down for you on how to be a phenomenal, authentic and transparent leader for that early in career talent.

Amanda Hammett: 01:16
Hey there and welcome to this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. We have a really fantastic episode with you today. We have Tonia Hau who is with Communique-USA where she is an account director. Welcome to the show Tonia.

Tonia Hau: 01:30
Hi. Thanks for having me.

Amanda Hammett: 01:32
No worries. So I knew I had to talk to Tonia last season. So season one, I interviewed two of her direct reports in the latter part of the season. So if you haven't checked it out, definitely go back, check out that episode. But they raved about their leader, their manager who happens to be Tonia. So Tonia, tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

Tonia Hau: 01:58
Hi, yes, as you mentioned, I'm the account director at Communique-USA. I report to the vice president of client services, Stephanie Thompson, who is a fabulous leader. And models leadership well for me. Um, and she reports to Shawnee Godwin, our CEO, and president. And it's just, I've worked there for five years. It's a wonderful organization to work for. They focus a lot on work-life balance which makes my job a lot easier and more fulfilling. And I have two teenagers. I have one boy in college, she's getting ready to start his sophomore year and I have a daughter who is starting her senior year of high school, very recently engaged and going to be married. So yes.

Amanda Hammett: 02:53
What's going on in your personal life there? That's amazing. That is fantastic. So I just have a lot of questions for you honestly, because I think that when people get a leadership role for them whether it's the first time or it's their first time really managing, you know, early in career, those right out of college employees, they want to pull their hair out, they don't get it. And it really is a test of a lot of things. But empathy, listening, development leadership in general. So really, can you tell the audience a little bit about what is your specific or general ideas around leadership around developing talent? How do you see the world?

Tonia Hau: 03:43
Okay. I mean I was a little bit, not embarrassed, but just take him back that my direct reports have great things to say because it is always hard to know how you're being perceived by your direct report. And it was, they were incredibly generous and kind with their words and it was very humbling and I feel very honored. Honestly. I believe that leadership is not about something that you do, but I believe it's about really who someone is and how they just see the world and how they interact with people. So for me, I don't think it's anything that I'm doing. It's more of just my personality, my character and what I value and how that comes out in my leadership skills. I believe that very important, and being authentic and transparent, I believe you should highlight successes as well as failures.

Tonia Hau: 04:42
And I think the biggest thing that I value that I've valued in leaders above me and I've tried to make the best of leaders that I have had, such as Stephanie, who's a phenomenal leader and I'm trusting over suspicion I think is absolutely crucial. Giving people the benefit of the doubt, allowing people to make mistakes and giving them a safe place to make mistakes. I think that creates a very innovative culture that can try new things and learn from your mistakes. I think that's the only way to grow and be innovative. And so I very much know that my employees know that they can come to me and share with me anything that's going on and just try to be completely open and transparent with them. And I guess the only other thing I think that's really important is just surrounding myself with complementary talent.

Tonia Hau: 05:44
I look to build teams that complement each other with their strengths and their weaknesses. I think it's been very important for me. When I was interviewing my direct report that you interviewed, both of them have strong skillsets in areas that I'm extremely weekend and so I'm embarrassed in the leap does say that because I think that's what builds strong teams. They have, I am more of a big-picture strategic thinker when they have attention to detail like nobody you've ever seen. And so that actually was one of the things I was looking for and building my team because I know that it's essential to have a well-rounded team.

Amanda Hammett: 06:29
Oh, that is so interesting that you say that. But also I'd like to commend you on being incredibly self-aware. I think that that is something that can be missing the time at all levels, at all levels. It does not just say if it's across the board. So I commend you on that. That's really fantastic and I think that it's helped you build an incredible team. So that's great. Now let me get, let me ask you, and not to be rude, how long have you been in the working world, Tonia?

Tonia Hau: 07:04
I have been in the workforce for over 20 years. I took a little bit of time off to be at home with my kids when they were younger. And so then I had to get reestablished back, um, into the work environment. But overall over 20, probably about 25 years.

Amanda Hammett: 07:24
Okay. Perfect. All right. So I would imagine that in that time you have seen a young talent coming to the workforce in different waves. What have you noticed as the biggest influence millennials and Gen z's are bringing into the workforce or have brought into the workforce?

Tonia Hau: 07:44
Well, absolutely. Hands down. I can tell you this, just from having teenagers myself, I know for a fact they could run this house on their knowledge of technology with or without any assistance. So it's definitely the rise in technology being tech-savvy. And I really see how that's influenced our company with the offerings that they bring. Just, you know, assessing that are our software and our offerings and providing suggestions and improvements has been really helpful.

Amanda Hammett: 08:19
That's awesome. So have you, besides the tech, you know, have there been any shifts in, well you did mention the offerings, but you know what has really been the surprise that has come with these shifts? Has it been a positive surprise or negative, anything like that?

Tonia Hau: 08:37
No, I would, I mean, that's just my personality. I always try to look for the positive and I try to always look for learning opportunities. So I definitely think it's been helpful that our leader has provided the work-life balance. I think one thing that's very important to millennials is that their outside passions fuel them. And so I think the work-life balance that we provide is just been an easy actually beneficial for them.

Amanda Hammett: 09:07
Absolutely. And I'd like to say, I mean, just, I know Shawnee personally, I have met Stephanie, I don't even know how many times and hung out with her and they really, they don't just say it, they actually practice that every single day. And I love the rule that you guys have in place as far as answering client emails. What is it like after five or six o'clock? Don't expect a response. And I mean, how many other companies do that?

Amanda Hammett: 09:36
Right? Oh, go ahead.

Tonia Hau: 09:42
Oh, I was just going to say we're very fortunate and well handpicking the clients that work along well with that culture and that embrace that culture and appreciate it. I know a lot of our clients, um, if they're checking emails after or doing work after business hours, that it's predominantly to just get, you know, their inbox cleared out and just so they're not holding things up because they're in meetings all day. So typically they don't expect a response at that time. They're just trying to get things off of their plate. So it's been great.

Amanda Hammett: 10:17
That's awesome. So when you're looking at young talent in particular because you do lead a younger team, you know, what are some of the things that you're looking for? What are some of those foundational pieces that you want someone to come in? They may not have a lot of experience, but what is it that really says, okay, this person's got potential. This person can be a rock star.

Tonia Hau: 10:44
Absolutely. I think, um, you know, at that level we don't expect anyone to know everything or to have all the answers I think, which is hard for anyone, not just millennials. When you go come into a new role and instantly people are trying to prove themselves and show their value that you made the right choice in hiring them, which can really be, I try to sit them down immediately like day one and say, we don't expect you to know everything. We don't expect you to prove yourself or show your value. What you are here to do at this moment is to learn and observe. And so we, I think someone that has rockstar potential that we see a lot is someone who asks a lot of questions, who doesn't pretend to know at all and who is just a great observer, not trying to add value that just, we very much encourage them to observe more in the beginning. And to be proactive. They ask for more work when you're slow to ask for what you need if you don't have the resources that you need to do your job and just not to be afraid to ask a lot of questions. But one thing that is an absolute bonus for sure, it's a positive, encouraging spirit. Someone who just is very enthusiastic who is happy to be there, willing to be there and just willing to help out wherever they can and be a team player.

Amanda Hammett: 12:19
Okay. I love all that and I think it's something [inaudible] okay. That you know, you see a lot of in, in other companies that it's like, oh, it's all about the resume. What's on the resume, what's on the resume? And at this point, they don't have a lot on their resume or at least not a lot that's really applicable. And it's really about getting those specific characteristics as specific traits that are going to translate well into your environment. And it sounds like, you know, you guys are looking for that inquisitive spirit, but also just that like, Hey, I'm going to be proactive. I'm going to go after things, whether it's, you know, in this specific area that is in my job or willing to, you know, spread myself out and help out where needed those are important things. Now, how do you spot that on a resume though?

Tonia Hau: 13:13
I mean, it's tough. I mean, a resume I think is for looking at the skillset and it's in the interview process where you assess the soft skills that are incredibly important. And so that's why it's important to have both really.

Amanda Hammett: 13:27
I agree with that. I do agree with that. So we've already kind of touched on this and maybe you have some other experiences outside of communique. But have you ever felt the pressure from higher-ups at any point in your career to focus more on numbers and metrics and KPIs and less on real people?

Tonia Hau: 13:51
I think that's a common pressure with every business. I don't think anyone, I mean every business focuses on profitability and growth. I think that's important. I mean, that's a common pressure, but again, we're just, I think I'm very fortunate to work a Communique that values people. And the work-life balance, I think as Shawnee mentions her joy economics, it's about making work as enjoyable and happy to go to as it is at home and your personal life. And it's a balancing act, but at get, at the end of the day, we're not, we don't want to sacrifice people or values for money or for profitability. I mean, it's equally important, but I think as a leader, it's just natural to me in the disc assessment of dominant influencers, steadiness and conscientious. I'm an influencer. So it just comes naturally to me to place emphasis on influencing others, openness, and relationships over tasks and profitability. So I do get, I have to get reined in every now and then on, on that. But for me, people always come first.

Amanda Hammett: 15:13
I think that's really, I think that's important. I think that unfortunately, sometimes we do tend to focus too much on the numbers and not enough on the people who drive those numbers. But I understand there's, there's a balance. it's delicate. Right? All right. So I, there was something that you said earlier that I really wanted to, to circle back to if you don't mind. You said trusting over suspicion and giving people a safe, a place to make mistakes. And I think that that's really beautiful and I think that it can be very scary for some leaders to do that. Because it's so, you know, making a mistake. In a lot of instances, people automatically assume that that's a terrible thing. It's a bad idea. I don't, that would reflect badly on me as a leader, you know? What do you have to say about that? What do you, what are your thoughts?

Tonia Hau: 16:09
Well, again it's about the types of mistakes obviously. Um, we prefer smaller mistakes over the larger, more costly mistake. Regardless, I mean, we, none of us are perfect. Everyone is going to make mistakes, especially when you're new in your career and to have an environment that is open to that, that you can come to immediately and say, Hey, I messed this up. I take full ownership. What do I need to do to fix it? In the end, is going to be more beneficial because the sooner I can get in and provide leadership and try to help navigate the process thereafter, the fewer mistakes and the less costly it is in the end. It's the people that work in the environment. And I know because I've worked in that environment and especially when I was younger, I'm trying to cover it up because you're so afraid of your boss finding out or someone finding out and you spend so much time and effort trying to fix it, that sometimes you just make it worse and it just goes down a path that it's almost to the point that you have no choice but a phone up to it. And I just, I think the sooner they feel safer to come to me, the better it is for everyone.

Amanda Hammett: 17:33
So how do you actually help them feel safe in that environment? That they can come to you? I mean, it's one thing to tell people, oh, it's okay to make a mistake, but I think that we've all been in situations before where we've been told sure can make mistakes. Nobody's perfect. Right? But the reality is not, doesn't always match up with that. So how do you make sure that you're direct reports actually feel that, hey, Tonia has got my back no matter what? How do you, how do you do that?

Tonia Hau: 18:05
I mean, I think it's by being authentic and vulnerable with them. I mean I will constantly when sharing examples of mistakes that I've made, whether it's in the past or current, I'm sharing with them, hey, you're not the only one. I've done this. Other people who've done this and just being very transparent about assuring them that they're not the only one that's ever made it, it's not the end of the world.

Amanda Hammett: 18:33
I think that that's really important that you do that. Um, that is the, I see the number one thing that young employees don't see is, you know, bosses that take responsibility or ownership of their own mistakes because then if they, if that is the example that you set one time you're done, you are done with that team because they all decided, okay, I've got to hide my mistakes. I've got to like run from it or whatever. And that's just you're setting yourself out to make it, you know, for a disaster. So I love that you do that.

Amanda Hammett: 19:10
That's really tough. Thank You. Plus I think as a leader it's important for them to know that. I mean, I take responsibility for the team, so I will be the one to step up and take it the responsibility for any mistakes and let them know that that's on me. It's not on necessarily on them every time that they can, you know, share that with me. But I will take the full responsibility for the team and for the mistake if the team isn't on me. So I think for taking the, not really the broad, but just taking the ownership of that and then providing them action steps. Of how to improve, what to do next time, how to make sure that this doesn't happen again. What do we learn from this is incredibly important because to just tell someone they made a mistake, they can just sit and feel bad about themselves, but actually to give them action steps gives them ownership and power and show it shows them to embrace the learning opportunity.

Amanda Hammett: 20:12
I love that because it's, yes, you see a lot of times people and companies talk about learning opportunities, but actually, you know, showcasing that and highlighting it in a positive light versus you're going to get fired light in a world of.

Tonia Hau: 20:30
I mean, and there are mistakes that I, yeah, I can't help or take ownership of. And there have been those opportunities, unfortunately, that I have had to let people go. And that is very unfortunate and it's a very tough, difficult thing for any of us. Of course, no matter how many times you do it, it's still tough.

Amanda Hammett: 20:50
Oh, of course. So let's, let's switch gears a little bit more. Let's, let's get a little away from the [inaudible] failure and mistakes world. Talk a little bit more about educating and developing your people. I mean a lot of your teamwork. Let's talk a little bit first about your team right now. Is it all fresh out of college or what do we look like?

Tonia Hau: 21:15
Right. I think we're very well balanced, but we do have a lot of millennials and early in their career, I wouldn't say fresh out of college, but I would say in the first five years of their career. Yes.

Amanda Hammett: 21:30
I mean, I listen, I think those first five years are a critical mass. Like that is like the toughest, special time. And so I'm really pleased that they have a great leader in you because I think that sets up the rest of their career. So, all right. So let's talk about educating and developing that early in career. Do you know what, what do you see as the benefit first of all, like overall to actually spending that time or those resources developing talent?

Tonia Hau: 22:01
I think it's very crucial to our business. I mean, obviously, sort of cliche to say, but it's the, I mean, the feature is in the future is in their hands. Our future is in their hands. So it's important to develop them. And I start off all of our, one on one meetings by saying, look, I know that it's not likely that you're going to stay with this company for the rest of your life. But I do want to make this a very valuable time for you to learn and grow and I want you to go into your next position, whatever that might be with whatever company that might be saying, Aye. You know, I gained a ton of knowledge and great and honed and on my strengths and weaknesses and was able to use that in my next position. I mean, I think so.

Tonia Hau: 22:57
I said, I tried to take our one-on-ones as a time to less develop you as a person and what can we do to grow you in your career where you are and try to get them to think about their strengths, to think about their weaknesses and then provide action items and action steps to develop them. I think if we don't do that, we're gonna lose great talent. That has a lot of opportunities. I think when you have, you know, any turnover, you risk losing client relationships and losing client business and I mean, and I think it keeps us on our toes as an organization to fine-tune our skills and to grow in our business and grow our opportunities.

Amanda Hammett: 23:45
All right. I couldn't agree with any of that more. Basically. I do have one just quick clarifying question. Uh, how often do you do your one on ones with your team?

Tonia Hau: 23:55
I do them biweekly. Okay. and I mean it doesn't always happen based on, you know, but I at least try to touch base with them once a month.

Amanda Hammett: 24:03
Okay. And then are those usually what, how long?

Tonia Hau: 24:07
30 minutes. 30 such space. Right. And then, you know, and then we'll provide, like, you know, a yearly review, which is a little bit more in-depth than we're meeting.

Amanda Hammett: 24:19
Yeah, absolutely. Okay. But it seems like you cover a fair amount of ground in those 30-minute meetings, which, you know, 30 minutes out of your, you know, every week or every month. Not that much time, but you also are very hands-on with them should they need it. But it seems like you have a very open door, I guess, policy, where they could come to you and them, feel comfortable coming to you even outside of that 30 minutes.

Tonia Hau: 24:50
Yes, absolutely. They texted me all the time.

Amanda Hammett: 24:55
So I'd also like to highlight one thing that you said in that last statement. And it's more at this talks more to the financial ramifications of developing your team or maybe not developing your team, but you actually mentioned the potential for when there's turnover, actually potentially also losing clients. I think that's huge and I don't think that people make that connection enough. So, okay. I'd like to, let's see, are there any other ways that you see how this financially benefits you guys in developing your team? Or is it mainly because you guys are pretty customer-facing? Is it mainly just that piece? Okay.

Tonia Hau: 25:40
I mean, I'm sure there are others. I just that's a big bulk of what we do is I'm nervous and account management. So that is the number one thing that comes to mind. I mean again, not developing talent. Ah, woodwork also, I mean lots of mistakes cost money, it costs clients money. So we try to be very hands-on and provide great, you know, development and mentorship to them to avoid as many client mistakes cause those can come back to bite us as well.

Amanda Hammett: 26:18
Oh goodness. Yes. And I mean your entire team is just client service. I mean that is all you guys do. So that would be, I think the biggest, the biggest piece of that. But I mean obviously you want to build up those skills in case, you know, you eventually have somebody move up into a different room, part of the company or you know, whatever you want them to have built those skills under you, which it sounds they're doing.

Tonia Hau: 26:44
Oh, absolutely. And there's the rare instance. I mean, but it does happen where we've had clients that just fell in love with our talent and our employees and have hired them on. And so then someone that was working for us is now our client. So it's great to have that positive rapport in that relationship already established.

Amanda Hammett: 27:11
That is great. That is great to have. I mean that's, of course, you hate to see them go, but at the same time, you know, you want them to have great careers and it's a logical next step. This is the logical next step.

Tonia Hau: 27:23
Absolutely.

Amanda Hammett: 27:24
So wonderful. All right, so let's, let's circle back a little bit and take a look at something from a different perspective. Tonia, what would advice would you give, I know that you have a son currently in college or, or maybe some of his friends, so let's talk to that to them specifically. What would you tell them to look for in their first boss or their first company? What would be the most important things for them to think about?

Tonia Hau: 27:55
I think they need to focus on, which I think really comes naturally to millennials anyway, is just development and growth opportunities. It's very important in your first career too. Just learn as much as you can and observe as much as you can. And so I think for them to look for those opportunities in companies that invest in their people and invest in that long term growth strategy. They companies that provide great leadership, um, look for ways to build on that. I think for them to identify their strengths and passions. And just again, it's kind of like what we're looking for in employees they should be looking for in companies and leadership or just, you know, positive and enthusiastic people that are happy to be there, that are very knowledgeable that they can learn a lot from.

Amanda Hammett: 28:55
Awesome. All right, so the last question and then I'm going to let you go. What, do you have a favorite leadership book?

Tonia Hau: 29:04
Oh, absolutely. I have two actually that I mean there's a lot that I've read, but too, I have, I'm courageous leadership by bill Hybels is one of my absolute favorites. He talks a lot about vision, creating fuel for leaders, um, and passion for followers. And so I think it's incredibly important for leaders to cast vision and cast it often and frequently. And the other is a next-generation leader by Andy Ali is my other favorite that he talks about the five cs mark and shape women and men for the future, which is courage, clarity, competence, coachability, and character.

Amanda Hammett: 29:58
[inaudible]. Yup, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, fantastic. Well, Tonia, it has been a real pleasure having you on the show. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences being that in the trenches like early in career leader. I think this is going to be some great takeaways for the entire audience.

Tonia Hau: 30:18
Oh, thank you so much and thank you so much for having me. It's been a true honor. I appreciate it.

Amanda Hammett: 30:22
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader. And if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the next generation rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

NextGen Featuring Dee Ann Turner

DeeAnn Turner: Selecting Talent

Have you ever wondered why some companies can't seem to keep employees while other companies hire employees and then they stick around for years? According to Dee Ann Turner, former head of HR for Chick-Fil-A, it all comes down to selecting talent versus hiring people.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Selecting Talent

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent while you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
Hey, good morning and welcome to the next generation rock stars podcast. I'm your host, Amanda Hammett, and we have a phenomenal leader for you today. Her name is Dee Ann Turner and Dee Ann used to be with the one and only Chick-Fil-A. Dee Ann, welcome to the show.

Dee Ann Turner: 00:31
Thank you so much. It's really my pleasure to be here, Amanda.

Amanda Hammett: 00:34
Wonderful. Like we have a lot to talk about because of Dee Ann well, I'll actually, why don't you go in and tell us a little bit about you.

Dee Ann Turner: 00:43
Sure. Well, it's quite a story. I did spend 33 years at chip full lie in the majority of that time. My responsibility was to lead talent and human resources and then later social responsibility. And I retired last year. I'd written my first book, it's my pleasure in 2015 and had the opportunity to just start speaking and robbing, consulting and coaching. And so I speak about 50 times a year globally. And I Baker publishing picked up, it's my pleasure and asked me to add content to it. Then we redid the work and it will come out on September the third Az bet on talent. How to create a remarkable culture and win the hearts of customers.

Amanda Hammett: 01:29
Perfect. Perfect. Well, you know, for those from my audience that is not familiar with Chick-Fil-A as a consumer, I will say this Chick-Fil-A is known not only for, you know, fast food, wonderful chicken, but they're known for their service. That is why for people like myself, that's why you go to Chick-Fil-A is because you know the service that's going to be good. You know, the food's going to be good, but it's the service that sets it apart. And I would imagine that you might've had a hand in that being over HR and talent for so long.

Dee Ann Turner: 02:04
I'd like to take credit for that. But there are actually a native so many people and number one is actually the Chick-Fil-A life franchisees themselves. See Chick-Fil-A is now, Oh, I guess about 2,500 franchisees and 10 and a half-billion dollars in sales. When I first went to Chick-Fil-A, I believe that we were at about 175 million in sales with 150 restaurants. But those franchises are totally responsible for selecting their own talent and training them and developing them. And so I think the secret sauce, if you will, of Chick-Fil-A is in the selection of that Franchisee. And that was one of the things I really did. In fact, it was my favorite job at Chick-Fil-A was selecting those franchisees. Now there are about 50,000 people who required each year for 120 opportunities to be a Chick-Fil-A grand chassis. So actually people say it's easier to get into Harvard than it is to become a Chick-Fil-A for the like franchisee.

Amanda Hammett: 03:07
Wow. I had no idea. I mean, I knew it was difficult. I actually know a few franchisees and that the process that they put you through is incredible. But I would like for you to say that stat again. What was that again?

Dee Ann Turner: 03:21
It's about 50,000 inquiries each year of people who would like to become a Chick-Fil-A like franchisees for only about 120 opportunities. And let me take it a little further. Two-thirds of the people who are selected actually come from somewhere within the organization. Most of them have been a Chick-Fil-A team member at some point. So now we're talking only about 35 or 40 that are even available to those apps.

Amanda Hammett: 03:50
That is insane. That is, those are some crazy numbers. So you, you actually just said a few minutes ago that this secret sauce to Chick-Fil-A was really the selection of those franchisees. So I, you know, that's something that we haven't really talked about on this show. Because usually, it's, it's specific to, you know, in house corporate, you know, hires, but this is a little different. So I mean, what makes it so different? What makes it so difficult, but what makes it so special?

Dee Ann Turner: 04:22
Well as I, you know, and of course this was my role a few years back, so I'm, you know, I want to be, I want to be sensitive to the fact that, you know, things maybe even a little different right now, but as it was when I had that role, um, you know, we look for three things when our candidates, and this really came from Truett Cathy, the founder, the first one is character. And he always said character first. And when we talk about character, we're talking about an individual whose values and purpose and mission-aligned with the organization. It doesn't, it doesn't mean it matches perfectly. It just means that they understand what those characteristics are and they're comfortable with that. So, along with the chick-fil-a purpose met mission and values would be one part of the Franchisee selection. And the second part is competency.

