Discover how to build a thriving organizational culture and revolutionize your HR strategies as we sit down with Roza Szafranek, founder and CEO of HR Hints, and the author behind the groundbreaking book, Culturivy: The Power of a Changing Workplace. Roza, a maverick in the world of HR, shares her vision for business-driven HR, offering solutions to tidying up and establishing a rhythm within an organization. Roza’s innovative strategies and her dynamic toolkit for HR professionals will surely inspire you to approach your HR challenges with a different mindset.
We also delve into the intriguing world of data and patterns within organizations. Roza's enlightening insights on the power of data-driven decisions and understanding organizational patterns will surely equip you with the tools to make more effective HR decisions. Plus, discover the subtext of culture and how it can inform your decisions. We also explore the daunting world of AI in HR and the difficulty of replicating human engagement and inspiration. Roza's astute insights will guide you through this complex topic. Finally, be sure to join Roza’s exclusive Can't Wait List to be the first to hear all the details about her book and meetings. This is an episode packed with wisdom from one of the leading minds in HR innovation, definitely not to be missed.
Roza is an HR expert with psychological and managerial experience who has led tech companies from early startup through exit. She’s co-built successful startups and tech companies that were sold
to giants or are now publicly traded.
Her new book just launched:
Culturivy: The Power of Changing a Workplace,
which provides readers an in-depth look at global HR problems and how to build and maintain an organizational work culture.
Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work. Please connect to continue the conversation!
This is the Rebel HR Podcast, the podcast about all things innovation in the people's space. I'm Kyle Rode. Let's start the show. Welcome back, hr Rebels. Extremely excited for this week's show. It's every once in a while where we get a guest who is just a perfect fit for all of you to listen to. That focuses not only on the HR space, but also in how we innovate as a full-time job. With us today we have Rosa Schafronik. She is the founder and CEO of an organization called HR Hints, the first HR boutique operating on a subscription model trusted by a number of large companies worldwide. She is also the author of the book that has just been released. Extremely excited to get my hands on it. It is culture rive the power of changing a workplace. We're going to be talking about both her organization and the book. Rosa, welcome to the podcast.Speaker 1:
Thank you very, very much. I'm super excited to be here, yeah, and it's a super, super pleasure to talk to you and in Rebel.Speaker 2:
Absolutely, and the pleasure is all mine. So thank you for taking the time and for speaking to myself and for sharing some content with our listeners today. I want to start off by just understanding a little bit more about your background and what motivated you to found your organization, HR Hints and write a book.Speaker 1:
Yeah, I'm super, super happy to start from a little bit of context. So HR Hints is quite a young organization because we founded it in 2021, so two years ago actually and I decided to kick off the third company actually because it's my third company after exiting from shop owner that was sold to FedEx Corporation and that was the moment when I realized that, when it comes to the consulting and solving problems, especially in change management, in HR, in people management, the consulting is addressing only the part of challenge so giving someone the advice, giving the rules how work should be done, or like doing the audit but, on the other hand, we are still missing the part of being hands-on and realizing projects on a daily basis, hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs, with people who are building companies on behalf of VC, venture capital or private equity companies. So I decided to build a subscription model now because HR Hints is working in B2B subscription model, so we are getting into organizations and we are responsible as interim HR directors, managers, and, on the other hand, we are building teams. So that part that I was always missing in consulting and helping people in HR is, on one hand, addressing the need of taking care of people, but taking care of people, not in that style like, okay, let's organize additional event for the team or let's give them additional benefit, because of course it's nice but it's not solving the problems right Just to having the understanding of business-driven HR and how to tidy up the organization, how to build a rhythm, how to build the organization culture. So that was my goal, that was my calling when I was starting HR Hints and after a year of building HR Hints as a B2B company, we decided that we are kicking off another project that is called Culture Ivy and it's the methodology, it's the platform and the book that is just ready and live, as you said, and Culture Ivy is typically dedicated not only to business but basically to HR experts. So that's the methodology, build on more than 80 companies we were working with focused on three areas working with leaders, talent acquisition and people and culture. So cultural, organizational culture building. And we decided to kick off Culture Ivy as a