The BOLD Show | Episode 04 | Small Business HR
Colene Elridge of Be More Consulting has trained thousands in workplace culture and open communication. In this episode of the BOLD Show, she shares her advice with host Mike Arce on why millennials are great to hire, the dos and don’ts of interviewing potential employees, and how to develop leaders within your team.
(Mike) Today, I’m here with Colene Elridge, also known as Coach Colene, the owner of Be More Consulting. With over 15 years of HR experience, she has trained thousands in workplace culture and open communication. Colene is a sought after speaker and moderator at numerous events, conferences, and retreats throughout the entire country, and one of the speakers at MINDBODY’s 2017 BOLD conference. Today we are going to be talking about why millennials are great to hire. The Do’s and Don’ts when interviewing new potential employees, and how to develop leaders within your company.
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(Mike) What’s up everybody. I’m Mike Arce, and welcome back to another episode of the BOLD Show. Colene, are you ready to get bold?
(Colene) Let’s do it!
(Mike) OK, so the first question I have for you is, because the millennial thing is something a lot of people have a hard time with. So when much of the world has a hard time either hiring, or working with, or managing millennials, you actually say, they can be extremely valuable employees.
(Colene) Absolutely. Generational differences is one of my favorite topics to talk about because in the next three years, millennials will make up 50% of the workforce. Let that sink in for just a second—50%.
So, what I always tell companies is, don’t bury your head in the sand about it. Millennials add a lot of value to the workforce. Number one, they are incredibly optimistic. Number two, they are incredibly hard workers. So, it may not seem like it on the surface, because we have this perception of millennials being people that don’t want to come to work, and want to wear blue jeans, and want to be casual all the time. But really, if you tie them to a mission, millennials will come through in a pinch. So they are really, really great to work with. They also are the most diverse and inclusive workforce. So they are really going to be shifting the workplace culture toward inclusion and diversity.
(Mike) That’s really cool. And you know, the great thing about it, too, is that they’ve been learning for the last 10-15 years solid, new concepts.
(Colene) Right, they are the most educated workforce we’ve ever had. Millennials will be.
(Mike) Awesome. Next question I have for you is, so in the interview process, a lot of small businesses are not properly trained on how to host proper interviews. There are actually questions you can ask that can get you into trouble. And there are questions you can ask that can help you make better decisions.
So, what are questions that you can and cannot ask when conducting a really great interview?
(Colene) So, I think it’s pretty obvious that you should never ask a woman if she’s pregnant, or if she is planning to have kids. And you would be surprised how sometimes that comes up in conversations. And it will come up in ways like, “So, tell me about your family life.” That is a trigger for a lot of people. So just be cognizant of that. Anything that someone could then say, “The reason I didn’t get this job is because of X, Y, Z,” which might be a protected class. I always tell organizations to look at things like behavioral or situational questions like, “So tell me about a time that you experienced conflict, and how did you overcome that?” So, if you can see how someone thinks about a process, that’s really helpful in the hiring decision.
(Mike) What about questions that can insinuate age?
(Colene) Oh yeah, the protected class for age is 40 and over. So anything that you could ask like, “So what year did you graduate from college?” or “Tell me about how you used to do things at such and such?” might imply age, or that you are looking at something like how long they’ve worked for a company. You just have to be mindful about that.
(Mike) What about questions regarding ethnicity or anything like that?
(Colene) So, for the most part, people are pretty clear. Today I don’t see much, really, about that. You don’t want to ask someone, “Where is your family from. No really, where are they from?“ Or: “where are you from? No really, where are you from?” I always say, just don’t be a weird person! It’s that easy. Just don’t ask questions that you wouldn’t really like to be asked either. And there is a lot of great information out there about acceptable questions to ask during the interview process.
(Mike) So, now for strategic purposes, you’ve not only been able to interview people but you’ve also helped train and coach people on how to interview people the right way. When it comes to, like, the best questions to ask to really be able to judge the character of somebody, or even their work ethic, or anything like that, what are some questions that you would say, “I’m always going to ask that?”
