Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 40: "Build, Not Buy" with Mark Herschberg

April 20, 2021 Kyle Roed / Mark Herschberg Season 1 Episode 40
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 40: "Build, Not Buy" with Mark Herschberg
Chapters
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 40: "Build, Not Buy" with Mark Herschberg
Apr 20, 2021 Season 1 Episode 40
Kyle Roed / Mark Herschberg

Join Kyle and Molly as they speak with Mark Herschberg.  From tracking criminals and terrorists on the dark web to creating marketplaces and new authentication systems, Mark has spent his career launching and developing new ventures at startups and Fortune 500s and in academia. He helped to start the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, dubbed MIT’s “career success accelerator,” where he teaches annually. At MIT, he received a B.S. in physics, a B.S. in electrical engineering & computer science, and a M.Eng. in electrical engineering & computer science, focusing on cryptography. At Harvard Business School, Mark helped create a platform used to teach finance at prominent business schools. He also works with many non-profits, including Techie Youth and Plant A Million Corals. He was one of the top-ranked ballroom dancers in the country and now lives in New York City, where he is known for his social gatherings, including his annual Halloween party, as well as his diverse cufflink collection.

 After teaching for 20 years at MIT's "Career Success Accelerator" class and working as a startup executive, he's written The Career Toolkit, Essential Skills for Success No One Taught You.

Book Summary: The Career Toolkit
Leadership, networking, negotiation, teamwork, effective communication–all skills we’re told are essential for success, but skills rarely ever taught. This book provides a quick and accessible means to begin learning and applying these skills filled with helpful anecdotes and actionable tips.

hershey@thecareertoolkitbook.com
https://www.thecareertoolkitbook.com

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

Subscribe today on your favorite podcast player!  

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

Follow Rebel HR Podcast at:

www.rebelhumanresources.com
https://twitter.com/rebelhrguy
https://www.facebook.com/rebelhrpodcast
www.kyleroed.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-roed/

We love to hear from our listeners!  Send us questions or comments at kyleroed@gmail.com

Rebel On, HR Rebels!

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/rebelhumanresources)

Show Notes Transcript

Join Kyle and Molly as they speak with Mark Herschberg.  From tracking criminals and terrorists on the dark web to creating marketplaces and new authentication systems, Mark has spent his career launching and developing new ventures at startups and Fortune 500s and in academia. He helped to start the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, dubbed MIT’s “career success accelerator,” where he teaches annually. At MIT, he received a B.S. in physics, a B.S. in electrical engineering & computer science, and a M.Eng. in electrical engineering & computer science, focusing on cryptography. At Harvard Business School, Mark helped create a platform used to teach finance at prominent business schools. He also works with many non-profits, including Techie Youth and Plant A Million Corals. He was one of the top-ranked ballroom dancers in the country and now lives in New York City, where he is known for his social gatherings, including his annual Halloween party, as well as his diverse cufflink collection.

 After teaching for 20 years at MIT's "Career Success Accelerator" class and working as a startup executive, he's written The Career Toolkit, Essential Skills for Success No One Taught You.

Book Summary: The Career Toolkit
Leadership, networking, negotiation, teamwork, effective communication–all skills we’re told are essential for success, but skills rarely ever taught. This book provides a quick and accessible means to begin learning and applying these skills filled with helpful anecdotes and actionable tips.

hershey@thecareertoolkitbook.com
https://www.thecareertoolkitbook.com

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

Subscribe today on your favorite podcast player!  

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

Follow Rebel HR Podcast at:

www.rebelhumanresources.com
https://twitter.com/rebelhrguy
https://www.facebook.com/rebelhrpodcast
www.kyleroed.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-roed/

We love to hear from our listeners!  Send us questions or comments at kyleroed@gmail.com

Rebel On, HR Rebels!

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/rebelhumanresources)

Mark Herschberg:

It's not as simple for these soft skills you don't say well learn these three things. Poof, you're a leader. And you know Monday morning you're gonna start being a leader you don't know when you're called on to be a leader, that moment happens spontaneously. You don't know when there's a communication challenge. It's not listed on your calendar. So these one off, I am sending you to some training and you come back and you've been transformed. That's not how it works.

Kyle Roed:

This is the rebel HR podcast. If you're a professional looking for innovative thought provoking information in the world of human resources, this is the right podcast for you. Rebel, Rebel All right, Rebel HR listeners, I am extremely excited for our guest today Mark Hirschberg is the author of the career toolkit, essential skills for success that no one taught you, from tracking criminals and terrorists on the dark web, to creating marketplaces and new authentication systems. Marcus spent a career launching and developing new ventures at startups and fortune 500 and in academia. He currently lives in New York City. And thanks for joining us, Mark.

Mark Herschberg:

Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

Kyle Roed:

Really looking forward to it. We are thrilled as always to have Molly Bradesco joining us as our esteemed co host. So, Mark, why don't we start off? Why don't you just tell me what prompted you to write a book about a career toolkit?

