How can organizations ensure that their efforts to bridge skill gaps are both effective and inclusive to all their employees?
In this episode, host Becca Banyard is joined by Kristy McCann Flynn—Co-Founder & CEO at SkillCycle—to explore the advantages of upskilling, strategies for identifying emerging roles and fostering employee development, the drawbacks of annual performance reviews, and the impact of continuous feedback on productivity and engagement.
- Kristy’s background [1:19]
- CEO and co-founder of SkillCycle.
- SkillCycle is a learning-first talent development platform built to support the entire employee lifecycle and drive business results.
- Prior to starting SkillCycle, Kristy spent 20 years in HR. She worked in a lot of enterprise organizations like Fidelity Investments, Pearson Education, and mid markets like Constant Contact and a ton of startups along the way.
- Started SkillCycle a couple of years ago for a multitude of reasons – war on talent, skill shortage, quiet quitting, etc.
- How can companies identify the need for specific new roles that haven’t even come to be yet and how can they develop their employees in those areas? [4:08]
- Hard skills, they’re easily trainable. What’s not is a lot of what we label as soft skills, which are durable skills and power skills and human skills that revolve around change management.
- Change management, communication, collaboration, situational leadership, emotional intelligence, creating a sense of belonging within organizations – these are all skills that take time to be able to reinforce behaviors and provide outcomes.
- It’s very scary when the tools are a mirror of us and we still don’t have the skills to be able to do our jobs.
- Technology is a mirror of us, so it cannot be replaced. It’s more about enabling us to do things and not have to spend hours on coursework.
- Organizations need to instill the power of constant learning so that we’re being proactive and not reactive for what’s going to continue to come.
- How can organizations create the opportunity for their talent to operate at their full potential? [7:31]
- It’s all there, but we haven’t been able to enable it ourselves.
- Whether you’re a mid market or you’re an enterprise organization, you should only have three to four stacks within HR.
- On the learning, performance, and engagement side – you have all these monolithic, fragmented tools – performance tools, engagement tools, mentoring tools, coaching tools, goal tools, learning management tools, content tools. It’s all monolithic and fragmented.
- In order to go forward, we need to go backwards, and we need to lock data and development together into one ecosystem that empowers the employee to be able to take the next step to further progress themselves.
- Performance learning needs to be evergreen.
- How can organizations ensure that their upskilling efforts are inclusive and accessible to all employees? [12:11]
- There’s no agreement necessary. We just need to take the feedback and this feedback needs to be powered.
Feedback is part of how you’re doing your goals. It’s the ‘how’ behind a goal. A goal is just a tick mark at the end of the day. Anyone can do a goal. It’s how you do it and how you get to that goal that matters.Kristy McCann Flynn
- For the employee – it’s connected to their feedback, to their job, to their goals, and it drives the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor.
- It really becomes a win-win when you marry the data and the development together.
- How can organizations ensure that they are filling the skills gaps? [15:37]
- When you get feedback from your performance reviews that unfortunately are often only once or twice a year – why would you wait six months to a year to get feedback when they could have changed it 364 days ago?
- It’s tying personal development together with organizational development because you don’t have organizational success without the people. And people don’t have professional development success without having the skills.
- We need to create a bar and the bar needs to be connected between the organization and employees and the things that they need to get things done.
- What are some of the learning and development methods that you would encourage? [20:12]
- It’s tying the feedback that they’re getting to actual personalized learning paths.
- You need to go in the middle. You need to make sure that your middle manager has the skills and the aptitude that they need to be able to do their job, to manage up, manage across, and then manage down.
Middle managers outside of HR are the heartbeat of the organization. And what they do, think, and act is going to be rippled up, down, sideways and everywhere in between.Kristy McCann Flynn
- At the end of the day, an employee is not going to understand and learn and digest or listen to the CEO. They’re going to learn, understand, and digest from their manager. And their managers need to be prepared.