(Colene) So, one of my favorite interviewing experiences is, I asked someone, “Tell me about a time you had conflict and how you resolved it.” And he went on about this story, about how he hit this woman with his clipboard. And the second he started talking about it, I just set my pen down, because it’s like, “Obviously, you don’t handle conflict very well.” So, how do you handle conflict? Because it is inevitable for any workplace. So, I want to see, one, what was the situation? What action did you take? And what outcomes did you get from it? I want them to show me that they think through an entire process.
(Mike) That’s really great. Cool. Now, there is the other side of it, right. Hiring is fun, right. But then there is firing, which sometimes has to happen if the employees are not meeting the expectations, or constantly breaking the rules, or for whatever reason. But, a lot of people let people go incorrectly, as well. And there are ways you can hurt the company, hurt your business and your other employees that you want to keep if you don’t do that correctly. So, what are some ways you can mess up in the firing process and how should you conduct it to make sure you are protected?
(Colene) So, firing fast, and firing slow—sometimes there is a reason for each one of those. If something has happened and you can justifiably say, “This person has to go today.” Absolutely do that. So, if there is some type of sexual harassment, any type of harassment that you can say, for sure that happened because you witnessed it, then yes. And other times, you want to make sure that if you are firing someone, you have the right documentation to say, “This is why we are firing them.” Because anyone can sue you and say, “Well, I think I got fired because of my age, or because of my race, or because I’m a woman.” Well no, because, we have all this documentation that says this is why we let you go.
(Mike) Now, when you say documentation, give me an example of the type of documentation that a court would want to see, so that they would say, “OK, you guys did it right. You did what you were supposed to do.”
(Colene) So they would want to see that you took progressive disciplinary action. So, did you give them a verbal warning? Did you give them a written warning? Did you provide them with any type of thing to let them know that this could potentially be coming? Was there any type of written documentation that said, “This is what our policy is, and that they were aware of what the policy is, and that it was in place?” Policies are so big, and so many companies, especially small businesses, are not proactive with their policies, but that really is a life-saver for you.
(Mike) If I wanted to learn more about HR, and the Do’s and Don’ts, because it’s scaring me a little bit, where can I go to learn what the rules really are, and what they are really not?
(Colene) Yeah, we have lots of great resources: I could help you. The Society of Human Resources Management—otherwise known as SHRM—they have lots of documentation on their website that you could access and that you could just use for your own benefit, as well.
(Mike) Awesome. You have also been recognized for knowing how to develop a great culture. And that’s really important because when you have a great culture, not only are you able to keep great employees, and keep them happy and working hard, but you are also able to attract other A-players, as well. So, talk to me about the few main points, or principles that you should follow if you want to have a great culture.
(Colene) Yeah, so for me, it’s all about creating an inclusive workforce. And I describe inclusion as this: A state of feeling valued, respected, and supported. So imagine coming to work every day and every single person in that organization feels the sense of value, respect, and support just because they are a member of that organization. So, I always encourage leaders to ask themselves these questions: How am I valuing my employees? How am I respecting my employees? How am I making them feel a part of this culture just because they are a member of this organization?
(Mike) Awesome. And what about—obviously, some people like praise, some people like public praise, some people don’t. Have you ever worked with personality assessments, DISC assessments, anything like that?
(Colene) I’m big on personality assessments. I think they are helpful, really helpful to get to know yourself and to get to know the other people on your teams. But I don’t think that it stops there. Sometimes I see organizations say, “Well, we did the Myers-Briggs, so we are good to go.” But you have to dig a little deeper and really get to know your employees and see what is it that they like. Because if I’m going to publicly praise you, and it’s going to terrify you, I’m not going to get the benefits of that praise and recognition, and you’re not going to benefit from the recognition either. So, learning what your employee’s likes and dislikes are is really a valuable skill set.
(Mike) Is there a favorite book or influencer, or somebody to follow or read, that you are like, great, if people can read this book, their life would be so much easier to develop a culture?
(Colene) Yes, Simon Sinek’s Start with the Why. He is phenomenal at what he does, and I think that so many people forget that “why” in the day-to-day work that they do. So that would be one of my first recommendations.
(Mike) Love it. OK, great. You’ve gotten to work with some pretty high performers, not just on the business owner level, but also with some pretty high performing employees. Have you caught a trend, or pattern, in routines on teams, that they all seem to do or have?