Dee Ann Turner: 05:10
And you know, the interesting thing that changed so much over the time I told you that we're not started doing that work. We had 175 million in sales and those were all mall restaurants. You see 86 Chick-Fil-A started opening free-standing locations will over time the volumes of those restaurants have become very complex. And by the way, about 500 of those phones, Chelsea's operating with two restaurants and a dozen or so operate three. So we're talking about, you know, very large, small businesses that these frames, same with these franchise needs or are running. So competency of what was required in 1985 to run a mall restaurant versus what's required in 2019 to run a freestanding restaurant with the kind of average sales that chick like produces. And then, and then to look at people and say, you know what, in a few years, we want them to have the capacity, the competency to actually operate more than one restaurant.

Dee Ann Turner: 06:08
So when we select for competency, it should flight, not just selecting a for what's available right then, but thinking is this the leader that has the capacity to do more later on? And then last week looking at chemistry, you know, how well does the chemistry matched the team, the franchisee market team that they're part of the people that they'll work with at the support center staff. So what we look for and what we look for at Chick-Fil-A is the number one character that matched the organization competency to match the role in chemistry that matches the team. And that's true of Franchisee selection at Chick-Fil-A. It's also true of the support staff.

Amanda Hammett: 06:52
Oh, absolutely. I am very good friends with several people that actually work at, at corporate headquarters and also the process to be hired there has, you know, it really is a long process, but it's also a very rigorous process and you guys have done an incredible job of leading through who's going to be successful. Because everybody I know that comes into work for check for like corporate, they're there for life there and they, they're very proud of that fact. And that's not something that you see a lot in other companies and other corporations in other industries. What do you think it is? what is it in that recruiting and hiring process that really makes you say, okay, this person is going to be a rock star here?

Dee Ann Turner: 07:43
Well, to start with, one of the things that I like to say is I don't hire people. I select talent. And there's a difference when you hire people, you, I think of quantity. Now think about in the restaurant environment, are there enough employees to cover the shift? Are there, you know, do I have enough people in the dining room to have enough people in the back of the house to prepare food? But when I think about selecting talent, it's like do I have the people with the character, competence, and chemistry to fit the organizations the role and the team. And so that first difference is a huge difference. The difference between hiring people and selecting Tamar. And I think the other part, um, and over time, especially with the millennial generation, you know, they want faster decisions and faster opportunities. So cheerful life might adjustment overtime in their selection culture around that.

Dee Ann Turner: 08:33
You know, when I came on board, it wasn't uncommon to take six months to be selected. And now that time has had to shorten. But one of the things that, that chick-fil-a doesn't cut corners on is making sure that it's a match both ways. Making sure that the candidate is not just the best candidate for the job, but that the candidate sees chick-fil-a is the best organization. Yeah. So the selection process includes opportunities not just to evaluate the candidate, but most clearly for the candidate to also evaluate Chick-Fil-A. And while, you know, you made the comment, you said they're there for life and you know, I was there for 33 years, there are 40-year veterans. It's a common thing, but the reality is is that business is changing and generational differences in. So now, you know, as I was particularly, we would say, we'd like longterm decisions.

Dee Ann Turner: 09:24
So we hope that people will be with us longer than what you would expect somebody to be with an organization. But we recognized that things were changing and not necessarily was that a lifetime anymore, but it very well could be. The reason is after the selection of that talent, they just, the way Chick-Fil-A stewards their talent and the opportunities that they have. And you know, every person at the support center, positive development plan, everybody has a budget for their own personal development and then work with their supervisor and in their self-identified needs and like can use those development dollars in all kinds of ways to improve not just as an employee and a leader, but also I'm personally in areas that would help them personally to better develop, to be more effective in their role. And chick-fil-a and franchisees helped the same opportunity is part of their agreement is they're able to use funds for their own development too. So it's an organization that truly believes in lifelong learning, provides those opportunities to steward their talent well. And that has a lot to do. One stay so long.

Amanda Hammett: 10:35
Oh, I would agree. I, as you know, as my friends have always said, you know, that is one of the things that they have enjoyed the most is that they have been encouraged to continue to learn. There's a lot of companies out there that say, Oh yeah, yeah we will, we provide these opportunities. But actually, it is really something that is important. It's in the day to day culture and it's very much encouraged to for everyone to do that. And that is something that is so important, especially for millennials, especially for Gen z employees. They're looking for that investment in them and they're looking to be able to continuously learn and grow and push themselves in different ways. So I love this. You guys are way ahead of the curve. This is wonderful.

Dee Ann Turner: 11:21
Alright. You know, as I said, it's growing constantly and chicken lady continues to add a lot of talent in this area of their business and I'm sure that that will help secure that for the future as well. And you know, part of my work in the last year since retired particularly is traveling around to a lot of other organizations too and seeing some of their remarkable cultures and I continue to find that organizations that are willing to invest, you know, a lot in their selection process and then also in the stewardship that those employees are able to keep them around a lot longer. You know, one of the things that were kind of funny, I'll have to tell you, when I first came to Chick-Fil-A and I started this work, I didn't have a budget for real key item in human resources.

Dee Ann Turner: 12:07
I didn't have a budget for separation. It's amazing. And the reason I did is that the truth, Kathy really getting intend on making any changes. I had a very nice budget for selection and I had a pretty healthy budget for stewardship, but it had no budget for separation because he didn't really believe he believed if we did those other two things, well we really wouldn't have that money. Now, of course, is Chick-Fil-A grew from a, like I said, $175 million when I came there, the 10 and a half billion when I left, we obviously needed that. But to that very day that the selection and stewardship project always outweighed what we, what was invested separation.

Amanda Hammett: 12:51
So let's talk about that all talents. And that is coming out when?

Dee Ann Turner: 12:54
September 3rd.

Amanda Hammett: 12:56
September the third. So for those of you watching or listening is already available to be pre-ordered pretty much everywhere. Correct?

Dee Ann Turner: 13:06
Here, go to my website and get it too.

Amanda Hammett: 13:09
Okay. All right, we'll put a link to that below this interview, but so why was bet on talent so important for you to write? Because writing a book is not easy. It is sometimes a very painful process, but why was it so important for you to write that on top?

Dee Ann Turner: 13:26
You know, the funny thing is is that I wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. I was a journalism major. My first trip to college and when I got out of school when I realized was two things. One is I didn't have the life experience and anybody was going to read more, read about everything after a drive. And secondly, I could live again. So I took off in a little bit of a different direction, but that love never left me.

Dee Ann Turner: 13:49
And finally in 2014 when two things have happened, the year before my dad had passed away. And in 2014, Truett Cathy passed away and they had really been two significant business mentors in my life. And all of a sudden I started writing down all of these lessons, all of these things that I had learned and principles around growing remarkable culturing around selecting extraordinary talents on started his blog posts. And the next thing I knew I had 16,000 words. I was on my way to a book. And so it came important to me to publish the book for two reasons. One is I didn't want the things that I had learned I didn't want the people that were on that journey with me is on the earth. Those early days of Chick-Fil-A lady learn directly from true it. I didn't want us to ever forget what he taught us. And secondly, all the thousands of people that would come after me, I wanted there to be some record of what we learned because, you know, true, it said people decisions from the most important decisions a leader makes. And Ben on talent is really, the encapsulation of how you make those great people decisions. And I just felt like it was something very, very important that lots of people would benefit from. And so that's why I've written it.

Amanda Hammett: 15:06
That's amazing. Cool. I love, I love that because I think that a lot of times companies can be a little shortsighted when it comes to recruiting. Now I'm a former recruiter, so I understand that what I'm about to say is probably not very popular. But a lot of times it's more about filling a role, filling a role, and they're only looking at that immediate need. And I liked that you guys are Chick-Fil-A specifically focused on the person as in a very holistic way. And not only just the person and what they're capable of then, but where they can go eventually as long as everything, values, and character align that can take you really far, but it's not, but it's gotta be something that you've got to have the vision for. Now let me ask you this. What have you guys found or what have you seen, whether it's a Chick-Fil-A or some of the other companies that you've been working with since you're retired, since your retirement? Have you noticed any financial benefit to really focusing on talent and getting the right talent the first time?

Dee Ann Turner: 16:18
Well, there's not a question about when you talk with other organizations about this too, but that the when you focus on selecting the right talent from the beginning, I mean just the cost savings of what it takes to resect and retraining and so forth with people. So even though it's painful, especially in this full-employment economy, we're all in. I mean, that's everywhere I go to, that's what we're talking about is this cool employment economy. And you know, I'm just, I'm lucky to get a warm body much less, you're talking about this extensive selection process, but in the recruiting process, you know what I encourage employers and companies always be recruiting talent is around you all the time. Don't wait too. You have a role to be recruiting. Recruiting is about relationships and developing those relationships so that when you have that opportunity, it's right there.

Dee Ann Turner: 17:15
You've got that person there, you've built that relationship and they're ready because they have a personal relationship with you. They're willing to make that change. Even in economy, in full employment economy that we're in now. Now think about an executive on work with three years. He was five when I, my role was heavy recruiting. Amanda, what? I loved this executive because a lot of other executives is like, that was my job. You know, go find the people. That's your job. And but he was different. He saw that it was a partnership and that was very much a part of his to always be recruiting. And that guy never had a problem finding talent. In fact, to this day, some of the really outstanding young leaders, I'll see a Chick-Fil-A as this executive selected them and here they are growing and so forth. But it started in relationships, some of them when they were still in high school. And I saw the same thing. I was with a client recently in speaking at their conference and I was watching some of their success stories and you know, they had one of their leaders was very involved in the community and she spent a lot of time developing those relationships and all of her counterparts were talking about how they couldn't find any talent. She has people waiting in line waiting for an opening in her organization.

Amanda Hammett: 18:35
That's an amazing thing to see. But it's, it's also very amazing to me that people want to complain, but they don't want to put in the work to build those relationships, which are so valuable.

Dee Ann Turner: 18:49
Well, wait here that, I mean, you know, when you have a job, you know, you think about all the other roles that people, that leaders have. I mean, and they have this main thing they're being held accountable for in the organization, which is why it's so important that as organizations select leaders, they select people who can be talent, mammals who can attract people who are great. They're not great managers, they're great leaders that people will want to follow. Because they do have other responsibilities. But this is key for their success in those who do it well, know that they know the better talent they select, the easier their job will be. And actually, when they have great talent, they can spend more time on finding work tower.

Amanda Hammett: 19:32
That's true. So let me ask you this, you kind of talked about the new kind of, you know, talked about this just a second ago, but let's say we have a team, young team, millennials, Gen C's, and how do you recognize when you're looking at this team, who has the capability of being a great leader? Is there something that you're looking for when you look out at this group?

Dee Ann Turner: 19:59
Cool. For me, I'm looking for a track record and you know, a strong track record of leadership. Even in the youngest of candidates. I started, I'll tell you a story about this young man. I'm super proud of him. I started recruiting him when he was in the 10th grade to be a Chick-Fil-A support center staff member. Now he was years away from being eligible, but he was well-rounded. He was, I can I sign on the football field. He was the leader, he was a great student. He had ambition and dreams. And so he happened to be a friend of one of my sons and I just developed a relationship with them. Impala. His first year out of Georgia tech when it was a time when jobs were a little bit more scares. But you know, most organizations want freshman interns in there.

Dee Ann Turner: 20:49
They're high, they're selecting, excuse me, junior year. Well, some of them are adding, but we would be selecting juniors and seniors, you know, that could come on board with us afterward. But I was able to convince the group that he would work with that he was just a really exceptional talent. And so he came on board and he worked that summer and did a fabulous job. Went Back to Georgia Tech and the next two summers he spent at ups and Halliburton and we competed to get him that final summer. And he came and he's still there today. He's been there for a number of years now. I want to say maybe he's, I can't say six or seven, but leading in his function, doing a great job, bright future. And you know, that's, that's not uncommon about how to look at talent. It's like, so, you know, he had that leadership track record, that strong character, even for the few responsibilities he had, even as a teenager, he shoulda a lot of competencies there in his relationship strength, the chemistry with other people.

Dee Ann Turner: 21:52
It was really obvious. So if you know what you're looking for in your talent that you're looking for that character competency and chemistry and what the traits are in that, then it's, that is a whole lot easier to identify it. So the first thing you asked me the question, what are you looking for? Well, the first thing I'm looking, I'm looking for is a leadership track record because I know that these people decisions that eventually, even if it's not a leadership role, right then I'm going to need leaders and great source of getting leaders would be from the bitch that I've already created. So I'm trying to bring those walls. The second thing I'm looking for, I'm looking at there for people who are here to serve. Now, I've spent my career in the hospitality and service industry. So obviously that would be part of what I would be looking for is people who are wanting to serve others.

Dee Ann Turner: 22:38
ou never want my sweat to a corporate staff member. Their whole job was to serve chick-fil-a franchisees. Our franchisee's job is pretty obvious. They're serving customers and even their own employees. So I'm looking for people who have a real heart for service was always important to me. I look for people who were showing good judgment and good decision making. You know, we all make mistakes. I've made my full share of course, but when you see a pattern of that is probably not the best talent you could select. So I'm looking for somebody who's made a strong track record of good decisions. Those are some very general things above and beyond what's required for the job. But that's the when I'm looking for the diamond in the rough, so mine doesn't have a lot of experience. Those are the types of things I'm looking for.

Amanda Hammett: 23:28
That's amazing. I love that. And I love that you have this completely laid out. This is your very specific that is I think a skill that a lot of hiring managers at whatever level you may be a need to really develop. Is this being able to say, okay, it's more than just what's on a resume? It's like, it's got to be more than that. I am not a believer in the warm body recruiting process is what I call it. I'm more in they've got to fit your culture and it sounds like you've got that down pat. I love that too.

Dee Ann Turner: 24:03
Warm bodies are just hiring people, but when you find a match that's working talent.

Amanda Hammett: 24:08
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well wonderful. Well, Dan, I have enjoyed this time with you so, so much. We could actually go on for another two or three hours, but I try to be very mindful of my audience members time and effort. Where can you tell everybody where they can find your book? Remind them again when it's going to come out and yeah, let's do that.

Dee Ann Turner: 24:34
Right. Bet on talent. How to create your remarkable culture that wins the hearts of customers will be released on September 3rd is now available for preorder just about anywhere anyone would order books online and it'll be in bookstores on September the third I'll say, visit me at my website, which is at DeeAnn, excuse me, DeeAnnTurner.com. You can order the book directly from retailers off of that one. Also, I might ask your listeners to please follow me, especially on a at Linkedin, at @DeenAnnTurner, on Twitter, at Instagram at the Internet and then finally my Facebook author page. I would love to interact with them there.

Amanda Hammett: 25:16
Perfect. Well, wonderful. Well, thank you guys so much for joining us. I hope that you took a tremendous amount of notes and learned a lot from Dee Ann and we will see you in the very next episode.

Amanda Hammett: 25:28
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the Next Generation Rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

NextGen Featuring Ralph Barsi

Ralph Barsi, Round II: Mentoring for Impact

Mentoring is one of the most effective ways to teach and guide young employees. But what does it really take to be a great mentor? I asked Ralph Barsi, who mentors some of our very own Rockstar guests.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Round II: Mentoring for Impact

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
Hey there everybody. My name is Amanda Hammett and today on the next generation rock stars we have round two with Ralph Barsi. Now if you have been following us, you know that Ralph was on a couple of weeks ago and he shared with us just all kinds of knowledge bombs so you need to go back and check that episode out if you missed it. But today we have Ralph Barsi back from service now. Rob, welcome to the show.

Ralph Barsi: 00:38
Thanks, Amanda. It's great to be back. Thanks for having me again. I appreciate it.

Amanda Hammett: 00:41
No worries. Well, I will tell you, Ralph, you are the only person who has been invited back for a ride.

Ralph Barsi: 00:48
Okay, that's awesome.

Amanda Hammett: 00:53
So there was snow there. The whole reason I originally reached out to you was to talk about mentoring because I know a couple of people that you mentor, but we had so much to talk about the last time. We didn't even get to it. So we had to do around two.

Ralph Barsi: 01:08
Here we are. You're right. We had a good conversation last time. So I would encourage any of the viewers today. Go back and take a look at our first conversation before you continue on with this one and a, you know, you'll see how we're picking up where we left off. I'm glad we can talk about mentoring and mentorship. It's an important craft and it's, it's something that I think more people need to take advantage of on both sides, both the mentors and the mentees. So I'm looking forward to getting into it.

Amanda Hammett: 01:33
Awesome. So let's start at a basic level. So how do you define mentoring for yourself?

Ralph Barsi: 01:42
To be a mentor. Well, let's start first an on the mentee side, you know, someone who is a mentee looking for a mentor, someone who wants to level up, they want to improve, uh, in their profession and their craft in life. And they are vulnerable enough to ask for a guide or a coach or a teacher or someone who could shed light and share insights based on their experiences to maybe shine the spotlight in places that the mentees not considering or even thinking about. And so it's a combination of that teacher coach guide in my definition that kind of rolls into what a real mentor is.

Amanda Hammett: 02:28
That's a great, great definition. I love that you started out with the leveling up, but also the teacher-coach guide. I mean I think that word guide I think is really key.

Ralph Barsi: 02:39
Absolutely. You know, it's a, there's a great zen saying, I think it's a zen proverb. You know, when the pupil is ready, the master appears. Yes. And it's the exact same law that states seek and you shall find. So if you really want to level up and you to start finding a guide or teacher or mentor to kind of walk the path with you, they won't appear until you start looking for them. So you have to decide first on your own that you're committed to finding that person or those people and you'll be amazed how they surface, they will show up, the universe will conspire to put them in your path. So it's a super optimistic, positive thing to think about if you really want to go that route.

Amanda Hammett: 03:30
I love it. Yes, you're absolutely correct. Now, I would assume that you have had over the years, some pretty amazing mentors that have really modeled this for you.

Ralph Barsi: 03:43
I have a personally and professionally, I've had mentors that I didn't even ask to have as mentors, people who've just kind of noticed that I was looking to improve in certain areas and they were able to offer some wisdom and knowledge. And I'm pretty open and transparent and candid anyway. So I can always get better on my listening skills and I can always get better on how I hear and accept and apply the feedback that has been super tough for me throughout life and still is. But I think I've improved quite a bit over the last several years. And just hearing people's feedback of me and about me and how I can, you know, turn the dial in certain spots to just be a better person.

Amanda Hammett: 04:36
I think that we could all use that feedback and sometimes it is, it's tough to take and it hurts a little bit.

Ralph Barsi: 04:43
Totally. And a lot of people will say feedback is a gift and, you know, sure. Thank you. I appreciate the gift, but I don't like the gift all the time.

Amanda Hammett: 04:56
You're right. I've had those moments where people feel me, but it's a get back like,

Ralph Barsi: 05:01
oh yeah, it's things a little bit. But so, you know, let's talk about mentoring and let's, let's talk about it, whether it's personal, professional, and maybe you can share too with the audience, you know, tell us about your mentors and your experience with mentoring.

Amanda Hammett: 05:16
Absolutely. You know, it's funny that you mentioned a little while ago that, you know, what was it, the proper, basically when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear. And that really resonated with me because that has been the case for me, especially the past five, 10 years of my career where I felt like I was in this area and I felt like I had something extra to give, but I didn't, there wasn't really a defined place for me. And so I was really reaching and trying to find that place. How do I start this place? And I was searching and searching and she did, she appeared and she has been a pioneer in her own field. And, and she was like, this is, she really helps me wrap my head around it and it's been a beautiful learning and teaching experience for me. And now I'm just really fortunate that I, you know, she's come to me recently and said, I am so proud of what you have been able to accomplish. And to me, that is like it, you know, the best. Yes, I could have gotten because she's recognized like how, how hard I've had to work to get to where I am.

Ralph Barsi: 06:30
Yeah. It means the world, you know, especially to mentors really care. They really care about you moving the needle in your own life and when you can illustrate that progress and then, you know, you've got the gratitude and the awareness of how far you've come. That just, that means the world to mentors. And that's what it's all about. And it's not uncommon, Amanda, what you mentioned, how, you know, you're just, you're trying to wrap your head around it. You know, you need some help in some areas, but you're not quite sure how to get started. What's step one is et cetera. So many people feel that way. So what's really important for those listening and watching who are just contemplating whether or not they want to take that leap and kind of get into a mentorship relationship, write it out, you know, you, I mean, just spill it all out onto paper and you know, use the concept of beginning with the end in mind.

Ralph Barsi: 07:25
What, what short, mid and long term outcomes are even important to you. And you and I started to talk about this in our last talk, you know, kind of do a thorough self-assessment and identify what those short, mid and long term goals are. And also identify how you define what's short, mid and long term means it means something different to all of us. And I would highly recommend, again, spilling it all out, really writing it all out, what's bothering you, what challenges you're encountering over and over again, what patterns you've identified and what you want to fix. And then boil it down to the essentials so that when you do have those initial conversations with your mentor, it's concise, it's simplified, it's a clear path to where you're trying to get and that's going to help them help you have. So yeah. Otherwise, you're going to experience what both you and I have experienced. You're like, um hmm. I think I need help. I'm just not quite sure where and what. Well, hey, if I were a mentor listening to that, I don't even know where to start either. So, yeah, help me, help you that it's that simple.

Amanda Hammett: 08:39
Absolutely. And you know, one thing that I would add to those, those short, mid and long term goals and really be looking at yourself where you are is being honest with yourself, with where you are. Because it is very easy in today's world to really start to compare. It's like, oh no, you know, I can do this well. And it's like, well, can I, you know, is it world-class or is it, I can get by.

Ralph Barsi: 09:06
What will come from that? Those types of questions and assessments are, you know, perhaps you create smart goals, you know, what are what's the acronym again? Help me. I think it's simple. It's measured. It's actionable. A reasonable or realistic and timely. Yeah. So if you think about those categories when you're writing down your goals and you really you know, make it easy for the two of you to measure your progress, that's a huge step that you could take. Perhaps it becomes a plan on a page. A lot of businesses do this. We do it all over service now. For example, we have a plan on a page with what are top three to five initiatives are and kind of what rolls into accomplishing those initiatives and perhaps one page on yourself and your assessments and your goals is really gonna help the two of you get the conversation started and that's where your mentor can really weigh in and help you kind of tailor it or, you know, frame it up in a more proper way for the two of you to move forward on.

Amanda Hammett: 10:13
I agree. So let me ask you this, and you've kind of touched on this a little bit. Um, but what really as a mentor, what is your role? What is your role?

Ralph Barsi: 10:28
Wow. What a good question. What a broad answer I can give you for that. The way I see it number one, I'm here to listen. I'm here to listen. And ultimately what I'm to do is help you connect the dots to get to where you want to go. Oh yes. You know, and if I see some obstacles that are on your path, I have to help mitigate the obstacles or make the obstacles appear smaller than they are. Because you're so focused on producing high-quality work, moving forward. You have an intensity level of focus. You have a set time that you are going to invest in working towards your goals. And I help you get there. Ultimately the best mentors ask questions, they ask questions so that you, Amanda can arrive at the answer yourself. We don't parachute in and go, hey, look, thanks so much for the smart goals.

Ralph Barsi: 11:32
Here's what you're going to want to do for A, B, C, and d. Instead. We'll ask them, well, why is that an important goal of yours? And if you were to stack rank these top three goals, what would be the first one you'd really want to accomplish versus the last one and why? you know what w w how can you visualize yourself having already accomplished these goals? What type of person would you be like how would you be talking to me if those goals were already accomplished? Who would you pay this forward to? Who would you go help knowing what you don't know yet?

Amanda Hammett: 12:06
Yes.

Ralph Barsi: 12:07
So that's how I see a mentor. That's what mentors do. That's the best mentors do.

