00:03 Karin W:
What's uniquely yours?
00:05 Paola G:
Isn't this a wonderful way to start this episode of the World of Work podcast or the WOW, as we continue to explore, what are some tips; what's some advice we can provide for those who may be looking for a job at the moment. In the previous episode, it was all about how to manage transitions and how important that is. And now we go a little bit more into the depth and into the detail on what to do, what are the can do's, you should do's, and absolutely the must-do's when you're ready to face the job market once again. And figuring out what's uniquely yours sounds like a really really great place to start and to consider.
00:45 Paola G:
But before we do that, a quick introduction regarding the guest speaker of today's episode. So I'm joined by Karen Wierinck, she's a global HR business leader in the pharma and the biotech industry. She has lived and worked in the USA and various locations across Europe. And in the course of her almost 30 years career, she has led, lived through, and experienced herself downsizings and reorganizations numerous numerous times. And I've asked Karen before actually kicking it off, why is it that she wanted to take part of this podcast.
01:21 Karin W:
Because I have seen a lot of this. I have lived it myself, I've experienced it, either because I was being relocated or I lost my job. I've led consultations, and I think over the years, I may have had hundreds of conversations with people in this particular context. So, that's why I think there's probably some lessons that I would love to share with the audience.
01:56 Paola G:
I thank you for your time and for your contribution, which I'm sure many people will value. Because, the purpose is actually to make these conversations as real as possible as well, and as authentic as genuine and as practical, so that people can walk away with some gems and some inspirations of particularly what they can do in these moments if their job has been impacted and there's no one magic solution or one magic bullet. But what would you say to those individuals like right now, who have lost their job, are struggling and don't even know where to start, what would you tell them? What would you recommend?
02:48 Karin W:
Maybe a little bit of a step back; what I will bring to the table will be a combination of these experiences, and having lived them as HR, as a manager, and I'll weave all of that into hopefully what are some pragmatic suggestions. What I would say is, it's important that you take stock, what is it that you bring to the table? What are the achievements that you have made over the course of a period of time? What's the impact, and can you quantify that?
03:28 Karin W:
How can you express that? It's important that you start thinking about what your unique experiences are, your unique skills, where is it that you're at your best, what might be the circumstances for that? What is it that you've learned? What are the lessons you have accumulated? What is it that you're proud of, and what is it that you want to do next? And this one maybe might be hard, because if you're finding yourself on the crossroads, then it might be not entirely clear to you what it is that you want to do next.
04:08 Karin W:
I've done some coaching certification, and a tool that I find useful is that you can say yes or no to certain things. So you can brainstorm a little bit with yourself and say, "What would I want you say yes to in terms of tasks? What would be some of the things that I would say no to? What about the culture, the manager, the context? So that you start building what that next horizon looks like a little bit from the ground up. And if it's very clear to you what it is that you want to do, then, you're maybe already a step further ahead in the process, right?
04:54 Paola G:
Would you see this as well an opportunity to... Like you were saying before, like to step back and really reflect as well of course on your past, what you've done, what you've achieved, what your passions are, and also, like you were saying, you're looking in the future, determining what is the yes and what's the no? What are those things that, exactly because of the past, you say, "Now I'm... I... Even if it may be a difficult situation economically... " 'cause that's another important component, right? If your job has been impacted then that has an impact on your finances, of course, I think that does require perhaps a different reflection and conversation. But it does sound like it's a thoughtful process, it's not an immediate type of answer.
05:41 Karin W:
Yeah. Well, I'm like... People are different, and, some need more, some need less time. Depending upon how you are feeling as a result of the process, where are you in it? And, does it come as a relief, or does it come as a shock, or, is it something that you're grieving over? The answers might be different, right? I do think that how much time you need will be dependent upon all of that. But, I do think that, or I very strongly believe and suggest that it's better to go with what is right for you, than to go with the first that presents itself. I think there's a very big difference there.
06:37 Karin W:
Is it what you want? Is it the company that you want? Is it the context that you want? The industry… that would be... Yeah, because if you're in your sweet spot, whether it's role, whether it's context, it will be so much easier for you on the job, as well, right? And it will be so much more WOW, with so much joy.
07:02 Paola G:
Right, that's what it's about exactly, exactly. And how would you say people can find that sweet spot?
