#026 – The Corporate Culture Shift (With Ashley McKarney)


Podcast Summary

On this show, we connect with Ashley McKarney, founder of Involvi Consulting. For over 15 years, she has been leading HR departments. While working with engaged leaders and business owners, she gained useful insides on supporting employees while improving working conditions and organizational culture in the times of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Bonus Resources

Get in touch with Tim – timborys.com

Involvi Consulting – www.involvi.ca

Monthly Webinar Series – https://involvi.ca/hr-hot-tips-webinars/

CPHR – https://www.cphrab.ca/

Podcast Transcript

Please note: The following transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos. 

Welcome to the Working Well Podcast. I’m Tim Borys, CEO of Fresh Wellness Group. This show explores the diverse aspects of workplace health and personal performance. On the Working Well Podcast, we dive into the foundations of what makes wellness work in workplaces around the world. We connect with corporate leaders, executives, and industry experts who are helping make life more awesome at work and home. Join us to learn workplace wellness, best practices, personal performance tips, and access resources to jumpstart your personal and corporate programs. Today we are joined by Ashley McKarney.

Ashley’s passion for people led her to a thriving career in human resources. For over 15 years, she has been leading HR departments across a variety of industries and company sizes in 2019 to address the gap in HR process and practice in many small and medium companies. Ashley founded Involvi Consulting. She works with engaged leaders and business owners who want to support their employees while improving working conditions and organizational culture. Ashley holds her CPHR and S HRM SCP designations, along with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta. When not working, Ashley, her husband, and her two-year-old son love to travel, experience new cultures, and sample all the great food.

Welcome, Ashley. So awesome to have you on the Working Well Podcast. It’s been a crazy couple of years.

 

What’s it been like for you?

 

First of all, thanks for having me. And you’re right. It’s been a total crazy couple of years. For those of you that are new to Involve. We’ve started this HR consulting firm about two years ago, pre-Pandemic, and so we had an outlook of what we were going to do and how we were going to help organizations. And then the pandemic hit. And while the plan stayed the same, we’ve been able to pivot and be able to kind of adapt our offerings very much in terms of how we offer and what we offer.

 

But we’re grateful for everything that we’ve seen. And it’s been a fun journey.

 

I’ve talked to a few business owners that have started their business right before the pandemic, and it’s like a sort of drinking from a firehose. You think it’s going to be challenging enough to start a business when you have an expectation of what the future is going to look like. But then when you have no clue after this pandemic, I’ve heard some crazy stories. What’s been positive that’s come out of the last couple of years for you personally and professionally?

 

You know what I think I get asked that question a lot, and I think I am fully cognizant of all of the individuals and companies that have struggled depending on their industry and what they struggled with throughout the last 18 months because there’s a variety of them. And so I really want to be cognizant of that. But Involvi has been great. Let’s just put it that way, we’ve been able to help a number of companies across the country with anything regarding their people. And I think our service offerings have been able to be adapted because we are a new company, and we have been very agile when it comes to receiving client requests.

 

And do you offer this and can you help with this? So being at our infancy, it’s provided us the ability to pivot and kind of create our ongoing core services as the demands have come in. And so we started helping a couple of companies that were essential services during the pandemic, and it was just me at the time, and they were my clients, and I got them through the bulk of the beginning of the pandemic. And then when things kind of settled out a little bit involved, we started to grow, and we started to see more uptake.

 

And now we’re a team of eight going on ten helping more than 35 companies across the country. So we’ve seen some great uptake, and I think our client’s requests have been anything from our foundational package of policies. Procedures offer letters, things like that right up to Kovan policies, strategic planning, and where to from here now that things are starting to open up and they’re starting to kind of forecast the next couple of years. Absolutely.

 

Some of those things policies, particularly where no one has had to deal with that before. And so everyone was creating it as they went and speaking to the adaptation, what types of things did you see businesses going through at the beginning of the pandemic versus what they’re going through now?

 

So I think at the beginning of the pandemic, I encouraged all of the leaders I worked with to be humble and to be open with our staff, that we’re all going through this for the first time. This isn’t something that as a senior leader, we did 20 years ago, and now now I’ve got the experience. So I’m going going to enact that previous experience and create something new. We were all going through the same same thing at the same time with the same restrictions, and it varied business to business of what they had to do and how they had to approach it.