platform, as a methodology, as a book, because we are having these three parts here just to support HR experts, to be to sit at the table, at the decision table, with business people, with funders, with leaders, because that's the state where we are as experts in HR, that for some people we are just companies psychologists to give the arm to cry on and there's nothing wrong about it, of course. But still, hr is having the business driven mission right and that's why we do both Culture Ivy and HR Hints just to have that sit, have that place at the decision table with C-Levels and to really have the real impact. Right to being able to measure HR, being able to bring the real value to the business, not only to strengthen this opposition between business and people, because there is not the opposition between these two. So that's the main goal and that's how we operate on a daily basis.Speaker 2:
Absolutely, absolutely, and I think it's what's powerful with that approach is it's a tool kit, right, and I think so often we talk about. We talk about culture building or we talk about team building, and I think a lot of people look at human resources as we're supposed to be the experts at this stuff, right, but the reality is that it doesn't necessarily mean that we have all of the tools available to us or we know all of the things to be considering, and I think, at least in my background, a lot of the skill sets that I've developed as it relates to things like organizational culture building, talent management, leadership development a lot of those things come from past experience and typically within an organization that I was working at, but that doesn't necessarily mean that that's the right approach, the right tool. Maybe that's not the focus that we should be thinking about for the current challenge that we're trying to solve, and so I think it's powerful to have a toolkit to help think about this and some of these big ideas that are strategic and make logical sense in a, you know, as you're thinking about an organizational wide need, but get a lot harder when you try to think about, okay, how do I actually do this and so, as you think about, you know, as you think about the challenge that you're helping us solve, both with HR hints and with culture Ivy, where did you apply a lot of the focus and energy as you were building these tools and these strategies for HR professionals? How did you approach that challenge?Speaker 1:
Yeah, like let me refer to what you said as well that there is a huge dilemma both for leaders and HR experts, because, on one hand, it doesn't work like that, that you know one size fits all and you cannot copy paste. You cannot go with the status game or the power game just to enter the company and say, okay, we are like experts and we are doing this, this, this and this. Because you need to work on your empathy, you need to work on the way how you fit the organization, how you communicate, how you understand the leaders problems and, on one hand, you need to be flexible and to you need to respect the uniqueness. I think that, like you know, the copy paste mode in that case is not working at all. But, on the other hand, what we see in a scale because currently we are having like more than 90 companies supported and we see that what's absolutely repeatable is the fact that every company is starting from the sentence like we are, not like others. It won't work like that. We are different, and that's true as well. But the truth is also that when we see the stage of growth of the companies because we are working with companies up to 500 people on board. So we are working with VC backed and private equity backed businesses, but usually they are like technical businesses, but also like production companies and also like fast growing in general companies. So a lot of changes, a lot of change management as well, a lot of growth strengths, but also like pains right, and what we see is the fact that companies at the same stage of growth so, for example, facing the challenges, for example, growing between 25, growing from 25 to 75 people, and companies that are mad tech and fintech, for example. However, they are coming from totally different industries and they build different products they will be having the same challenges because they are at the same stage of growth and the problems with delegating, the problems with empowering leaders in the organization or hiring first C level, for example, or making the decision that we are getting ways apart and we are firing, for example, someone who was working for the company from the beginning. These decisions are coming up at the size of 25, 30 people on board and there are like completely different challenges when we are having 250 and growing up to 400 people on board, and no matter if we are doing it like super rapidly because we were building companies growing like crazy in a year or two. But we've also seen the companies that are like fighting for being still alive and being at the same stage but, on the other hand, growing, for example, in different countries, because we are working both in US and in Europe. So we see that the stage is really connecting different companies much more and they are having like the same maybe not always the same, but even up to 60% of challenges, of processes and problems are repeatable. Then the companies that are, for example, from MetTech, but being, you know, at the totally different stages. So the