07:11 Karin W:
I had a manager at Pfizer and I was struggling at Pfizer because I had come from a very different... Culturally, very different organization. His name is Phil Sleeman and if Phil would listen to this, he may recognize this story. Phil had an incredible knack of helping someone find both what they're good at and what helped them, or what would make them trip up or what their own personal hurdles were. One of the things that Phil talked about is, what's uniquely yours? And I always... I love this expression. What's uniquely yours? And try to find what that is. What's your value proposition? In HR, I will sometimes ask when people come and interview, "Why should I hire you as opposed to Liz or John who are maybe also very qualified? What is it that sets you apart?" So, I think to reflect on that, to ask people that know you well, or that have insight, but also to really think about when are you in flow? When are you at your best? And to think not only about the what of that... What is it that you do? But the context, the circumstance... I think that that could be helpful.
09:02 Paola G:
Sounds like we owe him some copyrights on that expression. [chuckle] What's uniquely yours, wasn’t it? And oh, we could have him as well as a guest one day in these WOW moments. And I completely agree with you by the way. When we're on the other side, recruiting or interviewing candidates for roles, of course, we do look into the qualifications, we do look into the experience, we look at all of that, but we also do look at differentiation, what is it about John versus Mary versus Steve versus Laura that really makes them unique in their own way and most appropriate as well for the context within which somebody's being hired. Because to your point, and I think perhaps that would also be an important call-out, is for individuals not to feel frustrated if... They are unique, everybody is, they have an amazing value proposition, they think they're the best ever for that job, and yet they don't take it, they don't get it. And often it's probably because of the context, or probably because of the culture or the fit may not be the best fit. What would you say to that, to the importance of the right fit, like you were mentioning before?
10:30 Karin W:
Critical. I'm like, it will be the difference between doing a job and enjoying a job. Between being and thriving in a way, right? As HR, if it's someone who is on paper perfect, but not the right fit, I would recommend not hiring, because it's gonna be a short-term proposition, and as a candidate, an employee, it's the same. I'm like, you're entering to a degree into a marriage, and if already from the start, it doesn't click, then it's gonna be short-lived. So for me, it's critical in every way. And you alluded to something else a little bit in your question Paola, and I thought you were gonna ask me something else, what if you see a job and you really want it and you don't get it? Then how do you recover in a way? And like and if this happens a couple of times, how do you recover? I thought you were gonna ask me that. [chuckle]
11:51 Paola G:
That is a very important question, absolutely. Yeah, it's how do you manage these frustrations which do happen along the way, that things may not pan out the way you want them to. What would you say to that actually?
12:03 Karin W:
And this has happened to me, and I really wanted that job, and I probably wanted it too badly, because I think there's also something as being too eager or come across as too desperate, so I would always say, whatever the situation... If this would happen to you and you're so eager and you so want it, try to find some balance before you go into the interview and don't overwhelm the counterpart, in a way, right? So yeah, I'm like, this sounds maybe funny, but for someone like me, that could happen. So how do you then recover from that? In my case I got a lot of support from others, others being both colleagues, both family, who knew, who could feel that I was deeply disappointed and helped me.
13:15 Karin W:
And I had to grieve because it was like, "Oh, I really wanted it." And I allowed myself... I had two hours of crying and I allowed myself to try and get it out of my system, but I also used it as a moment to really think about, Okay, I thought it was really right and I really wanted it, and what was or what wasn't because clearly, I felt it was right. But the other party didn't. And what was it that if I would do it over again that I would do differently. Didn't I do enough of my homework, were there certain things that I didn't approach in the right way, or was it simply not the right fit, in which case then truly it's for the better, right? But I use it also as an opportunity to really (yeah) reflect and think and then get ready for the next...
14:30 Paola G:
Exactly, for bouncing back, and I'm wondering, did you use that as an opportunity not only to do your own reflections, but also to ask for feedback because sometimes when things don't go the right way and then we get the bad news saying, "Sorry, we didn't choose you. and sometimes we don't take that opportunity to kind of say, "Well, why not... Could you tell me the three things you'd liked about me or the three things that perhaps would have worked really, really well in this role and the other three things, or that one thing that really made the difference?" Did you take that opportunity to ask the question... Would you even recommend that to some candidates ask for feedback, if they get a negative response?