 

And so I think at the beginning, a lot of the businesses I dealt with were how do we keep everybody employed? How do we ensure that we’re meeting all of the requirements but still providing gainful and engaging work for the employees that are there and the layoffs, the terminations, the shutting things down? We’re always the last resort. And so we got to be pretty creative at the beginning of job sharing, job analysis, work-sharing that kind of thing. And then I think now, as we reopen, a lot of organizations are being really critical of maybe we had these four positions in the organization before, and maybe we still need four positions.

 

But maybe those position titles, descriptions, expectations have changed a little bit. And so they’re really looking at the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to enact their business plan, moving forward. And then how do we take our current employees and bring them on that journey with us? And so it’s a lot of discussion of pivoting and how to and not to mention the whole introduction of remote work, hybrid work, or back in the office. And so that’s a huge other variables, not to mention, of course, the wellness and all of that piece with engagement that I’m sure we’ll get into.

 

But there’s a ton of variables right now that employers are looking at, and we’re just working with them as to OK, what’s the priority? And how do we make sure that we cover all of these things for you, but do it smartly? So we’re not rushing into it and that we’re also looking at change management to make sure that it’s going to be a successful change for the organization.

 

Change management is fairly significant these days. It is we always hear people talk about change management.

 

But, how does that show up in most businesses that you’ve been exposed to?

 

Well, from my exposure level to provide some context, I’d be probably answering that question from an HR lens, but also as a strategic HR lens and slightly operational with the roles that I’m fulfilling for clients right now. And so I think what people don’t understand about change management and how HR interjects with that is change management is everything from Tim, I’m moving you from that desk over to a desk over there because some people, they don’t care where they sit. They just want a table and a desk and a computer, and they can work.

 

Others really define their workspace as part of their attachment to their role. And a change could be huge for some and very minimal or nonexistent for others. And it can be, right up to how are we going to restructure this Department? How are we going to implement a CRM system? Any change that an organization is making that affects the way that somebody does their job, HR should be involved. And so we’re having those conversations because rightfully or wrongly, small and medium business owners just have enacted change, and they just progress with their strategic plan and they bring people along the way.

 

And I think as you grow bigger and as you get more refined with your strategic plan and your business plan, you have to start really looking at change management, or you won’t get the engagement from the team that you’re looking for for that change to be successful. Yes.

 

The biggest change that most businesses would have had gone through in the last two years is that the remote or hybrid work environment. So what are some of the successes you saw in dealing with that and some of them maybe what not to do?

 

Yeah. So obviously, I’m going to pull from my previous experience while leaving some client details out of it to remain confidential. But I think I’ve seen some really positive ones where they’ve either converted to a fully remote offering or going from fully remote during the mandates to now, a hybrid offering is really the most successful piece that I’ve seen. There are some leaders that were very traditionalist mindset pre-pandemic of if you’re not in the work office from eight to five, I don’t think you’re working. And so they were forced to change to a remote mindset, but I’m seeing that some of them are actually reverting back to that very traditionalist mindset when the business needs may not dictate the requirement to be in the office.

 

And so if you’re in that situation, you likely will see this great resignation or resignations from your team to go to an environment that is more flexible, that does provide a little bit more work-life balance or flexibility with location of work. I think fully remote teams that weren’t remote before might be struggling because is how do you engage them? How do you meet with your team every single day or regularly throughout the week so that they are independent enough to do their job and empowered to do it. But that you still have that team culture and that team atmosphere.

 

Um, and you know, at the very beginning, people were like, oh yeah, I checked that. Everything’s fine. Everything’s fine. They’re fine. But when you actually ask the question of how are you today and lean into that rather than just make it a token comment, when you see somebody you’ll get the jest, whether they’re really comfortable with this, whether they’re struggling with this, um, or whether they really love working from home, um, and that can lead you into their mental wellness and their psychological safety in the workplace and all of those other factors that contribute to them being successful in their role, and you have a positive culture as an organization.

 

Absolutely. And, and you, you brought up the word culture, and I know I’ve seen that in the work that we do with clients, as well as that, the communication throughout the company, the genuineness of leaders to really, to use your word lean in and have those conversations to say, Hey, you know what? I don’t have all the answers, but we’re going to figure it out together. As simple as that sounds like, it’s like everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten, but having those conversations and being genuine, I find that and correct me if I’m wrong, I’ve seen companies that are doing that well, are thriving and ones that aren’t are really struggling.

