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 and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.
Today’s guests are David Darmstandler, CEO and Co-Founder of Datapath and Ashley Huynh, Founder and Principal HR Consultant at BEDR, Inc. To hear the entire show, click here.
On the show today, two entrepreneurs talk about their companies and engaging employees.
David Darmstandler co-founded Datapath ten years ago with a childhood friend of his. Datapath is an IT company that manages IT systems for government, public school districts and enterprises. The company either takes on the role of an IT department for the companies it works with or it enhances the existing IT department. Whether it’s managing servers or consulting on improving processes and systems, Datapath offers a range of IT services.
How Are They Different?
Being an IT company in a very crowded space Darmstandler believes it is very difficult to differentiate themselves from their competitors. “We’re not a very sexy business. We’re not a new creative restaurant down the street. Hence, it’s really hard to get people to pay attention to us,” explains Darmstandler. Thus, at Datapath, they focus on building a great culture. They make sure their employees and the people in their community are fans of what they are doing. The company is also big on giving back to the community. In fact, community service is one of their core values. Darmstandler believes that even from a talent recruitment perspective this has made a big difference as there are many people who like to know that the company is impacting the society and is not just interested in making a profit.
Hiring the Right Fit
“We’re extremely picky about who we bring in. We are very heavy on orientation and onboarding, making sure they understand who we are as a company and they take in our values. As leaders it is our jobs to make sure we have the right people in the right team,” he explains. He also says that leaders should know where their employees are going and similarly employees should let their managers know where they’d like to go. This defines a career path for the employees and the managers can help them get there. He believes that they’d rather have someone with a lower skillset but with the right values. The company is willing to then invest in training and mentorship of these individuals. In the past, Darmstandler says that they had hired a few exceptionally talented people with the highest level of technical skillset but they weren’t the most collaborative workers and they would belittle others and never let anyone else grow. Thus, having people who believe in the core values of the company is very important. They spend a good number of hours on making sure everyone in the company is aware of what the core values are and how they can align themselves with these values.
Sense of Humor
Sense of humor is very important in IT because the nature of work is usually very stressful. They’re dealing with disasters or breaches or other crises constantly. Darmstandler says that people in IT should be able to laugh at themselves or the situations to make the best out of them. At the end of the day, everyone has to go back home to their families and it’s important to not carry the stress from work back home. It’s good to let loose a little, according to him. “We’re a pretty wacky bunch here. Our favorite day of the year is Halloween when we all dress up. We also have a lot of spirit days and we play pranks on each other all the time. We can’t play the pranks we used to in the earlier days as we’ve gotten bigger now. But we know how to have a good time,” he says.
What Are You Reading?
Darmstandler is currently re-reading “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” by Verne Harnish that shares tools and techniques for building an industry-dominating business. He is also reading “The Surprising Power of the Coil” by Greg Campbell and Steve Halliday that talks about enriching personal and professional life through an insightful process of relationship building.
How Can People Connect With You?
Connect with David via his company’s website www.mydatapath.com.
Ashley Huynh is the Founder and Principal HR Consultant at BEDR, Inc. BEDR is an acronym for Build, Engage, Develop and Retain which are the company’s key focus areas. Huynh has over 16 years of experience in human resources, an area she has been extremely passionate about. BEDR, Inc. deals with employee relations with regards to some complex workplace investigations, employee termination, policy violations and other various employee issues.
Huynh is very passionate about talent acquisition and talent management. She believes that the two are intertwined because with organizations today employee issues are no longer just internal. Recruitment happens internally and externally and the entire process has undergone a huge change in the last few years which makes it exciting to her.
Organizational Development Issues
Huynh believes that businesses looking to undergo reorganization should really focus on their vision and business strategy. One of the issues she commonly observes in big organizations is that every department becomes siloed. They look at their own department goals instead of looking at the bigger organizational strategy. Thus, every department ends up going in different directions. Huynh strongly recommends business leaders and executives to communicate the company’s vision to everyone. “Every employee should know how his or her job responsibility contributes to the overall business strategy. We all want to know how our work impacts the organization,” she explains.
Regular town hall meetings, communication meetings and creating cross-functional teams for special projects can work as a solution for breaking departmental silos, according to Huynh. More formal programs such as job shadowing and job rotations also increase inter-departmental communication. The key is for each department to know what the other departments are working on and understanding what the larger organizational structure and strategy is. At the end of the day, everyone should be moving towards the same direction.
According to Huynh, engaged employees are the ones who come up with the most out-of-the-box ideas and suggestions. They are the ones that come up with true concerns that potentially affect the organization. They have a positive attitude and they are constantly trying to make improvements. It is important to give employees an opportunity to make their voice heard because sometimes great ideas come from the most unexpected people. Executive and management support is important for giving employees the freedom to come up and share their ideas and feel involved. “Employee involvement is the key to employee engagement,” sums up Huynh.
Succession planning, according to Huynh, is an important aspect of employee development. She believes that the company should build and create programs that allow employees to grow and develop. Mentorship programs are really helpful for succession planning. High potential employees should be given plenty of opportunities for holistic growth so that they can develop into future leaders.
Global Human Resources
Huynh has been in the global HR arena for a few years and she believes that the three biggest differences when you’re dealing with multiple countries are culture, legal compliance and benefits. For instance, in Europe it’s fairly common to take three weeks or more off for an extended summer vacation which is pretty rare in the US. Legal requirements are also very different globally. Thus, it can get pretty complicated. “We have to be culturally sensitive to our counterparts in other parts of the world. Having an understanding of the different norms in other countries is very important,” explains Huynh.
What Are You Reading?
Huynh is currently reading “Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy” by Mallika Chopra. The book gives a message of focusing on finding the real intent and joy in our lives.