Mark Herschberg:

Early in my career, I knew I wanted to become a CTO. And that meant not just being the best programmer, but learning a bunch of other skills, learning how to hire people, how to lead, how to manage, how to do budget, strategy, work with others, all these skills that I had never been taught. So I began to learn on my own. When I started to hire people, I said, Well, these are good skills. I want to see these skills and others. But when I would ask someone a question, like what makes someone a good leader, I'd get a blank stare, because no one else was taught this either. And so I realized I had to build not by right, I couldn't find people with the skills, I had to train them up. Shortly after I had been doing this. MIT had gotten a lot of feedback from corporations saying, Look, your students are really smart. But we want to hire people who aren't just book smart, but have the skills leadership, communication, networking, negotiations, teamwork. We're not seeing that. So MIT began to develop a program. When I heard about this. I said, I've been working on this for a while, can I be of help? I said, Sure. So I came in, I shared some of what I've been doing. They said, Why don't you help us teach. So for the past 20 years, I've been teaching these skills. And the reality is, it's not just MIT students who need this, other colleges got the same feedback. It's not even college students, as your listeners know, you want to hire people with these skills, but they have not been trained in them. And so that led to all the teaching, and now the book,

Molly Burdess:

think a lot of HR professionals can can relate to that for sure, the soft skills are what our candidates are missing.

Kyle Roed:

I would agree with that. 100% Molly, I loved the term that you use, and that was build not by. So and I think that's one of the things that us in HR, it's it's really easy to say things like that and say, you know, you give us somebody that, that has all of these, these, you know, the motivation to do more, and the motivation to learn and listen, and teamwork and collaboration. But a lot of times we are stuck, trying to figure out how do I build these type of skills? And I think some of us actually get stuck, as we're screening candidates and bringing them into an organization trying to understand, can we even build some of these skills? So So as you're working with these groups in and through your multiple years educating? Where do you start with that question? And how do you how do you start with kind of just figuring out how do I develop these types of skills that are critical for success?

Mark Herschberg:

Great question. And unfortunately, HR has been so hamstrung, because every time there's a downturn, where do you cut first you cut HR and you cut in particular l&d and you really just take the legs out from under us. Fortunately, you don't need a lot of money to do this. Now, one I think shortcoming that we've seen is traditionally in learning and development. The HR folks go to the CFO and say, Okay, give me $10,000 I'm gonna pick 10 lucky winners, my 10 superstars and I'm gonna spend $1,000 on the beach to go to some leadership seminar or whatever the invoke training happens to be say, well, these 10 people, you go off for a couple days, come back, poof, you're now a leader. This is unfortunate for a few reasons, you're selecting only a handful of people. It's also done as a one off. And now one off training, traditional training that we've done where you have some experts stand in front and say, do this, that. And the other thing. That's great for knowledge transfer, that's great for, hey, accountants, you need to learn the new tax laws, right, or software folks learn the new technology. Unfortunately, it's not as simple for these soft skills. You don't say, well learn these three things. Poof, you're a leader. And you know, Monday morning, you're going to start being a leader, you don't know when you're called on to be a leader, that moment happens spontaneously, you don't know when there's a communication challenge, it's not listed on your calendar. So these one off, I am sending you to some training and you come back and you've been transformed. That's not how it works. There is a technique you can use. This is how we teach at MIT. This is how business schools have been teaching for years. And that's using a peer learning model. What do you want to do, and I've got a free download on the website that breaks down how to do this, you form small groups. And you can do this, I'd recommend groups around five to seven people each. But you can do it with larger groups of 20, even 80 people, they just require some slightly different structure. Let's take these small groups of a handful of people. And you give them some topics, and you say we're going to talk about leadership or communications. And then you discuss it as that group, because the key thing, it's not knowledge transfer, it's not do these three things, and you're suddenly a master communicator, when there's a challenge, the way I might approach it, that's different than how Molly would approach it different than how Kyle would approach it. And when we have that discussion, I say, well, Molly, that's a really good point, I never would have thought of it that way. And now we've enriched our understanding of the content. Now this has a couple advantages. It is low cost, right? All you need is some basic content, we'll talk about content, you can use him moment, it hits everyone, not just those 10 lucky winners. But you can do this across the organization. It increases employee engagement, because now everyone is doing this, maybe it's a half hour, hour, every other week or once a month. But everyone feels engaged. It also because you want teams that are diverse in terms of backgrounds, from different departments and groups, you're increasing the internal networking and relationships with strengthens your organization. So all you need to do is you create these groups, take some content. And yes, on my website, I have a download that also shows here's how you can use my book. But it doesn't have to be my book, you can use many of the other wonderful books, I list books you're already familiar with. You can use great podcasts like this, you can use topics wherever you get them and say, okay, that's the content, we're going to listen to it, read the article, read the book. But it's that discussion that is so important. And you can do this for very little cost. And now you go from being someone who just asked for money. So you can go hire some external trainers, to the person who created and runs a world class learning organization, all at little cost.

