B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 3 weeks ago

Humanizing HR and Hiring for Potential


Human Resources is more than hiring and firing—it touches every part of a company and has a sizable hand in crafting the culture employees and partners come to recognize and appreciate. A solid HR team can mean the difference between success and a mess.  

Devaughn Bittle and Patrick Cash speak with Simon Wilkins, director of Talent Acquisition & Org Effectiveness, and Amber Gould , executive director, Human Resources, both of Ingram Micro. They discuss: 

- A snapshot of HR responsibilities

- The value of hiring for potential vs perfection

- Humanizing HR and welcoming new hires 

To join the discussion, follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk 

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify,Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

You're listening to be two B tech Talk with Ingram Micro, a place to learn about how to grow your business and stay ahead of the technological advances before they become mainstream. Welcome to our series As the Gears Turned. Posted by two of Ingram Micro's SMB Alliance Council members, Devin Biddle and Patrick Cash. I'm excited about this podcast. Yeah, this is gonna be a fun one. You know, we met these guys at Unplugged and Buffalo back in June, late May, early June. It's been so long since then, I can't remember the exact dates, but yeah, we're talking with Amber Gould, the executive director of human Resources, and Simon Wilkins, the director of Human Resources Ingram Micro. Guys, just thanks so much for jumping in with us today. Great to be Thank you for fighting us absolutely and assignment. You might recognize his voice as the uh, the voice of Darren's mind from right. How did you get demoted to the stomach? It was that was a lot of fun. Yeah, I don't know how that happened, Patrick, I mean, I think, uh, I think they'd like to put me on the spot for certain things. And the stomach is really was better suited for me, Simon. Clearly the mind was perfect. Simon, No, no, no, that was that was so much fun and what a great insight and introduction for me to be INGRAM for about three years now, and it was my first time getting to go to an SMB event. It was such a fantastic event. So yeah, thanks again. Yeah, it's one of our favorites for sure. So let's jump right into the conversation here. You know, many of us in the SMB community as owners, we wear many different hats. One of those, of course, as being the HR director. None of us went to school for this. None of us probably have perfect and uh, I'm at least fortunate enough that I hired an accounting person in our organization that has a lot of HR experience, so she really handles a lot of that for us. So it really does take a little bit off my plate from me having to wear that hat too often, which is really nice. But I know for others it's it's not always the case. It's it's usually the owner in a lot of cases and smb s where they're switching those different hats. Gosh, that's way it is for you, right, Well, I mean I'm the chief executive window washer. I did promote the room BA to chief floor Operations. Um, but yes, now you're now you know, the room a programmer now, yes, yeah, exactly. And so guys, let's let's talk about how to approach that, you know, without having that background, how HR is going to play for an owner that is just having to deal with the day to day operations as well. Yeah, I can't start. I mean the cool cool thing for me is I came from private equity prior to coming to Ingram, so I helped and it was embedded in a lot of smaller businesses. And I think the biggest thing that I recognized realize is you know, it's so many different things, right. It's compliance, it's the culture, it's recruiting, it's development, it's all of those hats. And there is no secret sauce best way, one way to run your people programs. Right. So what I recommend regardless of your size, but as long as you know you're not an Ingram size, you definitely need to make sure that you're looking at if it's some third parties that can help you. There's a lot of those HR in a box companies that you can work with and those are really helpful. I mean for me myself, I've gone to law school. I couldn't tell you if you offered me a million dollars off the spot. All the different rules, laws and regulations between all the different states, like there are so many...

