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Becoming a Strategic HR Business Partner

 

Listen to HR veteran, Lindsay DesJardins speak about her 20 years in HR and her advice on #1 the importance of HR being a strategic business partner, #2 how to become an “employer of choice”, and #3 why HR is all about communication, communication, and more communication. 

Bennett Sung

Hello everyone, this is Bennett with AllyO welcome to episode 4 of our our HR leadership webinar series with moderated by Jeanne from the Devon group who’s one of the top 100 HR influences we welcome her and she’ll certainly be helping welcome our guests Lindsay, so let’s go ahead and get started just as a couple little housekeeping items today just for everyone to get familiar with the GoToWebinar experience if those who have not joined us in the past this session is going to be recorded so we will be sending out a full recording and transcript of the conversation that you’ll be hearing today everybody will be in mute mode however there is if you’re familiar on the right-hand side of your screen a GoToWebinar panel there is a section in there that allows you to ask questions and for the audience for us to be able to moderate those and be able to then in you know inquire with our current panelists the questions and the answers and so we want to encourage as much participation as possible so feel free to ask start asking questions as we speak and for those who are new to AllyO just wanted to quickly give you an overview of the our organization. AllyO is an AI powered HR communications platform to engage employees and candidates we’re here to really enhance your recruiting efficiencies coupled with being able to really really be able to you know allow the employees voices to be heard and really increase that employee engagement with the ultimate results to improve retention as I’ve added an organization we’re trusted by many brands and clean those the likes of our some of our top-tier investors Google Randstad Bain Capital we’ve won a number of industry awards for our technology our AI from the likes of HR Executive which is the leading, one of the leading HR publications and their award of being one of twice being recognized as the top product of the year you can see here some of our great customers that are currently utilizing our technology today so again we’re here to listen to Lindsay and hear her experience as an HR veteran and the importance of HR being a strategic partner and before we get started we’ve been running a poll for the past three other episodes that would love to get your participation in so we’ll go ahead and activate the poll again the question of the poll is “what area of recruiting would you like to see the most improvement is this year” and next so we’ll go ahead and launch the poll and see what everybody’s feedback i I think we’ve gotten the majority of everybody’s votes so we’ll go ahead and close the poll and share the results I’d love to get feedback from Jeanne and Lindsay about these results so here are the results interesting interesting right Jeanne 

Jeanne Achille

yes yeah yeah the past ones have been a little different than what we’re seeing from this audience 

Bennett Sung

so maybe you can do a quick reflection since you Jeanne on your side since you’ve been part of the other Polls 

Jeanne Achille

yeah I’m fascinated by you know the other polls we saw a retention off the charts and you know while the other findings were significant it’s certainly nothing as significant as when I’m observing here regarding candidate experience so this renewed focus on candidate experience I think is very interesting right Lindsay just to kind of give you a … not sure if you see the poll I know you’re like 

Lindsay DesJardins

oh yeah I see that there and and it’s interesting so even I would say how I answered the best question during kind of my needs analysis and trying to check the boxes and to see you know how AllyO could could be a great partner for us I would say my two biggest areas that I was looking at is you know like time to hire cost per hire the candidate experience was a component of that but I certainly wouldn’t have rated that you know number number one but that’s good to see and I can certainly talk through have the feedback and things that we’ve gotten and how we’ve tailored AllyO to address some of those things so we can we can definitely talk through that 

Bennett Sung

okay great so excellent so let’s go ahead and close the poll and certainly just kind of give the audience again some of the major things that of of topics that you’ll be able to take away today’s conversation again the importance of being an a strategic business partner how to become an employer of choice on how to use that to your advantage and why HR is all about communication communication and even more communication so at this point If would love to hand over the conversation to Jeanne again the founder at the founder of the Devon group and moderator of today’s conversation and she’ll introduce our wonderful guest Lindsay 

Jeanne Achille

thank you for the handoff to me Bennett I hope everyone can hear  me okay okay so want to welcome Lindsay DesJardins I probably put the accent in the wrong place there Lindsay Lindsay is the VP of HR for national safety apparel and Lindsay has had a fascinating journey as an HR professional so we’re very excited to discuss it with her today Lindsay first of all I want to welcome you to our Wednesday wisdom series 