Kyle Roed:

It's interesting in it, but it makes sense. I mean, I hate sitting in a PowerPoint, but I love happy hour after the PowerPoint, then we all talk about now. I remember a lot more about the, you know, the conversation after the training. And ultimately, it you know, I guess I didn't even realize that this was occurring, but I can think about a number of great ideas that that were prompted by training. But but because we had a robust debate afterwards or or a dialogue based upon how that training went, or things we agreed with or didn't agree with are things that would or wouldn't work within our organization, you know, that kind of that synthesizing that content in the you know, in the environment of of that relationship for me. Yeah, that makes that makes perfect sense. Molly, I know you're you're passionate about about learning and development, and especially leadership development. Does this resonate with you?

Molly Burdess:

It sure does. I completely agree with this model. And I've seen it work. In fact, one of the reasons I'm so passionate about it is because when I first got into HR and was thrown into learning development had no idea how to create a training program how to lead one here, I was leading it for this 300 plus employee organization and I fell flat on my face for at least three years. It was probably some of my most biggest failures in my career thus far. And as soon as I took I made that shift from Okay, I'm going to put on a presentation or hire a trainer to train on what I want. I made that shift exactly what you're talking about. I didn't have a name for it, but now I hear Now I know it's a pure learning model. It completely changed everything. I mean, I had people coming up to me and saying, Wow, that was the best training I've ever done. And I'm like, Well, great, I didn't really do anything, but facilitated, like the content and the discussion. So I 100% agree with this model. I've seen it work. It's fantastic. I completely support it.

Kyle Roed:

That's great. So what one of the things that I'm curious to dive into a little bit, is, you know, I think there's a little bit of a tendency for individuals to think that, you know, by the time I hire somebody, you know, their, their soft skills are, are cemented, you know, and, and, you know, their, their communication skills aren't going to get a whole lot better, even no matter how much training I give them more, you know, or their, their negotiation or teamwork. It's, it's just, you know, it's already, it's already ingrained. So, so how do you address kind of that approach? And and I guess, first of all, is that true? And second of all, how do you how do you approach that, as you're, as you're educating adults on some of these skills that seem to be foundational,

Mark Herschberg:

it is absolutely false. All of these skills can be developed and learned at any point in our life, as long as the person is open minded and saying, I want to develop them. One of my favorite books, is the charisma myth by Olivia Fox kabob. Now, charisma is a type of skill where you think, well, you got it or you don't. But in her book, she breaks down what are the components of charisma, and explains how you can learn to be more terrorist Matic, just like you can learn to play golf or programming software language, it is a learnable skill. And this is true for negotiations for leadership for communication, we've seen people get better at public speaking, you can join great groups like Toastmasters, people get MBAs and they learn all these great skills, we know it's learnable. And so having that mindset of well, they you just get what you get, that's going to be very limiting to you and your team. But when you have that open mindset, and when you hire for people with that open mindset, then it's easier to grow. Now, I will note, one of the techniques that we use in the class at MIT. And this unfortunately, I wasn't able to put into the book, we do a lot of interactive games. So we do case studies, we do role playing, and of course it within your own organization, you can go by this content, do it yourself. And the way we set up we pick particular types of modules, we've either bought or designed them. So the students do what they tend to do, which at MIT is take a very analytical approach. And they're going to fail when they focus too much on the analytical approach and not these other pieces. And in that moment of failure, that people are often receptive to learning, we say, Wait, why? Why did this this work? It's worked before for me. And then you say, Okay, now they're, they're starting to question. Well, here's the secret, here's how you have to shift your mindset. And in fact, this is key for all of these types of skills. It is a mindset shift, because we know when we teach at MIT, and when I write in the book, you're not going to learn this in a day, a week, even a semester, there are people who do PhDs on sub sub sub topics of these very broad categories. But if you get that mindset shift, suddenly things change. So let me give you an example. Leadership is something many young folks, their mental model is that leaders are people who have a certain title, director or VP, and therefore by their authority, they are a leader. Now, that is authority, that's not leadership. We know that true leadership is influential leadership is saying, Here is a vision for the future here is something we can do. And then inspiring and convincing other people to go along and follow. To that end, ordering people to do so is not leadership. And so once you shift this model, all these young folks go from thinking we'll all be a leader, once I turn 30. Once I get that promotion and get that title, too, I can lead from day one. And doesn't mean you're instantly a great leader. But if at 22, you say okay, I can lead even my first day on the job. Now you recognize more opportunities to be a leader. You recognize when other people are displaying leadership and your growth accelerates. In a way that wouldn't happen if you thought leadership is not something I face until I hit a certain level. So when you get that mindset shift, you suddenly become more open to develop. These skills and that is so important as we want to teach and develop this across our organization.

