What does it mean to be an effective HR leader? Tim Reitsma and Andrew Bartlow—a leading HR and business consultant—answer this question as well as discuss prioritization, goals, outcomes and the power of curiosity.
- Andrew wrote an article about avoiding platform proliferation. [2:46]
- A leader, by definition, sets the direction, sets the vision for a group. Whether you lead from the front or lead from the back, your role is to ensure that everybody that’s part of your group or your team knows what the destination is and what that path is. [4:11]
When we think about that better world of work, I also think about the productivity and effectiveness of the organizations that we work for.Andrew Bartlow
- A better world of work—you should have direction in that world. Organizations are more successful. And, the people that work at those organizations are happier if they know what they’re trying to accomplish. [6:49]
- When mentoring other HR leaders, Andrew talks a lot about getting clear on what their priorities are and on what they’re trying to accomplish. [7:13]
- So many HR leaders get spread so thin trying to do all the things for all the constituents. [8:19]
- What it means to be effective as any leader, especially in HR that has so many stakeholders and so many people with expectations and demands, is to work on the right things. [8:53]
What does it take to be an effective HR leader? Work on the right things. And that means understanding what your organization and your key stakeholders believe are the most important things.Andrew Bartlow
- How can you initiate that conversation to become effective? Start with your stakeholders in mind. [11:10]
- A power and interest grid is something that you could do on a cocktail napkin as you think about your stakeholders. [12:32]
- Get your hands on the latest all-hands and investor deck as your company raised funding. [13:16]
- Be wary of coming with a solution that’s still looking for a problem. [15:40]
- Start with what you are trying to accomplish. Tying it right back to what is the definition of a leader, that’s setting the direction and the vision, being clear about the focus and getting your organization aligned around it. [16:25]
- Andrew mentioned FranklinCovey’s concept of big rocks. [16:41]
- In the mentoring that Andrew does one-on-one with HR leaders, they practice the language. They role play. [18:10]
- What Andrew and his team are working on right now is trying to double the size of their firm with pretty heavy recruitment activity. They just implemented the SMART goals within Lattice. [19:21]
- Confidence really matters. How do you see yourself as a human resources leader? [21:54]
- Find a peer community that you can connect with. [24:10]
- Figure out what are your big rocks. Figure out what is the right stuff to work on and ensure that you’ve got a balance that makes sense for you as an HR professional, and for your stakeholders. [24:46]
- Be clear about your top level priorities. Nobody can do that but you, so you have to take ownership for it. [26:38]
Taking ownership, I think, also includes communicating what you’re working on. That drives alignment and clarity from your stakeholders.Andrew Bartlow
- One of Andrew’s favorite tools is the Eisenhower Matrix. [32:41]
- Start with your company’s Waterfall goals, and then what are the HR activities that you’re going to do to support those goals or the HR program initiatives. [33:39]
- Any good 12-step program starts with admitting that you want to change something. It’s acknowledging and admitting and being aware that that’s where you’re at and you want to shift your balance a bit. [35:09]
- Commit yourself to make a change. Identify what those priorities are. Be curious with your key stakeholders, figure out what those things are that you should be spending more time on. [35:26]
Strategic and tactical, it’s not an either/or. It’s not a single continuum.Andrew Bartlow
- Being strategic means you’re being thoughtful and intentional about what you’re going to do and what your priorities are. [39:30]
Meet Our Guest
Andrew Bartlow has almost 25 years of experience as a thought leader in organizational effectiveness, and as a practical operator linking business strategy to HR priorities inside corporations. In addition to advisory and mentoring activities through Series B Consulting, Andrew serves as an Operating Partner & Senior Advisor for Altamont Capital Partners, the cofounder and Network Director for WiseGrowth Networks, the co-founder and Managing Partner of People Leader Accelerator, and an HR Venture Advisor for SemperVirens Venture Capital.
Being strategic doesn’t mean that you give up being tactical, that you give up doing stuff. Being strategic means you’re thoughtfully considering what to do.Andrew Bartlow
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- About the People Managing People podcast
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- How To Improve Work-Life Balance: 12 Tips For Teams And Orgs
Read the Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Andrew Bartlow: I think a leader, by definition, sets the direction, sets the vision for a group. Now, whether you lead from the front or lead from the back, your role is to ensure that everybody that's part of your group or your team knows what the destination is and what that path is.
