REVUP Your Potential - Hilda Gan

hr potential Jun 01, 2021
Mark Struczewski, Hilda Gan

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Hilda Gan is a serial entrepreneur who successfully built her HR Consulting business based on creating a Best Workplace in Canada with her husband (which was top 10 twice). The Connect with REVUP approach is a result of that success.

Mark Struczewski
Hilda Gan. Welcome to the show.

Hilda Gan
Thank you, Mark. A pleasure to be here.

Mark Struczewski
You know, what's funny is I always ask my guests: If you have a complicated last name, let me know how to say it. And you said, Gan, like can like, man, so I don't think I can mess that up. But I bet you get people calling you Hilda Gun, don't you?

Hilda Gan
Gone? Gan, gone? I'm going, really, there are just three letters to it.

Mark Struczewski
How could they possibly mess it up? Anyways, I'm thrilled you're here. Why don't you take about 20 seconds or so to tell us who you are and what you do?

Hilda Gan
Well, I'm a human resources specialist, particularly in work culture, and I have a passion for helping businesses really understand people and the assets that people do, creating strong foundations. It's based on the success my husband and I had, we had an engineering company that grew to 125 people, seven offices across Canada. And we became an engineering firm, and we became one of the best workplaces in Canada, top 10 twice. And you know, engineers, they're good technically. But, you know, maybe the people skills are not quite so honed. So to become a best workplace in Canada means my husband had an idea. We created it. And we hired the people that really built a place where people love to come to work, and they loved the challenges that they were getting in their professional lives.

Mark Struczewski
Now, this month, because now this is June 1, I will turn 56 years old, I don't like to say turn because I'm not like milk turning sour, I'm celebrating birthday number 56. But I remember back in the 70s and 80s. When I was growing up, engineers were like in their short-sleeved dress shirts with the pocket protector and these weird glasses. Has that evolved? Are they more hip-looking now?

Hilda Gan
I think they still care about just being earthy, right? I remember being in an event. That was a safety event. So there were engineers, and there was me in the engineering business. They were wearing corduroy suits, the women were wearing black and white and green and I thought oh my god, you know, very, very conservative. I mean, they're there they run the full gamut, you know, there are those that are, are very, very conscious about what they wear. And they're really good. And then there's another thing, I'm not here to dress up, I'm here to feel comfortable. And I'm here to solve problems. And that's what they do. So it's evolving, but it's more or less the same. And COVID COVID means everybody's earthy, like, I've got very earthy pants right now.

Mridu Parikh
Well, I'm the same way. About six months before COVID hit, I made a decision. I made a corporate decision for my company of one that'd be me. And I said I'm not doing the suits anymore. I'm not doing the dress shoes. I show up in a polo shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Because I realized, are you buying what's between my ears? Or are you buying my wardrobe? And guess what? Not a single person said anything about it. So I was out wearing this suit. And no one cared what I was wearing. I mean, I'm sure if I came up you know rip shirt and jeans and looking filthy. They would say that's too extreme, but nobody cared. People want to hire someone who can help them move the ball forward. And I'm so glad that we're becoming, to use your word, more earthy, we're becoming, this is who I am. And I want to be comfortable when I'm on stage for 60-90 minutes or 2 hours. I want to be comfortable. I don't want to feel like I'm in a straightjacket. So I'm glad to see that things are evolving. So let's talk about HR in the world of COVID. Because this all started in February, March of 2020. Here we are in June 2021. A lot of America has reopened up I know a lot of the other places in the world have not; some people are working home remotely, temporarily. Some are permanently. So how do you see the HR landscape in the world of COVID?

Hilda Gan
Well, you know, certainly those companies that are our frontline, and they're open, those continue to be open. But many companies, you know, we're working remotely. And statistics are showing that people want a hybrid solution. You know, they want to come to work, but they also want to be at home. And interestingly enough, it's even the introverts. You would think the introverts would say nope, that's it. I don't have to go to work anymore. But the introverts are saying no, I want to come to work. And their definition is come to work on my own terms. You know, I don't need to socialize with everybody. But I need to socialize when I want to socialize, I want to see people. And I need that connection. So it's interesting that way. Second of all, you'll see the ratio of hybrid work approximately about two to three days at home two to three days at the office. And that seems to be where the studies are showing. So companies need to think about how do I get ready for a hybrid work situation. And one of the things that I've been sharing and doing webinars on is, think about the employee experience, you know, we talk about customer experience, and when we're marketing, we want our customers to feel, you know, that process that flow that they feel like they belong. Well, if you want to keep your employees in 2021 and beyond, you need to think about the employee experience now. Because if you don't, people are going to leave. Statistics are showing, and it depends on the studies, but anywhere from 25 to 60% of employees are thinking of leaving, and why? Yeah, that's amazing to me. And if you're a small company, can you have 10 people, that means two, four, maybe even six people are going to leave your company. And what it is, is that during covid-19, if people felt you didn't care about them, if you didn't take an interest in them, and you add it to the stress, they can hardly wait to get out. Those companies that showed loyalty to their employees, that they cared about them, they're going to think twice, I'm enjoying it here, this is great. So you're going to find people that feel disconnected, wanting to leave. So that's number one. Number two, though, we've been at home, we've been at home, we're pausing, we're reflecting on our career, what is it that I want out of my life, and now they see possibilities because they don't have to go into an office, they can work remotely from hundreds of miles away from a different state, from a different province, from a different country. It's all possible. So people are going to leave anyway. So it behooves business owners, companies to think about how they're going to keep employees now. So that employee experience is really good. And companies need to think about how do I make my employees feel that they have a place here where they're cared for?

