Culture & Organizational Impact | Traci Scherck

"When hiring, let's make sure that we're clear on how we will support those we hire to be successful." - Traci Scherck, Episode 128

Is the culture of your organization serving your mission?

HR powerhouse Traci Scherck is here to share her insights on culture & organizational impact.

She’ll share the 4 key drivers of engagement and how leaders can ensure employees are fulfilled.

We’ll also cover:

  • How to put the right people in the right role
  • What is the compensation story you’re telling?
  • Promoting collaboration, not competition
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Traci Scherck: When we’re hiring, let’s just make really sure that we’re clear about what we’re hiring for. We’re clear about our culture. You know, we’re clear about the position, and we’re clear about how are we going to support them to get them up to speed to be successful.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast with professional speaker, coach and consultant Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Welcome everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. My name is Nicole Greer and they call me the vibrant coach. And we are here today with a wonderful HR powerhouse. Her name is Traci Scherck. She has her MPA, her SPHR, her SHRM-SCP, and an NHA. She’ll tell you what all that means in a minute. And so she’s got alphabet soup after her name, which means she is a serious powerhouse. And she’s got a lot to tell us. 

She is the Chief Strategy Consultant and owner of Elevated Talent Consulting. Traci is a certified HR professional with nearly two decades of experience. And if you could see her, you’d be like no, she looks like she’s 12. Two years two decades of experience in employee development engagement. We want to know what kind of cream you’re using every night Tracy, and performance. She’s got employee development, engagement, performance consulting and training and facilitation. 

She knows it all. She has been around the block. She has been responsible for building HR departments from the ground up. And this includes training and talent development programs. Each of these programs focuses on culture. Hey, that’s why she’s on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast, and organizational impact. Please welcome to the show, Traci. How are you?

Traci: I am great. How are you? I’ve got two things to share. Bare Minerals. And number two is the gray hair goes away because, are you ready for this? 

Nicole: I’m ready. I’m ready. 

Traci: All right. So I walk into TJ Maxx and I go and buy this shampoo and conditioner. It’s Redkin. I’m like great. I know Redken, I know the brand, no big deal, right? I go home and I start washing my hair and I am a smurf. It is blue.

Nicole: What? Well, you got the minimum for the minimum at the TJ Maxx that day.

Traci: So it’s tinted blue. However, I think I got the maximum because it hides the gray.

Nicole: But she has beautiful like strawberry blonde thing I’m looking at right now. So I don’t know what happened with TJ Maxx. Okay, so everybody, all the ladies listening Bare Minerals, write that down. And if you’d like blue hair, run to the TJ Maxx. You need, everybody needs a good reason to run to the TJ Maxx, so.

Traci: The best part was it doesn’t turn your hair blue and hides the gray but you look like a Smurf while you’re in the shower for a hot second. You’re like, what is happening?

Nicole: All right, well, good. Well, the good news is I only have a few hot grays here and there. So I’m just trying to ignore them right now. I’m in the denial stage. But anyways, we have to talk about building a vibrant culture, although I’m gonna go to Bare Minerals and the TJ Maxx as soon as we get off the phone here. Off the Zoom. Okay. All right. All right. So my first question out of the gate is what is your definition of leadership? I know you’ve got one. You’ve been dealing with these leaders for a hot second.

Traci: Yeah, for sure. So when I look at leadership, leaders are individuals that can see someone bigger than they see themselves. And they create the container for the individual to step into their own leadership. And we call it they’re being fulfilled in the work while meeting business outcomes. And that’s what leaders do, is they create that container.

Nicole: Oh, that’s great. Well, I want to know, how do you how do leaders create that container? That is what I would call maybe that container is like just a little teeny tiny bit of culture around that one person, right? And you do that over and over and over and you get this big, beautiful culture. So how do leaders do that?

Traci: Yeah, absolutely. So leaders create the container by paying attention to four key that we call drivers of engagement. Okay. So one of those is making sure that when you’re hiring somebody into a role that they are the right fit for the role, right. So as a leader, we need to know the strengths of our people to ensure that we’re putting them in positions to actually be successful, and we’re not playing whack a mole on their weaknesses.

Nicole: Okay, all right. No, whack a mole. Nobody likes that. Plus, you get sent to HR, if you whack a mole people. That’s not good.

