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In this episode, HR Director Katia Olivera discusses the importance of understanding the “why” in HR and the need for curiosity in creating a positive work environment. She shares her experience in talent acquisition, employee relations, and change management, highlighting the benefits of helping managers understand the business and fostering growth within teams. Katia also emphasizes the value of curiosity in leadership, communication, and collaboration, and shares strategies for balancing curiosity without being confrontational.
The Importance of Understanding the Why in HR
Katia Olivera is an accomplished HR professional with a wealth of experience spanning various roles and industries. Currently serving as the Director of HR at TextUs, Katia has a track record of success in leadership, employee development, and creating inclusive cultures. Her career journey includes roles at companies like Uplight and Zayo Group, where she made significant contributions in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, diversity and inclusion, and recruitment. Katia holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and Economics from the University of Colorado Boulder, and she’s known for her strategic HR insights and commitment to driving organizational success. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of People Analytics:
- Surveys play a significant role in gathering insights and improving communication within the team.
- Flexibility and understanding each other’s perspectives contribute to a better working experience for everyone.
- Being playful and using phrases like “help me understand” can make curiosity more approachable.
- Building strong relationships and trust allows for more open and vulnerable conversations.
- HR’s role is evolving from rule-making to helping employees succeed and creating a sense of community.
- Growth is a two-way process, with everyone having the potential to learn and grow from each other.
- Asking questions can help us better understand and explore various topics.
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- 02:41 – “I think early on in my career, to be quite honest, I worked at an organization that didn’t necessarily explain to the team why they were doing things. And it was just more of a “hey, this is what we’re going to do”. And more of a “because I said so” type of culture or maybe they thought it was implied as to why we were doing things, but we were moving so quickly, people didn’t always understand why we were doing that. So it also felt, it didn’t feel authentic. Basically then I moved into another role; continue to move in my career and moved to another organization. I really started to understand there how important understanding the why was just to the culture and how the impact that it made with people at work and how they were producing their work.”
- 05:33 – “I think one thing that we really try to focus on is making sure that whenever we roll out a new idea, a new process, a new policy, for example, that we tell people why we’re doing it. So that’s the first thing. And then we give them some time before it’s actually rolled out, usually a couple of days up to a week. And then we roll it out officially and then we give them some time to really dig into the process or policy that we’ve rolled out. And then we’ll ask for feedback, we’ll ask for feedback in team meetings, we’ll ask for feedback at all hands, but then we’ll also ask for feedback via surveys.”
- 06:37 – “We do these regular, essentially regular check-ins or checkpoints within our entire team to make sure that what we’re trying to accomplish is actually working and that our team still feels aligned to that new process or policy. Like it still fits within our culture, obviously within reason. There are things that sometimes the government mandates us to do, but even then we will still continue to check in with our team members to get ideas from them. Because sometimes because they’re in the weeds, they actually have better ideas than me, for example. That’s more strategic and higher level.”
- 17:25 – “Because jobs and what we do, they’re so personal. It’s hours a day, five days a week, sometimes more depending on the person. So there can be a lot of feelings wrapped up in being asked a question that you know is about your work. Something that you’re so close with. So I really love how you’re kind of bringing down those walls of like defensiveness and it’s like: no, this is just kind of getting to something that will make us more successful in the long run.”
- 24:05 – Lindsay: “I know at the beginning of the conversation, you mentioned you love watching people grow and that’s an example, but in that example you gave, I saw you grew as well. So do you view growth as kind of a back and forth?”
Katia: “Yeah, I definitely think it is a back and forth. I mean, I learn from our individual contributors as much as I learned from our executive team, to be quite honest. And I think it’s just really interesting, because we all have different backgrounds and obviously we have different roles within the organization. And so to be able to see it from the different perspectives is really interesting.”