Tim Reitsma: Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you build happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reistma! And I'm pretty sure that if you're a leader, you want to be an effective leader. Correct? I have the pleasure to sit down with Andrew Bartlow, a leading HR and business consultant who has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.
In this episode, we specifically talk about becoming an effective HR leader, but guess what? The process he outlines and shares is valuable to anyone in leadership. We talk about prioritization, goals, outcomes, and most importantly, well in my opinion, curiosity, and the power of curiosity.
So stay tuned if you are interested in becoming an effective HR leader or, well, an effective leader.
Andrew, I'm really excited to have you on the People Managing People podcast. You know, as we were talking offline, you know, we are a publication for HR and leaders. And today's conversation is really about how to become or how to be that effective HR leader. I know there's been a lot written on this topic.
There's also a lot of conversation around this, so I'd love to hear your perspective and based on your 25-plus years of experience being an HR leader and you're running your program. And so I'm really excited to dive into this conversation. So welcome, welcome to the show.
Andrew Bartlow: Well, thank you. Yeah, really, really appreciate you hosting me.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. And I always ask, or I try to always ask a few questions before we get into the conversation. One is, you know, tell us a little bit about yourself, you know, what are you up to these days? What's top of mind for you?
Andrew Bartlow: Well boy surviving the end of summer heat wave here in the San Francisco bay area.
My little girls are back to school, thank goodness. I'm yeah I'm in the midst of a, of our fourth cohort of HR leaders and the People Leader Accelerator, but we can talk more about that. And getting ready to start considering applicants for for this coming January, as well. Yeah, so lot, lots of stuff happening. Actually, just had an article hit today, ICON Outlook posted something.
They asked me to write about digital transformation in HR tech. And so maybe this is a rabbit hole we go down platform proliferation. There's an awful lot of HR technology that people are signing up for and not getting much value out of. So that that was a milestone for me today, get, getting another major media hit, which was a lot of fun.
Tim Reitsma: That's a lot of fun and yeah I'll definitely we'll make sure we put links to your program your website, as well as this article. I'm also curious to, to take a read as on our publication, we have numerous Top 10 or best 10 tool lists. And we, you know, our mandate at People Managing People is to help people build a better role to work.
And, you know, sometimes software can assist in that but you know, sometimes if we sign up to everything, we don't know what it's all supposed to do. And then we need to hire a team to try to create integrations and in between it also, maybe we'll get into that conversation as we talk about becoming an effective HR leader.
Because, man there's a lot of things, a lot of tools being pushed into this space. But the first two questions that I always ask after the opener is what does it mean to be a leader? I'd love to hear your perspective on this.
Andrew Bartlow: Sure. Well, you know, I think a leader, by definition, sets the direction, sets the vision for a group. Now, whether you lead from the front or lead from the back, your role is to ensure that everybody that's part of your group or your team knows what the destination is and what that path is.
Tim Reitsma: Oh, I love that. Yeah. If we don't know where we're going it just causes chaos. And you know, we're seeing and hearing a lot of things in the job market right now of people not necessarily bought into where the company's going.
Know what their contribution is and are just either quitting or, you know, maybe not adding the right value into the team that maybe their manager might even want or the top leaders. But setting that direction, you know, getting everybody on the same page. I couldn't agree, agree more on that.
And the next question I ask, which might tie into this is, as, as I mentioned, our publication is about helping people build a better world of work. When you hear this phrase, what comes to mind?
Andrew Bartlow: Building a better world of work? You know I think of the experience that workers have with work when we think about that better world. I also, you know, think about the productivity and effectiveness of the organizations that we work for. So, you know, hopefully we're improving the health and driving the success of those organizations. And those people, including us the work of those organizations are having a better experience.
And may, maybe that's a better work life balance. Maybe that's, you know, more more effective mental health and self care. Maybe that's a living wage, you know, could be a variety of things. But I would, I think most centrally tie that better world of work back to the experience of the people that work in that world.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah I agree that there's not necessarily one, you know, one size fits all. It's a pretty open ended question or open-ended statement. But I think what I'm hearing is, you know, if you're leading an organization or part of an organization, you need to kind of take stock of where you are now. What's that experience, where are there gaps in that employee experience?