fact that, on one hand, you need empathy and you need to be sensitive when you are getting in and you are working hands on, but, on the other hand, you see the patterns and you are able to forecast based on these patterns, because very often I don't know if you have similar observation, but very often we think, like OK, sales is able to forecast Product is able to plan or to estimate. Like OK, how much does it take to build the feature? And HR people are, like, very reserved in forecasting. However, we are having a lot of information, we are having a lot of data, we see how people behave. What do we do if we fire ahead of marketing first and after that we change the structure in sales, because we've already seen these people in action, we see the vibe, we understand the dynamics. So we really are having a lot of tools and knowledge to be able to estimate, to be able to forecast and make the decision like based on data and the knowledge. But I see that HR professionalists are super unlikely to do that and very often the answer from HR is like it depends. Ok, like for every department, it depends, right, like engineering is pretty often late with delivery, sales is usually overestimating the rates and the effects. But HR is like very like you know, holding, holding themselves back, saying like we don't know. People are like black box. We are so unpredictable as people and it's not actually true because you are able to use that data and to and to do this on the forecast actually. So that's, that's the thing we, we dream of every day?Speaker 2:
Yeah, absolutely, you know, I love that, that reframing of of my question, which is, you know, it's not necessarily, it's not a question of you know, is there a best practice? Because there's probably, there's probably a you know Something that somebody else is doing that you should look to do within your organization. But, looking at it on the context of you know, where are you at this stage in your company's growth and where are you at the size of your cup? And and thinking about it, in what? Where are we seeing patterns that that Will likely Repeat? And I think you know what's what's fascinating is and I think I think successful HR professionals Naturally gain this but you know, to me it almost, it's almost like, it's like learned intuition, right, it's like okay you know You've seen this, we've seen this movie a couple different times and we don't well, we don't know exactly however scenes gonna play out. We kind of know what the ending is gonna look like.Speaker 1:
Yeah, right. So if we can.Speaker 2:
If we can like, okay this is a rom-com. This is a rom-com, so like we know that this person's gonna end up with this person at the end, most likely unless it's like a you know, you know, kind of kind of a tragic story, but but like, with 90% confidence interval, we can like. That's what it sounds like to me, which I think. It's it's scary to do that right like, because what if? What if we make a prediction and we're wrong? And that's where I think you know, I think the power of data and the power of of being thoughtful about how you know, what patterns are you interpreting and how are you, you know, how are you deriving your insights, get get really important. So what, what advice do you have for us? Is you know, for those of us that like feel like, okay, we think we have some intuition here, we are, we're moderately confident with what might happen, how, how do we take that next step and and get more confident and really kind of take, take the power of, of our insight To our organizations? What advice do you have for us as we think about this?Speaker 1:
That's great that that you've mentioned that fear of being wrong. Like, once again, like, let's have a look at our peers in organizations is the head of engineering, head of product, head of sales, head of marketing having the fear of being wrong? Don't think so, actually, and, like you know, maybe they have that fear or maybe they had that fear in the past, but they've learned already that, okay, it's kind of estimation. So I think that the crucial step to to be done here is Observing the patterns in organization and finding the ways and the ways and the behaviors that are repeatable and Just to name them and call them out. So that's the very often that's them. That's the example, how we describe the values and and the behaviors, behaviors in organization. So a Lot of companies are having, like I know, three or five values named, return on the wall or written somewhere in the culture deck, but no one knows what's behind these values. No one knows, like, okay, what does it mean to be transparent? Does it mean that we are Communicating to everyone how much everyone is earning? Or does it mean that see, oh, is reporting he's or or her Spends? Like it depends? What does mean? And very often, what's missing are these descriptions of behaviors and when he, when we have it, when we say like okay for, for example, for our value, transparency we are having dues and don'ts. This is what transparency means to us and this is their border, we say okay, we don't accept it, so we don't want you to share to everyone how much you earn, right, and that's them. Yeah, that's that new thing, I think, in in nature, that we are not able to Always write, of course, but we know what are the rules. We are having the description of them, we are able to call out the good behaviors, the good ones, I mean the ones we respect and