56 - Oh, The Places You (Shouldn't) Go!

Tyson takes in a weird beast, and the duo discusses strange human happenings with Elena Suaste, conflict resolution and workplace investigations specialist at Baxter International Inc. We discuss how to dig through the layers of employee complaints and claims, how to make employees feel heard, and how to identify when someone is trying to get fired. On purpose. You never knew ethics and compliance could be this… strange. Join us for the investigation, and don't miss this one!

Release Date: July 27, 2022

[00:00:00] Tyson: Warning. 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 This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices.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] Alexa: Saturday in the office.

[00:00:17] Tyson: There's nothing better than a bunch of people who work in HR getting around the table and sharing these stories. We have this out-of-body experience in HR where you're like, "[unintelligible 00:00:25]."

[00:00:26] Alexa: It's not that bad.

[00:00:26] Tyson: It's not that bad. It's not.

[00:00:29] Alexa: Come hang out with Tyson and I on this podcast. We'll make you laugh.

[00:00:31] Tyson: This is the People Problems podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson Mackenzie.

[00:00:39] Alexa: What's up, Tyson?

[00:00:40] Tyson: Oh my gosh. I'm so excited. We welcomed a new family member into our house over the weekend.

[00:00:47] Alexa: Oh, boy. A cat.

[00:00:48] Tyson: Oh, boy. Yes.

[00:00:50] Alexa: You got a cat. You got-

[00:00:51] Tyson: We got another.

[00:00:52] Alexa: -Wolf a family member?

[00:00:53] Tyson: Yes, we did. It was a sad story. We took her out of a bad situation. The person who took her out of the bad situation wanted to keep her, but unfortunately, she didn't get along with their other cat. They had a female cat, and the cat that we adopted had kittens. It just wasn't a good situation. Anyway, the kittens were all rehomed, but then, of course, nobody wanted mama cat. Being postpartum myself, I felt for her, and I'm like, "Okay, come on in mama." We've just been slowly introducing her to Wolf.

Obviously, he is the king of the house. We really did a slow, easy transition. Then we opened the door to let them see each other. They could give zero fucks. [chuckles] They just don't even care. They walk by each other as if like the other doesn't exist.

[0:001:41] Alexa: I feel like that's the sign of a healthy cat, is like the least fucks given means the healthier it is.

[00:01:47] Tyson: Exactly. It's been a really good transition. Her name is Patricia May. We call her Pat-Pat. My husband and I are huge Florence Machine fans. There's a song called Patricia, which is what she's named after. Also, I love human names on cats. I think it's fucking hilarious. Then her middle name is May. The people who had her before us were calling her May-May. I guess that we can honor that. That's Patricia May or Pat-Pat.

[00:02:13] Alexa: I'm happy for Wolf. I'm happy for Rosie. I'm happy for the whole squad. Congratulations on your new addition.

[00:02:19] Tyson: Our family is growing.

[00:02:20] Alexa: Your family new addition.

[00:02:22] Tyson: How about you? What's going on in your world?

[00:02:24] Alexa: How about me? I'm good. It's late here. You could probably hear I've been talking all day. I'm good. I ran my first ever marathon this weekend, which also happened to be a mountain marathon with like 8,300 feet of elevation gain during the marathon. I actually feel surprisingly normal given that I ran a trail marathon on Sunday. I felt kind of crap during the race, but awkwardly, I felt fine after. I went to bed like, "Oh my God, if you wanted to amputate my limbs," I'd let you on Sunday after the race. Then I woke up on Monday and was like, "I'm not sore. This is weird." It's a really cool event that they do. I've never done anything like that. It was [crosstalk]--

[00:02:58] Tyson: That's amazing. Question for you. When you're doing the marathon, is it more difficult physically or mentally to keep going?

[00:03:07] Alexa: Oh, Jesus. Both. [laughs] You basically for seven plus-- Seven and a half hours, I just oscillated between, "I'm in so much pain. I should quit and I need to quit and I'm going to quit." The next hour would be like, "I'm in so much pain. I could just do this forever." Nothing can hurt me. I just have to keep going. It was a weird race because I started with like sore legs, which was weird. I don't normally start running and I'm like, "Oh my legs are sore." I don't know what I screwed up in my prep, but it might've been a couple of beers I had two days before, admittedly. [laughs] Never a good idea.

I would say it was, for me at least, physically, this one was harder. Just because I started with like a rough physical like, "Oh man, my legs are sore," which is not good. Then you have to run 26 miles straight up a hill for that. I would say this one was physically worse. The energy and all that stuff was good. When it's physically hard, it makes it mentally hard.

[00:03:58] Tyson: I just feel like being alone in my thoughts for seven plus hours, just like under duress. I would just-- I don't know. I couldn't take it. [laughs].

[00:04:09] Alexa: It takes you to some weird places. I will also say I, at one point, lost a set of AirPods to the mountains. There's that.

[00:04:15] Tyson: No. Your music cuts out and it's like, "Oh, what now?" Now you just have to be alone or in your thoughts.

[00:04:22] Alexa: Then you're alone and you're like, "I really do listen to music anyway." It was good time. It was crazy. One of the crazier things I've done.

[00:04:28] Tyson: That's awesome. Good for you. Congratulations. That's a huge achievement.

[00:04:32] Alexa: Thank you. New experiences. Now I can say I've done a marathon.

[00:04:35] Tyson: Awesome.

[00:04:36] Alexa: All right. Well, I don't have a good transition here. I can't say speaking of marathons, because that makes this sound like it's going to be a long grueling episode, and it's absolutely not because we're very excited about our guest. Our guest today is Elena Suaste. Elena is an expert in dealing with conflict in the workplace. She has a master's of arts and conflict resolution and specializes in workplace investigations at Baxter, the healthcare corporation located in Deerfield, Illinois, and she is a certified life coach.

Elena has over 15 years of human resource experience and has worked in various capacities with both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. She now works in the legal department under ethics and compliance, where her work consists of leading global investigations and advising leaders at all levels on how to manage and resolve issues with their teams. Welcome, Elena.