...any and they're super complicated. And I'm in California, so you know, we're our own world of rules and um everything in between. So as as smaller business trying to navigate that, I mean, I think there's just a lot of job security for those in the box stage our companies because it is so complicated from that piece, right, So that's like for me the first piece that I think, and you guys correct me if I'm wrong. That keeps you up at night, right, and make sure you're not gonna get suited. You've gotue the basic things to keep you compliant. I always joke, if you're gonna be small like under fifties, stay out way because the many you jump over fifty, like, all the rules change, you know when there's some other like golden numbers. And then I think then the next part really comes about you compete with bigger companies, so you're competing with talent for them, those bigger companies you're competing with right now in this crazy hiring market to get the staffing from bigger companies, and then how do you train them? So I can tell you at Ingram, I don't hire people, I don't fire people, I don't train people, I don't on board people. What I do is I facilitate ways to help all of our leaders do those things. So if we had ten people, or if we had ten thousand people, that's still my job. So as the CEO of your companies, don't feel like you have to own it all because it can be a shared level of responsibility in those spaces. And I think we all know the people who are more maybe extroverted in certain areas, are really good at certain types, types of behaviors and other areas, so that you can bring people on. I also think you need to know your biggest secret weapon is the fact right now, when you look at what really is motivating centennials gen Z a lot of millennials, it is working for smaller companies. There's a lot of feeling of community and attachment and knowing who's and where the money is going to is that stone So's kitchen table and their family and their roof over their head. There's a lot that you can you can benefit for that, so use that as a marketing tool. That's interesting, Simon, Do you have anything that I think is absolutely spot on? Um? Yeah. What I love about that too, is that sort of to differentiate yourself, it's really connecting with your sense of purpose and in a smaller business too, sometimes you have the ability to articulate that in a simpler and more straightforward way that really resonates with people. And so when you have that up your sleeve, I think that's a really great marketing tool. Yeah. I think you just made us all all a small business owners feel really good about this. Now what do you know Suddenly it's like, hey, it's not so bad. So bad? Well, you know, I was gonna say, you know, I thought it was great that we open with, you know, kind of talking about unplugged for a second, and I kind of want to go back to that event for a moment, and Amber you just alluded to one of the things that really stuck out to me and kind of how we've always done things, and it was really hiring, not necessarily for the exact position that you're you know, looking to staff but maybe looking at someone that's you know, a little underqualified and training that person up. And so for both of you, let's talk about that for a second, and how we would be able to implement maybe a different strategy, and how we're hiring today. Yeah, Simon, and I call it hiring for potential versus hiring for perfection. So I'm super passionate about this because someone gave me a chance once. It's very difficult to get your foot in the door in HR. It's just it's people like a g have experience, how you transformed companies, which some work decisions have you made, Like it is so difficult to get into HR, but someone gave it, gave me a chance. I came from Target. I didn't have any direct skills. We had lots of transferable skills, you know. I think you hear this a lot with people in the military, where they get blocked from getting jobs because they're like, well, you don't...

