The Very Best Of ProjectHR (2020), Part Two

The Very Best of ProjectHR

We're turning one! ProjectHR has reached its one-year anniversary, and we are celebrating with a collection of the podcast's best moments of the past year, split into two parts. Here in Part Two, we feature the following guests:

Michele Vincent, Managing Director, Sales and Marketing for MADI

Jennifer Perera, CEO of Our Benefits Coach

Michael Lotito, Co-chair of Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute and the Co-founder of The Emma Coalition

Bob Oberstein, Neutral consultant for arbitration, mediation, facilitation, and investigation

Dr. Mark Rogers, Founder and CEO of Insights Without Borders 

Susan McPherson, Founder and CEO at McPherson Strategies

Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, Author of What’s Your Problem?: To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve

Vanessa G. Nelson, President of Expert Human Resources

Steve Lowisz, CEO and Founder of Qualigence International and author of Recruiting Sucks…But It Doesn’t Have To: Breaking Through the Myths That Got Us Here

Stephanie Miller, Director, Employee Relations (US) , Lowe’s

Kate Jackson, Partner at Serrano Search

Karin Hurt & David Dye, Founders of Let’s Grow Leaders and Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates

Brandon Williams, CEO & Founder of Lead Tac

Anja Zojčeska, Human Resources and Employee Happiness Manager at TalentLyft 

Pete Havel,  Author of The Arsonist in the Office: Fireproofing Your Life Against Toxic Coworkers, Bosses, Employees and Cultures,

Ross Runkel, Labor and Employment Arbitrator & Mediator

M. Tamra Chandler, Partner/Principal with EY and author of Feedback (And Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It, How to Fix It

Abigail Johnson Hess, Careers Reporter for CNBC Make It

Ryan Golden, Reporter at HR Dive

Craig Lemasters, CEO of GXG consultancy and the author of Unstuck: How to Unlock and Activate the Wisdom of Others

Natalie Painchaud, Director of Learning at Innosight and author of Eat, Sleep, Innovate: How to Make Creativity an Everyday Habit Inside Your Organization

Rob Chesnut, Former Chief Ethics Officer, Airbnb & author of Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution

Jennifer Orechwa

ProjectHR

“In this special edition of ProjectHR, you’re going to get only the very best our guests had to offer, as we celebrate our first year."


If you prefer to read along while you listen, we've done all the hard work for you! We listened back to this episode and took notes below, and access is free! 


Michele Vincent (Episode 1.25)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


And in today's episode, we'll be talking about something that none of them either on the HR side or the LR side, like to think about, and that's the very real potential for sudden staff shortages. When an event happens like a labor strike or, you know, an unexpected pandemic that sends most of the country home, these kinds of things can absolutely decimate your labor force. As a leader, how can you ensure that productivity remains even when you were staff does not. You do it by creating a contingency plan. And we've invited Michelle Vincent from Madi to talk with us today about how to set up a continency plan for your own organization.


Michele Vincent


This is obviously an unprecedented situation. One that most companies were not prepared for. And I think this is going to change obviously so much for businesses moving forward. And hopefully we can take what we've learned from this process and this experience and be better prepared in the future. Larger companies have more at risk and they have more resources to dedicate towards contingency planning, but even the larger corporations that maybe had pandemic and influenza contingency plans in place already, they weren't fully prepared for what's happening right now. It also depends a little bit on the industry that the business's in. There are many regulatory agencies that require certain levels of preparedness from companies.


Host


Well, in your opinion should contingency plans cover strictly staffing issues, or should they cover other potential disruptions as well, like equipment failures or disasters?


Michele Vincent


A contingency plan should include any potential risks that could disrupt business operations. So that's typically manmade disasters, natural disasters, cyber-attacks that can even include, you know, political change and unrest or labor disputes, obviously. So, what should be included in a comprehensive contingency plan really is going to depend upon the industry, the business type, and even the geographical location of a business.

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Jennifer Perera (Episode 1.26)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


According to a recent SHRM report, 92% of employees surveyed said that benefits are important to their overall job satisfaction. You simply can't ignore the competitive impact of providing employees with the best benefits package possible. What's an HR professional to do? Find the best benefits options they can find, for the lowest possible price. It's a job that legit intimately leaves everyone dreading the lead up to open enrollment. That's why today we'll be talking with Jennifer Perera, the CEO of Our Benefits Coach, an employee benefits agency dedicated to helping communicate and educate employees on all that their companies do for them. Coach Jen, it's great to have you with us today.


Jennifer Perera


Thank you so much. I am so excited to be here.


Host


So, we know that our benefits packages can really make or break a company in a job candidate’s eyes. What are looking for in a benefits package, today?


Jennifer Perera


Yes, employees, like you said, are looking to spend as little as possible out of their pocket. So often you'll hear them say I have benefits, but I can't afford to use them. So, not only are they looking for plans that they can afford to actually pay for, but then the out-of-pocket expenses that the employees incur. They're looking for ways to close that gap as well. So, they want coverage, but they can't afford all of the out of pocket expenses. So, the lower, we can keep that for the employees, the much happier they are.