Amanda Hammett: 12:11
All right. I would agree with you. I would agree with you. Yeah. And I, you know, another thing that my mentors have done for me is they have challenged my thinking and you know, sometimes there have been times where I've been thinking maybe too small and this one mentor, in particular, she was just like, yeah, you can totally do that. But, and I always knew when she said that I knew like she's about to give me a mental buck kicking. And I knew it was, it wasn't, she really pushed me to be uncomfortable in a lot of ways. And it was, it was a wonderful gift because now I live a lot of my business life in a state of Semyon comfort and that's okay. I've gotten really comfortable with it.

Ralph Barsi: 12:57
Well, that discomfort equals growth is on its way. And, uh, if I were your mentor, for example, I'd want to make sure I kept you accountable on what you said you were going to do. Yeah. And just kept your focus on it. There may be instances where you bring up areas that you're trying to improve in and I might know people in my network that are gonna do a way better job of kind of teasing out the best in you than I would in those areas. So I would broker introductions and make sure that you're, you know, expanding your network and adding value to it at the same time. As we've talked about before, the more value you add, the more valuable you become in the process. And it's just really important to add value even in the smallest of increments.

Amanda Hammett: 13:46
Absolutely. So what I've been seeing a lot lately are companies who have been coming to me to either help them create or tweak or completely revamp an internal mentoring program. And it's always really interesting to see that dynamic within a company. I assume that Sarah's, now, you've kind of alluded to one earlier, I assume that you guys have one. So what do you think is the benefit to a company to have an internal mentoring program?

Ralph Barsi: 14:16
Sure. A great question and yeah, we'll just focus on professional for a minute. Okay. So I read a study recently, now, I read it recently, but the study is probably two years old. And it said that 71% of the fortune 500 companies have formal mentoring programs. So that's a good thing. That's a good thing in that over, you know, two-thirds of them are, are believing in this. And it also means that just through simple Google search, you could start to find the frameworks that these fortune 500 companies are using to drive their mentoring programs. And you can, you know, take pieces or parts of it and create your own mentoring program in your own company. You don't have to be a fortune 500 company to, you know, to drive it. So I have seen it not only in service now, but in the other companies, I've worked with, not only at the macro level where the company offers a program but at the micro-level where, for example, the development of my sale organization, we too have our own mentorship program within the company.

Ralph Barsi: 15:21
The benefits are boundless really. I mean, number one, you've got employees who are engaged. They are, they, they feel like they're in a place where they're celebrated, not tolerated. They feel like their accomplishments are being recognized at the very least by their mentors, right. They feel like it's a place that they can grow and thrive. So, you know, from a company's pulse standpoint, you've got killer retention rates. Yes. And you've got killer promotion rates because you have employees who believe in themselves and are actively working to improve their game. So they're staying in their companies, they're being promoted within their companies, and then ultimately they're paying forward the great experiences they've had with mentors to help others grow in their own. Right. So, I mean, and that's just a couple benefits. It just goes on and on. But I can't emphasize enough the importance of having one in your company or starting one. If there isn't one, maybe that's a sign that you need to I'm light a fire or under yourself and get that mentorship program started. Be that be the one carrying the torch.

Amanda Hammett: 16:35
Absolutely. Well you know, and, and something else is really interesting. I there are some studies out there that actually suggest that not only does the mentee really benefit but the mentor themselves actually benefits and when there is a solid mentorship program in place, actually the mentee is 84% more likely to stay with the company.

Ralph Barsi: 17:00
Yup. I believe that.

Amanda Hammett: 17:01
I'm sorry the mentor is 86% yup. No, I mean the mentor. So the person actually you know, helping and guiding and teaching and coaching, they tend to stick around for those types of things. And that is, that is something that is a beautiful thing that companies are always coming to me like, oh you know, we have this whole between 27 and like 47 how do we fill it? I'm like, let them to let them guide. Let them go actually.

Ralph Barsi: 17:28
Right. There's a great, yeah, there's a great business leader and thought leader out there. His name is Rameet Satie.

Amanda Hammett: 17:35
Oh yes, yes. I follow him.

Ralph Barsi: 17:37
So he's the author of the book. I will teach you to be rich. So his background really stems from finance, personal finance. Anyway, Remeet has written a ton of great content material on mentorship programs. And there's one article I wrote down and the title is why successful people don't want to mentor you. So I suggest you look that one up and read the details behind it. And then another great article he wrote was met my mentor Jay Abraham, who's a marketing master and learn how to find your own mentor. So I would recommend people searching for those two and maybe in show notes, Amanda, we can include links to those articles, but it really offers great tactical advice on how to approach mentors for the first time, how to ask for their time. Another great concept I think about is Simon Sinek golden circle. You know, Willard, the Bullseye is why and then how, and then what, those are some questions you should be asking yourself before approaching a mentor. And if you are a mentor, being approached by a potential mentee, have them answer those questions. Why are you coming to me? How are we going to do this? How's it gonna work? And then what is it going to entail? And I think it's just a great, a beginning, middle end to think about for both parties to really establish a solid long-lasting relationship.

Amanda Hammett: 19:06
Absolutely. So, you know, I would imagine that you know, you're the type of guy that's probably approached to be a mentor a whole lot. And how do you decide who, you can't take them all on it, you just can't? And so is it really when they come to you and they've already got this kind of outline or is it, do you take on the cases where they're just spinning in their head? Or how do you make that decision?

Ralph Barsi: 19:33
It's more the former than the latter. If someone comes to me and they are personal, they are specific and they at least offer a skeleton of what it is they're trying to uh, get out of this relationship. I will absolutely take it into consideration. You also have to think about, we're all crazy busy, so if I can serve and accommodate them through my schedule, then I will absolutely. Even if it's an initial phone call and we decide together that, you know, you might want to talk to Amanda, I'm going to connect you with her. She might be somebody who's going to have the bandwidth and is also going to have the expertise and experience in these specific areas since you called them out. It can probably be a better help than I can. In fact, that recently happened. Somebody reached out to me on Linkedin, asking if I'd consider mentoring them and they're based in Germany.

Ralph Barsi: 20:31
And time zones alone are going to be tough. And then you talk about language barriers and just you don't want things lost in translation. So because they provided some specifics on, you know, what x to y means to them. I've put them in touch with some my leaders and colleagues in Frankfurt and in Munich because I already know that these leaders can bring so much value to the table for this individual and there in Germany. It's just a lot more effective for that person than I could be living in the San Francisco Bay area. So those are two examples. I, you know, the best mentors and even the best mentees are very resourceful mentees are ones that really do their due diligence to find out why do I want to contact Amanda or why do I want to contact Ralph? And in turn, we need to do our due diligence to see, well, what is this person's linkedin profile look like?

Ralph Barsi: 21:28
If I Google this person's name, what will I learn about this person? Some of them, you know, I'll learn nothing. I'll hear crickets chirping because they've done nothing in the marketplace or in their community to add value. And that might be a very good first topic for our first talk, right? You know, hey, you're trying to build your brand. Well, I'm, it's very hard to learn about you. And what it is you bring to the table. Let's start there. And that's usually a pretty good, good talk long answer your question. But those are some components that I consider someones to approach me.

Amanda Hammett: 22:00
Absolutely. Well, I, you know, as I've told you before, I happen to be familiar with a couple of people that you've mentor two people, Nicolette Mullinex and Morgan Jay Ingram, they are both rock stars in their own right.

Ralph Barsi: 22:15
Yes, they are.

Amanda Hammett: 22:16
And Nicolette actually was the one who initially was like, you know, you might want to speak with Ralph. And she told me she'd walked me through how she really approached you because she does not work with you nor Norris Morgan. And it was really in, she seemed to have a very systematic approach to how she, I don't know how it came across to you, but how she went about approaching you to be her mentor and me, you know, she's killing it. So I think she's doing okay.

Ralph Barsi: 22:46
Yes. She and Morgan are both killing it and we'll continue to, they've got that Moxie. Yeah. And they've also got that fire in them that just wants to be better all the time. They hold themselves to very high standards, higher than I can hold them too, or you can hold them to, and there's a lot of their there when you've got a potential mentee who's just got that fire burning. And if you don't help them, they will go find someone else who will. And you just gotta love that. And yeah, Nicolette and Morgan are both rock stars to use your words and there's just, there's no question they're going to continue to be very successful in their career. And what I love is both of them will continue to help others as well. They'll give back and, uh, they'll, they'll impact lives along the way, which is really what it's all about.

Amanda Hammett: 23:34
Absolutely. I mean, Nicoletta's is running a fairly substantial team these days and Morgan has a quite the linkedin following Ricky calves you know, and tricks on, on being a sales rep and, you know, it's, he's just, I'm always amazed at the stuff that he puts out and just the way he looks at things and just his positivity on it just on a day to day basis.

Ralph Barsi: 23:57
Yeah. It's infectious. Yeah. That enthusiasm is infectious. And, you know, as you said, I mean, both Morgan and Nicolette are, they're placing more souls every single day into the community. And those more souls are there to help others. And not everybody will gravitate towards some of those nuggets. A lot of people will and those who do and actually apply what they're learning from, from those too, we'll do a lot of good in the world and that just warms my heart.

Amanda Hammett: 24:29
Absolutely. So will you actually kind of segue into my next question. What really is the benefit for you to become a mentor? How does that benefit you besides warming your heart?

Ralph Barsi: 24:44
Wow, that's a tough question. We're getting a little personal here, which I don't mind, but I have believed for a very long time that that's why I'm here. This is the this is my vocation. You know some people in the professional world see me as a sales development leader. Okay, great. If that's the channel or the vehicle that I'm going to use to impact people in a very positive way, then so be it. But I do feel like that's, that's why I'm on this planet is really to serve others and to lead by example and illustrate what servant leadership really is. Everyone's got their opinions on it. Some people aren't fans of it. Some people think it's a lot of fluff and I'm okay with that. I actually respect everybody's opinion. We all have different experiences and insights and we come from different places in the world.

Ralph Barsi: 25:37
That's okay. As long as you are using your unique strengths and gifts to, uh, make the world a better place, that's, that's really why we're here anyway. So, I dunno if it's, you know, the process of leaving behind a legacy. If I think globally act locally, I'm going to start thinking about my three boys and being a, a great leader by example for them so that they can grow up to be men for others. That's, I'm fine with just that, but if it positively impacts others in the ripple effect, then that's even better. But I hate to break it to you Amanda, but yeah, it's because it just warms my heart.

Amanda Hammett: 26:16
No, and that's, that's perfectly okay. But I mean, you really are, you know, leaving a legacy. You really are creating that, that ripple that will go out. You know, the Morgans of the world, the Nicolette's of the world are, they're taking your teachings and they're spreading that, you know, with their own spin and their own take on it. But they're spreading it and they're touching other people's lives. And I think that you're, you know, not to say you can hang it up, but mission accomplished, like doing that. You're accomplishing your goal with, you know, with what you set out to do in this world. So

Ralph Barsi: 26:48
Thanks, Amanda. I appreciate that about the bed. Candidly, you know, I'm not really the source, I'm simply replicating goodness I've seen from others along my career path and in my life that, you know, just so many different people I've just taken examples from and said, yeah, that's, that's the way to do it. That's the way to rule. And so that's great to hear. And yeah, I want to make sure Nicolette and Morgan see this and I want to make sure that people who don't know who they look them up and even reach out to them and tell them, you know, thank them for the impact that they're making.

Amanda Hammett: 27:22
Absolutely. Yeah. And they both, they both are. And I, cool. I'm Morgan on the show last season. I'm going to have Nicolette on a show next season, so absolutely there people will be hearing from them for sure from this platform. But you know, I want our, you know, wrap this up with just this, you said in the last episode that we did together that players want to play with other a players. The way that I see it is that you are a player because you are not only great at your job, but you're great at developing others to be great at their job, whatever that means to them, whatever that success long term, short term means to them, you're great at it. And we see that in Nicolette, we see that in Morgan and there are others out there just like that. So I, for one like to say thank you. But I would just encourage you to keep on doing what you're doing. I know that you will or you don't have to hear that from me, but thank you. Thank you so much for me and from the world as a whole.

Ralph Barsi: 28:24
Thank you, Amanda. I appreciate that very much.

Amanda Hammett: 28:27
Well, wonderful. Well, thank you guys for being with us and thank Ralph for the impact and the ripple effect that he is having across the world and changing lives every single day. And thank you guys for joining us and we will see you in the very next episode.

Amanda Hammett: 28:42
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader, and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the Next Generation Rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

NextGen Featuring Malin Ohlsson

Malin Ohlsson: How Empathy & Understanding Can Change an Employee’s Productivity

When employees are not living up to the expectations you had for them in their role, most companies simply let them go and begin looking to refill the role. But what if you could do something as a leader to turn that employee's performance around? Learn from Malin Ohlsson on how she helped an employee go from being fired to award winning.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - How Empathy & Understanding Can Change an Employee's Prodcutivity

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
Hi, this is Amanda Hammett and this is Next Generation Rockstars. And today I have a fantastic guest for you. She is joining us from Sweden. Her name is Malin Ohlsson. Malin, welcome to the show.

Malin Ohlsson: 00:26
Thank you for that introduction. I'm working at this small company in South Sweden.

Amanda Hammett: 00:33
Okay. All right.

Malin Ohlsson: 00:35
About 100 employees? And well operation manager during the next six months. I'm also HR. That's a good thing to work in a small company. You can do whatever you want to and a bit more. Yeah.

Amanda Hammett: 00:56
So how did you get the six months of being HR? How did that come about?

Malin Ohlsson: 01:03
Oh, HR manager on the panty leave.

Amanda Hammett: 01:06
Oh, okay.

Malin Ohlsson: 01:06
In fact, I have done it already for six months and we'll do it for another six months.

Amanda Hammett: 01:12
Oh, okay. Well, fantastic. That must be nice to have that lengthy parental leave and in Sweden.

Malin Ohlsson: 01:20
Yeah. It's a very nice benefit. It's all good.

Amanda Hammett: 01:24
Wonderful. I'm a little jealous of that. So. All right, well let's dive in. You've already told us a little bit about you, but what the audience doesn't know is that you know, I'm not a frequent visitor to Sweden. So I actually met you through someone else. I had the good fortune of speaking at a conference, in Europe and severe Spain. And I spoke with a young man who was just a real go-getter and he really impressed me. And his name is Marcus Backstrom. And as I was speaking with Marcus, I asked him, you know, I'm really curious as to who was influential and you're in your career, who has really helped to drive you to where you are today? And that person was you.

Malin Ohlsson: 02:12
That's a great mention because I've only known him for, I think I met him the first time for a year ago. On the training I h M business school. And then he seems, interesting person. He had some challenges around, uh, the most things about the staff. And I think the thing was, I don't hope he mind by that they don't ask the staff, the colleagues what I think, what they want, what they wanted to do if there was satisfied because they don't want to have the answer.

Amanda Hammett: 02:54
Absolutely. And sometimes it's hard to hear the answers from your staff on what they want or what they think.

Malin Ohlsson: 03:01
Yeah.

Amanda Hammett: 03:01
That can be difficult. But it's so important because you can't fix it if you don't.

Malin Ohlsson: 03:06
Yeah. And the only thing that will happen if you don't fix it is that they will leave. They may not the ones that should be okay. The only company, but the high performing. Yes. People, they will leave. Because they can have another job.

Amanda Hammett: 03:26
Absolutely.

Malin Ohlsson: 03:30
So we'll see. That's miss slows now are amazing. He took it from a hard result. No results, both on employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. He has done a great job.

Amanda Hammett: 03:45
That's wonderful. That means he did the work, he listened to you and he did the work.

Malin Ohlsson: 03:49
You have done lots of work. Yes. So let's talk a little bit about you for just a second. You told us a little bit about what you're doing right now. But I would imagine that in your own career, throughout your entire career, you've witnessed other forms of leadership that are different than your own. How did that, how did those styles of leadership shape who you became as a leader?

Malin Ohlsson: 04:20
I think I have seen both do the less good examples, but what shaped me the most is one of the first managers I had in my first leadership role a long time ago. But what he told me, and it's not due to translated to English, but he told me that always lead according to for these, if I should translate it in, it's like, we always want to be nice to each other. Which decision I ever might take. I always hope to play on my colleagues best. I want to have a nice life in the company or outside the company. And he showed me how you can show concern and hot, but was careful that I was responsible for my development and created my own conditions. You can do that for me. And he was really obvious about that.

Amanda Hammett: 05:23
Oh, that's wonderful. I mean, I think that a lot of leaders sometimes forget that. You know, you're not just, it's not just about producing numbers, it's really about producing the next generation of leaders. It's really about building them up. And sometimes that involves hard lessons to learn, but it's there. It's about treating people. That's what, that's how people want to be treated. That's wonderful. Yeah. So have you ever, I mean, besides this one boss that you just mentioned, have you ever felt pressure from other bosses or superiors in your companies to focus more on numbers and less on being kind to people?

Malin Ohlsson: 06:08
Yes, absolutely. And sometimes I feel less pressure. Even now then we are a company that delivers competency of assessing, which means that we have to recruit people with high skills. Yes, I calmed down. So in this company, I haven't been here for 15 years. Where all this had a focus on employee satisfaction, well, the last maybe four or five years, realize that employee satisfaction is the figure. And since three years ago, this is one of our main goals. We have three main goals for the company and employee satisfaction is one of them. So it's not, it's not only money but had to work hard to prove it at that it will be a difference if we focus on people. And the Swedish cones.

Amanda Hammett: 07:10
Yes, Yeah. I agree with that wholeheartedly actually. So within my own company, we, my other, my other partner, uh, he focuses on studying high performing companies and teams. And the biggest finding that has come out of that research is that they put employees first employees over the customer. And that's the most important thing. Actually 94.1% of all the companies he has the high performing companies that he has, surveyed and you know, research, they have all put employees first.

Malin Ohlsson: 07:49
Can I please get part of that thing?

Amanda Hammett: 07:52
Yes. I'd be happy. I'd be happy to share that research with you. Yeah, that's really good stuff. I mean, there's a lot of other good findings, but that's the one that always out in my head is, I mean because that's not even close. That's a huge number.

Malin Ohlsson: 08:06
Yeah, it is. And I think the, my generation and younger, I think you have a bigger capability to take that information with us and do something with it. I think that the ones, the older generation has a little bit more to struggle with and calling that

Amanda Hammett: 08:29
Well, you know, it's, it's always about changing and, and going, you know, accepting that change is coming whether you want it to or not, it's coming.

Malin Ohlsson: 08:39
So, let's see.

Amanda Hammett: 08:41
So, all right, well since you brought this up, let's, let's dig into this. What is the difference or what is the influence that millennials have brought into a company culture specifically? You know, I know that you guys work through Europe, not just in Sweden.

Malin Ohlsson: 09:00
That's true. I think if I should take it in some of it. So a greater focus on personal development together with work-life balance. I think that's the pressure that they put Sonos as leaders. Yes. This younger generation is a, they're smarter than my generation because they have a much bigger focus on work-life balance. And on the self self-development that's the thing. Accept anything else. So it has changed us a bit from our annual employee surveys and annual goal meetings. Now we do it every month. They have an interview with all employees and we do our surveys every week with want, but every week. Yes. Because feedback, no, don't live very long for this. These guys who, who've grown up now because they used instant feedback.

Amanda Hammett: 10:12
Absolutely. I agree with that completely. And it's interesting how if you're having an issue with just one, it could be something very minor, but if you, if it's not addressed and I fairly, you know, quick manner, it can fester and it can grow and it can spread and it can not only take over the one employee, but it can start to spread to others. Yes. Yes. It's very toxic. And so it's like one bad apple ruins the whole bunch.

Malin Ohlsson: 10:44
Yeah. It's will like that.

Amanda Hammett: 10:47
So yeah, I love that you guys do that once a week. I think that so many companies depend on that one time a year annual survey. And I'm like, that's just not enough.

Malin Ohlsson: 10:58
No, it isn't. We do once a year. A bigger survey.

Amanda Hammett: 11:01
Yes.

Malin Ohlsson: 11:03
Not a lot of questions, but every week we have a question. Yes. How do you feel this week? What was your week? And you have to click four, a four smileys too happy and too sad. And when you click them, your nearest leader get an email. Yes. Sad. He has to get you a hug something...

Amanda Hammett: 11:29
Does he have to give you a hug?

Malin Ohlsson: 11:30
Yes.

Amanda Hammett: 11:32
I love it. Okay.

Malin Ohlsson: 11:36
He wants a cup of coffee.

Amanda Hammett: 11:41
All right. Okay. That's awesome. I love that. I love that. And that's just through an app on your phone, right?

Malin Ohlsson: 11:48
Yeah.

Amanda Hammett: 11:48
Ah, that's great. So as soon as millennials started coming into the workplace, how did that change your own personal leadership style or did it.

Malin Ohlsson: 12:02
I don't know if it changed me so much. It's hard to see, but I find it easier now to open the show, show more heart. I don't think for 10 years ago I should never ever wrote and male for one of my colleagues that they have to give another colleague a hug. I do. It's exactly what it says. I like when things happen fast and quickly and this generation can handle that better than the older generation. In my point of view. They can have the information. So I don't really know how it changed me. Okay. I have to, I have to be a more instant wait as it could for 10 years ago. It's not possible anymore.

Amanda Hammett: 13:02
I see. Yes, you're right. You're correct on that. Now, what about, I happen to know that you are a very big believer in accountability and you know, can you give the, can you give the audience an example of what that really means to you?

Malin Ohlsson: 13:22
I think I have civil examples. We'll see. I believe that that old people want to be the best self and perform well. That's why I had to challenge my colleagues and me all the time. For example, I have a colleague who one role and it didn't work out really well. We almost agreed about that's her and employment should end. But when I realized what she really said between the lines, I realized that she loved people, not it. So, I also taught to be one of our team leaders a couple of days after we had a conversation about ending her employee comment. It's a bit strange, but today she's one of the all-stars.

Amanda Hammett: 14:29
Really?

Malin Ohlsson: 14:30
She, yeah, she is. She had an award from a service desk. Fuel means Sweden and we'll go in the middle of May to Stockholm B. Yeah. An audience about why she was the year support employed. Yeah. She will. She's one of my best, but I listened to her when she spoke to me. I listened to what she said, not between the lines. And that was my mistake. I'm glad that I had had the opportunity to think over it.

Amanda Hammett: 15:17
Right. That's awesome. That is amazing that you know what a turnaround because she was about to leave your company. Yes. And I'm sure, you know, it was, it was upsetting for her and for you, but you recognize that there was something else there that you were, you were missing. And so congratulations to you for, you know, recognizing, but also for taking that risk because a lot of people would not have taken that risk. But congratulations to her. I mean, that's amazing.

Malin Ohlsson: 15:49
That's all. That's my id. All the responsibility. Well, she got an opportunity and she took it. She has done. So I like that.

Amanda Hammett:16:00
I love that. I love that. That's all the please pass along my congratulations.

Malin Ohlsson: 16:07
That's why I love my work.

Amanda Hammett: 16:09
That's amazing. That is great. That is great. And again, I want to recognize that you, you recognize that and you acted on it. A lot of times we see leaders that, you know, they see, okay, somebody is struggling and maybe they, this isn't the place for them, but that's where the thought process ends. They don't think about where else, what other seats do we have that need to be filled that this person has skills for. So wonderful. That's awesome. I just took a couple of months. That's okay.

Amanda Hammett: 16:45
That's okay. All right. So tell me about, um, do you think that I mean, this question almost a no brainer at this point, do you think that your leadership style and your, you know, belief in, you know, accountability for everybody, do you think that that really helps you retain talent?