...directly have there's so many indirect skills. And also there's also so many people that are just these empty slates that you can completely just create and fill and teach, and there's so much benefit to that for so many reasons. One is someone who teaches generations and workforce. You have Boomers and you have Gen X that kids are these centennials coming in. So they created them, they raised them, you know, they loved them. They're amazing, So utilize that, utilize that relationship because boomers don't want to retire. What they want to be able to do is train and coach and mentor people. So give them that opportunity. And what do I mean all generations, but specifically this new generation coming out of high school and college. They're very real and they're realists, and they understand that this is a weird economy and this is a weird political time, and this is just weird on so many levels. They just want a job and they want to learn, and they've gone to school not being force fed some like my generation is a millennial who has been kind of told everything that we we get versus that generation hasn't. So they're just so much more pliable, I guess. And why does that help you? Because you can get new and exciting people and ideas, but people who are really really willing to learn, and that part I think is indispensable. That is something small businesses I believe can do so much better than bigger businesses because you're not caught in the bureaucracy and all of that. This is the process and this is the rule. You can create it on the fly. That agility for you to be able to do that's huge. And I mean, Simon, you've done so many things for us at Ingram who is big to make us not this big crazy shift to bring in potential versus perfection with like talk about some of that cool stuff. Yeah, it's been has been a bit of a journey early over the last toime months, in particular because it has been such a candidate lead market or a competitive market to find people. We had to put in a fair bit of work with our hiring managers to sort of get them to open up their minds about the profile. So what is what does good look like for somebody going into position like this? And with the recruitment team we would sit there and would say, okay, well, what are some of the adjacent skills or relevant skills or related skills that could actually you could still pull from. So typically know, somebody who might have Java skills get more easily learned Python, or somebody who's got sort of good problem scopling skills could be really transferable into a bunch of different areas. So it certainly doesn't happen overnight. And there's certain pockets where maybe you've got a job where somebody really has to have financial legal qualification as an example, Yeah, you can't really compromise on that at times, but in general, there's a bunch of other areas where you genuinely can. And when you start to do that, you open up such really cool talent pockets and you meet different people and they then flowing to introduce other people for the business as well. So that's definitely been part of it. And the other thing too is also understanding that almost every opportunity, in every moment, is it time to network and to attract talent. So Andy's got these great stories where should we go out traveling And she'd be like, oh, it was in Manuver and chatted this person and they are doing this study and I gave my business card and you know we're gonna interview them later next week. And I know that sounds sort of like honey, but it's it's seriously, it's it's as straightforward as that, and it's something that we all had that kind of owner's mindset on at different times. Um, you'll be surprised at the people that you mean, the opportunities you can create. So um, yeah, there's just a couple of examples that come to mind. Well, and am Or you really hit the you know, kind of the front end of that you're talking about, somebody give you a chance, and you know, I t translates the same way, and I think a lot of positions to a certain degree. Really do you know it's hard to get the job because you don't have the experience, and you can't get the experience because nobody will give you the job. And um, our most recent hire, you know, was studying for net plus and you know, just responded to an ad that we had out and you know, we had a good conversation and were just you know,...

...like you said, you you reach those other tangible skills and you can kind of see the potential. And I liken it to like, I don't have to break somebody else's bad habits. I can teach in my own and it's you know, it's been a great fit. And so yeah, you're giving that opportunity sometimes really is all that it takes to open the door to a lot of other opportunities. Yeah, and if it feels good for for us as well to do that. I mean there's a lot of good feedback that we get from those those employees, So I totally will buy into that as well. I mean we we do a lot of that as well. You know, Simon hit on something about opening doors to people you don't know. Right. So the reality is women typically, statistically you can google it, don't apply for jobs unless they have It's it's high. It's like seventy percent of whatever is written on the job ad where men. Not to make fun of you, but you know, hey, I can read the job ad, I'm gonna apply for the job. Um, So because of that, you don't Actually that's how this started. So I don't get this. You don't get a talent pool, right. Or let's talk about education. So I have lots of diplomas and I've been very fortunate and understand that luxury for that. But let me tell you, it is a huge, huge disadvantage to your company. If everybody needs to have a piece of paper. Why because not everyone needs a piece of paper. You can train that piece of paper and hey, maybe you could be this awesome employer over time, because you're hiring all these kick ass people that are bringing you in more business and huge margins, and you could pay for them to go to school. That shouldn't always be a deal breaker. Now, Listen, I want the person doing brain surgery on me to have gone to college, but of what I think we do, probably doesn't need that right away. And you can offer that as just a perk, and and that gets you a whole another subset of people that you might not have thought about. And you know, a tricky conversation then goes into this hybrid remote work. Right So depending how flexible you are and where you're going to hire people, that gives you another opportunity to really open up your mind to who you bring bring on your teams. You know, it's made me actually take a different look for my own kids as far as how important is college for them, Like maybe one, it is, maybe one, it's really not. You know, it depends on what direction they want to go, and all of that's okay. And we're really from a generation where we were kind of told like, you've got to go to college if you want to be successful. But I don't believe that that is true. You know now now that I'm older and look back at it all. Right, But Amber, one of the things we discussed when we were preparing for the podcast was how to humanize HR. Can you elaborate on what that means for our listeners? Yeah? I know the listeners can't see, Simon, but some probably have a lot of two cents about me and HR. The one how many rs are on these types of podcasts, right, I said, I pride myself on understanding how we make money, and we are a services organization who builds businesses. Right, So the people that we hire, they need to have a level of customer service that helps you our partners. So my customer is the employee. I don't have a job. I'm not doing my job if my customer is not happy. So, yes, I need to make sure we're not suited. Yes, I need to make sure people aren't doing things illegally. No, I don't care if you don't like me, because I'm not gonna let you slap someone's tushy. Right, Like that stuff I'm okay with. But at the end of the day, it's important to me to work for places and to create spaces where HR isn't the police. My job is not to be the police. My job is to help you build your business. And I help you buide your business by hiring the best talent. I help you build your business by telling you when you're lady's ugly. I help you build your business when I realize you've been wearing this and clothes for a million years and that's not...

