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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-062: Building the Bridge that Unites HR and Operational Leaders

With Ms. Claire Chandler

ET-062: A conversation with Ms. Claire Chandler

and your host Wayne Brown on August 29, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Ms. Claire Chandler

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET.

Today, we’re once again sitting in the Big Apple, and this time chatting with President and Founder of Talent Boost, Ms. Claire Chandler. Claire specializes in leadership and business value creation, tapping into nearly 30 years of experience in people leadership, human resources, and business ownership to help organizations achieve strategic alignment, cultural integration, and sustainable success.

Claire gets results because she’s insanely easy to work with. She cuts through the corporate clutter and has proven agile and customizable frameworks for aligning people, processes, and performance with a long-term business strategy.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…They have to be really clear and sharp and in tune and dialed in on what it is that their core business model, focus, culture, belief system are. Because the biggest mistake that most companies make is thinking that a merger is spackle. And what I mean by that is they think that by merging or acquiring another entity, it’s going to cover over the gaps, the flaws, the cracks in their foundation. And what they soon discover, unfortunately, is that that merger, that acquisition just widens the gaps instead of actually brings them together. The first thing companies need to do is be extremely clear on why they want to grow in that way and what they are intrinsically and deeply all about as a company first, and then look for the right marriages……”

Today’s Guest: MS. CLAIRE CHANDLER

Claire’s clients often refer to her as the leadership therapist because they have real, actionable conversations that remove obstacles and alleviate worries and get things done.

She holds a certificate in strategic HR leadership from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a master’s degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University.

Claire has appeared as a guest on over 150 podcasts and is author of several books on leadership and business strategy and is a contributing writer to Forbes. During our conversation, you’ll hear us dive deep into the challenges faced by HR to gain real traction in taking a seat at the table of business operations.

I like this quote from Claire so much as it rings loud and true in my experience over 45 years.

“The greatest impact on a company’s culture is the behavior of its leaders,”

– Ms. Claire Chandler.

Final words from Claire:

One of the big disconnects that those conversations uncovered, I thought, was quite profound in what they shared with me. Almost without exception, these heads of HR and these heads of talent had this mindset toward new leaders where their belief was that new leaders walk into their job with a lot of ego. And so we are here to sort of catch them when they first get humbled, ’cause it’s coming. What’s interesting is, without exception, every single new leader told me that they started in that new role, wondering if they even deserved to be at that level.

So, HR who is positioned supposedly as the people champion, identifying new leaders, trying to get them ready, putting them into the right roles, and assuming that these people are walking in with a lot of ego, are completely missing the point that not only are these leaders filled with self-doubt because of this expectation that they’ve been put into a role because of past performance or endorsements or references or what have you, they’re afraid to acknowledge what they don’t know.

They’re afraid to ask for help. And that is a huge disconnect. And that is part of what feeds into this really elongated learning curve of new leaders. And so I think insights like yours around Psych 101, insights around just understanding the human nature of that imposter syndrome that we all have when we step into a new experience and what to do with that, in addition to acknowledging it. But then also making it…

A lot of HR organizations are really leaning into resources around mental health. And that’s wonderful. Let’s not overlook the mental health, the mindset, and the needs of new leaders. And make not only okay, but expected that they will ask for help.…

[music]

0:00:01.0 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world who we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. Today, we’re once again sitting in the Big Apple, and this time chatting with President and Founder of Talent Boost, Ms. Claire Chandler. Claire specializes in leadership and business value creation, tapping into nearly 30 years of experience in people leadership, human resources, and business ownership to help organizations achieve strategic alignment, cultural integration, and sustainable success. Claire gets results because she’s insanely easy to work with. She cuts through the corporate clutter and has proven agile and customizable frameworks for aligning people, processes, and performance with a long-term business strategy.