We're so excited to talk to you. I have so many questions about investigations. I'm a little bit like, I'm going to overwhelm her. [laughs] We'd love to hear just to give people a little bit of a primer here, just to get to know you before we hop all over you with all the questions. Tell people a little bit about your background and how you got into the space. How does one join the legal department for ethics and compliance at a health care company dealing with employee investigations. [chuckles]

[00:05:50] Elena: At times, I found myself thinking, "What the heck did I get myself into? I don't know why anyone would get into this type of work." I found myself being pretty good at it and being able to build rapport and relationships pretty quickly with the constituents of the area that I was responsible for. From there, I decided I wanted to go into corporate.

When I did go into corporate, that's when I went to school. I didn't even go to school for human resources, really, because I already had my foot in the door in HR. I figured instead of doing HR studies, I'll do something that I think is a highly required skill, and I started with this communications. That's when I got my bachelor's degree for intercultural communications. That was a really great learning experience.

Just from there, from the various companies that I've worked in, I've worked myself up in various roles, but started off specializing in employee relations and diversity, diversity education, and went into the journalist work in HR and found myself exploring, what is it that I really want to do with my HR career? That's when I decided I think my niche, really my expertise, is in dealing with complex situations, employee relations, investigations. That's what brought me to Baxter.

I actually started off that Baxter in the HR department. Along the way, the leaders and legal-- there's an ethics and compliance department which reports under the legal department, and they have investigators there for compliance-related matters. They said, we have a couple of workplace investigators in HR, and they could really benefit from some of our tools that we have in ethics and compliance. Plus a lot of issues that come up have both compliance-related circumstances and HR related circumstances, and so let's bring them into the legal department so we're a small but mighty team that went into legal from HR.

It's such a great model, actually. I feel very fortunate to had this move at Baxter because, when you're working with issues that come up really from every function of the company, and even in HR, just being in a different department, like ethics and compliance, brings a different level of neutrality and objectivity to conducting an investigation and working with people. You hear a lot of people say sometimes, "I just didn't go to my HR rep because they always side with the business." That's such a big [inaudible 00:09:15]. [laughs]

[00:09:17] Alexa: I told a friend we were having this conversation yesterday, and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Our HR team sucks." I was like, "Why does your HR team suck?" She didn't know we were going to talk about this particular topic, but she goes, "There are a lot of things that have happened at our company that just haven't been followed up on and like complaints about some pretty serious matters that nobody really handled." I'm like, "Okay, it's really not great that you're associating that particular failure in process and this particular issue with like the entire department of HR. That's a problem." [laughs]

[00:09:52] Tyson: I love that you're under the legal department, to be honest. I really do like that your role falls under legal.

[00:10:00] Alexa: Yes. That feels like the right separation of church and state to me. Also, I love that you studied intercultural communications.

[00:10:06] Tyson: Yes. Oh, my gosh.

[00:10:07] Alexa: I feel like that should also be part of like all HR education and training, is like a communications degree.

[00:10:15] Tyson: I love that you made that choice to you're like,"Look, I already know HR." I'm going to take something that's like super relevant to HR versus like learning more about HR. I made that mistake personally, but I think that that was really clever. It's really clever that you decided to take something that is so relevant to HR, especially even more so in what you're doing now with investigations.

[00:10:36] Elena: That's the way that I've tried to work my whole learning journey, is we never finish learning. We're always learning new things, but is to really read about or go to webinars or seminars about something other than just HR. I like to read books about human behavior and psychology and trust and habits and things like that. I think it's helped me a lot in my work because the HR policy and HR employment law and all that, you learn on the job. All that other stuff, which you can call soft skills or whatever you want to call it, which I really think are critical skills for this field are really the things that I think make it a successful.

[00:11:34] Tyson: Can I just ask a technical question about your role now? In terms of complaints that you might get, are those coming typically to you directly from employees or is there some-- I know I've heard of ethics hotlines, or is it usually managers that escalate to you? Just getting a better understanding of what that process looks like.

[00:11:54] Elena: We've heard of a little bit of everything. At Baxter, we do have a hotline. A lot of large companies have a hotline system so employees can have the opportunity to submit their concern or complaint or claim, whatever that is, anonymously. They can do that or not. I also get a lot of direct calls from HR. The HR business partners will call me and say, "Hey, Elena. I have this situation."

I think it's such a great model as well because they have an opportunity to not have to focus on an investigation. When they know something is going to take a lot of time, the HR will place focus on strategy and succession planning and performance management. There's so many other things that they're expected to do. I've had roles in the past where I'm a journalist, and so I have to do all of that stuff, but also conduct investigation, one or two or three investigations that are going on and. It's very time-consuming. It's a huge benefit for them to be able to call someone and say, "Hey, I have this situation. What do you think? How should we handle it? Is it to the level of an investigation?"

We talk about it and we work through what that looks like and sometimes I manage it, I leave it, and sometimes I help guide them through it. It just depends on the situation. Usually, it's through the hotline or through other HR [unintelligible 00:13:34] mainly or through other leaders in the organization. It rarely comes directly from the employee.

[00:13:42] Alexa: Must be nice to have that buffer as well because you can be a little more objective and not also feel quite so maybe personally affected by the stories and such, which I know, unfortunately, sometimes the HR people have to be the frontline for this emotional weight of some of this. For people--

[00:13:59] Tyson: That's so important too. Just on that point very quickly. That's super important with your-- As an HR business partner, sometimes I'm too biased to do these things. You mentioned neutrality before, so it's super helpful having a role like yours because of that because sometimes it's just-- or even the result of the investigation. It's like afterwards, I feel like I can't unthink it. It's nice to have someone else do it to avoid any biases.

[00:14:29] Alexa: This is another point for Alexa and that we need to rebrand HR argument, but I'm not going to go down that rabbit hole right now. Let's do this. Just for people who are not maybe-- We have plenty of listeners that are actually not HR practitioners. They just love listening to us talk about how people work.

[00:14:47] Tyson: Do we?

[00:14:48] Alexa: Yes. It's actually fun. Let's for people just quickly-- this is actually I think a really good foundation for this conversation. Let's talk at least in your experience what the process of employee relations and, more specifically, investigations should look like. What is the standard process, and why does it work that way? We can then talk about all the deviations from that process, all the things people screw up in that process, real pitfalls, but let's start with the ideal scenario of how an investigation is supposed to be handled.

[00:15:23] Elena: Definitely. I like to start off in the step process really. I think it's so important for the entire employee population to know what the process is for submitting a concern.

[00:15:41] Alexa: That's for communications degree right there, kids.

[00:15:44] Tyson: I love that. Double click on that [laughs].