Molly Burdess:

So in summary, you can teach an old dog and tricks. It's what I'm hearing.

Mark Herschberg:

Absolutely.

Molly Burdess:

So why, you know, I'm curious MIT sounds like they figured this out, why are other organs? or Why are other schools and organizations? Why are they not teaching this because I do think this is a bigger issue.

Mark Herschberg:

When you look back at the history of the university system, it was not designed to teach this. So the university system for historical reasons, they're run by different departments, and department is controlled by the professors in the department. So you have a whole bunch of accounting professors, and they say, We are the gatekeepers to accounting, we determine whether someone should get a Bachelor's of accounting, what happens, someone takes a certain number of courses, and they say, Okay, you've taken this make courses, you've passed these tests, we now authenticate you as having a bachelor's level of knowledge and accounting. That's all they are saying. They're not saying you're a good co worker, a good communicator, a good employee, they're just saying, you know, this level of knowledge of accounting or chemistry or whatever the field is, that is a necessary but not sufficient condition, to be an effective worker. Even when we go back 7080 years to mid century, back then we had these big hierarchical corporations. And so your job was to do what your boss told you do this one little focus piece of work that might be accounting or chemistry, and you do that work and handed to your boss. And he would figure out what to do with and tell you the next piece to work on. When we flatten the organization sometime around the 80s 90s got rid of all that middle management, we went from being the cog in the machine, to now these dynamic teams, where it wasn't just about doing the technical work, technical course could mean accounting, marketing, your your discipline, but also interacting with others. And having this teamwork, this communication, the standing up to be a leader, we had to start doing all of that. But the university system is unfortunately, backwards facing and so didn't adapt to this, I think they will start to adapt, we're starting to see some changes. But it's going to take about 30 or 40 years before they really catch up, unfortunately.

Molly Burdess:

Yeah, I used to work a lot with high school students. And the pushback I always got from other employers organizations, well, shouldn't the parents be teaching this.

Mark Herschberg:

And that is something when you look at the high school level, if you think back 100 200 years, you had the working class? Well, your job was to learn to trade, be a plumber, or a blacksmith, and then you had the upper class. And those are the people who may have gone to college or held professional jobs back then they did learn from their family, they learned the society rules. But of course, today, you've got a single parent working two jobs, the kids are busy running from violin lessons to soccer lessons to playing video games, we're not giving them that sort of training and engagement that they used to get 100 200 years ago. So we can't rely on families or society as a whole to really be training these skills, we have to be more formal and thoughtful in them.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, and I think it's a I mean, I have young children, it, it truly does take a village to raise fully functioning human beings. And yeah, we, I get that, you know, a lot of the a lot of the social norms are taught at home. You know, but I also think as an HR professional, you, you also have a responsibility to, to integrate people into your organization, help them understand, you know, what skills are required? What kind of values does the organization espouse? And, and if they don't have those skills, I think one of the challenges is, you know, you have to make a decision, whether you're going to invest the time to educate them on on improving those skills, or take the approach of, you know, the you're not a fit and and exiting them from the organization, which, unfortunately, I think I think many of us in HR have, have had to deal with those scenarios as well. So I think one of the really critical really critical aspects of our job is trying to figure out that the question of fit and and you had you had mentioned something about screening or hiring for open mindset, so So how do you measure that and what, in what way can you find those types of individuals to join your organization?

Mark Herschberg:

I would eat Go broader. I did give that as an example. Unfortunately, when we hire, we tend to hire for knowledge or experience, but not skills. We want someone with knowledge of this tool of this domain, so many years experience doing something else. And that is important. But that's very streetlamp effect, right? We can look for that. Because it's easy to measure. We don't explicitly think about things like communication, leadership, teamwork. One of my big pet peeves I see on lots of job applications, lots of job descriptions, strong communication skills. Okay, that's a good thing to have. But what do you mean by that? Do you mean someone who writes effective emails, who is a good public speaker, who communicates well to their team, who can communicate to other teams with a different background? Who can go in front of customers? Any and all of these might be important, but they're probably not all equally important. And at no point, did someone say what do we really need is this person is important. They can go and speak at conferences, I've definitely had jobs where I said, this is part of the job, we want to make sure you can do that. In other cases, said, yeah, we don't care if you can do that or not, make sure you can explain to the rest of the leadership team, all these technical challenges, because we don't get it as a CTO, you have to translate for us. That's what we're looking for. So people just think of the soft skills almost as an afterthought. Yeah, we want a leader, do you want transformational leader, a growth leader, a leader who can take a demoralized team and turn them around? These are different types of leadership skills? So we first wanted to find what we're looking for in these skills, then to your question, if we're looking for open mindedness or communication, we want to think about what would demonstrate that. So for communication, I will explicitly think, am I trying to get you to speak in public? Maybe show me a clip? Do I want you to be able to explain technical ideas in a much more simplified manner, I'm gonna give you some complicated ideas and say, Now explain it to a 12 year old or explain it to someone who doesn't have your background, looking for open mindedness, talk to them about challenges where their particular beliefs or values may have been challenged? And how they adapted to that. What was your process? What's your thinking, for going through that change? So be very explicit and what you're looking for, and then create questions that will elicit an effective evaluation to that particular metric?