Traci: No, you don’t want to do whack a mole. So that’s number one is ensuring that we got the right people in the right role, right. Number two is as a leader, a great leader is incredibly self aware. They’re aware of what their strengths are and what their strengths are not. And they’re also aware of the strengths of their team, right. So let me give you an example. 

Nicole: I’d love that. 

Traci: I am an individual where I fly pretty fast. Like I move, and with that, I tend to get things 70 to 80% of the way done before I move on to the next thing. I don’t know if anyone else out here is resonating with that.

Nicole: Yes, we call that a quick start in the Kolbe world. And I know you’re all about the assessments. But in the Kolbe world that’s a quickstart. And that’s usually what the entrepreneurial gals are. So you’re in the right place.

Traci: Right. However, the majority of my team is not, right. They are implementers. They are the ones that are going to take it all the way across the finish line, thank goodness, right? So they’re going to take it all the way across the finish line. They are also typically slow and steady wins the race, right? So what I need to know is, hey, where are their focus times at? 

So what are they doing throughout the day, because if I start moving the cheese on them throughout the day, yes, I’m in Wisconsin. But if I start giving them different priorities throughout the day, and moving their day around, they’re not going to be successful, because it’s going to throw them off completely. 

So for me, I need to know, here’s my natural, you know, mode of operation. And here’s their natural mode of operation. I need to, as I lead them, play into their strengths. So that may be hey, let’s have a quick five minute meeting in the morning. And, and I just want to hear what your priorities are. 

Just to make sure that there’s not something that I believe is a much higher priority that you do not so that we can shift those things around. That’s a way of saying, hey, let’s reprioritize before you start working and get into something then I’m going to leave you alone for the day. So that’s one of those ways that we can lead based on what their natural strengths are.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. Alright, so number one is hiring for right fit and strength. And then number two, was the leader needs to be seriously self aware of their strengths. So don’t miss, strengths, strengths, strengths. So important to figure all this out. Okay, well, what is number three in our four key drivers to get that employee engaged and get that little bubble around them where they’re fulfilled so they can meet the company goals?

Traci: Absolutely. What team are they on, right? It’s really paying attention to, all right, every team has a strategy that they’re executing on. And every individual has a strength and has a role that they’re playing in that team, right. And so when we set up our teams, I like to talk about we’re setting up roundabouts, meaning, hey, we’re setting up structures for people to flow the way that they need to flow versus stoplights. 

Right. So when we set up those structures, especially on the team, again, we’re designing this and we need to know what strategy is this team executing? And the individuals, are we putting them on the right team? So let me give you an example.

Nicole: Please do.

Traci: Don’t only love examples?

Nicole: I like love stories, because then I can see it. Sounds good. What figure out what team they’re on. Okay, well, can you tell me what that looks like? So now she’s gonna tell us that. So don’t miss that everybody. She is sharing with us a really great leadership skill, which is storytelling, giving examples. So people can see. People need, if it’s a little teeny, tiny vision or the big honkin, here’s where we’re going to be in, you know, 2030 vision, people need to know what the future holds. So go ahead.

Traci: Right. And I just want to say that as well, which is, we need to be able to see something bigger than what we can see ourselves. We need an example, right. So these stories are your example the step into right, which I love. So I was talking with a bank, and they also use an assessment tool. And what she had said to me, Janine was her name. 

Janine goes, Traci, here’s the issue. All my sales folks were competing against each other. They were not competing against the bank across the street. That’s a big issue. 

So, you know, I’m sitting here going, yeah, that’s a big issue. And it’s like every time I walk into an organization and go, all right, oh, especially for our competitive folks, who are they competing against? Because they’re going to be competing against somebody, I can guarantee it. So how do we set up our teams so that our folks are competing against the competitor across the street and not competing against the folks sitting right next to them?

Nicole: We want them sharing top secrets and tips and tricks and strategies, right?

Traci: Right. So I’m going to share an HR policy here for a second. I know don’t you love this?

Nicole: Everybody get a pen. Okay, go.

Traci: So one of the HR strategies that we really look at is what is the compensation story that you’re telling? Well, this bank was telling a compensation story that was essentially compete against your co-workers so you can get more money. Versus look, if you and your co worker collaborate, you can make more money as a team because then our competitor is outside of the organization versus inside of the organization. 