 

I can’t agree with you more, um, you know, a couple, a couple of key things that I’ve learned from some of my mentors and people that are around me are number one, you should be okay with not being the smartest person in the room as a leader. If you’re the smartest, smartest person in the room, then your ego is leading the charge and your team will feel that, um, if you can kind of recognize the intelligence and the skills, knowledge, and abilities and experience that your team brings to the table, then asking them for their input, asking them to contribute on a project, asking them for their feedback to put a new process into place, instills that engagement, because it shows how their role connects to the bigger picture. And it also positions that leader as a human. And I know that sounds laughable. But as an example, um, in a previous role I worked in, there was a senior leader in the organization who was very all about business.

 

When that person came into the office, it was business, it was work, it was work-focused. And there was no discussion of what’s going on with the family this weekend, where are you going? What are your vacation plans? And then all of a sudden this leader comes into the office and starts talking about how their family is going skiing on the weekend and how they’re doing all this stuff. And I had one of the employees come in and say, well, my gosh, that person is a human. I heard about their life, right? It took them out of that. Operational robotic kind of perception is reality into, okay, now I can relate to them because they’re sharing something with me and you don’t have to be best friends with your employees. You don’t have to be best friends with your teammates or your colleagues, but being able to share some of those personal things allows for more of that connection and more of that sticking power. When you talk about culture, because 80% of people leave their organizations, not because of wage or role or promotion ability, it’s really because of the relationship or lack thereof with their manager, the rest are ancillary things, um, that are all equally important. But you know, if you can be humble enough as a leader to engage your team, to work with them, to bring them in, to ask their input, you know, and be collaborative with them, it’s going to go 10 times as far.

 

Yeah. Yeah. And that, how so, how do companies start to create that change? Because I’ve heard people say, well, you don’t create your culture. It develops it’s there. It’s part of like, it’s part of the zeitgeists in the organization, but how can you transform it or, or begin to change it.

 

Yeah. And I think that’s a good question that I think the answer will fully depend on the organization and its current state. Right. Um, if I look at involving and receiving the feedback that I’ve gotten from my team, as an example, my mentality as a leader is very collaborative. It’s very involved. It’s very got the team, you know, on discussions of, for instance, creating our company values and the promises to our clients and the promises to our team, those on our website were developed, yes, I brought it to the table as an initiative that we needed to accomplish, but putting it together and creating the final versions was a team effort that we spent hours as a team collaborating on and back and forth. And having my team be able to lean in on that and contribute to it. Not only guarantees their buy-in with it, but it also solidifies them as a member of the team and really allows them to connect to the values, which then offers better service to the clients.

 

Right. And so to more directly answer your question, I think it all depends, first of all, on the leaders that you’re bringing into the organization or who you currently have and their leadership styles, if you have a very dictatorship, very micromanage organization and that’s the culture of the leaders. And naturally, that will be the culture of the organization. If you’ve got leaders that are open to discussion, open door, policy, collaborative, having conversations, asking for input, um, you’re bound to develop a different culture. And so, first of all, it’s an examination of the leadership team. Second of all, you could do state interviews to kind of determine where you are currently state, um, or an engagement survey, however, you want to look at it. Um, and then I think it’s an action plan that all the leaders are engaged on to say, okay, where do we want to be? Where are we? And then what’s our process to work backward, to really change this culture or enhance it from where we are. So it looks different for every organization based on size and industry. But I think examining the current state and future goals, we’ll show you the path.

 

And that’s a great point. I’ve heard some stories from leadership consultants in the past, too, where they, get the results of these surveys and they clearly point to changes that need to be made. But the executives in charge of making them are not necessarily open to making those changes or seeing them as an issue. And, uh, and so how do, how do you deal with situations like that?

 

You know what I think, yeah. I think HR is very akin to sometimes it or safety departments, right? They’re looked at more of a cost center rather than a revenue-generating center. And they’re looked at more of an administrative function that needs to be there for compliance, right. Um, or need to maintain compliance, we’ll say. And so I think first and foremost, the HR rep or myself or my team that goes into the organization and has these conversations, first of all, we have to understand the appetite for engagement with HR, from the leaders before we even start a project. Right. Um, and some of my non-negotiables are if we’re going to do this, and we’re going to go out to your team and ask for feedback, then we need adoption today from you that says, we agree to, you know, putting forth an action plan. We agree to put the efforts in place to execute that action plan.