Molly Burdess:

Yeah, I think we can all do a little bit better job of probably defining exactly what we're looking for, and then tailor a process to that, as you're talking, just curious what your guys's thoughts are on personality assessments, skill assessments, that can also per se, help help solve some of this right?

Mark Herschberg:

I mentioned this in the book, we use the Herman Herman brain dominance instrument at MIT, I will say it's something of an arbitrary choice. And I also say in the book, I know there are people who call Myers Briggs astrology for the business world. I happen to like these assessments, if you don't like them, and don't believe in them, fine. Don't use them. If you do like them, they are useful, but understand what the tool is. So with the Herman brain dominance instrument, it tells you your preferential thinking modes. Now, this was helpful for me, because well, not surprisingly, I haven't be really quantitative in my thinking. For a guy who has multiple MIT degrees, that's not a really big shocker. I was also disinclined towards the interpersonal quadrant. Also not a big surprise for people who knew me. And I guess on some level, I probably knew that by saw them said, you know, this is interesting, it says I avoid thinking in the style. And that was a problem. Now, I still have a strong preference for my quantitative thinking mode. But I know that for me and my leadership role, I have to learn to think in multiple modes. And so I had to consciously force myself to look at things from different perspectives. That was very helpful for me. Just as I don't like vegetables, I much prefer ice cream and cookies. And if you put two plates in front of me, I'm gonna go for the ice cream and cookies. But as an adult, I know, okay, I do need to eat vegetables. This is important. It's not my preference, but that's okay. And I'm going to train myself to eat my vegetables, knowing what my preferences are, and my dis inclinations. I can be more conscious in training up the areas where I'm weak because your dis inclinations cause you to avoid certain areas and lead to weak skills in those areas. So recognize what these things are. They're usually about preferences, not skills, and then recognize individuals does this correlate to skill development in areas where you may need to work?

Kyle Roed:

Molly, I am a Taurus. In case you didn't

Molly Burdess:

I have no idea what that means.

Kyle Roed:

It means I'm hard headed and opinionated. Oh, I

Molly Burdess:

could have told you that. Yeah. Okay.

Kyle Roed:

No, that's great. I love I love that we actually just rolled that out a personality assessment tool at our organization. But the the intent was to help with interview screening, first of all, help help an interviewer think about questions that may help them uncover some insights to make a better choice. So if somebody like you said, if somebody is, you know, very dominant, the question that might be prompted in the tool would be, tell me about a time when you were more collaborative than you were comfortable with, you know, something like that, you know, just to help help guide that conversation, as well as an awareness tool for internal career development. So I, I love them and but I, you know, I love I love that kind of stuff anyway, so.

Molly Burdess:

So you use them as part of your interview process. So candidate applies and has to take it at that step. And then your interviewer uses that information. It's not a disqualifier per se.

Kyle Roed:

Correct? Correct. And it's certainly not a go no go decision, you know, we would never use that tool as a as a true screener. That tool is more of a it's more of a tool. Quite frankly, my organization has a lot of very, very technical people, engineers, operations leaders, we make stuff. So you know, their natural tendency is also not strong interpersonal, and, you know, communication and psychoanalyzing candidates. So yeah, it's, it's more of a tool for them to, to think through things that they maybe wouldn't normally think through to ask a candidate to try to get deeper than What school did you go to? What what class Did you like, you know, those kinds of those kinds of things?

Mark Herschberg:

Do you also think about using it for Team construction and development?

Kyle Roed:

We haven't done that yet. But I have used a similar tool in the past. And it was fascinating I had, it was it was my HR team. And I had, I had two people who just, it was just constant conflict. And it was one of them who just never felt listened to, and always felt belittled. And the other one who felt like that person had absolutely no moral compass, and wasn't, you know, wasn't following the processes. And it turns out, I had one, I can't remember that, the terminology that was used, but one of them was like, somebody who was just completely focused on details, and the other person was like a freewheeling, like, you know, policies are just suggestions and not and not required. And it was more, it was just bridging that gap between the two of them, and ultimately, trying to be the bit bridge between the two of them as the leader. But that was that was an interesting exercise. And we actually shared it as a group. So that each individual saw how the other individual was kind of wired, so to speak. Yeah, and, yeah, it was interesting. It was interesting exercise.

Mark Herschberg:

There were some companies where they do this and everyone's information is public. For that reason, if I have to go have a meeting with you, I can look up, okay, oh, you tend to think of this way or preference for this type of style? That's good to know, it's going to change how I'm going to engage with you in either a conversation or in our team collaboration.

