Engagement Factors: Diving Deep into HR with Margie Rodino and Steve Goldberg

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives. TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues, employee engagement and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.

Today’s guests are Margie Rodino, VP‎ of HR at Sloan Global Holdings and Steve Goldberg, Global HR Consultant. To hear the entire show, click here.  These two seasoned HR experts talk about their nearly thirty years of experience in HR and discuss best practices in their field of expertise.

Margie Rodinoengagement

Margie Rodino’s career in HR spans over thirty years with various private and publicly traded companies across multiple industries such as manufacturing, telecom, banking and consulting. Currently she is heading the HR function at Sloan Global Holdings, a leading manufacturer of commercial plumbing systems. Being the seventh born among eight children, Rodino believes that being one among many children in her family equipped her with the right tools in her arsenal to become a successful HR person. “There are multiple personalities involved and each one’s wants and likes are very unique which is what human resources is all about. You have to have the ability to traverse through lots of different unique populations and to do it effectively,” she explains.

Challenges of a Global company

Margie disagrees with the common notion of global companies being more complex compared to national ones. She says that in a domestic company we have to deal with different states that have their own separate laws which is pretty similar to the challenges of a global company where they have to deal with different international laws. She admits that international laws are a bit more complex but at the end of the day there has to be a pervasive culture and you have to make sure that the company’s guiding principles are flexible enough to adapt to those different regional cultures.

Setting Milestones

“I am one of those firm believers of you get great results from setting fantastic plans and executing them,” says Rodino. “I look at the way we add value is by cascading our goals from our strategic plans.” At Sloan, the executive team gets together every year and establishes the strategic plan. The plan then guides and leads every function in the way they manage their goals. For instance, the HR function looked at the most important thing for the business this year. Innovation is high up on the company’s business plan for 2015. Thus, the HR function’s goal was to figure out how they could help the company become more innovative and the solution lied in hiring talent that would foster innovation. They added a testing tool that helped identify the attributes that makes the innovation-centric role most successful and the team went about recruiting based on that.

Favorite HR functions

Change management is one of the two areas that Rodino loves under the multiple functions that she performs as an HR professional. In a constantly changing world, the ability to adapt and to lead through change is a characteristic one has to really expound on no matter what company or industry you are in and it is especially important for an HR person, according to her. People are not very easy when it comes to change and that’s when you have to provide them the rationale and the background and use all the available tools to get them on board with the changes. Rodino also believes that you cannot force someone to change and that’s when you have to take tough decisions as a leader. The other area that she loves is employee communication. A good employee communication plan is very valuable because the employees need to know why and what effect it has on them.

Sloan Culture

Sloan has been around for 109 years and has stood the test of time so Rodino looks at her contribution in the last six years as more of an icing on the cake. She’s been enhancing things and taking them to the next level. From introducing free flu shots at just one location to all locations and from replacing Pilates to Zumba sessions, she has been updating the existing systems. “At the end of the day, plumbing is not a sexy thing! So we want it to be a great place to be at for many other reasons. You don’t have to be looking at the plumbing industry but instead you should be looking at a company that is focused on my wellbeing,” explains Rodino. Thus, she strongly believes that the changes she has introduced are really progressive things that enhance the already existing core values.

What Are You Reading?

Margie Rodino is currently reading “The Culture Blueprintby Robert Richman, a former Zappos strategist who talks about how to build a company’s culture.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Margie via LinkedIn or her blog The HR Dish (https://medium.com/@thehrdish).

Steve Goldberg engagement

Steve Goldberg has been an HR practitioner for over 30 years having served various HR leadership roles. Currently, he is advising HR leadership and HR technology things around strategic plans, analytics, HR aspects of mergers and acquisitions as well as HR strategy companies that have something special to offer.

Employee Engagement Conference

A media company from the UK owns a website called HRZone.com which is a place for HR executives to network, share ideas and discuss best practices. The website organized its first American Employee Engagement conference in New York City where Goldberg along with Talent Talk host, Chris Dyer, were panelists. Goldberg was pleasantly surprised by the huge numbers of entries they received for the Engagement awards. He says that it only means that American companies are realizing the importance of employee engagement and are creating great programs for this purpose. He feels this is important because he was quite taken aback by the research coming out on employee engagement by companies such as Gallup that revealed nearly 70 percent of the workforce is disengaged. Goldberg thinks it is a serious problem that needs to be tackled. He strongly believes that technology can help address this problem of engagement.

Technology and Engagement

Social media and corporate social media are popular for connecting with people and for finding mentors or people who may be doing the same job. But the problem with using social media for engagement, according to Goldberg, is that it may hamper productivity and it may affect employee retention. He agrees corporate social media has its advantages but he believes that no leader would want his team members “playing games or fooling around at work.” One of the most important aspects of engagement is to manage your own growth as an employee. One way of leveraging technology to manage an employee’s growth is to keep employees informed about what job leads to other jobs, how long does it take, competencies needed and how you stack up against those competencies and how the company can help you achieve those. “Any company whose management team presents the case that way to an employee, it symbolizes so much,” he explains.

Engaging a Workforce Spanning Three Generations

“When we use the term employee engagement we think of employees and not the managers. Managers are also employees. Most of the studies I have seen in the last couple of year show that the same degree of disengagement applies to managers,” explains Goldberg. “The fact that we have three generations working side-by-side is one of the biggest reasons for disengagement. Each of these generations is motivated by different things and they care about different things.” According to him, mentoring connects the generations because the person who is five to ten years from retiring feels valued and his years of learnings is put to good use while the younger colleague has a positive impact on his career as well as productivity. This helps remove insecurities stemming out of generation gaps and keeps employees engaged.

Using Social Media Insights

When employees have a bad relationship with their boss they tend to leave but when they have a mentor or a coach inside or outside of their department they tend to stay. Thus, Goldberg suggests companies to do a corporate social media analysis to find out who influences whom and if the company is going through a transition, then it should figure out who is critical to the transition, who can influence others who are resistant to change and target different groups for different tactics. “Technology is opening the doors to a lot of information and a lot of potential for analyzing these things if done right,” sums up Goldberg.

When asked about an example of good employee engagement tactic that he recalls from the Employee Engagement Awards that he judged, Goldberg highlights an initiative that a company undertook when it was giving away service awards to people celebrating work anniversaries. They used corporate social media for this occasion and put up televisions in the cafeteria and public spaces of the organization. They got about 20-25 people who had worked with the awardees to talk about the latter’s work for about 30 minutes. Goldberg found this to be a great idea to make a person feel valued and to hear nice things from people they have affected during their time at the company. He admits it’s not an extraordinary idea but a really effective one.