- What would you encourage middle managers to do in order to step up to that plate and to take more ownership and responsibility over their own career development and over their own role in the organization? [22:52]
- Middle managers can be the biggest champions and advocates for HR.
- Middle managers are stuck in the middle – they gotta lead, manage, coach, deliver, do administrative tasks.
- Often the path of being a revenue driver is through the middle managers.
- Learning is a vitamin rather than a pain pill.
- The number one thing that employees want is: learning and development opportunities, and managerial competency.
- The number one reason that employees will leave is because of their manager.
- Instill learning in a way that is personalized and that attaches to the overall revenue growth of an organization.
- Do you have any personal stories from your HR days of partnerships, allyships with middle managers that stood out in your memory? [27:49]
- Kristy walked into an organization and she was coming in as the new leader of HR and as a change agent. It was during the economic heydays before COVID.
- She went through a forecast and realized that the CFO has 40% churn of employees baked into the overall forecast. Which is adding up to millions of dollars right there on a spreadsheet.
- “What if I can tell you I could bring that down to 30% and I’ll make a BHAG goal 20%? And I could save you a lot of money and that we could actually exceed our goal.”
- She started with customer success. The average turnover was 4 to 5 months – she elongated it to 1.2 years. And they started to see actual revenue success within three months.
- They were actually able to exceed that 20 million and hit 40 million.
- HR is not a cost center – we can be a revenue driver. That’s what HR needs to do. You’re no longer asking to get a seat at the table. You drive money, that seat is yours.
- What is the number one thing that keeps employees happy in the workplace? [32:01]
- Learning provides that security blanket. It provides that opportunity. It takes out that fear. And it always wins.
- What do you personally need to be a successful leader? [33:00]
- Don’t be so hard on yourself.
- HR is the bedrock to Kristy’s leadership and being a CEO. And that’s something that she wants to continue to keep at the forefront.
Meet Our Guest
Kristy is a strategic Human Resource leader, change manager and organizational development expert. Throughout her career in HR, Kristy lived in daily crisis mode – responsible for recruiting, managing and developing companies’ most valuable resources, with a lack of resources and tools to effectively do so. While new HRTech platforms hit the market, they simply digitized and accelerated the same broken system and continued the same vicious cycle of performance management with no actionable outcomes; engagement data and analytics that connected to literally nothing; and generic point-in-time learning that barely scratched the surface of what skills gaps exist within organizations. Additionally, there were no measurable solutions or effective learning and development methods available to grow and upskill new or existing talent or connect professional goals to business goals.
After two decades of playing defense, in 2018, Kristy left her executive HR position to join the offense and build a solution to address the root of the problem at scale. With a true people development approach, a big picture perspective and a hands-on, tactical approach, Kristy is bringing her solution-based vision to life through SkillCycle, a Human Capital Development platform – built for HR by HR – that combines proven methods of learning-led talent development and people success analytics to help companies meet their business goals by developing their most valued resource – their people. She is redefining the Human Capital Development category with a goal to educate and help companies meet their business goals by developing and empowering their employees to take ownership of their careers.
Prior to creating SkillCycle, Kristy has held senior and executive level HR positions at global organizations including Publicis Groupe, Pearson Education, Constant Contact and Fidelity.
HR and middle managers can be revenue drivers. And they will be when they have the tools they need to be able to do their job.Kristy McCann Flynn
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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.
Becca Banyard: Research indicates that 70% of employees lack mastery of the necessary job skills, which points to a significant need for upskilling initiatives. But how can organizations ensure that their efforts to bridge these skill gaps are both effective and inclusive to all their employees?
Welcome to the People Managing People Podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you create happy, healthy and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Becca Banyard!
I'm joined today by Kristy McCann Flynn, co-founder and CEO at SkillCycle, a learning first talent development platform. Together we'll explore the advantages of upskilling, strategies for identifying emerging roles and fostering employee development, the drawbacks of annual performance reviews, and the impact of continuous feedback on productivity and engagement. So keep listening.
Hello, Kristy! Welcome to the show. It's so great to have you here today.