Molly Burdess:

Yeah, I toured a facility one time and, and they had, they had something like that whatever the results were posted right outside their office door. So they knew exactly what they're walking into. I love using those tools for development and growth. I use them a lot throughout the year. I have I thought about it, bringing them into the interview process several times because we, we hire sales associates, and it's real hard to determine, you know, who's going to be good at sales and an interview. But the one thing that keeps me from not pulling the trigger is I just don't want to add another barrier to employment. And that's where I just keep personally getting stuck. But I agree I support these tools. Absolutely.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, so so shifting gears, you know, in that context of, you know, using a, using a tool to be a little bit more maybe self reflective, as a as an HR practitioner or as a leader of people. I think one of the areas that we struggle with a lot is just how do i do career development for my team? And especially when I haven't done it in the past. So so what what advice would you have For a professional who knows this as an opportunity, it but but really doesn't know where to start hat. How do you engage in this process with your with your team?

Mark Herschberg:

Unfortunately, no one really knows how to do this because it's another skill that has not been taught. And here's the really funny part. If any of us were to ever say to our manager, hey, this project you just put me on, we're gonna work out for six months. But listen, let's not bother with a budget or timeline or plan. Let's just wing it and see if we get there in six months. Right? That person probably thrown out on his ear. Right? We would never accept that for our work projects. But so many of us say, yeah, next five years of my career, I don't know, let's just wing it. Hopefully, I'll wind up where I want to go. And we don't even bother making a plan. Now, of course, the catch with plans a usual pushback is, well, you can't make a plan. It's never gonna work out that way. Well, that six month project I worked on, of course, I'd never worked out as we plan, right? Well, how often are you off on your budget or your timeline? It's the act of planning that is important. It's going through the process and understanding where the pitfalls, so when something does come at you, you can adjust the plan and say, Well, look, we're going to be a month late, or we can get done now. But here's the trade off, and we say, Okay, now we understand the options before us. So creating career plans, we all I have to do this now is responsibility of every employee, more than anyone else, every individual needs to take responsibility for his or her plan. As HR professionals and managers, we should support them. Recognize that plans are going to extend beyond the company. Realistically, people are going to be at the company on average for five years, but their careers much longer. Don't be afraid to have those discussions that look down the road, they might not be there. Be honest and open about understand where they want to go long term back through what does that mean? If you won't be here in 20 years, or 10 years? Where do you need to be in eight years? Five years? Three, two. And now as you get to that scope of the next one to maybe four years, what does that look like? Because that will most certainly be at the company, right? The certainties at least hire and recognize there are some things that will align to what you need in the company, we need you to develop these skills that will make you more effective, there will be some things that maybe aren't as relevant. If they look, you don't need this, but knowing that this is important to you. Okay, that that's helpful. Maybe we're running a training program for other people with the skills, it really doesn't cost much to have you sit in that as well. Or maybe we send you externally as just part of the benefit. That's part of what keeps you occupied and motivated to stay here. So we have to take a holistic view and not just that narrow, what can you do that relates to the company today?

Molly Burdess:

I personally am very passionate about self development. So whenever I have an opportunity to learn or go to an event or grow in some way I take, I'll take it, but I also have some people on my team who just couldn't care less. How do I get them excited about growing these skills?

Mark Herschberg:

Some of that might be difficult. I had one employee who I inherited and he would show up to work late, if at all, he was unfortunately in a critical path. So we couldn't just fire him. And I sat him down one day and he said, Yeah, look, I'm I'm just not a motivated guy. I really don't get motivated about work or anything. And I appreciate that honesty. But yeah, it wasn't helpful to me, and there wasn't a thing I could do to instill it in him. I just had to go find a replacement. I think he knew we were we were doing that with other folks. I've gotten in I remember I joined a new company. And I had to get the technology team to shift to go in an entirely new direction. Now, engineers in particular, we talk about herding cats, because engineers are very intentional and what they like to do, and certainly in job markets, like the current one, they know they have options. If I say go left, and they want to go left, they say I'm gonna go this other company, they're gonna let me go right? So you, you can't just order or dictate. But what you can do is understand their individual motivations. And this really happens at an individual level. What does this person find interesting, where does this person want to go in his or her career? And how can you find that alignment? So in one case, here's a new technology I want them to learn. This particular engineer had no interest in technology, but he had interest in a different one. I said, Look, the one that I'm going to have you learn it's going to get you a job. percent of the way to the one you want to learn, it's really similar. Don't just take my word for it, ask around. And so I found a way to align my needs the company's needs to his. And that helped motivate him.

Molly Burdess:

Yeah, and my last question, which is kind of an add on this is what do you do when your leadership team is struggling to grasp the concept of, of developing these soft skills? It's hard to put a return on it right? How do you create that ROI for them?

