HR Superstars
HR Superstars

Episode 17 · 4 months ago

HR Superstars Live: Building A Sense Of Community In A Remote Workforce


How do leaders create a sense of belonging and camaraderie with their still shell-shocked remote team?

They start with clear communication, vulnerability and inclusivity, and a safe space to share ideas.

This episode was taken from a segment of the HR Superstars Summit. In it, Santi Jaramillo, CEO and Co-Founder of Emplify, and Milena Berry, CEO and Co-Founder of PowerToFly, discuss ways to lead with empathy and increase remote staff engagement.

We also talked about:

-The importance of authentic leadership and clear communication.

-How CEOs can practice transparency and cultivate compassionate leadership.

-Ways to foster recognition and a sense of achievement to increase team engagement.

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:



Agile Engagement (book by Santi)

For the entire interview, subscribe to HR Superstars on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or tune in on our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for HR Superstars in your favorite podcast player.

I think best practice for Mot. Firstcompanies is to have a cadence in person interactions. More team buildingactivities would probably be helpful in this scenario: You're listening to HR,superstar S, a podcast from thirteen five that highlight stories from thefront lines of H, R and people ops. Each episode will show case fascinatingconversations with leaders offering their unique experiences and advice forbuilding an extraordinary company and culture let's get into the show. So you just both talked about is thatcombination of hr sort of centralized programs or recurring? You know meetingthat happens, but it doesn't work if it doesn't start from the top David. Inthat you do a really nice job of bleeding with vulnerability, and Ithink if the leader doesn't, if leaders at the top of the organization don'tbleed by example, with vulnerability and authenticity, it's going to notcreate an environment where you can have all of the amazing HR programs.The very best questions every Friday for every Monday and in people willlook around and just kind of say I don't know is this: Do we do? Do wereally get real here and if they can see the leadership get real? It canreally create a really wonderful invitation for others to take stepstoward sharing more of their full self to work, not just the small part thatmany times is welcomed by the the professional world. For us. I love that all right. Well,transitioning, we've got another another topic here: it's the topicaround Caradori and belonging. This is a question from Wesley and it's how tocreate a sense of belonging and build bonds in a team that has experiencedmany changes as a result of restructuring curious MILENA. If youhave some thoughts on that, so we back to kind of as being a remote firstcompany, I think best practice. toughnut first companies is to have acadence in person, interactions right and so back in my avast days. We would do aretreat two times in the year where, again, the agenda was really justemployee development and team building. We would drop any kind of operation ofwork for two weeks of the year and in part of why, frankly, we haven't reallyexecuted on that model, but we tend to pre cove it and who knows when in thefuture, but bring in smaller parts right like so maybe just the sales team,the leadership team, the town team, whatever we can do to really providethis kind of impersona cohesion, I tend to think that again, more team buildingactivities would probably be helpful. In this scenario, I think it's veryimportant for people who are going through some sort of more traumaticchange, what it's a lot of restructuring. Perhaps they werelayoffs or furloughs involved. Who knows right? I don't really know thesituation, but it's very important for people to feel safe. I for them to knowthat the guillotine isn't coming for them next right, and so I think, havingwhen leadership, communicates a plan of a change of a radical change like this,it's important to say what is going to... the path forward. I think notknowing an uncertainty is what really disturbs people and makes themunsettled, and so how can you really make sure that the team is clear aboutwhat's coming and that they feel a sense of security and and trust, and Ithink, just communicating a plan making a hundred day plan and then regularlycommunicating you know a hundred day plan for those of you who, who kind ofare not so operational focuses you can do it on anything right. You can do iton a company, you can do in an apartment and you can do it on aproject or a product or a team that you're launching and you kind of gopeople process product. And you know using that framework, you can kind ofcreate a plan for what's going to happen to these three groups in ahundred days, which is roughly a quarter right, and so I reallyrecommend that you communicate. What's the plan, then kind of create regularcadence of figuring out? Are We on track with that plan or not so thatpeople again get the sense of stability? And if you again, if you can put moreteam building in that process, so that again people can get to know each otherwould be great and then, lastly, in very destructive situations and whenyou're like Oh, you know, we have to shed half of the team, but I reallywant to keep the outer half of the team. I have seen that bonuses on the spotsometimes work so put it in a little bit of financial incentive. Maybe youdon't have the money you can give a little bit of equity whatever it isthat you can give to the people who are staying and who you want to invest in.I think that goes a long way to just hear from you that they're, safe andand they're getting rewarded and needs heroem. That's really great yeah. I think the Ithink t e, the safety piece is so important and I think with in sosomeone had said heard someone say that in the absence of information, peoplego negative. An alternative is that you know in the absent information peoplemake up stories. So if you can clarify this is what's happening. It allowspeople to just psychologically rest in okay, I have there's. There's youreduced, that fear of the unknown right and there's the fear of the uncertainty.One of the things we've I've seen is that over the years we've brought ourteams together either either in small groups for retreats, like ourleadership, team retreat or individual team retreats, so even the wholecompany together once a year and those very intense, spend a lot of timetogether. You know, rent a house together, you know, go on a retreat anddo a strategic planning week or something like that really fuse therelationships in a way. That's that's different if you're, just on zoom allthe time or even if you're, in an office together and I think gettingpeople together for more of an intensive period of time. I think it'sa great way to kind of fuse that sense of Camaraderie and belonging, and oneof my co founder Shane, often talks about how you know relationships arefused through a combination of challenge and novelty. So you knowsomething: That's new out of you know out of the norm and maybe there'ssomething where have to overcome. Our work on together can also create thatexperience. The other thing I want to say about retreats, because I know Iraised the topic first, but definitely...