[00:15:45] Alexa: That communications degree

[00:15:46] Tyson: Double click on that.

[00:15:49] Elena: Then you ask now, what do I go to? I mean, I've worked in other companies where people don't even know who their HR rep is at all. They don't know. They don't feel completely comfortable going to their manager or anything. We're definitely advocates of that education, ethics, and compliance training, and here are the channels and the instructions and the ways that you can submit a concern to the company. Then having the confidence that it's going to be taken care of by someone.

For example, that concern will go into our hotline. It'll triaged by a small team in legal. They'll look at it and determine, okay, is this a fraud case? Is this a compliance-related case? Is this an HR-related case? An HR-employee relations type of case. What type of case is this, and who is the investigator who's best suited to manage the case? In general, for example, I handle a certain set of business units within the company, and others handle other aspects. I have a colleague who handles the manufacturing side of concerns and complaints that come in, and I do mainly the global functions or corporate type of matters. It just depends. Sometimes we switch. It just depends sometimes.

Our leaders, who are attorneys, will distribute the cases and will read through them. What I do is I really look at-- well, I'm looking at a concern. What business unit or function is this concern coming out of? Who is the business partner, the HR business partner, tied to this function, who supports that function? Usually, they are my first point of contact because if it's, for example, a concern between an employee and a manager. Employee feels like they're being mistreated or, in some way, there's a concern about their manager, many times, HR is aware of it in some way or they have thought of it.

[00:18:24] Alexa: They should be.

[00:18:26] Elena: We would hope. They're my first point of contact to say, "Hey, what do you know about this situation? What can you say?" Now, if HR is implicated or somehow named in the concern, which can happen, sometimes again, in going through our previous about HR side with the business and people just sometimes just throw HR in there in their concerns, then I take a bit of a different route on it. I have to do my own research and the situation. I have access to see the database that has some information for me.

From there, I start conducting interviews, create my [unintelligible 00:19:11] and provide my updates. At the end, there's a lot of conversations that happen until getting to the end. There could be contention, there could be working with difficult personalities or not. Not always it's the case. In the end, I provide recommendations to the business for how they can resolve the matter and then move forward with those recommendations. Sometimes they don't always move forward with the exact recommendations [inaudible 00:19:44] what's going on in the business.

[00:19:47] Tyson: Do you ever get a situation where off the get-go-- Lt's say it's like, oh, I'm having issues with my manager. Then you sit down with the HRP and it's this, that's a problem employee. They're just stirring the pot. They're a bit of a squeaky wheel. Who then addresses that? Let's say it's a fake complaint okay, just call it the example. Is it you, HR, or the manager at that point? What is the best practice in that situation when you have a squeaky wheel that's just complaining about, oh, my manager expects me to be here at 9:00 AM and I need to sleep until 9:30.

Those are real examples, by the way, people. I've gotten these situations. Who then would you say-- Would you be, okay, this needs to be a conversation to the manager and the employee. They need to manage their employee better. Who takes that on?

[00:20:41] Elena: The example that you're talking about, it would go back to the manager in partnership with HR, in many cases. It's like, hey there's a situation. It's been brought up before. It's something that can be managed, or should be managed by the manager with help from their HR partner. A lot of times, it's the guidance that I provide to my HR business partners, here's what I would suggest, what do you think? It's a lot of collaboration to determine the best way forward.

In that case, a lot of times its like, okay this is not really an investigation. This is a conversation, some dialogue, maybe managing-- There needs to be better communication between the manager maybe or there's other factors that are involved, like maybe the employee is going through some personal issues at home or health-related issues. There's a process for that as well to ensure that we're providing enough support to them and that they feel heard. I think with your experience as well, that in this field what happens a lot of times when people have these issues that keep coming up and they're the same thing. Sometimes they're facing difficult stuff that's outside of [crosstalk].

[00:22:12] Alexa: You got to peel back the layers.

[00:22:15] Elena: Yes. It's showing up at work in some way. I think it's always important to try to get to the court before that without intruding on privacy and trying to do the best way.

[00:22:31] Alexa: How often in these situations-- I think people would be curious to know it, and obviously, I realize that 99% of this conversation is it depends, but we're going to try to get specific for people so that people don't turn us off. I guess my question for you would be in some of these-- Look, you can use a silly example. It is actually not silly because I'm sure it's more frequent than people realize like, oh, my manager wants to begin at nine. I need to sleep till 9:30, or you can use something that's maybe more obvious or more common to the average person. How often is the way that certain situations are being handled, a standard operating procedure?

You have a playbook or a set of precedents or-- I'm sure there's all fun legal jargon here I could use, but how often are you using a playbook as a team that's like, hey--? That could be for equity reasons, that could be for consistency reasons. There could be a lot of reasons a group would do that. Also, just pure volume of requests I imagine is one of the reasons, especially if you've got anonymous hotlines and other such volume-inducing tactics at play.

I guess how often are you using a bit of a standard operating procedure where you're treating a certain category of thing in a certain particular way, and what does it actually take to build those, if you have them? Is it repetition of a situation? Is it severity of a situation? How does that work?

[00:24:00] Elena: Every case is unique in its own way. There's always something a little different from something that was similar before. Definitely, working in legal, there should be some standards and there's definitely a lot of precedent that we look at. If a case is similar to a case in the past and similar enough to understand that, okay, we took these actions in the past, so that would mean that we would probably take the same actions now with this situation, and so definitely.

Obviously, we have our company policies and code of conduct that we abide to and we rely a lot on that to determine, is this situation against a company policy or is it against the law, really the state law or what else is it? That's the first thing that I look at when I review a case, is, what does this look like? Is it a violation? Is it something illegal? From there, looking at the pertinent policies or the related policies, then I'll determine what makes sense for the situation. There's so much gray in this field depending on the case as well that-- depending on the factors that are surrounding it is what we base our recommendations on.

For sure, there's a lot of-- if you want to say like how much a lot. We base a lot on precedent. When there's a unique case where it's never happened before, then we're like, let's look at this because we know we're setting precedent. We know we're setting precedent for what we're dealing with here, and so we want to make sure that that's documented. Then from there, know that the next time that happens, we know how to work through it more effectively. Usually if it's a first-time case, it might take a little longer, it might be something that we're learning from. Next time we want to be able to work it more efficiently.