Kristy McCann Flynn: I'm thrilled to be here, Becca. Thank you for having me.
Becca Banyard: So we're going to be talking today about how organizations can bridge skills gaps by fixing internal gaps in performance management. But before we dive into that, I'd love to know a little bit more about yourself.
If you could just share a bit about your background and what you're currently doing?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Absolutely, Becca and hello everyone! My name is Kristy McCann Flynn, I am CEO and co-founder of SkillCycle. SkillCycle is a, an entire talent development and learning development people suite where we tie performance management, engagement skills, competencies, and goals that all leads into learning with our coach marketplace and learning experience platform.
Prior to starting SkillCycle, I actually spent 20 years in HR. I worked in a lot of enterprise organizations like Fidelity Investments, Pearson Education, mid markets like Constant Contact and a ton of startups along the way. I started SkillCycle a couple of years ago for a multitude of reasons. One, war on talent, skill shortage, quiet quitting, all of these negative monikers are out there that has been perpetuated by us as a society, not HR, where we got into this habit of recycling and replacing people.
And when we did this all led to a lot of culture issues, engagement issues, diversity, inclusion, and belonging issues, productivity issues. When you don't understand the breadth of an organization towards people, because they're no longer there and they're constantly recycled and replaced. It's going to lead to a lot of lost dollars and a lot of lost people along the way, along with brand and name.
But that was issue number one. Issue number two, as a former HR buyer, I've used many tools over my years. And a lot of those tools inhibited me from doing my job. Where I didn't have the visibility into progress, where I didn't have the visibility into connecting actual performance with actual outcomes and learning. These things continue to plague me and a lot of other HR professionals.
So I got out of corporate essentially to fix a lot of the issues that we have right now and eliminate this, talent shortage and to really ensure that everybody has the access to the talent and that we're going to continue to develop it. And they actually provide a tool that enables HR professionals to have the visibility into everything performance and learning and engagement, all one ecostat, ecosystem and hub that's all interconnected together.
And for learners to be able to have a personalized path for learning that connects to their actual goals and roles within the organization, that drive that what's in it for me factor and why. So that's essentially, my journey and my background. And I think the only HR tech company out there that's actually been created by HR, and I'm very proud of what we're doing to help a lot of organizations in the mid markets and the enterprises.
Becca Banyard: Wow. That sounds incredible. Congratulations on all your success with your company and your platform. I'd love to start off the conversation with just talking a little bit about the job market currently. It's rapidly evolving with the advancement of AI and other technologies. So how can companies identify the need for specific new roles that haven't even come to be yet and how can they develop their employees in those areas?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Great question, Becca. There's a lot of advancement going on, which is truly exciting. And I am definitely for it, but with caveats. Hard skills, they're easily trainable, so a lot of this tech stuff, product stuff that's, easily trainable within 30 to 60 days. What's not is a lot of what we label of soft skills, which in my mind are durable skills and power skills and human skill that revolve around change management, which is what's happening right now.
The world is evolving, a million miles a minute, especially with all these new tech advances and people's heads are spinning. So change management, communication, collaboration, situational leadership, emotional intelligence, creating a sense of belonging within organizations. These are all skills that take time where you got to be able to reinforce behaviors and provide outcomes.
And it's not a point in time solution. It needs to be evergreen and ever growing with where we are today and with where we each are tomorrow. So why are all these tools are out there? To help enable us to be able to do our jobs better, which I think is great. It's very scary when the tools are a mirror of us and we still don't have the skills to be able to do our jobs.
We're living in a time where technology is going a mile a minute. And there's still a war on talent, great resignation, all these negative monikers, quiet quitting, what have you. So if we're going to really utilize the full capacity of these tools, we really need to utilize the full capacity and potential of employees so that we can be the correct mirror for what these tools need to do today and tomorrow with our evolution and with their evolution.
And I think a lot of times that we're putting a, horse before the cart here, because we continue to look at tech as a replacement and not as an enablement. And at the end of the day, this technology is a mirror of us, so it cannot be replaced. It's more about enabling us, to do things and not have to spend hours on coursework.