 

Um, because the worst thing you can do is ask for feedback and then go silent on it. It’s worse than not asking for feedback to begin with. Um, and so there are, I have experienced it. My whole team has experienced it in more internal, traditional HR roles. Um, there’s a lot of stereotypes about HR, right? It’s your policy police, you hire you to fire your administrative. Um, and unless you have an engaged leadership team that sees how important the people are to the organization and its future, you’re you, we will have struggles being successful on changing those pivotal things, um, without understanding that that’s important. And I think another key thing that we do is correlate all of those intangible things to quantitative ROI, right? When you talk about all, we’ve had really high turnover and I see, okay, well that’s a struggle. No, we just need to hire well, no, because if we examine why we’re losing people and I put down the number that every person that quits or you let go is between six and $60,000 to the organization. They’re never going to get an invoice for that. But if we look at all the intangible pieces and all of the business results that will suffer because of that turnover, it all of a sudden puts a number to this non-revenue generating department that says, oh, so if we invest in you proactively, we’re going to end up saving money because we won’t lose people. And then you start talking about, okay, how can we improve the culture? How can we put in really best practice processes, um, that are scaling?

 

Absolutely. We face the same thing, on the wellness side. Wellness is seen as this hurricane. It’s not seen as a, as it is an investment in the future of cost-cutting and revenue generation, uh, that the people that are actually running the business are going to generate.

 

Yeah. And, you know, touching on that, I think, um, wellness sometimes rightly or wrongly falls under the HR bucket. And, you know, with regards to traditional benefits, employee, family assistance programs, um, under health and safety, from a stretch and flex or a, you know, movement throughout the day ergonomics piece. But I think the COVID, if nothing else has shown this light on your wellness division and your wellness initiatives, and excuse me, other companies like yours because mental wellness is something that’s kind of been this sleeping dog, if you will, that was just ready to erupt or sleeping volcano, um, that people have been dealing with mental wellness, challenges, and struggles for decades, for centuries. But the more that we put research into it, the more that people speak up about their struggles and the more that it becomes a mainstream discussion. Um, we’re really seeing this prevailing need to focus on it from an organizational standpoint.

 

Um, and I’ll be honest, there’s a depression within my personal family. And when I was young, it was, my mentality was just getting an event, just, just get up, just do it, just be better. Right. And I look back humbly and say, God was I naive? I mean, I was probably 13, but you know, you look at that and you look at all of the struggles and all of the chemical makeup that, contributes to some of those illnesses and it’s not just fix it. And so I think we constantly create that awareness with leaders and organizations that this isn’t just somebody bringing something forward and using it as a crutch to get work from home or to get time off or to get support. Right. This is literally, and I’m not going to use cry for help, cause it seems too extreme, but this is them standing up and sharing something very confidential, asking for support. Um, and you know, I would treat that exactly the same as somebody, you know, coming forward with their sexuality or, you know, their, their preferences, their with gender. And as all of this becomes more mainstream, they’re all kind of interconnected that we need somebody like you and your organization to come in as an expert and say, you know, here’s a plan, and here’s how we can do it. Um, but those engaged leaders again, need to be at the table.

 

Yeah. And that you bring up a great point about the changing face of HR and employee wellbeing in an organization. As in the past, it’s been like show up, do your work, go home, put it blindly. And outside of that, everything else was was people’s own issues to deal with. Um, and while it was changing pre-pandemic, the pandemic has really been this catalyst to accelerate that change. What do you see as the, how do you see the role of HR has changed over the past two years? And what do you think it’s gonna continue changing like in the future?

 

Whoa, that’s a deep question. Um,

 

Start with the last two years. Yeah.

 

Yeah. Well, I think, I think in the last two years, more than ever, we’ve realized that we have our office in our pockets, right? Whether it’s a file-sharing app on our phone, whether it’s our emails, whether it’s our internal communication platforms, whatever it is, there is this impetus to never turn off. And so, you know, as a leader myself, I have a young son and I work when he’s sleeping. I work when I can when I’m not on mum duty. Right. And so my hours fluctuate. And so I think number one, to not sustain that with your team or create the impetus that you expect them to work 24 hours, right. You have to communicate and say, look, I can work at 2:00 AM. I can send you emails, but at no time, do I expect you to answer them outside of normal working hours?

 

Maybe unless it says urgent or there’s another agreement in place, right? Because even if you or I, as leaders of an organization send an email at 2:00 AM, 90% of the time somebody is to check that between two and eight, when they start work and feel that anxiety of, oh, I should’ve answered, oh, are they going to be mad at me? Oh, did they expect a response? Right. And that’s that potential inadvertent culture of fear that you instill by working 24 hours and having the leaders work all the time. Um, and the other thing is this whole remote workpiece with regards to how do I monitor my people at home and make sure they’re working during their work hours. Right. I heard a horrible example yesterday of a CEO who will say off the cuff without a lot of plans, um, emailed all of the employees and said, you’re all getting laptops to work from home, but we expect you to keep the laptops on with the cameras on and the microphone on twenty-four seven.