Malin Ohlsson: 17:05
Yeah, I think, I think so. Yeah. No, I'm convinced about that. I am, they're too lower the garden. I really care about my colleagues. So I think that's one of the thing and I have the courage to asked the unpleasant questions and to listen to answers and do what it takes. So, yes. Thanks. So

Amanda Hammett: 17:30
Very good. That must be what Marcus learned from you.

Malin Ohlsson: 17:35
I will ask him.

Amanda Hammett: 17:41
Well, obviously, I mean, listening to those answers and what's not being said has actually given you an edge to retain top talent and retention of talent is such a massive issue for company role, but it's also a very expensive issue for companies around. Yeah. Yes. That's very good, I love this. So what I'm, you know, mailing, what do you find are the benefits of really focusing on your people and developing your people? What benefits to accompany are there.

Malin Ohlsson: 18:14
Company perspective? It stays longer and I don't know about, um, your country, but here it's, it's very easy to get a new job if you're a good technician. So we were called for ghetto stay and develop to be the best ones. So I think that's the main reason. And we have customer satisfaction that's really high.

Amanda Hammett: 18:46
Yes, absolutely. Well, if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. Absolutely. Yeah. And you are a testament to that as well apparently.

Malin Ohlsson: 18:58
Yeah, I know. It's like that now our board or comments too. So in that way, in the same direction.

Amanda Hammett: 19:08
That's good. Very good. Now what about I, you know, we've talked a little bit about your influence on Marcus, the young man that I met. But what other advice would you give to an early career employee? Somebody who's just starting out, maybe their very first job. What advice would you give them?

Malin Ohlsson: 19:29
Okay. It's a bit hard, I think, believe in yourself and make mistakes. I think that making mistakes is a good, good way of growth. I think if you take responsibility for a mistake, it's a good thing.

Amanda Hammett: 19:49
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all about recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader, and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the Next Generation Rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

NextGen Featuring Ralph Barsi

Ralph Barsi: Attracting & Developing “A Players”

If you have ever worked in an environment where you are celebrated and not tolerated, you know it increases your productivity, profitability as well as overall engagement and loyalty to your company. Learn how Ralph Barsi of ServiceNow approaches attracting and retaining early career "A players".

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Attracting & Developing "A Players"

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
All right, so today's episode of the Next Generation Rock Stars podcast. I interviewed Ralph Barsi of service now out in Silicon Valley and man, he brought it to this interview. So you need to go ahead and just get your pen and notebook ready because you're going to have to take lots of notes. Ralph really believes in developing that early in career college. Uh, and, and he doesn't just believe it and say these things. He actually is doing it in the trenches like day to day. And he gives you some really practical and actionable steps that you as a leader can take and implement within your company today or your team today. And I think that leaders who have been leading, you know, who are brand new leaders, leaders who've been leading for 20, 30 years, I mean, this is some really good stuff that Ralph brings to this interview. And I really hope that you really listen and take it all at.

Amanda Hammett: 01:07
I in fact loved this interview so much that after the interview I asked Ralph like, Hey, can we do around too? I really wanted to talk to him about mentoring. That was the original reason I reached out to him was to talk to him about mentoring because I personally know some of his mentees and they are killer and we'll talk a little bit about them during the interview, but man, we didn't even get to it. I mean we just didn't have time so I expect to hear more from Ralph Barsi just beyond today and I hope you enjoy this interview.

Amanda Hammett: 01:40
All right, welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. I have an amazing guest for you today. His name is Ralph Barsi and he is my service now, so let's all welcome Ralph, welcome to the show.

Ralph Barsi : 01:51
Thank you so much Amanda, how are you today?

Amanda Hammett: 01:53
I am fantastic working on a little bit low level of sleep, but otherwise great.

Ralph Barsi : 01:59
Oh good to hear. Good to hear. Well, I'm looking forward to talking with you.

Amanda Hammett: 02:02
Me Too. So this has been a long time coming. You were actually nominated to be on the show by two people. One was a rock star that I had on season bond Morgan J Ingram, who is if anybody watched the show last season, you know, Morgan knocks it out of the park every day. The second person will actually be on the show next season for season three and her name is Nicola and I don't want to give anything else away about her, but she's awesome.

Ralph Barsi : 02:29
She is.

Amanda Hammett: 02:30
So let's hear a little bit about you Ralph.

Ralph Barsi : 02:34
Sure. Hello everybody. My name is Ralph Barsi. Today on the global sales development leader at service. Now we're a cloud computing company. We're based in silicon valley. We started 2003, 2004. Our focus was on servicing it departments and streamlining the workflow of help desk environments. But over the years we've really evolved into servicing all business units in the enterprise. So essentially our technology digitize those workflows and makes the experience of fulfilling reclass pretty smooth and simple. My job in service now is to oversee roughly 200 what we call atrs or account development reps. They have a two fold objective. Number one is they drive revenue pipeline for the company by booking qualified meetings for our field organization on their second objective is to become our future sales reps for service now. So we really drive a revenue pipeline as well as a talent pipeline. And it's a blast. I've been here just about four years. I started here in Q four of 2015 and it's gone very quickly. As you can imagine. prior to that I have a little over 20 years experience close to 25 now in sales. The first half of my career was spent as an individual contributor, whereas the latter half has really been leading and scaling sales and sales development teams.

Amanda Hammett: 04:08
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, one thing that I know about you in the sales world that I'm actually gathered from, you know, looking at sales organizations and, and associations, but also the people that are really influencing the market, is that when I'm talking to those influencers in particular, those younger influencers, I'm like, well, who are you looking at? Who are you following? Who, who's mentoring you? And low and behold, it is Ralph Barsi.

Ralph Barsi : 04:35
Wow. That's flattering and humbling. Thank you. I hope I'm adding value to the marketplace. I appreciate it.

Amanda Hammett: 04:42
I would say so. I would say so. So, um, so let's talk a little bit about your role and how you see it. Because I would assume, and I'm making an assumption here and let's clear, clarify this for the audience, but particularly when you're driving that talent pipeline for service, now you're looking primarily at early career, correct?

Ralph Barsi : 05:04
Oh, sure. For the most part we have a relatively young group of atrs and when I say on, so if it helps, I'm 48 years old today. And so young to me is between 20 and 30. And that's largely the demographic of our account development reps. They're relatively early in their career as well as that service now. So we feel that, you know, the leaders here, we feel this time is precious and it's finite and it's a, it's a privilege to be able to develop the skills and the competencies and the accusation that these future salespeople and leaders need to succeed. It's quite a project and exercise, but we're blessed and excited to be the ones to do it.

Amanda Hammett: 05:50
Okay. I love this outlook. Because I know that so many people struggle with the attraction of young talent, but also keeping it. I don't, I think that they're missing a few important foundational items. One is really getting that attraction piece correct, but also the people who are leading them, once they're there, they need to be the right people. So let's talk first a little bit about how do you go about attracting the right talent?

Ralph Barsi : 06:22
Sure. So of course, Amanda, there's different levels of talent that we need to attract. And I'm really happy we're talking about the word and the whole concept of attracting. I think a lot of companies and teams who struggle with finding talent are focused on pursuing that talent. They chase people down, they spray and pray their job descriptions all over the internet and they just hope great candidates come in. Instead, they need to reverse that whole process and they need to focus on them. And I don't, I don't usually say that I'm usually talking about focus outward versus inward. This is different when you want to attract top talent, you have to keep in mind that a players want to play for a player. Coaches, yes. And they want to go to environments where they are celebrated, not tolerated, and they want to learn while they're in these companies so that they can add value and be the best versions of themselves in the workplace.

Ralph Barsi : 07:24
So you as a leader, you really need to focus on what's that bad signal that you've just cast into the sky for people to learn more about. You learn more about your team, learn more about your company and your industry. You know, what's your branding effort like whether it be on Linkedin, whether it be out and about in the marketplace. Can we read some of your content? Can we see you on Youtube? Can we learn about you as a leader to make our decision and discern whether or not we even want to apply to a job on your team at your company? And I think a lot of leaders, I don't think I know a lot of leaders really miss that they are out there focusing on their own brand for whatever reason and top talents going elsewhere.

Amanda Hammett: 08:11
I would agree with that wholeheartedly. And one of the other things that I see in, you know, maybe you agree with this, maybe you don't, but a lot of companies especially, and I don't understand this in a sales organization, but they rely on HR completely. Yes. The machine. And I'm like, I don't understand if your numbers depend on the talent, why aren't you driving this process?

Ralph Barsi : 08:35
Exactly. I mean a lot of, I mean a lot of leaders with all due respect are heads down driving the revenue that they're primarily responsible for. And also people have a hard time writing content, being on youtube, appearing on podcasts like this one because there's maybe a, an inherit fear that they're going to be disliked by the marketplace. So a lot of people out there feel that what I'm doing right now is very self-serving. It's all about Ralph Barsi when it's the complete opposite. I'm just trying to shed light and expose the good things that we're doing at service now, particularly in global sales development, in hopes and with an intent that top talent out there is going to say yes, that's the type of team I can add value to and I can also learn from how do I get there?

Amanda Hammett: 09:28
Absolutely. I would agree with that wholeheartedly, but I would like to add that additionally, I think that other leaders can learn from you whether they're in sales or not. I think that this is something that every leader at any level needs to hear.

Ralph Barsi : 09:43
Awesome. That's even better. Great.

Amanda Hammett: 09:46
All right. So let's talk a little bit about, um, you've done the work. You've done the background work that you needed to do to attract that talent into you and you get in this new early-career employee. What happens from there?

Ralph Barsi : 10:03
Sure. So a great question. A lot of it has to happen preemptively before they even come in. So during the recruiting phase, you have to, first of all, think about the job description that you have out there in the first place. You know, what's the size of the job description? It's okay to have a long job description if it's a killer copy, you know, and it's enthusiastic and compelling and informative and has calls to action where someone can't wait to apply. So think about the verbiage you're using. Think about what audiences that, that verbiage will resonate with or not. So be very mindful of the language that you're using. I mean, for example, some companies who are looking for people to come in and just crush quota, that's going to appeal to a much smaller audience than

Ralph Barsi : 10:56
Then words that would say, hey, come here and grow and develop in your career, sharpen your skills and your competencies. Be surrounded by people who have very high standards and want to move the needle from a to B. That's way more exciting and compelling than the former verbiage. So think about that kind of stuff. And then when they do come in the door, hopefully by that point, during that recruiting phase or interviewing phase, you've all really already talked about the well-lit career path that's ahead of them. If they put some skin in the game in this very role, you know, if they, if they really optimize and maximize the time they have in the role they were hired for and really work to master that role, knowing that it's going to carry them forward in their career and more opportunities will surface the better they do in this existing role.

Ralph Barsi : 11:49
You have to have those types of conversations very, very early on. And then of course when they come in the door, you got to teach them, you know, specifically for sales development reps, the average tenure is maybe 15 to 24 months as an SDR, ADR, BDR, whatever you want to call it before they're up and out into hopefully in other business function within your own company, and even if they go elsewhere, leaders have to recognize that, look, everybody on your team today is eventually going to be an alum of your team. So when they go out into the world, whether it's in your company or elsewhere, they're going to be representing you and they're going to be representing your team, your brand, your company up from the time that they worked for you. So you want to put your best foot forward so that they learn enough to go on and pay it forward down the line. And remember you and the time that, that they had on your team and all the great insights they learned and the experiences they had while they were part of your team. And you want those little reflections and rep represent representations of view out into the world doing good versus the opposite.

Amanda Hammett: 13:04
I just have so many questions.

Ralph Barsi : 13:06
It's right. I mean I'd like to talk about it all day. Say you're in dear to my heart. It's really important.

Amanda Hammett: 13:13
I think that this is super, super important. I think that one of the things that really struck me about what you just said was that about really taking in developing that, you know, first time, you know, this is their first job out of college or university or whatever. That is a hard leadership role and a lot of people are not well suited for that role. And I was wondering if you could share with the audience. What kind of characteristics, what traits would you say would be somebody who would make a good leader for someone who is just right out of college or university? This is their first maybe the second job.

Ralph Barsi : 13:52
Someone who would be a good leader would have a fabulous attitude. They're enthusiastic about the work they're doing and life itself. They walk into a room and they light that room up. They don't suck the life out of it. They see the good in everything and you know, they stay in the sunlight that said they're living by very high standards, high standards that they, they themselves set for themselves versus standards I'm going to set or anyone that I work with is going to set a, they work harder on themselves and they do on their job. They are selfless. They are humble. They are teachers and coaches. They love the people that work with them and for them, they see everybody on their team two years out and they picture them as already successful account or successful team leaders or successful business owners five, 10, 15 years from now.

Ralph Barsi: 14:58
And they understand that in this little pocket of time that they have, they've got to give those people the best up from their experiences. You know, their best insights so that those people can, can go on and pay it forward later. It's attributes like that that I look for when I'm hiring leaders. And then there's the flip side. We're running a business, so you have to have an understanding of the outcomes we're after, how we measure our progress against those outcomes, how to be decisive, how to have intestinal fortitude to sit at a conference room table with a bunch of type a executives who also have numbers to hit and understand that there's a many times throughout your day that you must detach from the emotional aspect and the sunshine, beautiful time that we have here. Developing people to get to work and to understand the performance indicators that we're measuring against, et Cetera, on how you're making a contribution to the business. Let's not lose sight of the business side of things as well.

Amanda Hammett: 16:05
Of course, and that's the whole thing that makes everything move and continue. You can't continue to develop people. There's no business that you're putting them into. So...

Ralph Barsi : 16:15
That's right. So I find myself referring more and more to Ray Daleo his principles and what he speaks about in that book and what his philosophy is, is that you have to almost see yourself as well as your business or your team as a machine. And you are an engineer that simply operates that machine gene. And oftentimes that machine's going to break down in certain areas. Certain parts of the antigen are going to become faulty and you have to be able to identify those faults or gaps and you have to build systems that allow you to look at problems as, oh, we've seen this situation before, we have contingency plans in place based on our experience. So we're going to pull a lever a, lever B, Lever C and we'll get through this thing. No problem. Versus completely freaking out at the gap or the fall and going, oh my God, all hell is broken loose. We're going to slide off the rails here at any moment. It's really just having the wherewithal and the understanding of going, okay, this is a quick little recalibration or modulation that we need to make. And we're back on the rails and we're heading north again. It takes leaders like that to be at the helm.

Amanda Hammett: 17:33
I agree with that. I agree with that and we've all had leaders in the past, or at least I'll speak from my own experience where any tiny thing goes wrong and they are just losing their mind. It's like, how did you get in this role? Really?

Ralph Barsi : 17:46
We've all, unfortunately, we've all been, well, most of us have been exposed. Those leaders in, I avoid them and people like that at all costs. All of a sudden, all of a sudden I'm getting blamed and all of a sudden I'm being berated in front of others and it's just, it's such a whack way to lead people and in fact, over my career, I've kept journal notes in a document that I've kept for many, many years now that I add to on a daily basis on what not to do as a leader. So when I've been exposed to crummy leaders, I've written it down like, hey, Barsi don't do this. Don't do that. Approach it this way. Do the opposite and I'll refer back to it more often than not to just remind myself, you know, how, how you're coming across. You've got to be very self-aware of, of the brand and, and how and a persona that you're showing up with on a daily basis. Because whether you like it or not, you are setting an example and people are taking note. Whether they tell you or never tell you, you're setting an example. So set the best one you can.

Amanda Hammett: 18:51
Absolutely. You know, that's funny you brought up self-awareness. I was actually with a sales team just last week and we did a self-awareness exercise where there's like 400 sellers and you know, you, they have different categories of impression. Little Post-it notes that they had to go write one word and their impression of another person. So somebody, they work with, somebody that they know but don't work with directly and then someone they have seen in the halls but don't actually know what is their impression of that person. And it was funny because people were very like, oh, everybody said I was quiet and shy and I'm not at all. And it was just like, well, what, what are you putting out there? Because it's not just the people you work with, it's your clients, it's your higher-ups. It's everybody. What are you putting out there?

Ralph Barsi : 19:37
Yeah, absolutely. And it's that it's duly noted that, you know when you walk into the workplace thinking that everybody knows something that you don't, or everybody carries a little nugget of value that you can learn from and grow from. It just, it completely changes your perspective on the people you work with. You start to see yourself as really a member of a team that you need to make a contribution to and add value to. And it's just, it's a game changer. Once you realize that, that people likely know something that you don't or have gone through something that, that you have it and are just a little wiser than you think they are. Yeah, it definitely makes a difference.

Amanda Hammett: 20:18
It does. So I'd like to switch gears just a little bit and I'd like to talk about, you mentioned this briefly earlier, but I'd like to talk about those career development conversations.

Ralph Barsi: 20:31
Sure.

Amanda Hammett: 20:32
When do you start having them? How often do you have them? What walk us through, what, what that looks like for you.

Ralph Barsi: 20:39
You start having them at the very beginning of the relationship. So for leaders on the front line, for example, with sales reps or sales development reps, it's important to earmark a one on one per month or per quarter. I recommend maybe once a quarter where we actually talk about, you know, personal and professional development. A lot of the other one on one should focus on day to day operation, et Cetera and getting to the goal. But early in the relationship, you know, have the rep do a self-assessment, have them talk about and literally write down, they could share what they'd like or just share excerpts of this exercise because it's personal. But what are your short term, midterm, and long term goals? How do you define short term versus midterm versus long term? Short term could be two to four weeks for some people you know, or they could be six to 12 months.

Ralph Barsi: 21:34
It's important to identify what they mean by short, mid and longterm. Because a lot of sales development reps, six to eight months into the GIG, they're approaching their leaders asking about getting promoted and it's way premature. It's way too early. There's still a lot more development and experience and time that needs to pass in order for them to incubate if you will, and really become masters of the role they're in and add way more value in future roles. So identify what those time frames are and then ask the person in this self-assessment, hey, who do you admire in the world professionally or personally? Who do you want to emulate? Tell us why. What characteristics or attributes to those people illustrate on a regular basis that you want to model that's going to give the leader a really good understanding of, you know, how this person ticks what this person likes, dislikes, what they're trying to accomplish or who they're aspiring to become.

Ralph Barsi: 22:35
Another thing in the assessment is, and there's really, there are four questions. It's like, you know, what are your career aspirations? Short, mid, long. Who Do you admire? Who do you want to emulate? That's number two. Number three is what do you need to learn and work on to get where your going and then lastly, how can our company, how can me, how? How can we, how can I, how can others around you really help you get from here to there and you'll realize more often than not that, like you said, college students coming into the workplace. They have no idea what north is to them or where they want to be in five years or why they want to be there. A lot of people, especially in the sales world, they'll come in and go, I just want to make money. I want to make a ton of money.

Ralph Barsi: 23:21
Okay, well that's a trigger then for the leader to ask. Awesome. That's fabulous. Let's fast forward. Let's say the stars have aligned and you've earned all the money that you want to earn. What are you going to do with it? Now the leader's going to get a really good understanding of is this a person who's trying to care for alien parents? Because if somebody who wants to get married, do they want to invest in properties? Do they want to run their own business someday? Do they want to donate to a charity? And you know, put forward a philanthropic effort to do better in the world. Once they've got that money discussion aside, they can really get to the root cause of why they want the money in the first place, right? So I highly recommend doing those assessments, sharing them very, very early on and then doing, you know, periodically start, stop, continue exercises, Amanda, you need to start doing A, B, C you're not getting out there and networking enough. You're not on the phones enough. You're not falling on your face giving yourself enough experiences where you have to get back up again and dust yourself off. So do that. Here's where I think you need to stop doing. Here's what you need to continue doing because you're awesome at it. Like, let's get after it, let's go get it. And I think discussions like that pretty simple, not that difficult to have they just need to happen and they need to be put on the calendar to happen or they will not take place.

Amanda Hammett: 24:43
I think that that's, that is a really good point. They need to be on the calendar and almost like a standing appointment quarterly or monthly or however you do it. Because they're so easy to get, Oh, you know what, I've got to take care of this. And they're so easy to get pushed aside and then you don't ever do it. But especially in that early career, things are shifting and they're learning so much about themselves as who they want to be as a professional, who they want to be as a person, where they want to go. That that is shifting and changing and evolving quickly, much more quickly than at other points in your career that the leader really needs to be there to kind of develop and guide that. And if you're not doing it, you don't know and you're losing them basically

Ralph Barsi: 25:27
100% oh and keep in mind, as we just talked about, most of the people that are coming into the sales development world are recent graduates. So what does that mean? They have been on a schedule for their entire life. That's like semester-based. You know, they finish a class, it's onto the next class. They get graded in that class and they move forward after one year they go to the next grade. And so they've been on this cadence their entire life and they come into a company and a company is like, oh dude, you're not getting promoted for like two years. That is an unbelievable news to them. And they really have to adapt and you know, recalibrate how they're approaching their day to day work because they're just not used to that. So create an academy so that as soon as they come in, they understand that there are six month time frames where they're going to learn A and they're going to learn B, then they're going to learn C and over those six months timeframes they're going to be graded in this academy, for example, at service now we have a global sales development academy that's broken into guessing what?

Ralph Barsi : 26:34
Six-month chunks and we call it liftoff, launch an orbit, and by the time you're in the final six months or even a six month period after that, you're learning the competencies that are going to make you successful in the next role. So you're learning about the t's and C's of contracts. You're learning negotiation with high-level executives and committees who are making decisions at big companies. You're learning how the legal process works when lawyers red line clauses in a contract and what that means. You're learning about the time that it really takes to close a deal, especially in our world, in the SAS B2B world, selling into the enterprise sales cycles could be two years long. So you have to understand all the components and mechanics of moving a deal over the line. There's a lot of studying that needs to happen, and so we incorporate that into our academy.

Ralph Barsi : 27:33
Secondly, we talked about this at the very beginning of our call today. Mentoring is critical. You have to have a coach or a teacher that's not the direct manager that can have those offline conversations with you. How are things going? Hey, if Amanda shows up like this, don't take it too seriously. This is probably why she's responding like this. Instead, focus on this. So we built a global sales development mentorship program here as well, where we have account executives and solution consultants and people from other business functions volunteering to mentor our Account Development Reps. It's a two-way street. The arts have to put, frankly, more skin in the game because what you put into it is what you're going to get out of it, right? But nonetheless, relationships are created that last way beyond the mentorship program. You make friends in the process and people that you'll probably lean on throughout your career. So it's a joy to watch, but it's so important to share that with other leaders that may not have stuff like that in place in their own organizations.

Amanda Hammett: 28:38
Absolutely. And I think that for some reason I think mentoring programs have, you know, they were put into place for a lot of companies, but they were in a lot of ways I feel over-managed. They were very, they were too systematized and it didn't allow for that organic growth of what that individual needs. And you know, what they can do together as a mentor, mentee. You know, I worked with one company and it was just very like, okay, on this meeting you talk about x on this meeting, you talk about why. And I'm like, but that's not what she needs. So what is your philosophy when you're mentoring someone? Let's say that you want to mentor me and that would be great. And I'm just, what would be your philosophy forgetting that relationship going and how would you judge on what do we need to talk about? What do we need to work on?

Ralph Barsi : 29:29
Sure. We would, you and I would first need to establish, okay, Amanda, how are we going to communicate with one another? Is it going to be like this where we're looking at each other, right? et Cetera, et cetera. How often are we going to communicate? I'm extremely busy. I'm sure you are too. So to avoid and mitigate any, you know, email, tennis back and forth, trying to figure out dates and times when you write to me, be very specific. Yes. Give me multiple-choice questions that I can just tick the box on and we can move forward. Let's see. Be Mindful of your writing. So if you're, if we agree that we're okay with texting one another, again, ask a question in the text so that it evokes a response. Otherwise, it's just information for me to read. When you're emailing me, made sure, you know, just like we tell sales development reps when they're prospecting into big accounts, you know, have a subject line that tells me what this email is about.