0:00:58.2 WB: Her clients often refer to her as a the leadership therapist because they have real, actionable conversations that remove obstacles and alleviate worries and get things done. Claire holds a certificate in strategic HR leadership from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a master’s degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University. She’s appeared as a guest on over 150 podcasts and is author of several books on leadership and business strategy and is a contributing writer to Forbes. During our conversation, you’ll hear us dive deep into the challenges faced by HR to gain real traction in taking a seat at the table of business operations. I like this quote from Claire so much as it rings loud and true in my experience over 45 years. “The greatest impact on a company’s culture is the behavior of its leaders,” Ms. Claire Chandler. So, with that call to reality, Team ET, I welcome you to this really interesting conversation for all of us as leaders with our guest, Ms. Claire Chandler, in this episode titled, Building the Bridge that Unites HR and Operational Leaders.

[music]

0:02:18.7 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:32.4 WB: All right, well, welcome, Team ET, another fantastic week, and as usual, an excellent guest that we’re about to have a very interesting conversation with. Our guest is Claire Chandler. Claire, you’re sitting in New Jersey, I believe…

0:02:50.9 Claire Chandler: That’s right.

0:02:51.2 WB: In the United States. So welcome to the ET Project. It’s fantastic that you’ve been able to join us.

0:02:57.3 CC: Thanks Wayne. It’s a wonderful statement about our global sort of flat globe now that we can have such great, meaningful conversations and make connections like this over the virtual world. So I really appreciate the opportunity to be here.

0:03:11.9 WB: Fantastic. Now, Claire, you’re an executive advisor, a thought partner, leadership therapist, and we’ll jump on that one later, president and founder of Talent Boost. I’ll ask you a question to that in a minute. Hopefully, we’re going to be able to poke what I would term a few thorny topics during our conversation around the marriage or let’s say the disconnect, perhaps might be more accurate, between the HR world and the world of operational leadership. So I’m looking forward to having this conversation. I have a feeling this might be part A of many, so…

[laughter]

0:03:53.8 WB: We’ll see what happens. But…

0:03:56.6 CC: Let’s do it. Yeah, absolutely.

[chuckle]

0:04:00.3 WB: Thank you. But perhaps we can start with your company, Talent Boost, and expand on our discussion from there. So could you introduce what the company is about and how it came about?

0:04:12.1 CC: Yeah, absolutely. So I actually founded Talent Boost 10 years ago this year. So I’m hitting our anniversary. I don’t know when this will air, but by the time this airs, I will be a business owner for 10 years, which I’m still figuring out how to celebrate that milestone, which I feel is quite significant, and perhaps I’m sort of underselling it. But it’s a huge accomplishment, I think. I didn’t start out that way. I did not start out down an entrepreneurial track. I was in corporate America for a good number of years. After by the way swearing I would never work in a big corporate environment that was not my background, that was not what my parents had pursued. But that’s where the opportunities were, and I wouldn’t trade those years because I got a lot of great experience, great exposure to both best practices and artifacts of culture that I would not want to emulate. And I think all of that really informed my calling and my work and my entrepreneurial journey. So that by the time I opened the doors of Talent Boost in 2013, I really had honed in on my focus, which was really to help companies grow in more sustainable ways through the combined enthusiastic contributions of their people. So that’s part leadership, that’s part strategy, that’s part culture, and how that you use the word marriage, how that marriage comes together quite constructively to actually build companies that people want to belong to.

0:05:53.6 WB: The obvious question that came to mind was, what’s your experience in working with companies along that path? Have you found many companies that are there today?

0:06:05.3 CC: My first experience was honed through my corporate career, working within global organizations. Interestingly enough, I left corporate as the head of HR, but I started in corporate as an individual contributor in a communications discipline. So HR was not part of the path I had envisioned for myself. But I found out pretty early on that your career plan or your career trajectory is often a very winding road. And the more open you are to opportunities, I think that journey becomes very interesting and it’s not as formulaic and it’s not as pre-planned, but it can be exciting in its unknown.