Mridu Parikh
But let me ask you a question about the hybrid concept because my wife is a travel agent. And they're beginning to introduce the hybrid approach. But I think that part of that has to go with the cost because her company owns the building that they reside in. And so you don't want everyone going remote, even though in her company, everyone could go remote, because then what are they going to do with their property? So do you think that's part of the problem that companies own these buildings? And if everybody works remotely, who's going to fill the space?

Hilda Gan
Well, I think I think the fact is, it makes practical sense to have a hybrid because people who own the building have to do something with it. And second of all, people do want to come back. So it's interesting because I'm doing a webinar later this month on the employee experience and looking at what does that hybrid mean? And one of the things is, number one, it's the cyber, cybersecurity, and the IT aspects. Number two is the space issue, you know, the very thing your wife's talking about, the company owns the space, what are they going to do about it? And what they're thinking is, if I'm going to work by myself, I'm going to do that at home, when I come in, I can still do that, but that shouldn't be the primary focus of the day. So in this hybrid environment, you need to think about how do I make that workspace productive, when we come to work, I'm not coming to work just to put my computer there and work by myself. So companies need to think about how will I use that space and they need to think about using that space collaboratively, and to be doing team building, fostering, or staff meetings. So you'll find fewer workstations and more collaborative space, a think tank area, a living room environment, meeting spaces, and that's what they're doing and some of the companies, your real estate agents, US base issue companies will help guide that to say, what what's your workflow, like? What do you need? What's your employee experience? So here are suggestions for the kinds of work environment you'll have based on the kinds of needs. I hope that answers what you're you were asking.

Mridu Parikh
No, it did because before COVID hit, they had every floor of the building full of agents. And then COVID hit and of course, they sell cruises, which was decimated. Now it's coming back and they're starting to sell cruises and people are going on cruises again. But for a while there, they had a very skeletal crew, because people were still calling in, hey, can I book a cruise for 2022? Can I get a refund? And now they're starting to hire people back because I think we're getting ready to start going back to some sense of normalcy. But you look at people like or companies like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, they say that there are some employees that used to come in. Now they have the option of working from home permanently. And I think it took COVID to shake people up and go yeah, why are we having these people come in, because maybe get a smaller building, of course, they have to have insurance for all those employees if they fall at work or stuff like that. So I gotta imagine that and correct me if I'm wrong here, if COVID didn't happen, I think there wouldn't be as many remote workers now, even though remote workers were ticking up. I think COVID really jolted the industry worldwide to start thinking about remote work. Am I on track?

