Ep028: Why culture, clarity, and feedback are the keys to great leadership with Kathy Albarado

TalentGrow Show ep028 Kathy Albarado Halelly Azulay why culture clarity and feedback are the keys to great leadership

Kathy Albarado, founder and CEO of Helios HR, is an award-winning human capital management consultant who brings a triple-whammy perspective on leadership. As a leader in her own successful company, Kathy understands leading those who help her organization win awards and satisfy clients. As coach to her client leaders, she helps client companies achieve success. And as a community leader and philanthropist, she has built a unique platform that allows many companies share leadership best practices and success insights. Kathy speaks me about her path to launching her own company based in her strong passion for great organizational culture. She describes ways you can create a great culture, as well as the importance of seeking clarity and feedback. And she gives specific examples, stories, and how-to’s for doing just that.

What you’ll learn:

Listen to Stitcher
  • Why is knowing what you don’t want to do is as if not more important as knowing what you do want to do (3:40)
  • What emotional reaction ultimately launched Kathy’s company, Helios HR (and why does Halelly think it was a courageous decision)? (6:03)
  • Why is Kathy passionate about culture being critical to business success, even more than having a brilliant strategy? (8:55)
  • Your organization’s culture should attract the right people and repel those that shouldn’t be in your organization (9:28)
  • What was Kathy’s vision for creating her organization, Helios? (It has to do with how people feel about going to work) (10:20)
  • Kathy doesn’t even like the word ‘work’ – hear why she thinks we need a new word, for when you love what you do and the culture of your organization (11:34)
  • What’s one of the keys for having a great culture? (12:25)
  • How can you *really* find out what your culture is (and why you don’t want it to be very different from what you think – or say – that it is)? (13:22)
  • What Kathy suggests we need to do to get feedback about our culture? (Kathy gives a concrete example of how and when to do that and you can emulate it) (13:50)
  • How does Kathy’s organization do performance conversations? (14:15)
  • What does Kathy mean by ‘doing check-ins’? (15:20)
  • What’s a scary question kathy has managers ask their employees? (15:33)
  • Why trust is foundational for a good culture? (16:22)
  • What is something that Halelly thinks is remarkable about Kathy? (16:40)
  • Why did Kathy create the Apollo Awards program to recognize companies that have great practices in employee engagement and employee development, and how has it evolved now that it’s been running for 10 years? (17:00)
  • Why is it meaningful to have a community of leaders who can collaborate and share best practices to improve their success and learn from each other instead of competing? (18:38)
  • People WANT to share – we just need to ask them to (and build the platform that allows them to do it, rather than just kvelling about it being missing) (20:24)
  • What is the most common leadership mistake Kathy has seen? (22:13)
  • As a leader, you need to recognize that you’re speaking through a megaphone – why does that put an added expectation on leaders that can be really exhausting but really important. (22:14)
  • Why should leaders seek clarity – ask more questions and not assume they understand what people’s intentions or needs are. (23:03)
  • Why should leaders have someone that they can just be themselves with – with whom you can let your guard down, but also who will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear (23:48)
  • What is Kathy excited about? (Hint: it takes place with young women in Honduras) (25:40)
  • As every guest does, Kathy recommends one specific action listeners can take to upgrade their leadership skills and career success. Listen to find out what it is, and her specific examples for how to do it. (28:07)
  • What’s a useful frame for asking for feedback that helps you get more helpful feedback? (29:40)

Resources & Links

SHRM (was called ASPA)

Podcast episode with Chip Joyce about the importance of trust in culture

Apollo Awards – the program Kathy created for recognizing excellence in talent development

Podcast episode with Jonathan Smith about the importance of trusted advisors

We mentioned CEO Disease – check out this blog post to learn what it is and take action to prevent/cure it!

Kathy's company, Helios HR helioshr.com

Kathy’s blog

Connect with Kathy on LinkedIn – mention the podcast to give her context for your invitation

http://leadershipmissioninternational.org/tlc/ -- the philanthropic organization Kathy is involved with and her trip to Honduras to help young women learn entrepreneurship

Download the 10 Mistakes Leaders Make and How to Avoid Them free tool!