So what we, what they did is they said, hey, who are sales folks that are hunters. And if you don’t know what that means, it means a hunter salesperson is somebody that is going to go out there like a hunter, they’re gonna get the meat, they’re gonna drag it back. They’re gonna kind of sort of share it with their friends, but then they’re gonna go get the next thing, right.

Nicole: That’s right. They’re more assertive. They don’t. Cold calling, not a thing.

Traci: Right. So they’re gonna go out, they’re gonna get it, get it, get it. They’re gonna bring it back. They’re not very good at follow through, and follow up, you know. So they’re gonna bring all these leads back, drop them off and go find the next leads, bring them back and drop them off, right. 

And so then we have farmer, you know, sales folks inside of an organization, who essentially they’re really, really, really good at the follow through on things, but they’re not great at getting all the brand new leads. So how many of you have ever been to a networking event? I can see all of your hands raising.

Nicole: Right, right. Nicole Greer has been to, I wish I had $1 for every networking event I’ve been to. We would not be doing this podcast right now. You and I’d be on a beach. Okay, but anyway.

Traci: So if we think about these networking events, and I’m so picture yourself at a networking event, look around and you see all your friends and your colleagues, and think about which ones are hunters and which ones are farmers. I will tell you, the hunter talks to every single person in the room for two minutes. 

Nicole: That’s right. Working the room.

Traci: The farmer finds two or three people and they go like eight feet deep. They know everything about them.

Nicole: Plowing the field.

Traci: Right! So these two folks come back to the office the next day. Which one do you think follows up and closes the deal?

Nicole: My three farmers who have data points in order to put together a proper proposal and sends out.

Traci: Right. Now is the hunter successful? Sure. But they need some help. Right? So often we look at our hunters and we go whack a mole, whack a mole, whack a mole on the head of, hey, how come you didn’t do all the follow up? And they’re like oh, my gosh, it is not my thing. What if we were able to create a team where we turned up each other’s strengths. 

So we turned up the strengths of the farmer that said, alright, we’re going to start looking at this to say you need to bring in X number of leads and the two inches of information for the farmer to go the eight feet deep. Farmer, if you don’t want to go to networking events anymore, guess what, off your plate, they’re like, thank you.

Nicole: Right now, you’re the best boss ever.

Traci: And what did we do? We created the container for our staff to be successful, based on what their natural strengths are. So back to this bank is, you know, what they did is they gave out more bonuses that year than they ever had in their 100 year history.

Nicole: Congratulations, Traci, that is so fantastic. And congratulations, bank in Wisconsin. Keep Traci around.

Traci: She tells that story much better than I do. So that is on my podcast if you want to find it. She tells it better than I do. But I love that story. Because one, it’s true. Two, we see it happen all the time. But three, it really gives you that depiction of oh, this is how this works.

Nicole: Right. 100%. Okay, so hiring for right fit, self-awareness of the leader, and what team are you on? Or what is your role on the team? What is number four?

Traci: So number four is looking at the culture, okay.

Nicole: Okay, here we go. Culture, people.

Traci: We do, we do. So, when we look at the culture of the organization, we want to do two things. We want to say what is the culture of the organization? And let me just name whatever the culture is, of the organization is okay, as long as it’s serving the mission. However, my values and how I work are not going to be a fit for every single culture. Right? So if I have a values misalignment with what a culture is in an organization, I am not going to last very long. Right? So do you want another story? 

Nicole: I do, please. 

Traci: Do you like how we’re going here with this cadence?

Nicole: We’re doing beautifully. And everybody I mean, they have a pen in their hand. They’re like, bring the story. Come on, let’s go. Come on, Traci.

Traci: I know. So when we look at values, I bring something else in that I call seasons of life, okay? Because our values will change over time. Right? So if the culture of the organization is one where we’re working 60 hours a week, and we’re super super fast, and we never take a lunch, and you’re at a season of life where let’s say you’re having your first child or you are going to school and like there’s a ton of different seasons of life where that just does not work, right. 

So just knowing that is what is the culture, what is the day to day. I won’t get into all the other things that are behind and the questions popping up, because that’s a different conversation. However, knowing what that culture is, is really important. So for example, if you think about organizations that, you know, individuals will go to right out of college where they work those 60 hours a week, because they’re climbing the ladder, that’s a season of life, right? 