That could be easily translatable into some of this tech enablement within ChatGPT or, Generative AI and more. For us to be able to not be doing mundane tasks that take hours, that could take minutes. But we still need the skilling for a lot of the other competencies that are out there that are not there.
And they haven't been there for a long time. And so I think, with the, everything that's going on with technology, it's going to drive even more demand for what we need to do within our human, environment and in organizations to drive skills. So that we're using enablement that works for the future and that isn't broken for the future because we're not skilled yet.
It's a mirror of us and if that mirror is cracked, it's always going to be cracked and that's the caveat. And so I think organizations need to instill that power now of constant learning so that we're being proactive and not reactive for what's going to continue to come.
Becca Banyard: So how can organizations create the opportunity for their talent to operate at their full potential? How can they start upskilling their talent so that this AI isn't replacing their jobs, but is supporting them and benefiting them to the most it can?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Another good question there. I think it's all there, but we haven't been able to enable it ourselves. So when you look at HR technology right now, there's a lot of systems out there.
And ideally, whether you're a mid market or you're an enterprise organization, you really should only have three to four stacks within HR. You have your HCM (Human Capital Management), which is your HRs payroll and benefits check done, works great. There's amazing vendors who do that. You have your Applicant Tracking System (ATS), I mean, for candidate experience and hiring.
Beth Dunn works great, a lot of great vendors out there. But then on the learning, performance, and engagement side, you have all these monolithic, fragmented tools. You have performance tools, engagement tools, mentoring tools, coaching tools, goal tools, learning management tools, content tools. It's all monolithic and fragmented.
We need to combine these tools, and that's essentially what we've done at SkillCycle, into one ecosystem. Because when you go through performance management and you get feedback, that feedback often dies. When you go through an engagement survey to provide feedback, that feedback often dies. And it's because that none of that is being connected to actual learning outcomes.
Why would you give somebody a report card (i.e. performance management reviews) and then not give them learning that connect to the actual feedback for them to actually improve? Crazy. Why we do it frontwards within K-12 and higher education, we do it completely backwards when it comes to workforce development?
And we need to empower that data. And that's essentially what we're doing at SkillCycle. We take that data from the reviews, you know what I mean, that we have embedded within our platform from the engagement, that we have embedded in our platform from the goals, from all the feedback that drives into actual learning outcomes.
So connects to actual personalized learning paths, be able to connect to their overall role and goals within the organization and to enhance and to continue to manage a measure that will grow progress. So for the last 20 years, we've had tons of technology, but it didn't work collectively together, right? So we haven't been able to master the technology of how to actually take reviews and put it into action and input with, learning pathways that make sense for their role and their goals.
Then I'm really afraid what other steps we're skipping when it comes to a lot of this generative, know, AI and more. And so I think what organizations need to do is to actually take the data and drive it into actual development that's relatable and applicable to their role and drives of what's in it for me factor.
And that is managed and measured along the way to show that enhancement. Because a lot of the stuff out there right now, it's just producing, a kumbaya, a happiness factor. People are engaged and they're happier now. Companies are losing money left or right because they're losing people left or right, and they're losing the ability to drive the revenue goals that they want left and right.
So, in order to go forward, we need to go backwards, and we need to lock that data and development together into one ecosystem that empowers the employee to be able to take the next step to further progress themselves. And so then, once the data and development has come together, we can continue in a path of ongoing feedback and ongoing learning. Where it's not point in time because nothing is point in time when it comes to us as a, human being and us as an organization, we're an evergreen, ever learning ecosystem.
And that's what all this needs to be too, performance learning needs to be evergreen. And when it's evergreen, then we can continue to catch up with a lot of the technology that's out there so that we are being proactive and not reactive. So that we're seeing if something's going to go awry, you know what I mean, before it happens.