...there's an element of make sure youinclusive when you play the retreat right. So, for example, we have a lotof brand new mothers. They might not be I mean especially now with coved. Ithink you have to be very careful for IM personare and make sure peoplereally feel comfortable and not feel like they can lose their job or benegatively impacting their job if they decide not to travel so cove decide,though you know again that that concept of, like I don't know, I had a seniorteam member, she didn't want to come to a retreat, and I still don't know why.But you know maybe she's afraid of flying right, and maybe somebody has anew baby and you know they live in a country where it's not accepted toleave your baby to a nanny. You know how can you accommodate for thatwithout putting question without making it like? If you don't come to thisregret, you're not going to have a path forward in this job right? I think that's and and there's just twoexamples. Of course, there's a lot of odd examples of inclusively that I canthink of and how are we treating affect on the represented population, but justwanted to put the word out of there to really be just be careful about aboutthe personal circumstances, while you're finding this I'm so glad. Youbrought that up, because it is such an important thing and to understand- andI think a lot of these things is really understanding empathy for otherpeople's situation. You know when we did a leadership tream retreat one yearand our VP design had recently had a newbaby and she lives in the Netherlands. So we all flew there to the Netherlandsand she had child care and she didn't come and stay in the house, but westayed right near where she lived and she would bike over, and you know justjust to really oriented around her situation and then also I mean youmentioned how your experience of having your four kids transformed your view ofof that you know, you know. I think I think that there's actually justcurious as a quick aside to get your perspective of you know. How do youhave non parents have an understanding and empathy for the flexibility thatparents require. I know that after I had my son and saw what his mother hadgone through. I think the first thing I did was come back to the company andsay we've got to change our maternity policy and we did, but I didn't havethat perspective beforehand. At such an interesting question, I talked to afounder earlier on independent and there were two female call founders. Idon't know. Maybe both of them are prayin. One of them was, but there wasa lot of small children in the picture of both of them as confounders and likeI find you know, and they were struggling with kind of asking theiremployees to give them the flexibility that they needed to deal with apandemic in their personal situation and and what I said at that time islike listen. I definitely first of all would over index on transparency rightbecause you got to be transparent. What's going on so that again, ifsomething needs to suddenly shift an you, you can't join on a call. Peopleknow why? Because I think, if you're trying to corrence it up the reason whythat's that's way worse, right and...

...number, two think about thosecolleagues who might not have children did dealing with they're equallyaffected by the pandemic in a very different way. People are going crazy,last ye out of loneliness out of like just being alone in their place, andnot seeing honest mean that was way worse actually than having fourchildren around in the home in many ways, and so just understanding thatagain, everybody has a different circumstance in your job as a manageris to always adjust for that and then optimize. Of course, the company cankeep performing with everything you know with the ahival going on whateverpersonal level that's happening, but that that would be kind of myunderstanding and- and frankly I don't know it reminds me of the story David-that my Cofano wrote about it. We started part of fly, which is that as ayoung manager, you know in her is she had no empathy for working mothers andthen she had a child of her own, and then she realized that asking peopleout for drinks at five P M is really not the most inclusive way to doculture and team bonding and switched to doing lunches instead, right, likethings like that, I think part of it is just life and we're going to have toyou know, go through it to earn that empathy for others, but I alsounderstand that they have their things to deal with, and you know some peopleare really into their pets or their parents or a sported they're inwhatever it is. They have to make room for that in their life as well and feelfulfilled and and balanced yeah yeah. It's a really great point.All right. You just said Milena with just how that's a manager's job tocontinually be sensing, the uniqueness of their team members and their teams,and continually adapting to that. There's like a emergent direction,ality to it kind of like a g PS. That's like it's got one or two of the nextturns it doesn't know exactly where you're going to end up, but it's atleast got the next, because it's always sensing and you just keep returning tothat. Just the importance of yes top down policy. Absolutely matters, yes,leadership, leading from the top putting real budget to it, creatingreal rules with real responsibilities and authority matters, and it's alsocritically important to have amazing managers that can deal with thesenuances that are so hard to federally and top down mandate exactly whatshould be done in every edge case, but have managers that can make the rightdecisions, an absence of direction from from leadership on different areas andjust intuitively make the right empathetic decision for their teammembers. And I just the love what you said: They're realing about theimportance of not only structural at the top down ogist on but locally, themanager. I having great excellent managers that are really well enabledby human resources and by executives to make the right decisions for thosenuances and edge cases that just invariably come up all the time. Yeahand I keep coming back to empathy as the key skill- that's really neededbecause you know there's so many different diversion experiences thatpeople have and no no, no one of us is going to have direct experience of allof these different cases, and so your...