Host


In your opinion, what are the must have benefits that a company needs to offer to remain both compliant and competitive?


Jennifer Perera


So, you know, what's funny is a lot of companies will offer medical insurance and then they'll just leave it there. And they'll say that they're all good. The number one requested benefit from employees besides medical is dental insurance. So, dental insurance is very important. The second one is a short-term disability policy.


Michael Lotito (Episode 1.27)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


We’ll be addressing an element of that A.I. field future that we haven't yet directly discussed. And that's its impact on not only tasks, but jobs. The fear that A.I. will eliminate jobs in the future isn't just “techno fear” talking, it's tomorrow's reality. But happily, it's something we can begin to prepare for. And joining us today is Michael Lotito. Michael is a shareholder with the law firm of Littler Mendelson, and he is the cochair of Littler's Workplace Policy Institute. And he's also the co-founder of the Emma Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization designed to help businesses prepare for future technological job disruption. That is so fascinating talking about the robots potentially, I guess, taking over where a healthcare worker would be because honestly for the first time ever people have been concerned that robots could take their jobs, but right now it seems like it would be such a nice relief so

that people wouldn't have to be exposed to a deadly virus.


Michael Lotito


Yeah, I think that that's exactly correct. And you know, that this automation revolution that we're going through does have a fear factor that goes with it. And we'll talk about some of the remedies to it, but there's also a lot of positives. I mean, you always think about, take for example, a police officer, would you rather have a police officer go into a backpack that's been left behind where people are fearful that there's a bomb in it, or would you rather have a robot do it right? I mean, it's, I mean, total no brainer, intensifying people's awareness, that personal interaction is not necessarily the best thing to do from a productivity standpoint, from a health standpoint. And the A.I. perspective is, you know, we need data in order to make better predictions. We're going to need data with respect to the pandemic situation to defend the inevitable lawsuits.


Bob Oberstein (Episode 1.28)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


Joining us today is Bob Oberstein. Bob has worked on both sides of the labor relations table, both in the private and public sectors. As an educator, he developed and administers the labor management relations program at Ottawa University. And he is now at resurrecting his practice as an arbitrator mediator,

facilitator and investigator. Bob, we are so glad you're here to talk to us today


Bob Oberstein


Thank you.


Host


What other changes have impacted the way we look at social media policies?


Bob Oberstein


The most glaring change is obviously what I've mentioned already, which is COVID-19 because now we have an extraordinary amount of work being done via social media of all kinds. Prior to that, I would have had to said that the biggest change was in the National Labor Relations Act and union organizing efforts via social media. I need to be clear here - that doesn't have to be necessarily by a union approaching people through social media, but I'm talking here about employee to employee conversations, because that is also protected activity, under the Act. And the fact is the laws have not changed, it's just the medium that's changed because a lot of companies, if you picked up their policy today would say, employees are not supposed to be discourteous to each other, or employees must always make sure that they hold certain information as confidential. Well, that's not necessarily true when it's employee to employee conversations under Section 7, you know, we bring people on board and we teach them a lot about Title 7 and Sexual Harassment and other kinds of discrimination. We have no trouble telling them what the law is, but when it comes to their rights under other laws, such as the National Labor Relations Act, we don't want to let them know what their rights are. And that creates a problem later on down the road because the who comes in and tells them their rights? Too often, it's the union and now management is playing catch up.


Dr. Mark Rogers (Episode 1.29)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


We'll be talking about change and leading change in your organization. We are taping this episode as COVID-19 is disrupting every aspect of our working lives. And as we look to the future, for many, it can be hard to even imagine what it will be like when things get back to normal. Our guest today has some very definite opinions about normalizing the abnormal as well as about change management, post COVID-19. Dr. Mark Rogers is the Founder and CEO of Insights Without Borders, a global management consultancy firm. He's also the author of “Transforming Change Management -Change or Be Changed; Disrupt or Be Disrupted”. So, you're saying that as leaders to prepare their teams for what's coming, whatever that is, that they can lead in vulnerability and kind of accept corporately that you can't control the uncontrollable, essentially.


Dr. Mark Rogers


This is an area that a lot of leadership, I think they've pushed back from. They sort of see this as this touchy feely, you know, this is your world. No, this is your prime opportunity and leadership where you guys are going to, and women, are going to have to come together. And you're going to have to talk about. Our people are scared. Our people don't know what's going on. We don't know it's going on. We don't have the answers. Are we going to full remote working cultural environments? Are our production lines going to be, you know, fully automated, doesn't get exposed to the COVID 19; we don't have to shut the whole plant down. Well, if we do that, what happens to the people that are not going to have those jobs, now? You know, these difficult conversations, this kind of “future thinking proactively” is really scary. And if you don't have an emotional sensitivity, one or an IQ to that, they're going to have to start getting that because that's going to be part of the job description going forward.