Ralph Barsi : 30:36
Make a brief, concise, break up your paragraphs, get into the detail of, of writing. You talked about, hey look, there's a lot of companies out there and I couldn't agree more that systematize this and that. It's very robotic if you will. However, if you really want to elicit that organic relationship, it's okay to preface a form that you're going to send the mentor and the mentee. If you're the owner of a mentorship program and you might want to say, hey, here are some guidelines that we've seen work in the past for people who are having a hard time getting started. You may want to do this, you may want to do that versus do this, do that and let people kind of figure it out on their own. Those are just a couple tips. Again, this is another one we could talk about all day.

Amanda Hammett: 31:22
It is, and unfortunately we are coming to an end of our time and I feel like we need to have a part two for this and start this whole conversation on mentoring because it is such an important part of developing particularly young talent, but I think it's valuable across across the entire employee life cycle. But Ralph, I want to thank you so much. This has been incredibly insightful. I took lots of notes today, but I want to thank you so much for sharing and being willing to share with others you.

Ralph Barsi : 31:54
It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, Amanda. I'm always open to a part two. If you want to pin that on the calendar, we'll make it happen.

Amanda Hammett: 32:03
I'm going to take you off on that. All right, well thank you guys so much for joining us with Ralph Barsi today on the next generation rock stars podcast and we will see you in the very next episode.

Amanda Hammett: 32:14
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all about recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader. And if that is the case, don't keep me a secret. Share this episode with the, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the Next Generation Rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Featuring Travis Dommert

Travis Dommert: How Developing Talent Adds to Your Bottom Line

Long term profitability and viability are not driven by your strategy or your technology. It is driven by your people. If you are looking for long term profitability and viability, take care of your people. Learn from Travis Dommert, Jackson Healthcare on how investing in your people will drive profitability for your company.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - How Developing Talent Adds to Your Bottom Line

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
All right. This week's episode of the Next Generation Rock Stars podcast, we talk about developing talent, specifically a lot about developing leaders, and I get this question a lot. I'm always asked, you know why? Why should I spend more money to develop my people? Why should I invest to give them skills so that they can leave me? And I always feel like that's such a short sided way to see developing your talent because first and foremost, we know that next generation talent if you're not developing them, they're gonna leave and go somewhere where they can be developed. That is one of the big things that they're looking for, but even further than that is Travis Dommert from Jackson Healthcare shares with us in this particular interview is that it's so important to specifically develop your leaders to really pour into them because they can make or break the employee experience for the rest of your employees. So tune in. I hope you take lots of notes and meet Travis Dommert from Jackson Healthcare.

Amanda Hammett: 01:16
Hey, and welcome to this episode of the Next Generation Rock Stars podcast. I have a super amazing episode today. I have Travis Dommert from Jackson healthcare. Welcome, Travis.

Travis Dommert: 01:28
Hey Amanda. How are you?

Amanda Hammett: 01:30
Doing Super well. So you are in Atlanta and I was looking at all these great places to work lists and I was like, man, I'm going to showcase somebody from Atlanta. And so I reached out to you. So thanks for agreeing to be on the show.

Travis Dommert: 01:4
Oh, it's awesome to be with you. And you're right. It's rare that you find somebody like in your own backyard to talk to that, you know, maybe could, could be a local expert. So, um, I'll do my best.

Amanda Hammett: 01:55
Perfect. Well, I know you're going to do awesome. So why don't you tell the audience a little bit about you really quick?

Travis Dommert: 02:01
You know, I think about the different hats that I wear and um, you know, I start the day, each day as a husband. So I've been married for about 17 years, coming up on 18 this year, and then dad a have five kids and so they're all school-aged and life is really full on that side, you know, and then I go to work every day and I get to work at an absolutely amazing place. I'm at Jackson Healthcare, as you said, and I've got a dream job. My responsibility is for talent acquisition and learning and development and it's getting to kind of live out a professional and life passion that I discovered way too late in life. But I'm just glad I found it. Nonetheless, I started out in engineering and ended up working with people but all rooted in the same idea, which is I'd like to know how things work. It's just, I didn't realize until years after business school that I'm learning how people work would be so fascinating.

Amanda Hammett: 02:59
That's a really cool little movement on your career because a lot of people go into engineering thinking, this is my path for life. But that was a very interesting movie made I'm kind of curious, could you tell us a little bit more about what encouraged that move?

Travis Dommert: 03:14
Sure. You know, ultimately it was I think trying to be successful. So I started out in truly hardcore engineering. It was manufacturing engineering and I could say I didn't fall in love with like a machine shop floor. And I thought deep down, like I really, I love cars, I'm passionate about cars and airplanes and so I got to go to work in the design center at Ford Ford Motor Company when I was in college and it was really cool. The only thing that was troubling was I also grew up outside of Dallas, Texas and I thought, I want to live back in the south.

Travis Dommert: 03:50
And they were very candid. They were like, you know, all roads in the auto industry, in the United States, all kinds of left back here. And so that caused me to pause and just think, you know, what else might I be interested in? And at the time it was taking off. So I pursued a career in IT consulting, which eventually led me to implement software and systems and realizing that there were some keys to successful implementations. And namely, it was that it actually had the backing and the buy-in of the user. And if you made the user's life better and you somehow help them succeed, then maybe your software project would work. And if somehow you, even if you had the most amazing software, if what your software did was make our client look or feel dumb, funny how they'd have a really hard time supporting it and learning to use it. And so we started realizing like, wow, people are really at the core of how everything works. How do we get people on board with what we're trying to do? How do we help people grow? And anyway, several career Epiphanes later I ended up working 100% in the people business, which is in staffing and then eventually in HR and development.

Amanda Hammett: 05:01
I love this little journey that you took and I think it was a really important multiple steps along the way. Where you woke up and you saw these little Ahas and then they've all added together. I know that in my career I've had multiple Aha moments as well that have brought me to where I am. So that's fascinating. So in all of this journey that you've taken so far, I would imagine that you have had the experience of multiple different types of leadership. So how did that experience shape your own leadership style?

Travis Dommert: 05:32
That's a really good question. yeah, we actually do an exercise at the kickoff of our leadership program here at Jackson Healthcare and one of those exercises is for people to just think about the best person they ever worked for and write down an adjective or an attribute or a characteristic of that person on a little post-it notes and then we go put them on the wall. But we group them into four areas and is their IQ. And another one is their emotional intelligence or how they made you feel. Another one is their subject matter expertise. And then we've got like the other bucket. If you can't figure out which three of those go into, you put it over there. And Gosh, the first time I did that exercise several years ago, you know, I immediately thought about one person who I worked for who always had a smile, always asked how I was doing.

Travis Dommert: 06:23
Would always thank me, like at the end of every day or every week, like, thanks so much. You know, so glad you're here. And he said it more in probably the first six months I worked for him that every other person I'd ever worked for combined. Wow. And I thought, you know, we went through really hard times. In fact, I worked for him in 2008 as the bottom fell out in the market. And you know, the last thing I would ever do would be to do something that would hurt him. Like I wanted him to be successful. I want it to make the company successful. And anyway, you know, I've, I've experienced a lot of people with other styles. And somewhere the undercurrent was, however, it looked, however, it felt, whether they were charismatic and extroverted or they were quiet and technical, you can tell are they for you or are they for them? And if their thoughts and actions felt like you were there to help them achieve whatever it is they were trying to do, it wasn't as great of a, you know, experience. So anyway, that's really informed a lot of how we do things here throughout our company.

Amanda Hammett: 07:32
I love that experience that you had. I mean, I know that anytime you have experience with a leader who is just like, you feel like a cog in the wheel, they don't make you feel human. The last thing you want to do is give your all. And so this guy obviously showed that he cared about you and he thought that you were important and what you were contributing was important and he made you feel like human. You had that human to human connection that we're all hard wired looking for. Yeah. That is amazing. Yeah. So I'm guessing this is a kind of leader that you would have run through walls for.

Travis Dommert: 08:06
Right, absolutely. And you know, it's interesting that we're talking about next generation leaders. And I think this is really relevant because when I look at the next generation leader is somebody who's relatively early in their career, they haven't had a lot of bosses yet. They haven't had a lot of maybe, career, experience, but most importantly, they haven't gone through a lot of hard times yet. Where a job just stinks.

Amanda Hammett: 08:30
Yes.

Travis Dommert: 08:30
And every job is called a job, you know, for reason. There's work, there are parts of it that are just hard. And if you feel like somebody has for you, it can really change the nature of that really hard thing to something like, this is something that we have to do, I've got to solve this problem as opposed to, this isn't any fun anymore. And I think the best thing for me is to, you know, hit the road. So anyway, I think it makes people incredibly more resilient as well as grateful and ultimately more successful.

Amanda Hammett: 09:02
I agree. I agree wholeheartedly. You know, in my own consulting practice, I have found when I brought in, been brought into a company and I go in and I'll interview people that have left, why did you really leave? Why did you really leave 94% say their boss, direct boss? You can't argue with that number. It's just the way it is.

Travis Dommert: 09:22
Yeah. And that insight is really what's driven the last like two years of my career here at Jackson and I moved from one of our operating businesses into corporate HR and was really looking for, okay, in an internal HR department, what is the number that really matters? Like what is the metric that we're trying to move? And we have a wonderful company and we've got a relatively low turnover for our industry, but nonetheless, we still lose people who we don't want to lose.

Amanda Hammett: 09:50
Of course. Yes.

Travis Dommert: 09:52
And anyway, predominantly they you know, they leave when they either have some falling out or they just don't feel cared for. They're not set up to succeed. And so as we were working on our leadership program, you know, I kind of kick it off this way. I tell people, look, you don't have to be the greatest boss ever. This is good news. As the boss, as the leader, you just have to not suck because if it sucks to work for you, I'm going to, I'm going to look elsewhere. But you need, you do need to know what it's like to be a bad boss. And so a lot of the program, I mean, yes, we want it to be great, But the big thing is like understand how to not be bad.

Amanda Hammett: 10:33
Yeah, absolutely.

Travis Dommert: 10:36
Sometimes it just makes it a little easier. They're like, okay, I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to be the perfect presenter. I don't have to be the most brilliant strategists. So I have to help. I have to have people feel that I care for them. What's, I have to know what it's like to be on the other side of me. And anyway, so a lot of it's about the soft skills.

Amanda Hammett: 10:56
A hundred percent when I'm coaching those young early in careers, I'm always like, look for a good boss. Good bosses will make or break your first job every time. So, okay. Now you already talked a little bit about this, but I really want to deep dive into this a little bit more. Do you ever feel pressure as you've moved up the ranks in HR? Do you ever feel pressure from the board or higher-ups from you to really, hey Travis, don't focus on the people. Focus on the numbers. That's what we need to move. Do you ever get that pressure and how do you respond to it?

Travis Dommert: 11:31
Yeah, I have. I have not had that pressure here because there is a deep end sort of fundamental belief that the people do drive the numbers. That the numbers are a lagging indicator of highly engaged people who are equipped to be successful, who feel appreciated and engaged in their work and who are committed. And, and there's even more beyond that because we, you know, we know research shows that if you want somebody to be highly committed to their work, it's more important that they understand who they are than that they understand who you are. So all the way from the top down, it's about are we helping people really understand who they are, how their job matters. How this, this job and the things that we do impact them, their community. I mean it's very, very missional. And it's very aligned to people.

Travis Dommert: 12:17
That being said, that's why I'm here. I have worked elsewhere where we had a very explicit conversation, with someone who said, make no mistake. You are here to make money. If you cease to make money, you cease to have a purpose. You're also here to make it as much money as I believe you're capable of. So if for some reason I think you're not giving your all, even if you make more than somebody else, that's not good enough. If you are not delivering as much as I think you can, then essentially you're stealing from me. And I was given permission, fire any person that you feel is not giving 100% because that's what he's paying for like a hundred percent of them. And that's if they cashed that check and they don't give 100%, they're stealing fire them. And it was one of those painful realizations that I think we're on a fundamentally different wavelength, you know, so you've worked at communicating through it, you know, tried to really make a business case. And I think a business case can definitely be made if you really, really care about money, care about your people. If you want to make major profits you have to at least at times take a long-term perspective. Gosh, short term thinking and focusing on profit, and not paying attention to what drives it. Yeah. It's so ironic that it can just kill a company. Kills a team.

Amanda Hammett: 13:48
Yes. And you see it all the time. All the time. Now let's talk a little, let's switch gears a little bit and talk about this next generation of talent. Millennials, Gen z, are now matriculating into the workforce. How have you seen them change and influence the workplace?

Travis Dommert: 14:09
So one caveat and my only caveat is that we don't really speak the generational language here. So we don't refer to millennials. We don't refer to Gen z on a daily basis. I absolutely understand that generations are influenced by the context in which they grew up and the stuff their parents were going through when they were young and things like that. So I'm not saying that it's not a real thing. I think there are parts of it that are the real thing, but essentially I would say, young people.

Amanda Hammett: 14:41
Yes, absolutely.

Travis Dommert: 14:43
But 200 years ago, we're still visionary, excited and enthusiastic. Possibly, you know, impatient, young people and anyway.

Amanda Hammett: 14:55
Have on older generations even then.

Travis Dommert: 14:57
That's right. And they want, you know, everybody wondered, are they ever gonna buckle down or are they ever gonna whatever, you know, you fill in the blank.

Amanda Hammett: 15:05
Yeah.

Travis Dommert: 15:05
So, anyway, that being said, do I see value? Do I see an impact of the younger people in our company versus those of us who are now getting a little bit farther along? Absolutely. And it's just, it's energy. It's an absolute demand for authenticity. Yes. Um, because they're so connected because they're so tech-savvy, because they're, I won't say fearless. Some of them are definitely not fearless, but at least more willing to leave because they believe that you're a hypocrite or go online and tell everybody, you know, they can hop on Glassdoor, Yelp, whatever, Facebook, wherever it is, and just say, this place is just full of liars.

Amanda Hammett: 15:51
Yeah, absolutely.

Travis Dommert: 15:52
Then it raises the bar, you know, it raises the bar for behavior, for sticking to your values, for whatever you think you know is right. You better be doing it every day if you screw up. That happens. I mean, we screw up all the time. I screwed up, but it's like, you better be the first one to say, hey, that was my bad. What else? I don't know. I think the other thing is collaborative and so I had a very young team a couple of years ago and it just wasn't acceptable to say, okay, this is what we're going to do. It was like, wait a minute, we haven't talked about that. Can you really help us bring us along? Like where did you come to this decision? Were there conversations behind the scenes? It's funny, I thought behind the scenes sounded so negative and then I started to realize, no, they might use it.

Travis Dommert: 16:41
They may say it like, Hey Travis, we actually had a conversation behind the scenes. And here's what we talked about and here's what we think is the right thing. But even behind the scenes was like somewhat transparent. Like, Hey, we talked about you when you weren't here.

Amanda Hammett: 16:54
Absolutely.

Travis Dommert: 16:55
We're just telling you, you know, we think we've got to slow down and go back and get everybody's input on this. Okay. You know it. And what I found was, Gosh, you take just even a moment, take 10 minutes at the end of a meeting, or five minutes at the front of the meeting or something and be more collaborative. And the changes had a tendency to last and just people would buy in. So people will start telling me why this is really important. I'm like, yeah. All right.

Amanda Hammett: 17:24
Absolutely. Well, I mean, when they're part of the process, they're there. Think more like owners and so there's more responsibility when you're an owner.

Travis Dommert: 17:32
Yup. They're going to buy it.

Amanda Hammett: 17:34
Absolutely. So let's talk a little bit about the recruiting process. I know that you are heading up some talent acquisitions. So how are, you know, next generation, how are you guys going after that younger generation in the workforce?

Travis Dommert: 17:48
Yeah, a sort of two-prong strategy. Most of the people who come to work here are through referral and that's fantastic. I'd love that to be everybody. With one exception and that is that, you know, nobody knows everybody. Even though collectively we might, we could definitely miss out on amazing talent and people, you know, they move to places like Atlanta. We have, you know, I'm not a transient city, but we definitely have a flux of new talent who comes in and, um, so anyway, for those folks then we're trying to, you know, be intentional in reaching out digitally. But the number one thing is making sure that people know about what opportunities exist here. That they, that it's easy to refer people. You know, we track our referral metrics probably as closely or more closely than we do, you know, some of our other marketing and recruitment activity.

Travis Dommert: 18:40
So those are probably the two primary channels. Um, and then the other thing you know is actually just doing good. The company has done good for a long, long time, but it was only a few years ago that they actually started, um, capturing videos and sharing stories internally about the amazing things that our associates were doing in the community. And the idea was like, oh, hey everybody, did you know that this team did this? And it was kind of a feel good thing internally. Well that was the very first thing people turned around and they started posting externally.

Amanda Hammett: 19:14
Yes.

Travis Dommert: 19:16
And it's so amazing because it ended up changing really almost our whole brand strategy. It would be much more around market intelligence about what's going on in healthcare, what physicians think. And now it's much more about, it's absolutely missional that Jackson Healthcare is about having a positive impact on people in the world. And how do we improve the lives of everyone we touch. And so when you get to share story after story, now suddenly we have people coming to us saying, I don't care what job it is, I would like to work there because you believe in what I believe in.

Amanda Hammett: 19:50
Absolutely. That is awesome. I love that story. I would love to actually dig some of those videos up and share them myself. That's pretty amazing stuff.

Travis Dommert: 20:00
Yeah, go to our youtube channel. There's a bunch of them out there now. They're awesome.

Amanda Hammett: 20:03
Wonderful. So let's talk a little bit about, the learning and development, because I know through my own experience, through season one of this podcast, all these high performing millennials, they always said, you know, I need to be able to stretch. I need to consistently learn. So how are you guys feeding that need for knowledge?

Travis Dommert: 20:24
Well, yeah, it's pretty insatiable. And that was an interesting fact that I picked up at a seminar event earlier this year was that you know, the number one desire of, and this particular event, they said millennials, but I would say again, next-generation leaders, was learning. So we do that in a number of ways. Traditionally we had like curated curriculum. So we've got classrooms here. Everybody has access to take classes and they are encouraged. They're put on career paths where it's like, okay, these are the six classes that you should take this year and next year in the year after and whatever. And so Jackson Healthcare University helps fill that need internally for our folks. But I was looking, you know, we've maybe offered 30 different classes in the last 10 years and now you look online, it's a massive learning platforms and you realize, okay, there are also thousands more.

Travis Dommert: 21:19
And now, you know, we're trying to tap into that. So for the last two years, we've been developing a partnership with linkedin learning. Have a sense linkedin bought Lynda. Um, and so now that's another channel. We encourage people for more real-time and continuous learning, microlearning. If somebody brings something up in a one-on-one, you know, you're a quick search away from saying, Oh wow, maybe got to watch this. We're using something called tone networks. Um, that's a little bit more focused on women in leadership and development. That's, that's curated for them. And then we also anybody who gets to the point of managing another person, um, it doesn't matter what your age is. Then you're going to go through our leadership program and that's a really awesome immersive experience. And right now we're putting every single leader in our company through this three months program, which has been terrific.

Amanda Hammett: 22:20
That's pretty cool. So what would you say has been the benefit of developing your people?

Travis Dommert: 22:30
I think it's becoming part of the culture. I mean, I think the end benefit that that company would see and that, that we will be measuring, ultimately it's going to impact tenure and it's going to impact performance. But the way it looks is that people are grateful. People are building relationships. They're just more effective day to day. So they spend more time actually delivering value to whoever they work with or for, and they spend less time in conflict. And not surprisingly, we don't actually make anything right. You know, like many companies today, we're a service business, so we build relationships. Most of our learning and training is about, okay, how do you deal with humans? And by the way, you are one, you know, it's messy.

Travis Dommert: 23:23
So I tell people on their very first day of work, you know, it's a matter of minutes. I hope it's hours or days, but it might be minutes before somebody hurts your feelings or worse, you hurt someone's feelings. So what are you going to do then? And the temptation is going to be, I'm going to quit. Like I'm going to get rid of the bad boss or the bad teammate or whatever. And it's like, no, no, no, no, no, that's not, that's actually not what you should do. If you really value learning and growing and being a better person, here are some tools, here are some techniques and when you lean into that rocky relationship or those misspoken words and you do it effectively, you end up becoming closer. And so now this person you thought you wanted to get rid of, you actually love them a little bit because you see their words and you know and suddenly you're closer. And so I think the other benefit is people are just closer. Like I see more hugs and tears here than any place ever by far that I've ever been. Somewhere along the way I know that has business value because I know that they're learning the same things to develop relationships and help people outside the company.

Amanda Hammett: 24:33
Yeah. You want to build a community among the people that you work with day in and day out. That's awesome. I love to hear the tears and the laughter and all that good stuff. That's what I listen for when I'm observing at companies. I'm walking around them listening like what are the conversations like? What's the tenor of the conversation? Is there laughter? Are they talking outside of just work talk? And that's one of my judges of like, okay, this is, I know it's weird, but for me it's about building community and are these employees enjoying being together? So yes.

Travis Dommert: 25:07
Yeah. We actually, we joke about there being a tier quota. We don't get enough people crying, you know, we're not doing our jobs. They're just, we're not reaching them. And let's, let's all stop being fake here. We've got to get down to what do you really, really care about? And man, when you get somebody who can't talk, you're like, okay, we got there with you.

Amanda Hammett: 25:30
I love this. I'm the tier quota. Okay.

Travis Dommert: 25:34
Don't let that out.

Amanda Hammett: 25:38
So Travis, what would you give, what piece of advice would you give to a first-time leader? This is their very first time leading people. What would you do to set them up to succeed?

Travis Dommert: 25:49
I would give them the advice we start a lot of our programs with, which is that there may be some of this job as a leader that you like. And there may be some of it that you don't like. There may be days when you feel good on, there may be days that you feel bad. Don't worry about any of that. If you're going to play the role of leader, it's not about you. So don't worry about your style. Don't worry about how you look. Don't worry about what you sound like. It's not about you. If you will look at what do people need from you and you offer that to them. They need encouragement. They need direction, they need support, they need love, they need forgiveness, they need purpose. If you just keep asking yourself whether you've never let anybody or you're really seasoned what does this person need me and try to offer that up. Okay. I think nine times out of 10, you're going to be successful.

Amanda Hammett: 26:51
That is such a fantastic answer and honestly, I can't think of any better way to end this episode. So Travis, thank you so much for joining us today.

Travis Dommert: 26:59
Awesome. Thanks, Amanda.
Thank you.

Amanda Hammett: 27:02
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader, and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the next generation rock stars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Featuring Kat Cole

Kat Cole: Why Resourcefulness is Better Than Experience

Having skills and experiences listed on a resume doesn't mean that an employee is going to be successful. In our quickly changing market were what was in fact only 6 months ago has changed drastically; resourcefulness is far more important to have.

Share the LOVE and TWEET about this episode.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Why Resourcefulness is Better Than Experience

Welcome to the Next Generation Rock Stars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:14
Hi, this is mean to him and it at the millennial translator and today I have a super amazing and just chock full of information interview for you. I had Kat Cole who is the COO and president of North America for focus brands on the show and on the show she talks about so much information that I really think that you need a notebook before you started and on this episode or if you're listening while you commute, you're going to definitely want to come back and listen to this one a second, maybe even a third time because it is just that chock full of information. In fact, she might even want to teach a leadership class for MBA students. It isn't that good. So hope you're tuning in and we will talk to you soon.