...innovative or cool or different, and you should probably do those things that are innovative and cool and different. Hopefully you know, as your businesses get bigger, or as you bring in HR people, you don't want someone that is a yes person. You want someone who's gonna make you feel uncomfortable and push you to think differently. Because true HR people, the only motivation we have is making everyone on the team better. And I fundamentally believe that is to Sidon's point, I hand right cards. I call people, I ask questions. I want to know how they make money. I want to know what drives them. I want to talk to our partners and our vendors, because if I know what you want and I know what our vendor needs, guess what I can then come back and make sure I'm hiring people that you need and you want. And so I think that is a differentiator for Ingram personally because this company, our HR team is in it. They're in it with partners and vendors, and we're in it because I know that you're the end customer, and so my customer needs to be able to serve you. And I really work hard to draw that line so people understand how that connects. Yeah, it has been amazing actually, and so and I just reflect on the last couple of years and being in the team, it's been amazing because a lot of people think of HR and they just think like hiring and firing, and you're based on a lot of the stuff that the amber is done and that we do at work. It's things like it'll sound kind of funny, but HR happy hours it's where we actually deliberately carve out time to connect with the business and share information and hear from them in an informal way that sort of takes off the pressure of oh, I've got to talk about something serious. So it's like everybody will know who your name is, everybody will know who to go to if they've got a question. Everybody knows that, oh wow, something weird popped up and I need help, they know who they can reach out to. So it's really building those connections. And you could be a company of like, you know, fifty people or five people, and that power of connection is the same no matter what size it is, So investing time to do that, making sure, you know, don't see it in your cubicle or in office and be sort of locked off and these you've got to be at there and be very much connected and embedded. That's definitely one of the KAY tenants about how you sort of personalize. It might be fun, so you can get a bit serious sometimes. Well, you know, we've keep hitting on some of the same topics and kind of advancing through some of the other questions that we were going to talk about today. The comment as you talked about the generationals. You know, you've got your boomers and your genders, and your your exers and millennials and the subset that you know, the many will that will come after that. You know, us as S and b s kind of have this mindset. You know, we're small and I can't necessarily you know, equate to what you know, a larger business with an HR department and everything else can do. However, I think the flip of that, and both of you have kind of mentioned it, is there's a draw from an employee standpoint that goes, well, I would rather work for somebody that's a little bit smaller because maybe I have the opportunity to impact differently or you know, make a change, whether it's a business ding the community. And I think that's a passion and kind of a market point for both of you. So Simon, let's i'll start with you talk about, you know, what you're seeing in those conversations with us as partners and how that how that's applicable. Yeah, I think, um, the point you made about the influence that you can have in a smaller business is really powerful. And so whilst me and my team we're definitely involved in how we hire, we also do get feedback similarly about like why do sometimes people leave us in particular when they do leave to join a smaller business, And a lot of what we hear is sort of what you touched on. Its that ability to sort of have broader scope, wrap your arms around things more end to end, um feeling like you have influence in a slightly different way and in the different scope, and that is a real feature and that is a real advantage that could be marketable quite well. So that's yeah. One of the things I guess in particular that we sort of listen for is, you know, what are the core drivers and motivations that people have. We look for those things as a big company, but really any company can and should be doing that to sort of understand, you know,...