Mark Herschberg:

There is actually a measurable return if you think about the right way. So let's take negotiations, this is the example I use to illustrate it, because it's the most obvious what I say to students in my book and other people I teach. Imagine, you get a job, you're 30 years old, you get a job for $70,000. And you decide, I've learned a little about negotiation, I want negotiate this job. Okay, so I go in negotiate, and I get a raise, before I start, we go from 70 to 71,000. That's it. All right, we can all imagine that's not a huge lift. So this person just got $1,000 more, took them five minutes. Now, if they do nothing else, if this person sits in that job for the next 30, some years of her career, what happens, she just earned $1,000, more for 30 years, she just earned $30,000 from one tiny, simple negotiation. Now, of course, we know that's not realistic, she's not going to stay in that job for the rest of her career, she'll have other raises promotions, new jobs. And in fact, learning to negotiate a little bit better, is going to earn her 10s of 1000s, even hundreds of 1000s of dollars in her career. Now, negotiations, when we teach this money is never a great example, because it's a zero sum game. And everyone thinks this focus on the numbers, but it illustrates the concept so well, right, a little bit of effort. This isn't some world class negotiator. But that little bit of effort has this massive return. Because this cumulative, it happens year after year, and it adds up. Now, of course negotiations happen, not just for salary, they actually happen every day in our office. Imagine if you could, if everyone in the office was a slightly better negotiator, it's not that they're all gonna get $1,000 more when negotiate with the supplier or customer. But they're going to have better outcomes when they negotiate with each other as we do team projects. Now, imagine your leadership, if everyone in your company was just 1% better bet about being a leader, again, not world class not leading a transition countrywide, just 1% better, but across the board, you won't see an immediate $1,000 return, but you're going to have that benefit. And so when you think about this concept, in terms of leadership communication team building, you're going to recognize there is that same massive cumulative benefit across the organization, it just won't be immediately measurable in dollars.

Kyle Roed:

I love that. And I've run into that. So many times trying to quantify an ROI of an HR program. or, or, you know, something related to human capital is sometimes can be a really big, big challenge to articulate. So I love that example. But I can just hear, I can hear some of my my management team saying, but if they know how to negotiate, then they're going to want to negotiate everything. And now my job is going to get harder, because they're going to, you know, be able to, you know, argue with me. So,

Molly Burdess:

more money every year. Yeah. Yeah.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah. And I, but I think that's a natural fear. You know, if I go out and I develop all of my employees, and they have all these great skills, now I've got a fear of them taking those skills elsewhere or using those skills against me. So So how do you how do you navigate that? That pushback?

Mark Herschberg:

Let's look at negotiation specifically. And then the larger set of skills based negotiation they think, right, if they all learn to get that $1,000 more, this just cost me $200,000 a year for my 200 employees. I don't want to do that. But of course, when we teach negotiations, good negotiators know, it's not about just grabbing a bigger piece of the pie. It is about enlarging the pie. It's about coming up with better solutions that help everyone. And if you can do that, now, yes, everyone's going to get a slightly bigger piece. But if they are all expert negotiators, you're going to increase the pie so much more. There will be better when negotiating with your suppliers and with Your customers and with your partners, they will be more effective at work, those meetings will happen faster, because they're not gonna be arguing back and forth, you're not gonna have the bitterness of You're such a pain to deal with. Because we'll bring those negotiation skills to our conflict resolution here and using conflict broadly about how do we chop up this project? And how do we assign, your team's gonna be responsible, because I don't want to burden my team. When we bring these skills, we're all so much more effective. And that makes the pie so much bigger. Yes, it might cost you $200,000 more, but you'll be getting more customers, you'll be delivering faster, if all these aspects of your business are 1%. Better, who cares about that extra $200,000, that's going to be small compared to the outcome. When we think about these other skills, we have to recognize something like leadership, a good leader doesn't say, Oh, you stood up and had good idea. Sit down, shut up. Don't Don't steal the thunder for me, right. Good leader says fantastic. I love that you contributed. Because I as a leader can't think of all the solutions myself, it's great that we have more leaders on the team. When we are secure in our leadership, in our skill set in the company and culture we created creating these engaged competent employees, they're going to want to stay there because they know their peers are competent and engaged. They're going to say I am developing at this company, this is fantastic. I want to keep developing, they are less likely to leave now in that first order effect. You think oh, they're better, they're more marketable. But that second order effect of the whole company is better is what's going to keep them there. And so you have to look at the big picture.

Molly Burdess:

I was telling I'm my leadership team, well, let's treat them well enough that we don't have to worry about that. Because good leaders are hard to find good people, it's hard to find.

Mark Herschberg:

I can certainly say in technology, we all know, every developer on our team. And they know this too, at any time, they can say I want a new job in 48 hours later, they will have one probably for more money. Right? So this is the world we're in. So we're not catching them by saying I'm gonna cut off your options, or I can't throw as much money at you as Google or Amazon does. We have to win them over through a good environment, a good workplace culture a good challenge and development. And that's how we win.

