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 workplaces.
Join us in our next installment below as Sara Sheehan—Consultant & Executive Coach—shares her insights with us.
We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.
In early 1995, I began my consulting career working and traveling from Dallas, TX. Prior to that, I completed both a bachelor's and a master's degree in Communications from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Over the next 27-plus years, I have worked with some great thought leaders in the management consulting industry, not to mention wonderful teams and great Fortune 100 clients. I have worked for global leading consulting firms my entire career including Accenture, IBM, KPMG, and Deloitte. Additionally, I have worked in my area of expertise of human capital the entire time helping people and organizations through transformation.
My consulting business focuses on helping clients through big, complex business transformations from a human capital perspective. I specialize in strategy, organization design, change management, talent development, and talent optimization. Typical business triggers that reveal the need for a change consultant include mergers and acquisitions that need to be integrated, require strategy, and organizational design work, a new senior leader on the executive leadership team indicates the need for strategy and leadership alignment, digital transformation creates demand for change management, training, and communications just to name a few.
If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?
They would say that I am kind, genuine, and authentic and that I have an objective perspective. They may say, “I would like to know what Sara’s perspective is on that situation…”
Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out?
When I started my business in earnest, one of the things that stood out for me is that I was so focused and calm despite the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe the fact that I am spiritually grounded really helped me set aside the noise of dis-harmony, ambiguity, and uncertainty. I’ve been consistent and focused on business development and it makes a difference.
What’s the most impactful lesson you've learned over your career thus far?
One of the partners I worked with at IBM pulled me aside and told me that I play everything too safe. The conversation was an important one. I needed to hear his message. I realized that I may need to be big and bold. It helped me understand the difference between pleasing others, leveling up my performance, and being a showboat. While I will never be a showboat personality, I can show up more intentionally in all that I do. I can also make sure that I am in the right mindset and energy zone for important meetings.
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?
The genesis for building a better world of work evolved into a movement following the COVID-19 shutdown experience. The business world was able to continue forward under new expectations with more technology, autonomy, and delegation. Considering the art of what’s possible really left professionals across all demographics longing for a workplace, whether it is physical, hybrid, or virtual, that they looked forward to.
Building a better world of work means that workplaces thoughtfully consider where work is done and why, how employees are engaged, supporting the wellbeing of the organization, and the business results delivered.
For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?
The tough part really comes with balancing personal desires and business needs across where work is done and why, how employees are engaged, supporting wellbeing, and delivering business results.
Command and control work styles of the past may have difficulty changing company culture.
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?
Engage your employees in developing the solution of what a better world of work means for your organization as soon as you possibly can. Employees know what they want, and would welcome the opportunity to co-create the future with leaders. Use engagement tools in meetings so you can get feedback, understand the sentiment, and capture questions that you can answer later.
Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that is leading us towards a better world of work?
Based on some of my recent readings and client experiences, a critical first step to building a better world of work is opening the door for employee engagement strategies which leads to business performance improvement.
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 highly advise you to check out and follow Gretta Brooks, Founder, and CEO of Salesboost. Salesboost offers one of the most advanced skill-based learning platforms I have seen. Gretta is going to be incredibly successful and I believe she has a balanced view on achieving business results and supporting well-being.
How can our readers follow your work?
Thank you for adding your voice to People Managing People’s interview series on How to Build a Better World of Work!
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