However, it may not be sustainable forever. So is the culture of your organization, one where we work really, really, really hard all the time, and we don’t play a lot. Is it a work hard, play hard? Is it we have balance and flexibility, but when you’re here, you’re expected to be at 110%, right? That’s an example of culture. Another example of culture may be an example of culture where it is very, we’re going to double and triple check everything. 

And you typically see this in highly regulated fields. So I’ll give you an example of mine. We already talked about kind of what my style is, right? I move really fast. I, you know, I see what it is, I will kind of connect the dots. But I’m also a bullet point person. And when I go, I want to go fast. Well, I was working for a CPA firm, a fantastic CPA firm, by the way, however, I had to have seven approvals to send out a proposal.

Nicole: That’s just inefficient. Let’s be honest.

Traci: That didn’t work for me. No. So nothing wrong with that. That was their process. And it worked really, really well for them. That’s totally fine. It didn’t work for me. So that’s an example of culture not working well, where I’m like, I need a move.

Nicole: Right, right. Well, as I listen to that, it does sound inefficient. And I think, you know, I don’t know what would be what you’re hearing out there. But like one of the things people tell me all the time, I don’t want to be micromanaged. And that has a certain flair of micromanaging over it. Seven approvals. Maybe five, four, I don’t know, something like that. 

But that is a great example of culture and where either your style, your personality is going to fit in or not, right. Your strengths are gonna go to work, or they’re not. So I love that. That’s fantastic. All right. So we’ve got you guys, she already downloaded some serious stuff here. She told us the four key drivers to get an employee rockin and rollin, which is hiring the right fit. 

They’ve got a leader who’s self-aware, they know exactly what team they’re on. And we’ve got a leader who’s also building a culture and the person is looking at the culture and making sure it’s a good fit with values and looking at the season of life that they’re in. That’s fantastic. And then the hunter farmer thing. There’s a whole bonus thing right there. 

So she’s giving it to you all. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. All right. So you know this thing about building a culture, we do all of those things. What is the HR leader’s role in building the culture? I mean, I think a lot of times maybe people delegate that to the HR department. It’s not a one department show. It’s a whole C suite. 

Everybody show but what do you think the best things HR folks can do? Because you and I are both involved in SHRM and affiliated with all the folks that are in HR. So what can they be doing? Maybe some cutting edge things? You have so many great people on your podcast. What are you hearing?

Traci: Yeah. So when HR is building a culture, I think that there’s a couple things to this. One is it’s about design. How are we designing our policies? And one of my favorite questions is what is the unintended consequence of this policy, right?

Nicole: Like, do you have a story about that?

Traci: Well I ate my cupcake from this morning. So let me tell you a story. All right. So I had, I can send you a picture of the cupcake, Nicole, and you can laugh at it. 

Nicole: Okay, I would like to see it. 

Traci: So I got this cupcake this morning. And they were doing a fundraiser for Meals on Wheels or something. Well, the cupcake had a pipette of Bailey’s in it. 

Nicole: Oh hot dang.

Traci: I know, right? Let me ask you this. If we have an HR policy that says and I’m gonna have people angry with me right now, and I’m okay with that. But if we have an HR policy that essentially says zero tolerance to alcohol whatsoever at any point in time. Is that okay? Or is that not okay? 

Is that okay when we go out to those networking events? Is that you know, so I’m just gonna like, list it out and say, is that you can’t have it at work at your desk? Is it that you can’t have it at any event whatsoever if you’re representing the organization? Is it yatta, yatta, yatta, yatta?

Nicole: Right. What about the people working remotely? What are we gonna do with them?

Traci: Right? I mean, you know, we can’t check their water bottle, to see if there’s vodka in it. I mean.

Nicole: That’s right. I mean, and everybody’s got the stuff above the refrigerator. I’ll just say it, it’s up there.

Traci: So like this really comes to look at what is our HR policy and I just picked that one randomly because I had a cupcake with a pipette of Bailey’s in it.

Nicole: How early was this?

Traci: I had it for lunch.

Nicole: Oh, okay, good. So as long as you didn’t start at eight o’clock. That’s good.

Traci: No. And what I realized was I really, like the cupcake was beautiful, but I really didn’t like the Bailey’s in the cupcake. And I’ve never had a cupcake with Bailey’s in it before. So I just decided I was going to try it.

Nicole: It’s much better in your coffee. That’s rude.