Amanda Hammett: 00:54
Hi, this is Amanda Hammett and today we have a very special guest for next-generation rock stars. Her name is Kat Cole and she is the COO and president of North America for focus brands. Now you may not be aware of focus brands, but I know that you know their products, things like Cinnabon and Auntie Anne's and Jamba juice just to name a few. So Kat, welcome to the show.

Kat Cole: 01:17
Thank you.

Amanda Hammett: 01:18
All right, so Kat, tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

Kat Cole: 01:21
Sure. I run a large company called the focus that is a franchise or in license or of some of the world's most famous food franchises from the fun for you indulgent brands like Cinnabon and Carvel to the lunch and dinner brands, kind of more family concepts like Moe's and McAlister's and Schlotzky's all the way to the healthier side of the spectrum with Jamba Juice. I've grown up in this business since or versions of it since I was 17 years old. I started out, uh, as a hostess at Hooter's restaurants. I became a waitress at 18. At 19. I started opening franchises around the world. By 26, I was vice president of the company doing 800 million in revenue, help grow the company around the world, which was an amazing experience. And then left to become president of Cinnabon at the age of 31 and helped turn that company around out of the recession, grew it into a really fantastic global multichannel brand, and then moved up as the company grew and became group president of the licensing division.

Kat Cole: 02:34
And then the role that I've had for the last two years, as president and COO of the company. I am a mom of an 18-month-old. I am almost six months pregnant with my second, married the love of my life several years ago. And so just sort of like many people juggling it all. But part of my role is I manage presidents, the president's report to me in the company. But the way we build businesses is by hiring talent that is, it's seriously multigenerational. And so I get to not only have, I typically am the youngest person in the room at almost every stage of my career, but really get to see and experience and mentor and develop people of all generations and certainly the largest influx of those being a millennial and Gen z and to various positions and levels throughout the company. So excited to cover this topic.

Amanda Hammett: 03:34
That is awesome. I'm so excited. So let's backtrack a little bit on your history real quick. You mentioned opening international franchises at the age of 19. That is an awful lot of responsibility for a 19-year-old and a lot of people would probably be like, that was a crazy decision, but I think it worked out well for Hooters. I think that they made a good call there. But you also open multiple, you know, new franchises in new countries and new cultures. And I would imagine that that did something to your leadership style because you were working with one group one month and then six weeks later, a completely new group. What did that teach you in that process?

Kat Cole: 04:17
What's interesting is when you, when you are traveling to a new place with a new culture and a new team, what you learn very quickly, what I learned very quickly is that I was the only common denominator. And so if things went well consistently, I could probably take some credit for those things going consistently well. But if things were not going well consistently in an area, I probably also needed to take responsibility and realize that likely had something to do with me. And the first time I opened a franchise when I was 19 and I was in Australia certain things went wrong, but a lot went right that certain things went wrong. And I thought, oh, well that's just because the concept is new. Well, that's just because, they don't know. And then the next country I would have a similar observation.

Kat Cole: 05:17
And then the third, you know, on the third country, which was actually also the third continent, I realized, you know, there's probably something I could do differently to create a different outcome. So that was the first thing is that that experience was a brutal yet beautiful leadership mirror that most people don't ever experience because they get comfortable. People learn your style. They say, well, oh, that's just her, right, that she doesn't mean that people learn you and you learn them. And so you can get away with having less than stellar leadership behaviors and communication skills. That's awesome because people give you room. They learned that you're pretty much a good person and so they figure it out. But when you have to be amazing over and over and over again with teams you've never met, it really does sharpen the skills of building trust and communication and giving clear direction and building teams.

Amanda Hammett: 06:15
Absolutely. So let's talk a little bit about that idea of building trust because that is something that I see as an underlying issue in almost any company I go into consult with or talk to or anything, is that they take it, they make the assumption that they have it, but they don't always have it. So what does trust look like for you today in a working environment?

Kat Cole: 06:39
You know, I think it's, I don't know that it's changed much over time. Certainly, there are some fundamentals. Yes. One is people feeling safe. Yes. And whether that psychological safety or emotional safety or physical safety, um, but the underlying belief that at a minimum I'm not at risk, you know, that they, that I'm safe is important. And in I think that might be a nuance that is more prominent in today's world than maybe a decade or two decades ago.

Kat Cole: 07:21
And so that's one foundational component. The other is that I understand and can anticipate in general things that are going to happen, set another way. People around me do what they say they're going to do. And so, and that's also connected to psychological safety. Because I believe I'm not putting myself at risk because you've given me evidence that I can depend on or rely on or use the word trust, you or the environment or, or what is said. And so that's the second component. The third is just this element of care. And one of the ways when I was opening stores around the world that I learned to build, to build trust was I would bring donuts and coffee. And that may seem silly and it's not being. It was, it was demonstrating through my actions that I thought of the team, um, first thing in the morning.

Amanda Hammett: 08:27
Yes.

Kat Cole: 08:27
I didn't have to show up and say, hey everyone, I thought of you today, right? I showed up early, I got the restaurant ready, I brought coffee and donuts. That alone says I care about you. I'm thinking of you. I don't want you to be distracted because you're hungry. I want you to be delighted because there's a surprise for you. So all of those things are incredibly important in building trust.

Amanda Hammett: 08:51
Absolutely. And that one small act actually I'm sure, showed your employees, hey, she doesn't just say she cares about me. She actually does. And this is how she demonstrates it. So I think that's wonderful. So why don't you share with the audience your general idea? You don't have to get into the nuts and bolts of it. But the general idea around developing next-generation talent.

Kat Cole: 09:12
I think there are a few pieces that are important in developing next-generation talent. One is being candid with, um, with them to make sure they see and understand any behaviors that they might be displaying that are distracting from their potential. So it's just, it's candor and that helps someone learn lessons sooner than they otherwise would through longer and more painful processes and mistakes. So that's one way I think about developing the next generation of talent. So it's the, what can you do for yourself and then what can I do or what can we do for you? So on the, what can you do, are you self aware? Yeah. And if you're self-aware, are you then also aware of how to address it? So if something you're doing or saying is, is problematic or suboptimal or holding you back or unintentionally distracting from your professionalism, if you acknowledge it, do you know what the counter behaviors are to address it?

Kat Cole: 10:30
So that's a big first step, helping next-generation talent. The second is on the, what can I do, what can we do? So, giving them exposure to many unique learning opportunities, bring them into a piece of a meeting so they can see it and get perspective. Challenge them to do research on other areas of the business that round out their mindset and their perspective around the business. Put them with new teams regularly so that they have to feel, uncomfortable in a productive way because that builds confidence. Yes. So drives learning. And then the third piece is literally giving people a chance not haphazardly. I have a business to run. I have investors and franchisees and I can't randomly stick people in positions, but certainly when I see potential, if I've given them exposure, if they are very self-aware, if they're good learners and they're comfortable with iterating their behaviors, they deserve a shot.

Kat Cole: 11:39
I mean, I was opening restaurants at 19. I was a vice president at 26. A lot of people gave me a chance and you can't remove that piece from the equation. But I was also a calculated risk. They gave me a chance, but I, so many behaviors that suggested that even if I didn't know something, I would have the grit, the resilience, the resourcefulness to figure it out. So when you see people like that, no matter the generation, whether they're much older or much younger, give them a shot because it's better to have someone like that in a role than someone you just think has the experience but isn't resourceful and isn't scrappy and get stuck very easily. And in today's environment with such dynamic shifts happening in every sector, resourcefulness is a far more valued skill than experience, purely because it's really more important to have the right questions than the right answers. Because if you had the right answers for six months ago, they're not right today, most likely. So those are some approaches that I take to developing the next generation of talent.

Amanda Hammett: 12:49
That's amazing. I mean, that's just, I think that that's what every young employee needs to be looking for is a leader who is thinking the way that you're thinking. And I, I appreciate that and I love that. I'd like to pivot just for a quick second. I still speak at the university and college level frequently. Um, and one of the things that I see and hear and experience from them is this anxiety around their career path and having it all figured out. And I would say that your path has been, nontraditional and I love it and I think that it's something that should be celebrated. But I'd like for you to tell our younger listeners about, about your path.

Kat Cole: 13:36
Sure. So one I agree, I do a lot of speaking with colleges and universities and I sense the same thing from men and women. We're a little more with women but I don't know that it's a new dynamic. I'm assuming that people who have sort of matriculated through college and they're nearing graduation I would, no, I dropped out of college when I was 20, but, that they start to feel a lot of pressure for what am I going to turn this education into, especially if they are in premiere or Ivy League schools. And there is a tremendous amount of the perfection paradox being around people. Um, and so, um, so for me, my story as one of many examples out there of non-traditional pads, you know, I grew up as the child of a single parent.

Kat Cole: 14:42
We left my dad, he was an alcoholic. I helped raise my sisters. I was the first person in my family to ever get into college. I was electrical engineering and computer sciences, major psychology of women minor and then, but I had to work to pay for school debt or loans wasn't even a topic. It wasn't even available. I mean I know some people had them, but I didn't have access to it and so I had to work to pay for everything outright. And that was working in restaurants, as a lot of students do. One out of two actually. And so what was unique is that I really was so proud that I was the first person in my family to get into college and I believed I was going to become an attorney, but I was going to get the engineering degrees and then go to law school and become an attorney, maybe a patent attorney or some type of a lawyer for a large corporation.

Kat Cole: 15:38
That was my fuzzy dream that was inspired by, I dunno, television shows, and teachers and things like that. And, but then I started training new employees as a waitress in my home restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida. And then I started traveling to open restaurants and realized I was very good at this kind of complicated thing. Much more easily than others were. And, and so I was 18, I was 19, I was 20, you know, I'm traveling around training teams, hiring employees, training managers, and I, myself had been an employee in those situations. So I had learned from good managers and from bad managers. And I just realized that I was pretty good at it. I didn't think I was perfect. I didn't think I knew everything, but it was obvious that I was naturally good at it. I was fortunate to be put in a situation where I could feel that I did more with less effort than others in this area.

Kat Cole: 16:39
And I think it's important for people to tune in to their energies and to pay attention when they have those moments, no matter what it is, whether it's playing an instrument or being a nanny or you know, working with kids or education or whatever, that you pay attention and you go, wow, I'm, it's not being conceited. It's saying I'm recognizing I'm pretty good at this and I have barely any experience and I love it. Yes. and so that was the feeling I had when I was opening franchises and training employees. And I've got a lot of feedback that also suggested that. And so I leaned into it. I kept saying yes. When the company said, well, you go travel. When they said, well, you go travel to Australia, I'd never been on a plane and I did not have a passport and I had never opened a restaurant in my life.

Kat Cole: 17:28
But I said yes. Not because I thought I wasn't delusional. I didn't think I knew how to do that. I was confident in my ability to ask for help and to take risks. And so I bought my first plane ticket, flew to Miami, stood in line, got a passport, expedited and left a few weeks later to Australia. And I thought it would never happen again. And I made up my classes and then they asked six months later, will you go to the same thing in Central America? And then several months later, will you go do the same thing in South America? And eventually I was leading these teams, not just a member of the teams, but I was also failing college. So I dropped out of college because I was literally failing. I was never there. It wasn't like I wanted to leave college. Right. Mom was very upset.

Kat Cole: 18:11
But I then got a job offer to move to Atlanta and work in the corporate office as a 20-year-old overseeing all employee training. So I said yes to that and I moved up as the company, you know, as the company grew, I grew and joining growing company matters because there is disproportionate opportunities, especially for people who might have less experience. So I moved up. But all through that process of moving up as a young corporate professional, I was volunteering my time for community organizations. I was volunteering my time for industry associations like the National Restaurant Association and the Georgia Restaurant Association. And those things brought me connections, the additional leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, which is an important layer of leadership. And it helped me have confidence because I was dealing with so many different scenarios. At the same time, I was working on fundraising initiatives for the nonprofit that I would come to work and work on training new employees and launching a new menu item.

Kat Cole: 19:14
And it made my skill set very robust, very fast. And that combination of my day job, my nonprofit side hustle, um, really helped round out my skills. And I was a vice president at 26. As I mentioned, the company was doing 800 million in revenue. The CEO passed away. Suddenly the whole executive team almost turned over. We owned an airline. We sold an airline. I mean it was a bananas period. But I was learning and learning. I knew it was my currency and I stayed there and that company for 15 years, but every three years it was like a completely different company. And every two years I had a different job. Yes. So it was, it was perfect for me and it prepared me to be the president of a large enterprise. But there's a lot of things that are non-traditional in there.

Kat Cole: 20:10
And everybody has their paths. And I guess because I, I didn't sit in a college environment waiting until the end with this huge weight of what will I do next? I jumped right into something because I had a compelling alternative. But if you don't have a compelling alternative, stay in school, like finish the degree because it's one of the greatest enablers and privileges in the world. But I had a compelling alternative that happened to come my way to keep opening restaurants around the world. I did later go back and get an MBA. So I have a masters without a bachelor's. It is rare but possible for your executive MBA program. So I have further evidence that I deeply respect higher education, but I also follow my own path and I don't, a lot of people like to say, wow, you're clearly so ambitious. I've never been ambitious. I'm not by the technical or typical sense of the word. I've always been very positive and opportunistic. And so when an opportunity came, I was ready because I was working my ass off and then I jumped in and said yes. So that was a bit more my path. That's not everyone. Some people are big planners and say, I want to be a CEO. And then they work their way back. And that's an amazing way to plan your future as well. Just give yourself the flexibility to make exceptions when opportunities.

Amanda Hammett: 21:30
Yes, I agree. I agree. You know, the one thing that really are the two things I really took away from your story is that you will three, okay? The learning was, was number one for you always, but you are always well willing to take risks, which a lot of people would have shied away from some of those risks that you took. But the third thing is that you might have had some missteps here and there, but you figured it out and you kept on going. And that's important. So that's grit, resilience, it took everything. That's awesome. All right. So Kat, when you think about young talent, so again, millennials, Gen z, what do you really think about their abilities? Because they're in the media. In Corporate America, there's a lot of talk of doom and gloom. It's not what I see and it's not what the numbers are showing me, but what do...

Kat Cole: 22:20
First of all, it's millennials and Gen z, if you put them together, I might have my math wrong, but it's probably close to half of the population. And so I don't know how you could even talk about a group that large as having any defined set of characteristics. Yes. That are any different from hue, like humans. So that's always really interesting. Even the millennial generation alone is so massive that there's clear evidence that um, sort of the younger millennials, that are closer to gen z or the earlier half, uh, and elder millennials to use the fabulous comedian, Eliza's stands up, words elder, millennial, are closer to Gen X. I'm millennial so I'm on the literally, I'm on like some studies, the few studies that include 1978, you know in a millennial. Then I like those cause I get to say I'm a millennial. But I'm a cusper me too and I certainly relate to both. And so that's my first opinion is talking about such a giant swath of the population as, and then trying to define their characteristics is a bit of a fool's errand. What I will say is that, and what has always been true of every next generation coming into the workplace is that they are critical of the generations that have preceded them because they are dealing with the downside effects of whatever their parents and their grandparents as a generation produced. And that's always been true always. And that's not new. And so I don't find it particularly unique or concerning or difficult. I do believe that because Gen z and the younger millennials are true digital natives. I've never known a world without an iPhone at, you know, as even a child or other types of technology have not known a world without the Internet.

Kat Cole: 24:38
They are quite possibly the most resourceful generations, um, that we've seen to date because of the abundant access to information to them. It's just like, of course, I can find that out. Of course, I can research that. In fact, when I meet a younger professional that isn't resourceful, I almost told them to an unfair standard where I'm like, what do you mean send you the link? Google it. Like what, why would you tell? I just had, my husband was telling me a story about a younger person who, you know, was asking for somebody to send a link and they're like, why wouldn't you just Google it? It's so weird to hear a young person asked for that. If it's something a 50-year-old should ask for not a 19-year-old. So they are in general more resourceful. And so the question is how to leverage that. Um, certainly because technology is the first filter. There are other downside effects. Things like low confidence, impostor syndrome because of the Instagram generation and comparing their day to day real life to someones, highlights and posts. So that's very real. It's a very real psychological component and the trade-off for all the upsides. And it, and when I find older generations saying the younger generations or that described them as, what about me, you know, it's all about the that's a bit shaped by the fact that everyone is kind of a celebrity in their own worlds through a social media platforms. And so I just, it is the creation of their environment. And so I'm also not critical of that. I just wonder how to leverage that, how to use that.

Kat Cole: 26:29
So resourcefulness there is a bit of a celebrity, everyone's an influencer in their own way. And so again, how do I, how do I use that? And then yes, there is there does tend to be less experience in deep interpersonal conflict and interpersonal interactions. There aren't the typical coping mechanisms that earlier generations absolutely came about naturally because they did have to deal with everything face to face, voice to voice. And so that's absolutely true. So there are upsides and there are downsides, just like with any generation.

Amanda Hammett: 27:03
Absolutely. That's wonderful. So I would, I would say that you're a rock star. I mean, I'm just going to go out there and say that, but how do you identify someone else who is a rock star or potentially has rock star abilities that maybe have not been uncovered?

Kat Cole: 27:18
I look for grit and resourcefulness. I mean, that is because if someone doesn't have that and they're a rock star right now, they won't be in a different situation. They're just a rock star because they've, um, they, they know the environment so well or everyone, they, they've done one thing incredibly well and there's nothing wrong with that. But if, if the question is what is a rock star? A rock star, it's not someone just being singularly amazing, But rather on the, on the business side, someone who I could put an on four different teams on three different projects and because they know how to ask the right questions, treat people with respect, collaborate, they have the courage to speak out and speak their mind. And these are super translatable. Rockstar attributes that will allow someone to be relatively successful in most scenarios. I don't expect the impossible if anyone, not even of myself.

Kat Cole: 28:24
But certainly, those are the things that I have learned are the hallmarks of someone who could be a rock star. I was just meeting with a team member in our office yesterday who wanted to talk about her career and what she was thinking and what was next for her and truly, and it's such a pleasure when you can give someone this feedback. I said, you I know I could put you in several different situations and maybe even a few different departments and you'd probably be able to figure it out. And that means the world is your banana, you know, you're going to have so many options and that's not the case for people who haven't figured out how to navigate diverse environments. So that's a bit of what I think our rock is, right?

Amanda Hammett: 29:13
That's, that is so right on. Absolutely. I think that's what every leader really needs to be focusing in on is just not looking at the resume, so to speak, but really looking at what are those qualities that this person has. So, all right, so what I have in what I deal with a lot are leaders who come to me and they're frustrated and they are exasperated and they are pulling their hair out. And again, it's back to these, I don't get these kids, these millennials are worst. Bless them when Gen z really hits full force into the workforce for them. But what advice would you give sitting in your office to an older leader who was really struggling in that way with a younger employee?

Kat Cole: 29:56
So I start with the same approach that I would with a younger employee is first, what can you do differently? And then what might they be able to do differently? And so on the, on the look in the mirror, the first conversation is if you are older, gen x or a boomer, you made these kids this way, right? You raised them, they grew up in your environment, you and your people did this. So take credit for the good. Take responsibility for what you don't like. It's the truth. And so I like to start first with empathy. Understand that they've grown up in an era of Columbine and the recession and on the heels of storytelling of nine 11, like they, you know, they're exposed to a lot big corporate enterprises.

Kat Cole: 30:52
I mean the financial crisis. Tumbling their worlds and their parents' world. There is a reason they inherently mistrust and there is a reason that there is a general overwhelming mistrust of larger corporations and more traditional leadership. And so just start there. Like, I get it. And so I have to actually combat that because I can't undo personally as a leader or I will tell this mature leader, let's say they're a baby boomer, you can't undo two decades of programming. You can't. And so you just have to empathize and understand that leads to so many behaviors. It leads to believing that there has to be a better way, which is a positive thing. It leads to them not wanting to hitch their wagon to a company for too long because all things come to an end.

Kat Cole: 31:51
So just understand it's not disloyalty. It's just a belief of the natural cycles of things that they're faster and shorter and they've seen big companies that were prominent in their early years go out of business by the time they're out of college. I'm so all big things don't last. And in fact, they're paying very much attention to why those things don't last and believe that doing things differently will lead to a different result, rightly so, I believe. And so how do you, you know, harness that. So that's my first piece of advice is to take some accountability and have some empathy. The second piece of advice, however, would be now that you have accountability and empathy for them or the behaviors that you're describing how can you educate, inform, support, and develop? So at anytime, I hear older leaders say, well, they just don't understand the business will anything teach them, right?

Kat Cole: 32:52
If they don't understand, you just called out and identified the problem, sit down with them and show them where the breakdown of a dollar goes. [inaudible] but a dollar in sales just come in. What happens to expenses? what is leftover and then where does that need to go and where does it not go that they might think that it goes, use, get them to be on teams where they're dealing with very real problems in the business. So they can't just live in a world of theory. Those are the things that good leaders can do. And so the third is kind of the summary of those two is don't spend too much of your time complaining because then you're not being a great leader. Spend your time doing something about it. And yes, of course. Just like there are boomers and Gen Xers that aren't capable of certain jobs and skills. There are millennials and Gen z years that are not the right fit for certain roles, but don't, don't broad brush, you know, an entire generation or age group. That's foolish. Just as I would never do that to you know, the person who might be asking for the advice.

Amanda Hammett: 33:54
Absolutely. All right. So let's, let's, you mentioned this just a second ago, but let's kind of hone in on it for a second. What have you found to be the benefits of focusing in on developing and educating your team, your workforce?

Kat Cole: 34:09
I mean, development and education do two things. One, it's more and more important to every generation that's younger. So it's a retention tool in and of itself, just ongoing learning and education as a reason to stay somewhere. The second is, of course, you're building capability in your internal team and not having to hire the experts from the outside. That is both a smart financial decision as well as a good cultural decision because you have someone who can grow up within the company and credit the Organization for their learning and development and then demonstrate those the newly honed skills with that learning and development and inside the company to benefit the company. And the third is it just provides perspective and perspective leads to calm, a calm comes across as maturity. Maturity helps counterbalance some of the natural traits that might show up for them as a young person.

Amanda Hammett: 35:06
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rock Stars where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the next generation rock stars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

NextGen Featuring Kayla Woitkowski

Kayla Woitkowski: How to Build a University Recruiting Team From Scratch

As Baby Boomers retirements pick up the pace, companies are now facing questions on building the pipeline of next-generation talent. Learn Kayla Woitkowski of @SAS on how she saw this need within her own company and then spearheaded a drive to create a university recruiting team from scratch.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - How to Build a University Recruiting Team From Scratch

Welcome to the next Generation Rock Stars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:13
Today, I have a great, great conversation. Just share with you. I talked to Kayla Woitkowski who is the head of the university recruiting at SAS in North Carolina and they are a privately owned company but they are consistently on the great place to work list pretty much every single year. And there are about 40 years old and they are a software company and they're doing some really very cool things, but what they're really doing that's really cool is they're using their own social innovation and their own initiatives on data for good to help them recruit students at the university level. So listen in and learn a lot from Kayla Woitkowski as she shares with you how she built an entire university recruiting program from scratch.

Amanda Hammett: 01:01
Welcome, Kayla.

Kayla Woitkowski: 01:03
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Amanda Hammett: 01:06
I'm really, really excited to talk to you, just to get the audience a little context on how I came to be with you today. I was invited as a guest to the great places to Work Conference of 2019. It was awesome. I sat in on a session led by someone from SAS on of social innovation and he was phenomenal and she was showing all these wonderful things and he talked a lot about a program that you guys have called data for good. Which I'm so looking forward to talking to you about and sharing with everybody because I think, but that's how I was, kind of put around to you how I got to you originally and you and I just had a conversation and I thought that you had some really interesting things to share with the audience about university recruiting. So Kayla, why don't you tell us a little bit about you.