...what is it that people are looking for and how can we better show people He's what you can get from being with us. Yeah, that's I guess some of the things comes on, you know, just to play off of that, something I would suggest all of you do. And I did this with one of the SMB events that Darren had put on with a group of partners, and I asked them, why does someone want to work for you? Don't tell me it's because you make a thousand widgets, Don't like, why do I want to work for you? Because at the end of the day, people just want connections. And mostly with COVID, I genuinely believe that we've reevaluated what's important to us and it's people on purpose, right, And so with Ingram being so big doing so many things, we had been really mindful to be able to say what is it that I do every day that helps? So for me, what wakes me up every day is I know that we have thirty seven thousand partners of all different sizes, most of who are SMB, who hire probably right hundreds of thousands of people together, and all of those families get food on their table because of an ecosystem of economy. And that's pretty cool to know that I get to impact that every single day on top of a lot of other things. But what I suggest is ask your people, why do you work here? That's your biggest marketing. It's not a commercial, it's not your stars or Rady, your people, and they are your best advertisement because when people apply for jobs, they're interviewing you as much as you're interviewing them. And don't think they don't scour LinkedIn to find people who work at your company or who have lecture company to say was it a mess? Was it as cool as it says it is? Is this really a cool boss? Is this owner crazy? Whatever those things are, because that's what they do. That's what people do. Our generations do that. So my two cents is if you get anything out of is takeaway is stay step back and ask your people why do you work here? Okay, that's that's good. I'm gonna take that an attempt that question with my employees and I'll report back to you guys hopefully it's good news. So, um, what can hiring managers now we've hired a new employee as an SMB, what can hiring managers and employers do to make a new hirer feel welcome at a company? Oh? Man, that's a good one. That's um something that you know. There's a lot of people who sell very expensive packages and onboarding tools and all this kind of stuff, but there are some basic things you can do that don't cost any money. And one of the things that we've noticed is the most successful is it from the moment that you first secured that person to say yes and they sign on the dotted line, reach out to them even before day one, and it can be you, it can be your team. We actually at Ingram, we have a process now where we send out a note to in the receiving team and we say, hey, you know, person X is just joining and they're gonna be joining in two weeks or four weeks. Reach out to them and say hello, and um, I personally experienced that when I was first recruited to Ingram, and it was amazing. It's the first time that they had it. Where I sat there, I was like excited, I've signed this new contract and or employment offer, and then I had all these LinkedIn messages from these people I hadn't even met yet and they said, Oh, we're so excited to meet you, congratulations, welcome to the team. And it's seriously made such a big difference. And the reason why I share that is because because it has been such a competitive market, many of you, I'm guessing probably have had the experience of oh, we found the perfect person, We've made them the offer, and then somebody else made them an offer and now they pulled out or they go right before they start. And so doing something like reaching out before day one is such a simple, no cost thing that helps make somebody sticky to your offer and make them really get a sense of who you are as a business to and personalized things. So definitely that's something I would recommend that that doesn't cost anything and can have a pretty good impact that sort of paves the way for a really smooth on boarding process. I think someone hit the nail on the had it's all about the human connection mostly in all of your businesses. You want people who are going to connect with your customers, so treat them the same way as how you connect with them. And to Salmon's point, we did put this in play in our our...