Traci: So anyway. Do you love how we just completely went off the rails.

Nicole: No, we’re there. We’re talking about what does the HR department do to help us build this culture? And I do want to say you don’t, you know, you don’t delegate culture to one department. I want to say that for the second time. I want to say that everybody’s working on it. But HR, because that’s the people we love to hang out with, and we are designing policies, unintended consequences. So I think that is such a good thing. All right. So what else can our HR folk do to really help build a vibrant culture?

Traci: Right. So one of them is the unintended consequence. Let’s make sure we’re not, you know, cutting the legs off at the knees with not allowing individuals to be successful in the job that they need to do. Right. So I think that that’s one. The second one that I want to look at is if we think back to the stories that I just told, especially about teams, right?

So you know, HR has a huge piece to play in crafting the policies, but also crafting the procedures and the stories that are being told inside the organization. Right. So if we think back to what is the compensation story that your organization is telling, are we telling a compensation story that says we’re nickel and diming you and we’re trying to get every ounce of productivity out of you, and we don’t care about you? 

Or is HR with the leaders telling a compensation story that says we really value you, and here’s how we’re doing that. Guess what. It doesn’t just land on HR because it is in partnership and in tandem with the leaders in our organization, which means every single leader, manager supervisor needs to know how to have a money conversation. Okay.

Nicole: I just was talking to somebody about this that I’m mentoring through the SHRM in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m like, people are, the employee says, I would like to make more money and everybody quivers. It’s like you should say, congratulations. That’s exactly the type of person we want working here. Somebody wants, somebody who loves to make money. So, I couldn’t agree more. So, can you tell us like maybe a great story about how you crafted this message with a leader?

Traci: Yeah, for sure. There’s a couple, there’s a couple things here. Right. So when you’re having a conversation with a leader, and I’m gonna pull from one of my good friends, Laura, who would, and Nicole, yes, she’s somebody you should have on here. And she’s been on my podcast, too. So do whatever you want to do with that, but.

Nicole: Laura got it. 

Traci: Yeah. So one of my good friends Laura Morgan, had, I love how she explained this, and she explained it better than I could ever explain it. So what she said was, so often we are having a compensation conversation with our employees, like a parent child. Like a kiddo asking for more allowance, and you;re telling them yes/no, because you have control. Versus having an adult to adult conversation about compensation. 

Meaning, you know, and I love what you just said. Congratulations, you want to have more money, this is why I want you here. So tell me how you have earned that, and how you will continue to earn that, that has you be fulfilled in your work, A. Two provides value to the organization that allows us to meet our business outcomes.

Nicole: 100% Yes. And you know, here’s the thing. You know, we forget, you know, like, when we opened up the show, I said she’s got all these letters after her name. She’s a very highly qualified, studied, passed all the tests kind of gal, Traci, who we’re talking to. But we forget that our employees sometimes they don’t have the business acumen. 

I mean, they might have a master’s degree, but it’s in music. Or you know, and they didn’t take you know, the P&L class, the profit and loss, you know, statement class. And so they don’t really understand how all of business works. So having this adult to adult. So, this is Laura Morgan, does she reference the book, I’m Okay, You’re Okay by Eric Berne? 

Traci: I don’t think so.

Nicole: Okay, because that language sounds like Eric Berne’s, transactional analysis of parent, child, adult. Yeah. So I was like, oh, my God, I know what she’s talking about. All right. Yes, I agree. I am going to call Laura. Right as soon as we get off this Zoom.

Traci: Let me tell you how this came up with a client last week. So last week, I had a client call me and she goes Traci, you know, this employee, we just gave her a title and she’s totally deserving of it. But she wants X amount of increase. And I said, okay, so what’d you tell her? She goes, well, you know, I don’t think I did it, right.

Nicole: Right, and you will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. And like we said, she probably was just like, scared, you know, like, talking about money is weird for people.

Traci: We know. So I said, okay, I said, well, let’s have a conversation with her. And so when I said, I’m gonna pull out of my back pocket, what one of the leaders said to me in my first director role, so we get on the Zoom, and it’s the, it’s the owner of the company and the employee. And, you know, she’s all excited about her new role, and this and that, and I said, well, I’m gonna pop your bubble here for a second. I said, you are no longer in the cheap seats. 