[00:26:29] Alexa: How do you know if you got it wrong? Do you look at a debrief on this stuff? [crosstalk] That's the dangerous part about precedence. Is you're like, we did it this way last time and it didn't go so well. We need to rethink this one. Do you have a standard process for evaluating this stuff or are you just go off gut or what?

[00:26:48] Elena: Just me and my manager or as a team overall, we have team meetings. We always debrief and we think, if it didn't go well, what could we have done differently? Usually, there's just a huge support system that if it goes wrong, it mainly has to do with how the employee reacted to the situation. That's where [crosstalk]--

[00:27:19] Alexa: People becry. You gave exactly--

[00:27:22] Tyson: You decide to fire someone. I'll share an example. You go through a very thorough investigation and, at the end, you decide to fire someone. Then all of a sudden, you have a human rights claim on your hands. They're saying, "You know what, I was discriminated against for X, Y, and Z reasons." It's interesting because sometimes through the investigation process, you can really expose yourself to some of those things if you're not doing it right and if you're not following a pretty clear-cut process because these risks do exist where people are like, "Hold on a second. I wasn't treated fairly. You did this, X, Y, and Z."

The investigation process is something that you can't just do willy-nilly for some of those reasons. There's a lot of exposure to risk, especially when you're dealing with perhaps a problem employee who has performance issues as well on top of mental health concerns on top of its layers and layers and layers that you finally unpack, and it becomes very high-risk situations.

[00:28:22] Elena: Had a situation where there was a complaint from an employee about their leader. They called it harassment, discrimination. They were all abused. There were all these things, and it was just not there. There was nothing that was there. In those cases where-- in that case, for example, I knew, in this case, the leader is not going to be fired. They're not going to lose their job. This employee is going to have to continue to work with this leader.

How can I continue this investigation or working through it with this employee to have a good outcome to where they're like, they feel heard? They're like, okay, I guess they looked into it and I feel content with the outcome, but it's rare. When you have those instances where they're just up right off the bat, something is wrong. What I did, in that case, was really try to empower the employee and say, listen, here's what I'm seeing. This is what you're stating, but I haven't received anything that shows evidence of it, and others are not sharing the same sentiment. Others are not saying the same thing. They're saying they're a great leader.

Where do we go from here? What else is it that you would like me to help you with or look into for this situation because I want to make sure you understand what it is what the process looks like and what it is that we can do for you? What are you really looking for here? In that situation, the employee was looking to exit the company with some compensation.

[00:30:20] Alexa: [crosstalk] comes out.


[00:30:22] Alexa: Trying to get that severance package.

[00:30:26] Tyson: Trying to get fired.

[00:30:28] Elena: They wanted a severance package too. It was [unintelligible 00:30:31] out of them because they didn't really want to say that.

[00:30:35] Tyson: They should have just asked.

[00:30:36] Alexa: I know. They should have just been like, "I hear you're letting people go. Put me on the list."

[00:30:39] Tyson: I love volunteers. I've had people volunteer in my past life. People have literally put their hand up to be like, "Look, I'll take the severance package. I'm close to retirement," and we were like, "Yes, thank you. We need to cut people."

You know what's funny, though, as I was listening-- I'm on the edge of my seat listening to the story you're telling about this problem employee who submits a complaint and what do you do next. You know how many times in my career I have literally sat down with the employee and the manager and been like, "We've concluded the investigation, and we found that there was no evidence of whatever the complaint was," bullying, let's say. "We believe that the relationship is beyond repair. Today we're offering a separation package to you," we're not offering, today is your last day. That happens a lot, and it's because the trust breaks down so much that there's nothing you can do. You give them a nice little--

[00:31:33] Alexa: Is that not retaliation? In that you complained. You clearly don't like this manager. This is a non-functional relationship. If you can't work with the manager, you got to go.

[00:31:40] Tyson: This is when you're going to make sure you're talking to Elena and her legal friends because there are ways that you can finesse this in a way that's very much like, it's not working out for either of us. It's not working out for you, it's not working out for us. This is a very nice cushy package that we want to offer you with a signed release. We're just going to separate amicably because it's just not going to work and you've just destroyed your trust in this situation. I don't know, Elena, maybe this is something that you're not supposed to do. Maybe you've seen something similar to this. I'd love to hear your thoughts on doing that.

[00:32:14] Alexa: Yes, how you feel about finessing?


[00:32:17] Tyson: Finessing retaliation.

[00:32:20] Elena: Again, it depends. It's one of those things where if you've done some wrongdoing, we're definitely probably not going to give you. At many cases that I have worked at, it's been the case because then it's like the company is saying, "Okay, we're going to give you money so that you can be quiet," and that's not really the idea. Thankfully, at Baxter, again, Baxter really has been on ethics and compliance in everything we do. I honestly think we try to do the right things and it really depends on the case. If it's someone who wants money and they want to leave the organization, it's like, what are the factors that surround that request, and it's a realistic thing that we can do.

Yes, I've seen it done at other places for sure, but it's one of those things like, well, if it's because others are getting a severance package and people are involved, then we can ask leaders, will this role be leading maybe in the near future and we can just say that up and help them exit the organization, or what? Is it a critical role that we really need and we can't [inaudible 00:33:48]?

[00:33:49] Alexa: How often would you say, Elena, in your experience-- again, obviously, only in your experience, how often is this more the case versus like what percentage of what you work on? Again, just across your career, not specific to where you are now, tend to be more severe, what I would call more critical investigations that I do want to talk about because I actually think those are the ones that are significantly more complicated for organizations. I think people will be fascinated to hear more about that.

Just in terms of percentages, how much are you like, 20% of these are just someone not telling me something, trying to get something. 60% of these are well intentioned but misunderstood-- I'm just putting numbers in your mouth, but for an example, the last 20% is people who have a real problem and are really trying to get through this system correctly.

[00:34:39] Elena: Yes. I think you really have it right. I was thinking in my head right away, 80% I hate of what I do is this critical elite complex and they're real, real situations, and the other 20%. Actually, I might say less because I really think that, for the most part, employees really have genuine concerns, and they don't want to go through the hassle just because. Plus, I think most people nowadays want to leave on good terms for the most part. Even if they're facing an issue or what have you, they don't want to leave with all of this.

[00:35:24] Alexa: Your resume, there's a lot more reputation these days than they used to be.

[00:35:29] Tyson: I think there is another category, though. We outlined, okay, there's real complaints that are warranted, and then we've got this group of troublemakers that are just looking to leave on bad terms, which is bizarre. I don't think I've even ever seen that. Then there's this other group and they're just bad eggs. They're poor performers, and sometimes they know that they're poor performers.