Kayla Woitkowski: 02:02
Sure. Wonderful. Well, again, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to share a little bit more about university recruiting. It is, in every way, shape and form. My passion of really a little bit about me is I actually studied human resources and business administration at North Carolina State University and uh, back in college, you know, and setting human resources. I found the field to be incredibly broad. There's so much that you can do in human resources from leadership development to training and development to recruitment's compensation, all the different areas. So, yeah, in college I ended up having quite a few different internships. I was a little crazy and actually had six different internships. I know it's a little crazy, but it was really through those various internships that I kind of tested and tried out different areas of HR and one of my internships back in 2009, which is incredible to think it's been a decade.

Kayla Woitkowski: 02:57
But I was working at BMW down in South Carolina. Yeah, right there off of I 95 probably seen it, hired to be kind of more of the training and development in turn. But I found that the amount of time I was spending doing my actual work, it wasn't enough to fill my day. So I ended up talking to the recruiter that recruited me and said, hey, I have a few extra hours of time. Um, I would love to hear more about this field called university recruiting. So she kind of pulled me over to do some work to help her and it was in that moment. Then I found my passion. I think there is nothing more empowering and inspiring than helping students really find and land that very first job out of college. And really since that point in time since 2009 I've been, now I'm working primarily in the technology field in all aspects of university recruiting.

Kayla Woitkowski: 03:54
So, um, prior to being a SAS I was at a company called Netapp. They do data storage headquartered out in California and spent some time out in the silicon valley helping to do some university recruiting out there. And now has been fast for about five years helping to build and grow our university programs here. So that's a little bit just in brief about kind of the professional side of myself, but personally, I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and that ended up down here in North Carolina for college. I was a first-generation college student, so scholarships brought me down to North Carolina and allowed me to stay more personally I suppose expecting my first child in September. So I suppose the important pieces about myself.

Amanda Hammett: 04:40
Awesome. Awesome. Well, interestingly enough to note, and this was not planned by any stretch of the imagination, but you actually know a guest from our first season.

Kayla Woitkowski: 04:52
Yeah. Yeah. So it's one of that kind of multiple lines of connection. Honestly, I would be surprised if she even remembers me, but she, I did go to high school the same high school that I did just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I have an older brother, so she was in the same great as my, as my older brother. And I believe she was very involved in cheerleading along with some of my girlfriends. So yeah, it's a small girl.

Amanda Hammett: 05:17
Yes, absolutely. So for those of you who watched and followed along on season one, that was actually skewed. So she was from the beam, she was just a dynamo. So yeah. All right. Okay. So let's get back to SAS though. You guys actually had a very interesting situation come about. Actually, it's not that unique right now in corporate America. I feel like it's something that more companies need to start addressing and talking, talking about. And I think that you guys have done a really great job of addressing it head on, but you guys found herself in a situation where your workforce was older, a lot older.

Kayla Woitkowski: 05:58
Sure, sure. Yeah. And you're exactly right. I, it's, it's a common problem now, and maybe not a problem, but a business circumstance that's taking place on corporations all across the world with the baby boomer generation. Historically, having been the largest generation in the workplace and obviously now approaching retirement age and starting to kind of vacant positions that it's creating a lot of gaps in skill. It's creating a lot of gaps just in the sheer volume of employees at organizations. And although it is something that every organization is facing to your point at SAS, it was perpetuated because we are very fortunate to have a corporate culture that has been a year over year names as one of the best places to work in the world. And we have an incredibly low turnover rate for the technology industry. And for that reason, a lot of people have spent their entire careers here at Vassar.

Kayla Woitkowski: 06:57
And so now we have the circumstance where we were kind of foreseeing that a large population of our workforce is eligible for retirement and we have this need to really build the next bench of talent that really was going to help take our workforce board into our next 40 40 years for 40 years software or a 40-year-old software company. So at the time that I joined SAS, actually I was coming over, as I mentioned from a company called Netapp there at Netapp. I was one of 11 doing university recruiting. So we had a pretty built out university recruiting function and then came to SAS and quickly observed that there wasn't a university recruiting discipline necessarily and teams. So I saw this as a fantastic opportunity and honestly, just the stars aligned that there was a true business need for us to be proactive about identifying and recruiting strategically the next generation of talent for our organization. And that's, you know, I just came in with a passion and desire to want to build and grow. So we did it. We really took this as an opportunity to build and create a university recruiting team from the ground up. And that was about four years ago, back in 2015 now, four years ago. Actually, that would be four years ago, 2015 in this June. So, mmm. Yeah. So that's how we addressed that problem.

Amanda Hammett: 08:24
Very cool. So tell me about, I assume that when you took this to higher ups and we're building this business case, right? You know, what did that look like? I mean, what were the age ranges that you were facing currently and, and what kind of skills did you know that you were going to have massive losses in?

Kayla Woitkowski: 08:42
Yeah, it really, the way that we approached it with leadership is that one, we already had a fairly substantial intern program that at the time, you know, we, we weren't capitalizing on the talents. So at that time, we were converting to full time in about the mid 30 percent of interns were actually receiving full-time offers. And the industry really tries to target more closely to 60 to 70% of their interns receive the full-time offer opportunities. So really started first with we have a program where we're not seeing the complete return on investment, so we know this talent is strong, we're getting them over the course of an entire 10 to 12 weeks. Why not take this talent, assess their skills and give them full-time opportunities. You're going to get so much more insight and data on these candidates over the course of an internship then you would potentially during an interview process.

Kayla Woitkowski: 09:36
So that was kind of piece one yeah. Was let's capitalize on this intern program that is already in existence. Let's, let's make it bigger. Let's make it more strategic. Let's make an experience for these students, students. And then too, a lot of what we brought to leadership was more so industry benchmarks around what other organizations of our size and in our industry we're doing in terms of the university recruiting at that time given some of the experience out in the bay area, there were some contacts that I was fortunate enough to make during that time that were leading university recruiting programs at the likes of Facebook and Linkedin and Twitter and some other organizations and them were generous enough. You'll find the university recruiting field is very open and people who are willing to give information and you know, benchmarking with them, finding out that, you know, a company like Linkedin and Facebook who has exceptional brand awareness because they're consumer more consumer branded products. They were having university recruiting teams to the size of 35 to 80.

Amanda Hammett: 10:36
Yeah.

Kayla Woitkowski: 10:38
Yeah. That is out there really driving. Their brands on university campuses and, and helping to recruit that top talent. So it was really taking that benchmarketing market data and saying, here's what our competition for talent is doing. If we're doing nothing, we are not securing our future with top talent. So it was more so around the opportunity that was being lost. Maybe not so much at the time around looking at the workforce Democrats graphics in great detail. There's more than we need to be doing more.

Amanda Hammett: 11:11
Absolutely. That's wonderful. I'm really glad that you saw that opportunity and you seized on it. And especially I know that they are as well, that you saw this whole that was very entrepreneurial of you and to address it. So let me ask you, as you guys have started to change the methodology here at and who you're attracting, what changes have you guys had to make internally as well, whether it's through benefits, whether it's through internal coaching, whether it's through whatever, what have been some of the big changes you've had to make culturally as a company?

Kayla Woitkowski: 11:52
Yeah, it's a real question. And one of the major things that we've had to do is I partner very closely with somebody that leads more of the learning and development aspects of human resources. And we have built now very well built out programs that are more for training and enablement. So when these individuals come on board, come day one, we joke and say you're going to go through an entire additional semester of college except it's going to be specific to SAS. So we call these programs our SAS academies, depending on the job that the individuals being hired into this learning and development team has built out. A fantastic curriculum that kind of takes them through every aspect and competency of the role that they're expected to have in order to be successful day one on the job. So it's a matter of if we are trying to kind of fill a skill gap that experienced hires are vacating, we can't expect Scott college students that come out of college and have all the skills to be successful.

Kayla Woitkowski: 12:55
You know, the universities do a fantastic job building a kind of theory. And a lot of times a lot of hands-on practice, but it might not be in our technologies. That may not be the way that we sell our products. It may not be the way that we expect to treat our customers. So a lot of that we need to invest, we need to invest in these students and make sure that they're getting all the skills necessary to be successful. So that has been a huge investment of the organization and has been to create and build out these Sass Academy programs and we've definitely had to completely flip on the backside. The way that we recruit, you know is a typical traditional recruiting model, at least at the time that the team was being built. I mentioned briefly about sex is workplace culture. And we're very fortunate to have kind of the best place to work culture.

Kayla Woitkowski: 13:44
And for a while, there is an organization we were resting on that to be our form of attracting talents here in the local area that it works exceptionally well. But when we're talking about the top talents across the entire nation, we wouldn't show up on university campuses and we'd hear SAS, you know, a semester at sea or a SAS. Yes, shoot SAS shoes as airlines. We were getting all sorts of things people did not know who we were. And when we have a lot of employees that have been here for their entire career and have been here since inception, I think the idea that we needed to brand ourselves as an employer of choice was lost. Some completely flipped on the backside that we need to sell the candidates. We need to be active and engaged and we need to be present and we need to be you know, investing on, in our outreach.

Kayla Woitkowski: 14:40
And so we completely flipped our model instead of what you would call traditionally in the recruiting world, maybe a post and pray where you post a job and pray you to get this out in. We had to our entire, I profess to be more strategic to pick schools that made sense for us to have a plan of how we approached the talent on our camp. On our campuses and I make sure that we had brand recognition and a brand that made sense for our target population. You know, we have paid for daycare here at SAS. We have some so many wonderful benefits, not what this generation cares about, but we do have fantastic programs that help with the young professional network to help build the community of these individuals. We have work that is meaningful. So we had to do a lot of work and understanding what is our value proposition and how can we make sure what we're sharing to the candidates aligns with what they're seeking.

Kayla Woitkowski: 15:37
So while we didn't create these massive benefits shifts than changes in program, what we did is we pulled out the areas of our benefits that made sense for this population and we made sure that we have the right marketing materials, handouts, campaigns, and luckily we have fantastic partners here within SAS that help us in our HR communications and marketing teams that help us build and of what is this messaging so that, you know, our go to market strategy in recruiting these students actually aligns with their desires. And Luckily we had a lot of things in place that does, I'm kind of line up with what this generation was seeking.

Amanda Hammett: 16:13
You know, I'm really glad that you brought that up because the sec actually segues into your data for good initiative that I want to really talk about and talk about as not only a selling point but obviously, it's doing a lot of good around the world. But actually, why don't you take this one?

Kayla Woitkowski: 16:32
Okay. I will do my best. You heard it from the expert at the conference that you were at. So there was no way I will do it, the amount of justice that that Isa would, but. Really at Sas, we are using our analytics products in ways that are really helping humanity and we've been doing this since we were founded in 1976. There's nothing new to what we're doing. Our products are being used to, you know, help, rescue endangered species and track them and make sure that we can't proactive plans so that endangered species are being protected. We have different plans and all across the country that is helping with human trafficking and tracking the incidences and seeing if there are any trends so that we can combat human trafficking in the future. We have different ways that we're helping police forces. I have the right data in place so that if you end up, you know, arresting somebody or pulling them over on the side of the road instead of letting them go connecting databases so that all of the other data sources that could say, no, this person actually needs to be behind bars.

Kayla Woitkowski: 17:43
So that person actually gets to be behind bars and really helping the safety, our communities. And I say that we've been doing this since 1976 because it really is ingrained in everything that we do is analytics. Data analytics is really the power and the driver of a lot of the change that the world needs. See now and in the future. And all we've done is we've started to tell all these stories and we started to tell these stories in a more clear, concise and direct way that we find that we can talk about the ways that we're helping some of the largest banks in the world, you know, fight fraud and look at risk analysis situations. But when we tell those stories, so when we tell those stories that really do talk about saving the lives, um, individuals or, you know, helping to make the world a better place.

Kayla Woitkowski: 18:43
Yes. That not only does that help people wants to use our products more, but more than anything, when you think about recruiting, that's why I love working here is I know that the work that I'm doing, I'm hiring individuals that are working on this meaningful work to make the world a better place. That helps everybody see the bigger picture as to what they're doing. So, you know, the state of for good initiative it's a, it's a campaign but it's a campaign who bring together the stories of what we've always and doing and just being a little bit more intentional about telling all of the ways that our products are doing amazing things around the world.

Amanda Hammett: 19:23
So I will put in the show notes, links to some of the videos that are online that are showcasing the data for good initiative and some of the work that you guys have been doing. But I will tell you from my own personal experience this was my first introduction to what you guys were doing and these videos gave me chill bumps. I mean, whether it was working with the Red Cross during the earthquake in Nepal and how to get resources to help these people and save lives and, and, and continue to help them move further along, down the path that they needed to go so that they could get out of that immediate dangerous situation. It was just you guys pulling together what you already have and just giving it, Hey, red cross, here you go, let me, let me do this for you. And I feel like that's really what humanity incorporation should be doing together is just helping people. What can we use, what we're already doing to help humanity?

Kayla Woitkowski: 20:20
Absolutely. I'd love to tell a quick story that I ended up showcasing or not, but this was one of the first exposures to data forgot that I ended up seeing in working at SAS and now that I'm expecting my own child, even more, Howard Hughes Story. But we have a video internally obviously if it's external too if so I'll send it to you to include in those links. But in short, we actually had an employee who got in front of all the software to tell the story on how she was pregnant with her very first child and she went for her 20-week ultrasound, which is typically where you find out if it's a girl or if it's a boy. And at that ultrasound found out that her child had actually had a stroke, while she was in gestation. So, you know, you can only imagine all the the panic and fear that comes to you as a parent and thinking I was just going to find out the gender and now I have this information that I have, I don't know what to do with.

Kayla Woitkowski: 21:18
And she goes down to tell this story about how, you know, immediately she started testing and got the results when she got the results in the form of lab reports, the lab reports for Britain in SAS, that's programming codes. So this was at Baylor a hospital. Baylor is one of the SAS users. And what these results told her was her plan of what she needed to do immediately. And then day one, once the child was born to ensure that the child was going to be able to take her very first steps. And in the video, she again is onstage in front of all the software developers and she goes on to then have her daughter walk on stage and you know, perfectly happy and healthy and um, you know, you just, you watch this and she's, she's telling the developers that the work that they do matters.

Kayla Woitkowski: 22:13
And if it wasn't for this work that she was doing that she doesn't know if her child would've ever been able to take their very first steps. And I'm, the only reason I can get through it without tiers is that I've seen the video now hundreds of times. But, yeah, it's, that's meaningful work that is working, you know, the software developers every day can think that they're just creating a program or that they're just writing some scripts, but the work that they were doing, I saved this child's future. One of our very own employees. So again, just a matter of finding those stories and telling those stories and making people understand and see the wine, the impact has been what has been so fantastic about this whole kind of data for good initiative. If you will. That's powerful.

Amanda Hammett: 23:03
I mean, I don't even, I think that if everybody could make that tie into what they do, I think that the world would work in a very different way in the workplace would be a very different place to be. But that is so incredibly touching. I mean, I bet every software developer had new fire lit after that.

Kayla Woitkowski: 23:25
Absolutely. How could you not want to work harder when you know that that is the work that you're contributing to?

Amanda Hammett: 23:31
And that is just one story, probably millions that they have a touch that they don't, they're not aware of.

Kayla Woitkowski: 23:38
Absolutely.

Amanda Hammett: 23:39
Okay. Well, let's switch gears before I cry. No, that was a beautiful story and thank you so much for sharing it and that's, that's looking for, um, all right. But again, no go crying, today man. So let's talk a little bit about if a company was looking to start a university recruiting program from scratch. They have nothing much like what you had what advice would you give them and what are some foundational things, pieces that you think that they need?

Kayla Woitkowski: 24:14
Absolutely. And there are, there are some critical components in order to do it right. I would say first executive buy-in is key and it really needs to start from the top. And the reason why that's important is one, you need to think very differently about how you workforce plan in terms of headcount. And this can be very challenging for a lot of corporations. So traditionally for recruitment, you have somebody vacate a role or you identify a business need kind of point in time and then you kind of filled that need. Now some organizations are a little bit more strategic and proactive, but I'll say for probably about 90% of organizations, that's just reality of how you function in order to do university recruiting, right? You have a window of opportunity, especially if you're recruiting for business talent. If you're recruiting for computer science, talent analytics, talent, talent right now where the market is extremely hot and these students have opportunities, a lot of the big four accounting firms, the big things that are really the ones that have moved the needle to a point where students are seeking jobs.

Kayla Woitkowski: 25:17
A lot of times, well in advance, at least the semester before they graduate and that period of time from about September to November prior to graduation. So these are even for those graduating in May, September 10th, November is when students are receiving job offers and when they're accepting job offers. And if you aren't effectively able to plan ahead with your needs and you're not recruiting enough period of time, you are missing out. University recruiting is extremely different in that if you think about it, these students, I think the most recent article I read from USA Today said every computer science student, there's going to be 10 vacant openings for every one computer science student. There's and opportunities that are available for them too. Consider, so how do you make yourself stand out? How, how are you going to be the one in 10 that they select? And especially when you're going up against large consumer brands and you know, not everybody has the right brand recognition as some brains better just kind of in front of students every single day.

Kayla Woitkowski: 26:25
So if you're not, they're at the right period of time and you're not there with the right value proposition for students, you're going to miss out. So it takes pre-planning, it takes executive buy-in, it takes working on the headcount planning in advance. It takes being able to make offers in that period of time and really having a strong employer brand and knowing what is true to you and being able to articulate that to students. So when they are looking at their 10 opportunities in front of them, they genuinely and authentically know what makes your organization unique. And I want to put an emphasis on the word authentically. You know, it's okay if your environment isn't the type that has ping pong tables and pool tables and you know, all of these things that, you know, startups are able to offer. Some of the large tech employers are able to offer it.

Kayla Woitkowski: 27:15
That's okay. And what you have to offer you have to think about what makes you authentically unique and different and then finding the students that truly want what you have to offer. So that's a big piece. Make sure your intern program is solid. I think that is kind of step one. Your intern program is an exceptional way to recruit talent early, keep them engaged and give them an opportunity to get exposure to your culture, to wow them. To really have programming that makes them say that was such a great experience that I don't want to consider other employers. And the great thing is you can have interned as early as we hired them in high school, so we start engaging them before they even go to college. Yeah. And we do find that some of our high school interns stay with us from, you know, their senior year of high school through all four years of college and then they come to our full time and that doesn't even give other employers the opportunity to engage and recruit them.

Kayla Woitkowski: 28:12
So make sure that the intern program is solid. I do want to go back to kind of that outreach component. So how you're actually engaging students on a university campus. So it is so critical. And you know, one thing that I think is a misconception is we're in this era of digital transformation. I feel like you hear it all the time. How are you online? How you present online social media. This Gen z is so connected, they're the connected generation. How are you getting in front of them in the ways that they, they want to genuinely, the right way to get in front of students is still very traditional. To be present on a university campus. Nothing goes further than a handshake to meeting some study face to face, to providing mentorship opportunities to really truly engage students. And you can't do that at 4,500 universities across the United States.

Kayla Woitkowski: 29:10
I think there's 4,500-degree granting institutions across the United States. So pick which schools make sense for you and then go deep, you know, be the employer of choice on that campus because you're there multiple times a semester, you're ascending alumni, you're sending people that are going to represent your culture well and give that face to face connection. It goes a very long way. So I would say those are kind of the key baseline components to be thinking about is what is your outreach strategy? What is your messaging? How is your intern program being and are your executives and is your workforce planning type to a point that you're going to be able to execute when you're building this plan?

Amanda Hammett: 29:49
That's really super solid. I mean that's, I feel like something that someone could easily take and say, okay, we're starting from scratch. We have nothing but this is something we'd like to tackle. But what I thought was most interesting and I think that was most people are going to latch onto is that last piece about the outreach, the in person face to face. And it is so important. Yes, they're very technologically savvy. Yes, they are in their phones all the time. But face to face, human being to human being connection is where it's at. I mean we are hardwired that way. We create that in a neurobiological sense. And if you're just depending on students to read about you on your website or check out your social media presence, that's not getting the job done. That's part of it. And they will definitely check that out probably before you come on campus. But if you're not there face to face and like really impacting them in that way don't wish that...

Kayla Woitkowski: 30:49
Other employers are. And that's what it boils down to. And that's what makes university recruiting so unique is that you know, these students are looking for a job post-graduation and less if they're taking a gap year or something to that effect. They're looking for a job and they have every industry as an option. They have every organization as an option, hundreds and hundreds. You know if your company doesn't have a very profound and unique brand, they're not going and checking your website. You need to be in front of them. So how are you actively engaging? How are you present? How are you in the classroom? How are you at career fairs? How are you doing tech talks, how are you? We'll do interesting things like we'll go into the big open area on a university campus and host a yoga class and then we'll just have our signage there and we'll have students doing yoga on behalf of Sas because you know, health and wellbeing are so important to us as an organization.

Kayla Woitkowski: 31:43
And then that creates a buzz of diverse students in a downward dog over there on the half of Sas. And how are you being creative? How are you approaching students in a very different way?

Amanda Hammett: 31:54
That's excellent. I love that idea. I love that you're reaching out to them in that way. I have one question and this is more of a clarifying question for our audience for someone who is looking to start a program from scratch. Um, you said that November or September to November is when you're making offers. These are for students graduating in May. You've got it. What's the start date projected start date on something like that?

Amanda Hammett: 32:18
Typically, you know postgraduation so it depends if it's a semester schedule or a quarter schedule, but I would say anywhere from May 15th through until June 15th you'll find is pretty average. I will say I'm noticing a lot of the big four global accounting firms moving to September start date. Yes. I think some of that is one to law students, the ability to travel there is a big desire for that now and, and go for it. You know, the world is your oyster. That's the only time you were about to start working for the rest of your life. Might as well take that time. But to, you know, academic calendars vary across the globe. So September is a good midpoint so that you can really get people kind of all graduating at once to start dates in September. That's, that's fairly normal as well.

Amanda Hammett: 33:07
Okay, Perfect. Now I have a question for you. You know, doing what I do, I talk a lot to leadership. I talked to recruiting, I talked to basically everybody about millennials and Gen z and this, that and the other. But there is always that whole media buzz around and that discourse around, Oh, they're this or they're that. In your opinion, what are the big differences you saw university recruiting a millennial versus university recruiting a Gen z? I know we're early in Gen z, but still, what are you seeing?

Kayla Woitkowski: 33:46
Great question if you don't mind. I want to kind of talk briefly about the first part of the question just because I'm super passionate about this. So, I very genuinely feel that's generation is only a small component of what makes somebody who they are. And I took a fantastic training early in my career when I was at net app actually that was the generations in the workplace training and the entire train. And you know, the first half of it was yours, and I'm more serious, typical generations in the workplace. Here's what you know, millennials do, here's what baby boomers do, here's what, you know, gen x experienced. And this is how it shapes their views in life. And it was, you know, kind of just educational now right before lunch, but they had us do, was take a quiz and it was all of these characteristics and factors there is about who you are, how you prefer to receive communications.

Kayla Woitkowski: 34:42
It's a lot of good information. After lunch, what they had us do was plot a sticker into different generations with a certain color. The color was what your true generation was. Most people did not put their color in alignment with their true generation. How was the gen x? Even though I am a millennial and I just, I think that the year that you were born is only going to determine a small factor and there's so much more of that makes somebody who they are so and rants. But that's something that I just feel very, very, very passionately about. So I'm transitioning into kind of differences in what I've seen. I'll say it is fascinating being on university campuses right now in this era of, you know, podcasts. And what we're doing right now is you walk around and it's almost sheer silence because everybody has their ear pods are there.