Kyle Roed:

Yep, that's Yeah. That engineers. Yeah. Yeah, appreciate we got we got another, that's another podcast, we don't have enough time to start lamenting about the challenges of technical skilled technical recruiting and retention. But, you know, I think the other the other point that I thought I thought was, was very well made is, is that Career Career Planning goes a lot further than your individual company in it. And it really should, if it's done well, and I reflect on, you know, examples where helping to helping somebody actually get into a career that they love, even if that's outside of your organization, can actually help your organizational culture. Because now you don't have somebody who's doing something they really shouldn't be doing or don't want to be doing. And they're, like, miserable and dragging, you're dragging your morale down, because they're like, uh, you know, just 20 years later, and now they're depressed that they didn't go chase their dreams.

Mark Herschberg:

I had a company, I inherited a team. And there was one person on this team who just didn't align well with the values, he was a perfectionist. That can be a really good quality. But for the type of work, we were doing it, it held us back we didn't need to be perfect, and what we were doing, and we have better ROI being close to but not perfect. And I saw the conflict he had with other engineers, the conflict he had with me and the decisions we were making, talked to about a couple times and finally realized this was a values difference. And so that wasn't something that was going to change. He felt strongly about this. He had been at the company for 10 years. His cousin and best friend was his co worker, his brother was at the company and a leader there. So there were lots of potential challenges. But I sat him down and talk to him about why this conflict existed and said, this probably isn't the right fit for you. There are many companies that would be a good fit, right where they do value perfection. I offered to introduce him to companies to recruiters to give him a good reference. I knew he wasn't going to sabotage the system. So I said, let's transition you over a number of months. And look if you need more time, we can do that too. So he took a number of months found a new job. And I remember his brother said to me, that is the nice firing of someone I have ever seen. And everyone in the company knew, I'm not just going to be some jerk and say get out of here, I'm going to help you, I'm going to support you. And so if something's not a fit, they could turn to me. And know I'm going to protect them as individuals, even if it wasn't in the interests of the company. And that builds good teamwork, good management, good relationships that will serve you in the long run.

Molly Burdess:

Maybe I'm transitioning to HR.

Mark Herschberg:

I've usually been the de facto HR manager at most of my companies, because at startups, we don't have everything.

Kyle Roed:

You're HR, whether you want to be or not mark.

Molly Burdess:

It's better than HR trying to be it. That's awful.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, I yeah. I don't know that. That's my wheelhouse. But, Molly, I was an IT project manager for a few summers when I was when I was a college student. So I can I can see you do that. Now. I'm sorry. That's where Yeah. All right. Great conversation, Mark. I wish we could keep going. But we are getting towards the end of our time, and I want to be mindful and respectful of of your evening. So we're going to jump into the rebel HR flash round. So flash round question number one, what are you reading right now?

Mark Herschberg:

I am just coming out of my hiatus where my reading list got backlogged? Because when I was working on the book, I didn't want to have myself too swayed by what I was reading. I just read range by David Epstein, which was a wonderful book, and Deborah tannins talking nine to five, both great books that HR professionals should read.

Kyle Roed:

Perfect. Alright, question number two, Who should we be listening to?

Mark Herschberg:

A number of wonderful podcasts. And if you go to my website that I'm sure we're about to talk about. You can see the different podcasts. I've been on many our HR podcasts, leadership, communications, networking podcasts. So really great content across the many podcasts I've been fortunate to be on. Perfect.

Kyle Roed:

Perfect. Alright, softball question for you already teed it up for us? How can our listeners connect with you.

Mark Herschberg:

You can go to my website, the career toolkit book calm. There, you can learn more about the book, get in touch with me or follow me on social media. You can also download the free app, it's available on Apple and Android. And so as you read the book, it helps to reinforce the skills because I know why read a book like this, I forget Five minutes later. You can also go to the resources page, find other wonderful books, I reference other websites with free tools. And there are those downloads, including the one of how you can create this type of peer learning organization at your company for free. So you can download this, cross out my name, put your name at the top of it and say look at this great program. I just came up with it. You get to be the hero that and everything else. It's free on the website, the career toolkit book, calm.

Kyle Roed:

I love it. I guarantee you, you just got a couple 100 clicks on your website after given that that freebie out. There right. Molly's got it right now. She just printed out. There you go. That's great. Mark, sincerely appreciate the time here. Spent today really great content and looking forward to picking up a copy of the book, the career toolkit. And I'm assuming that it's available anywhere books are sold. So check it out. Great, great content today. Really appreciate it. I know, I know. This is something I deal with daily. In my organization. I'm sure that this was helpful for all of our listeners. So thank you very much.

Mark Herschberg:

Thank you for having me having me and thank you to your listeners for your time. Thanks, Mark.

Kyle Roed:

All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Witter at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by podcast was the authors of this podcast

Jude Roed:

maybe