Susan McPherson (Episode 1.30)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


The concepts of corporate social responsibility and sustainability are nothing new. They've been a part of our working landscape since the mid-20th century. But in recent years, these initiatives have quickly gained momentum in response, in part to the acceleration of climate change and other crises across the globe. What was once just a nice thing to do has become something that has a much greater potential for critical impact. Today, we are joined by Susan McPherson. Susan is a corporate responsibility expert, and she is the Founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, a communications consultancy, focusing on the intersection between brands and social impact.


Susan McPherson


A company must do more than seek strong profit margins for its success. Being socially responsible is part of survival in today's economy. It's going to allow you and to help you have employees that want to stay with you. It's going to bring you customers that perhaps wouldn't have come to you, and it's going to help your brand be one that people trust and admire and respect. The four types of corporate responsibility are a company's philanthropic efforts, environmental conservation, you know, let's, let's put back more than we take from our one and only planet earth, company diversity, inclusion and labor practices. And I can guarantee you that is going to step up at an increasingly fast pace. Yeah. And then obviously your, you know, your community involvement. And I see that as, as how are you getting your employees involved in this greater mission, whether it be volunteering; whether it be sharing on their platforms; because we know today everyone has their own means from which to share and to sadly shame, but also galvanize their friends and fans and families.


Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg (Episode 1.31)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


We're taking on problem-solving. We all face problems on the job as well as in our personal lives. And we do come up with solutions. Sometimes those solutions even work. But have you ever asked yourself if we could be doing this better? Where did we learn how to solve problems anyway? And is it possible that we might improve outcomes with a different approach? According to today's guest, our biggest challenge might not be in finding better solutions, but rather in better defining the problems we face. Today, we are joined by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg. He is a globally recognized expert on innovation and problem-solving and author of a brand-new book titled What's Your Problem - To Solve Your Toughest Problems Change the Problems You Solve. The book uses a lot of real-world examples that really make the concepts come alive. Seriously, for those listening, prepare for stories about shelter, dogs, shuffleboard-playing hipsters, and even Stephen

Hawking. Can you share with us about that problem, the slow elevator problem?


Thomas Wedell-Weddellsborg


Absolutely. And it's the single best way of explaining what reframing is rapidly. You imagine that you are the owner of an office building and that your tenants are complaining about the speed of the elevator. Now what most people do in that situation is kind of to take the problem for granted and then they end up brainstorming for ways to make the elevator faster. What building managers do in the real world, there's something else they often try and that is to put up a mirror next to the elevators. Because of course, what happens is people arrive; they're busy, but then they look up and see their own face; and they fall endlessly in love and they forget the problem. It's just an encapsulation of that core idea that sometimes you're better off not solving the problem that's put in front of you, but instead, going in and trying to look for a different interpretation or different framing of it. The mirror doesn't make the elevator faster, the mirror distracts people from the fact that they are waiting.


Vanessa G. Nelson (Episode 1.32)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


Whatever happened to civility. Americans have a deep concern about the state of civility in our nation. Their results show that the vast majority of Americans, 93%, identify our lack of civility as a problem and 68% classify it as a major problem. Incivility can run rampant through workplaces, impacting employee health and wellness, threatening corporate liability, and yes, damaging a company's profitability. Whatever happened to civility and how can we improve it in our workplace? Today, we are joined by Vanessa G. Nelson. Vanessa is the President of Expert Human Resources, an HR consultancy focusing on improving an organization's operational performance, as well as their bottom lines. She is also the author of 101 Costly HR Mistakes and How to Fix Them Before It's Too Late.


Vanessa G. Nelson


Well, in my view, I believe that over time, people have just become less civil. And I believe it happened just like a little bit at a time where small things began to be acceptable. Somebody in the workplace may drop a profane word. And at first people might gasp and say, “I can't believe they said it,” but then they turn around and laugh about it. And the words became more and more acceptable. And then you have a profanity-laced workplace. Or, you know, a little rudeness here and there, a little disrespect, a little gossip, a little making fun of a coworker, and then it crosses the line and then it becomes an uncivil situation.


Host


Do you think in what, in those terms of what you just said, like, for example, with profanity, do you think it's just a generalized fear of people pleasing, like not wanting to speak up?


Vanessa G. Nelson


Absolutely. I just believe people want to be accepted, so they adapt to those behaviors.


Steve Lowisz (Episode 1.33)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


We'll be talking about one of the most basic functions of an HR team, but one whose practices are wildly out of date. But honestly, I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees with that. Of course, we are talking about recruiting and while technology has added some nuance to the processes that we've been following for 50-plus years, it's definitely a time for all of us to reexamine how we go about hiring. We are joined today by Steve Lowisz. Steve is the founder and CEO of Qualigence International, a talent solutions provider. And he is also the author of “Recruiting Sucks -But It Doesn't Have to… breaking through the myths that got us here.” Steve, we are so happy to have you here with us.


Steve Lowisz


Glad to be here, Beth. Thank you.


Host


So, tell me why does recruiting suck?