Intro/outro music for The TalentGrow Show: "Why-Y" by Esta - a great band of exquisitely talented musicians, and good friends of mine.

About Kathy Albarado, SPHR

As founder and CEO of Helios, Kathy is an award-winning human capital management consultant with 25 years of experience practicing in both large firms and small to mid-sized organizations. Her counsel has been credited with contributing significantly to firm valuation and long-term employee retention. Kathy has been quoted in various media sources including The Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, The New York Times, Human Capital Magazine, Compliance Magazine, Virginia Business and ExecutiveBiz regarding human capital and leadership challenges. Kathy holds an M.A. in Human Resource Management; a B.S. in Psychology from George Mason University and is certified as a Senior Professional of Human Resources (SPHR). She currently sits on the Board for the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital, SECAF (the Small Emerging Government Contractors Advisory Forum), the Women in Business Consortium of GMUs’ School of Business, HR WebAdvisor and is on the executive committee of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce along with leading their Women in Business Council. She is also an active member of ACG, the Economic Club, Vistage, and Women in Technology. Kathy considers herself fortunate for having been recognized by numerous awards that focus on her commitment to community, corporate social responsibility and ethics. In 2014, Kathy was honored as Executive of the Year by Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Corporate Citizenship.  Kathy is committed to building a team-based culture in her organization and making an impact in the community in which they work and live.


Announcer: Welcome to the TalentGrow Show, where you can get actionable results-oriented insight and advice on how to take your leadership, communication and people skills to the next level and become the kind of leader people want to follow. And now, your host and leadership development strategist, Halelly Azulay.

Halelly: Welcome back to the TalentGrow Show. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist here with episode 28, featuring my friend and colleague Kathy Albarado. I can’t wait for you to hear this one because Kathy has a triple perspective on leadership, which is kind of unique and she’s a leader in her own right. She’s built a successful company. She leads many people on her staff, and so she has lots of leadership lessons to share. But, her company provides HR outsourcing and consulting to other businesses, so she is constantly in the business of coaching leaders on how to make their companies successful and how to create the right kind of culture. And, she has developed an awards show for excellence in employee development and employee engagement in the Washington, D.C., area, and so she for 10 years now has been on the front edge of what’s successful in leadership. So, she has this triple whammy perspective on how we can become better leaders. The specifics that we talk about that I can’t wait for you to hear is Kathy’s interesting path and how she thinks an emotional decision is what helped her kick off her success with her company, and I think it’s more of a courageous one. She’s also very passionate about culture and she explains why culture is so important, but more importantly she share specific advice for how you can build the right culture in your business and with your team. And she also shares advice for why and how to seek clarity and why and how to seek feedback. And she gives really good specific information for the framework for how to do it, stories, examples – I love it. I can’t wait for you to hear this episode, and as always, I want to hear from you at the end. So hang out until the end, go to the show notes, give me some comments, ask me some questions, share some relevant stories and/or you can email me – halelly@talentgrow.com or you can tweet at me @HalellyAzulay on Twitter – but please. Share, join the conversation. Here is episode 28. Here we go.

Okay, we’re back with Kathy Albarado, founder and CEO of Helios, an award-winning human capital management and recruiting firm. She has 25 years of experience practicing in both large and small to medium sized organizations, and she has been quoted in the Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, the New York Times and many other places. Kathy, welcome to the TalentGrow Show.

Kathy: Thank you so much Halelly. I’m happy to be here.

Halelly: I'm really happy that you are here, and thank you for agreeing to share about your knowledge as well as your experience with my listeners. And one of the first things we always do on the TalentGrow Show is just to give a very high-level overview of your professional journey, how you’ve gotten from where you started to where you are today?

Kathy: Well sure. Well, it’s funny. When we talk about professional journey and career path, that’s a term we’ve certainly in the human capital profession have heard for many years, and I always feel like when I think of my career path, I feel like it was something that chose me. It wasn’t something that I chose. I have an undergrad in psychology. I always say, also, knowing what we don’t want to do is equally important as knowing what we do want to do. And sometimes, more important. And so with an undergrad in psychology, I knew that I didn’t want to go down the path of clinical work. And so once I made that discovery, I thought, “What do you do?” I sort of jokingly say sometimes, “What do you do with an undergrad in psychology?” And the answer is whatever you can! It was interesting. I spent a year in retail management, and while I was doing that, I went back to school and took some graduate courses. This was just when the Society for Human Resource Management wasn’t even called SHRM then, it was ASPA, the American Society of Personnel Administration. So human capital certainly wasn’t in our vocabulary, and HR was just coming into our vocabulary.

But I took some classes that I really enjoyed and I thought, “I’m going to try that.” I applied for a lot of entry-level opportunities and there was somebody that gave me a chance, and his name was Mark Davis. He gave me a chance. He had an opening for an entry-level recruiter, and he hired me, I believe, not because of my experience, but because he saw something in me that he thought was capable. He knew I would be capable of doing this job, and in fact we had such a great interview and we connected really well, I went back to my employer and I immediately tendered my resignation. They said, “Oh, when do you start your job?” And I said, “I haven’t gotten an offer yet, but I want to prepare you because I know I’m going to get the offer,” and it was funny. So when Mark called a week later, he was surprised I could start my career a little more accelerated than he anticipated. That really gave me this foundation, so as a specialist – as the recruiter I became a specialist in recruiting – and then it was a large company and I was able to really expand and get more generalist skills as an HR generalist and really enjoyed the opportunity there. I was there for four years. And then my career ended up really taking the path of I had progressively responsible roles, management roles, leadership roles, in human resources, and had the opportunity to work for a couple of CEOs in organizations and really enjoyed that. Got to learn operations.

One of the companies I worked for – in fact, the company I worked for before I launched what has become Helios HR today – if you’ve ever worked for an organization and for leaders that you just love and you connect with the culture and you feel like it doesn’t feel like work, that’s where I was. And the owner sold to a publicly trading company when the market softened in the late 90s, and that transaction is ultimately what ended up being the launch of what’s become Helios today. So, because our culture fits, we’re so diametrically opposed, I tendered my resignation and did not have a Plan B. In fact, I was a single mom at the time with a 3-year-old daughter. It was not something that I would advise people to do at all! It was a purely emotional decision, and I did it because I was so frustrated and I saw this lovely culture that we had built just kind of really be no longer appreciated and being changed and altered very quickly.

So when you make a decision like that, it forces you to have a plan really quickly, and ultimately that decision is what launched Helios. So instead of going back to work for somebody, I decided what I wanted to do was to work with other executives, what I call enlightened leaders, who really understand the importance of culture and its power, and they don’t always know what that means or how to get it in alignment, but they really believe in its value. And I just decided I wanted to work with other executives like that and I’m fortunate enough that we get to do a lot of that at Helios.

Halelly: It’s an amazing story, and I love it because I think that you and I just talked a little bit before we started recording about how I’ve got this lens of courage now on my work, where I’m constantly seeing both the presence and the lack of courage in people’s everyday lives and decisions. And that was a very courageous decision. You’re saying it was an emotional decision, but I think it was a courageous decision, that even though you didn’t really have a safety net, you felt very strongly that you wanted to work in a certain way and that you didn’t want to compromise that, and you believed in yourself and in your capabilities to build something that would work for you, even though you weren’t exactly sure how it would work. So I hear that in your story and I applaud it, because look at what you’ve created. Now, you have an organization that was just recognized as, you received the Corporate Culture award for your own company in 2015 from the Washington Smart CEO magazine, so not only are you focused on helping the other companies, your clients, build a good culture, but you’re doing it yourself – you’re modeling the way in the way that you’ve done it. So I’d love for you to just speak briefly about how you’ve done that and why do you think culture is so important that leaders should really pay attention to it?