we want to. We want to to keep an organization. But, on the other hand, we are also able to say okay. In the past we had three situations like that and when we were firing head of sales, we saw that people I know 20% of the team left with the, with the previous head of sales, and we had this situation for the second time and we had the same, the same pattern of behaviors. So, learning from the past experiences, but learning with the distance. So not saying like, oh, my god, this person is so important, everyone likes, likes, her or him, but saying like okay, we are having that pattern that people are having a lot of friendships inside a sales team and it's crucial for us to build the knowledge inside before we fire the head of sales, for example, and that's how we are able to prepare to that, because we know what are the patterns in organization, we know what our would behaviors are supported and thanks to that, of course, we can make wrong decision, as everyone, as every other head, every other manager, but we are able to explain our decision and it's not only to have a backup right, it's just to be able to give clear answers.Speaker 2:
Not to answer, it depends every time right, although you know, my other thing I like is like well it's, it's pretty gray. You know, I don't know it's not like, which I actually kind of love because I mean that's, that's what things actually like about my job. But you know I don't. You know my accounting department hates it when I use that term because everything's black and white, we're red, depending upon, you know, the report they're looking at. But I do think you know it's really it's powerful to think about it in the context of you know patterns and, and you know, I do think you know I had a little bit of a light bulb moment as you were talking about it. You know I feel like so often it takes so long for an HR professional to truly Become really effective in their organization, because it takes time to learn an organization, it takes time to learn the people, it takes time to understand the. You know, there you've got the policies, you've got the things that are explicitly called out and then you've got the entire subtext of culture that exists. That's the kind of the informal you know rules of an organization or or standards of of an organization. Really, you know really the, the society of Of the organization and truly understanding it. But if we think about it in the context of patterns and we look at, we look at data as a tool to help us make good decisions based upon what happened in the past, now we can start to become a little bit more effective because, as opposed to saying, well, you know, I don't know, I don't know Bob, I don't know how his department thinks about him. You know, I guess I should go do it, you know, do a discovery meeting. Well, reality is there's probably a bunch of data points that can give you some insight Into how that team's feeling or how that team's doing, and there's probably already some some some I don't know for lack of it over like case study of Patterns that can help you Steer your, your organizations, decisions, right.Speaker 1:
Yeah, like, even if we look at Coming into, starting into the organization or just getting into the team as an HR professionalist, we see that we are having three or four, the most common ways of behaving. Behaving I mean leaders around or peers around we see very often that we are having one or two people that are demonstrating the power. So when we are getting into because we are on average like half a year in one organization, so our goal is to solve the problems. So, for example, build a structure, resolve the conflict or help leaders in in management. But our long-term goal after like five, six months, is to hire long-term HR manager or just to Support them in with a with a smaller package. So we are not staying with the company for a long time. Usually it's like half a year. So we are doing the same as you said, but we have this way to to be shortened because we don't have much time to know everyone to. You know, but do this all the intro ritual? So we see that like in a nutshell and what's what are the most repeatable behaviors? For example, using that example of of starting as a nature professionalist is, you know the strategy of showing off the power. So there are always people who are saying like, oh god, you are not able to change anything in this organization. I've tried a lot, so no chance. Like hold my beer, no way. So you know, like, and we see that, you know they are able to really bet that you will fail. That's the one type, that's the one mechanism that that is very often played, and the other one, for example, is the one that we call them gossipers. So yeah, these guys and girls who are saying like you know, don't tell everyone, don't, don't talk to anyone about the problem, but you know that girl and that guy they're having romance. You know, and you know, like, building these relations like pretty close, trying to have a friend in you as an HR professionals. So of course, this it's not always like personal gossip, but very often the company goes as well and the other strategy very common, very often and very common acted to to HR professionalists are showing the, the problem of the team, for example in I know let's use the, the sales as an example that Our team is the center of the company, other people are lazy, they are not doing anything and the company is, you