Lindsay DesJardins

thank you so much Jeanne and and Bennett for the you know kind of introductions and and the opportunity for me to not only share a little bit more of my story but certainly how you know AllyO has aided us in our retention and recruitment efforts 

Jeanne Achille

I know we will want to talk about that you know but I want to start out with with your journey because you and I have had a chance to chat for a few moments before and you were telling me that both of your parents were in finance and as a child you were kind of an affection OTO of those those you know Matlock type of programs so you wanted how on earth did you get into HR role 

Lindsay DesJardins

I did I did you know it was it’s interesting anytime I shared you know kind of the story I you know worked with so many people over the years and they’re like oh yo how’d you how’d you get into HR you know was it just your love of people and I was like gosh people wouldn’t have been really at the at the top of the list but you know for me HR kind of a combination of everything you know I’ve ever loved you know I certainly you know as a child kind of wanting to go into the legal profession for those of us you know and a true you know kind of like HR Generalist capacity you know there’s so many things that have a legal component whether it’s you know compliance and regulatory you know policies and procedures and and how we help you mitigate through some of those things but you know really from from a finance standpoint you’re both my parents are in finance and my my sister’s and finance I think you’ll really love of numbers and the analytical approach that I often take to try and help solve problems that really helped me to be a differentiator I would say not only for other HR professionals but but even internal and some other functional areas that I’ve had you know the privilege of working with so you’ve been it kind of formulated and said okay you know talking through this concept of an HR partner and the phrase of voh our business partner was certainly in the last ten years maybe to an extent even even over plate but there’s there’s such a critical piece of that and you know again being able to you know to solve problems it’s really kind of the science behind the people I share that a lot with my team because it’s more so just you know just people but how they interact why you know the the structure organizational effectiveness you know all of all of those pieces so the more you can make decisions and and build out you know like systems tools processes from an analytical side of things I think is going to just help strengthen either you know the business case that you’re trying to make or when when working again those cross-functional whether it’s sales operations financial what in whatever industry you’re you’re in being able to prove those things out is such a great piece and I think that’s where HR can can really lend value again combining you know the analytics and the science with with the people component 

Jeanne Achille

you know I often like to say that HR professionals have very well integrated brains because they have to be able to draw upon the analytic side but they also need to focus on the communication side and I know much of the emphasis in your earlier years was on communications and I believe you actually studied for communications degree in college tell us how those skills have helped you in your HR professional 

Lindsay DesJardins

yeah absolutely so my my undergrad is actually in in communications specifically with an emphasis and in PR and you know when when I think about you know from from an overall communication standpoint or you know specifically with public relations you know HR individuals have both you know really internal and external you know customers and you know good storytelling is it’s such a critical component you know it’s being able to frame a business case and you know in project management you know when you think of in terms of a story you know it’s really kind of a beginning middle and end and and being able to kind of take a step back and look at that at you know a high level being able to drill down and get into the specifics and the details and and formulate and frame that out a little bit is important too but you know being able to do that gives us I think as HR professionals the ability to kind of move hats frequently right so you you know one minute you could be having a one-on-one conversation with an employee and then you have to where you’re in the details but then also being able to you know kind of this zoom out and looking at things at a you know 300,000 feet level at a much higher strategic so whether you’re having conversations with an executive team or in in board meetings and and I think the personalization and it’s funny this you know on being on the poll earlier you know this candidate experience one of the trends that I’m seeing an HR quite frequently it this personalization you know people want to feel you know valued in an organization and I think more so the experience that you can build from a candidate standpoint will help with the personalization components which will aid in retention you think all of that really falls under this you know broad spectrum communications umbrella and and I would I would say I use that things that I learned from an undergrad standpoint every day multiple times turn throughout the night so it’s really kind of laid a great foundation for me in my career and how you know I approach my my role and interact with my team

Jeanne Achille

yeah I mean it’s truly amazing how we don’t necessarily think of communications as a discipline but it it it is something that serves us well whether it’s verbal communications or written communications but but I want to segue over to something that’s certainly a passion of mine and I know AllyO is really instrumental in the category of diversity and inclusion you’ve come up through the ranks in male-dominated industries that one might see as non-traditional for women what had enabled you to become so successful 

