Brad Goldoor – Chief People Officer, Phenom People

Johann

My name is Johann Berlin, host of the Discerning What Matters podcast and CEO of TLEX Institute. Throughout this series, I’ll be interviewing experts and leaders who are driving what the future of work will look like within their companies and across their industries. During the podcast, we’ll be exploring a central question. As technology speeds us into an uncertain future. How can we design a future of work that meets our human needs and values? How can we create environments that will help us flourish and thrive in the way we live and work? We’d love to hear from you what matters most to you in the future of work. Please share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook at TLEX Institute. And you can check out our work and symposiums on tlexinstitute.com. Well Brad, wonderful to have you be part of the series on the future of humans at work and really discerning what matters. A bit of background on our next guest and he’s serial entrepreneur, Chief People Officer and people are really great. I think one of the really great disruptive companies in the talent management space and in terms of digital platform recruitment and talent solutions and they’re building a very unique culture. I think even I would dare to say a very human centered culture. And Brad previous to that had been a co-founder of another startup and so very excited, Brad to hear your insights on the future of human to work. And I would be curious to hear from your point of view. If we think about the future of humans at work, what do you feel are sort of from where you sit from your purview and your industries? What do you feel are some of the key things that are going to be most important as we evolve into an era of more machine learning and AI?

Brad

Sure I think the key thing is adaptability and people’s willingness to adapt and learn and embrace new technologies. And just important as adaptability are in line with that is unlearning things you’ve done from the past. And while they may have always worked, we’re going to be living in a different world. And I think keeping that type of perspective in line, that type of growth mindset where you know learn from your fail fast learn from those failures, but also, again, unlearning. We get so set in our ways for so many years and it’s yielded good results. And so you get into a false comfort zone there that I think people need to be careful of and really unlearn as well as be adaptable.

Johann

And so what are some of the ways that you’re doing that? I mean it’s very built into our DNA sort of, to want stability to want consistency. And that sort of safety that comes with that. What are some of the ways that you approach that creating that more flexible mindset or adaptivity or unlearning?

Brad

Yep great question, so we encourage people to fail and fail fast, learn from them and share those stories. In fact, I was just reading about another company that gives a gift card out every month for the biggest failure. And so I thought that’s something that we would consider potentially doing here as well. Because you can say we want you to fail. But when you actually reward people publicly for that. And give them that safety, to go about trying things and really truly failing. I think that provides a potential environment where that can happen. And so in addition to that, providing and testing and experimenting with new technologies, from video interviewing to automated background assessments and checks and just trying new things. And again, if they work they don’t and really just starting to view things more as experiments as opposed to going about your job. So methodically and getting set in ways and I think when you set up that type of environment. It will allow some of those innovations and results and changes to happen.

Johann

No, I love that and in particular, I think if we see the sort of data coming out. I think there was just a big study of CEOs and they were asking about the skills gap and asking people, what do you think? What do you think the skills of the future will be? And a majority of them just said, “we don’t know”. So I think the points that you’re raising are really critical in the future of humans of work. Where is it that you find the most optimism I feel like so much of this discussion is often framed around, people are going to lose their jobs, it’s going to create instability. And of course, if we look at history, that has often been the case of technology. But I feel like we’re also in a unique era where we can use technology for good where we can maybe enhance the human experience at work. What are some of the areas that you feel are areas of possibility or optimism?

Brad

You know, right everybody there tends to be a negative A tone out there about how this is going to take and replace all the jobs. And well at the same time, why don’t we change our mindset a little bit about this and say, wow what if I could actually do be twice as more productive. Or we had one client example that just posted results of their analytics on LinkedIn from their chat bot that we have on their career site. And he talked about how this was 1300 conversations that the chat bot had over the past month that my recruiters didn’t have to say where the office is or what the actual day to day job entails. And that they could actually focus on sourcing and strategy and pulling people through a talent process versus “Hey, our offices located here”. And some of the daily minutia that people get tied up and bogged down into. So I think if we change the mindset and think of examples like that and think wow, what could be as opposed to the negative you know, aspect of it. I think it’s a mindset shift. And that’s not only the easiest I understand that but I think that could be the key to it at the same time.