Steve Lowisz


<laughs> I think, I think there's two reasons recruiting sucks and one focused often on the wrong things. And then the second piece is there's very little education around what recruiting really is. It's like anybody can do it by just picking up the phone or using LinkedIn or what have you and there's no thought behind it at times. So, I think there's two big issues as to why recruiting sucks.


Host


If recruiting systems are so broken, why are we still using them, do you think?


Steve Lowisz


<laughs> Well, I use myself as an example, right? So, I'm probably 20 pounds overweight give or take, depending on who you ask, right? Why don't I lose weight, right? I've tried. It's kind of a habit thing, right?


Host


Yeah.


Steve Lowisz


We're so used to doing it the way we've done it, even though it generally doesn't produce the right results. I know when I had ice cream last night, it was not good for me, but I continued to do it anyways.


Host


Yeah, you're aware of the habit. It doesn't mean that that awareness is going to bring about any change. You just know that it exists.


Steve Lowisz


That's the issue, that's knowing and doing, you and I both know are not the same thing, not at all.


Stephanie Miller (Episode 1.34)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


And I'm so excited because today's episode is the first in our “Best Practices in Employee Relations” series. We'll interview movers and shakers at companies you know and love. In this episode, we're joined by Stephanie Miller. Stephanie is the Director of Employee Relations for Lowe's. This multiple award-winning home improvement retailer has received the acknowledgements of military-friendly employer; America's most loved brands; they landed number 9 on Forbes list of most engaged companies; and in 2020 was listed as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ equality, with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.


Stephanie Miller


You know, the last thing that I think we focus on with respect to our ER philosophy is making sure that we are supporting and improving upon the relationships that are building between our people leaders and our associates. And so, the things that we offer our people leaders in terms of maybe constant reminders, or maybe it's, you know, information for the first time are things like, how do you foster open communication with your people? How do you make sure that you're doing it timely? In other words, if we have a new company initiative that's rolling out, how do we make sure that we time it correctly in terms of bringing our associates in the fold on that journey so that they understand the why behind we're doing it. And then making sure that we're just constantly, and in many, many different methods or modes of communication connecting with, with our associates. If they know where to go internally with their concerns, we've got a pretty good shot of addressing them and then our associates, aren't going to feel like they need to take them outside of our organization to be handled.


Kate Jackson (Episode 1.35)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


Recruitment, in general, can be quite a challenge. And if you're looking for specific skills and talents that can make the search exponentially more difficult. What's more when hiring for a role that directly impacts highly sensitive areas of the business, such as labor relations, well, that just adds a whole new level of complexity. When that happens, you need to bring in the experts. And that's why today we are joined by Kate Jackson with Serrano Search, an executive search firm dedicated to labor relations related recruitment. In your experience as a recruiter, what are you looking for in a labor relations candidate?


Kate Jackson


Individuals that were responsible for the strategy of labor relations within the organization; individuals that know how to interpret a collective bargaining agreement; how to manage grievances; how to deal with arbitrations; how to manage union campaigns; how to train management; how to build relationships with union leadership. So that's broadly, but I will say each client has a very specific need and it can vary. So, it's very important that as a recruiter, you really understand what the roles and responsibilities are because it can change from organization to organization and job to job. Oh, can I add one more thing, too.


Host


Oh yes, of course.


Kate Jackson


So, the other day I did send out a communication and asked our labor relations network, “what they felt were the skill sets needed to be successful as a labor relations professional?”


Host


Oh, I’d love to hear that.


Kate Jackson


And so, I thought it was great because it came straight from people that do this job day in and day out. So, it was integrity, active listening skills, emotional intelligence, empathy, thick skin, because it is a contact sport, salesmanship, ability to build and maintain professional relationships on both sides of the table, and patience, and a

strong sense of humor.


Karin Hurt and David Dye (Episode 1.36)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


And today we'll be talking about the value of the employee voice and more specifically about how leaders can encourage employees to speak up and become micro innovators, problem solvers, and customer advocates for their organizations. Joining us today to talk about all of this and more are Karin Hurt and David Dye of management consulting firm, “Let's Grow Leaders” and authors of Courageous Cultures. Well, in the introduction we mentioned micro innovators, what are these roles and why are they so beneficial to an organization?


David Dye


Sure, let's start with the micro innovator. So, we are not primarily talking about blue ocean strategy, where you come up with the next iPhone, you know, kind of these, you know, game-changing world-making innovations, although, courageous cultures can certainly contribute and make those happen. A micro innovation is the day-to-day enhancement. It's the improvement by evolution rather than revolution that happens in teams and organizations. And so, you think about a leader that spends a year trying to find a big blue ocean strategy somewhere to go versus another leader with a team full of people, every one of whom is contributing a micro innovation every day, for 365 days, and the massive amount of growth improvement and forward movement in that latter team. And so, micro innovations are those they're improvements in the customer experience; could be a process efficiency; you know, anything that's affecting the business; the employer customer experience in a positive way.