Hilda Gan
Oh, you're so right on that there were companies that did their analysis pieces, I won't mention who they are, they did their analysis pieces, and they announced it to the staff, we have done our research and there, we will continue to work in the office remote is not a possibility. And then, you know, a month later, two months later, everybody's working from home, and they had to really bite their tongue on that. Right. So yes, I think, you know, people realize what they're doing. And so a lot of companies, particularly large companies are really thinking about, how do we balance remote and hybrid? And I think the dilemma is, is how does an organization transition to that? A lot of managers were really caught not knowing how to manage staff remotely? You know, I would hear conversations from some of my clients who said, well, you know, I don't know how we're going to do this, how can we manage remotely and still keep an eye on what they're doing? And so there was this lack of trust and the questions, I'm afraid, how do I balance, kind of showing concern, but still managing them well enough. So they do the work. So you hear the words micromanage, right. And I think the sad thing is that those people who were good managers still fell out of their elements, those people who were micromanagers and, and probably, you know, kind of yelled from time to time, they would have been even worse. And one of the things that when I started my company, People Bright, I really wanted to give people the opportunity to do a better job of managing their people. And to me, the Human Resources aspect, your people are your greatest assets. And studies and data show, Forbes magazine, and top 100 companies, those companies that really care about the people aspects, their profits, and their sales are two to three times those companies who see people as a commodity. You know, that's a statistic that's proven. And my husband and I were part of the Great Workplace Institute, which is like 66 countries or more that are saying, hey, look at my company, what do you think, and the top 50, top 100 in, in America, in Brazil, in Spain, in Canada, these are the companies that care about people as assets. And so when I started the company, I really wanted to help people be better. And one of those keys is people management. You know, like I said engineers are not great people managers. And a lot of people aren't. We often get promoted because we were doing a good job technically or we were managing the project. Studies are showing that the average age of a person getting their first managerial job is around 36. Some will get it earlier in their 20s and some will get it later but the average is 36 And the average for a person to get educated on how to manage people is four years later, so can you imagine the mistakes that you're going to make for four years? The habits you're going to learn for four years? So one of the things I did was, I thought, Why were we successful? What did we do? And how do I articulate that to people? And I created an acronym, that that really helps people understand simply what can I do as a leader to help manage people? And the concept is called REVUP. So this is this energy of how do I rev up potential? How do I rev up my team? How do I rev up managers to be better managers? And rev up isn't just to like, let's make it better. Let's energize it. Let's uplift people. It's actually an acronym. It's an acronym for five keywords that will help people rev up, their companies rev up their team rev up the managers. So rev up stands for Respect; treat people the way they want to be treated. Equality; think of people as equal to another. And the way I look at it is my job at my company is just as important as your job and your job. So nobody should be puffed up to say, hey, I'm the VP. And you're not, right. Your job as a VP is to strategically think, bring in business, and keep it running. My job as HR is to make sure that people come to work and enjoy it. Your job as the printer is to make sure the print jobs are good and clear and, and presented on time so that they're inputted into a proposal that will make a difference. Any of us can screw up. And so as a team, we need to look at each other as equals. The third thing is Valued. This is the recognition piece. When you make people feel valued, they remember that and they feel good about themselves. The fourth thing is, what I say is the centerpiece, is Uniqueness. Think of all of us as unique people, we have different backgrounds, different experiences, different education, and different things that we're good at. Like if I asked you what your superpower was, that's what you're really good at. So why wouldn't you look at each of your employees and look for their uniqueness, look for that superpower? And then as a manager, as a business owner, you have the power to and the last word is Potential, you have the power to tap into that potential, and to raise the bar for that person. And that's what we did at iTrends, which was the company my husband and I had, we looked at our engineers and our all of our staff, and looked at what they were good at, and looked at that potential and help foster their potential growth. And through that, we hired people who became ambassadors of this process. And in the end, I looked at what we had created, and it wasn't just my husband and me creating this. All of our staff were ambassadors of creating a place where people wanted to come to work, and people felt that they were valued and that they were given a chance to continue to grow and develop and be nurtured.

Mark Struczewski
Wow, that I love that acronym of REVUP. Respect, equality, value, uniqueness and potential. I want to ask you I want to make make a statement here. This goes back to something you talked about a few minutes ago, and I want to know your thoughts on it. Okay, so this is going to be an open-ended question for you. Not everyone can work from home. What say you? Agree or disagree?

Hilda Gan
Not everyone can work from home. I agree. For sure.

Mark Struczewski
Give us your thoughts on that.

Hilda Gan
So I think some people really love being at work. For them, it may be the people, it may be that piece of quiet. Right now in COVID times, in my household, there are five of us and in the early days, we were tripping over each other because we didn't know what to do. But even now, we still have to make sure that we're balanced. Some people have children at home. So it is very stressful to try to manage all this stuff. So I think different personalities really, really work well at home. But again, I'm using the introvert as an example. You'd think they would just love to work at home, and that's it, they still need human contact, they still want to come to work. So I think one of the things we misjudged, too, was the younger generation or other people who were single. And they lived in a 30-floor, apartment building at the top, afraid to go down the elevators every day, with no balcony. Right? And what did they have, they had no fresh air, they had just a window to look at, they were starting to suffer social isolation. And so I think people, even when we come back, post-COVID, some people will not be able to survive working at home. Remember, I'm a serial entrepreneur. So I had one particular business and I'm a people person. So I was home so much, I found it really interesting. I had to at least have one event a week, where I could speak to somebody, you know, go out and get in a car and drive and speak to people. So each one of us, again, is unique in our own ways. And we need to think about what is what it is. So I would say a lot of people can't work from home. And I think all of us are buggy. Right now. Like we're bug-eyed in that we just got to get back out there we got it, we got to feel that human touch. I know the first little while we're not gonna be able to hug too deeply. But I think the first real hug of a colleague that I can hug because not everyone you can hug will feel so good to me. I can hardly wait for that to happen.