Johann

It’s a great point, Brad, this, just kind of want to double click on this point about repeatable versus non repeatable. I think we used to talk about talent as high skill or low skill. And this but instead, I think this framing of what are repeatable tasks and they weren’t really that fun. For most people, it’s not like work has been a great place. So there is laten, there is that laten possibility that you described. What are some of the ways that you guys I know you guys are doing very unique things around creating more sort of human environments? What are some of the ways you’re design? I mean, you are a tech company, I would argue you’re building some of the best AI from a talent solutions point of view out there. And at the same time, I know you’re also doing some things to create really unique human experiences. What are some of the things you guys are doing to build the unique culture that you’ve been able to build?

Brad

Sure, so video is a big area for us. And so we have adopted video in ways throughout the whole process. We have people submit in their interview process they submit, which of our core values do they align with most and submit a video. So we get to see them present and really, you know, we asked them that also on our mission. What do you think of our mission? Do they align with the mission? And when it comes time for an offer letter, we actually send a video before we send a written offer letter to the team who they’re gonna be working with. Dressed up in some fun costumes, we bring sparklers and we really make it. To the point where they’re sharing this offer video with their friends, their family, when they come in for an interview, we have their picture up on the TV screen. And so they’re greeted as an actual human being and people take a picture of their picture up on the TV screen and share that out. And then my most favorite way that we’re humanizing this experience is on their first day we have a video from their family and we wishing them a great first day at work. And that’s one of the first emails. They receive as an employee here, you know, people is from their family, wishing them a great first day work. And so these are some of the ways we’re combining technology with humans and really bringing. You know, making that human centric experience to your question and bring it to life in ways that are, by the way, everything that I just mentioned, cost us a total of about zero dollars. But it’s that thought, right, it’s putting the thought and people really appreciate thought and effort when you put that into something and it shows because you know, the results have been unprecedented, quite honestly.

Johann

I love this idea of connecting the family and so often work is what’s keeping us from family and so this idea of bringing that level of social connectivity, something that’s so familiar. I think it’s really creative, innovative. And on the other side of the equation, I think we’re being very being very optimistic and rightfully so. But we also need to factor you know, adaptive challenges are hard. And I just be curious, whether it’s whether it’s at fee norm or just what you think in general, in the workforce. What are some of the adapt? I mean, you’d mentioned failing fast, but what are they some of the specific adaptive challenges that you see coming up for companies who are trying to balance these aspects?

Brad

Sure, so you’ve got within any organization, you’re going to have your blockers, right, that are set in their ways, they resist change. And so how do you persuade them without, you know in the least confrontational manner, how do we inspire people to want to change and personally, I think the best way is by giving them examples. And so I think the you know, the challenge is real. And again, you’ve got your blockers and people that are set in their ways. And so I think you know, pairing them up with you know, I think mentors and mentees and different generations, bring them together. So they go both ways appreciate their different point of views. Obviously, somebody who’s grown up with a smartphone, versus somebody who grew up with the fax machine right. You know, finding that middle ground of capabilities and where you know, where the person with more experience can share from real world experience. And that that person will less experience might have more technological experience. I think combining those and making sure that we’re pairing people up reverse mentorship you know, is a very popular thing now. And so something that I’m looking into as well in our organization to you know, cannot possibly drive some of the adaptability and changes needed. At the same time, there’s still so much we don’t know, that we keep saying and so keep trying these little experiments, see what little wins we can get. And then not only fail fast, but succeed fast too, right. And let’s take the little nuggets that work and plant those seeds and cultivate them and bring them along. And so again, it’s that same approach of experiments on the you know, negative and the positive side that figured out what works. So that we can actually take it and continue to grow it.

Johann

And kind of a closing question for you, Brad here I think those are great. What do you feel in the in the talent space? You guys are obviously building a technology platform. But what do you feel? Or where do you think the emergent possibilities are for unique, unique human interactions? Like human to human interactions, whereas so AI is replacing a lot of these repeatable tasks and things that aren’t particularly enjoyable to begin with? Are there any opportunities that you see, to really create really great brand experiences from a human to human connection point of view?

