9 - I Did It For The Glory

We meet Krysty on this one, a lifelong VP of HR, and learn about her accidental journey into the profession and why she stays. We’ll talk about tension with and within people teams, when HR goes rogue, the problem of silos, Kayne’s best album, and more.



Release Date: August 17, 2021

[00:00:00] Alexa Baggio: 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 This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices.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] Tyson Mackenzie: We had a strict no-alcohol policy and everybody was like, "Ooh, don't drink. HR is here." Meanwhile, I'm mid-crack for beer.

[00:00:24] Alexa: If they're that disengaged before, they're going to be that disengaged in the office just be sitting at their desk looking at Facebook. They are going to find ways to [unintelligible 00:00:30].

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

[00:00:38] Alexa: Tyson, what's up. How are we doing?

[00:00:40] Tyson: I'm doing good. You know what? My birthday's tomorrow. I think we decided we're both Leos, right?

[00:00:45] Alexa: We are definitely both Leos, that does not surprise me. I didn't realize that Leo starts this early.

[00:00:50] Tyson: Yes, I think it started on the 22nd. I always make a big deal about posting Leo stuff on my stories and whatever, and my favorite meme of all time is not HR-related, but it's a picture of people boarding up their house and it says the other signs getting ready for Leo season.

[laughter]

It just is so good. My poor husband who's a Pieces just doesn't stand a chance. Bless him, but anyways. I'm feeling good. I'm loving thriving in Leo season.

[00:01:17] Alexa: Yes, it's always really underwhelming when someone will be, "Oh, when's your birthday?" Or, "What's your sign?" You'll be like, "Guess." Every single time people are like, "You're a Leo." I'm like, "Goddammit. There's no fun in this."

[00:01:26] Tyson: Quintessential Leo 100%.

[00:01:28] Alexa: Quintessential textbook, center of the fucking universe, here I am. Hear me roar. Sorry. Well, amen to Leo season. That makes me really excited. Although it's going to be hotter than Haiti's this summer I think. Yay.

[00:01:43] Tyson: It's cold now though.

[00:01:43] Alexa: That's only the downside of being a summer birthday is everybody screws off to the beach and is like, "Oh, you wanted to have a party?" Sorry. I'm out of town."

[00:01:50] Tyson: Girl, I am eight months pregnant. All right. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it.

[00:01:54] Alexa: That's true. It's all right. I'll come have a mocktail with you in Leo season. We'll rage. We can mocktail rage. I'm down.

[00:02:00] Tyson: Sweat it out.

[00:02:01] Alexa: Yes, sweat it out. When you're ready to get that kid out of there you let me know, we'll come mocktail rage.

[00:02:07] Tyson: 100%.

[00:02:08] Alexa: All right, my dear. Let's move on to pops in the news.

[music]

[00:02:21] Alexa: Only because we're doing a last-minute pivot on our pops in the news segment today. We were going to talk about something totally different, but as you wonderfully pointed out, Kanye West has decided that he will not leave the Atlanta Stadium until he finishes his new album, Donda. For those of you who are not Kanye West followers, I don't know how anyone can miss Kanye West. All he has to do is look left and he makes news, but turns out he was supposed to have an album release party in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

[00:02:49] Tyson: He did have it. He did have it.

[00:02:50] Alexa: He did have it on Friday, yes. He had it, sold out. Of course, it's Kanye, everything he does and touches people go totally nuts for. New album is highly anticipated. It's named after his late mother. Bottom line, he's effectively decided that since then he is not leaving the stadium until he finishes his new album, which he is effectively tweaking and working on last minute. He was supposed to drop the album on Friday and then decided that--

[00:03:15] Tyson: The 23rd.

[00:03:16] Alexa: Yes, right. He's not done that. This episode may be a little later than that, but he's decided that he is not going to drop the album yet because he's not done, Tyson, and he is the star of the show speaking of Leos.

[00:03:26] Tyson: Hold on though. It was supposed to be released last July, I think. I feel like it was originally planned for last July and now it's taken this long and then he probably just re-recorded it. I swear I still listen to Life of Pablo on Apple Music and I think he changes it. I think he's going in there and changing it, because every time I listen to that album something is different.

[00:03:49] Alexa: Totally possible. It's not like he's got anything else to do. I also just love that this total aside from any of the people stuff associated with this, which I'll let you get to in a second, but I also just love that they keep calling Kim, his estranged wife. I'm like, she's not that estranged.

[00:04:07] Tyson: They're not.

[00:04:07] Alexa: She's at his listening party with all of his kids. Stop trying to use ridiculous terminology to make this sound salacious when it isn't.

[00:04:14] Tyson: The Kardashians are so top class when it comes to [unintelligible 00:04:16]. I feel like they're always friends with their exes and co-parenting and stuff that. They keep their people in their circle really close.

[00:04:23] Alexa: Yes, too many secrets, man. Too many secrets.

[00:04:25] Tyson: Yes, they keep their people close. Anyway, relating this back to People Ops, would we say that Kanye West is engaged?

[00:04:35] Alexa: Yes, he's being very productive, I hope.

[00:04:39] Tyson: He is so obsessed with what he's doing.

[00:04:41] Alexa: He's well, he's in flow state right now.

[00:04:44] Tyson: He literally will not leave the premises. I think I saw--

[00:04:47] Alexa: Someone's going to have to force the vacation.

[00:04:50] Tyson: Did they have plans for the stadium? Is he messing anything up?

[00:04:53] Alexa: I'm sure he's just buying it out. I'm sure. I'm sure there's sports seasons and I'm sure there's all kinds of stuff he's messing up, but he is Kanye West, he doesn't care.

[00:05:01] Alexa: I love his crazy genius. I know there's a lot of people who have different opinions about Kanye West. I'm personally a fan of his music. I've actually seen him twice in concert. He's shown up two hours late both times.

[00:05:14] Tyson: That's just a rap concert.

[00:05:19] Alexa: The first time I saw him, it was in Ottawa, and he was singing a song, rapping away and he said, "Stop, stop, stop, stop. Cut it, cut it. I've got too many hits. Next song, next song." In that moment, I was like, "Damn, dude, Okay, I want to hear all the hits." He's just such like-- I don't even know how to explain him. He's a genius. I don't know. It's very interesting. I've watched his career for a long time. I find him an extremely interesting person despite I know that there's a lot of controversy about him.