 

Yep. I have the same rack. Right. And so that’s a very extreme case and not one of our clients, but you know, that’s one of the very extreme cases of, okay, there are individuals out there that just want to monitor and don’t really understand that the physical and personal space with regards to working at home. Um, and so I think I’ve encouraged organizations to have that mentality of look, I know you’re going to throw a load of laundry and I know you’re going to go pick up your kids or start dinner or whatever you have to do if you’re working at home, but set service level agreements with your team. I expect you to be responsive within 15 minutes all day between working hours, except for your lunch. You know, I expect you to notify us if you’re going on lunch or go set your status to away and, and things like that. But it really comes down to intentional communication and setting those expectations because you still have a business to run. Right. Yeah.

 

And it also comes down to, and something we talk with clients about a lot is, first of all, the trust that people, that most people are going to be proactive and there for the right reasons. Yes, of course, there are people who are going to find ways to skirt the system and to take advantage of it always. And that happened when they were in the office as well. It’s just a bit easier when you’re outside of the office, but that doesn’t make more people want to do it, especially if you have great communication, but it’s also about having leaders particularly understand that when you get up and change a load of laundry, when you get up and go for a walk around the block when you get up and get your face away from the screen, you actually come back more productive. There’s nothing productive or healthy about 8, 10, 12 hours in front of a screen all day,

 

Log in, log out, log in, log out, log in, log out.

 

And so the, you know, there have been a bunch of studies about taking short breaks can make you 20, 30% more productive. So it’s like, well, why would you not? In fact, as leaders, we should be, well, I know in my company, I encourage people. It’s like, Hey man, we just had this like 90 minute or two-hour meeting, let’s get up and take, we’ll come back and go at it. And we’re going to take 20 minutes to go do something active or even five minutes to get up and walk you up and down the stairs. If we’re at home and little things like that are so important. But I think there is still, as you mentioned before, that, that old school mentality of like, if people aren’t in front of the screen or in front of the computer being tracked by some HR software, that’s out there, it’s

 

Not HR software, not HR software

 

Time tracking software, anti HR software,

 

You know, but I also would then have the conversation with those leaders that are struggling with those things of working from home and that accountability piece I would then liken it to. Okay. Let’s think back to pretend DEMEC when they were in the office, how often did you see people sitting together in an office closed door that you knew that they didn’t have to talk together to get their jobs done? How often did you see people taking long lunches or long coffee breaks or hanging out in the lunchroom or the the photocopier talk? Right. I look at even myself in organizations when I was in-house and I think of the downtime that I could have had, or that I saw people have. And it was remarkably more than working from home. And to your point, there will always be the humans that abuse it, that they want to take advantage of it.

 

They’re trying to skirt the system, but you’re going to hold them accountable to performance at home, just as much as you would have in the office. Um, and by allowing your team to have those freedoms, you’re actually going to empower them to grow and develop faster because they will be in their element, working at their best hours of the day to be the most productive. And it also gives them the space to find that sweet spot for them as a person and have that self-awareness um, I mean, I say to my team, yeah. You know, our clients expect us to available from calling it eight to five or, you know, approximate times. But if you feel at three o’clock that you’re kind of, okay, it’s been a long day. I’m done going home, relaxing, hanging out with my family, pick up the emails again at eight o’clock. If you find that that’s when your time is to pick up or work a couple of extra hours throughout the week to make up for it, right. Like unless barring deadlines and of course your business makeup and how you deliver product services or, or accountabilities, you know, be flexible within those to let them work at the pace and the times that work for them.

 

Yeah. Yeah. It’s one thing. If you’re a cashier at a grocery store, um, you might be like, yeah, I’m just going to go home now, but, or not, but, but even cashiers, they rotate out and they take breaks more often than someone sitting at a computer would and yeah. It’s that being able to if you’re producing good results, that’s a, I’m, I’m a firm believer that should matter more than when you do it or how you get the job done.