Lindsay DesJardins

yeah so I you know growing up I have I’m the middle child of three girls and my father probably always wanted to have three boys he ended up with three girls but I would say with that you know came this really kind of overarching theme of we could do anything you know from from the time you know as long as I could remember you know my dad always encouraging us to you know if we had an interest in in playing sport my sisters and I are all really big sports fanatic and you’re really showing us that he’ll crush we can we can do anything I mean I can throw a spiral football and hit a baseball bat and probably better than maybe better than my husband although I wouldn’t tell him that but that might cause some interesting conversations at home yet but you know being being you know having that feeling kind of empowerment you know I never felt I would say either intimidated or held back you know again always trying to be as prepared for either a meeting a project you know the concept of analytics and data and having having knowledge and again I think you’ll for true HR partners you have to be able to know the business know whatever industry I some of the industries that I’ve supported historically you know I started out in the in the construction industry and doing you know like government bids and affirmative action plans and you know comp and benefits of payroll and then progressing you know the majority of my career has been in manufacturing and and distribution and and even in that area you know I found that if you can come to the table you know the business you have all of the details and data together and you can add value in that role and and as you know kind of that support and partnership type of role the respect and all those things will typically come you know come hand-in-hand with that so I’ve I’ve had some great you know supporters and advocates for me over over the years some men some women but I’m especially here at at national safety apparel from a manufacturing standpoint I believe manufacturing females represent only about 20 to 25% from an industry standpoint across the US but at national safety apparel we have 65% women which is amazing our manufacturing managers you know our women directors and head of you know marketing and strategic accounts and and on our leadership and executive team so I think as an as a as an important component from a business standpoint it I’ve been fortunate but I also say that you know with that has been a lot of you know individual hard work and performance that that’s helped me to align that to 

Jeanne Achille

well and I know that but you don’t prior to being with national safety apparel you were with Sherwin Williams for a number of yea and there were I would say a host of unique opportunities that that that stint really delivered to you I both both personally and professionally so tell us what it was like to to move around and and you know and and be at the helm of HR for a very large company 

Lindsay DesJardins

yes and so I you know my tale with with sure when you know I started out in a smaller distribution center you know with just about 150 people and and again being able through you know results like as a results driven and very goal oriented organization you know results speak for for everything so through you know engagement efforts and retention and all of those things I was able to promote you know and progress in my career somewhat somewhat quickly and what that really looks like the the fact that I always tell people that kind of blows their mind is in in a period of nine years my family and I moved around and had seven homes so seven homes in nine years is a lot I have an incredibly patient husband and an understanding but you know transitioning everything from kind of like that small scope distribution manufacturing into much larger complex in some instances you know unionized facilities regional roles and and then and then transitioning into a sales you know supporting a sales team and an organization across guys nearly 20 states you know and traveling kind of you know 75% of the time with with each kind of role and a new opportunity certainly came came its own challenges you know there’s a big difference in operating in manufacturing and working with that audience to working with sales reps and sales organizations there’s a lot of different communication styles changes in competencies you know work structure and even what people find important you know retention in a manufacturing setting versus retention and creating challenging opportunities for people that are more goal oriented in a sales capacity that is you know that takes a very different different skill set so kind of building up what you know what those tools look like for me to be able to support those teams you know was was definitely a challenge and then you one of one of my last roles when I was in sure when I was actually in a global capacity supporting European market both North America South America And an asia-pacific in a very complex matrix organization that was you know that that brought about its its own no kind of set of challenges I think that my my ability to partner with people in very different very different cultures and in my communication style across across the pond right with with different different markets and Europe that was it it took a little bit of it took a little bit certainly from from an adjustment standpoint being able to work on large-scale projects that we’re going to influence and impact people across the globe really trying to personalize that for for those teams you know when you’re creating training and development programs for people in in South America how you get that training across and start building that and even just some of the language that we used I would work with my partners and in in asia-pacific markets and they really know that does not translate at all okay we have to reef we have to reframe this and so again you know I kind of bring this back to the importance of you know like the communication piece and really being able to partner and understand the operations and the teams in which you’re working within is is so is so critical but I think being able to do that and and being pretty versatile to acclimate quickly to different cultures and organizations or communication Styles has certainly only only helped you know strengthen my my career and and kind of progression there 