Karin Hurt


So, for example, a leader said, you know what? Instead of every meeting that has was an hour when we were in person is now going to move to 45 minutes in our virtual environment, you know, just a really small little thing. But if everyone on your team is coming up with one small little thing, that's what really can add up too much more, you know, productivity.


Brandon Williams (Episode 1.37)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


We'll be focusing on the challenges of leading in an uncertain world, a world that admittedly has become exceptionally uncertain in 2020 and will likely remain that way in the coming months. That's why we've asked Brandon Williams of Lead-Tac to join us today. As a United States Air Force F15E fighter pilot and officer. He is a well versed in leading diverse teams through challenging times. And now he uses that knowledge to develop and inspire corporate leadership specifically through the use of situational awareness


Brandon Williams


Humans, we're not designed for that. We're not designed, really, to thrive in complexity. I mean, think about it. That's why we get frustrated, when we think about everything, (that) we have to do this week or this day or this month, this year, this quarter, and it's hard to grasp that. It's hard to think strategically, we have to do it, so that we're not wired for it. So, when you think about leadership though, you have to really tap into the tac class, but those human factors, what does complexity do to humans? Like I said, we're not designed for it. It drives human error and situation awareness leadership, the whole model we teach at Lead TAC. The whole idea that is how we as leaders help mitigate that human error. Yeah. It's not a flying an F15 or it's not a combat environment, necessarily a military unit, but there's complexity in our world. I mean, think about it, even in non-COVID environment, we were already going to highly remote teams. That itself is just a huge challenge in itself. Ever changing marketplaces things are moving faster, big data, cloud computing, trying to keep up with the competition. And now you throw in a pandemic. I mean, Holy complexity, Batman!


Anja Zojčeska (Episode 1.38)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


Recent studies have shown that approximately half of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months in a new position. And approximately half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first 120 days. All of which goes to say that just finding the perfect fit isn't enough. You've also got to take steps to keep them enthusiastic and engaged. That process starts with one of the most important elements of the new hire experience – Onboarding. To tell us how we can do just that is Anja Zojčeska, the Human Resources and Employee Happiness Manager at Talent Lyft.


Anja Zojčeska


Most companies don't give onboarding an ample amount of time. The onboarding process in most companies is definitely way too short. This is because most companies still have just the orientation on employee's first day instead of the whole onboarding process and most companies that have a real onboarding process and it is way too quick. There was a very interesting survey CareerBuilder did recently. It was a comprehensive study of onboarding conducted on different companies in different industries and different sizes. And what this research found is that two thirds of hiring managers and HR professionals spend less than a month onboarding new employees.


Host


Oh.


Anja Zojčeska


Yeah. According to this research only one-in-four employers, that is 25%, reported that their company onboarding process takes a day or less.


Host


Wow.


Anja Zojčeska


26% of companies have an onboarding program that lasts a week. And the 21% of companies said that their onboarding process takes place over a course of a month. More and more research is suggesting that companies should be extending onboarding to a full year.


Pete Havel (Episode 1.39)


Beth Pilgreen (Host)


It's an unfortunate fact that most of us to some degree or another have had to deal with toxicity in the workplace. In fact, toxic workplaces are a primary reason workers leave their jobs and leadership is often held responsible for its presence. So, what do we mean when we talk about toxicity and how can leaders head it off in their own workplaces? Today's guest has written what he calls a survival guide for toxic workplaces and offers a bold new approach to addressing these issues. Here, to talk about his book, “The Arsonist in The Office - Fireproofing Your Life Against Toxic Coworkers, Bosses, Employees and Cultures.” Let's welcome. Pete Havel.


Pete Havel


Maybe when somebody speaks up and says, “Hey, I found this issue that popped up. I think it's a real problem.” It may be a safety issue. It may be some financial, any of those types of things, or you may have somebody that raises their hand, offers their perspective and an insecure person above them says, “I'm not going to let that person get any further within the company on my watch.” So, it can't be those types of things. It can be yelling and shouting. It can be silence. And that probably sounds contradictory, but you find in so many toxic environments, and we've probably all been there on this, when people have learned very quickly that their perspectives are not respected; that you offer constructive criticism; or maybe doing something to help out the team; and it's just not encouraged. So, at the end of that meeting, when your manager says, “alright, anybody have any questions or want to say anything?” The room is silent because people have learned quickly, you know what, nobody cares about what I have to say. Or, they've seen what's happening around the organization and they just mentally check out and they're no longer invested.


Ross Runkel (Episode 1.40)


Jennifer Orechwa (Host)


I'm your host, Jennifer Orechwa, COO of Projections and today we're going to be talking about conflict. There are a few controversies that can be more damaging to a business than a dispute with an employee. And if that employee happens to be a key executive, the impact of that dispute can be even worse. One study even claimed that U.S. companies face a nearly 12% chance of being hit with an employment lawsuit. And that those lawsuits result in defense and settlement costs of, on average, about $125,000 per case. So, clearly the best scenario would be to avoid these kinds of disputes altogether. But when that doesn't happen, companies often turn to arbitration or mediation to help resolve those disputes and mitigate their impact. That's why we have asked Ross Runkle to join us for this episode. Ross has spent the better part of his career serving as an independent labor and employment arbitrator and mediator.