 

Yeah. And I think on, on addition to that stemming back to something we chatted about earlier about that, you know, check-in meeting at the beginning of the day with your team or asking them, how are you and not just, Hey, how was your weekend? Okay, great. And moving on with things, right. Intentionally stopping what you’re doing, making eye contact, focusing on them, and listening. Um, you know, that’s one piece, but one of my team members actually brought forward this mental health continuum. Um, and it’s, it’s afloat, it’s a graph that talks about the different levels of your mental state and how you are. I think there are many versions out there right now. Um, but we have a weekly team meeting and we start every team meeting without being on the screen. And we go through and just ask everybody how they are, and there’s no requirement to share confidential things.

 

There’s no requirement to expand. If you don’t want to it’s today, I’m unsettled today. I’m thriving today. I’m excelling, whatever it is. And most of the time, you know, we get a little bit of background to know how we can help her lean in. Um, but regardless it gives us all the independent time to check-in and say, you know what, today I’m struggling. And as a leader, I probably know I’m not going to assign them anything today. And then I’m going to check in with them confidentially later and then, you know, work to, you know, pick up the pace or the deliverables when that person is in a better spot. And so I think it’s tailoring your leadership style to them that opens the door for those mental health conversations and the wellness conversations and the struggles that they might be going with. Um, because now more than ever, everybody has a different level of struggle. And I may say, I’m struggling and you may say you’re struggling, but holy gosh, could that be two different?

 

Right. Exactly. And, and for people to realize that it does fluctuate on a daily basis, like we’ve used the same continuum and usually in color code, like green, yellow, orange, red, and yeah. Someone might be green, green, green, and then all of a sudden, boom red one day, or maybe they’re mostly yellow and then, an orange every once in a while. And yeah, you start to see a trend and how people are managing and coping.

 

You do. And I think it’s also important that you either set the tone for, I want you to answer this professionally speaking or personally speaking or a combination thereof. And so if you set the tone, then it kind of gives you insight that maybe it’s not all work-related maybe, you know, their spouse lost their job. Maybe their kids got COVID or their kid’s not in daycare because the kid is sick, but it’s not like there are so many influences right now that are impacting people. Um, whether they’re a vaccine or not, whether they’re feeling pressure from the government or not, whether they’re happy with the current state and how it’s been handled like there are so many discussions that could occur and impact that mental state that, um, we, we are, we are employing and working with humans, we are not employing and working with work robots. And so that I think is the precipice for a good leader to understand that you’re bringing on a human that has 360 degrees of things that are impacting them every single day and work maybe a large portion of that. Um, but it is only for sure.

 

Absolutely. I agree. And so what the, you know, knowing that these changes are going on in the past two years, we’ve been having a lot of different conversations around people and wellbeing and performance and how we manage the new face of work. What is, what do you think the future of HR looks like and how it relates, how it fits within the corporate structure?

 

Yeah. I, you know what I think number one, I think the well involving is trying to break down the stereotypes that we, our policy police hire and fire and admin, right? Because we are so much more than that. I think the future of HR will look, we’ll go on two different lanes. One is transactional day-to-day support. The other one is that strategic support. And if you’ve got the right individual in your organization, they could do both, but you’re likely overpaying for the transactional and you’re underpaying for the strategic. Um, and that’s, you know, one of the benefits of involving, um, is that we’ve got both and we can tailor that. But I think as you move forward as a leader, it’s important to have those HR people or those people-minded individuals at the boardroom table. And to give you an example, let’s talk about events and workplace events, right?

 

It’s sometimes a social committee thing, sometimes a leadership thing, sometimes an HR thing, sometimes a marketing and advertising thing. But regardless of who at your organization plans things like your corporate holiday party, your team builds any, or even corporate client events go forward. We have to ask ourselves if this vaccine exemption program or vaccine passport or whatever you want to call it is going to be a thing to enter any public venue, restaurant, or conference or alike. And you as an organization say, Nope, we are still planning our Oregon, our events, just like we did in the past. And we are going to continue with that corporate culture. Um, that’s one thing. And then are you intentionally or unintentionally alienating those people that are accelerated because as an organization, you don’t have to have a vaccine policy in place. Therefore you’re not allowed to know who is vaccinated and who isn’t.