Kathy: Thank you for that opportunity to share that. I feel passionate about culture being so critical. And you know, there are good cultures and there are bad cultures – they’re not all good cultures. Culture, I don’t know who said this quote but I’ve heard it repeatedly – culture eats strategy for lunch. And it’s more powerful than having a brilliant strategy. Because a strategy can fall apart in the execution if the culture is diseased. And the right culture attracts the right people to the organization, and a culture should also repel the wrong people from the organization. Culture is how we get things done. It’s what are the norms and behaviors in an organization? And so when leaders are clear, and they have clarity on articulating their culture and a vision for what it will look like and should look like, and then when they take that further, and they can define the behaviors that demonstrate their culture, a lot of times it breaks down and we don’t really talk about behaviors. But if they can define the behaviors, and then they can look for those people that fit their organizational culture, that is so incredibly powerful. When we have that alignment. And that’s what I’ve had the opportunity to experience that, and not only for prior employers, but in building Helios, that was my vision. I wanted to create a place where people came to work where it doesn’t feel like work. We talk about full, bring your whole self to work. So when you come to work, you still are somebody’s spouse and sibling and friend and child, and those responsibilities take priority, many, many times. Just like when you leave the Helios office or it’s a weekend, you’re still a member of the Helios team. So if a client needs something or a team member needs support, we expect you to give that as well. And so building that, we’re very clear about our culture. So don’t come work for us if you tend to compartmentalize your life, because it doesn’t work here. That prevents us from being able to fully support you and it prevents you from being able to be fully engaged.

So when you get clarity on your culture, and what’s expected in your culture, and when you talk about the things that you believe, you attract the people who believe what you believe. And so we have this amazing group of people. I mean, the energy, they’re engaged, they’re committed, they’re connected. They’re a ton of fun to be around. And it just makes it so it’s not even, I tell the team all the time – the word “work,” I don’t even like that word because it has a negative connotation to it, right?

Halelly: Unfortunately it now does!

Kathy: So we need a new vocabulary. Because it’s not work when you’re so aligned with the culture and you enjoy what you’re doing. When you come everyday, or you give yourself everyday, it’s not work, if you’re doing what you were meant to do, if you’re in an environment that completely supports you. And so culture is so powerful. You know, you hear the words “employee engagement,” well, people aren’t engaged if they’re not the right fit for the culture. Or if it’s not a good culture. Culture can be unhealthy as well, and I think there are so many people who are really focused on developing really strong organizational cultures that it’s encouraging. We’ve seen more work and more awareness of how powerful that can be.

Halelly: And it really is something that you are the leader of your organization, and you set the tone. But it has to kind of trickle down all the way through the organization for it to really take hold. So I’m hearing in what you’re talking about that recruiting the right people and having a lens of what’s the culture here and what’s the fit for our culture is one of the ways that you can ensure that you have the same culture throughout the organization. Because don’t you find that sometimes there’s a disconnect between – and this is something that I talked about in my previous podcast with Chip Joyce – don’t you feel sometimes there’s a disconnect between what the senior-most leaders think their culture is or say their culture is and what people within their organization experience the culture as?

Kathy: Oh, that’s a great point. That’s a great point! They say if you really want to know what your culture is, how do people talk about it when they don’t think they’re being heard? How do people talk about it at the water cooler over a cup of coffee, or if they’re having a drink at happy hour? Which could be very different than how some of the leadership team experiences it. Or they have a perception that it’s one way and it’s not. So for that reason, I think doing regular touch points and check-ins with the team is really important to get that reality. It’s asking for feedback, right? As leaders, we need to ask for feedback, I think, to get that alignment, and to just continue to grow personally and professionally.

Halelly: So can you give us a little bit more of a concrete example of what might that look like? So for you, how do you do that?

Kathy: We work with folks that are new to Helios and we’re ensuring that the onboarding process operates, that we’re getting feedback on their onboarding process. So we’re asking for feedback twice in their first three months of employment with Helios, just to ensure that we feel like they have the tools they need to be successful. Is this the job you thought you were signing up for? And then we subsequently, ongoing on a regular basis, we touch base with our team members twice a year also. And so it’s different from the performance management process. So performance management process is more of a coaching process, where we allow them to come to us first, and the individual will basically for an hour talk about what they want us to hear, and the leader or supervisor just listens. And then they come back a second time and the manager speaks and gives their observations and then they come back a third time together and they develop an individual development plan together. So we gather feedback in that sense, but it’s very specific about their performance. On this other way, what we’re doing is we’re being intentional about check-in. So what is it that gest you excited to come to work everyday? When you get excited, what is it that gets you excited? Does that continue to get you excited? What can we do to help your professional development? When was the last time you looked or thought about applying for another job? That is a scary question to ask somebody and you know? They answer that, directly!