Jeanne Achille

well so you know I’m I’m sitting her  saying okay I can definitely understand how regional nuances change programs talk a little bit about how moving from a very large company like Sherwin Williams where you have a workforce of 53,000 to national safety apparel where you have a workforce more in the 700 range what changes are necessary from a technology standpoint 

Lindsay DesJardins

sure I think that you know I think for individuals in in some of those you know smaller smaller companies or even from a regional standpoint one thing that that I’ve noticed is the amount of flexibility and and more autonomy I’m able to do things in my current capacity in that mid size organization that that probably wouldn’t have been possible at Sherwin you know what working with you know with a with a large company like Charmin Williams a lot of things are are pushed you know top-down into the organization and and it doesn’t always it may not always fit at some of those smaller and smaller levels so that you know from from an infrastructure you know tools systems processes it makes a big difference and every company has such a unique culture and and again I you know what go back to kind of the the personalization and and how you partner with with other people and really bring those solutions to the table that are going to help drive results for that business sometimes you know there’s there some similarities one of my one of my favorite people of all time he would quote nearly every day if you have the right systems tool and process is in place you’ll you’ll be successful and you know I’ve it really kind of stayed true to that even though you know that wasn’t my in my sherwin days but if you have the right systems tools and processes and you can provide those to people to help solve you know day to day problems or challenges or even sometimes serve a solution that maybe they didn’t even know they had a problem for right is it is really kind of a game changer and that’s where again I just you know kind of go back to this you know like strategic partnership piece being able to to identify and provide those things is it’s so critical for for the teams 

Jeanne Achille

you know I yeah it’s fascinating how as we look across the spectrum of HR technology and then the spectrum of all the different organizations and their unique personalities and personas where we see failure is when HR technology is not able to morph in a flexible and reliable manner to accommodate the unique footprint of each organization I know you’ve never been afraid to try new things as well evidenced by you know your corporate real oh that was very adventure some that yes behind the ladder tell us what excites you about technology especially AllyO you know what what’s out there that’s peeking your interest in in terms of how it’s advancing the candidate experience as well as your own your own HR profession 

Lindsay DesJardins

sure so you know I I was at a an HR conference very early last year and there was a there was a booth there about AllyO and so you know I went over like a lot of people would professionals do when you’re when you’re at a conference you walk around all the tables and you know it was it was interesting because immediately the number of solutions that became so apparent especially for people who are at that small or mid-sized company you may not have a full-blown resource or recruitment team that’s that’s able to just provide you a plentiful amount of candidates so I found myself and my team spending an inordinate amount of time through you know emailing and then phone calls and playing phone tag and and getting back to people and then you know you have at least three to four emails back and forth of yeah this schedule would be good for me how does this look for you and then there’s the of course the thanks this works great thanks I’ll talk to you then so I said and that’s my that’s what 

Jeanne Achille

it’s painful, it’s painful 

Lindsay DeJardins

yes it is and so to eliminate nearly every aspect of that and again know that the personalization and the candidate experience you know people want to feel encouraged and engaged by by a potential employer immediately right out of the gate you know they’ve shown interest you know and us as a company you know certainly if this is going to be a future teammate of ours and kind of a member of the family we want to engage with them as quickly as possible and so for anyone who is either currently on AllyO then you already know but but eve if you’re just kind of exploring i right now and seeing what some of the potentials are the the immediate text responses or the chatbot availability it’s really kind of been a game-changer and it’s allowed my team to not only reduce dramatically you know cost for hire time per hire but from a from a retention standpoint we’re able to get feedback immediately during you know the onboarding process and post check-ins even you know after one week two weeks we’ve we’ve been able to take that information just within the last – you know like kind of 12 to 15 months and altered our onboarding process so you’ll talk about partnerships you know AllyO has certainly been able to kind of partner with with our team and really quickly kind of make adjustments either to schedules or questions or okay these are some of the industry trends that that we’re seeing might you consider doing these so it’s more so I would say than just a vendor I I feel that AllyO is immediate you know like extension of of my HR recruitment team I I know I should also add like from a disclaimer I am NOT being compensated or paid in any way to say these things you know like been our sales partner I’ve said that with to him so many times but for somebody who’s – who spent the majority of my career doing it manually or tough you know almost 20 years I think how did I spend so much time emailing and leaving voicemail messages for candidates as I did so I think it’s exciting I think it’s only kind of just starting to touch on like the tip of the iceberg you know from a technology with with the personalization again you know interacting with with not only people at a candidate level but also you know post surveys you know once their employees and being able to check in with with people it’s it’s really I feel people who aren’t utilizing you know technology to to accelerate and kind of like this war for talent that we have right now will really be kind of left left in the dust very very quickly 