 

And so, yes, it’s a touchy subject and very often personal thoughts collide with organizational policy. And, you know, I’m trying to separate those. Um, but you know, it’s, are we going to continue the way we were and unintentionally alienate some people from not attending, or are we going to transition the way that we used to operate to a more inclusive culture and get creative with some of our things, right? Yes, we’re all sick of zoom. And we probably don’t want an online team builds on a Friday night. I get that. But are we having the conversation at the boardroom table of how people will perceive how we’re planning and how we’re growing, how people will think about that next step at that level? Um, and so very often, you know, we sit there as HR professionals and, and say, okay, well, most employees might think this, or I’ve heard employees that could think this. And because perception is reality, having that person at the table that can speak from the general populace of what might be interpreted from some of those decisions may provide additional insight to those decision-makers on how they move forward. I hope that made sense. It was a convoluted example, but

 

Yeah, absolutely because those, those conversations are happening, but a lot of times they’re happening in isolation without information from experts who understand the nuances of it, especially in the small and medium-sized businesses. And, you know, your, your market segment is small and medium business. Uh, but larger businesses still, just end up doing that internally. They have, but you I’d like to tell, you said you have the strategic stream versus the more transactional day-to-day operations of people, I guess you’d call it. Um, but that’s where you, there’s an HR department and you have key people within that department that have different roles with, as, as far as the strategy, like, especially in the medium to larger companies, if someone has a VP of HR or even better, the chief human resources, officer, chief people officer, or something like that. Yeah. How do you think, how many more companies do you think are going to be having that going forward? That strategic piece?

 

Yeah. You know, I think a lot of the larger organizations have it, or a version of it, whether they’re executing on what I believe that position to embody or represent is a different story. Um, I think from the clients that I’ve seen, um, we’ve got a client right now that did exactly what you just referenced. So they’ve had a person on my team. That’s been the transactional day-to-day support to understand the current state, clean things up, and make a path for the future. And then the owner said, look, I’ve kind of created this organization and grown it very ad hoc. We’ll call it and be very successful at it. But he has determined that there needs to be a strategy in place going forward. And if he tries to do it all, it will fail and he will be the bottleneck. And so he has said, okay, I need to create this fractional executive team of an accountant.

 

You know, a CHR, as you said, uh, you know, a strategy or change management individual from an operation standpoint. Um, and then one senior leader from his organization and together we meet monthly and we talk about the plan and we talk about the strategic direction and the goals. And what does the org chart look like? Go forward and not about the transactional pieces or the people today, but what does the future look like? And then make a work back plan to give to the transactional people and say, okay, we need to execute on this. And so I think they can be done independently or combined. Um, but more and more I’m offering this strategic CA Charo fractional support, um, at a very high level. And I think any small and medium business could have that on retainer, even if it’s ad hoc one hour a month or a set call.

 

Well, and that’s, that’s absolutely a perfect point. And, and I a great way to show where the, where business is going because two years ago, most companies would, they might say, Hey, I need help with recruiting, or I need help with this, but they’re there. They weren’t seeing, I need help from the strategy around people. And so if that’s a positive, that’s come out of the pandemic. Great. And hopefully, more small and medium businesses will start to see that as a viable option and understand the strategic and bottom-line impact it can have the, on the business to put that structure in going forward. So,

 

Yeah. Yeah. And I think it’s important to note that a lot of organizations may not be there or at that ideal state that we’ve kind of been talking about today. It’s not out of malicious intent. It’s not out of deceit for legislation, the law, or the best practices. It’s, you’ve organically grown and developed a business. You don’t know what you don’t know. And if you’re Billy and want to make a widget company and all of a sudden five years later, Billy’s no longer making widgets. He’s a people manager and an operations manager and neither of those skills, maybe Billy has. Um, and so it’s important that Billy focuses on the things that he’s good at and puts the right people in the right spots to help advise him to carry out the plan. Um, and that ties full circle to admitting you’re not the smartest person in the room, and being okay with that will allow your business to flourish.

 

Yeah. And you don’t build any business without help.

 

Exactly. Exactly. And you know, in 99% of businesses, your people and your culture are your foundation because, without your people, you won’t have a business unless you and I are all things to all people in our disciplines and, you know, we’re helping organizations, but that scope can be very limited because you’re in my time is finite, right? Um, in terms of how much we can support. So as you grow and develop a company, your people are paramount and why they’re not talked about at the boardroom table in conjunction with strategy and growth and operational goals still boggles my mind, but Hey, it’s a work in progress and we’ll get there.

 

Yeah. And you, you make a great point is that, uh, you know, a couple of years ago that a lot of these topics weren’t even, it’s not that they weren’t on the radar, but they, they weren’t pressing. And now they’re fires that need to be put out and hopefully, businesses will have fire extinguishers ready. And so they don’t, they don’t have fires in the future prevention plan in place.