Ross Runkel


Mediation is very different because the mediator doesn't have any authority to make a decision. The mediator's job is to come in and help the parties to negotiate themselves, to reach their own agreement, something that the parties themselves want to do, like the arbitrator would tell them what to do. The mediator doesn't do that. And then of course, negotiation, which is what resolves most disputes is just two people face to face trying to work out a resolution. These are all voluntary and

private processes, except for litigation.


Host


So, can a company basically mandate arbitration?


Ross Runkel


What people call mandatory arbitration, keeping in mind that arbitration is a voluntary process, but what happens is that an employee will sign an agreement - maybe when they're hired or later on - an agreement to arbitrate disputes that might arise in the future. People in the business call it a pre-dispute arbitration agreement. So, then if a dispute arises later on, a court's going to enforce that agreement to arbitrate. So, at that point, the arbitration actually is mandatory, but it's mandatory only because the employee originally agreed to it.


M. Tamra Chandler (Episode 1.41)


Jennifer Orechwa (Host)


And today we're discussing an eight-letter word that might as well be a four-letter word, judging by the way it makes most of us feel. I'm talking about feedback and while it's a critical part of corporate improvement and performance, the process brings with it a lot of baggage for everyone involved. Can we fix the feedback and make it a more productive and less stressful effort? Our guest today certainly believes we can. Joining us today is Tamra Chandler, Partner and Principal at EY and author of “Feedback and Other Dirty Words - Why We Fear It, How to Fix It.” We're so happy you're here Tamara.


M. Tamra Chandler


Oh, thank you. I'm super excited to be here. Thanks, Jennifer. We really, really struggle with this word. I like to say feedback has a horrible brand. Like the word itself has a horrible brand. I mean, most people, if you even say the word feedback, they put this phantom word “negative” in front of it, right. It means something that's coming at me, that's going to hurt. That's going to be painful. That's maybe not fair. So, we really have to take a step back and redefine this whole word because it is, it really has a bad brand.


Host


How do you think that that's happened? How has feedback in such a bad rap?


M. Tamra Chandler


You know, I think it's, I think it starts like I joke it starts at the playground. It starts with the conversations you had with your siblings, right? We, we all sort of learn feedback in this, not very positive way. I also think in Western cultures, we have this belief that is completely not true, but we sort of believe that if I'm going to make you better, Jennifer, the best way I should do that is tell you all the things you're doing wrong. And you'll emerge from that a better person.


Host


<laughs> I might not like you much.


M. Tamra Chandler


<laughs> You won’t like me much and you won't trust me anymore.


Host


Right.


M. Tamra Chandler


You won't in the end to be a better person. So, we have a lot of false beliefs about feedback. What we connect to are the negative things.


Host


True.


M. Tamra Chandler


So, when we think about feedback, that's why we tend to think about you. We say we're positively negative, we think about the negative.


Abigail Johnson Hess (Episode 1.42)


Jennifer Orechwa (Host)


Of course, here on ProjectHR, we talk a lot about encouraging the maintenance of a positive collaborative workplace. It's one of HR’s primary goals, but sometimes that goal can be tough to achieve. And one of the most challenging times for maintaining that positivity can be during a heated political campaign. Not long 

from now, the U.S. will face one of the most divisive Presidential elections in its history. And despite the fact that many Americans are now working from home, toxic behavior including campaign rhetoric, can still make its way into your workspaces, deeply impacting your team's current and future harmony and productivity. What can we do as leaders and HR professionals to head off this damage? Today, we're joined by Abigail Johnson Hess, a Careers Reporter with CNBC Make It who has written on this very topic. And she's going to help us better understand what's at stake.


Abigail Johnson Hess


I've been following these studies and surveys on the subject of politics in the workplace for over a year now, right? As we were kind of ramping up towards 2020, back in November 2019, a survey from the Society of Human Resources Management found that 42% of you U.S. employees say they have personally experienced a political disagreement at work. A February 2020 Glassdoor poll found that 57% of workers say they've talked about politics while on the job. And most recently a survey from Gardener found that 78% of people talk about politics at work. And 47% of people say that the 2020 Presidential election has impacted their ability get work done. So steadily we've seen that these conversations are happening at work. And now we're starting to see that it's starting to have an impact on people's productivity on the way they work, on the quality of their work, things like that.


Host


Most people think it's inappropriate to talk about politics at work, but then we just can't stop ourselves. (laughter) And so it's interesting to me, 2020 has been just one hit after another (laughter), you know, we're all stressed from, you know, social unrest of fires and hurricanes, you know, to murder Hornets (laugher). The truth is, is, you know, if we don't laugh, we cry (laughter). So, this problematic year fed into the political divide that we're seeing and working.