Halelly: They do? Wow.

Kathy: They do, so it’s so cool because you’d rather know that and what’s triggering that than not know that.

Halelly: That is something that is key, but I believe that it’s because you’ve created that culture. So it kind of has this sort of cyclical relationship, both positive and negative. If you build the right culture, then people trust you enough to answer that question honestly and to actually talk about it. And they probably trust you enough because you regularly ask them and show that you’re interested in hearing about it and you don’t freak out when they tell you. So it’s almost like a chicken and the egg kind of thing, which one comes first?

Kathy: I think trust, you have to have a foundation of trust in an organization to expect honest feedback. And when you get feedback you don’t like, there can’t be any retribution for that, right?

Halelly: Right. Really! And leaders have to really pay attention to it. So one of the things that also is really impressive about you – I think you’re generally a very impressive leader because you are not only building a company that helps leaders, but you are a leader in your own company and a leader in the community – and something that you did which I think is remarkable is you saw that there were some best practices out there in how to build the right culture. Especially as people focus on developing employees, and there was no good way to recognize it and to celebrate it and to share insights from it in the Washington, D.C. area so you built an award program. You just went out and did it! “Okay, no one is doing it, let me do it!” And you created this magnificent thing called the Apollo awards. I was lucky to meet you because you invited me to be one of the judges on that back in, I don’t know when, 2007 or 2008. I was a judge for two years. This is such an amazing program that you’ve built. What do you think is the most important impact that it’s had, given how man years has it been going on now?

Kathy: So this is our 10th season.

Halelly: Congratulations.

Kathy: We just got some very exciting news. The applications are closing this week, and we already have over 200 fully completed applications in the process, which is amazing. So the team is very excited and it’s very exciting. And to your point, we created it because really, we were seeing good work being done in the community and there didn’t seem to be a vehicle to recognize it, for this specifically. What people were doing, investing in their employees and their talent, in talent management and employee development. It was very intentional decision that leaders were making to invest in their people and we wanted to give them a forum to highlight those practices. And it has really evolved significantly over the last 10 years to now become what I would consider really more of a community. You know, we had the vision for it to be a community and not just a reporting out. And we saw barriers break down and even companies that were direct competitors to come together and share their practices. And so now over the years, we have hundreds of leaders and organizations that have been participating in this process, and the community has really come together. So there’s a lot of collaboration. So when you ask about the impact of the program, it’s gone beyond a recognition platform and really developed into a community where people are sharing content, they’re collaborating and they’re making really meaningful connections. So that is so great to see. It’s great to see the impact from pulling and bringing everybody together, and their willingness to collaborate and share.

Halelly: It’s been amazing and you have different categories for different sized organizations. So you are acknowledging that employee development is going to look very different in a company that has five people versus a company that has 5,000 or more. So, I think it’s very uplifting that you allow people to compete with others that are in the same size category so that in a way, you really are creating the tide that raises all the boats. And the community that shares with each other and how they can each not only strive to be better each year, so that they can get this recognition, but ultimately to learn from each other about what else is possible. So in a way, everyone is growing from it, which is just remarkable.

Kathy: And everybody wants to share. They want to tell their stories, they want to share. And so I tell everyone, every year at the event, if you just walk away with just one new piece of information that you can implement in your organization or one life you can impact, then it will have been a success. And we hear that type of sharing going on repeatedly. So it is pretty exciting. We’ve got a great community here in Washington. People want to share, we just need to ask them to!

Halelly: Right, and create the platform. You built, you became a conduit for that, because nothing existed. I love that about you, and about other, I guess, entrepreneurial types of people that you see that something is needed and you throw yourself into building it, rather than just complaining about it missing. So good for you! And thank you for doing that.

Kathy: Thank you! It was so fun to have you as judge. You were an awesome judge. Any time you’d like to participate, we’d love to have you back.

Halelly: Thank you. It was really fun and I did learn a lot from it. So, as I said, you are a leader in your own right, within your own organization, as well as someone who constantly interacts with leaders and helps them up their game. Leaders are not perfect. There’s no one right way to do leadership. But there are some common mistakes that leaders are making that they can avoid, or that they can fix. What would you say is like one of the most common leadership mistakes that you see or maybe that you’ve made, that you’re passionate about helping leaders avoid or recover from?

Kathy: Oh, I appreciate the opportunity to answer that question. You know, I think leaders sometimes underestimate their impact. They fail to realize that they speak through a microphone. Not a microphone, but a megaphone. So when they talk, people really pay attention to what they say. When they have a bad day, people internalize it and they think, “Oh my gosh, so-and-so walked by me and they didn’t say hello.” People think it’s about them! As opposed to maybe somebody is really just having a bad day. And so I think it puts an added expectation on leaders to really be focused on how they show up. And that can be exhausting. They have to recognize that and they have to be responsible for that, because it is a big responsibility. And people often misinterpret their actions. And so the thing that flows from that for me, then, is clarity. Just give clarity. Seek clarity. People may not always ask for it, and they could be operating on false assumptions. So always seek clarity. Ask people to repeat back what they think you’ve heard or what they think you want them to know. And just not be afraid to get clarity.

Halelly: Got it. It’s almost like when you were describing that, I was sort of envisioning a metaphor of like the leaders are on this reality show, where the camera is following you everywhere, and you’re on. Everybody can see all of your facial expressions, all of your reactions. And so you have to constantly be on and be on, I guess, role appropriate all the time.

Kathy: Yes. And you know, I remember when I was in corporate and I worked for two separate CEOs, and they very much appreciated the fact that when they were around me, they could just be themselves. Like we had this kind of agreement that I wouldn’t judge them and they would be able to be comfortable and, again, that takes a lot of trust to be able to do that. But it gave them an outlet, so they didn’t always have to be on, all the time.

Halelly: This I think is why people really need to have a source of support. One of my previous guests on the show – you might know him, Jonathan Smith, the chief optimizer? He was talking about how you need to have a mentor or coach and you need to have a board of advisors. You need people with whom you can be real and not have to constantly continue almost like being an on act, so that you can get real feedback, but also let your guard down.

Kathy: I agree. I think it’s so helpful to have a support group, whether it’s a formal board of advisors, or it’s an organization like Vistage, or it’s just somebody in your organization or even if it’s friends. People need to be, they need to be surrounded by people that will tell them what they need to hear, and not just what they want to hear.

Halelly: For sure. And the higher you rise up in an organization, the less you get that kind of input, right? CEO disease.

Kathy: Absolutely.

Halelly: So we’re coming up on time – which is my least favorite part of the podcast, when we have a deadline to end at a certain point – so what is new and exciting for you? You are an executive, you are a philanthropist, you are a networker, you are constantly involved in a million things. What’s got your attention these days and has you real excited?

Kathy: So I am real excited – the timing is perfect – I am involved in an organization through Leadership Mission International, and it’s called The Learning Center, which is a school, an entrepreneurial school for young women in Honduras. And Honduras has the second-highest poverty level in the world, right behind Haiti. And so the way to change that in their country is by empowering women to have more businesses. And what The Learning Center does is it teaches entrepreneurship and leadership, and then after a three-year program, these young women go off and they create businesses. I was able to meet one of the women – a couple of them came here a year ago. They were so cute! One has launched a pharmacy and the other has launched a school supply business, because people don’t have access to school supplies. Because transportation is so challenging, so it might take them a day to get to a school supply facility. And so people just do without. And so having it local, having a business like that local, so she’s now been operating for a year. She has internet, offers internet services, and it’s been a very popular and needed offering in her village. So I’m excited. I have met these young women and I have contributed, but I have not gotten to see them. So I’m actually leaving next week to go to Honduras to conduct some mentoring and sessions and really just do what I can do to contribute. I will ultimately involve the Helios team. They’ve met some of these young women when they had the chance to come here, so I’m passionate about that mentoring aspect. I think it can really make a difference in another community.

Halelly: Wow. That sounds, it is something exciting! I can’t wait to hear how that went when you return. I’m sure I’m going to see some of the pictures as well. I hope you’ll take a lot of pictures. That’s very cool, kudos to you Kathy. So, we always end with you telling how to get in touch with you. But before we do that, I always ask my guests to share one specific action that listeners can take today or this week that you think can really help them ratchet up their own leadership skills. What would you recommend they do? Something very actionable.

Kathy: You know, I recommend something good for everybody, I think we should all ask for feedback. Ask for feedback. And ask for it often. And listen to what you’re told. Listen to what you hear. Really listen to it, and see what you’re going to do with that feedback. I think when we really hear feedback about ourselves, it can change our lives and our trajectory if we choose to accept it.

Halelly: Excellent. So ask for feedback. Do you think that there’s a specific person, a type of person, or a specific way in which it works really well?

Kathy: You know, I think it can be really simple. We don’t have to make it overly complex. And if we explain why we’re asking. I’d like to develop professionally or I’d like to develop personally or I’d really like to know if somebody thinks they have a specific struggle, they could certainly ask about that. Somebody says, “You know, I question my own communication skills. When I talk to you, am I being clear? Do I give you enough clarity?” And they might be surprised about that. So we can be very specific, or it can be just general, in terms of as a leader, as you view me as a leader or in order for you to view me as a stronger leader, what recommendations would you give me? What one specific or two specific actions or what observations have you made? And I think people would be willing to share that if they feel comfortable. If there’s trust in that relationship.

Halelly: Yes. I love that you said, “What’s one specific?” I’ve heard that recommendation and I think it’s really a useful frame. Not to just say general, like, “Hey, can you give me feedback?” Which puts the person in an awkward position, it’s too broad. But when you ask, “What’s one specific thing that I can do to improve X,” whatever it is that you’re trying to work on, then it helps them think narrowly and more likely they’re going to think of something. But that idea that if they trust you they’ll give it to you, I think it’s really important for leaders who are doing this and I believe that you are giving such really important advice. The best way to do it, to achieve that kind of feedback, is to know that you probably, with some people, will need to ask for it repeatedly. You might not get their best response right out the gate if it’s something that you’re just newly introducing, because they’re not yet sure if you’re serious or not. You have to actually show up as asking for it again and again, over time, to believe that you’re open to it.

Kathy: Absolutely. And I think what’s important is first sharing the “why.” Why are you asking for feedback? To further frame it I think is helpful as well.

Halelly: Excellent. Good, I hope people will take you up on that action and do it this week. So, Kathy, thank you for being on the TalentGrow Show. I appreciate your contribution. How can people learn more about you and stay in touch?

Kathy: So we have a lot of information on our website, which is HeliosHR.com. Occasionally I’ll write a blog post – I’m not nearly as disciplined about it as you are, Halelly, but I do have a couple up there. And certainly through LinkedIn. So I encourage you, if you’d like to connect on LinkedIn, please mention the podcast. I think that’s always helpful to have a frame of reference of how we were connected. And I’d be happy to connect.

Halelly: Super. Good. And I will share those links in the show notes for the podcast for sure. So I appreciate your time. And those listening, I hope you make today great. Thanks Kathy.

Kathy: Thank you.

Halelly: Wasn’t that great advice? I love it. I love how specific she gets. But here’s the kicker – if you don’t actually go do this, it’s not going to really help you. Because it’s nice as an intellectual exercise to listen to it, but let’s face it – it’s only when you actually put these things to work for you that they will work for you. So you need to promise me, you need to take the action, okay? All right.

So go check out the show notes, because that’s where I have links of how to get in touch with Kathy and her blog, and the Apollo awards. And the various other podcast episodes and blogs and things we’ve mentioned. And of course that’s where you can leave a comment and join the conversation and that’s where you can click the link really easily to go to iTunes to subscribe to this show, to give us a rating and review to help us get discovered some more by other people who could also find this helpful. Thank you for listening. I really appreciate you and in the meantime, make today great.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the TalentGrow Show, where we help you develop your talent to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. For more information, visit TalentGrow.com.

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