15:15 Karin W:
Yeah, the answer is yes. You take the opportunity to ask for important feedback, you may not always get as much as you would want... That's maybe... That's been my experience. And a little bit leading to as HR, I would then say look, and like, I do think that you have the responsibility to give that feedback, right, and if you care about an individual, a candidate, also as part of building your brand for that organization, I think it's your responsibility to give feedback, but it's not always that you get lots of or very deep feedback in a way, so... And sometimes, sometimes it's circumstantial, right? And then that's just the way it is. But the answer is yes. Something else that came to my mind, if you're entering into a process and before there is a decision on: are you progressing in the next step? What I have always liked as an HR, that I practiced as a candidate as well, because I'm kind of linking the two things that, that is that after a conversation, I also share some of my thoughts on what I have perceived, right? What are some of the things that I've learned through this interview, through this engagement? In what way could I make a contribution and what are maybe some of the things that I'm curious about? And then to express at the same time, either my interest or if you're not interested, that you also express the why not. Because it could go either way, right? But I would also recommend that in the course of the process.
17:25 Paola G:
Very valuable, definitely very valuable. And especially having this double perspective of being an HR as well, and a candidate at the same time, I do tend to think we are very privileged in HR, although sometimes the function may not be perceived the way we would like it to be perceived, let's put it this way. But it has given us as professionals as well, valuable inputs on what not to do or what to do, because we see in others our own reflections sometimes of our own mistakes, or what we can learn through others. If we stay a little bit on the HR topic, and you put your HR hat on as a professional, and then as an executive HR leader, once again in these moments of uncertainty and... There are lots of rumor talks as well in the moments of uncertainty. So let's say there's a rumor mill that starts spreading in the company about redundancies, or restructuring, etcetera, would you, as an HR now, as an HR professional and as a leader, would you recommend that these employees speak up or speak to their managers or even go to HR, would you recommend that they open up and kind of talk about it with the company, allow me that word, as opposed to only the corridor talks, would you?
18:48 Karin W:
I'll answer it from two sides. So as HR and as a leader, I would always say your responsibility is to continue to build trust, to be worthy of trust, and that comes with openness and transparency in my book. So, assuming that this is an environment that you work in, where this is indeed a value set that is being applied, then I would say to the employees, yes, right? I'm like, open up, raise your questions, bring them forward. If this is a good intent, caring organization, hopefully, you will get straight answers. Of course, you're an adult, then also expect to be treated like an adult, I would say so look for the clear answers and hopefully you'll also get the clear answers. Now, if this is not the situation that you find yourself in and there is no trust, and it may give you more stress, then don't do it, because then what's the value? I would say, right?
20:08 Karin W:
But normally, I would say yes, towards HR, but also towards the manager, so even though I say yes, be open and transparent, I would also say err on the side of the positive, because unless things are clear, decided, but if it's not, if it's in a situation of discussion, then don't go to doomsday scenario because that also doesn't help anyone. So it's that balance between openness, transparency, treating someone like an adult and erring on the side of positive that I would say to them. And as the HR... As the employee, so let's now assume that Laura comes and opens up the conversation, then I would say to Laura: Don't only go asking questions about what does this now mean? But also maybe come a little bit more prepared with: What is it that you could do if not this, then what else could there be; in what way would your skills be transferable?
21:38 Karin W:
This could be either thoughts that you have yourself, where you're asking for confirmation, if they would see it similarly, or where you're asking for support because maybe you would like your manager or HR to connect you in a way, shape or form, or because you're keen on participating in projects or whatever. So I think, yes, your purpose hopefully, when you open up that conversation is dual. So it can be a purpose of only one hand clarity, but on the other hand, also being proactive to start thinking ahead of what this could mean. And I guess now with Corona and so many different industries experiencing huge pressure in a way, right? It may also be around in what way could my role become different? Or in what way could there be other things that are more important? So to start, thinking ahead, and to open up dialogue around that, I would say, if I have an employee like that in my organization, I would also find that hugely valuable that they're proactive and they are thinking ahead.
23:01 Karin W:
I would think, "Okay, that's someone that has a lot to offer," and I would begin to then say, "Okay, in what way can I support that individual either here or outside of the organization?" So it's good business to be proactive, right?
23:15 Paola G:
It absolutely is good business to be proactive and to take leadership of your life as opposed to be led by it and by the many events that impact all of us at some stage, and maybe at multiple stages of our lives too. Should you be interested to listen to part two, you already know to subscribe either at the transistor website or my website, Paolagranati.com and you'll have access to the second part of this episode. And by the way, a couple of reminders, if you've subscribed once, you don't need to subscribe twice, you're really part of the community, and secondly, feel free to forward the link to those who you believe could benefit from these listening sessions. Thanks as always. Till the next time, take good care.