And that's, the pragmatic mentality that we really need to look at right now, is that we've always had this data. We've never been able to interconnect it. And it's our job to be able to interconnect it to get to the outcomes that we need to further enhance where we are today to help the future of tomorrow.
Becca Banyard: Yeah. Wow. That's so interesting. For companies that are looking to start this cycle of continuous feedback but also of upskilling, how can they come to agreement with the employee on the best path, the best upskilling and learning and development journey that benefits both the employee and the company and it aligns with both of their goals?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Well, that's the whole thing. There's no agreement necessary. But what I mean is that when you have the feedback that you get through performance reviews, so Becca, let's just use you as an example. You're a manager, let's call him Stan. That you need to enhance your overall communication skills. Right?
And so as an employee, you're probably wondering like, all right, what do I do? How do I do this? What does this mean? Where do I go? If I don't do this, am I going to get fired? Right or wrong? Is that what you think or feel? Yes. Correct? So, nobody needs to do that anymore. We just need to take this feedback, right?
And this feedback needs to be powered into, Okay, here are coaches, here are content. Here's a learning path that's going to cater to where you need to improve on your feedback. And then it's going to get managed and measured to be able to show that progression. And the reason that you get everybody's buy in with this is because it's connected to their goal.
Feedback is part of how you're doing your goals. It's the 'how' behind a goal. A goal is just tech, mark at the end of the day. Anyone can do a goal. It's the how you do it and how you get to that goal that matters. And so when you bring that, as I mentioned earlier, when you bring that day and development together, that there, there's no buy in necessary.
For the employee, it's connected to their feedback, it's connected to their job, it's connected to their goals, and it drives what's in it for me factor. They actually have a path that they didn't have before. It's not ambiguous, and it drives into what they need to be able to do automatically to progress. And so, it's on them, all they have to do is say yes.
And, and it's connected to everything so it's going to enhance them. Obviously, if they say no, then they shouldn't be there because they don't have a growth mindset, they have a fixed mindset. And then for, organizations, they have provided that feedback and now that feedback is coming to life with learning.
And so it's going to enhance the overall productivity, overall and engagement and overall goal completion. And so it really becomes a win-win when you marry the data and the development together. That's been the issue. We've been dealing with these disparate systems that don't make that easy at all. I spent 20 years trying to tie systems together with pivot tables, and that's very difficult if you're an organization of 100 people or you're an organization of 100,000 people.
And so we really need the, if we're going to look at equity and development and equity within organizations, and really driving, a shared goal and vision. It starts with bringing all this data together to drive that development that drives an entire shared business goal for the employee and for the organization, because it's finally how they're together.
And not standing alone, tied up in a bunch of systems that are quite in time. That make sense?
Becca Banyard: Yeah. I think so. Yeah. Thank you for explaining it in a more tangible example. How can organizations ensure that they are filling the skills gaps? How do they start by identifying where the gap exists and then filling it?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Well, when you get feedback from your performance reviews that unfortunately are often only once or twice a year, which is crazy. Why would you wait six months to a year to get so many feedback when they could have changed it, 364 days ago? That's a bit crazy. But once you get into this constant learning and constant feedback and constant progression.
So going back to the example with you. So you've gotten feedback, you need to enhance your communication skills. Again, that feedback is tied to the learning that you need to develop, but it's also tied to your goal. Because if you're not enhancing your overall communication skills, you're probably not going to hit your goals, whether they be revenue driving, project driving, cost driving, doesn't matter. If you don't know how to work with customers or employees or have the communication to collaborate in a way that's safe and supportive and that has this almost problem solving mindset, that can be very difficult, that can hinder you with anything.
And so, within this, it essentially makes it automatic, right? And when you have ongoing and it's really meeting you where you're at. So communication back, it could be the first thing that you need to enhance. But then as you're measuring, managing and measuring that along the way, in a tool like SkillCycle, you can see, okay, Becca, you're really starting to do good on your communication.
We can see that from the feedback from your managers and from your peers of your coach and even from you, but we're starting to see gaps within your change management scale. Right? So change management, huge core skill that just about everybody needs regardless of what role, whether they're a leader or not.
