37 - The People Problems Highlight Reel

Problems Highlight Reel: We have rounded up some of our favorite conversations. We have had the luxury of hosting some amazing diverse guests for some unfiltered, raw, real conversations about all things People Problems!

Release Date: March 16, 2022


[00:00:00] Speaker 1: Morning. This podcast is about the realities of working in people operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy, outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here and we assume no responsibility.

[00:00:16] Tyson Mackenzie: HR is tough, man. [crosstalk] I have to have to talk for a while pooping on the floor. [laughs]

[00:00:23] Alexa Baggio: Yes.

[00:00:23] Tyson: That's the wine after that one.

[00:00:24] Alexa: Exactly. It was- it was- it was the same employee who had to talk to the guy about shitting on the floor. [chuckles]

[00:00:31] Speaker 1: This is The People Problems Podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson Mackenzie.

[00:00:39] Alexa: Tyson.

[00:00:40] Tyson: What's up, Alexa?

[00:00:41] Alexa: Are you ready for a best-of episode?

[00:00:43] Tyson: I can't wait. We have so many good things though.

[00:00:44] Alexa: It's so cool. I know.

[00:00:46] Tyson: Yes.

[00:00:46] Alexa: Can you believe we've been doing this for almost a year? Cray cray.

[00:00:49] Tyson: Long enough to get best-of episode.

[00:00:50] Alexa: Long enough to have a best-of episode.

[00:00:53] Tyson: And this is hard, right? Like we had a lot of really good guests, so like coming up with the best-of is like very, very hard and I think all of our lovely guests were the best, so.

[00:01:01] Alexa: Well, I relinquish most of the important decisions to you, so I trust you. [chuckles] I-I-I would find it hard to pick but yes, I'm very excited for this. All right, moving on to our very first best-of, our intro episode number one called Sliding into DMS With Cool HR. This is where Tyson and I met and kicked this off. I think people just think like, "Oh, there's just this like sole list group amongst my team that is in charge of taking care of us and I'm not happy here." So they do a bad job.

And it is so much more nuanced than that and there are so many people that are trying to like fight the good fight but there's just-- there's a lot of tape, there's a lot of bureaucracy, there's a lot of like nasty things that have just-- people have not been able to rip the tape off and I hope with conversations like some of the guests we're gonna bring on in this- in this podcast, that we can start to rip the tape off.

Like we can sort of take the band-aid off and just have open conversations about what this is and, you know, how hard some of these things are to do when you get thousands of people in a working environment. I think it's gonna be really fun. I'm excited.

[00:02:00] Tyson: Going back to people operations, like I think that that's what most HR teams want to be. That's like the aspiration, that's where we need to get to, right? So, yeah.

[00:02:11] Alexa: Cool HR.

[00:02:11] Tyson: The cool HR, right? Like I think that that is-- a lot of HR folks might be thinking like, "I wanna be that, you know, bridge between like corporate strategy and-and people results in all this stuff." And that's the goal but it's just about getting there and how do we get there, right, and how do we build that? So I'm excited to dive into that more throughout, you know, our conversations and the people that we chat with.


[00:02:34] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:02:35] Tyson: Next up, episode number four, Forgiveness Not Permission with Dom Merritt. What do you love about the like, being people outside startup?

[00:02:43] Dom Merritt: Awesome. I think it's because I-I know the difference between right and wrong and so I like to have fun in between. And not everybody can do that, and I think like that's where you get to do the most exciting work and most disruptive work, is when you know like how not to get sued and how not to get fined and then you can just do everything else.

[00:03:03] Alexa: Oh, what are some--

[00:03:03] Tyson: It's in the foundation.

[00:03:03] Alexa: What are-- Yeah, yeah, I love that. So what are some good examples of like things in the gray zone, Dom, that you like have-- like had a lot of success with and-and that you wanna evangelize?

[00:03:13] Dom: Oh my gosh, I feel like--

[00:03:14] Alexa: You-- 'cause you're just like that whole framework probably makes a lot of people if they are sort of what I call old guard listening to this, probably makes them very nervous like, "Oh no, he's in the gray zone." Like, "Oh no."

[00:03:25] Dom: Absolutely 'cause I do not like SHRM.