[00:35:54] Alexa: Yes, they clog things to try to save themselves.

[00:35:57] Tyson: Yes. People are probably listening to you being like, "Oh, you're so cynical, Tyson," but that's actually what I see the most.

[00:36:04] Alexa: I was going to say, if you deal with enough people, everyone knows these people. Doesn't matter if you work with them or not.

[00:36:08] Tyson: It's what I see the most. I don't see a lot of very serious bullying or harassment. I haven't seen a lot of that. What I do often see is when a manager, for example, starts to lay down the law, they start to performance manage a little bit, and all of a sudden, that's bullying, "I'm being bullied." Then they come to me, and I'm like, "Hey, let's have a little conversation. I'm going to coach you on how to have the conversation. I'm going to keep my nose out of it."

Then next thing I know, oops, HR is not doing anything about it. It's like one of these things. I'm like, "Look, what do you want me to do?" I'm not going to sit there and hold your hand through this conversation. I'm going to coach you on how to have this conversation. Trust me, it's going to be a lot better for everybody if I'm not a part of that conversation. I see a lot of that.

[00:36:51] Elena: It's a really good point. Usually, a lot of that happens with the HR manager, and it comes to me at the point where it's become contentious, where the employee is saying, "Oh, there's retaliation here," or "I've been discriminated against," or, "This is now bullying." That's usually when I get in.

In previous roles, I had it where I handle investigations, and also performance management, where-- Listen, when people feel like their job is in danger, they will put out all stops. They will [inaudible 00:37:35] you believe so that they can feel better about the situation themselves. I don't necessarily blame them. It's frustrating.

[00:37:50] Alexa: It's survival.

[00:37:51] Elena: It's very frustrating, because sometimes it's like you do what you can to support them and help them and communicate with them, and then they throw you under the bus and say nothing was done. HR, overall, and in this role, as well, it's a very thankless job and it has a very negative stigma to it a lot. [unintelligible 00:38:14].

[00:38:14] Alexa: You don't say.

[00:38:16] Elena: That's right, and the [unintelligible 00:38:17]. It does have that negativity.

[00:38:21] Alexa: Another point for my argument, Tyson. I might queue up on you on this one.

[00:38:27] Elena: What I always coach leaders on is that, when you have a performance situation, it's so important to instead of slapping someone with maybe a performance improvement plan, like you've all said, you can have a lot of that be associated with them, or a warning letter, or that if you have--

[00:38:50] Alexa: This is literally just, "I'm going to fire you, and here's what you need to do or not do until I can fire you."

[00:38:57] Elena: You have to have a conversation and be able to ensure that they're understanding what's happening, "Hey, you're not meeting these expectations. Here's why. Here's what negative impact it's having to the business, and here's what I expect from you. By the way, how can I help you with it?" You need to have those conversations upfront. When it comes to the point of further escalating the situation, there shouldn't be too much surprise where they really can't say, "[inaudible 00:39:33] told her. I never knew," or "This isn't true."

[00:39:38] Tyson: Oh man, I get that every time. It's just brutal. Performance management is done terribly. I will say, though, if you're getting a PIP-- In a good company, if you're getting a PIP, that means that you're being committed to and that they've decided not to fire you, in a good company. If I'm going to fire you--

[00:39:56] Alexa: Then they shouldn't call it a PIP.

[00:39:58] Tyson: No, but it's an improvement plan. If the managers are going to take--

[00:40:01] Alexa: I know what the words say. I just feel like, unfortunately-

[00:40:04] Tyson: That's what I'm saying.

[00:40:05] Alexa: -they don't mean that anymore

[00:40:06] Tyson: No. What I'm saying, Alexa, is that in a good company, if you're getting a PIP, that should mean that the manager is trying to help you improve, in a good company. The other conversation-- Because that's the first thing I say to a manager. Is like, "Does this person have the potential to improve? Okay. Sure. PIP. If not, let's just fire them. Why would we waste any of our time? Let's just fire them today, otherwise." That's my stance on PIP. We're getting off-topic though.

[00:40:34] Alexa: I'm not disagreeing with that. I'm just saying, now, because of things like compliance and all this other stuff, people use them as like a stiff arm.

[00:40:43] Tyson: Right. It's like to protect their ass.

[00:40:44] Alexa: I'm going to say, "I put you on a performance improvement plan that you didn't meet." Now, if you come after me and try to tell me this was retaliation, or this was discrimination or this wasn't performance-based--

[00:40:55] Tyson: [unintelligible 00:40:56]

[00:40:55] Alexa: They do it and I could say, "Look, you didn't meet the PIP. You're out."

[00:40:59] Tyson: Totally.

[00:41:00] Alexa: The minute someone calls me and is like, "I just got put on a PIP." I'm like, "Start looking for jobs, kid."

[00:41:05] Tyson: Yes. It's too bad, though.

[00:41:06] Alexa: It sucks, because you do need that. Elena, maybe you have thoughts here, you do need tools to be able to get people out of some of these situations. Whether that's a performance situation or in a management situation or a tougher situation, which I do really want to talk about.

[00:41:22] Tyson: What are some of the recommendations, then?

[00:41:26] Elena: Yes, you do. On the topic of performance improvement plans, I always tell managers, "It's not an exit strategy. It should not be used as an exit strategy."

[00:41:39] Alexa: Listen up, people.

[00:41:40] Elena: It should not be taken that way. A lot of times they think it's documentation to help support the business in a final termination. Well, there really should have been documentation before that. In some states, really, you don't need a performance improvement plan to fire someone. If you have enough to show that their performance wasn't up to expectations, then you don't need to use it. To your point, it really is an extra opportunity. It's an extra opportunity. I used to call it in another company, just casually, not formally, but a performance investment plan, because it was a huge investment of time for leaders.

[00:42:27] Alexa: [unintelligible 00:42:27]

[00:42:29] Elena: They had to meet with the employee every week and make sure. Checking up on what's been going on and checking up with a mentor if there was a mentor involved. It's a huge investment of time. Definitely is they have to be in the right mindset for it to succeed. Both can succeed from a performance improvement plan. They definitely can. They have to be willing to. Both sides have to feel like there could be potential for success. .

[00:43:02] Alexa: With our last couple of minutes here, I want to talk about the really juicy stuff, which is, unfortunately, not juicy because it means something really unfortunate has probably happened to someone in the workplace, but--

[00:43:13] Tyson: We love the drama yes.

[00:43:14] Alexa: Yes, we love the drama here on people's problems. I want to steer us towards-- Actually, I would say depending on the size of the company, your experience with groups. Yours, Elena, is probably more limited depending on the size of the company. What you see is like a lot of these-- To Tyson's point, a lot of these fall under general HR handling, or managers actually are handling them because there isn't someone else to handle them. As you get bigger, you get legal and compliance and all these things. One of the more severe categories here is stuff that is dealing with violence, with true retaliation, sexual harassment, things like that. Those can be really impossible [crosstalk].

[00:43:54] Tyson: Internet misconduct.

[00:43:55] Alexa: Yes. I would say things that just really involve a true accusation of someone doing something that really-- It's hard to navigate. First of all, someone is accusing someone of something else. Those people work together, so there's a power dynamic. There's this general culture of what everybody knows, saw, did, heard about, talked about, gossiped about. Then there's the perception of how that's handled by both sides where someone's possibly right, someone's possibly wrong. Something possibly ends for one of them.

How do you tend to coach people to work through maybe the more severe situations? Let's assume like authorities and all of this are-- or maybe we're not that severe, but things like workplace misconduct, like somebody gets handsy at the holiday party. Those are pretty common. They can be very uncomfortable and uncomfortable regardless of even the severity of the incident. How do you coach people through working through that stuff? What do people maybe commonly mess up or have misconceptions about in handling this more severe stuff?

[00:45:08] Elena: Yes, great questions. I think, some of the biggest misconceptions is not perceiving it the same way that the employee perceives it. We have all your Title VII stuff, your discrimination, your harassment, and all of that. A lot of times it's in the eye of the beholder as far as what's happening to them. Sometimes leaders or others don't see it the same way, but when it comes to me, and I look at it, and I'm like, "Whoa, we really have to act."

We try to always act with urgency, but if this is a matter that someone touched someone else in an inappropriate way, let's immediately remove them or suspend them while we conduct the investigation and look into the matter. When you take an immediate action with an employee who feels very much so unsafe at work, then that helps them to feel a little safer, to feel a little-- Obviously, it impacts the employee who's being accused too [unintelligible 00:46:17].

[00:46:17] Alexa: Now that person has to come up with why they're not in the office for two weeks.

[00:46:21] Elena: It's also a balance of, we have to protect everyone and try to make sure that we're treating everyone with dignity and respect. In many cases, we do have to ask people too, you have to remove people from a work area or workplace situation, and again, in the most respectful way, while we deal with the situation and look at, okay, exactly what happened? When did it happen? Where? Who saw it?

Looking at that perception from the employee, and then determining via definition, is this truly a harassment situation? Is it something that we need to deal with, and we work through it quickly, and we do what we need to do. Obviously, you want to get everyone's side of the story to understand what's happened, but usually, in most cases, where it's more egregious, the employee that is implicated in the situation understands what they did.

They may not always admit it, but when it comes down to taking some kind of a corrective action or exiting them from the organization, there's not much that they say there. Again, because for the most part, people know, people understand. Even if they go fighting a little bit, they know that it's more so because they're upset with themselves for what they did than anything else. I think, everyone, we're all adults, and so--

[00:47:59] Alexa: Are we though?

[00:48:01] Elena: In a way. In a professional organization, you would hope everyone who are professional would see things a certain way. [crosstalk] happen.

[00:48:06] Alexa: You would hope. People do wild things, crazy shit.

[00:48:10] Elena: Yes, they do. You know what, most of those cases happen outside of work at an evening event, where there's alcohol, and they think they can act just anyway. That's the key. Especially with a big corporation, I think with any company, the mindset should be you represent the company anywhere you go, everywhere. We see it on social media all the time, where people are doing stuff, and then they get fired, because they acted really inappropriately or did something that was totally just wrong.

Then the company hears about it, it's on social media everywhere, and then they get let go, because you really do have to represent the company wherever you go. Fortunately, or unfortunately, for many people, when you work for an organization, you're expected to uphold certain ethics, and just be an upstanding citizen, or whatever it is you want to call it. People have their issues, and nobody's perfect. Nobody's perfect, and everyone has legal issues and things like that, but it when it impact someone else in the company like your co-workers and it offends co-workers and colleagues or you're impacting them in some way like that, then it probably ends badly.

[00:49:40] Alexa: Are there any common pitfalls you see managers or things that you would be like, "Please stop doing this. Please stop keeping this stuff to yourself when it involves like [unintelligible 00:49:51]?"

[00:49:50] Elena: No, definitely with managers, I've had it in previous companies where I've said, "Okay, there has to be an alcohol limit."

[00:49:59] Alexa: Oh, yes. [unintelligible 00:50:00]

[00:50:00] Elena: [unintelligible 00:50:00]. There has to be a limit. There's certain guidelines that are recommended or put to help mitigate some of those issues. I think that leaders can get emotional. We're all people. We're all human. We bring our emotions everywhere we go with us and it's to be expected and sometimes leaders will-- I think one of the biggest mistakes that leaders make sometimes is they bring those emotions in a way that they don't realize impacts the employee at work.

They step into that role of, "This is also about me," because they're worried about how they look with now this situation happening. They need to take themselves outside of that space and think really what will make them look better if that's what they're concerned about is how they handle the situation and work through it. A lot of times, I say there has to be a boundary, a barrier to that relationship and so you have to step outside of that and really think what makes sense.

Instead of reacting and exploding or thinking, "Oh, my gosh, this is not right. We need to let them go. We need to terminate them. It's not right." Instead of that, it's really thinking, "Who do I need to bring in to help me make these decisions and what can I do to help, or maybe I should remove myself and let them handle it and let them bring me in." That emotional intelligence is just so important.

[00:51:40] Alexa: Maybe intercultural communication.

[00:51:45] Elena: That's a big thing too on the diversity.

[00:51:48] Alexa: I think another huge pitfall that managers do is they try to withhold information from people like you or HR. They hold onto little tidbits of information especially if they have the plan that they want to fire this person. Sometimes like in my conversations, I'll be like chatting through, okay, we've got a performance issue or there's been maybe a complaint submitted, a few little things here and there.

Then after peeling back the layers, that's when I find out, oh, this other thing happened where they did actually say something, or maybe the employee did confess or share that they were dealing with some mental health stuff. All of a sudden, all these layers get peeled back and the manager wasn't totally upfront.

[00:52:29] Tyson: They got some improvement plan and they actually improved.

[00:52:33] Alexa: Right. Yes, exactly. That does happen. It does.

[00:52:38] Elena: That does happen a lot. A lot of times it's because they want to retain the relationship in many cases. I've had many examples where they want to retain the relationship. They want to, again, be friends with the employee, and so they let a lot of stuff go and tolerate a lot of things. They tolerate a lot of things but then what happens is the rest of the team is seeing that and they're feeling frustrated because nothing is being done about [unintelligible 00:53:07].

[00:53:07] Alexa: I've had that before. The rest of the team complains about the shitty person. I've had that for sure.

[00:53:15] Elena: Then it just escalates so much when really they could have done something before.

[00:53:22] Alexa: I'm literally not being a sarcastic asshole when I say this, this literally all has to come back to communication, or at least training or communication with the managers in this particular instance, which is like, here's why this needs to work this way and why it's not in your best interest to try to manipulate this situation by withholding things. Also, I can only imagine that some of these situations, Elena, and, Tyson, you guys have seen get worse when things are not well communicated either as they're coming out and they're being investigated or as they're being handled.

I have watched, it's part of what I do for a living, I have watched corporations pick up communication for almost a decade now. I can only imagine how they handled the special extra spicy stuff. I'm sure they miss a lot of those cornerstones. What do you guys think are like the most important pieces, really regardless of the severity of the investigation or the situation, what are the things that need to be communicated and what are like some things maybe that people should look out for that maybe they take for granted?

[00:54:35] Elena: A lack of communication is one of the biggest things. I think whenever I look at a case, I think, "If only this would've had been communicated better, if only there would've been more communication. If only there would've been more transparency upfront, we could have prevented a lot of this from really escalating, and so you're so right. Alexa, it really does come down to communication. I think one of the biggest things that leaders want to develop or want to continue to practice is empathy.

Empathy is one of the biggest traits, I think, for great leaders, because when you can empathize with someone, that's when you think and really consider their side and their perspective, and think about, "What would I want to know, or what would I want to be communicated that's appropriate." There's sometimes where leaders don't communicate anything because there's changes that are going to happen in the business or restructuring, and they're like, "I'm not going to say anything. I can't say anything at all."

Then people are surprised. There's ways to manage certain types of communication and how much to share and what to share, but people appreciate just to be considered and looked at as far as what is it that they need to know versus just feeling like they're neglected and they're not being told anything about a situation.

It really does come down to empathy and in helping employees understand their options. That's the other thing. A lot of times leaders don't know or aren't sure how to communicate that, but then again, it takes a village. It really does, when it comes to really handling a situation. If there are partners, there are people around you, it's a tough job to be a people leader. It's a tough job, and you have to deal with different personalities.

[00:56:34] Alexa: This is one of those things I think I have been on the receiving end of some botched communications about some things before that makes me realize how much better these things could have been handled. I think it gets particularly tricky to think about like, for example, once I had an employee who did not commit a legal fraud, but was effectively making up their sales numbers and their call numbers. Basically just lying and being dishonest.

I found this out. The scheme had been going on for months. That wasn't someone on my team, but someone that worked for our organization, and basically, very quickly, we had to just let the person go. It was like, this is not acceptable. This is not okay. Like, boom, "You got to go." That's not the hard part of that situation. The hard part of that situation is what do you tell their team? Because if you just say--

[00:57:23] Tyson: Nothing.

[00:57:24] Alexa: Yes, but if you just say nothing, then rumors start and people are like, "Oh, what happened?" Then maybe they reach out to that person, because they were friends. They get some fucking half bake story. It's like, do you just tell them as much as you can tell them without being--

[00:57:37] Tyson: Yes, that's exactly what you do.

[00:57:39] Alexa: Without being like, so and so did exactly this thing where they turn this number to 52 and this number and this system to 61.

[00:57:45] Tyson: You don't want to do that because then you're putting yourself at risk. If that person finds out that you are smash talking them-

[00:57:52] Alexa: [unintelligible 00:57:52] them.

[00:57:53] Tyson: -it's really a bad situation. What we always say is like, this person is no longer with the company. Obviously, to protect their own confidentiality, we're not going to be sharing any details. However, we just want to reiterate the fact that we don't take decisions like this lightly and a lot of thought and discussion or whatever you want to say goes into making decisions like this. Again, it's not just like you can get fired any moment.

[00:58:19] Alexa: How does the organization learn from that, because I'd be like, "What the fuck does that mean?" Versus if they were like, "There was some dishonest behavior which we just don't tolerate." I'd be like, "Oh, shit. All right, cool. I'm listening."

[00:58:28] Tyson: Sometimes that does happen. When it's really bad, that does happen. Like, "So and so did something really bad and shared information. We found out who it was and we fired them." I have seen that, but depending on how severe it is-- People understand that if it were them they would want their confidentiality protected.

[00:58:49] Alexa: I don't know. I think people want to know all this shit. What do you think, Elena?

[00:58:53] Tyson: They don't need to know.

[00:58:55] Alexa: Then I think-- don't know. Not knowing brings--

[00:58:57] Elena: I worked for a manufacturing company where it was more black and white, so there were clear policies around safety and all of that. When there was a mistake that may have caused someone to lose their job, people knew about it, because if they made a safety mistake, it would show up in the next meeting as like, "Here's the lesson learned. Here's what happened in the situation, and by the way, you shouldn't do the same thing."

[00:59:30] Alexa: Right. That's different from, Bob touched Rachel's chest at the holiday party in the bathroom that nobody saw. It's different.

[00:59:35] Tyson: People probably already know though. In that situation--

[00:59:40] Alexa: People will always know.

[00:59:42] Tyson: Well, then they would just know and that's fine. Then you don't have to be the one saying it as the leadership.

[00:59:44] Elena: That would be used as a learning opportunity. It's how it's used, but you can't always do that. You're absolutely right. It's like you say as much as you can without actually going into details as far as what happened. We can't control that. We can't control people speculating, people talking. We can only control our message. It may get skewed between their talking, but we can't control that. You can only control what you can control, and so making sure that you leverage your communications, business partner, your HR partner and as far as what should be said.