[00:05:53] Tyson: A lot of controversies, a lot of mental health issues. The same is just not healthy for anybody. I think that's the undercurrent of everything that people know about Kanye, but if he was your boss or your CEO, would you be so stoked about this move? Because I wonder, in the context of this conversation, what everyone around him is doing, and it's tough. This is the CEO problem. Everybody's like, "Well, that guy pays my bills. He gets to be an evil genius sometimes because that guy pays my paychecks. What do I do."

[00:06:24] Alexa: I actually was just talking to my husband about this. If Kanye West gave you a call and said, "Hey, I want you on my album." First response is like, "Holy shit." This guy is literally the perfectionist of all professions. You know he's only getting the best of the best, then your next thought is, "Oh, shit, how long is this going to take?" Could you imagine working with someone like that? Maybe you could imagine. Maybe you've been there. I personally haven't to that extent, but imagine working with someone who is such a perfectionist and a genius in what they do that-- I don't know. It's an interesting-- [crosstalk]

[00:06:58] Tyson: A lot of creatives are like this. I've worked with a lot of creatives in general and creatives are just on a different wavelength, like, it's very project-oriented. You got to lock yourself away for hours. Sometimes, their business acumen is a little off because that's not their forte. It's sometimes that's just real. Let's be honest, Kanye lacks in people skills sometimes through all of this. I hope he releases the album. I'm definitely going to listen to him. I admittedly hated dark twisted fantasy when it first came out, and now I really listened to that album, and I'm like, "I was an idiot. This is just fire."

[00:07:30] Alexa: It is a work of art.

[00:07:33] Tyson: It is a work of art. When it first came out, I was like, "Oh, what is this overproduced noise." Now that I listened to it again, I'm like, "This is genius."

[00:07:40] Alexa: There was a video that went with it too. I know we need to move on soon. This was my first year of university came out and I remember sitting at my dorm and watching the video. It was like a movie that went with it, and he found this like half lady, half-bird. It was a whole thing. If anyone can find that on the internet, go watch it. It's a piece of art.

[00:07:57] Tyson: All right, this is basically just a totally hidden segment for Tyson's love of Kanye West, and now we're going to move on to our wonderful guests, Krysty. Krysty is an HR pro with a genuine passion for finding ways to continuously improve the employee experience. She is currently a VP of HR in the New York City area and has over 10 years of experience in every aspect of HR from talent acquisition to employee relations. Hello, Krysty.

[00:08:20] Krysty Dimas: Hello, hello.

[00:08:22] Tyson: How are you doing? Good. Thanks for joining us.

[00:08:25] Krysty: Thanks for having me. I'm very excited to be here. I love hearing your love for Kanye. I too love Kanye. I'm a little bit more of an old-school Kanye fan myself [crosstalk].

[00:08:35] Tyson: Which album?

[00:08:36] Krysty: It's tough, the original, the first one, the one with--

[00:08:41] Tyson: Graduation? High School? What was before Graduation?

[00:08:43] Krysty: Yes, the Graduation one? The one where I was in high school for it.

[00:08:47] Tyson: Now I'm dating myself because I can't remember.

[00:08:50] Krysty: The first one.

[00:08:52] Tyson: School analogies for the first three albums. Amazing.

[00:08:55] Krysty: Exactly.

[00:08:57] Tyson: All right. Well, tell us, Krysty, a little bit about how you got into the People Profession. Let's jump right in here.

[00:09:02] Krysty: Oh, man, how I got into the People Profession? Probably I feel a lot of people stumbled into the People Profession. I graduated college with a degree in psychology. I really had no clue what the fuck I wanted to do. A recruiter was like, "Hey, I have a contract role to be an HR assistant and cover someone's maternity leave in the city." I was like, "Yes, sure, I'll do it. No problem." Then, from that moment, I was like, "Whoa, this is dope."

I could definitely see myself working in that behind the scenes, working with people, and I think what was great was that I was an HR assistant role, so I was supporting an SCP and I got to really see everything in human resources and in the people function so I got to see training, and development, and payroll, and benefits, and talent acquisition, and all the different pieces that come together around that. I think, at that point, I was like, "I think I could really see myself doing well because, one, and I know this is a giant job, but I love working with people, I love being part of that whole experience, and I loved how I could see HR was really the glue that holds the organization together as much as people don't like to admit it, we are the backbone of every organization.

Ever since then, it's been history. I've been working in, I started in talent acquisition doing a lot of recruiting, went into more of a generalist business partner role, and now I'm leading up a department of four and started there really building the function and creating all the processes that are in place and planning, trying to streamline everything that we do as a people function. That's really where I find myself super passionate. I love everything that I do. I love the people that I work with. I love getting to interface with all the different parts of the department. That's where I am now.

[00:10:57] Tyson: There's definitely a trend with people who fell into HR I guess and it's funny because I have a similar story, then I started and I was like, "Oh, shit, what the hell am I going to do with this?" I was just grasping at straws. I'm like, "Look, neither my parents are like, get a job." [crosstalk] HR just seemed like the easiest next step to a job. It's so good to hear that we fall into it but then we fall in love with it.

We joke all the time here about and I joke on my Instagram account all the time about loving people and it's ironic because I joke but at the same time, look, we're all here because we want to see people do well and we want to see companies do well and people feel like they actually are getting something out of their life and making a difference and all that really great stuff. We joke but we also all secretly do love people.

[00:11:48] Krysty: It definitely sounds super cheesy when you're telling that to people like, "Oh, I just love working for people." It's true. I really do want the employees to have a good experience. I really want them to love and get more out of their jobs and just do their job.

[00:12:04] Tyson: Which is so funny because if you ask, 9 out of 10 employees would be like, "My fucking HR team." You're like, wait, "Who are you talking to?"

[00:12:13] Krysty: I'm on your side.

[00:12:14] Tyson: Yes. To be fair, we don't bring anyone on this podcast who's not on the good side of history with this because I don't think they'd last 10 seconds with Tyson and I because I definitely hear horror stories of like, oh my God, I can't believe my team did this or can you believe they made these decisions? Obviously, we're not talking to those people. This is a completely biased presentation of the good side of HR and that is the point but what are some of the things you fell in love with very specifically?

[00:12:43] Krysty: I honestly fell in love just getting to build the relationships and not even doing anything specific within HR. I can't even say I love doing comp planning and I love doing performance management. I can't really say that. It really is just being that person that is the go-to person for the employees. I love being the face of the organization or who they go to when they have any kind of which questions.

I think it has really helped me build my network and helped me learn a lot about the different industries that I've worked in. I just feel myself growing professionally and personally too and learning more about them and what they do and just building the relationships and getting to build really friendships with them, which is weird to say because HR is not anyone's friend but I do. I find myself becoming friends with these folks.

[00:13:31] Tyson: You must be listening to this podcast, Krysty.

[laughter]

[00:13:34] Krysty: I do and I listened to the one where you guys talked about the trendy words that are like the buzzword.

[00:13:40] Tyson: The buzzword.

[00:13:41] Krysty: I was cracking up dying because it fits all--

[00:13:44] Alexa: We have many more of those to come. Wait, Krysty, was there a moment for you where you, because you pick this HR assistant job and you're working away, was there a moment where you were like, "Yes, this is it. This is the path for me and in HR." Do you have any specific anecdotes of any aha moments where you knew that this is the place for you?

[00:14:10] Krysty: Anytime an employee comes to me and is like, "Thank you so much for your help, you really made that," that one little interaction, five-second interaction with the employee, I was like all my chugging along here behind the scenes, no one even gives a shit about what I do behind my desk but this one person does. It just lit up my life honestly the first time that an employee thanked me for enrolling them in benefits, genuinely thanking me for something that I did so little, it really was like I could live for these little moments. 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.

[00:14:55] Tyson: Well, you bring up a good point because I think, Krysty, if I had to guess that most people in this profession survive on those moments because the rest of this can really suck depending on what your position is.

[00:15:07] Alexa: Those moments are so few and far between, it's the little tiny baby carrots that you get. [laughs]

[00:15:13] Tyson: Yes. 99.9% of my job sucks but 0.1% keeps me going. If anyone thought we were in this with glory, get out, like no mercy.

[00:15:26] Krysty: They usually come in exit interviews. You're doing an exit interview with someone and they're like, "This fucking stuff but you're awesome, and thank you, you're the best HR person I've ever worked with." And you're just like--

[00:15:37] Alexa: Glowing.

[00:15:38] Krysty: You think this is way do this--

[00:15:39] Tyson: Crying.

[00:15:39] Krysty: Yes.

[laughter]

[00:15:41] Tyson: But they're leaving. Now you have to go [unintelligible 00:15:43]. You're like, "I appreciate you saying that on the back of giving me three months more work to do. I appreciate that." Oh, that's brutal. Real talk though, and I think this is actually probably something that's worth tapping into here, Krysty. You made the comment and you may not have meant to, but prior to that, nobody gives a shit about what I'm doing at my desk 90% of the time but this one thank you is sustaining me. Why do you think that is? Why does nobody give a shit? Why is the perception that nobody gives a shit?

[00:16:15] Krysty: I think, and I spend a lot of waking hours thinking about this conundrum when I'm having really shitty days. I think it really has to do with the history of the function of HR and this stigma and you guys have spoken about this so many times, but this idea that HR is just a paper pusher, an administrator, the afterthought, the person that executes all the decisions that business that the businesses make. No one really thinks that HR plays a part in all these things that are going on surrounding their people. Why wouldn't even resources, why wouldn't the people function be involved in these people decisions.

I think if I were really to sit down and try to explain to someone who's not doing what we do every day and try to explain all the different things that we play an integral role in, or all the things that we are consulted for, they would be surprised because I don't think they realize, and we're the silent contributor, the silent angel investor in a lot of the decisions, because we're giving our input, giving our opinions, giving all the data about what's going on in the marketplace.

Then the managers get to go out and deliver, all of the plans that we're trying to put through and all the initiatives. When an employee actually is like, "I know you had something to do with this, and I know that you played a role in this." They're like, "Holy shit." They know that it's not their manager that gave them that extra week off or whatever it might be. I think that's why I think a lot of people have this idea that HR is behind the scenes, and HR is just someone who just processes payroll or does benefits admin. There are a few angels out there who realize that we're a little bit more than that.

[00:18:00] Tyson: Yes. Have you ever seen really good examples of organizations that make sure that HR is recognized in those decisions?

[00:18:06] Alexa: How do you think that happens specifically? Maybe even in your own history, how did you feel as though as HR, you got exposure to the people who knew you were connected to those decisions?

[00:18:21] Krysty: I think it comes from the leaders. I've been in an organization where we've gone out. The HR team worked really hard in revamping, how we do performance reviews, how we set goals and managers go and they deliver this new way of doing goals. If my boss didn't go on there and say,"Shout out to the HR team who really were the guys and gals that were out there implementing this new process and coming up with the strategy and what works for you guys."

We did a lot of focus groups with the employees, understanding what do they want to do, what can we change, what would you like to see change? And then implementing them and then relaying that back. If my boss didn't go out and say, "Hey, shout out to Krysty and her team, for really listening to you and advising us and how we can best do this," no one would ever know.

I feel like it would just be something that their managers would be like, "Look at how great our performance review process, our goal-setting process is now because of all the things that I've done." I think it starts at the top. In my experience, it has started at the top. If your manager, and if your leaders truly support HR as a function, people ops as a function, they will recognize all the work that you're putting in and all the heavy lifting that you're doing to make all of these things come to fruition.

[00:19:40] Tyson: It's like a double-edged sword beause in previous conversations about this, we've heard people be like, "Well, it's also like HR is the dumping ground." Sometimes it's like, "We're going to give HR the credit just in case this goes wrong."

[00:19:51] Krysty: That is true. That is also true.

[00:19:54] Tyson: That's usually what happens.

[00:19:55] Alexa: I would say that oftentimes HR can be used a a crutch in case that goes wrong, then it's HR's decision but when things are going good, and it's a good news story, then it's the manager who gets to own that. That's not always the case. There are some better managers out there but oftentimes, I've seen that play out that HR can be a crutch.

[00:20:20] Krysty: I think oftentimes, managers like to blame HR when something is not going to plan in favor of the employee. If an employee is asking for a salary increase or wants to get promoted and the manager doesn't want to give it to them or doesn't want to give them as much or doesn't think they're ready, they're going to say, "Oh, well, HR wants us to stay within this salary band." Or, "HR is taking so long to get us this data and that's why there's a delay because of HR and all of HR's processes." I've definitely been in those situations before too where I've been the scapegoat to be like, "Oh, we'll go talk to HR about it." Then just using it as a way for them to delay having to deliver bad news or give the employee anything that's less than what they're asking for.

[00:21:11] Alexa: This is so funny because this whole just feels like a very short-sighted bad leadership model because in theory, everybody tells the CEO how many fucking books are written about leaders eat last and always take responsibility even if it was your lowest level employee. There is something to be said for that. Team captains sometimes have to eat shit even when the goalie just has a bad day because, in theory, what should happen is that HR is always a protected part of that responsibility-taking. It's like, HR is set coming up with the bands and you're in the band.

You need to understand that you're in this band for this reason, and I as your manager, I'm responsible for teaching you that. That's my role here. I didn't come up with the bands, I can't change the bands but you're in this band for this reason and the bands make sense or if they don't make sense, let's find a way to have a conversation productive with somebody who has power here because of X, Y, and Z. Why is it just like, oh, well, fuck it, it's their problem, blame them. That's just feels like a lazy leadership style to me. It's like, oh, instead of taking responsibility or teaching me something, you just blaming somebody else.

[00:22:16] Tyson: Just a quick confession. I also have blamed HR for things. Here's the thing. That happens a lot.

[00:22:27] Alexa: Tyson, you're part of the problem.

[00:22:28] Tyson: No, I know and I just had to weigh the problem sometimes but here's the thing. Sometimes when there's a state of complete chaos in HR and what they're rolling out is not right. If you don't have the control to building something or timing something, there are so many times where I've been like, "Oh, fuck sorry, I didn't get that to you because my colleague over here didn't get it to me." That's another whole issue that I think that, yes, there's the HR management thing but you also have to manage the HR teams. Sometimes, and in most of my experience, there's such chaos that's happening sometimes behind the scenes in HR that I don't always blame the managers for being like, "Oh, fuck, HR," again. This new thing and that sort of thing. I'm always really cognizant about that and my role is a business partner. It's just almost like shielding sometimes management from having to blame HR on something that makes sense. I don't know.

[00:23:29] Alexa: What's the anecdote there?

[00:23:31] Tyson: The anecdote is that--

[00:23:32] Alexa: Because we're never going to get out of the stigma of being, oh, fuck HR. Even HR is living fucking HR. It's time to be fair, this phenomenon happens everywhere in an organization. Engineers blame the product team all the time. Product team blames the engineers all the time. Sales team blames the marketing team all the time. Customer success blames the sales team all the time. These are all very standard tensions.

[00:23:54] Tyson: I think where the problem occurs is if you've got groups that are designing HR initiatives and they're not designing with the actual business in mind and they're doing something off over here which makes zero sense for the business. Then you've got your business partner in the middle that's like, "Oh, shit, how do I translate this craziness that's happening in HR into the business and that's where we lose trust. That's where we lose credibility is when there's that mismatch that's happening and that's what a lot of people who are in the business and I think we're going to talk more about what a business partner actually is but that's how I define it.

It's like that translator role but the challenge often is the people ops teams that are building or the HR teams that are building are not in touch with what's going on in business. I actually am more business-focused when I'm doing HR than I am HR-focused.

[00:24:46] Alexa: I feel like they're fucking one and the same. If you're in HR, you're in business. It is your sole fucking responsibility but that's another talk for another time. I'm not going to double-click on that one for Krysty's sake. What do we do? Are there examples of times that you guys have seen organizations structured maybe, Tyson, where that's not as much of an issue, there's a more direct line. Is that just a function of only smaller companies?

I agree people often the clouds making policies that aren't fucking connected to reality. It doesn't really help anybody, but also goes directly against the concept of a company-wide policy. When we talked about Tim Cook being like, "You can be remote, but only on these days at these times at these hours and think these things." It was like, "Thanks for the flexibility, asshole, that didn't help." Why are we implementing this at a 10,000-plus-person level? Same idea, but how do you get around that?

[00:25:43] Krysty: I've never run into that issue that Tyson's talking about, where she's saying the HR team is doing one thing and then as a business partner, you're caught bridging the gap between the two because I've always been in organizations where the HR team is the HR business partner. We are one and the same. We are going out and coming up with these ideas together with the business.

I think, really, that's the only way is for a people ops team to truly understand how the business is run and how they do their day to day and what the goal is and what the end game is, and what are we trying to get at by rolling out this initiative because unless your people ops team, your business partners, or whoever your HR team, whatever it is, unless they know what those employees are doing or what the managers are trying to get out of this, whatever the initiative is, there's no way that it's going to align exactly the way that you want it to align.

You're going to have exactly that problem where people I've seen has this brilliant idea. On paper, it looks great per all of the fads and all of the HR things that are going on, the buzzwords that are happening. It's awesome. It's competitive. It's strategic. Then you're going to roll it out, and all the people in the business are like, "What the fuck? This doesn't make any sense. You're misaligning the timeline. We're in the busiest part of the year, we have to do X, Y, Z, other things."

Now we have to do this extra shit which could have easily been avoided if there was just a little bit more understanding of the different things that are going on within the business from the people ops team. I don't know that I've ever had that issue myself, but I think that's where it probably stems from just not understanding the people that you're working with.

[00:27:24] Alexa: It's all about getting leadership buy-in first. The challenge is in reality, that doesn't often happen. If HR is building a silo without getting buy-in first, they build first, then go to the business and they're like, "Hey, look at this cool thing." Then it falls flat on its face. I think we talked a little bit about this in our conversation with Nicole.

Just these things that HR comes up with that just don't fit what the business is trying to do and the importance of making whatever, HR is building fit with whatever the company is or the company is striving for and their strategy and all that stuff. I think the example we used in another episode was leadership training and how it often falls flat on its face. That would just be my-- [crosstalk]

[00:28:07] Tyson: Trust me, I'm falling.

[00:28:09] Alexa: Is leadership buy-in first before we start building things. That's not to stifle creativity of the HR department, but it's like, I don't know. I've been working in HR for a number of years now and I just feel like there's so many people out there that just aren't in tune with what the business needs and that's what makes an effective.

[00:28:27] Tyson: That's my biggest fucking frustration with this whole profession.

[00:28:30] Alexa: That's the problem.

[00:28:29] Tyson: It's like you've got to build for the business. Let's not make this just like a hater's going to hate such but if I was going to flip this and ask purely naively, and I am, like when you think about, I just mentioned sales and customer success have tension. Sales guy promises the world, customer success guys like, "Fuck you. You promised some shit we don't have and now I'm stuck holding the bag." Or marketing and sales. There's always natural tensions. Just like we talked in a prior episode about how you absolutely never want your HR team working for your finance department. It's a horrible fucking idea. You want attention between those two things. That's a natural tension that should be there.

In theory, the tension is a good thing because it puts the priorities against each other and you're forced to choose. Through that comes a lot of efficiency. My question for you guys would be if it's about buy-in and it's about all these other things because you can't have a perfectly attuned team that's working for 1000s of employees, even 100s of employees, that's got their ear to the ground on every level of management.

We've talked about the different levels that you have to permeate through as a people team, but what are the natural tensions? Where is it good to have tension besides the finance team, we talked about that. If you are trying to implement for larger groups or just trying to prioritize, because sometimes then I'll shut up and just finish this question. Sometimes you're like, we have to do a leveling and comp structure and the rest of the team is like, "Why the fuck do we have to do that? My team's paid what they're paid. I'm good. I've kept my budget in check." Like, "Don't worry about it." You're like, "No, no, we're like 300 people. We got to get our fucking costs in order." [chuckles]

We have to understand and be able to predict labor costs. That's just a business function. That's going to create tension. In theory, you could explain that tension away. Where is it good to have tension with HR? Where does the people designing things that in a silo have to be creative, need to butt against the organization? Where is that positive? Longest question in history.

[00:30:30] Krysty: Can you repeat the question?

[laughter]

That's tough. I don't know. There's tension all over.

[00:30:40] Alexa: It's tough.

[00:30:41] Krysty: I think it is tough. Having conversations in general that create a little bit of tension is always obviously on this podcast we love but--

[00:30:51] Tyson: Does the silo happen when there isn't tension, where it's like the people team, just like what often did some and we didn't want to confront the managers or the c-suite or whatever?

[00:31:00] Krysty: The problem is, again, going back to this idea of everyone, working in silos and everybody just thinking about them and their job and doing something-- An example, I work for an organization, and they built out a talent management process, the whole thing. It was a whole thing, and it was so advanced. It was beyond advanced. It was amazing. This was one of the best talent review, talent management things I've ever seen.

Now, the problem is the business wasn't even used to having regular one-on-ones with their employees to talk about their performance. They didn't even know their people. They've just built this amazing talent review process, but the business doesn't even know how to walk, let alone, run the Olympic races. That's where things become problematic, and that's where business partners--

Again, I hate to keep bringing this conversation back to business partners but that's where effective people, operations folks can figure out either how to translate that talent review into something the business understands. Make sure that that talent review wasn't built in the first place, because they're feeding back the information, or somehow have communicated enough in advance to build something that actually works for the business that's maybe a little bit more simple.

[00:32:25] Tyson: That's a very good structure for that. Is that most easily done-- obviously, it's going to depend on the size of the organization. This always reminds me a little bit of the product function when you're building technology. I certainly have not worked in that industry forever, but definitely I have some experience in it. Good product people are walking around to all the teams and being like, "Okay, that's your priority, your idea your examples of this, your frustrations, your timelines." Then walking around to all the councils and being like, "Okay, I've talked to everybody." Here's the best way to bridge all these gaps, and here's how we're going to build a timeline, and prioritize features and functions and blah, blah, blah.

It almost sounds like the people function in-- A healthy function is doing a bit of like, "Let me consult the chiefs. Let me take in some counsel before--" I just hear, when you give you the example of this incredible talent review process, that then they roll out. Nobody knows how to have one-on-ones is like that's just wasted time and money on both sides. You just wasted the whole people teams, they did above and beyond work. They didn't need to do, then they went to implemented it and fell flat on their fucking face, and they wasted a bunch of other people's time. This is why people come to hate HR. Like, "Oh, they made us do this thing. It was so stupid." It's just tone-deaf. It's just tone-deaf. I'm curious if people teams are structured in your experience, the two of you, to work like that. Outside of like just the obvious like business partner.

[00:33:48] Krysty: No, I don't think a lot of people teams are structured appropriately. I think part of it is because a lot of organizations are still getting used to involving people teams in knowing the business. As companies are learning like, "Oh, shit, HR should probably be aware of how we run our business so that they can make a truly effective [chuckles] performance and goal-setting process." People are still thinking through that. They're still learning that HR is more than just like compliance labor law posters and getting things signed on time or whatever it is. I think that's part of the reason.

[00:34:21] Tyson: People can't see my aggressive face form right now. I'm aggressively face-forming.

[00:34:28] Krysty: [laughs] We're more than labor law posters, I swear. It's true, and I think that's part of the issue that organizations are still getting used to that idea. Getting used to evolving the way that they think of their people team and how we, again, are part and should be part of the business. I do think HR people are to an extent like a project managers for things like this. We have to make sure we're talking to all the important stakeholders that we're flagging, all the important things that need to be flagged, make sure that when we are ready to roll out whatever big project that it is that we're rolling that it truly makes sense and that it's going to be efficient and it's going to work the way we're intending it.

I think if someone on the people ops team understands all the little nuances of a business and the way that they're run, they're able to clearly identify the things that they should be mindful of, that when a people ops team is over here and everybody else is functioning in this other side of the room, there's no way that they're going to know all the different considerations that need to be heard before rolling out anything big.

[00:35:37] Tyson: Krysty, in your experience, how do you build relationships with other HR team members? I think we talk a lot about building credibility with the business, but also, building credibility with your colleagues, do you have any good--

[00:35:53] Alexa: Also, not all HR is the same, right?

[00:35:57] Tyson: Right.

[00:35:58] Krysty: Correct, yes.

[00:36:00] Tyson: We're talking about your business partners, your comp people, all the people that are involved.

[00:36:05] Alexa: Benefits, generalists, talent, recruiting, et cetera.