Mark Struczewski
I think some people what's the word I'm looking for? Like discipline-wise. That's not the right word. I can't think of the word I'm looking for. But they don't have the discipline to work remotely. Because these are the people if they're working remotely, they're going to be on their phones, are going to be on Facebook, they will be playing video games, they need to be in office. One of my clients actually is in the situation that there are people in their company that they need to be where you can walk by the office and make sure they're actually working on tasks. If they're in their home, you don't know if they're working. I mean, are they goofing off? Are they working? So I think when it comes to, I don't want to say maturity, but I can't think of the word right now. Some people are just not; they need micromanaging, some people need to be saying, hey, Sally, how are you doing? John? How are you doing? I'm not saying they're bad employees; some people need to be constantly nudged along. The IMs, the emails that can be easily ignored. There's nothing better than your boss coming around in your office and going hey, how are things going? The physical presence? So what do you think about that?

Hilda Gan
So I think I will go back to the element of trust, what it's not what you do, it's how you do it and how you create trust like my wrap-up process is about creating trust. If you treat people with respect, and you treat them as equals, and you uplift them, and you look at their uniqueness. Creating a relationship with people will create a better working relationship and therefore productivity increases. What I found interesting is during the beginning of COVID, a lot of talk about you know, well, these people will be working from home, they're not going to get things done. And then three to six months later, he said, I see it. I know they're working hard. I know they're, they may go they may have to do homeschooling, but I know they're back on on the Internet at seven o'clock at night to get it done. And what people who micromanage need to do is take a step back, give people the freedom to do it, and show that they know how to. When you tell people what to do step by step. They then operate in a state of fear, in a state of self-doubt. Can I do this? And so what you're creating is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Well, I don't trust them. I need to micromanage them. And then I don't know if I'm doing a good job. The boss keeps telling me I can't do this, I can't do that. I don't know what to do. And so you know then people leave because they just can't take it anymore. What you need to do is you have the opportunity to connect with people, whether it's remotely or in the office. But during those opportunities, get to know that person a little bit better. That's that uniqueness piece and then create that real, healthy relationship. So that what people will do is do things for you, for themselves. And one of the things that I like to teach managers when I'm doing my REVUP training courses is that I talk about the word uplift, uplift is my 2021 word. As a leader, as a manager, as a business owner, you have the power to uplift your staff in two ways, their skills, and their confidence. When you uplift their skills, great job you did there, you know, I love the detail that you did, and the client's really happy. What does that do to the confidence, it boosts that up; then my confidence goes up, so I can learn more. And I know what he did was really good. And so it's like a ladder, I build confidence, I build skills, I build skills, I build confidence, and you have the power to do that. And you have the power to just knock it down just like that. What a crappy job that you know, that you're five minutes late for this? I mean, that's an exaggeration. But I wanted this on my desk yesterday. Well, did you really want it on your desk? Because you had a deadline that you wanted arbitrarily? Or was it a true deadline? Right, there was no partnership here. I'm telling you what to do. What does that do for my confidence, knocks it down a notch. The skill I did yesterday, so perfectly. Now, I'm second questioning because I don't have confidence. And then it just spirals down. So to me, the greatest power that a manager can do is to really develop a trusting relationship with their employees, and to uplift, build confidence, build skill. And so I challenged those people who micromanage to say, Can you do a better job of sharing what that person needs to do to succeed and support that success? Or if they didn't do it, have a dialogue that is more of a mentoring dialogue rather than a disciplinary dialogue.

Mark Struczewski
I love that. Boy, I tell you gave us so much to think about. I really appreciate all the insights. And I know people are excited about your conversation; where can we go to find out more about you and what you're doing in the world?

Hilda Gan
Well, I'm on LinkedIn, and I had the foresight to take away the silly numbers. So if you go into LinkedIn Hilda Gan, that's me You know, there won't be Hilda Gan, number 574321. My website is www peoplebrightconsulting.com. There's a wealth of knowledge there. I have a knowledge vault of over 30 plus webinars that I did during COVID-19. And lastly, I do have a podcast called REVUP Your Potential with Hilda Gan. It's for entrepreneurs who love to learn through stories, and I share the successes and struggles of entrepreneurs that really are trying to make it in the world. And then you can relate to that just as an entrepreneur. So that's three ways

Mark Struczewski
Hilda, thank you so much for being on the show today. It was an absolute thrill having you here.

Hilda Gan
Thank you for having me, Mark. I really really enjoyed having this opportunity to share my passion as you can tell that I'm very passionate about what I believe in. And I really want to help others be better and to rev up their potential.

 

Her website

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