Abigail Johnson Hess


I mean, I think you're definitely right. Workers have been thrown a lot to deal with this year. I think the way that it's fed into the way people have political conversations is I think people have begun to become desensitized to some really difficult subjects, right..


Ryan Golden (Episode 1.43)


Jennifer Orechwa (Host)


Now, years ago, you started a new job. And then your very first day you were handed a flurry of papers to sign and a bound book, or at least a hefty pamphlet, your employee handbook. The handbook was a document that outlined the basics of your work with the company from benefits to holidays, to general personnel policies, and as an employee, it was your go to for company questions. And it was typically the driest read ever, But no more. Today's employee handbooks look very different than they did back then. In fact, they're often not even books and they're no longer just a list of rules and benefits. Modern handbooks serve as no less than a comprehensive introduction to a company's culture. And if your company hasn't updated its employee handbook in a while, you're going to want to listen to this episode. Our guest today is Ryan Golden, reporter with HR Dive, which provides in-depth journalism and insight into the most impactful news and trends, shaping human resources.


Ryan Golden


One of the biggest pieces of advice I've heard from my employment attorney sources has been that if you have an employee handbook, you should probably be updating it at least once per year to reflect changes in state law, federal law, local law, because as we've seen in the past few years, employment law has shifted considerably on all these levels.


Host


So, your legal contacts, so they recommended an annual look at it. Should the attorney be involved at that point? Or is that just something that you should do internally and kind of do an audit of the handbook or should they hand it over to their labor and employment attorney to make sure that they're fully updated?


Ryan Golden


Yeah, I think the easiest answer to that question is just, yes. Involve your compliance team at sort of every step of the way in updating your handbook. Over and over again, I've heard employment attorneys in any employment law issue, you've got to get your compliance people involved; your leadership team involved; and as you make those changes, make sure you communicate them to your workforce. And a lot of different ways, not just through email, but you know, through electronic updates, through apps if you need to, through your internal intranet, through management, there are a lot of ways to communicate those changes.


Craig Lemasters (Episode 1.44)


Jennifer Orechwa (Host)


Now, as leaders today, leaders of people, leaders of companies and of communities, we know that over the past year changes rapidly been thrust upon us at an unheard rate. And it's not that there's a lack of information out there. In fact, there's so much information available to all of us. I'd Say we're in a state of decision fatigue. In short, we're stuck, information overload creates a paralysis by analysis. And that sense of overwhelm can leave us with an inability to pivot when we need to most. Happily, this is a situation that can be overcome. And today we're joined by the man who wrote the book on how to do just that. Craig Lemasters is here. He is CEO of GXG Consultancy and the author of “Unstuck - How to Unlock and Activate the Wisdom of Others.” So, what are the symptoms that indicate that a leader or a team is in fact stuck?


Craig Lemasters


Yeah. So, where this idea of “stuck-unstuck” applies the most, Jennifer, is when we're doing new things or as I say new stuff. So, if I stick with that as the destination, the first symptom of stuck is we struggle defining the destination. I think there's usually two or three or more paths to get to the destination. So, when I see a leader struggling with, you know, what actually is that - it means we haven't picked a destination, really. And that's one symptom. The other is when we drew this picture in the book called “circle of stuck.” But when we tend to do new stuff, it usually starts with a meeting, pretty standard. The challenge is, and the circle of stuck is we had the meeting. It's usually a decent sized group of people. And then we start to carbon copy and blind carbon copy people on that. And then the group grows, and it gets bigger and bigger. And then people that weren't in the meeting get upset, so we have to have a second meeting and a third meeting, and I had a CEO actually interrupt me one time telling the story. I said, “hey, I think I have a record for you.” He said, “well, I just saw an email with 347 cc’s.


Host


Holy cow!


Craig Lemasters


That's kind of what I said. And I'm like, “wow, that is a record.” And he said, “I kind of got aggravated, but I'd never thought of it as we might be stuck.”


Jeff Nowak (Episode 1.45)


Jennifer Orechwa (Host)


The Family Medical Leave Act was signed into law. A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that nearly two-thirds of HR professionals had experienced problems with administering the FMLA. It's no surprise then that employers have looked online for guidance regarding this complex rule, scouring everything from government websites to seeking out helpful blogs, such as the highly successful blog written by today's guest, Jeff Nowak. Jeff is a shareholder with Littler Mendelson and in 2020, his blog FMLA Insights celebrated its 10th year, a landmark for any publication.

Jeff, I wanted to congratulate you on hitting that decade mark and thank you for joining us today on ProjectHR.


Jeff Nowak


Thanks Jen. Great to be here.


Host


Now in that post, you talked about, you told some stories on some employees behaving badly. I would love it if you would share a couple of those memorable stories with us.