And then that data starts to triangulate a path for how you start to really hone your change management skills. So again, it becomes the data keeps on leading to development, you know what I mean? Based on meeting you where you're at and then understanding where the organization is at and the skills that they need you to fill in to be successful.
So we're really tying personal development together with organizational development because you don't have organizational success without the people. And the people don't have, professional development success without having the skills. And so it's actually creates a very, a domino effect.
You either do it or not. And the more you tether it together, the more you've created an ecosystem of success. Rather than, where this has been broken down and not only in so many systems, but in so many processes and so many different cycles. Like you're really bringing it together as part of your overall organizational goals, because the individual's personal professional success is contingent on the organizations.
And now you have a mutual agreement and the data, the people in track that assesses the learning that they need, that ties to the rules and the goals. That's always been the issue with learning is that, you throw a bunch of people in the class, they need communication skills, but they all may need different communication skill work and but they're not all the same place.
And so it's very difficult for them to retain anything. Nevermind, apply it to your job. We have that personalization. It's really starts to evolve and understand where you're at and where we need to gain speed as to where we need to go and how that mirrors the organization goals and what needs to be done there.
And so it takes a lot of attention out. It takes a lot of the munch out. It takes ambiguity out. It takes out the lost time and dollars that you're spending training anywhere from 30 to 50 people on a topic like communication that nobody really retains. I mean, when I was in HR the bar was if somebody remembered something from that training, they get one. It's not a good bar.
It's not connected to anything that those trainings were connected to anything you really did. Right? And so we need to create a bar and the bar needs to be connected between the organization and employees and the things that they need to get things done. And we're giving the ability to get the employees to produce those things that need to get done with the learning that they need and the organization's gaining the ability and the agility to hit those goals.
So it becomes an entire ecosystem network that is ever flowing and ever learning and ever great.
Becca Banyard: Right. I'd love to dive into just what you were talking about in terms of personalization. So each person is probably at a different level, like you said, in let's say like their communication skills or whatever the skill may be.
So how would you recommend an organization goes about connecting that individual with the right training to get them to where they need to go to achieve or to reach that skill? What are some of the kind of learning and development methods that you would encourage?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Well, one it's tying the feedback that they're getting to actual personalized learning paths.
So like, just like communication, you're actually getting communication needs and meeting you where you're at. But the second most important thing is that it's very daunting. You need to go in the middle. And when I say you need to go in the middle, you need to make sure that your middle manager have the skills and the aptitude that they need to be able to do their job, to manage up, manage across, and then manage down.
Because they are what are, how an organization, feels and moves and think and return. Not the leaders, not the employees, the trooper holders of an organization's health lie with the middle managers. And so if I were to give advice out there to organizations of any size, your man, middle managers outside of HR are the heartbeat of the organization.
And what they do and they think and they act is going to be rippled up, down, sideways and everywhere in between. And so if you're going to start with those personalized learning paths, take the feedback that they're getting in their reviews and apply it to those personalized learning. Granted it sounds like a manual process, but we've figured this out at SkillCycle and now how to do it to make an automatic.
But you need to really lean into your managers more. They are much like HR. They have the most jobs, least amount of resources, and the crappiest of budget. And you need to be able to empower them and instill them to really be able to lead the organization. Because at the end of the day, an employee is not going to really understand and learn and digest or listen to CEO.
At the end of the day, they're going to learn, understand, digest from their manager. And their managers need to be prepared.
Becca Banyard: Yeah. I love that. Just so what you said about middle managers being the heartbeat of the organization. I'd love to just flip the perspective here from the leader, leadership from the organization perspective and turn it to the middle manager. As a middle manager with so much responsibility on their shoulders for how the organization is run and how employees are treated and how the engagement is and all that it entails.
What would you encourage middle managers to do in order to step up to that plate and to take more ownership and responsibility over their own career development and over their own role in the organization?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Middle managers are the biggest can be the biggest champions and advocates for HR.