Brad

Sure you know, I think the there as greatest technology is and automation is I’m all for efficiency and making it laborious processes are autonomous. There will never be a replacement for the heartbeat to heartbeat conversation. That physically being in a room with another human being right and encouraging that to happen as much as possible. And that social connection and doing having events together where you can connect in like-minded interests. You know, sharing those interests together in a social way and having meals together. And while this might sound trivial, these are the human connection, these are the areas where human connections, you know, can and should happen. And so, I think, you know, as you know, everybody gets caught up into the robots taking over the world, right, there is still such a human aspect to be had. And just sitting down you know one of the things that I do in organization you know, management by walking around. Right and just having those conversations that you know, one woman was, you could tell she was having a rough day. She looked like she hadn’t slept and I got her glass of water and she was so thankful and appreciative. And those little wins those are the things those little things that make a big difference in human interaction and justice. Caring again, having that self-awareness to know that and think and care about other human beings that’s the key to it. And again, it sounds simple and trivial, but I think it’s gotten so missed in us all just being so rushed and wanting to get our job done. And all the digital distractions constantly in the face that we actually, you know, we had our meetings and we put computers and phones face down. So that we actually talk and interact like human beings. I know, it’s a crazy concept, but that’s it, you know and so at least start there by having that human connectivity and interactions and making sure that that is a piece of your meetings, culture, interactions, you know, forcing that human to human interaction. What a great place to start by opinion.

Johann

Two things I just want to quickly double click on and what you were sharing, which I think are fantastic. One is that there was actually a it does seem quite simple. You say that and people go yeah, I know that. But if we really look at it, how much intentionality have we brought to creating human to human connection, even though we’re deeply wired to connect. So if you think about like a cubicle setup or or even open offices, does it bring intentional human interaction? And I would argue, no and I would argue the data bears that. But there’s a there was a global study actually done around what values people appreciate in terms of what they’re looking for in an employer. And they did this study globally. And then they also sliced it generationally. And what was really interesting is that globally, things were more similar than different, even amongst different cultures. And one of them that you’re sort of touching on is just that human dignity, that ability to feel dignity as a human being when you come to work. And so I think your idea of putting the pictures up when people come in, we all want to feel that and we all want to feel that in the workplace. And this study would suggest that’s a global phenomenon. So I appreciate all that you guys are doing they’re at Phenom and very excited to see how you continue to build the culture brand and to have you be part of the summit and in part of the conversation on the series.

Brad

One more illustrated point you said, there’s a charity that I work for a nonprofit that feeds, you know, some homeless people in the area. They were looking to automate the process, they packed boxes once a month in a warehouse. They were looking to automate the process with rollers by putting all the boxes on rollers and it would have been able to reduce the time by about six hours, but the humans wanted to interact so much. They said “we don’t like the rollers we want. We want to interact with humans putting the food in the box and actually interacting”. So it’s just a very illustrated point I wanted to make there at the end. So thanks for letting me get that it buddy. It’s a great illustration of exactly what we’re talking about.

Johann

Yes and I think that’s the thing. Sometimes when we look at efficiency, Brad, I think you just hit on something really important when we look at efficiency only. Sometimes we don’t see that there are other values that are happening and sometimes those outweigh say, a productivity gain or an efficiency gain? So I think and I think we can see that in charity, but maybe bringing that that mindset into work a little more was also good. Well thank you, Brad I appreciate you taking the time and look forward to continuing the conversation.

Brad

Thank you.

Johann Berlin

Johann Berlin is a serial entrepreneur, international keynote speaker and leadership consultant specialized in human and organizational development, mental health and well-being, and sustainable business and investing. Johann is CEO of TLEX Institute, providing over 1 million digital users with evidence-based leadership, breathwork and emotional intelligence training. His clients include top business schools like Harvard Business Schools and Fortune 500 companies like Amazon and Microsoft. A leadership writer at Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Real Leaders and Huffington Post, Johann is also Consulting Chief Learning Officer for Cooper Investors, a $13 billion private equity fund where he is integrating values-based investing principles into the firm’s culture fund. He is also Consulting Chief Learning Officer at Total Brain where he develops mental health and well-being content for clinicians, large consumer groups, and organizations. Johann is a leading voice on human-centered leadership, founding the Future of Humans at Work conference and podcast. Previously, he served as CEO and co-founder of Sustainable CitySolutions and was SVP of Sustainability and Strategy for JDI. As a board member, executive advisor and community volunteer, Johann is passionate about social ventures dedicated to resilient schools, local economy, prisoner rehabilitation, and youth leadership. Johann's TEDx talk has been viewed over 100,000 times.

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