She kind of looked at me. And I said, look, you know, when we’re employees, we can sit in the cheap seats in the stadium. And we can blame everyone else for the decisions they’re making and talk trash about how awful those decisions were. You are now at a director level, which means you’re the one making the decisions, and you’re no longer in the cheap seats. You’re on the arena floor.

Nicole: Right. Oh, I love a good concert analogy.

Traci: I know, isn’t that great? We pulled a little Brene Brown in. We pulled a little bit of all sorts of things in. So, with that being said, knowing that we just shifted to a different level of a position, we also need to start looking at things from a 360 degree view, right? So when we look at compensation, instead of it just being what’s in the best interest of me, we also need to look at it in what is in the best interest of our client, and what is in the best interest of the organization. 

So the question, you know, I want to ask you, and what I introduced her to is, what are the unintended consequences of you getting more money? We only have one pot of soup here. When it’s gone, it’s gone. So and I think that that is something so often that employees don’t realize.

Nicole: Yeah, right. And that’s what I was saying about that whole P&L thing. Like, you know, I’ll ask people in a group. I teach business acumen a lot of times to people who are in organizations and need to understand how things roll. And so it’s like, you know, what’s the biggest line item on the profit and loss statement? Payroll, right? 

It’s the biggest thing out there. So this is looked at with a lot of energy, right? Like we’re zoned in on this, because this is the biggest place we spend money. And we’re glad to do it. As long as when we bump that expense up, we’re making sure the revenue number goes up, because it’s all money in money out. We have something leftover. 

And it’s got to be a positive number or we’re in deep stuff. Nobody’s getting a paycheck. And so it’s just explaining that, you know, like that one pot of soup, that’s all the money we’ve got. And so how are you going to move the needle on revenue, even if you’re not a revenue generator?

Traci: Right, right. And that was really where the conversation went. Was, you know, we then created with her, and I’m a huge fan of base plus commission plans. Because, again, what is the compensation story you’re telling? Are you telling a compensation story that says you keep the seat warm, you get X amount of money, no matter what. Which so often is the compensation story we’re telling. 

Or are we telling a compensation story that says, look, here’s your base, here’s your salary, for sure. Here’s the expectation to get there. But yet, here’s your stretch goals. So and with those stretch goals, brings additional compensation for you, and it brings additional compensation for the organization.

Nicole: Yeah, 100%. Yeah, if you’d like to make more money, earn us more money. That’s the thing. All right. So I just don’t want to miss this. So we’re talking about HR. What can we do. So two things so far. One, look at your policies, make sure you don’t have unintended consequences. 

And then number two, get very clear about what the compensation story you are telling. That is money right there people. You know, and getting leaders in a room to teach them how to talk about it too once you get your story straight. All right, very good. Is there a third nugget you’ve got for us on what HR folks can do to build a vibrant culture?

Traci: So the third nugget that I have is, again, I’m going to borrow from a friend Steve Brown is an amazing, amazing, I think most of our audience has heard of Steve Brown. So Steve has two books out HR on Purpose, and I don’t know there’s another one. Anyway, so Steve has two books out and one of the things that he looks at in his book and I included this in my inspire program, because it’s so darn good, is he calls it, his 30 Day Challenge. 

And what is the 30 Day Challenge? The 30 Day Challenge is when you start an organization, you have 30 days to go and know every single person’s name, their role, and why work is fulfilling for them.

Nicole: Oh, I love that. That’s fantastic. Because this is part of our onboarding.

Traci: Yeah, yeah. And here’s what that does. Is one that humanizes you as HR because, you know, we are human resources. But so often we get stuck in the ick.

Nicole: Right, we’re the principal’s office.

Traci: Right. So it humanizes HR number one. But number two is you build a relationship with every single person on your team. And that is gold.

Nicole: Yeah, I love that so much. I think that’s fantastic. All right. So three things. Let me just repeat it back to you. Look at your policies for unintended consequences. Sit a hot second, and think about that. Get up with your folks and figure out what compensation story you’re telling. 

And then when you have a new person in the door, have them go meet every single person and figure out what fulfills them. Right. And so isn’t that great, too, because that’s a two way thing, right? The new person goes out and asks the question, but the people being asked better have a good answer.

Traci: Right. And here is my nudge. Is if you haven’t done this yet, just because you’ve been there for X period of time, you can still go do it.