know, like out of effectiveness, but our team needs help because of the fact that we are the only ones who are working here. So, like you know, catching your attention and Saying like, okay, we need to have this processes your time. So actually you are joining our team and actually HR is not joining the sales team, right, but very often HR, like HR, wants to show that it can be helpful. So very often the natural willingness is to go to these people who need you. Right, and very often we work with this. You know, attention, attention-based people, and we lose a lot of time just to understand that, okay, it's not like a real need, it's just a, it's just a mechanism, right, it's just a, just a pattern. So, yeah, we are having a few, a few of patterns described in a book and of course, it's not like, as we, as we started our conversation, that it's not always like copy-paste, right. But if you know this mechanism it's the same with hiring if you know the biases you can and if you are aware of how the cognitive mechanisms are working, it's much easier to fight with them. It's much easier to, you know, do the like fairly clearly done recruitment process and you just make less mistakes. So it's knowing the mechanism and understanding the patterns. It's not for copy-paste every time. It's for for, you know, raising the self-awareness and to being able to catch yourself on biasing others, yourselves and to making mistakes.Speaker 2:
I Love that call out and I think you know this is. This is one of the bigger challenges I think that we face is a lot of times we do go where the noise is right, so it's like somebody's being very, somebody's being very pointed and what they need, or they're being very noisy, or they're they are an important position in the company and so they, you know, yeah, so you, you over index how important some of that, some of their feedback is right and you can miss out on on some of the important information. So I think that's an absolutely, you know, a brilliant call out and I think it's. It's something that it is a bias that that we have and, I think, in general, people that are in human resources. We just want to be helpful, right, like, like usually we like people you know, although after you know, I don't know it's argumentative, after you know long enough in the field. But I'll, kidding aside, it's.Speaker 1:
If we have, hey, if we are before the vacation, it's not always true.Speaker 2:
Yeah, catch me after vacation. I'm usually really nice, but I Do you know? One of the questions I have that I that I think is is interesting nuance based upon this conversation, as we talk about patterns and we talk about using data to identify the patterns and understanding what practices work, depending upon where I'm at in the organization, I can't help but start to think about algorithms and these kind of computer models that can learn and can help us understand and interpret some of these patterns, and so I'm curious how you see AI and specifically generative AI and some of the work that's been done on and tools built from AI versus the. Where I think a lot of HR professionals are struggling is we're here to focus on people and humanity, and so we're kind of at this weird intersection of like AI in the human side of the business. How do you see this playing into the future of an HR professional's job and interpreting some of these patterns?Speaker 1:
That's like super interesting thing for us, especially that standardizing and automating a lot of elements of HR work On one hand should be possible, but on the other hand that's like super tricky part because to use AI you need to standardize, you need to build the always 100% situations repeating behavior or path. And what do we see? For example, in recruitment, we see that one third of hiring processes for the same role are different internally. So on one hand, we are interviewing people offline, other candidates are interviewed online. For one candidate in the same process for the same role, we are having two steps, two stages before the others. We are having four stages because they are living nearby the office or they are living in the same city and they don't need to travel. And the problem is that it's not about polishing the process, it's not about having it's great from HR greatness perspective. It's about the high risk of making mistake in such cases because, for example, we are having the proximity bias. So we prefer candidates in using this example, we prefer candidates that are met in a real life, so we prefer candidates we met more times that we are meeting offline, even if they are worse candidate than the one met online, or less times. So that's the we are making that risk and if we are having such a differences in one type of process, we are not able to clearly and in a good way automate it. So what we see and we've even there are a lot of research on that and we are also doing our own with culture we are doing like our own research with our customers and what we see is that the declaration of hiring managers are totally different than models learned by them. So even if we built there were a lot of options or trials or tech products, for example, built on AI, like chatbots verifying a resume or just screening candidates, and what we see, that even the models, the AI models learned by two, three or five hiring managers, they are. It should be the perfect model, being able to help or to replace the hiring manager longterm. And