[00:36:08] Krysty: I think when you are working on a new team and when you're working with the budget people, whether they're all part of HR or not, I think that because part of building relationship and building that credibility is getting beyond just what we're there for, to do work, it's getting a little bit more personal. I think a lot of people, especially HR, when we're trying to build relationships, [unintelligible 00:36:31] back to the business, but with the business, when we're trying to build credibility, they kind of see us just as, "Okay, that's just HR, I'll just talk to her about whatever HR-related thing."

When you start to build in and start to show them that, "I'm more than just an HR person, I'm a human, too. I'm a regular person. I like to go out, I like to have fun. What are your hobbies?" Building on these different things and these added layers to build that relationship will then organically build your credibility. As you work on projects with these different teams and even cross-functionally within the HR department, and you show your skills, and you show all the value that you bring and that your experience brings to the table, your credibility will just go up if you're able to bring actual facts, actual data more than just, like, "Oh, I think this is a good idea because I like the idea of doing it." Having more substance behind it, then your credibility will definitely fill up naturally, I feel like.

[00:37:33] Tyson: Because people are people, right?

[00:37:35] Krysty: Right. People are people, and they want to know that they're working with another human being and not just someone who cares only about the rules and regulations in what we're doing. Showing that, that you're here to, "I want the business to succeed also, I want your employees to succeed, I want you to do well as a manager," and opening up that relationship and being able to show more than just the standard HR old-fashioned things that they might think of HR to be, then they'll be like, "Oh, hey, she's a little bit more than just-- She's not just regular HR, she's cool HR."

[00:38:06] Alexa: Just cool HR. [chuckles] We got to get T-shirts that say "Cool HR." I love that.

[00:38:13] Tyson: I make them, Alexa.

[00:38:15] Alexa: Oh, [unintelligible 00:38:15], sorry.

[00:38:15] Tyson: You can buy them on my website, hrshirt.com.

[00:38:17] Alexa: No, I feel like we coined that together. You can't steal that. I'm just kidding, I'm totally kidding.

[00:38:21] Tyson: I coined "Cool HR" like five years ago.

[00:38:23] Alexa: Sure, you can have that. I'll give that to you. Every T-shirt you've sold, you've earned, and I love you for it. Now I'm just thinking about cool T-shirts. Oh, so what I was going to say is, it also makes me realize, I think there's definitely a lack of understanding to everybody's detriment about what the different functions of HR are, and not just, like, oh, your average Joe doesn't really know the difference between comp and payroll and benefits or whatever, except on the surface, but also, in an organization, if you have those groups, what are they doing and what are their goals?

If your comp team is purely, like, "Our goal is to minimize fuck-ups in payroll, expedite processing, reduce costs, and insert next goal," when you go to interact with that team, your expectation of what they're going to bring to the table and the solutions they're going to present will be different than if you're like, "Oh, my comp team's job is to make sure you get paid the most or the least or the slowest or by check instead of credit card."

There's just so many things that people don't know, and then you go to interact with these groups, and people just go, like, "Oh, well, it's HR," or, like, "Oh, this team, the talent operations team is frustrated by the choice of systems that the benefit team chose." It's like, well, of course, they're fucking frustrated, their goals and their objectives here couldn't be further apart as teams. Literally, the things they're trying to accomplish are at direct odds with each other, or the systems they use don't [unintelligible 00:39:59] or whatever it is.

I feel like it's a major miss. I see this a lot, I bring it up because I see it a ton in younger startups as they're starting to grow. This happens every time a company gets to like let's call it, I don't know, 15, 20 people. They go, "Shit, we're growing really fast. We need to hire someone for talent acquisition. We need to hire someone to recruit." Then they tell everyone internally that that person is HR. Then all of a sudden instead of recruiting, that person is now in charge of every fucking issue that anybody on the team has.

[00:40:33] Tyson: That happens.

[00:40:34] Alexa: All the time, it happens time after time after time. Look, I'm sure there's lots of people who do recruiting that are getting weird emails from people being like, "I have to complain about something." It's like, "I just hire people. I have a different function here." That speaks to exactly what I'm talking about. It's like that is a wildly inefficient and costly misrepresentation of the function that is not hard as an organization to articulate. If you've got different teams under one organization, especially one people team, let's clearly define what their objectives are because, one, it'll make cross-functional meetings better, but also like everyone in the organization is going to interact with those functions more productively.

[00:41:12] Tyson: There are certain functions that may have historically been HR in quotes, but now have moved. For example, payroll is oftentimes now under finance, which actually makes a lot of sense. There's no reason for payroll-- I joke all the time, I know nothing about payroll. There are, I think, some good moves that way, but it's important that the teams be aligned but separate, for sure. I think that there's probably been a few people that might be listening who have been that one person. I know I talk to a lot of people on HR Shook and they have been that one person who does literally everything and maybe it's a small company which is hard because you can't separate it.

[00:41:56] Alexa: Yes, I've seen it destroy a couple of people. Yes, you can't separate it. Then it's funny because you'll ask people and we've got some people that I've spoken to who I'm sure we'll have on this podcast soon. They've been in the profession for 20 years, 30 years, and they're like, "Guys, you don't need one talent acquisition person, you need three. You need a recruiter, you need a head of people and you need a whatever it is, you need a generalist or a comp person or whatever it is depending on the organization and how they're growing."

Especially, I think this has been totally exacerbated by the tech boom is like, "Nope, we need to hire a hundred people in the next year." Then you've hired one person to do that. Then they just become the cluster for everything that is supposed to be HR-related as that company grows and maybe grows too quickly. Then they wonder why culture gets out of control. Beause it's like, well you dump that on that one person too and by the time you hired a third, fourth, fifth person to help them, it was already too late. It was way too late. I see that time and time and time again.

[00:42:55] Krysty: I think part of that issue is that people still don't understand or they don't want to invest in the headcount of the people team. They think one person can do it all and they think HR is one big bucket and I'm just going to hire one HR person who's going to handle all of the above. You have to invest in building your HR function to make it truly as efficient as you want it to be. If you want someone to really manage and hire a hundred people in a calendar year, you're going to need someone designated to do that.[crosstalk]

[00:43:23] Alexa: I want to show those people one slide about how healthcare pricing works and tell and tell them that they think that one person can do this for 300 employees. Just that alone is a three-month fucking project. It's fucking nuts, that shit is complicated.