[00:03:27] Alexa: You and the compliant-- Them and the compliance officer are-are shaking while they listen to this.

[00:03:32] Dom: Just like everything that SHRM teaches you, it's like that's not the real world, it's like that's not how that works. Like I could- I could terminate this person in five ways and still not get sued for a wrongful termination if I get creative and think about the ways in which we could package this and spin this and this and document-

[00:03:49] Alexa: Right.

[00:03:49] Dom: -this and do all those things that SHRM would tell you "No, you have to fall by the book."

[00:03:53] Tyson: So, I mean, what-what else is HR not? And let me just read you some of the best responses, okay? So, HR is not a therapist in charge of the coffee machine, a party planner, controller of the office temperature, a camp counselor, psychological support, a dishwasher, a toilet roll reloader, a travel booker, or a poster putter upper.

[00:04:18] Alexa: I love all of those things. I feel like we need t-shirts that say that. Like this is our new line of-of people problems, uh, attire is like all the shit HR is not.

[00:04:28] Tyson: All the things we're not.

[00:04:29] Alexa: I love that.

[00:04:29] Tyson: I just thought that was so funny.

[00:04:31] Alexa: That's so good. All right. There is a best part of the HR shit community is people are just so in line with like, let's just-- like this is so ridiculous, like yeah, I love it. What-- any of those yours? Any ones you wanna add?

[00:04:42] Tyson: My biggest one is don't ask me about your taxes because you'll get audited, don't ask me about payroll because I don't know shit about payroll, I don't even know how myself gets paid, and don't ask me about US benefits because that shit is just crazy. So I know nothing about it.

[00:04:57] Alexa: Yeah. The US, we're not doing anybody any favors. I-- we're in the benefits space and it's a fucking nightmare. All right. Episode number six, our very first buzzwords, part one, disrupt.


[00:05:10] Tyson: Oh, this is your favorite. This is like the first thing I found out about you.

[00:05:11] Alexa: Oh, this one got-- I literally have chills. I hate this word. And-and here's the thing, and-and this will probably be if I could give like one comment to every buzzword that we're gonna hate on today, it's that it comes from just pure overuse and people co-opt it culturally and so all of a sudden, a word like disrupt has gone from what is really a-- I think, a very strong word, right? I think in the English language, disrupt has-- it's a very clear word, has a very strong meaning, it doesn't have a lot of like, you know, blurred synonyms but it's been co-opted by this like culture of entrepreneurship and startups.

And so people just like throw it around, you know, to-to equate things that they're doing 'cause they want them to be disruptive. And so now it's just gotten to the point where it's like if someone says something is disruptive, I literally assume it is the opposite of disruptive. I assume they are just trying to pitch me on something that's probably crap, right? Like I'm like, "Oh,--

[00:06:06] Tyson: It's like a hipster word. [crosstalk]

[00:06:07] Alexa: I'm like, "Oh, you're like Elizabeth Holmes." Yeah.

[00:06:10] Tyson: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:06:11] Alexa: It's like, "Oh, you-you're Elizabeth Holmes or Billy McFarland." I'm like, "I don't wanna go anywhere near you. You're disrupting something."

[00:06:16] Tyson: Yeah.

[00:06:16] Alexa: It just-- It makes me cringe.

[00:06:18] Tyson: I actually-- disrupt was a word that I liked early on when it sort of came out. Like you said like it had a lot of weight when it came out but now it's just become like the new like, it's just-- it's use-- overused in a big way and I don't think people who use it are actually disrupting shit, so--

[00:06:33] Alexa: That's what I mean. There's-- I feel like there's actually so little real disruption and the stuff that is disruptive is so fucking obvious that like-like now that we're trying to say everything is disruptive, it's like, no, nobody-nobody created another Uber. Like that was the-- that was the moment, that was it. Like, you don't have the Uber for anything.


[00:06:52] Tyson: Episode seven, The Whiskey-sided Brain with Jesse Markoff. I see HR and I don't wanna be that, but you created-

[00:07:00] Jesse Markoff: Yeah.