 

Totally. And I think it’s also that eliminating the stigma barriers right. Of the wellness pieces of all you’re faking it, or, oh, you’re blowing this out of proportion or, oh, I just can’t relate. So I don’t understand against the HR stigmas of your policy procedure, whatever administrative, right. I think it’s breaking down some of those barriers and it’s having thought-provoking conversations with professionals like yourself and myself, that kind of open that up and share a different viewpoint that if nothing else causes, pause for thought and causes, pause for examination. Um, but having those really great authentic conversations I think is the first step, but you and I both have a long yield decline. So

 

Absolutely as, as do businesses coming out of this pandemic, the, and I think we’re at a really big inflection point here where we’re seeing that companies that are adapting and evolving and figuring it out that are caring for their people that are being open and genuine are, it’s like a, it’s a flywheel that, that keeps building up speed and companies that haven’t figured it out yet are just going to get left behind. And you, you mentioned the great resignation that some people argue that it’s not happening in Canada yet, but I, I feel it will. And, and companies that are progressive and moving forward are going to not experience as much of that as companies that are not adapting and changing, they’re going to be just, I think there’ll be a lot of companies that drop off the face of the earth, um, over the next year or two because they just have not been able to manage the changes in people, culture, expectations, and business model.

 

Yeah. And the delivery of service and how what they deliver. Right. Sometimes the same company is in business, but have totally changed what they offer and how they offer it, which has made them successful. Um, but you know, sticking with how you’ve always done it is how we’re going to do it definitely will not be successful. Um, and I think, um, I had another point that I wanted to raise when you said that last comment, um, uh, it’ll come to me. It’s all good.

 

Awesome. Well, I know, um, it’s been we’ve we could talk forever. There are so many more, we might have to set up another one. This is a, it’s been great. What’s the, what’s the one takeaway you’d want people to walk away from this, uh, this podcast with, and if they’re, whether they’re in a smaller, medium business or a larger business, if they’re in HR, what’s the, or a leader in, in those businesses, what’s the number one takeaway that you would like to have them remember?

 

I would probably challenge them to put the people’s lens on their glasses during the day and start putting their people in their culture first. Um, and if you have that lens, then how you approach things, how you talk to people, how you plan, how you forecast and even how you terminate somebody, those conversations will change how you onboard will change, how you grow. The company will change. Um, and if nothing else reach out to people like you and I, and other experts in the industry and just have a conversation at no charge, like let’s just pick your brain. Can I share what my process is? Or my Mo my thought, you know, the stance is, and have you critique it and give me some thoughts, right? It’s those great conversations that may not lead to business, which isn’t the intent. It’s more us adding value and creating better people, leaders through whether we have a two-minute conversation an hour podcast, or whether you’re our client. Um, I think it’s, I think it’s being humble enough to ask the questions and, and hear from an expert as to where, you know, some improvements might be made and where you’re currently really succeeding.

 

Yeah. Yeah. Well, and some of that speaks to learning and development in general, as, as part of a, the role that’s growing, moving forward, but that’s a whole other episode, so we can dive into that later.

 

And I think one of the other things I remembered just very quickly is there are some people that are inherently built to work from home. There are others that are built to work from an office with a team, and there are others that will be fine with a hybrid. And I think, you know, we throw personality assessments or behavioral assessments, or companies’ competency assessments out there into the marketplace, mostly as it aligns to recruitment or team building. Um, but if you, as a leader, lean into those and you examine them and you really create a role that fits that person, you will get the best out of them rather than not doing it, setting somebody up for failure by saying, you’re going to work from home a hundred percent of the time, and then not being really happy with their production or their output, right? So there are different tools that can help strategize that as you pivot and grow. Um, but again, it starts with the people.

 

Wonderful. Well, Ashley, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today and where can people find you?

 

Uh, so you can find us@ourwebsiteinvolving.ca. We’ve got all of our contact information there. Uh, we’re very active on social media. And then we also have a free webinar on the third Thursday of every month from 10 to 11 mountain time, a half an hour of it is content. And the other half an hour is just open discussion and questions. So, um, it’s free disrupted sure. On our website. And I think that will be if nothing else, a big value add, for business owners.

 

Awesome. I will make sure those get put up on the show notes. Thank you again for your time. And I look forward to connecting again soon. Hopefully, uh, once things progress, maybe even in person.


Maybe, maybe. Thanks so much for having me Tim, this was awesome.

 

My pleasure

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