Jeanne Achille

I agree I you know I think that for those of us who did it manually for years because of where we are in our careers and and and our length of tenure in the workplace you know we put up with it but quite frankly newer entrance to the workplace won’t accept anything less than a consumer-grade experience they are accustomed to interacting with technology in a certain way and you know so playing telephone tag with them for example is just arbitrary to the way they think you know the other thing I really just tying down to what you said earlier is the the visibility that the data gives you also from AllyO where you can better understand where your opportunities are I know where we’re coming up on time and I have a few more questions I definitely you know want to ask you um clearly Cleveland is home and and I heard that sports that you’re a sports affection Otto and I’m assuming it’s the brands and the Indians in your Household how have you balanced work-life given you know corporate relocations in the demanding profession as as an HR professional 

Lindsay DesJardins

yeah you know it’s been tough I think anybody who’s ever have started a new a new career path or a new opportunity with a different company you know as again keeping with the importance of being that the business partner and and communication you want to be able to come in and quickly build relationships with your with your team and and that’s such a critical piece and component you know doing that while trying to acclimate and adjust in in a new environment it’s tough you know especially as you become you know an adult you know even finding new friends new things in the community to to engage with it it’s a challenge i my my husband and I have a lot of the only kind of extra curricular activities and so that helps sometimes in a new you know in a new neighborhood but one um you know what was I had the privilege at a manufacturing symposium recently to to attend you know kind of this leadership series and and there was a smaller panel discussion and and somebody brought up this concept you know instead of this work-life balance it was really kind of a call to action to all of us to have a work-life presence and I thought that was so interesting because how many times you know when you’re at work you’re thinking of home when you’re at home you’re thinking of work and and and over the course of the last couple weeks I’ve really tried to work on my presence and and be you know a hundred percent engaged with you know whomever I’m at or talking with you know at the time and again whether it’s my husband my daughter my CEO and and I feel that it’s helped me to certainly be more more focused and and in alignment prioritizing you know different different tasks and actually brought some some clarity so I’ve probably I vowed over the last couple weeks to not say work-life balance anymore I’m going to I’m going to start transitioning that into you know like into into presence and you know we all have a ton you know that we’re trying to juggle and and I think that you know the more focused and mindful that we can be about the things that we are committed to doing at that moment it’s certainly made even just recently in the last few weeks made a big difference for me 

Jeanne Achille

you know I love that I love the the the term presence as opposed to balance I think balance sets us up for failure before we even get started you’re 

Lindsay DesJardins

like yeah you’re juggling you have like 23 you know 23 different things and so there’s something for me that just feels a little bit more centering versus I’m you’re balancing on a you know type wire yeah with 53 balls in the air right 

Jeanne Achille

well so so we have one last question that oh let me just take a look here looks like we’ve had a question come in I’m sorry I’m going to ask you a question and then I’m gonna read the question that’s come in through one of our panelists this is a question we asked all of our participants we asked you to reflect on this question and and kind of come up with your guest list dead or alive who are the three people you’d most like to have lunch with 

