We’re passionate about the world of work, and how we can make it better. To help satisfy our curiosity, we’ve launched an interview series where we pick the brains of experienced leaders, business owners, managers, and individual contributors to get their thoughts on how we can collectively build better.
Join us in our next installment below as Liz Lockhart from Smarsh shares her knowledgeable insights.
We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.
I am a technology-minded change leader with a passion for connecting people, simplifying processes,and automating systems. I have grown my career by being able to “talk tech” and scale business operations while integrating acquired organizations, people, products, and technology. I’m a trained project manager, agilist and experienced people leader.
While growing my career at Smarsh, I have also taken on teaching as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business where I teach a master’s-level course in Operations Leadership.
I have a deep passion for learning and am highly motivated when I get to do something new or add to someone’s capability toolbox. This drive to learn and teach is also what fuels my writing!
If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?
[I asked them!] They would say that I am passionate and dedicated. I ensure that my best is given in any situation, whether that is enacting change in my organization, or organizing a memorable get-together with my best friends.
Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out?
I was fired from my first job after college after working there for about 3-months. I had gone into a field that I was educated in, but I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing.
The economy [thankfully] was doing OK at this time and I was able to find another job quickly that I was much more passionate about and that which played to my strengths.
A pivotal [and devastating at the time] moment early in my career put me on the right track towards a fulfilling career!
What’s the most impactful lesson you’ve learned over your career thus far?
You typically get more than you bargained for with me, so here are 4 key insights, most of which are not original to me, but are so ingrained in me that I can’t spot where I first found them.
It’s never about what it’s about. If someone reacts in a particular way to a change, it’s probably not about the thing they are reacting to. Seek to understand and consider what underlying elements might be at play.
If something seems off, it likely is, but not for the reason you might think. The stories we tell ourselves in our head about why things happen are usually wrong, and typically more outlandish, vengeful or complicated than the real reason. Be curious to find the real reason or WHY behind whatever is happening.
Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning. When we share with others, we reinforce our own learning and understanding of a situation. Sharing or cascading information is also a great way to process change and mentally prepare for next steps.
Seek to learn something new every day. I am incredibly motivated by learning and I perform best in roles where I’m learning something new every day. When I learn, I am more resilient, productive and engaged.
Thanks for giving us some insight into who you are! Let’s jump into things. When you hear the phrase “build a better world of work”, what comes to mind?
To me, a better world of work is where we actively seek to match people’s strengths, curiosities and passions to outcome-focused, meaningful work, along with creating organizations where people feel they belong.
For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?
The main blocker that stands in the way of a better world of work is “the way we have been doing it.” If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it should be that change is constant and we shouldn’t plan to operate today the way we operated just two years ago. We must evolve.
Performance management, goal setting, hiring, promotion, evaluation and engagement models of the past are no longer fit for use.
In order to build a better world of work and organizations where people can belong, we must consider how we want the world to be in our current and future era, not how it has been done in the past.
Learn from the past, plan for the future and do your best today [and every day].
What’s one thing within our control that we can practically do to build a better world of work today? And, how do you recommend going about it?
Consider how you and your organization set goals.
Annual goals don’t work in our current era. Quarterly goals are a better fit, but they must be outcome-focused and connected to what’s most important at the highest level.
If people can connect their work to the organization’s high-level desired outcomes, they can see how their efforts contribute and find meaning in their work.
Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that is leading us towards a better world of work?
I am currently exposed to a ton of great info around organizational change and leadership via my doctoral work at USC.
One of my favorites so far has come from Edgar H. Schein on the topic of how leaders embed and transmit culture. In other words, he shows how leaders communicate what they care about through their actions and how that contributes to creating and embedding culture, which contributes to our world of work.
I’m curious, thinking about building a better world of work, is there a company and/or leader who stands out to you as someone we should follow? If so, what are they up to?
I really enjoy the work of Marcus Buckingham when focusing on matching our strengths to work we love to do.