Nicole: That’s right, like you’re in 18 months or 18 years, you can still wander around, talk to everybody. 100% I love it. I love it. Okay, fantastic. So, you know, you and I go out, we do training, we do all this stuff. And so what are you seeing out there? What are leaders struggling with right now? And how are you helping them? Where’s everybody struggling? I’m thinking the people listening might be on the same struggle bus.

Traci: Right. Well, I think there’s a couple things to the struggle right now, right. I think one of those things with the struggle is I can’t find the people that I need for my roles. And there’s all these layoffs happening. Why is there a disconnect?

Nicole: Yeah, I’m not confused. Are we good? Are we bad? What’s happening?

Traci: Yeah, I think that that’s one, and what I will go back to is those four drivers of engagement that I talked about, right? So if you’re having issues hiring the right person for a role, make sure you know what the role is, you know. And then once you’re sure you know, what that role is, you know, what you need on the team. And, you know, from a leadership perspective, what, again, what you need on that team, because guess what, I hire people that are way the heck smarter than I am.

Nicole: That’s very good. 

Traci: You know, I don’t want to know the thing that they know.

Nicole: It’s right, my head is swimming right now. I’m full.

Traci: Right. And so, you know, with that, I think that that’s something that’s really important is, hey, when we’re hiring, let’s just make really sure that we’re clear about what we’re hiring for. We’re clear about our culture, you know, we’re clear about the position. And we’re clear about how are we going to support them to get them up to speed to be successful?

Nicole: That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. Okay, so know the role, know the team and hire people smarter than me. Okay, are smarter than you, I should say. Yeah. And, you know, you might be thinking, know, the role. I mean, I need an accountant. But I think what you’re talking about, well, is this what you’re seeing? 

I’m seeing this out there, Traci, like, people have been in a role for a long time. They’re retiring, or they’re doing whatever, and they leave the company, but it’s like that job morphed big time. Like this person, so like, the job description that’s in HR is like really outdated. And so we gotta get that sucker updated. Right?

Traci: Right. Right. And it’s also looking at yes, you may be hiring an accountant. Great. However, what are those other items that are needed within the role that may not necessarily be on the job description, right? Like, what are the added value things? What are the, you know, so it’s an accountant. But yet, is this an accountant for a nonprofit organization that has a very different, you know, set of books and has to deal with, you know, 15 different grants, both federal and state and a couple pass through grants that are super complicated. 

That’s a very different type, then, you know, another, you know, for profit industry. You know, so those are just some examples. So know what the job is and know the depth and the breadth, right? So the larger the organization, the deeper the position is going to go, but it’s not necessarily going to be as wide unless you’re in, you know, the CFO type of a position. 

Whereas a smaller organization, it’s gonna be super wide, but not as deep because you don’t have as many complexities based on that .And sometimes you have more complexities, right. So just being really clear. The size of the organization, the industry, the contracts, the grants, all those things play into it. And so often in HR, that all goes over our head that we don’t ask those questions.

Nicole: Yeah. And I think what you said earlier, which just clicked in my head, so I’m connecting the dots with what you’re laying down. And thank you for telling everybody all this great stuff. But the thing you said earlier about, what team are they on? Like, that’s also part of this thing, right? Like what, you know, know the role, but then what team are they on? 

Back to that. And then, you know, right fit is also more than they can run a calculator in the accounting department. Right. It’s more about this type of person is successful in this role in this organization. I think that’s how you get a vibrant culture.

Traci: Yeah, for sure, for sure. Because paying close attention to the organizational things, and guess what, whenever you lose longevity, you lose that historical information. 

Nicole: That’s right. That knowledge worker.

Traci: Right. And that’s incredibly important. And I want to say with teams too, you can have somebody on five different teams. They’re going to be on the finance team, they’re going to be on the leadership team, they may be on a safety committee they may be on. So they’re going to be on different teams. And when you’re hiring them in, you want to look at what is the core one or two teams they’re truly serving on that will be 80% of their day to day.

Nicole: Yeah. And then making sure that’s all aligned. Absolutely. I love that. Okay. So in terms of culture, if you look out there, what companies do you really admire? You might have one right there in Wisconsin. Did I tell you that I went to high school in Wisconsin, and middle school. And lived in Walkinshaw, got my driver’s license and Oconomowoc. Did I tell you all this? 

Traci: You did! You did! 