[00:07:01] Tyson: -this sort of like role in this space for yourself. That was exactly what I think now, like years later, like a lot of HR folks are trying to like bridge into and we talk a lot about that as like people who are, you know, classic HR and trying to do more of that. Like the good work that-that the people operations work as you is sort of explained.

[00:07:22] Jesse: Yeah. I-I think it's also hard to, in my opinion, identify those skills in the HR space or in the people space in general. Like how do you actually go about finding a great people partner? Right? Some of that critical thinking skills I had to figure out. I love talking to strangers, I love-- you can put me in a room full of a bunch of people that I don't know and I'm like thriving. So I love like learning new people, and wh-what they're all about and I had to figure out a path for me that, um, satisfied that and I think like natural limit caretaker, and I wanna make sure that like people are taken care of and they're like literally living their best self at work.

And so I had to figure out what that path looked like. I find it challenging finding people partners that fit that mold a little bit, right? I don't need just like an extrovert, I don't need someone that's just gonna like have,-- you know, be able to carry on a conversation but it's that connective tissue that I think is really challenging when you're in like an interview process, or you're trying to network for that role.

[00:08:22] Alexa: Yeah, it's almost like EQ meets extraversion meets-- and we actually-- ironically, I think we talked about-

[00:08:28] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:08:28] Alexa: -this on a previous episode of just like does this mean that most people and people ops are like empathetic, high EQ extroverts? And I-I think maybe we were talking to Dom or somebody else, I don't remember the episode but it was like, ye-yes, it probably just means that, [chuckles] like it's probably-

[00:08:41] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:08:42] Alexa: -exactly what you're- what you're trying to hire for. People-pleasing and change management literally are like oil and water. You just-just don't--

[00:08:49] Jesse: Right.

[00:08:50] Alexa: They can't be in the same--

[00:08:51] Jesse: Yeah, so true.

[00:08:51] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:08:52] Tyson: Exactly.

[00:08:53] Alexa: Yeah, you just have to cut your losses.

[00:08:53] Jesse: No, and you almost can be a people pleaser-- yeah, and you almost can be a people pleaser in this space too which is why I worry that some people do get burnout or they think, "Maybe I'm actually not fit for this space. I thought that this is what I wanted to do-

[00:09:05] Tyson: That's fascinating.

[00:09:05] Jesse: -but like it's--" You know what I mean?

[00:09:07] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:09:07] Jesse: But so I think if we could do a better job of like resiliency training for this function, we can teach people the skills that they need to protect themselves to create those like healthy boundaries for employees to be able to leverage them, almost like, you know, executive coaching skills.

[00:09:22] Tyson: Yeah.

[00:09:22] Jesse: There's probably some-some areas in there that we could do a better job of.


[00:09:27] Alexa: Now for episode number nine, I Did it For the Glory with our guest, Christie.

[00:09:32] Christie: It really was like I could live for these little moments. Like I could work really hard to receive these little points of recognition and I love it because I know that what I'm doing with that intention is coming across whether or not people everywhere are saying thank you to me. It doesn't really matter.

[00:09:47] Alexa: Well, you bring up a good point because I-I think, Christie, if I had to guess that most people in this profession survive on those moments because the rest of this shit can really suck depending on what your position is and--

[00:10:00] Tyson: But those involvements are so few and far between, it's like the little teeny tiny baby carrots that you [inaudible 00:10:05] [laughs]

[00:10:05] Alexa: Yes, like 99.9% of my job sucks but 0.01% keeps me going. Like if anyone thought we were in this for the fucking glory, like get out, like no mas.

[00:10:19] Tyson: Episode 10, always know your exit. So, and those are probably the easiest ones to do to be honest because it's like you're a shithead, we're firing you. Like you did something so bad like you're out of here and we're not paying you anything for it.

[00:10:29] Alexa: We caught you, leave the fucking building.

[00:10:31] Tyson: Yeah, exactly but I do not take these meetings lightly at all. I treat them with a lot of care and compassion. This is probably the thing that I treat with the most care and compassion in my job because getting fired, like no matter how shitty of a performer you are, like that's a shitty, shitty, shitty situation to be in.

[00:10:45] Alexa: Yes, it'd somebody's fucking livelihood.

[00:10:46] Tyson: Yeah, it's--

[00:10:47] Alexa: Like if you're-- if you don't take us seriously, then fuck you.

[00:10:49] Tyson: Yeah, yeah, it-it is- it is a hard thing to do and we'll talk about that but--


[00:10:55] Alexa: Moving on to a fan-favorite episode number 12, Speech Theater, and Debate with Ryan Bomb.

[00:11:02] Ryan: We call that in our business, an open face shit sandwich when you give one nice thing and one bad thing. If you wanna make it a full shit sandwich, you give a nice thing, a bad thing, and a nice thing.

[00:11:14] Tyson: It's-it's so funny though, people are-- people-- I always have a hard time like explaining what I do in HR and now I know it's speech, theater, debate.


Tyson: I have never heard-

[00:11:26] Ryan: Isn't that so true?

[00:11:27] Alexa: And a little business moment.

[00:11:28] Tyson: three-three words that better describe my job. Episode 13, What The Fuck is an HR Business Partner? This was one of our best ones.

[00:11:38] Alexa: It is.

[00:11:39] Tyson: Because you know, deep down that there's something else coming that's more important, so you kind of do like a little bit of this like puppeteering or the worst is when you are dealing with like a performance situation and you've got the employee who reaches out to you and you're kind of like managing them. And then the leader who's reaching out and you're coaching them. So, you're trying to provide support on both sides, in an effort to-- for them to come together and-

[00:12:00] Alexa: Feels like when I try to set my friends up.

[00:12:00] Tyson: -have a really good conversation. Yeah, exactly.

[00:12:03] Alexa: I'm like, "Well, I'm not gonna tell you that he said that and I'm not gonna tell you that she said that but I'm still trying to hook you guys up, so-- all right, now on to the wild and wonderful life of HR and Psychedelics with Stephen Wang.


[00:12:17] Tyson: And then you've made a connection to the solution is micro-dosing CEOs. So hold on.

[00:12:23] Alexa: Yeah, wait, we gotta get back to the part of the story where you do psychedelic drugs for the first time. Let's start there.

[00:12:32] Stephen: The first time? Okay.

[00:12:33] Alexa: The first time?

[00:12:34] Stephen: The first time was college or right after college because I was in Hartford, Connecticut. So, I-I was there for [crosstalk]

[00:12:42] Alexa: The first place I think of when someone says psychedelic drugs.

[00:12:45] Stephen: I know, right? You know what, I was in college, it was--

[00:12:48] Alexa: Were you at Trinity University by chance?

[00:12:50] Stephen: I was not.

[00:12:51] Alexa: Oh, okay.

[00:12:51] Stephen: I was working at Traveler's Insurance as an intern and I was an intern housing. And one of my amazing roommates was like, "Hey, I have this LSD." And I was like, "Oh, I've never done that." And you know, when you're in college, you're like, "I'll try anything. Like sure." Or like, "What do I do?" He's like, "Well, you just put this on your tongue." I'm like, "Okay." That is not how I would prescribe [sound cut] do psychedelics. Like it is so important to consider set and setting-

[00:13:19] Alexa: Setting.

[00:13:19] Stephen: -to begin with and dosage and like all of these things. So do not do what I did, which is to do it randomly on like a Thursday.


[00:13:29] Tyson: Then we took some listener questions, and we gave you some probably great answers, or maybe not so great answers.

[00:13:35] Alexa: I don't remember.

[00:13:35] Tyson: Episode number 17, Listener Q&A. Next question. This one's kind of funny. How do you respond when people react negatively when you say you're in HR? And this one, I-I would love to ask a follow-up. Is it like, in a work environment? Like, "Hi, I'm here and I'm in HR?" Or is it like when you're at a party with your friends [chuckles] and you're like, "Yeah, I work in HR?" Just fuck those people.

[00:13:58] Alexa: Well, let's [crosstalk]. My answer to both of them is fuck those people like my answer to everybody who says that is fuck those people but it's not their fault. All right, fascinating episode called The Shelf Life of HR with Anna Arrojo.

[00:14:14] Anna: Was an HR secretary job posted. We're going back to 19-1994. This was an HR secretary job and it was a regional role. It covered 1/2 of Ontario and I was like, "Well, I took two HR courses, I can do this." I applied, interviewed, got the job, and the minute I walked into this office, I was p-public enemy number one.

[00:14:37] Alexa: Can I just say something that's like, first of all, incredible because I-I'm the person that comes from the operations and the business side and is now in-in HR, I've kind of gone the other direction. So, we're-we're getting to Yang here. Um, you said a bunch of words that I've never heard 99% of the HR people and people-people I've worked with, say, right? You said P&L, profit, and loss statement. You said, profit drivers. You said market share, you said penetration. I mean, you said things that are core business categories of understanding that I cannot believe we are not educating the people, community on.

[00:15:14] Tyson: Episode 22, Scissor Take Over the Bar. This was my origin story. So, Alexa took the time to interview Tyson.

[00:15:22] Alexa: You're welcome.

[00:15:23] Tyson: So, I fell in love with it, something clicked immediately. Like, I just, I got it immediately, I understood HR. And I was like, "Whoa, like, this shit is cool." And it was actually in that moment that I was really connecting, like, what we call it like strategic and like how we can do like something with people to like, have like a business output. And like, I was like making all those connections like very early on and I loved that. So all that psychology and like helping people to like, do something I was like, "Whoa, this is actually a job where you can like do something."


[00:15:50] Alexa: Episode number 24, Mind the Gap with Sheila Repetto. We have all the feels. Yeah, look, so my question for you would be, so you start to sort of add te-tentacles to the- to the beast, right? And, you know, I-I'd be curious to hear your philosophy on what-what I see especially organizations that are growing really quickly, you know, not so much in the like, Uber corporate world, is you get like-- you assess the business needs and- and the CEO is like, "We just need to hire." Like "We have to-- we get-- we just got VC money or PE money, like I just need you to go hire a fucking 200 people in the next like-like 90 days."

Like something fucking like an asinine number of people in an unrealistic amount of time. And so the organization is like, "Hire, hire, hire, hire, hire, hire, hire." So they bring on a person or two to do that. Maybe some recruiters and some outside help and then they go, "Oh, fuck now we're not a 50-person company, we're a 250-person company. Now we need an HR person." Right Like, "Oh, like we don't--" So-so what they'll do is they'll try to cram those functions into those one or two people who they actually hired for talent acquisition, they didn't hire for all this other shit, maybe aren't specialized, maybe haven't even done it before.

And they're like, "Okay, now not only are you the head of talent acquisition, and we've grown maybe arguably too quickly, but now you're in charge of culture, policy, benefits, and like all the things."


[00:17:04] Tyson: Episode number 25, this was our by far the raunchiest episode we've had here on people problems, how the fuck did I get here? Your Craziest HR Situations. Okay, I wanna hear some of like the craziest HR stories or situations that you've ever found yourself in because oftentimes we,-- you know, we have this like out-of-body experience in HR, where you're like, "How did I get here?" Like, "How did I end up in this room having this conversation with these people?" Or like whatever the situation is, right?

And you're like "I,-- you know, I just can't believe that people do these things." So, I was curious to see what other people might have experienced because like there's nothing better than like a bunch of people who work in HR getting around to the table and-and sharing these stories. So I asked people and I've also just to like preference this, I've done like a very like brief look, but I wanted to be really authentic of like us responding and reacting to these situations. So I [crosstalk]

[00:17:52] Alexa: Yeah, I-I have not heard of these yet, so--

[00:17:54] Tyson: You haven't heard anything. I have only just seen a very like high level like a few keywords that shocked me honestly. Uh, investigating an employee who tore down the office blinds, cut them up into tiny pieces, and put them into coworkers' bins.

[00:18:06] Alexa: What?

[00:18:07] Tyson: It's like I'm crying.

[00:18:08] Alexa: Like trash bins? Like in their drawers?

[00:18:10] Tyson: [laughs] no, I think like their mail bins. Their like mailboxes. [laughs].

[00:18:14] Tyson: Okay.

[00:18:15] Alexa: I'm literally crying. [laughs]

[00:18:16] Alexa: I can't tell if I absolutely fucking love this person, or if this person should be escorted from the premises immediately.

[00:18:22] Tyson: Who has the time?

[00:18:24] Alexa: Yeah.

[00:18:24] Tyson: I can't [laugh]. Employee crapped her pants at her desk to protest schedule adherence.

[00:18:30] Alexa: What the actual fuck?


[00:18:33] Tyson: What's wrong with people? What? Like, wha-- that's like-

[00:18:37] Alexa: Wow.

[00:18:38] Tyson: You're only hurting yourself [laughs]

[00:18:40] Alexa: Yeah. Also like, there was no other way to protest this-- your opposition to the scheduling than to shit yourself? [laugs]

[00:18:49] Tyson: HR coworker found asleep at their desk, (drunk) and it was an executive member that found them. We all have those days [laughs]

[00:19:00] Alexa: I was gonna say --

[00:19:01] Tyson: HR is tough man, listen, after I had to have the tongue for why you're pooping on the floor, [laughs] I need a glass of wine after that one.

[00:19:09] Alexa: Exactly. It was- it was- it was the same employee who had to talk to the guy about shitting on the floor.


Alexa: Episode number 30, Buzzwords Part Two. The market on comp is all over the place right now. I think one of the things that's gonna continue to happen is you can pay someone in Nebraska less if you want to but odds are everyone is just gonna start paying San Francisco base rates because they can't be competitive otherwise. So, I think the jig on geographic-based comp is probably up from-- at least for the competitive labor-labor markets and things where you don't have to be geographically based, right? Like retail and stuff like that. I'm sure there will still be some-some arbitrage on comp based on where you're at.

But if you're a remote-based employee or a digital- a digital-- digitally native eligible employee or skilled worker,like odds are the whole comp market is just about to shift to the highest common denominator because it has to.


[00:19:58] Tyson: Episode number 31, where's Stevin taught us literally how to get anything we wanted, Finding Pain, and Other Useful Sales Skills for HR.

[00:20:07] Stevin: All of this- all of the sellers I have worked with, they do not wanna push something on you. They're-they're-they're not there to say, "You wanna buy this refrigerator, it's $4,000 more than you- than you wanna spend. But just trust me this refrigerator's awesome." Tha-that's one type of selling, tha-that's sort of product--

[00:20:25] Alexa: It's not a very good selling either [laughs].

[00:20:26] Speaker 2: No, no, no, that's-that's technical selling, you know, obviously, like for commissions and whatnot. Th-the great salespeople I always see, they want to help other people solve their problems and that's the point of HR. I mean, what I always say as sort of my motto for being an HR is, help the most people as quickly as possible. And the way I like to do that or think about doing that is by selling businesses on the various HR products and services.

And we can talk about using products and services when talking about HR, but selling business leaders on the HR products and services that exist, that will give them more pleased, engaged employees, who just naturally want to work hard, because they find it fulfilling and exciting and it brings them joy to reference Marie Kondo. [chuckles]


[00:21:15] Alexa: And our final best stuff, but we have many more to come in the future that we will make together happy memories, Tyson, Step One, Reduce Friction with Toby Sidigo.

[00:21:25] Toby: How do we roll something out which looks at employee data and make sure it's compliant with all of these different solutions? And who even knows if it adds value? You know, we might invest a lot of time-

[00:21:35] Alexa: Right.

[00:21:35] Toby: -for something that doesn't actually- it's great, but it just doesn't add value.

[00:21:38] Alexa: Or in a statement amount of money.

[00:21:39] Toby: Exactly, and it doesn't add any value to our family. So what we did is we said, "Okay, let's try it in the US because actually, the-the regulations in the US is a little bit more lax than anywhere else in the world." The team are based in the US, we have like the relationships in the US, and we could very clearly like quantify a population to test who were also enthusiastic. So it was like, we set up the ideal situation to do a test to this experiment, and actually, that was so successful.


[00:22:11] Alexa: Anything else?

[00:22:13] Tyson: No, I think we're good.

[00:22:14] Alexa: I will have to watch this-this other--

[00:22:14] Tyson: Take care. Go-go dry your hair. [chuckles]

[00:22:16] Alexa: Yeah, well, I better go finish my work. I never dry my hair, unless I'm gonna see humans.

[00:22:21] [END OF AUDIO]

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