...ability to put someone up and putyourself in someone's in shoes and understand that you know there. Theyhave different life circumstances. They have different challenges. They havedifferent experiences in t and to understand how that impacts, theflexibility they need and how they show up and what their individual needs are,I think is is I think, it's just a very important skill that we figure out away to teach more. Five is the only evidence based people and performanceplatform for highly engaged in high performing organizations. Strategic HRleaders in all industries use the platform to win by improvingcommunication of leveling their managers and increasing company wideengagement learn more at fifteen and five com. Well, the thing the perspective Iwanted to offer is: I also want employes to remember that managers arehumans to right. So this empathy concept, I think of goes both ways,because I have certainly been in a situation in the past and even curlyAmi, an situation where my job is stretching me every single day. I don'thave all the answers right and I will make errors and I will learn from themand I will own them and- and I think, especially in fast growingorganizations, when people get promoted very fast, you often left with amanagement layer that, frankly, doesn't know everything that they're doing, andso just that ability to to identify it a little bit also from an employeperspective and be able to say wait. I think I need a little bit more supporthere. You know and to figure out how how to adjust for that. Perhaps lack ofmanagement experience, because a lot of people put in Masina positions beforethey're, ready and and of course, they're excited to grow, but just thereneeds to be a feedback loop there as well. That is like the most beautifulthing about about the engagement journey that we've been on for foryears now. Commendation in this new chapter as part of fifteen five, butthat honest conversation of an employe having a safe place to say, Hey, here'swith my answer to these questions here are some areas that we could work onand then the leader then seeing that data in a way that protects theindividual, but at a team level in the net individual. Going back to a teamand saying, thank you so much for your inputting in your feedback. Here's whatI learned we're doing great in these areas, we're struggling in these areasand I'm committed to being better. Please join me in helping what can wedo about this year? Some ideas, but what are your ideas of how we couldrectify the situation in the team is like well, here's some ideas and thenthey're co, creating the solution versus the leader kind of implementingsome top down actions that will sort of magically. You know create moreengagement. That's what relationships are about. Right is listening to theother person responding and inviting the other person to be in real dialogue and Co, creating anew, a New Vision for the relationship and for the team moving forward and atits best to it, can be that in that I... happen in a work setting, I think,is just so special and rare and then, as culture slowly then become. You knowjust open up over time and invite more of of people's humanity and their fullself, and then the team, the humans thrive and businesses. When it's reallygood. I also really like the concept of the menico right and I think right like if you have a team andyou're managing a team, a good way to kind of start growing leadership within your team. You still identify all right I'll. Just give an example of SAmanaging a sale steam that stop of mind right, like a sales leader, needs todeal with hiring on boarding sales operations, fixing up the ex. You knowcomplicating at the end of the month. All these things and in you canidentify even from individual contributors, Minisi of which one ofthese areas so that they can they start growing their skills over over time.It's something I really kind of highly recommend again and especially in afast growing organizations where you don't want bringing all of them. Themanagers from the outside right, like I deeply believe in in growing peopleinternally and I have found this is a great tactic. Yeah. I love. I love that concept inLeda I operate with a very similar mind set to and I'm thinking about. You knowthe senior leadership level. You know each of the senior leaders really beingtrust it. You O of the area- and I think, there's a there's- a dynamicleadership follower ship thing. I think that some people think, Oh, I'm, theleader I'm supposed to always lead, but I don't think that's always the case. Ithink there's you know there are times where I is. The CEO should be followingother leaders in my organization when they're the expertise and they're. Youknow they're closer to the problem with the customer et ce. So we shouldtransition. We have time for one more question and this one is from Mackenzieit's. How do you maintain a positive work culture in this virtual and remoteworld? Curious, if either of you have some some good tips? Well again, I'm very I'm very biased,because I have worked Remoli, two thousand and six. So for me this isnothing new and I'm actually just proud of our retention rat in our culture andwhat we've been able to build again, I would do I would go back to my Tokiwords, transparency and vulnerability, or my two curs right vulnerabilityability for to be real with each other to share. What's going on with youpersonally to share the areas you're struggling with professionally so thatyou can get help right with you know, and then transparency very key for theremote team. How can you take initiative unless, if you don't knowtransparently, what's happening in another part of the orge, so invest inthis transparency across the orge and into this culture of being able toshare with a shot er? What's going on for me, that's very Karo. Building thatpositively Motul M I'll share a couple of things that have worked over here aswell, so I love in transparency, vulnerability or so so so important. Weused to have an earlier core value at fifteen. Five was grant trust and betransparent and and then also encouraging. People to you know to bevulnerable where there was were safety...