HR has just as many as employees as the CEO on the least amount of budget dollars. Middle managers are stuck in the middle, just like the song. They gotta lead, manage, coach, deliver, do administrative tasks. They gotta do everything. They literally have just as many jobs as HR. Misery loves company, and turn that misery into opportunity.
And by leveraging your HR and instilling that champion and ally partnership to be able to get the tools that you need and promote yourself and empower yourself and yell for yourself as to why you need to do this and to be able to show the outcomes of, if you get the skilling, what you can do in partnership with HR, you got a great relationship. Because as HR, that was what I always said, I need to find my champions.
I'm a cost center at the end of the day. And I need to be able to show how I could be a revenue driver. And often the path of being a revenue driver is through the middle managers. Because if I could skill them to be able to do the daunting tasks of all the different things that they do every single day and to be able to succeed, then I win.
And I have made the company money just like they have. So it's really looking at that allyship and partnership, especially with middle managers and being able to see, HR as your path to success. And to echo that, so that the budget dollars that are absolutely needed for learning, I mean, you would think it'd be obvious. If you're losing all these people and you're doing less of more that you would want and still learning more, but no, we still have CEOs that, will deflect that.
And we'll tighten the belt and find learning to be a vitamin rather than being a pain pill. Well, it's going to be really painful at the end of the year when you're not meeting your goals. And you had every opportunity and still an ecosystem of learning with your HR and with your middle managers, but you didn't.
And time's running out because we're in an economy right now where a lot of people are saying we're in a recession. But I think the latest job report shows 12 million jobs and the lowest unemployment. So I'm going to call a poll on that. And I've answered to your question, there is no job. And if you are not providing these opportunities to employees, they are weak.
And they have been and they will continue to be. As long as there is jobs available, you will lose. The number one thing that employees want is, one, learning and development opportunities. And two, managerial competency because the number one reason that employees will leave because of their manager. So you can really hit this right now and not be stuck in the middle and really starting to heighten your potential and path to be able to hit those overarching goals and spend a little bit of money to get there and then be able to have a five to 10 x return.
And so I think, time's up on the whole thing where, ongoing learning is just a vitamin. It's not. If it was a vitamin, then you wouldn't be sailing right now. You wouldn't be missing your goals. You wouldn't be losing your employees. You would not be, state of the world where we are right now, where people do not care about the economy.
They are going to look for better paths and better opportunities with companies that truly will instill learning and opportunity for them. So we're going to see the winners and the losers at whatever economic thing this is right now. And, you there is a path with their male managers, there is a path with HR, and there's a path for you to actually gain the returns that you're looking for, for your, advisors, for your board members, for the constituents and the stockholders of your organization.
And that means instilling learning in a way that, that is personalized and that attaches to the overall revenue growth of an organization. Again, attaching that data and development together drives outcomes. HR and middle managers can be revenue drivers. And they will be when they have the tools they need to be able to do their job.
Becca Banyard: Yeah. Wow. It's so interesting that you mentioned just about the middle managers and how managers are the number one reason why people stay or leave a job. I kid you not, the last three podcasts in a row, that statement has been mentioned by each of my guests.
So it's just evidence. Yeah. It's so important for middle managers to be competent and to be skilled and yeah, to be allies with HR. So I'm curious, just before we kind of wrap things up, do you have any personal stories from your HR days of partnerships, allyships with middle managers that just stood out in your memory?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Yeah, I have tons, but I'll talk about the one where I made a lot of money and I was no longer a cost center, but I was a revenue driver for an organization. So I walked into an organization and I was coming in as the new leader of HR and as a change agent. The organization, this is during like the economic heydays before COVID, right?
So this organization really had no excuses. But much like all the other organizations, there's lots of jobs out there, recycle and replace mentality, what have you. And I'm digging in and, I'm going through a forecast and I realized that the CFO has 40% churn of employees baked into the overall forecast. Which is adding up to millions and millions of dollars right there on a spreadsheet.