[00:43:39] Krysty: Absolutely.

[00:43:41] Alexa: Yes. It's a mess. All right, ladies. Well, time flies when you're having fun. I, unfortunately, have to move us to our People Problems segment.

[music]

Tyson, you got a People Problem for us today?

[00:44:01] Tyson: Yes I do. Okay, question from a listener. What are creative employee recognition strategies that aren't lame?

[00:44:13] Krysty: I struggle with this a lot because I'm super aware of what other people are putting out on social media as lame things that HR does. I'm always very critical about the things that we allow.

[00:44:24] Tyson: You know the high five meme where it's like employees, they're like, "We just want fair pay and equal treatment." HR is like, "Pizza party, high fives."

[laughter]

[00:44:36] Krysty: That's the one I'm thinking about.

[00:44:38] Tyson: I joked when this question came in, Alexa and I were talking earlier, and I joked, I said fair pay. The creative recognition started. Let's take that one off the table just for the fun of this conversation.

[00:44:49] Alexa: All right, we'll let you rant at the very end. How's that, Tyson. Because I know you're holding a good solid Tyson rant in there. The Leo in you wants to come out about fair pay.

[00:45:00] Tyson: Krysty thoughts.

[00:45:02] Alexa: Yes. Krysty?

[00:45:03] Krysty: Man-

[00:45:03] Alexa: Take it away.

[00:45:04] Krysty: -all of my experiences have been with probably a lot more of the traditional recognition. One of my organizations, we-

[00:45:12] Tyson: What's that? What's traditional?

[00:45:13] Krysty: -rolled out--

[00:45:14] Alexa: Yes, what do you mean by that?

[00:45:14] Krysty: Like the ones where either we give them a gift card, or we do an employee of the month type of email, and they win some kind of a prize if we nominate them. Most recently, we partnered with a vendor. I don't know if we can shout out vendors, but Blue Board. Love them. Our employees, in order to recognize them, we do this quarterly. We'll send them a Blue Board, which has, obviously, a value to it, but the employees don't know. They get a menu of different experiences, so they can do a fine dining experience. They can bring a friend, or they can do a walking food tour in their town. It's something other than getting an air fryer or choosing a-

[00:45:56] Alexa: [chuckles] An air fryer.

[00:45:57] Krysty: -a [chuckles] $20 [laughs]. When you get those menu of items that you can choose from for whatever amount of stars that you've received from your recognition program.

[00:46:06] Alexa: It's always some budget-ass brand headphones, and yes.

[00:46:09] Krysty: Right, [laughs] exactly. This is more like we want you to involve your family. We want you to involve your friends and get to experience these things with other people other than just you. We've gotten a lot of really great feedback about that because if an employee wants to do it on their own, it's really personal to them. I've had a couple of people redeem them for a book subscription box. They get a book, and they're bookworms. They can read every month. They get a new book every month, fantastic. I get other people who get to go out and have dinner with four of their friends at a really nice restaurant in their city. They love that because they don't have to pay a single thing. Them and their friends can go out and have a great time.

The concierge at Blue Board organizes and schedules everything. So for me, that's worked really, really well. I don't know if it's because, historically, my organization did nothing for recognition, so maybe it's from going to zero to a hundred. Like, "Oh my gosh, it's fucking amazing." Or it's truly a good experience that I think employees like that because they get to personalize it, and they get to involve other people other than themselves. It's more than just redeeming it for a bunch of random stuff off of a catalog, and they can make it something meaningful to them.

[00:47:19] Tyson: That's the point there about personalization is so key, so I think just zoomed out. I posted a meme 100 years ago. [chuckles] This is like the horoscope episode, I swear. I posted how the horoscope signs like to be recognized, and all jokes aside, it's super important to understand how an individual likes to be recognized. Me, being a Leo, if you want to recognize me, send an email and copy every vice president and other senior leader and tell everybody that I'm being recognized. Put me on the center stage, but other people would be absolutely mortified.

I think about my husband. He's a Pisces. He would much prefer to get the Friday off. He wants to get the hell out of work as quickly as possible, so I'm joking, and I'm using signs as an example for the purpose of this discussion, but just understanding that there are personal factors that contribute how people like to be recognized and getting creative in that sense versus one size fits all.

[crosstalk]

[00:48:18] Alexa: Yes, it's like what's your love language?

[00:48:20] Tyson: Exactly.

[00:48:20] Alexa: Like how some people like gifts, some people like favors.

[00:48:22] Tyson: Words of affirmation.

[00:48:23] Alexa: Some people like whatever. Yes, everybody has different stuff. I think there's something to be said about you need to know the language of recognition for your employees, and so when I hear these questions-- and look, I realize people have to ask generic questions because it's a podcast and it's a prompt in a way but my first reaction is always, "Who are we recognizing for what?" There's obviously a continuum or a scale here. Giving somebody a night out with a friend doesn't matter if they feel like they're grossly underpaid. [chuckles] Right?

[00:48:55] Krysty: Right.

[00:48:55] Alexa: Giving someone--

[00:48:56] Tyson: Get the basics right first.

[00:48:58] Alexa: Yes, exactly, or giving someone a gift card for some budget-ass headphones might be nice because maybe they needed some headphones, but it won't matter if what they're really gunning for is just more responsibility to take more things on in your team or more ownership of a certain project. I think one of the things that this is, again, one of those things that happened in this industry is we've oversimplified the conversation and made an industry out of the oversimplification. We've made an industry out of engagement. We've made an industry out of recognition.

It's like, "Wait, whoa. Not everybody needs a gift card. Not everybody needs to be employee of the month." Your managers need to know what matters. They have to have context on the human. There are really some awesome tools. Blue Board is one I've heard of. There are many, many brands in the space. I could shout out lots of them, but this is not a united colors of recognition ad.

[00:49:47] Tyson: Also open to sponsorship, though. [chuckles]

[00:49:49] Alexa: Yes, exactly, Blue Board. Currently looking for podcast sponsors. We have some great sponsors, but they're not part of this ad right now. My point is when you say creative, is it creative like I'm looking for shit that managers can do because they're running out of tools? We're stuck in a paywall. We're on a hiring freeze. Why creative and what are we solving for?