Lindsay DesJardins

yeah how I gosh I would say you know one person that I’ve always been from a historical standpoint fascinated with is is Abraham Lincoln and it seems you know maybe a bit cliche like but especially in in an age of you know so much conversation around you know diversity and inclusion initiatives you know think of of the the time and which you know he lived and you know and and you know the battles and challenges that you know being being faced with you know fighting for a cause that isn’t popular you know and advocating for something that you truly believe in is is certainly one of my you know like a core values so to have you know a discussion with him over drinks and dinner might be Good I’ll take lunch the another person I would say probably kind of similar on that but spectrum again with you know relative to diversity and inclusion and you know what she has done for so many young women across the globe but certainly here in the US would be you know Michelle Obama you know aside from the political spectrum or anything like that you know just from a people standpoint you know from from a mother and you know career and balancing and again you know really being kind of that advocate for you know a group of individuals that may not always be in a position to do that themselves I would love to get to get her take so I certainly think between Abe and Michelle there would be some good conversation and you know I think I alluded earlier to my husband and I and kind of from an extracurricular standpoint I am a huge concert fanatic I actually stayed out way too late last night and at a at a concert about an hour about an hour away on a school night oh good hi my husband and I go to you know we we love going to concerts live music and and so I would say I would probably go back and try you’ll pick somebody either gosh like a Janis Joplin Mick Jagger you know one of the true kind of rock icons David Bowie maybe depending on my mood what I’m listening to at the moment but I think that would certainly be a fun dynamic to throw into into the trio therefore for lunch 

Jeanne Achille

this is a very interesting lineup now we have one more question but you know as as I leave you on the answer you’ve just given us I’m wondering if we should add to our questions for our next webinar that not only would you have to come up with a list of three people dine with but then you’d have to assign a signature cocktail because the three you’ve just identified that would be fascinating to bridge those gaps 

Lindsay DesJardins

yes that’s great never definitely would be some good it definitely would be some good conversation there 

Jeanne Achille

absolutely absolutely, well we do want to take one question we have time for one question from our participants today and that is what is the number one priority when becoming a strategic business partner so if I’m understanding this question from one of our attendees they are looking for you to identify one priority when you’re selecting a business partner such as AllyO

Lindsay DesJardins

sure so I would say you know it’s critical to make sure you’re going through and understanding what what’s the need right what was kind of the needs analysis I think a lot of times people have a tendency whether you’re looking external from a vendor or or even internal the level of service and the strategic partner that you need to be for your internal customers I think understanding the need is critical I you know a lot of times people talk in terms of like no strategic planning and what does that look like I would say that not enough people really think about you know the strategic thinking piece what you know sometimes we think we we know the answer and what we’re going to solve for before we even do it but you know I would challenge everybody to just be really open and not not already think you know yet you have the the solutions you know weather and again whether it’s external or or internal you’re really helping someone to be that that thought partner and ask those questions you know have you ever thought about this do you feel that this is a that this is a problem I think the more open we can be with with one another and even with our with ourselves not being afraid to ask those questions is it’s so critical for those strategic partnerships you know and that’s the you know the word strategic is even in there right so you know not not just the tactical day-to-day transactional things and check a box and move on but to really you know take the take the time to understand what the concerns the challenges sometimes you’ll end up solving for things that you didn’t even know we’re yet a problem and you can certainly be Priya you know proactive versus reactive so I I think that’s such a such a critical piece 

Jeanne Achille

so very good advice coming from someone who has a significant background in this discipline thank you very much for joining us today Lindsay and I’d like to turn our webinar back over to Bennett from AllyO at this point 

Bennett Sung

thank you so much Jean and Lindsey for a very insightful conversation I’ve learned a lot on the experience of what it means to be a business partner and the importance of communication especially in this age of five generation workforces becomes more imperative and like you said Lindsay everybody every organization every department every organ company is very special so being very sensitive and empathetic to the communication style and how that is going to really give you that competitive advantage so that’s what I took away and I certainly love the interest and I share that same interest on concerts and and performances so I love the your answer to the last question but again thank you so much Lindsay and Jeanne for helping make this another great successful webinar and for the audience we will be hosting our episode 5 with Loren from language line on November 20th so we’ll be sending out information about his experience in talent acquisition so again I appreciate anybody’s attendance today thank you much Lindsay and Jeanne again and will see you all on Episode five, thank you so much have a great day. Bye-Bye

 

English (auto-generated)

 

 

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