One of the other mistakes that I feel that leaders make is they think that they can do everything on their own and they don't ask for that help. They think, "Oh, yes, I got it. I'll communicate to my team." Then the communication isn't the most effective. Not for all leaders, obviously, but again, leverage your team, your support system around you and say, "Hey, what do you think if I say this or what else should be said?"

[01:00:53] Tyson: I always script that message for them. I'm going to be honest, I script it. We sit down together and I give them the script and then they finesse it to make it sound a little bit more like them, but it is most definitely scripted.

[01:01:03] Alexa: No room for error there. I love it. All right. Well, sadly we have to move to our people problem.


[01:01:18] Alexa: Our people problem is along the similar lines, good note to end on, which is, what happens when you are investigating a high performer for aggressive behavior and the business doesn't want to take action? What do you do with high performers?

[01:01:33] Elena: They're a great performer. They deliver results, and usually what's happening is their behavior isn't the best way. It's like the what, the results, and then the how, how they approach their work day in and day out, and it may be their attitude. They have a poor attitude or their condescending, their tone is just totally inappropriate.

[01:02:00] Alexa: They're assholes.

[01:02:02] Elena: Leaders are like, "Oh, but they deliver results, but they're really good at their job and what they do." Because of this individual, people maybe have left. There's been turnover in the company because of that person. I think it really gets bad if a customer starts to complain about their attitude and behavior too. Then that's a whole different thing.

If there's enough, where we say, the behavior is not up to the standards that the company has set out for everyone, then there has to be some action, and sometimes that does take a little pushback. It's a bit of a challenge to have that conversation, but again, it goes back to, what are others seeing? You look at this, there's this concern, this complaint, and it's an issue. Yes, they're delivering results, but how is that impacting everyone else?

[01:03:05] Alexa: At what cost?

[01:03:05] Elena: Everyone else could be demotivated. The morale on the team is low, and so, how does that show up for you as the leader? What does that look like for you and how will that look when you're evaluated as a leader in the next performance discussion with the leadership team, higher level, higher ups within the company? I think everyone cares about that, because, again, it's their lively.

It's important to frame it in that way for them to see the broader lens. Like, yes, they're a great performer, they deliver the results. You've achieved your targets, but all of this other stuff is happening in the process and here is the risk that that is now opposing for the company. Because of that risk, you're going to end up in a worse spot than you are right now. Usually, if the performance is there but the behavior isn't, it's all a temporary benefit. It's all great in the short-term, but in the long-term, if you keep it going, it's going to end up very bad.

[01:04:19] Alexa: Just wait till the holiday party.

[01:04:22] Tyson: It really depends on what the behavior is. Some things like you said, like at the holiday, if this person's a grope person and they're doing something like, "That's a complete no way. It's not happening. This person's got to go." If this is a situation, where they're-- What are they called? A talented asshole, kind of like what you were saying Elena, how-

[01:04:41] Alexa: High-performing prick.

[01:04:42] Tyson: It's just the how. Yes, exactly. High-performing prick. I actually just read a book, Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. He makes a really interesting point in his book, in that, there was some athlete coach, when asked about this one guy that's always late for getting on the bus. He holds up the whole team, but he's like a super high performer. He's like, "It's okay, but we can only have one. We can't tolerate more than one." You can have a whole team of these talented assholes. Like, it's okay for him, because he's really good, but you can only tolerate one of those on the team.

I thought that that was a really interesting point. You're so right, Elena, in that, tolerating this poor behavior, especially in a leadership, what message does that send to everyone else? You have to be hyper-aware of the fact that you are setting a precedent and creating a, "We're okay with this shitty behavior." That trickles down throughout the culture.

[01:05:37] Alexa: It'd be harder for people to be like, "Oh, I'll show up on time because you told me to." When you're like, "Yes, but you let him show up 15 minutes late." Slippery slope.

[01:05:45] Elena: The issue with that is that usually high-performing pricks become leaders of people. If it's tolerated like that, high-performing pricks become people-leaders, and then that's where the real damage starts to happen, and the big damage starts to happen, because other people start to emulate, the leader and think that that type of behavior is acceptable, or that type of attitude is acceptable. They think, "This is how I need to be to move up within the organization," and it becomes very toxic, and it's not good.

[01:06:21] Tyson: I will say, going back to the question, it's like, you've investigated this person, and the business doesn't want to take action, I would say that it's your best-- You should be providing options to the business as well. Let's say it is a people leader, step one, we could get rid of him. Step two, we could take him out of the people leadership role. Step three, we could put someone a buffer in between him and the team or whatever, like I've seen that suggested before, but making sure that you talked about all the options and how to make this person as successful as possible for the company where he's isolated and doesn't need to leak his assholeness everywhere.

[01:07:02] Alexa: That's a technical term.

[01:07:05] Elena: That's why HRs job is important with things like succession planning and having people learning and developing people.

[01:07:17] Alexa: You don't want to fire this guy, let me just find his replacement. You don't have to worry about it. I think we'd need a whole other episode to talk about why the high-performing prick should not eventually become managers. That, sadly, is for another episode.

[01:07:30] Tyson: But they do.

[01:07:31] Alexa: But they do. Elena, if people liked what you had to say, where can they find you? How can I get in touch with you?

[01:07:38] Elena: I'm totally on LinkedIn. Anyone can find me on there. I love answering questions, by the way. I just love answering complex issues and breaking it down for people and helping them go through them. Please feel free to reach me on there, or even on my email. I have a tiny, tiny blog called lifecombinations.com that I just started recently.

I'm not going to pretend I have a ton of following or anything like that at all. People can email me at lifecombinations@gmail.com or they can read my blog, at the website, and they can see-- I have articles on there about how to file a proper complaint, how to deal with a bad boss, things like that. I hope that people feel welcome to go ahead and do that [unintelligible 01:08:38].

[01:08:38] Alexa: I was going to say I might drop a few in your inbox. Thank you so much for being here. This was a true pleasure.

[01:08:43] Tyson: Thank you.

[01:08:45] Alexa: Wait a minute before you leave, take some time to leave us a five-star rating. We'd really love your feedback. Also, if you'd like to see our lovely faces each week as we're recording these episodes, check us out on our new YouTube channel. Thanks. This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Baggio, with audio production by Elle Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our intro music was also done by the wonderful Elle Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more information--

[01:09:06] [END OF AUDIO]

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