Kayla Woitkowski: 35:33
Airports or your phones in and they're walking around engaging with content when t four seven and everything that they do. And that was not the case. You know, we're hurting 10 years ago on university campuses. Students were having conversations and yes, there was still some texting while walking and things like that. But just the engagement with constantly having inputs, I'm seeing that come through then to once they enter the workforce and the idea of how to keep somebody engaged in the workplace. And you know, I manage a team of seven and I think everybody on the team outside of maybe two or all, you know, either Gen z or millennial and, you know, I walk into the office, opened the door and I do see, you know, they have their air, their earbuds in and multitasking in their work and it's just, it's fascinating.

Kayla Woitkowski: 36:24
So you know, not to completely contradict what I had said earlier, but there is a little piece that makes employers needing to think a little bit more about their digital strategy. Now, you can't be everything, but I think it needs to be in tandem. You know, what's you're an on-campus presence, what is your digital strategy and kind of marrying the two so that you are connecting with those that are always connected. And there's a lot of fascinating tools that are out there in existence now where you can do some of that. Um, I would say also expectations around what they're seeking is way different. And I would say Gen z, the customization era where everything, they want things to be very specific to what they're seeking. I've never seen students have so much of a plan as they do right now.

Kayla Woitkowski: 37:11
You know, they know specifically what company they want to work for, what industry, what type of role because they're trying to customize an experience that is something that they are kind of striving to do. And that makes it more interesting. There's a lot of times where we have to kind of walk students back out of their idea of perfection, you know, walk them back out of, you know, have you thought about something different? Have you thought about, you know a large organization even though you want to go to a startup, have you thought about, you know, the, the pieces of Silicon Valley, high cost of living, you know, and helping kind of walk them back through kind of rationalizing through their desires for a job. We spend a lot of time with Gen z kind of explaining some of those things where I can't say that we didn't have to do with that with millennials, but we, we certainly have to do that a little bit more. So, um, those are some of the things that I'm seeing. The honestly, I don't see wild major differences between the two other than that connectivity. But in short, that meaningful work component was really important for millennials. Even more important for Gen Z. And making sure companies are authentic and genuine about their value propositions are to the big components I'm seeing.

Amanda Hammett: 38:29
I agree wholeheartedly. Okay. So when you are out there on campuses and you are, you know, recruiting and you're looking at students, how do you identify someone who is a rock star or who has the potential to be a rock star? What shows up for you?

Kayla Woitkowski: 38:46
Yeah, this is another thing. Gosh, you're asking all the questions that I just get excited with passion. Well, we talk about as a team here at SAS is a passion, attitude, and aptitude. When we're looking at students, a lot of times managers are saying they need to have this specific gill. They need to be specialized in open source programming. But then you take a step back and you say, students, what is going to allow them to succeed? Passion, attitude and aptitude. So passion. Are they passionate about the SAS mission? Are they passionate about what we do? Analytics, are they passionate about a thing? You know, you have all experienced those individuals that you meet that you're like, okay, oh right, I can't pull anything out of you. What excites you? Where are you passionate? So looking at that, that passion, the right attitude, willingness to learn, willingness to be coached.

Kayla Woitkowski: 39:43
Oh really? That genuine innate curiosity where they're asking more questions and listening more than they are wanting to share or tell or say what they know. That is a big piece of it as well. And the attitude glass half full can do attitude taking initiative, all of those pieces, all compromise attitude and an aptitude. Aptitude is, yes, maybe a certain set of skills, but we do look for past performance. We do look at how they performed in college. You know, I do think that if they have been involved in student organizations, they're well rounded, they're contributing back to their university. That means that they would come to SAS and hopefully want to contribute, do our culture and our ecosystem just as much as they are at the university and aptitude as well as obviously intellectual aptitude. So all of our interviews here at SAS have what we call a role-based activity where we actually do give them a component of what we'd expect them to do in the job and just see how they do. Instead of just asking behavioral based questions, how would you do something? Actually making them show that they can, they have the aptitude and ability to do the work. So passion, attitude, attitude is what we look at.

Amanda Hammett: 40:59
That's awesome. Okay, so let's talk to our younger audience for just a second. You have a college student and if you could talk to all the college students in the world today and you would give them some advice about how to find the right fit for them. It may not be SAS, it may be somebody else, but what? What do they need to be looking at? What do they need to be focusing on to find that right fit?

Kayla Woitkowski: 41:20
A couple of things and that's a daunting thing. It's so daunting we, it goes back to every industry, every company culture, every job that's out. How do you know what's right for you? A couple of things. One knows your big three. I had a professor back in college who when I was looking at different job opportunities, said Kayla, there are many components of the job and he actually gave us a list of all the students a list who's going to be your manager location. Hey, benefits work culture, working hours. There are a lot of aspects of a job. Do an inventory. What are all those various aspects of the job? And then what are your big three? What are the three things that matter most to you? And if you don't know, because maybe you haven't had an internship or maybe you haven't had the right conversations just yet.

Kayla Woitkowski: 42:16
Find mentors by mentors who are currently in jobs, who can tell you, Here's how working for a bad manager can impact your every single day. Here's how working for an organization that's a very cut throat. We're very lenient and relax. Here's how that could impact how you enjoy your job. Hey, and just work through those and talks to people and figure out what are the three most important criteria. If you want to be super analytical, wait for them, go down the list and actually do a numerical weighting based on what is most important to you. So that one, these job opportunities are flying at you and you're trying to evaluate, you have some sort of criteria to make a decision that's more than just a gut feeling and it's backed by some truth that you have first discovered within yourself. You've made that realization, here is what I want a job, this job matches up, this one doesn't.

Kayla Woitkowski: 43:14
And then it helps you evaluate a little bit more effectively. But I can't emphasize enough the importance of mentors. It was a mentor that helped me switch my major from accounting to HR. Thank God I married an accountant and I could not do what he does every day. So all you accountants out there, I am very impressed by all that you do. It was a mentor that helped steer me into university recruiting. It was a mentor that brought me over to Sas and it was a mentor that just recently helps me decide how I'm going to get a plan. And what I'm gonna do is I'm having my very first child. So mentors can help you through every aspect of your career, get to know you better than you know yourself and maybe make some of these decisions a little bit easier for you as well. Absolutely.

Amanda Hammett: 43:56
Well, I can't think of anything more wonderful to end on than that right there. So thank you so much for being on the show.

Kayla Woitkowski: 44:04
You're very welcome. Thank you, Amanda.

Amanda Hammett: 44:06
All right, everybody tunes in for next week's episode. We've got another fantastic guest. See you then.

Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the next generation stars where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rocks star leader and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the next generation rock stars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

NextGen Featuring Fran Katsoudas

Fran Katsoudas: Building High Performing Teams

Employee retention is on the minds of every leader from the C-Suite down. But what if the conversation about #employeeretention is focused on the wrong things? Learn from Fran Katsoudas, Chief People Officer at Cisco Systems as she shares the importance of being more proactive and designing programs that bring out the best in your employees thus making them want to stay and become high performers.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Building High Performing Teams

Welcome to the next generation rock stars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place.

Hi and welcome to this week's episode of the Next Generation Rock Stars podcast. I am your host, Amanda Hammett and I am thrilled to have you today. Today's episode is a really special one because I am sharing this episode. It is a joint interview between myself and my husband, Gene Hammett, who is the host of the popular business podcast "Leaders in the Trenches". And together we had the opportunity to sit down in person and interview Fran Katsoudas who is the Chief People Officer at Cisco Systems. Now, one of the most interesting things that came out of this interview and trust me, there were multiple, but just the focus on developing leaders in the way in which Cisco is doing it and trust me, they are doing it in some really innovative and different ways. There were a few stories that Fran shared during this interview that both Gene and I were really taken aback and just awed at how they're approaching developing their leaders. So I think that this is something that each and every leader should think about and take notes from because Fran is, she's a leader, she is a pioneer. She is looking at developing teams. She is looking at developing individuals for 75,000 employees around the globe. And she is doing a fantastic job. So I hope you take lots of notes. And here is Fran Katsoudas with Cisco Systems.

Gene Hammett: 01:43
Hi, this is Gene with leaders in the trenches. And also we have Amanda.

Amanda Hammett: 01:48
Hi, this is Amanda Hammett and this is with the next generation of rock stars.

Gene Hammett: 01:51
If you don't know Amanda's my wife. So, she's been on the podcast before and episode 100 but we have a very special guest today. We have a friend cut us with Cisco. She, I will let her introduce herself because the title is not that hard. It's the chief people officer, which is much easier to say the chief human resources officer. Fran, tell us a little bit about you and who you serve.

Fran Katsoudas: 02:16
Okay. Yeah. Thank you so much. So that my title changed about four years ago and I think that's part of the shift to really focusing on people and experience. And so, I think the people that I serve are all of our employees at Cisco and I take that incredibly seriously. I think it's one of the most amazing jobs. And in my role, I'm helping to hopefully create amazing careers for 75,000 employees.

Gene Hammett: 02:42
I think it's a much better title.

Amanda Hammett: 02:44
I do too. I think that it really reflects the culture that you guys have built at Cisco.

Gene Hammett: 02:51
I, you know, I'm going to let the audience know a little bit more about my research and you too, Fran. The key thing is I study growth companies and I over 300 leaders about what's the most important thing to grow. Is it a customer first or employee first? And 94% of smaller companies will say it's employee first. So I probably know where you are on this, but where do you, where do you rank in that?

Fran Katsoudas: 03:13
Okay. Yeah, you know, this, um, these things go hand in hand. And I, and I think if you asked the question, uh, five or seven years ago, the 94% could be customer first. It could have been, right. I think now all of us realize that when you take care of your people, they take care of the customer and they do the right thing, not only for the customers but for the community as well. And I think that's a little bit of the shift even for large companies like Cisco.

Gene Hammett: 03:38
Well, we're talking to you because you made the list and how many years in a row have you made the great places to work list?

Fran Katsoudas: 03:45
So we've been on the list for 22 years.

Gene Hammett: 03:49
Okay, that's, they put people first.

Amanda Hammett: 03:52
Apparently yes, very much so. I mean, 22 years. That's amazing. And I, has anybody else ever reached that pinnacle?

Fran Katsoudas: 04:00
I do think that there are a few other companies that have. But you know, I'll tell you because I feel it's important to say in 22 years, we've had some really phenomenal years. I think the highest that we've been is number three. And then we had years that were more challenged. And we talked about this the other night. We were at number 90 at one point. And so it's been fascinating for us to be at those numbers and with each year and every level of recognition. I think there was a question around what do we need to do? And sometimes that's been harder and sometimes a little east.

Gene Hammett: 04:36
Well, I want to direct our conversation into a topic that a lot of companies are struggling with it. This is big companies, medium-sized companies, small companies, and that's retaining key employees. So this is, you know, other words retention. Why is retention so important for business today?

Fran Katsoudas: 04:53
Yeah. Cause we know there's nothing better than having amazing people in teams. And so I think we all talk about retention because we don't want to lose that. And especially when you have something that's working, it's just so critical. The other thing that we recognize, there are really unique skills that are out there and from a technology space, skills are changing. Like the life of skill at this moment is becoming shorter and shorter. And so I think that's an element of why we talk about retention.

Amanda Hammett: 05:22
So Fran, in your journey of all of these 22 years on the great places to work list, I would imagine that over the years you guys have put on some key projects to really help you retain that talent and not only retain it, but also rescale it as those skills change.

Fran Katsoudas: 05:40
Yeah. It's interesting because I hesitate a little bit when I think about retention because there's something about that that if you're not careful, you can be on your heels a bit. And so rather than putting in retention programs, what I want to put our amazing programs that allow people to be at their best. And for every employee, they have some very unique things going on at work and at home and there are different paths that we have. And so I feel like our job is to architect these potential paths for people. There was a point probably about seven or eight years ago where I was spending so much time talking about retention and I don't think it was the right dialogue. What I needed to be talking about is how do we help people be at their absolute best? How do we help them work on teams where they feel like their work is having a tremendous impact. So that's a little bit of the shift that we've been through.

Gene Hammett: 06:37
It seems like that's more of a shift from retention is like kind of a reactive to what's going on, whereas you're getting more proactive.

Fran Katsoudas: 06:44
That's what I should have said. Yes,

Amanda Hammett: 06:46
You did. You did. You said that.

Gene Hammett: 06:49
A key question, you just came off the stage great, conversation kind of panel of what Cisco is doing, um, to move forward in the next 22 years. But you mentioned a project and I don't know what it's called, but you ask employees about what do they love and what do they loathe. So how often do you do that and why do you do that?

Fran Katsoudas: 07:10
Yeah, so there's a technology that we put in place. I think it's almost three years ago that Marcus Buckingham created, um, ADP recently acquired this company. And so every week, um, we go on our phones, there's an app that we have and we share our priorities for the week. We share what we loved and what we load from the previous week, and then how we feel about whether or not we're really. Really working in a way that demonstrates our strengths and then the level of value or impact that we think we're having. And it's something that candidly will take me about five minutes. Um, I do it weekly and Chuck Robbins, our CEO reviews my check-in and then he'll provide feedback. And so if you think about it, at its core, what it's doing is it's allowing us to quickly connect on the work. And then there's something a lot more powerful as it's giving chuck insights through what I love around what really fuels me as an employee.

Fran Katsoudas: 08:07
And then what I load, which was those things that drain. And I think as our role as leaders is to really do more of the love and help our employees on the load side of the house.

Amanda Hammett: 08:16
And I will say that I, you know, I've worked with some of your leaders and they have all had that exact same response to, to that APP and to that feedback on a weekly basis and that they really have enjoyed being able to see, okay, where am I missing ball, where can I help my people more? And I think that that's a major cultural just benefit that everybody's enjoyed.

Fran Katsoudas: 08:37
That's so funny Amanda, because um, everyone's different. Right? And so, as a leader, you start to understand your people in different ways. Like there are some members of my team where they rarely put anything in load. So when something is there, I need to get to them. I need a call them, I need to meet him cause I know there's something really heavy for them. So it's kind of fun because as leaders I think you get to know your people and I would never expect that they use at the same way. I think that's wonderful. But we learn a lot.

Gene Hammett: 09:07
It was good. How often do you do it?

Fran Katsoudas: 09:09
I probably do it three out of four weeks, so I will sometimes, if I'm traveling I'll miss a week or if I'm with chuck, but we ask people to do it at least. We try for weekly, at least every other week. And it's just a powerful way for us to connect.

Gene Hammett: 09:26
I want to be clear about this cause for, and you talked about you filling out this and you report to the CEO. Um, but how many thousand people are actually doing this program?

Fran Katsoudas: 09:35
Yes. So we've rolled it out to all employees around the globe. Now I'll tell you the number I, I really, really care about. Um, when we first rolled it out, we were seeing employees enter their information and we could see that in some cases a manager wouldn't read it. And that's pretty heartbreaking. Like, think about it. You go through this, this exercise of putting in your priorities you love and loathe and you're probably like sitting there going, I'm not going to say like, what are they going to say to that? And we worked with our leaders and now that rate is 92%. So 92% of the checkins are red. And we know that for the 8%. Sometimes they're red after the week. but that's really important. I call that the attention rate. And it's a question around our leaders paying attention to our people.

Amanda Hammett: 10:20
Absolutely. And that's one of the biggest things in my work that I see with next generation talent is that they want to have their voices heard. And this is a wonderful, beautiful, almost immediate way to do that.

Gene Hammett: 10:32
I'm going to switch the conversation a little bit. Back to my research. I study fast growing companies and one of the core factors of that has been, um, transparency and the word I actually use because a lot of these fast growing companies or adamant about it and as they use radical transparencies, and that's what you guys said on stage. So what is radical called transparency in terms of leadership?

Fran Katsoudas: 10:55
I think it's sharing what's not working. I think it's sharing those places where you perhaps did something wrong. I think it's just driving an honest discussion sometimes. I think it's actually more about the listening part for us from a senior leadership perspective in January of this year. And it was important to us. We wanted to kick off the year again with, with a signal of what was important to us. We actually shared with all of our employees at a company meeting, we do the monthly, all of the employee relations cases that we've had for the first half of our fiscal year. And we shared with them, you know, cases like cases around bullying and harassment, cases where perhaps I'm, someone felt like they were not being heard. And then we shared with our employees what we had done as a result of those cases. And the response to that, I think will drive more transparency from our employees in their own stories. And it's funny, I've had situations where I'll get out of the elevator and employee will say, Hey, that story that was real. Like I've had that happen to me. And so that's a little bit of what we're really pushing towards. Cause I think when we have that will be better as a company in every way.

Gene Hammett: 12:09
Follow up question. That is a lot of people are interested in transparency and some people are committed. What would you say to those people that are just merely interested?

Fran Katsoudas: 12:17
Well, I get it. I get it because it's hard. It's really hard. And um, we were just on stage with Mark Chandler who is our general counsel at Cisco and he's an amazing partner in that because I think what you have to be willing to do is understand that in some cases, transparency will lead to more conversation and work to be done. But the issues are there. Um, and so I would say that the faster that you can address the issues, the more that you're gonna be able to move on. And so I think we have to move to committed in this regard.

Amanda Hammett: 12:55
So I'd like to switch gears a little bit. Um, something that came up on during that panel was brought up by Amy Chang. Um, but it's something that I've actually seen also in heard from the leadership that I've worked with is the caring, the culture of caring that you have cultivated. But Amy's specifically said it comes from you directly and your team and it trickles down. And I love that. And so I, I'd like to, I'd like to know a little bit more about what benefit do you feel that that's given not only to you and your team, but also overall to your 75,000 employees?

Fran Katsoudas: 13:28
Well, she was very kind. I mean, it really does start with our CEO, Chuck Robbins. I think he's someone that in every engagement you see his passion and caring. Um, and it comes from our employees. And I'm a big believer in this magic of when things happen at the top and then throughout the organization, a lot of times I refer to it as the sandwich. Um, when we were doing work in August, identifying our principles as a company, we went around to, all of our employees around the globe are to focus groups and, um, what came out is they feel that we're a caring company. And so one of our principles is all around how we give of ourselves. I think, you know, my team sets a tone, which I absolutely love and I, and that's something I'm incredibly proud of and I think they do an amazing job. What we work really hard at is how do we connect the business strategy, um, to everything related to culture and people in organization and at the same time be there for one another.

Gene Hammett: 14:36
How do you transform leaders to really think about an increased to caring?

Fran Katsoudas: 14:43
I think leaders need to see it in action. I you know it's really hard. I mean, I think we've all been in situations where perhaps you see someone saying something on the stage and you think, hmm, I don't think that's really how it is. Right? And there's nothing, there's nothing worse than that. Um, and sometimes I feel really fortunate. I, um, I started at Cisco in the contact center. Um, I came in early in career and I answered phones. I remember talking to like 80 customers a day about their technical issues. And I think sometimes when you start at a company at a very entry level, you see so many different types of leaders, um, and you see some really good examples. So the first thing I would say is that leaders have to see it role model at, at every level in the company.

Fran Katsoudas: 15:32
And there can't be an exception and you have to call it when there is, which is incredibly hard. And you have to teach something that we've done recently. It sounds really funny. We've brought actors in to a leadership class and we've had the actors hand an employee a card that says your employee is talking over everyone in a team meeting. Go. And basically you have to have a conversation where you're helping your employee understand that that's going on. And so these are real life experiences. And so we're trying to coach and help and talk through as much as we can and make it real.

Amanda Hammett: 16:08
Awesome.

Gene Hammett: 16:08
That's pretty interesting. I've never heard of...

Amanda Hammett: 16:10
I have literally never heard of that.

Gene Hammett: 16:12
That's bringing actors.

Gene Hammett: 16:24
So let me take this one friend you talked on stage about some work you've done on forming of teams and what makes good teams. I've read some studies from Google as well. I'm sure you've probably read these as well. What can you tell us about best teams?

Fran Katsoudas: 16:44
Yeah, so for us it was really fascinating. We went out to the business about three years ago and we said, identify your best teams. And they identified about 97 teams across the company and we studied the 97 teams and then we studied a control group of 200 teams. And sure enough, we could see a difference. And, and honestly we didn't know if that was going to be the case or not. And so the delta that we saw was in three key areas on the best teams. We could see that employees were playing to their strengths and when employees play to their strengths, there are a lot more creative, there are a lot more productive. So it's pretty amazing for us. The second thing that we saw, and I think this was in the Google study as well, is that on teams where teammates feel like, hey mate, my teammates have my back.

Fran Katsoudas: 17:30
There's a big difference from a safety and trust perspective, that's incredibly important for growth and innovation as well. And then the last thing that we saw is on our best teams teams were aligned on how they were gonna win together. They, they had some shared values as it relates to where they were going. And so those were the three differentiators between the best teams in the control group. And then that became really the philosophy for a lot of what we do from a teams and leaders.

Amanda Hammett: 17:59
I think that, I think that that's really important, especially from my perspective with the young talent, is that finding those good leaders, because that is one of the things that I coach university students to think about is really look for that good first leader. That person that can really help you play to your strengths are figure out what your strengths are. Because coming out of college you may not know exactly what you're good at or you may develop new skills. And being with a leader who can help you do that and can guide you is beautiful. It's wonderful.

Gene Hammett: 18:27
So, Fran, we've been guiding most of these do questions is, is there something that we haven't asked you about that you feel like really would improve the employee experience?

Fran Katsoudas: 18:38
You know, there's something I'll share with you that we're focused on at the moment. And it's something where we're learning a lot and we're developing and there's this, um, there's this belief that we have in something called conscious culture. And the belief set is that when you have a conscious culture, every single employee is a leader within the company. And every single employee's conscious of their role in shaping the company and shaping our culture. There there's three things that we're focused on within this. The first is the environment. This is why, by the way we shared the employee relations cases because we want to have a really honest dialogue around the environment. The second pillar is all about the characteristics and the behaviors. And this is where our principals live. And then the last piece is really around what's your day to day experience. Cause I think if you have amazing principals, but again, your day to day experience is different. That's a big problem. And so for us, that's going to be our focus, but we're doing a lot of experimentation and pilots and we're learning. And it's something that we'll be happy to talk about in the future as well.

Amanda Hammett: 19:47
That's really fantastic.

Gene Hammett: 19:49
Well, we're gonna wrap this up. I one final question. I've heard a lot today, something that I don't hear much in a corporate setting, which is a mindset. I have heard this from my beginnings of becoming a coach. It was like, I guess nine years ago, and I didn't know what it was before that because I was sort of an engineer and I, you know, just get the work done and that's the kind of leader I was. But when I, when I went through this, I realized that the way I was thinking had a huge impact on what I saw and what I did and how I engaged. So what do you do to talk about mindsets and how do you work with your leaders on that?

Fran Katsoudas: 20:30
Yeah, I do think it's incredibly important. You know, one of the things that we do is we talk a lot about servant leadership and I think that's how you start to shift the mindset because basically what you're saying is that as a leader you are in service to the people around you. And that is such a different Lens than get the work done. One of my peers, she did this first and I loved it. Maria Martinez, she showed an org chart and she was at the very bottom of the org chart. And that's a great example of how you start to shift mindset by just signaling no, no, no. Okay. All of the people that I support, they are the important folks in this. And so there are things like that that I think are incredibly important. And then again, yeah, I think just being willing to have conversations that make us think to ask questions that'll make us really pause. I think those are all elements of how you change a mindset.

Gene Hammett: 21:22
So this wraps up a special episode of leaders in the trenches and the next generation rockstars.

Gene Hammett: 21:28
Thank you Fran for being here.

Fran Katsoudas: 21:29
Thank you.

Amanda Hammett: 21:30
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the next generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader. And if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the next generation rock stars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.