...business because it sounds so simple, yet people don't do it and we don't have fancy tools. We created an Excel checklist, like do these things, call them, send them a note check how they're doing. Little things like I like to know for my team personally, like what do you like to eat? What do you not like to eat? Tell me about your kids. Every single message that goes out for a new hire that I have responsibilities for or within my team, I made them give me personal pictures. I want to humanize people to each other. What do you like to do? And it just comes back to it's those little things that are key differentiators that big companies sometimes forget about that littler, smaller business sized headcount probably do the best. Because all of those ideas I did not make up. I stole from companies that have been part of buying and thought me and that's a really cool idea. Why didn't we do that because it's so real, it's just so human. Well, and we've out a lot, you know, different like tips and tricks and thoughts. You know, whether it's you know the question of why do you work here, or you know that that purpose driven question of you know, wanting to feel like you belong the family aspect or the community aspect you know you're passionate about. You know, HR is not the people police. You know, we're actually here to help. Do you guys have any other it kind of thoughts and nuggets of wisdom I guess that you would want to include in the discussion today because of people listening work with you know, our amazing team at Ingram. As you have business challenges, maybe hiring or training, developing new skill sets, everybody has those problems, have those same problems. So you're in an ecosystem. And the reason you join the alliances and the groups that we have here is because it is a brain trust. And our leaders who run these brain trusts bring in people from finance and people from HR and and all of the areas that maybe you don't think about as we think about doing business with a big company like Ingram, and I do think that's our differentiator that that I want everyone listening to think through is when you're part of something like the SMB Alliance, you do get assignment enemy who show up and we'll talk about in brainstorm because nothing is secret. In my opinion, we all are with the same challenges, it's just a different scales and levels, and so use each other to brainstorm, use each other to talk through to best practice, share and also don't beat yourself up because you're never going to be perfect for everybody. And sometimes I do think we forget that because everyone has an opinion and everyone has an emotion, and it's always about continuously improving your companies and yourselves and your teams. But having a little grace as you're doing all those things. It's really important because it is easy. We'll see, if you're a business owner, you're probably type A and you're intense, and you know it's always about like the next big thing, and so it's what's not going right. There's a lot that you should just take a step back and look at what's going right and then be honest to what's not and you know all of it, well, the gifts will fall will fall into to a great place and I'm gonna I'm gonna have to call you every week because I feel so much better about my week now after this this conversation on this podcast about HR. So you know, this has been a really good podcast. But before we wrap up, I have one question I want to ask both of you. It's a little off topic from HR and it's it's a question that if you listen to our podcasts, you you here, we ask on every podcast, but I'd like to get the perspective from you guys on where you guys see technology going in the next year. Simon, We'll start with you. Wow, man, interesting question. I think over the next twelve months, theory is going to be it. I think it will continue to be a really competitive environment, and...

...that I think the ability to sort of like um, see the big picture and whether through the storm or of any potential sort of market ups and downs that can happen from time to time. I think the for the next twelve months in particulars having that that longer term view, yeah, I think for me is technology touches everything. So if you have a career or an aspiration or a business that is in technology, the world is your oyster. And like all things. Continue to be agile and adapt and roll with it and don't get stuck because technology changes by the day and it's an entire generation coming up that doesn't know anything other than so you have a market that is untapped and primed for whatever your business does and whatever realm of technology you're in. And I think that's why I'm so thankful and grateful to work in this industry, because it's so agnostic to so many different things, and I in the next twelve months, I think it's the only go to be better. Well, Amber Simon, thank you guys both so much. I mean, you know, we we've covered a lot in a very condensed Uh. There's so much more that we could talk about. But as I tea people, we have the attention span of squirrels, and so, uh, you know, where can folks learn a little bit more about you guys? Maybe find you connect online or get an invite to the HR Happy Hour because I want to get on that list. Thank you can find me on LinkedIn. If you're listening to this and you're not part of any of our communities. Talk with your sales team, talk with Darren Goddessman, Kelly Sanders, because they are amazing graceful customers of mine and invite me to lots of different things. And you know we're happy to connect where you know, we're here to help build our our company, which is here to build your company. So yeah yeah assumlan and but so you can more than happy to connect on LinkedIn um and looking forward hopefully saying some of you are not coming am in. Thank you member, Thanks Simon, and to our listeners, thanks for tuning in to another episode of B two B tech Talks As the Gears Turn Edition. You can access to this episode and many others directly from the Expantage website. You've been listening to As the Gears Turn, a series brought to you by B two B tech Talk with Ingram Micro. This episode was sponsored by Ingram Micro's SMB alliance. B two B tech Talk is a joint production between Sweet Fish Media and Ingram Micro.

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