And figure out, you know, how to, how to create that experience, where people can thrive and and can succeed. That's great.
Andrew Bartlow: Agreed. Well, and heck Tim I think I'd tie a really close connection to the first question about leadership. You know, a better world of work, you should have direction in that world. You know, organizations are more successful.
The people that work at those organizations are happier if you know what you're trying to accomplish. If your team has clarity and focus and alignment. And a lot of what I talk about in my mentoring of other HR leaders is getting clear on what your priorities are, on what you're trying to accomplish.
And boy, that goes for the head of the HR function, any HR business partner, and heck, any person managing other people. You know, get clear about what you're trying to accomplish.
Tim Reitsma: I think that's a great transition even into our topic today, which is all about becoming an effective HR leader. And so, you know, when we had talked a number of weeks ago, and we're talking about the topic of the podcast and, you know, we're talking about this idea of becoming an effective HR leader, what does that mean?
What does it mean to be an effective HR leader? I think that's a good place to start.
Andrew Bartlow: Yeah, boy, that's a mountain of books and a big, hairy concept to to wrestle with. Let's start with what it's not. What it's not, and again, being an effective HR leader is doing all the things.
So many HR leaders get spread so thin trying to do all the things for all the constituents. You're trying to be the employee advocate. You're trying to be the business partner. You're trying to be, you know, financially savvy and understand your company's PnL. You're trying to, you represent the greater social good and your organization.
You're trying to implement the latest policy process, procedure in your organization. It's not doing all the things. It's impossible for somebody to be successful, doing all the things. What it means to be effective as any leader, but especially in HR that has so many stakeholders that has so many people, with expectations and demands on your role is to work on the right things.
What does it take to be an effective HR leader? Work on the right things. What are the right things? It depends. It depends what your organization is trying to accomplish. The right things for Google right now are probably different than your seed series, SAS, venture backed startup, which are probably different than what you and I are working on as you know, small business owners.
But getting, this goes back to leadership and clarity, focus and alignment. What does it take to be an effective HR leader? Work on the right things. And that means understanding what your organization and your key stakeholders believe are the most important things. And then make sure that there's a really clear tie to the activities and projects and initiatives that you're driving and those most important things for the organization.
Tim Reitsma: Well, it's so important. And I've connected with a lot of HR leaders. I've had, I would say almost an accidental step into HR, along my career journey. And and was that person, and I know people who are the expectation is to do everything. You know, help with values alignment, help with the culture building, help with leadership development.
Oh, and we need to hire 30 people this month and we need to expand globally. Oh, and by the way, we're also going into a hybrid work model, so go and check the local laws to make sure we're staying in compliant. And so, I know and I've heard, and I've seen HR leaders becoming burnt out because it's just so much.
So, how do we decide? How do we determine what's right? How do we have that conversation with the CEO or the COO, depending on where, who we report into? You know, we could say, Hey, we're burnt out. I don't know what to focus on. Or, you know, how do we even initiate that conversation to become effective?
Andrew Bartlow: Great question.
Where do you start? And I'd say, you know, start with your stakeholders in mind. You know, who are your stakeholders? So many MBA here, stakeholder analysis try to figure out who cares about the work that your organization does. So maybe that's your investors. Who are your investors? What are they trying to accomplish?
Maybe you have a founder, owner, CEO. What does that person or a small group of people care about? What are they trying to accomplish? Executive team, they may have some different motivations, different ideas. Maybe there's a career path opportunity. Maybe there's a financial success metric that they're trying to reach. Broader employee base their stakeholders.
You can subdivide it a couple of different ways. Outside community. What does a community care about? Maybe depending on the type of work that you do, there may be more or less broad social community interest in what you do. Your customers, they care about what you do. So think about the various stakeholders.
You can map it out any way that makes sense for you in your environment. Who has power and influence? Like who, who actually gets to decide whether you're doing a good job or not? And who's interested? So, a power and interest grid is something that you could do on a cocktail napkin as you think about your stakeholders. Who are those stakeholders who has power and influence and who's interested?
And those that have lots of power and influence, usually it's a CEO, owner, founder, investor ends up in, in an upper right category there of, you know, high influence, high interest. You're gonna and investors, owners of the organization, you're going to want to be really clear about what they're trying to accomplish. Is that increasing top line? Is that doubling in size? Is that reducing your burn rate? Because it's hard to raise capital right now.
Is it new market expansion or new product entry? What, what is it? And so you, as an HR leader, it's your responsibility to figure these things out. How do you do it? You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to get your hands on the latest, all hands deck. The latest investor pitch deck as your company raised funding. You can ask for a board meeting or investor deck. These decks I'm talking about, you know, PowerPoint pitches. Have a conversation with your CEO or head of finance number of different sources.
If you're afraid to sit down and ask, listen to what people are talking about. Listen to what those key stakeholders are asking about and what they're working on and try to figure out how to connect the dots to support the things that they're working on. It may take a little bit of creativity to figure out how you in HR can impact building top line revenue, but it's not impossible.
And you can absolutely make a leap make a connection into numerous human resources driven projects and activities off of any one of the, you know, sample, you know, thought starter ideas that I gave there. So, start by asking questions. Those are a few places to, to start and look at what's written down already.
Look at what those stakeholders are talking to each other about.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's so important to ask questions. Don't just come in, you know, guns are blazing and assume that that you've got all the right answers. Because if you don't actually ask the questions, how do you know you've got the answers to, to those questions?
But I agree, it's like looking at those objectives of the organization. If you're coming in as a brand new HR leader, or maybe you've been promoted, or maybe you're a, you've been at the company for 5, 10 years becoming an effective leader or HR leader is looking at what are those company objectives?
What's our vision? How do I, how can my team, or how can I, if I'm a team of one, contribute to the success of this organization, getting to that vision? I think that is the number one place to start, regardless of where you're at in your career.
Andrew Bartlow: Be wary of coming with a solution that's still looking for a problem.
Right? That, that's something that can be a trap that's so easy to fall into. Oh, I read about this new piece of HR technology. We have the, you know, a performance management software or an employee survey, you know, culture survey. And I heard about this thing and it's great. And we need to go do it. I, I, I used to hate Mondays when I worked in-house because the CEO would always come in with these, you know, fantastic new ideas from the book that they read or the, you know, the CEO investor dinner that they went to.
And let's go do all this stuff I just heard about. Those are solutions that are in need of a problem. So, start with what are you trying to accomplish. We're tying it right back to what is the definition of a leader, that's setting the direction and the vision, being clear about the focus and getting aligned, getting your organization aligned around it.
So start with what you're trying to accomplish, and then working on those things, you know, using the a FranklinCovey concept of big rocks. So what are your big rocks? And then all the gravel and sand can fit in around it. You know, there's lots of gravel and sand in the HR world, you know, stuff that needs to happen that can and should, you know, happen in the background without people spending, you know, too much time and attention on.
Get that stuff done. There's still a keep the business running level of activity, but be really clear about what those big rocks are that'll be really meaningful to your organization.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. I love that. The big rocks. We've used them I use 'em within my team and I've used it in other organizations as well, and it just keeps everybody aligned. So we'll put a link, make sure we put a link in the notes to, to that to that framework. But you know, something that's come to mind is, it's great.
You know, we're hearing, we're listening to all of these things, like you said, the CEO comes in on Monday and says, Hey, I've got all these great ideas. To become an effective leader is also to not just say yes to everything. And so from an HR perspective, yeah there's so many pieces of software.
There's so many models, there's so many different things we could be bringing into organizations. You know, maybe if you can touch on this and I'm kind of going off script a little bit, but how do you, how do we say, it's a great idea, but no?
Andrew Bartlow: Yeah. The, I actually, in, in the cohort program we talk about and in the mentoring that I do one on one with HR leaders, we practice the language. We role play.
It is really uncomfortable. People don't wanna do it. They'll look for any excuse to not role play. But boy, trying to like getting practice using the words. You can say no or not yet, or let's think about it a bunch of different ways. So, I don't know. Heck Tim, we could role play it if we want to.
What great new idea do you have that I can gently say no to.
Tim Reitsma: Okay, well let's, let me think here.
Andrew Bartlow: Let's do it. This is really off-script.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, this is, we haven't practiced this. We haven't rehearsed this, but you know, let's just keep on this theme of technology. You know, there's these kind of micro niches of software.
So I think we need to re construct our performance managements as well as go from SMART goals to OKRs and tie that into a new quarterly planning framework.
Andrew Bartlow: That's great. That sounds really interesting. What we're working on right now is trying to double the size of the firm with pretty heavy recruitment activity.
And we just implemented the SMART goals within Lattice, and we're not even a full cycle into it so far. And our third priority is X, Y, Z. And so, you know, it might make sense to take a look at shifting into this new model, but we should probably talk about it after we get through this full cycle or the next one.
And we can do an after action review before we before we switch up our processes. What do you think about that?
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I think that makes sense. I forgot that we just implemented this this SMART goal framework in Lattice. So let's let's use that money first that we're spending.
Andrew Bartlow: So totally off script and on the fly.
But what I'm leaning on, were, were two different angles. One is, we're already working on a handful of things and do we want to add this to the plate? Or what are we going to take off to add this new thing? And two is, we're often changing horses midstream before we really give something a chance to work.
And, and that happens in, in human resources and management processes where you get kind of the flavor of the day idea. And I think it's largely up to us to resist that, resist the flavor of the day and, you know, try to stick with the tried and true and, you know, stage appropriate activities.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. In the long run it's, to become effective it's that practice of, you know, I think not saying no or gently no to absolutely everything because that could have its own repercussions. But just sitting back and looking at, well, what are we trying to achieve? And will this new idea this thought, this, whatever it is that stakeholders are bringing, will it help us achieve these initiatives?
And maybe there, maybe it will. Maybe we do need to pivot. In our example, we need to pivot for away from, you know, our SMART goals to OKRs. Or we need to implement a different performance management or whatever it is to support their growth. But I think it's that art and ability and that confidence of saying, well, just let's explore this a little bit.
Andrew Bartlow: The confidence really matters. Right? You know, how do you see yourself as a human resources leader? Are you the server, the order taker that interacts in a really friendly way and, you know, brings the cheeseburger with a smile and you're, you get a great tip and you leave a great customer experience?
Or are you the, the creator of the restaurant concept who's figuring out what's on the menu and whether you have tables or booths, or, you know, how the whole restaurant works? That's what human resources can do, if you think about yourself as a management consultant, versus purely customer service is important.
You wanna do it really well. Don't wanna discount that. People should be proud to do customer service. Strategic human resources leadership is more about the concept design. How will you manage this organization? What you, what will you work on? It's not just, you know, taking people's orders. It's deciding what's on the menu.
Tim Reitsma: Oh, I love that. And yeah, it's deciding what's on the menu. And I think of small teams, small organizations that might only have one person sitting in the HR seat. Who is the person designing the menu, but also the person then runs to the back and cooks the food. I've been in that situation where I was the only one of a company of 65 really aggressive, gold growth targets, plus platform changes.
And we just kept adding and adding to the point where it's like, timeout. We need to rethink what the shape of this team looks like. And luckily I had a CEO who, he's, he's an awesome person, bought in, agreed that yes, we need to, in order to do all these initiatives, we have to grow the team.
And so I think of all my friends and all the people that I know are just that team of one in HR who have been that order taker and person in the kitchen.
Andrew Bartlow: Short order cook.
Tim Reitsma: He's a short-order cook trying to be the most effective as possible. What advice would you give somebody who is in that situation?
Andrew Bartlow: Yeah. Boy, a number of pieces of advice. You know, one is you're not alone. You're really not alone. Find a peer community that you can connect with. I'm a member of startup experts the website is startupexperts.us. That's a group about 400 people that are heads of their HR function, mostly teams of one or one, two or three that are figuring this stuff out themselves as well.
At mostly, you know, small but growing companies. So one, one is you're not alone. Two is, figure out what your big rocks are. Figure out what the right stuff to work on is, and ensure that you've got a balance that makes sense for you as an HR professional, for your stakeholders, whether you report to the CEO or wherever you report. That your that your boss is supportive of where you're spending your time and what you're accomplishing.
That's really important. Maybe a story. Just before taping this podcast, I was on a mentoring discussion with one of my mentees who's the head of HR at a 45 person healthcare tech company. And I was checking in what's going on, what's you know, top of mind. And we talked about all the stuff, all the, you know, interesting employee relations and people issues.
And I asked her, okay, well, what are the most important things for your organization right now? And she took a breath and said, I don't know. I'm working on, these are her words. I'm working on all the stuff. And you know, Andrew I've, I think I've lost sight of what are the right things that I should be working on.
Can we like next time we talk, can we go back to boy, I put together a slide for the board a couple months ago that I never had a chance to present that had the top three HR priorities. And one of those was manager effectiveness and Andrew, I haven't done anything at all on manager effectiveness in those three months.
I'm working on these, you know, tactical day to day things. We should keep an eye on that. We absolutely should. You should. And so, you know, I think being clear about your top level priorities, nobody can do that but you. So you gotta take ownership for it. And that's where I suggest find your community.
Find others that are, that they're having the same experiences, find a mentor or coach to whatever extent that you can to help keep you honest. To remind you to check your priorities and and that'll help you, you know, stick with it.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I think there's a theme to the conversation so far, and that is really leaning into curiosity.
And I'm a fundamental believer that curiosity is something we don't necessarily practice enough or even explore enough within our organizations. But man, is it a superpower, leaning into that ability to ask good questions and in a way that just draws out insight. Using a technique of like five whys, but maybe switching it up to five what or five hows. You know, it's like, we need a new performance management system.
Well, why would we think that? Well, it's like, let's figure out what, maybe there's a root to the problem that our current system can actually solve, versus just jumping to that, that latest and greatest thing. So curiosity, and then that communication then ownership, regardless if you're a team of one or a team of, you know, 10 people in your HR department.
Is taking ownership of of your tasks, but also of your, as you said, the big rocks, the initiatives and the strategic plan. Would you agree with that or anything else to add?
Andrew Bartlow: Yeah I would definitely agree with that. You know, taking ownership, I think also includes communicating what you're working on. That drives alignment and clarity from your stakeholders.
You know, so often in HR, we'll put our heads down and do the work and think and hope and expect that our good work will speak for itself. And sadly it doesn't. Not in any function and especially in HR you should be broadcasting what your priorities are. And ensuring that those link up again with the most important things for the organization.
And if you do that, you'll be less likely to burn out. You'll be more respected. You'll get resources for the things that you wanna do, because those are things that are obviously supporting the organization versus keep the business running, you know, gravel and sand.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, just an example. And may or may not be a real example.
I, it's it's like thinking of, okay, my initiative from an HR perspective is our employee files are disasters. So we're gonna fix that this quarter, but sales and the rest of the organization is fully focused on globalization. You know, that's a complete mismatch, right? Sure. We do need our file systems matched up, but if that's all we're focusing on, how are we going to, you know, either set up entities or, you know, bring in organizations to help us expand into that global market, if we need to hire the talent there.
So sitting down with your stakeholders and understanding what's their priority, what's everyone's priority. And then it's almost, like not that HR needs to do set their priorities last, but if it's, you also, you need to understand what everybody else is trying to achieve. Otherwise you might be often left field.
Andrew Bartlow: That is a very real example, Tim. So again, same conversation I just referred to with my mentee. One breath after asking what were the top few priorities for the company? She mentioned, oh I'm working on standard operating procedures for all the things that we're doing. You know, people keep telling me they can't figure, you know, figure out how we do a promotion or, you know, how we change somebody's pay.
It's like, well, weren't we just talking about top three priorities for the organization? And in that she told me company just signed a massive new contract that will triple the size of the organization. So, like big high five, way to go. That's amazing. You'll go from 40 to 120 people in the next year.
Our standard operating procedures, you know, directly relevant, super high value add, could that be helpful as your company scales? Sure. But could you potentially be more helpful in thinking about in-source, outsource opportunities? Thinking about organizational structure and design figuring out how to staff the organization. Working on a selection process for, you know, new senior leaders that will be brought in.
So that the SOPs are technical, tactical necessary, but probably sand or gravel versus the big, high impact things about, okay, how are we gonna triple in size?
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, that's a great example. And I've heard of that. I've been stuck in that throughout my career is, you just kinda get stuck looking at what do I have to get done next week?