Jeff Nowak


Well, when, when I think of my favorite posts, the craziest things happen at the workplace. And that's so true in the world of, of FMLA. So, this is employee behaving badly where she, she gets a bad review, she gets written up, she gets disciplined. The next day, she seeks FMLA leave, not uncommon, an employee gets disciplined and the next day they take a medical leave. Takes a leave of absence for several weeks of time. Can't come back to work; can't do anything; as far as her doctor is concerned. Then she has spotted attending a Beyonce concert while she's on medical leave. But not only that she's attending the concert in the employers’ suite (laughter).


Host


You know, it’s a perk, it's a benefit.


Jeff Nowak


You know, of course, It's going to kind of raise the attention of the supervisor who then asks, “well, hold on a second, you're telling me that you can't be at work right now because of this condition, but yet, can you help me understand how you ended up in the employer's suite at the Beyonce concert?” It's kind of stuff like this that you almost can't make up.


Host


One last thing, Jeff, a little bird told me that you often sing songs on your webinars. I was wondering if you would share with us an acapella stanza or two of your favorite webinar song.


Jeff Nowak


(laughter) The last couple of years, I’ve kind of stuck with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” by The Barenaked Ladies at Christmas time.


Host


Love it, yep


Jeff Nowak


I’ve changed the song over the years to “O’ Rest Ye FMLA Misusers.” This may shatter the windows of the studio (laughter).

(singing) I woke up at 4:30 with a scratched cornea.

It was better than last week, I swore I had a hernia.

Oh what excuse I could concoct to avoid my overtime.

O’ tidings of FMLA, FMLA, O’ tidings of FMLA.

That’s all you are going to get.


Host


Yay!!! (laughter and applause)


Natalie Painchaud (Episode 1.46)


Jennifer Orechwa (Host)


Now, innovation is a word that gets thrown around a lot and it should, it is, or it should be a critical part of any business, but to really make an impact, innovation has to become a habit and it has to be fully integrated into your corporate culture. For many developing a culture of innovation can be a challenge. Joining us today is Natalie Painchaud. She is the Director of Learning at management consulting firm Innosight and she is one of the authors of Eat, Sleep, Innovate - How to make creativity an everyday habit inside your organization. So, one of the cornerstones of the eat-sleep-innovate program is the use of BEANs. (laughter) So, pro tip to our audience, that's not the kind that comes in a can. Can you tell us what beans are?


Natalie Painchaud


Yes. BEANs stands for behavior, enablers, artifacts and nudges, and a behavioral enabler is some type of direct way to change behavior. That might be a process or a checklist or a coach. For example, the artifacts and nudges are the indirect ways to encourage that behavior. And those might be things that you don't even notice are really happening. It could be some type of visual cue that sits in a meeting room or more recently, I've seen people with custom zoom backgrounds to remind them of what they need to be doing. And it's a fun acronym and a memorable one, for sure.


Host


For sure. Can you give us some examples of your favorite beans?


Natalie Painchaud


I sure can. So, as I think about being customer obsessed, something, we just talked about one that I really love is the future press release. This is something that Amazon uses to look at. What is the desired outcome from the customer's perspective. So, writing a press release in the future can be very motivating to then say, we're doing all this work and it's going towards this ultimate outcome of how we're going to serve our customers. And they can be kind of fun to write and just an easier way to engage people than a boring list of objectives. Let's say.


Rob Chesnut (Episode 1.47)


Jennifer Orechwa (Host)


In any given year, a company faces tremendous pressures, pressures that can test the ethics of individuals within the company as well as the ethics of the organization as a whole. We are reminded of this fact on an almost daily basis, with ethical scandals at Uber, Wells Fargo, VW, Starbucks and Facebook, just to name a few. But integrity isn’t just a concern for high-profile organizations, it’s an issue for every organization and if your company hasn’t determined, developed and communicated its unique code of ethics to its team and to the public at large, your company is missing a critical opportunity to bring out the best in yourselves, in your industry and in your community. Today, we are joined by Rob Chesnut, former Chief Ethics Officer with Airbnb and the author of Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution.

Rob, we are so happy to have you here today.


Rob Chesnut


Thanks for having me, Jennifer.


Host


You know integrity is one of those words that a lot of people use without stopping to think about what it means. So, taking that inspiration, how do you define integrity?


Rob Chesnut


Well, you are right. You see it on those posters, right, with the pretty sunset and the lake and the lone tree with the word “integrity” underneath it and nobody talks about it.


Host


Right, what is that?


Rob Chesnut


It’s an uncomfortable subject, a little bit, I think leaders don’t want to get into morality, right. They don’t want to get into, uh, they feel like it’s someone’s personal business. You know what I mean? For me, integrity, you know the classic definition – doing the right thing even when no one is watching. The problem is the world’s changed. And, the world is always watching, now. And so, things that were swept under the rug, you know, misdeeds, the lying, the cheating, the stealing, it’s coming out and the world’s hearing about bad behavior by leaders and companies like never before.

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About the Author Jacqueline Gregory

As a creative, persuasive communications professional with extensive experience guiding projects from concept through completion Jacqui has produced custom communications for some of the world's best known brands. Producing ProjectHR has been one of her favorite ways to engage and delight HR and Labor Relations professionals!

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