...and one of the things that we have donehistorically for a number of years and we built into our product is thispractice of high fives so making sure that we encourage people to celebratethe winds and acknowledge each other. We built it into the products of peopleare reminded to do that because you know more often than not it's theproblems that come up that have us reach out and say what's wrong, butwe're not always so generous with the praise, even when we notice it. So youknow how can you create a culture of appreciation and then also creating acadence? We do a lot of a lot of all hands meetings. I think Santy when youjoin your like. Oh Man. This is a lot. What I don't know about this and every Monday morning, we're meetingand we're sharing about winds and new hires and promotions and how thebusiness is tracking and the numbers and and then in slack, having a spacefor people to to celebrate. You know winds that are happening and successes,so those are some of the things that we do curious fansy. What else you might addsomething I really noticed starting my own employee experience at fifteen five.Recently this year was the high five. So we used to do that IMPLEVI. We did agreat. It was wonderful, but but there is more structure, there's morestructure with the High Fox that really just creates a fly wheel, work. We justknow what to do used like there's a high five, you tack, someone there'slike instructions to do it. We came up with like custom slack Amog fordifferent core values to recognize stuff. It was just kind of a little bitmore emergent than we're a smaller company, so we just were on the journeyand but that that intentionality of the structure of having like an actual toolto foster recognition. I think the the per employee, like recognition, metricsof fifteen five or just justus like like hundreds like per week. I meanprints, like it's amazing, not to see the amount of celebration of peoplejust strategically celebrating awesome winds.But one of the things that come to mind is, I think it was Andrewin andChristie I'll, give them credit for this, but they would do a monthly likeno. They noticed that with remote those little interactions of the first threeminutes of a meeting where you would just be human and be like the weathertoday, or did you see the Yankees or whatever like we're gone like youstarted zoom meeting and you just kind of feel awkward, and so you just jumpinto the objectives and the agenda and those like moments of like bonding andhuman report kind of don't seem to happen as naturally, when you justshift from fulls, mostly in person to their and they they said. One of thethings we're going to start doing is we're going to have a monthly like atleast thirty minute meeting, and it can be about anything work related we'rejust going to you know, and it was really cool, and so some some companiesnot have borrowed it, and now they basically main date, managers that atleast once a month. You have to do something with your team that isn'tabout achieving your goals and objectives and key results, and it'sabout building community and getting to know each other and seeing each otheras humans and within some of managers like. But how do we do it so the natureo teams will actually send them. Here's...

...ten of them that you can just startusing and that way managers can choose. They can come up with their own, butthey know that they're expected to be intentional about how they buildcommunity n a belonging in a remote context, and I think that that mandatewith some tools can be a really great way to really encourage managers andgive them permission to do it because many times it would be like. I don'tknow a re allowed to do that that doesn't every single meeting have tohave like a decision made, you know and and it's like yeah, we should havegreat meeting hygiene and not have too many meetings, but also it is our jobsto also build community and belonging and so taking time to do. That is okayand it's actually encouraged and supported by it leadership in HR. It'sgreat MILENA SANTI! Thank you. That's all the time we have for today. I wantto thank everyone for participating. I also want to call out Melina you guysin power to fly. I have a summit coming up on June, eighth to eleventh correct.Yes, thank you for mentioning that David. It's actually going to be ourpride edition, so we're featuring leaders from the L Gvick for a week.Long Summit sign up at summit, took part of light com, fantastic line up ofspeakers, and it is three so I enjoy what it last fine five is the onlyevidence based people and performance platform for highly engaged in highperforming organizations. Strategic HR leaders in all industries use theplatform to win by improving communication of leveling. Theirmanagers and increasing company write engagement, learn more at fifteen fivecom. You've been listening to HR super stars stories from the front lines ofHR people of be sure. You never miss an episode by subscribing on your favoritepodcast player. If you're listening on Apple podcast would love for you toleave a thought for or you or give a quick rating. My tapping the stars.Thank you so much for listening. So next time.

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