You know, what are people asking for? What's a pain point that I wanna alleviate for myself? Which is great, we still need to focus on them, but from an organizational perspective is, you know, again we're to targeting HR leaders in this conversation, but just from being an effective leader is really like still focusing on where are you going?
Where's the company going? What am I responsible for? How can I pass that responsibility, share that responsibility with my team? And then how do we set up the measures of success yet that accountability? I think its, it's so important, but yet we just, we're, we just keep looking at, it's like, oh man, this is a pain.
I just need to solve this today. And that'll free up time tomorrow. That hardly ever does.
Andrew Bartlow: There may be two visualizations that might be helpful for the audience. One, one is, one of my favorite tools again, kind of mini MBA the Eisenhower Matrix. I don't know if Dwight D. actually created this or if he just popularized it, but it's an urgency, versus importance matrix.
So we talked about the stakeholder matrix with with influence and interest. This is around tasks and activities. So what is high impact, but relatively low urgency? That's the stuff that you're not doing. That's the planning. That's the long range program development. That's the, probably the really highly value added big rock stuff that you're not doing because you're in your inbox or you're addressing whatever's in front of you at the moment.
So if you think about that high impact, low urgency stuff, most HR leaders would benefit from living in that box a little more than we do. And then maybe last visualization is a Waterfall. Start with your company goals at the very top, and then what are the HR activities that you're going to do to support those goals or the HR programs, initiatives.
And then how do you measure that? What are the activities and initiatives beneath it? So, you know, it, it all kind of flows down from those top level company priorities.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah I love that. I just, I love the visuals the visualization and the urgency and impact. It's easy to get caught up in our inbox, just answering emails, which you know, need to get done, but is it offering that high impact? But then sitting down, if it's, if that's all you're stuck doing every day, all day, there's probably another problem going on.
And maybe you need to sit down with your leader and say, Hey, either I need support or something else needs to, we need to adjust something in the organization. So, you know, if somebody's listened to this, they're maybe driving to work, they're on the train, they're commuting or on their way home and thinking, man I want to become more effective, but I'm just stuck in this.
As you said, this low urgency, low impact, that's where I'm just stuck. I'm stuck in the doing. I cannot get out of that. I cannot get to that place of setting the vision for the HR team and then executing it. Where do we start? Where's, where does somebody take off from there?
Andrew Bartlow: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think it starts with awareness. Any good 12 step program starts with admitting that you that you wanna change something.
So it's acknowledging and admitting and being aware that's where you're at and you wanna shift your balance a bit. And second is committing yourself to making a change. And so, identify what those priorities are. Be curious with your key stakeholders, like figure out what those things are that, that you should be spending more time on.
And then it comes down to holding yourself accountable, to sticking with it. So what are the memory devices or reminders, the visual aids or calendar ticklers that you can set up to make sure, you know, that you're blocking time to work on those things and do those things that'll be high impact.
And Hey, I'll be honest, not every environment will be supportive of you as an HR leader, suddenly becoming strategic and suddenly looking to contribute out of the, you know, tactical operational lane that you may have been fantastic at for quite some time. So not every environment will will support that. And what's been interesting through some of the mentoring and professional development work I've done with HR leaders is that sometimes they outgrow their situations.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Shouldn't be a bad thing. Yeah, so start with awareness, you know, make then the decision what to work on is number two. Three is hold yourself accountable. A mentor or a coach can be helpful in holding you accountable or in testing some of your, pressure testing some of your ideas about what's really a priority right now, and what's not.
Or helping you trial some language and you know, maintain situational awareness. What do your stakeholders want and what will your environment support in the moment?
Tim Reitsma: I think that last piece is also very key is what will the environment support? So, you know, you may, somebody might be listening to this and saying, yeah, I'm gonna go have that conversation with my leader saying like, I am very tactical right now.
We need to be more strategic, here's some ideas. Some leaders might go, Nope, I need you to be tactical. I know HR leaders who just thrive in that space. And that's awesome. But I also know leaders who have left jobs to go into more of a strategic role versus that tactical. And that's okay too. But I think it's that, that self-awareness and also being able to understand if your organization will support you and support that.