0:06:45.5 CC: And my first experience working with companies and helping them grow was from the inside. And then I leveraged that and parlayed that and evolved that into the work that I do now. I’ve helped several companies and I have clients that are current clients now that range from startups that are trying to establish in their infancy what their culture needs to be. And part of the value that I can bring them is I’ve worked with enough mature, growing, stable, longer term organizations so that they don’t have to trip over the same landmines…

0:07:36.8 WB: Right.

0:07:37.3 CC: In terms of establishing what that culture is. And then I have other clients that are they’re global or they’re large regional companies. They’re growing through merger and acquisition. That is quite the trend in more recent times where companies want… Once you grow in a much more scalable way and they find that mergers and acquisitions are the best way to do that. To my clients kind of run all over the spectrum. My sweet spot client is that larger organization that is growing through M&A.

0:08:10.6 WB: Right.

0:08:11.3 CC: Because that’s where the culture becomes super challenging to get right and to continue to preserve as they grow through combining with other entities.

0:08:22.6 WB: Well, let’s touch on that just for a moment. It’s not the core area that I wanted to go on, but I’ve had so much experience myself in working in companies who have grown through merger and acquisition and struggled, as you said, to your point in creating that harmonized culture, what should a company do that’s just acquired another company? How do you start the process of building a unified culture?

0:08:52.3 CC: One of the first things that companies need to do in their learning the hard way is really get very clear on why they want to merge or acquire another company in the first place.

0:09:02.8 WB: Yeah.

0:09:03.0 CC: And the answer can’t just be, we wanna grow faster, right?

0:09:06.9 WB: Yeah.

0:09:07.6 CC: They have to be really clear and sharp and in tune and dialed in on what it is that their core business model, focus, culture, belief system are. Because the biggest mistake that most companies make is thinking that a merger is spackle. And what I mean by that is they think that by merging or acquiring another entity, it’s going to cover over the gaps, the flaws, the cracks in their foundation. And what they soon discover, unfortunately, is that that merger, that acquisition just widens the gaps instead of actually brings them together. The first thing companies need to do is be extremely clear on why they want to grow in that way and what they are intrinsically and deeply all about as a company first, and then look for the right marriages. I love that you started with that word, but look for the right combinations that are going to augment their value. Yes. Fill in some of their opportunities for growth, but not do it in a way that widens the fissures that are already underlying their foundation.

0:10:20.6 WB: And I saw on your website you have a tool, let’s call it called the growth readiness assessment. Is this the type of approach you would use when working with these companies to help them identify if there are gaps or if they’re ready to grow and if it’s for the right reasons?

0:10:39.4 CC: Yeah, that is one of the core tools or frameworks or approaches that I use. What you’re referencing is a… Is sort of a do it yourself version, if you will. It’s a bit of a handy guide…

0:10:50.6 WB: Yes.

0:10:50.9 CC: If someone wants to either take a stab at doing that on their own or at least getting first blush pulse check on how ready or not ready they are to grow. But yeah, the growth readiness assessment that I have done with clients, I had a client recently that we went through that much more formal framework and approach because they wanted to double their growth within the next year. They were relatively small, they had a core team and they knew that they didn’t want to just double up the leadership and the support structure and infrastructure. They wanted to be able to just strengthen the team, grow a little bit at the leadership level, but really be able to double growth. And it took them through that process, that growth readiness assessment, not to validate that they wanted to grow, but to really shore up why they wanted to grow and what they were going to achieve and make sure that they jumped into that with eyes wide open. And the outcome of that was much more clarity across the leadership team about why they wanted to grow and what they needed to do to get there. And also then much more clarity around these are the things that you already have within your culture, within your business model that are working very well, that you wanna kind of put your foot on the gas and make sure that you leverage those so that… ‘Cause the worst thing you can do is start to grow and then lose sight of what brought you here.

0:12:10.6 CC: Let’s kind of double down on what’s working well, but then also getting that clarity around what are the pitfalls? What are the landmines, what are the red flags that you wanna make sure you pay very careful attention to now before you start to grow so they don’t just get exacerbated.