(Colene) The biggest one that I see with high performers is two things: They are incredibly intentional about what they do. So, they don’t just do busy work for the sake of doing busy work. Everything has a purpose, and they have such clarity about what it is they want in life that they can visualize that and can expound on it to anyone at any time. So, clarity and visualization is really the thing I see high performers excel at.
(Mike) Awesome. And education is something that I notice that they do better than the people that are a little below and still catching up. Like the freshman versus the seniors. It seems like when I was first starting out, and working with a lot of business owners, I feel that level didn’t read a lot. They just worked harder. But when you get up to the top, the people that are at the top. They read more than anyone else and they learn.
(Colene) Constantly learning. It’s not necessarily a standardized education, it’s that they are constantly reading new information. That way they are aware of the trends, new things, new products, new information. So, they are constantly learning all the time.
(Mike) Awesome. You have a great story. You lost your father at a very young age. And you were raised by your single mother. That’s a tough situation to just grow up in. You don’t hear a lot of great success stories from that, but you are one of them. What was your driving force in order to go through such really hard times and push through and get to where you are at today?
(Colene) I have an amazing mother, and that’s something I don’t take for granted. She really is a rockstar mom. But, she really valued education for us, as well, for my brother and I. So I never underestimated the value of educating myself. The other big thing was that I vividly remember being really young and hearing statistics about what my life should be like. And I remember consciously saying, “He’s talking about me, but that’s not me.” And so, what can I do to end up in that situation? And that was a driving force for a very long time. I wanted to be a really good student because statistically, I should not have been. I wanted to go to school and get a master’s degree because statistically, that should not be the case. And so, I was really driven by these external factors. And then all of a sudden, it clicked with me. You know what, Colene, you are doing this because you deserve this. You don’t have to prove Dan Quayle wrong. You deserve to have a great life, regardless of the circumstances you were born into, or what happened to you. You are not your circumstance. And so that is something I’m really passionate about. In fact, my logo has a bee in it. Technically, bees are not supposed to be able to fly because of the weight of their body. But they do, right? So, exceeding the expectation. That’s what I want to do.
(Mike) I did not know that. That’s actually pretty cool. I’m going to use that, is that OK? I’ll give you credit.
(Colene) Totally do.
(Mike) So, last thing I want to ask, when you are working with such high performers and when you are really hoping to coach people through culture and developing great cultures, you have to develop great leaders as well. And really watch someone go from maybe a poor leader or a mediocre leader to someone who really takes ownership over that role. What are some things that, say, what if someone that is watching or listening today goes, “I want to be a better leader. I don’t know what that means yet, but I want to be a better leader.” Let’s tell them what that means. What are some of the principles they have to follow?
(Colene) I’d say, one of the biggest things is to work on your communications skills. Because you cannot lead if you cannot effectively communicate. And the second thing is to work on your people skills. So, beyond communication, work on how you can read a person. Can you read their non-verbal communication language, as well? Because so many leaders fail in that area. And just be transparent and honest with people. My belief is, if information can be shared, it should be shared. So many leaders hold on to information as a source of power.
(Mike) Like it makes them feel vulnerable.
(Colene) Absolutely. Versus, if you share this information and you say, “Look, this is where we are at today.” I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I’m going to be honest and open with you.
Your employees are going to respect that a lot more, and you are going to get loyalty, retention, and engagement. Because they are loyal to you, period. And so many people take that for granted.
(Mike) I got to see Marcus Lemonis speak, and he talked a lot about being vulnerable and showing vulnerability to actually be a better leader and create a better culture. So, that’s awesome.
You’ve got a lot going on. Where can people find you to learn more about you and what you teach, so that people can learn from you?
(Colene) Yeah, really easy. you can go to my website, which is CoachColene.com, or BeMoreTransform.com.
Whichever is easier for you to remember, it takes you to the same site. Or, you can follow me on Instagram. I love posting on Instagram. I send out a Monday morning pep talk every Monday to all my subscribers that gives you a little inspiration and something to focus on for the week.
(Mike) There’s nobody here that doesn’t need a pep talk on a Monday. Colene, thank you for joining us. And guys, this was another great episode here on The MINDBODY BOLD Show. We will see you next time.
Thank you so much for joining us today. If you like this episode, then subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher, and to our YouTube channel to never miss an episode. You can get all the links by going to BOLDShow.com.
Thanks, and see you next time.
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