Because maybe somebody's listening to this and they're not in HR. Maybe you're leading a company or growing an organization or a manager within a team give your HR people some love and support, but also, you know, that it's such a there's such a great resource of strategic initiative, strategic ideas on how to grow the organization.
You know, it's easy to say, we're gonna, we're gonna double revenue this year. How are you gonna do it? We're just gonna hire more sales people. Okay, well, who's gonna hire those sales people? Oh, HR will just do it. No, it's not just as easy as just going and hire some more people.
Maybe if you're all in the US or Canada where I'm at. Sure, you're gonna hire other shade people there, but what if you're doing global expansion? You know, your HR team has the tools and ideas and experience to, to help grow.
Andrew Bartlow: Yeah. Yeah. Hey, may, maybe last word from me on this. I sense we're getting close to the end of our time.
Is that strategic and tactical, it's not an either/or. It's not a single continuum being strategic doesn't mean that you give up being tactical that you give up doing stuff. Like we're all doing stuff and we all should be doing stuff. Being strategic means you're thoughtfully considering what to do.
Taking a pause on that. You're not just doing what's in front of you or what somebody asks you to do, what, whatever is at the top of your inbox. Being strategic means you're being thoughtful and intentional about what you're going to do and what your priorities are. And then we get tactical. Then we go deliver, we go build the program.
We go implement the thing. We go hire the people. So I I, I think that might be the bow on these comments of how can you be an effective leader? You have clear direction, you have great priorities, and then you go do it.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. I love that. Clear direction, priorities, get to work. And, you know, there's a thousand excuses of, I don't have time.
I, you know, it's, we're too busy. I can't get this stuff done. The person that controls your calendar and your inbox is you. So set the expectation, you know, take a day, a week if that's what it's gonna take to just time block. I've recently been thinking a lot about that and posting about it on LinkedIn as well is just you're, you're the protector of your time.
Like you manage your time. So, be strategic in that in order to get things done. And that's how you become an effective HR leader.
Andrew, thanks so much for that wisdom. I love that we ended on that note those, the three things about strategic and tactical. And so, thanks again for coming on.
Why don't you actually take a minute and tell us a little bit about your cohorts and what that's about and then, and your next one coming up?
Andrew Bartlow: Sure. Sure. Yeah. I appreciate it. For those listeners and the audience that are human resources professionals, I lead a series of programs called People Leader Accelerator.
Our flagship product is a 16 week accelerator program. It's application only heads of HR at high growth, mostly founder led companies in a tiny cohort. We consider it the world's best professional development program for high growth HR leaders. We run two cohorts per year. 10 people per cohort.
You get to know each other and your issues, and you share a lot during that time really well. And then we have a series of trainings and guides and, you know, really tangible workbooks that can help you tackle a lot of the most common issues that HR professionals deal with. You know, so I, I have a strategic people planning guide that, you know, Tim we can make an offer.
I'll get I'd be happy to get your listeners a free copy of it's a 56 page workbook that has the whole strategic planning rundown. You know, what is that waterfall? How do you do the stakeholder analysis? We sell that online, but I'll make sure that you've got a code to get a free copy of that.
And a bunch of other stuff that might be helpful for other HR professionals. You know, I think that a lot of HR pros could use a personal trainer. And so maybe that's a mentor, maybe you wanna go to a group class, but do something to help yourself keep on track.
Tim Reitsma: I really appreciate and thank you for your generosity to our audience. And we'll make sure we, we put that code in the show notes, so head to peoplemanagingpeople.com under podcasts. So that's where we'll have the code for the, this workbook. I know I'm really excited to take a look through it as well.
And again, Andrew, thank you for your generosity, your time today, and to really speak to us about, you know, we focused on HR leadership and becoming an effective HR leader, but if maybe you're listening to this and you're not in HR, this still applies to you as a leader or an aspiring leader.
So with that, again, thanks for coming on.
Andrew Bartlow: Thank you, Tim. Really appreciate it.
Tim Reitsma: And for those who are listening, we always appreciate your feedback. So please head to peoplemanagingpeople.com leave us a comment. Check us out on LinkedIn as well as I always say, if you have an idea for an episode or just have some feedback, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So with that, thanks again for listening and spending some time with us and have a good one!