Are we solving for, like Tyson said emails to the CEO saying like this person fucking crushed it like, or are we looking for we just want to treat this person well because they've worked really hard, right? So I'll give you a perfect example. Maybe it's not a perfect example. I just got back from a bit of a break. I took a week off. I've been working like a dog, I usually do. I came back and my team sent me, delivered to my apartment, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There's a mystery cannoli delivery happening that I still have not solved the mystery on. So if I figured out who's sending me cannolis with funny notes-- but long story short, my original vacation got canceled because I screwed up with the passport thing. I won't bore everybody with the details.

I was supposed to go to Italy, I wound up in Miami and my team did this like really awesome thing for me, that was just like, "Hey, we realized you needed a break. We want to ease you back in, we know it's like crazy times right now. We just want to recognize that we can see how assaulted your calendar and your inbox are, we're glad you're back." I was like, "That was fucking awesome." That was so thoughtful and it meant the world to me. It made my crazy stressed out, could have been a horrible Monday, it made it great. My team took a minute to recognize me and it probably cost a collective like $30.

[00:51:26] Tyson: That's how I would interpret the question. So let's just say that everybody's getting paid fairly, you've got good benefits, the ground for that, this like is the above and beyond. When I think back to one of my favorite ways of being recognized. In my last team, they sent us all crystals. Shout out, so we could--

[00:51:42] Aleca: Oh, my God. You're such a hippy.

[00:51:44] Tyson: I know. I'm going to start another podcast about crystals in horoscopes. No, but they sent us all crystals and it was so fun because it came with a little description about what the crystal did, and we kept them on our desk and it was good vibes. I'm like, "Wow, like these people know me. Like you know me, Tyson, as a human being enough to send me a crystal." That was enough for me to stop and think and say, oh, like I liked the people I work with. I like my job. I like where I work. I think that's what we need to get out of recognition or that prize that recognition was so good. It makes me want to do this whole thing again. It makes me want to do this behavior again, to continue to get that recognition.

[00:52:22] Alexa: One of the best experiences I've ever had, I was a young salesperson in New York, I was 27. This is a team recognition strategy, but our sales team leader said, "If you guys hit this like ridiculous stretch goal by the end of this month, we'll take everybody here to one of the nicest steak houses in New York unlimited budget." When you put 15, 25 year-olds all with a bunch of like A-type jock personalities in a room and you go, "You get unlimited steak and alcohol for a night." It's like the fucking end of the world is coming and they have to do this or we all die.

I've never seen more people get motivated. The greatest human things, I think the bill was like a couple $1,000. It was like nothing. Compared to how much money we want to make in the business that month, it was crazy. Then they implemented it as like a regular thing every quarter. Every quarter the goal got bigger and the steakhouse changed. Then eventually it got a little crazy and some, holiday party shit started happening and they had to shut it down.

[crosstalk]

[00:53:20] Alexa: To be fair, they didn't have HR at the time, they only had recruiting but they had to shut it down because they were HR standing in for the CEO who didn't want to be okay, so yes. [crosstalk] And the cycle continues.

[00:53:33] Tyson: Krysty, what has been your favorite recognition moment in your career?

[00:53:37] Krysty: I am someone who likes to be publicly recognized. Which is funny because I am [unintelligible 00:53:43] actually, but I'm--

[00:53:45] Tyson Oh, there you go. No, but you know what, you've probably got a whole lot of other things happening in your natal chart, well talk offline.

[00:53:54] Alexa: What is your rising sign?

[00:53:56] Tyson: What is your rising sign? What is your moon? Where's your mercury?

[00:53:58] Krysty: I don't know any of those things.

[00:54:00] Tyson: Offline

[00:54:01] Krysty: Anyway--

[00:54:01] Alexa: I swear to God, I'm trying to keep Tyson on this planet. I swear to God, guys.

[00:54:05] Tyson: I'm joining Jeff Bezos on the next trip out of here.

[00:54:09] Alexa: I'm going to put you in fucking orbit soon, good Lord.

[00:54:13] Krysty: It was when I was publicly recognized I won an award for being the game-changer of 2019 at my organization and my boss went up there and spoke well how I changed the game for them and made them rethink of HR in a different light and set everything up for them and that was the highlight recognition because I love it when the spotlight's on me, I'm very contrary to [unintelligible 00:54:37] but I do like it and it just made me felt feel that everyone appreciates all the hard work. All goes back to that what I said in the beginning, that when employees-- it's just as impactful as that one employee coming back and saying, "Thank you for everything that you've done." Whether it's that or my CEO coming out there and saying, "Krysty crushed it. She's the game-changer for 2019." The same thing, all the same.

[00:55:02] Alexa: Tyson, what's yours?

[00:55:04] Tyson: My favorite recognition?

[00:55:06] Alexa: The crystals.

[00:55:09] Tyson: That was obviously one of them, I think. I think, again, just being recognized at its very basicness. I don't know if that's the word. Going back to something that Krysty said, it's when HR is working behind the scenes and we work our asses off to do something and then leadership owns the message, the really fun good message. Oh, you got a promotion. HR is the one who worked this entire thing out, but the lead gets to announce it. When that employee comes back to me, completely not knowing that I was involved and knows enough that they should thank me, it keeps me going with my job. When someone, an employee who would've had the message communicated to them by their manager comes to me cause they know deep down I was there and that's how I know that I've done my job well.

[00:55:57] Alexa: Yes. That's pretty far. All right. Well, I'm going to recognize that it is time to wrap this episode. Krysty, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Any parting words of wisdom you want to leave us with?

[00:56:07] Krysty: Oh, man. Don't ask me that. I don't have anything clever to say. So, no.

[00:56:11] Tyson: Go thank your HR person.

[00:56:13] Alexa: Yes, go thank your HR person.

[00:56:14] Krysty: Yes. Agreed.

[00:56:16] Alexa: Awesome.

[00:56:17] Krysty: Thanks, ladies.

[00:56:18] Tyson: Thank you, Krysty.

[00:56:18] Krysty: It's been a pleasure.

[00:56:19] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Boggio with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more information about us and future episodes at peopleproblemspod.com or follow us at peopleproblemspod on--

[00:56:34] [END OF AUDIO]


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