0:12:32.4 WB: I saw on your website, you have some fantastic quotes on there. I think I mentioned you have a quote… Your own quote actually talking about company’s culture and you say the greatest impact on a company’s culture is the behavior of its leaders. That really resonates with me. I’m wondering how does that show up? Like how do people see the behavior of a leader in the culture of a company?

0:13:01.8 CC: So I’ll tell you a quick story that for me really continues to resonate to answer that very question. So probably the last year that I was still working within corporate, I was walking down the hall back to my office and my boss stopped me in the hall, and he said, you need to tone down your walk. And I said what do you mean? He said your walk. It’s very bouncy. It’s very happy. And now I worked in HR at the time and he said you’re sort of like the rest of the team kind of gets nervous, like you know something they don’t, and it’s too boun… So too bouncy and too happy. Tone torn down your work walk. And of course I didn’t do, I said, I thank you very much for the feedback. Went back to my office and of course I didn’t change my walk.

0:13:50.6 CC: I’m one of these people… People have commented and remarked on my walk my entire life. But when he did that and I always tell that story because it is so emblematic of most corporate cultures. And this is the same type of company that advertises in every job posting that we’re looking for people with entrepreneurial spirit. We’re looking for people who, the latest buzz phrase is, who can bring their full authentic selves to work walk? It’s a wonderful brand promise. But the problem is, and this is where the leadership at the very top has the biggest impact on either reinforcing that brand promise and delivering on it or violating it from the moment you walk through the door, is instead of encouraging this entrepreneurial spirit, this environment of innovation, this concept of failing forward, they actually reinforce a culture of conformity because that’s easier. Well conformity doesn’t innovate. Conformity won’t bring you breakthroughs. And so when leaders either literally or metaphorically tell their people to tone down their walk they are destroying culture one day at a time.

0:15:04.9 WB: And there’s another great quote on your side that talks about or where you’ve said it somewhere, that two traits that all genius level performers share self-awareness and authenticity. Looking back at my career and the teams that I’ve had the pleasure of leading if we could get those two elements to front and center, then the rest of it took care of itself. And so I really like like that statement. I’m not sure if that’s from you or from somebody else but it really resonates.

0:15:39.6 CC: Yeah. That statement that finding is from two different people. Most recently it’s a gentleman named Jay Niblick who was a thought leader in that space of it’s… It’s a science of Axiology but he wrote a great book what’s Your Genius? And he did a lot of studies and research around what are the traits that the Albert Einsteins of the world and all of the famous verifiable geniuses possess.

0:16:09.1 WB: Right.

0:16:11.6 CC: And found that it was self-awareness and authenticity. And he did that research on the shoulders of a gentleman from a few generations ago Dr. Steven Hartman who was considered the father of Axiology. And so he did these great sort of, what have evolved into these great assessment, psychometric assessment other types of assessment tools to really find out what uniquely, what unique talents we all possess. What are we hardwired to do in terms of what comes naturally to us, what we would now call our fast lane or our genius zone. And that’s the self-awareness part really understanding what drives you, what you’re good at, what comes to you naturally. And the authenticity aspect comes in when we lean into that. And we spend as much time as possible doing things that come naturally to us in ways that motivate us. And when you put all those things together, you get people who actually thrive. So on an individual basis you become more fulfilled, you become more productive, you become more energized versus drained at the end of the day. When you bring that into a collective, when you harness that power across a team or an organization.

0:17:29.8 CC: The level of productivity the level of engagement and then of course the byproducts of that being innovation, competitive edge, profitability, sustainability just go through the roof. But I think that scares a lot of leaders. And I think you were you were touching upon that just a moment ago because I do think that most leaders find the concept of doing that, and letting people truly own their walk work and be true to their unique personality and bring their full authentic selves to work walk, would invite chaos. And it doesn’t have to if your culture is strong, it doesn’t have to if your entire leadership team stands in their conviction about what it is we are in business to accomplish and why that matters to them personally and why it should matter to the right people to come along that journey. If they stand in that space and they own that they can lead a hugely strong thriving growing scalable competitive culture.