Nicole: Hey, those of you listening, you know, Wisconsin isn’t seen as like the big vacation destination, but I’m here to tell you, you should drive yourself up there for a summer and get your little Airbnb on a lake or something. You will thank me and Traci later. It is in a great state.

Traci: Yes, I agree. And I’m gonna take this and push this one step further. And you may not agree with me here. Snowmobiling up north is absolutely amazing. If you’ve never been snowmobiling, where you’re flying down a trail in between trees at 60 miles an hour, and the snow goes down your back, it like, trickles down and you’re like, ahh, it’s beautiful. 

Nicole: Absolutely. 

Traci: You’re warm because you’re dressed for it.

Nicole: All you have to do is put clothes on people.

Traci: That might be the best line of the entire podcast, Nicole.

Nicole: Right? Pull that out. Note to producers pull that line out.

Traci: All you have to do is put clothes on people.

Nicole: Well, that’s also a good HR policy.

Traci: Well, yes. During COVID and people weren’t wearing pants, and you’re like, what is happening?

Nicole: That’s exactly right. Yeah, please put your pants on.

Traci: Well we have covered everything from alcohol at work to putting clothes on.

Nicole: Well, these are important issues that my listeners want to know about. So I feel good about everything we’re doing. It’s not a problem. Yeah. And so I gotta tell you a quick story about Wisconsin. So when I was a little girl, the snow which snows so much overnight, and then it would drift up against the front door that my cousins and I would go out our upstairs windows to get out of the house and slide down the snow that had drifted up against because we’re in the middle, this big field. And then there was like people in the neighborhood. They’re like, they’d call on an old fashioned telephone that went around rotary phones, and they’d call.

Traci: You’re showing your age. You realize, right?

Nicole: I’m a proud 56 year old gal. No problem. So they would call. 

Traci: You’ve got your Smurf shampoo.

Nicole: That’s right. So they would call and they’d say do you want us to pick up Nicole and take her to school? And so we had a whole little snowmobile, you know, activation thing that happened. Because no buses are coming. And guess what, if it snowed, listen people in North Carolina. We went to school when it snowed. Otherwise you would never go to school.

Traci: That’s changed a bit. It’s weird.

Nicole: Oh, really? Okay. Well, these were the old days where you had to walk uphill twice both ways to get to school. So those were the days. Yeah. All right. Very good. All right. Well, I know that the people listening are like don’t end this. This is just too fun to listen to. But we were at the top of the hour. And so I wanted to find out if you had like one more nugget. 

I know people are like, wait, wait, wait. Traci knows what she’s talking about. Please lay down one more nugget. Leave us with like one more thing to put in our pocket that might help us build a vibrant culture.

Traci: Curious questions.

Nicole: Oh, all right. Now you’re talking my language.

Traci: So you know, curious questions are so important. So the question that I keep in my back pocket at all times is I wonder what is on their plate that I don’t yet know about. And the reason why that helps you build a vibrant culture is it keeps you curious and you stay out of this task steamroller mode and truly connect with your people.

Nicole: Yeah and, and that relates back to the very top of this podcast where she said you know when you work with your folks, sit down with them and maybe help them prioritize their day before they get rolling. You know people don’t want to be micromanaged. But, you know, if you give them a lot to do, they are confused about what a priority is, you know. 

If you’re moving mach five with your blue hair on fire, you know, it’s really important to sit down and do this curious questioning. I love that. That’s a wonderful nugget to leave us with. Well, Tracyi, if people wanted to get up with you, hire you, download your HR genius, put a compensation story together. How would they find you?

Traci: Absolutely. So you’re gonna find me at I am all over LinkedIn. So you’ll find that. And our podcast is called Talent Optimization with Traci Scherck.

Nicole: Okay, fantastic. All right. Well, it’s so good to have my fellow cheese eating, bratwurst eating. Do you drink beer and Bailey’s? That’s the question.

Traci: Not together. And I don’t typically drink Bailey’s.

Nicole: All right, well, Wisconsin is known for all that, but I mean. And a nice steak. I’m saying get an Airbnb on a lake in Wisconsin. That’s what you need to do. All right. I’m so glad that you’ve been on the show. Thank you so much. I’ve had great laughs and it’s been fun to be with you. Thank you so much.

Traci: You too. Have a great one.

Voiceover: Ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with her strategies, systems and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

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