Wow, that's a lot of money we're throwing away. Well, a lot of people like, why is that in forecast? Well, that's what it's been like. Oh, doesn't have to be like that. What if I can tell you I could bring that down, the 30% and I'll make a BHAG goal 20%? And I could save you a lot of money and that we could actually exceed goal.
Well, Kristy, how much is that going to cost? I'm like, give me 1 department and give me 3 months and I'll start there. So I started with customer success. Average turnover was 4 to 5 months. We elongated that to 1.2 years. And we started to see actual revenue success within three months. So instead of the goal for that organization to have 40 million of revenue by the end, with us actually saving our employees and instilling education in them, that I always spent like maybe 300K of costs with coaching, training, development, and systems.
We are actually able to exceed that 20 million and actually hit 40 million and still have, we're in half of the workforce there. It wasn't 40% churn. We actually brought it down to 80%. So I saved money and I made money. And I started with the smaller group, the easier group, but where I saw the allyship with the middle managers and a leader in that organization. And then he became an advocate. So how I continued to replicate that in other parts of the organization.
And then cross laterally with cross training and development across the organization, we instill learning the 250K for learning tools. And then you were able to do double within your revenue goals, because you actually had more than 80% of the employees that we hired at the beginning of the year, made money.
So when I say out there to HR, there's all the HR terminology of engagement, attainment, turnover, whatever. Start to dig in those financials. Start to see where there's opportunity, where you can instill all the things that you know how to do and actually translate it to the money. Start to look at your allies and where they not only can advocate for you, but I'm sure that they're holing up money in their budget that actually should be yours.
That was the other thing. It was amazing when I started to go rummaging through everybody's budgets and I saw how much HR dollars they had in there for hiring and for conferences. And I'm like, all right, do you want the HR goal? No, like then give me that money. That's not another way that I built my budget.
I built it through success. I built it through owning that goal. I built it through showing that HR is not a cost center, that we can be a revenue driver. That's what HR needs to do. You're no longer asking to get a seat at the table. You drive money, that seat is yours.
Becca Banyard: What a good way to finish things up, such an incredible story. Thank you for sharing that.
Before you say goodbye, I have two questions I just want to ask you. I ask all my guests. First one is, what do you believe is the number one thing that keeps employees happy in the workplace?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Honestly, I mean, it's going to sound biased, but I'll give you an example why it's not biased.
Is that my door swung every 20 seconds with employees coming in with problems. And most of those problems revolved around not being able to communicate, collaborate, work with each other, not liking somebody, whatever. When you apply learning and skills, my swinging door wasn't swinging as much.
And so I think learning provides that security blanket. It provides that opportunity. It takes out that fear. And it always wins. And so there may be bias in that sense. I'm all about learning, but I could tell you my door stopped swinging. I am still about learning.
Becca Banyard: Yeah, you see the results of it. Really cool.
And for you, what do you personally need to be a successful leader?
Kristy McCann Flynn: Great question. I need not to be so hard on myself and that's easier said than done. Now that I'm a CEO and no longer a CHRO, I have learned a lot. And especially when I was CHRO and giving some of my CEOs a hard time. For the way that they're looking at things.
So we didn't see eye to eye on things. I know that now. I understand that. But not saying that was right. I have the background of a CHRO where I can be a really good CEO. And so I don't ever want to lose being in HR. HR is a bedrock to my leadership and being a CEO. And that's something that I want to continue to keep at the forefront.
Becca Banyard: Awesome. Well, Kristy, it has been such a pleasure having you on the show. If our audience would like to get in touch with you, learn more about what you're up to, where can they find more?
Kristy McCann Flynn: We are at skillcycle.com. We are here for you. We were HR that built an actual tech enablement system, people operating system for HR. We're here to provide all the learning that your organization needs and come on in. This is built for you and by you.
Becca Banyard: Amazing. We'll put the link in the show notes.
To our listeners, thank you so much for tuning in. It has been a pleasure having you on the show with us. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast and we'll talk to you next time.