0:18:29.0 WB: I’m wondering where self-regulation fits into this equation. So none of us that I know anyway myself definitely we’re not perfect. And even though we may have a self-awareness, we may have an awareness around some of our shortcomings. And I’m wondering how do we incorporate self-regulation in those areas or should we?

0:18:53.9 CC: Yeah I love that. So I happen to as part of my work and part of working with leaders and with teams on this notion of raising their self-awareness. I use a suite of tools that were actually pioneered by Jay Niblick and were inspired by Dr. Steven Hartman. And part of what that helps an individual measure is not only their fast lanes right, what they’re uniquely talented at. But to your point it also uncovers for them what’s known as their blind spot. What are the areas that don’t come as naturally to them, that in theory they could do, they could learn how to become a little bit more proficient but it’s always going to be something that requires them to slow down and give more conscious thought and kind of causes a drag on their productivity.

0:19:42.5 CC: And so your point about self-regulation I think that is the other side of that self-awareness point, because it’s not only important to know what you’re good at but to your point it’s also to know where you have, I don’t wanna say weaknesses, but areas that are non-strengths. And if you spend more time in those areas, you’re going to become less engaged. You’re going to feel less productive, you’re going to feel less fulfilled. And all of that has a ripple effect. So yeah, I think your call out about self-regulation is a good one, and I think it’s spot on.

0:20:16.4 WB: Interesting. I really wanna dive on to the apparent disconnect between the role that HR plays and the role that operational leadership plays. It’s the same coin, but they play the opposite side of the coin. Forever the twain shall not meet, it seems. [laughter]

0:20:38.6 CC: Yeah. Yeah.

0:20:39.3 WB: And I’m just wondering about your thoughts. Why do we have this disconnect between these two crucial components of the same business?

0:20:51.9 CC: Yeah. So I’ve done a lot of thinking and, kind of deep dive research on this very question because I came through HR. I didn’t really come from HR, but, sort of meandered my career trajectory along HR. Most of my clients, while they are large organizations, or some of them are up and coming organizations, most of my inroads have been through the HR executive. It’s somebody that I can relate to quite deeply. I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve kind of been where they are. And so I talk to a lot of them all the time, and I’ve been doing this, sort of research around this notion of getting HR future ready. Most HR operating models are still built on something from the 1990s if they’re lucky, where it’s… They’ve sort of shifted the titles of most of their HR folks from generalist to strategic business partner.

0:21:54.4 CC: But they haven’t necessarily shown HR how to make that transition. Just changing their title hasn’t shifted them. And so most of them are still functioning like generalists. And so I’ve been doing research and asking a lot of HR executives, it’s a survey format, but first sort of say, what are your business strategic outcomes over the next five years? Let’s start with a near-term focus. What are those outcomes? Okay. Through that research and through our executives and trying to narrow in on what is causing this disconnect between what the business needs to achieve over the next five years by way of outcomes and how HR needs to be positioned to support that both today and in the future, we uncovered a pretty clear disconnect. Businesses that are successful and businesses that can grow sustainably have to get the three P’s.

0:22:51.0 CC: And those three P’s are people, process, and performance. Companies that close those gaps and solve that disconnect for good are the ones that focus first, whether they’re an operational leader, a process junkie, or the HR person in the room, they focus on that sweet spot, which is the fourth P called purpose. Now, if you’re a fan of Simon Sinek, he’s done wonderful thought leadership around this concept of start with why. Purpose is another word for that. Call it your mission, call it your reason for being. And I think a lot of companies skip this step. You don’t have to listen to me, you can listen to Simon Sinek, he does wonderful TED Talks around that concept.

0:23:32.2 CC: But truly differentiated businesses are the ones that deeply understand first why they are in business to begin with. And I think, coming back to this, why do so many M&As go wrong? It’s because they’re not dialed into that sweet spot first to know not just what the right acquisition target is, but how to bring it in, in a way that augments what we’ve already built doesn’t destroy it. And so the secret is to focus first at that sweet spot, whether you’re the HR person in the room, whether you’re the operational leader, whether you’re the person tasked with putting together processes that will become a growth engine, you have to be aligned first on that purpose. That’s in the middle.

0:24:17.6 WB: I like that. I’m also wondering, does the operational leader understand the HR business and vice versa? Is this part of the reason why the twain shall never meet because they don’t talk the same language, they don’t focus on the same areas in terms of outcomes, typically? Is that part of the challenge?

0:24:46.1 CC: I think it’s a huge part of the challenge. When I talk to… When I talk directly to CEOs, what’s interesting is almost without exception, their biggest complaint is that they can’t get their executive leaders to collaborate. And then of course, you talk to the layers on down from there, the leaders have the same complaint. We can’t get our teams to work together more effectively. But let me start with the CEO, because as you said before, and obviously I believe it ’cause I’m the one who said it, leaders have the biggest impact on culture. Leaders are the ones who shape culture. It’s not the other way around. It doesn’t bubble up organically. It doesn’t just grow organically out of the earth. And so when CEOs tell me that and they say, I can’t get the… It’s, they always say the same thing.

0:25:29.4 CC: I can’t get these guys to work together. I can’t get my executive team to collaborate. And my first question is always, how do you incentivize them? Because if you’re incentivizing them to achieve outcomes and metrics within their vertical, and every leader will tell you, especially executive leaders, they don’t have the bandwidth. They don’t have the time. You should see my calendar. I don’t even have time to think. If you’re incentivizing them to achieve vertical goals and there’s only so many hours in the day, there’s only so much space or capacity, they have to move the needle. There’s no incentive for them to reach across the aisle and try to collaborate with the next person. Even though in the light of day when we are being completely rational, we know that if you don’t collaborate and you just perpetuate silos, you cannot grow.

0:26:18.0 CC: But we have to look at fundamentally how we are incentivizing and how we are structured as organizations to reward business results. And that’s… If you come back to that Venn diagram of the disconnect, that’s where HR can actually drive a different conversation. Because of course we look to HR to build reward systems, but HR is not going to pioneer a more horizontally structured reward approach if the CEO and the rest of the C-suite don’t buy into it. And I think that’s part of where the HR executives who are my sweet spot client are constantly banging their heads because they’re saying, “The CEO, the board, they’re constantly putting pressure on us to achieve certain metrics from a people perspective and have vacancies filled and all of this sort of thing.”

0:27:08.8 CC: But to really change the game, to really be future ready, we have to be doing it in a different way, and we have to be thinking longer term than they are used to investing in. And so it’s really incumbent upon HR and it’s driving them crazy because they are trying to have a longer term conversation. They’re trying to get the CEO and the board to truly understand this is an investment, this is not a quarterly report about how quickly we filled or backfilled positions. We have to have a people strategy, a talent strategy, a plan that aligns with the business outcomes, and you have to be ready to pay for it.

0:27:46.6 WB: Yeah.

0:27:47.4 CC: That’s the conversation that HR needs to drive more but they can’t be the only voice screaming in the room about the importance of that.

0:27:56.8 WB: I wonder, is it partially a respect issue as well? I’m from both sides of the fence, but most of my early career was operational leadership. If I look at myself and hold the candle to myself, I would say I didn’t really have a solid understanding of what HR did, and therefore whenever I did hear from, I didn’t take much notice or respect their opinion. And I wonder just how much that’s playing around the fringes in organizations.

0:28:31.2 CC: I think the tide is turning, but I do think you’re right. HR has notoriously been either shut out or marginalized from the strategic conversation. It always has bugged me when HR stands up and winds that we don’t have a seat at the table.

0:28:51.2 WB: Yeah.

0:28:51.7 CC: Because my response to that is always, if you want a seat at the table, you pull out the chair and you sit down. But if you’re gonna do that, you’d better be able to contribute value. You need to be able to have a conversation that goes beyond HR metrics and dashboards and scorecards and all of that sort of thing. The more forward-leaning organizations, HR organizations are starting to embrace the power of data and analytics. They don’t necessarily understand it, but we’re farther ahead than we’ve been in the past because they are now acknowledging and recognizing that it’s a need and it’s a big gap.

0:29:32.3 CC: To which I’ve been advising my clients, you’re not necessarily going to build analytics capability within your existing HR staff, that’s not what they’re wired for. So HR has to lead in a new direction in terms of bringing in creative, maybe non-traditional sources of HR talent if analytics is truly going to be one of the pillars that helps strengthen how HR functions going forward. But analytics changes the game.

0:30:03.8 WB: Right.

0:30:05.1 CC: When you’re an HR person in the room and you pull out the chair and you sit down, when you’re armed with data, that actually helps you to make informed recommendations that move the needle from a business perspective…

0:30:15.6 WB: Yes.

0:30:15.9 CC: And visibly move the business closer toward those five year outcomes, now they’re gonna listen to you.

0:30:22.7 WB: I’m absolutely on board with you. I was just having a flashback as you were talking maybe 30 years back. I was blown away sitting in a executive meeting, listening to our finance head CFO talking about finance but from an operational outcome perspective and it carried so much weight.

0:30:44.9 WB: And in recent years, I’ve started to see that transition, just like you mentioned happening within HR slowly, but I can see the same build occurring, so I think that’s a great direction for things. You gave me two other leads in my, [chuckle] head while you were talking, I apologize. [laughter] One I’m going to come back to next, which is around AI and the future of AI with HR. The first one is, when we’re building our talent developments, our training programs for leaders, particularly young leaders, are we missing the boat by not including? And I’m generalizing, so please if there’s companies out there doing it, fantastic, but for me, I can’t recall a program that I’ve ever constructed that had psychology 101 for first time leaders. And I’m just wondering, is this a major flaw in our development of these new leaders that are coming into this new age, new world if we are not doing it?

0:31:58.1 CC: So when you brought that up before we started recording, to me it was such a light bulb moment. And it’s such an obvious miss when you think about it. As most epiphanies are, when you finally uncover it, you go, “Why hadn’t I seen that years ago?” Because I think you’re exactly right. There is a rising trend and field in what’s known as industrial and organizational psychology, which I’m sure you know. Where we have people that are entering the HR field with degrees and studies in IO. Which is great, but they’re positioned to be advisors to the business, totally needed, not dismissing that. But I think there is a contribution that they could make more fully to the workforce to address that exact gap.

0:32:47.5 CC: Because like you, I don’t know of any company that is grooming and preparing new leaders by first giving them some of that foundational understanding of who it is they’re going to lead, what makes them tick, what makes me tick. I mentioned tools that I use as part of my work. Those are psychometric, but it doesn’t educate a leader on the psychological part. We don’t know what we don’t know, but there’s a word that you’ve said a couple of times, which I think is the running thread through this entire conversation, which is disconnects. So a couple of years ago I was, preparing to do a talk at a, at the time it was during the height of COVID. So it was a virtual conference and it was an audience of chief talent officers.

0:33:36.9 CC: As you can probably relate to, I have a lot of ideas that I get enamored with. And then I feel this is gonna be a powerful message for this audience, but I’m self-aware enough to know that I don’t wanna just let hubris lead the way and I want to, sort of test the soundness of my thinking. And so I reached out to… The whole concept was around how do we better prepare new leaders to thrive in those new roles, rather than just throw them in the deep end and assume they can figure it out. And so I invited about, 300 HR executives to just have a brief conversation with me and about a 100 new leaders. So leaders that had gone into either their first leadership role or an expanded leadership role within the last 90 days to have a brief conversation. If they were amazing just on their own, the substance of those conversations, I would… I had more of market-savvy at the time, I would have repurposed just even those interviews in a better way.

0:34:35.4 WB: Yes.

0:34:35.9 CC: But one of the big disconnects that those conversations uncovered, I thought was quite profound in what they shared with me. Almost without exception, these heads of HR and these heads of talent had this mindset toward new leaders where their belief was that new leaders walk into their job with a lot of ego. And so we are here to sort of catch them when they first get humbled, ’cause it’s coming. What’s interesting is, without exception, every single new leader told me that they started in that new role, wondering if they even deserved to be at that level. So, HR who is positioned supposedly as the people champion, identifying new leaders, trying to get them ready, putting them into the right roles, and assuming that these people are walking in with a lot of ego, are completely missing the point that not only are these leaders filled with self-doubt because of this expectation that they’ve been put into a role because of past performance or endorsements or references or what have you, they’re afraid to acknowledge what they don’t know.

0:35:45.8 CC: They’re afraid to ask for help. And that is a huge disconnect. And that is part of what feeds into this really elongated learning curve of new leaders. And so I think insights like yours around Psych 101, insights around just understanding the human nature of that imposter syndrome that we all have when we step into a new experience and what to do with that, in addition to acknowledging it. But then also making it… A lot of HR organizations are really leaning into resources around mental health. And that’s wonderful. Let’s not overlook the mental health, the mindset, the needs of new leaders. And make not only okay, but expected that they will ask for help.

0:36:42.0 WB: To the second part of the question, just to squeeze that in before we wrap up, do you see IOI playing a role within the HR space at the moment? And where do you see it two or three years from now?

0:36:56.7 CC: I don’t know that I can answer the second part to that question. There are smarter people than me who are… What’s so interesting, I say smarter. Every generation that follows us is more and more just innately well-versed in to these technologies.

0:37:13.0 WB: Yes.

0:37:13.2 CC: Every time I see one of my younger nephews, they show me a new feature on my iPhone that I didn’t know existed. And it’s so automatic for them. It’s just, it’s both crazy and fun to watch. So I think AI, we are just scratching the surface of what it can do. I am certainly just scratching the surface of tapping into its ability to transcribe this conversation as an example. To help us, especially solopreneurs get all of these thoughts and these threads that we uncover out of our heads and into some sort of cohesive written form that we can then react to.

0:37:55.6 CC: I think for HR, most HR, as I said, most of the operating models for HR were kind of built around the 1990s. Some of them are revolving, but a lot of them are having growing pains. I think the notion of HR currently scares most HR organizations.

0:38:12.2 WB: Right.

0:38:13.9 CC: But I do think it is such an enabler and a differentiator for people who embrace it and understand it and leverage it versus get distracted by it. And so I think the HR organizations that figure out how to do that in an integrated way are really gonna win the game.

0:38:30.9 WB: Claire, you’ve written or co-authored a number of books. Any of those relevant to what we’re talking about at the moment?

0:38:42.8 CC: Probably two that I would mention to your audience, just because they’ve sort of come up in the conversation. The one is The Growth Readiness Assessment. There is a free eBook that your audience can go and download at talentboost.net/growth. If they wanna, kind of take a look at that and really just sort of do that self-check on how well positioned they are to grow. The other one is, a book that I’m working on the extended book version, but it’s called The Culture Effect. There is a brief eBook version of that available on clairechandler.net/culture. Both of those are free to download. I think your audience would really benefit from those. The Culture Effect is really written to HR executives of organizations growing through M&A, but really any leaders that are trying to grow their organizations in more sustainable ways, we’ll find at least one actionable step that they can take almost immediately.

0:39:41.6 WB: Right. Fantastic. So you’ve mentioned a couple of websites anywhere else that people can connect with you, LinkedIn, social media?

0:39:50.8 CC: LinkedIn is my social media of choice. So yes, your listeners can find me there. And then the two websites, not only do they have those e-Books for download, but you can go to talentboost.net or clairechandler.net. Learn more about me and my work. And if you’re interested in talking more, there’s an opportunity to apply to work together.

0:40:11.2 WB: Fantastic. Claire Chandler, fantastic conversation as expected. Thank you for being a great guest on the ET Project. Wonderful having you join us, and thank you for sharing your insights.

0:40:23.1 CC: Thanks, Wayne. It was so great to be here.

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0:40:26.4 S2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at Coachingforcompanies.com.

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