what we see the model is giving completely different effects and completely different results of screenings than their screening done by hiring manager. So it's still not able to be standardized and that's quite easy process, right? We think that and what we see from the scope of HR, that performance review and screening candidates who doing this first stages of hiring are the most repeatable processes and even in that area it's super challenging and it's not possible to be done well, and not speaking of more complicated aspects. So leadership, conflict communication, change management or supporting people right, as long as psychotherapists being able to help someone are not able to be replaced, like as we know so far, up to 60% is the same with change managers and HR managers, because it's pretty contextual work. On one hand, it needs a lot of empathy, on the other hand, a lot of knowledge from the past and also like having that connecting dots in a real time skill. So for now, even like the basic processes are hard to automate in HR. So that's what we see in our data, that's what we see in our research. Of course, like processes like sourcing candidates or that type of processes, they will be automated, but they are absolutely not crucial for the sense and the main aspect of HR. So it will be a lot of help for HR professionals. Thank you very much, beth. From my point of view, like no option to replace in the next years.Speaker 2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it makes perfect sense and I think it's. You know, it's a fascinating, it's a fascinating technological advance, but I think we're going to be using AI more and more and more, but there still needs to, you know from, in my opinion, there still needs to be kind of the human element of an HR leader, of just a leader of people, to truly engage and inspire and have a personality that somebody wants to work for and with. You know that AI just can't match. So, wonderful conversation. I think there's just and I think, a little bit of a reframing of how we think about some of the work that we do in HR, and so I just you know, Rosa, I really appreciate you spending some time with us and sharing a little bit about some of your work and your perspective. I'm fascinated to hear your response to the Rebel HR Flash round. Are you ready?Speaker 1:
Yeah, sure, with pleasure.Speaker 2:
All right, here we go. Question number one where does HR need to rebel?Speaker 1:
We need to rebel in the area of being treated, on one hand, as psychotherapists, on the other hand, only on taken as payroll experts, and on the third, like happiness and event managers. So we need to take place at a decision table with other C levels, with leaders, with funders. So that's the shift that is ahead of us.Speaker 2:
Absolutely yeah, and you know, for my standpoint, I think it's really exciting. I also think it's also a little bit of a. It's a little bit of a call to action for those of us that that that aren't comfortable with that. But you know roles are changing, things are shifting. I I couldn't agree more. Question number two who should we be listening to?Speaker 1:
Except you, of course. I like Adam Grant's work life. I like, of course, like classic Brandon Brown, it's super cool, but I also listen to 20 minutes VC podcasts. So the the the one made by funders for funders, I think it gives like the great business perspective. Yeah.Speaker 2:
And Lady.Speaker 1:
Gaga, of course, lady Gaga.Speaker 2:
Okay, oh yeah, it's. Yeah, I forget about Lady Gaga, but that's not. You know, full disclosure. That's not exactly on the top of my playlist, but she's got some good stuff she's. She's fair talented, so she's a performer Like.Speaker 1:
I don't like her like as a singer, she's like how she, how she's dressed up and her narration and you know her impact is like yeah.Speaker 2:
I love it. All right. Final question how can our listeners reach out, connect with you and ultimately get their hands on this book?Speaker 1:
Yeah, like super happy to to invite you to to our we call it like can't wait list. So all the information about our book, all the information about the meetings, are at culture IVio and it's the same for HHINTS, so it's HHINTSio. We are also on Facebook. We are on LinkedIn. Linkedin is having usually the latest news about about where we meet, what we do, how you can learn with us, how you can give us feedback or you know, just to grow together.Speaker 2:
Absolutely, and we will have all that information in our show notes, so open up your podcast player, check it out. Rosa, congratulations on the book release, congratulations on all the success you've had with your multiple companies that you founded, and I can't wait to continue to, to stay connected and see how you continue to change our world. Thank, you.Speaker 1:
Thank you very much. It was my pleasure to to talk to you and, yeah, fingers crossed for for your growth as well and yeah, I'll be following as as as always.Speaker 2:
So, thank you so much, so super happy to to to meet, to meet. Thanks, rosa. Thanks for taking the time today, and have a great rest of your day.Speaker 1:
Thank you.Speaker 2:
All right, that does it for the Rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebelhrpodcast, twitter at rebelhrguy, or see our website at rebelhumanresourcescom. Abuse and opinions expressed by Rebel HR podcast are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast.Speaker 1: