If I were to ask you about your internal learning process, how you develop the hard to hone soft skills of your senior most leadership, what would you say? Is this an area that is lacking in your organization? I recently met with a wonderful OD professional, Marilyn Hoffman. Marilyn like so many of us today has been downsized and is now left searching for a new role to satisfy her incredible drive in the area of learning and development.
Our conversation was fast and furious and really left me wondering how such a passionate career women could be without a home. She holds a Masters in Industrial/Organizational psychology and she is SPHR certified. Her career is prosperous and her abilities are second to none.
Enjoy the interview with Marilyn and please reach out to her with any opportunities.
Marilyn is currently interested in speaking with employers concerning:
Full Time – Contract – Project/Consulting
Enter Marilyn Hoffman
So, Marilyn this has been an extremely long time coming! I think I owe you some extra special love here! So, I was thinking maybe I can bribe some hiring Managers to give you a call!
Let’s say that the first Hiring Manger to reach out to you will receive 60 days of Unlimited job postings FREE on CruiterTalk.com! Sound Fair? The bounty is out, so Hiring Managers, Recruiting Managers – Get on it!
The job posting itself will reach 5,000 partner sites and is viewable on major boards such as LinkedIn, Myspace and Facebook among many others…
Ok, so let’s get this thing started:
First off, tell everyone about yourself and how you ended up in this predicament?
Previously I worked as a research manager for a small consulting firm but was interested in broadening my scope and career opportunity by moving into a position with a large organization. I accepted an HR administrative position that underutilized my I/O psychology skills but felt that once I became more of a “proven commodity” in the organization they would support a career move into their OD group. Unfortunately, I was only partially right in my assumption. The organization did support my career growth but only within the HR administration role despite my pro-actively volunteering to assist with projects within the OD group. My direct managers did not have much influence across functional groups and, due to high turnover and layoffs in the OD group, any headway I made by working on projects was lost when the OD personnel I worked with left the organization. Many of them became independent consultants and couldn’t support hiring any personnel. I had survived several of the organization’s previous layoffs but this past November I was notified I was being impacted. Never good news to hear but I’m really trying to utilize this situation as a chance to get back to the work I’m passionate about doing.
That’s very interesting. Now, I know from our conversation that you have a unique passion for what you do. Talk to everyone about this. What drives you? What are your motivations?
I guess for me, I really see the power and the impact that this type of work can have when it’s done well. People spend so much time at their work and when you can you make that time better, more engaging, more efficient, more empowering – it can be amazing. Things like coaching and mentoring programs, improving communication and interaction between managers and employees, developing leaders and creating a more motivated workforce – programs like these can have such an impact on both the culture of the organization and on the bottom line. People are more productive when their happy, when they feel empowered and trusted, when they feel engaged and challenged. They’re also less likely to leave the company and less likely to be sick or stressed – that reduces turnover and maximizes time. I love looking at ways to tap into and enhance the hidden potential that lies within each individual. When you can get someone to that “a-ha” moment where the things you’re talking about stop being just theory and start being something they can apply to their work, to their life, you can almost see the light bulb going off above their heads – that’s powerful
That’s great. I was reviewing your background and adding that to our conversation, it’s evident you are very knowledgeable regarding internal HR processes and Organizational demands.
Talk to us about this; Why is this crucial to an organization?
I think you really need to be able to look at the big picture and be aware of how things are interconnected in your business. So many organizations see HR as a purely administrative function when it can really be very strategic to supporting and engaging your workforce. You need to be able to identify your company’s strategic initiatives and then look at how HR and OD can really encourage and drive those initiatives from the people side of the equation. If you want an innovative, forwarding thinking business you need to create a culture where anyone can be a leader, anyone can come up with the next big idea and challenging the status quo is not a bad thing. Most companies will say that want that but the difficulty comes in taking it beyond theory into application.
Can you tell everyone about some of the projects you oversaw and how they had an effect on your growth?
Probably the biggest influence on me was my time as a research manager. Going into work with a client to really learn about their organization and create an organizational assessment or 360 feedback study that would really get to the core of the business or to what drove individual success. To manage the study to maximize participation and really capture the feedback of the workforce and, in some cases, the organization’s clients. Analyzing the data and assuring its integrity so that the results really captured the voice of the participants. And finally, being able to deliver the results to the organization or the individual and help them to identify action plans to leverage their strengths and address areas of concern. Both I and my team were involved with the clients in all stages of the studies and we took great pride in our level of service and attention to detail even when we had multiple studies happening at the same time. It’s here and in graduate school that I really became aware of the impact that assessments and programs can have within an organization.
Ok, so let’s get specific: What are your key strengths? What is going to set you apart from the next OD professional to walk through the door? (Be specific and give examples. Don’t worry about length, just get the point across to the HM)
First of all, I think my passion for the work is evident. Secondly, I tend to be very logical and rational and I approach things and explain things from that view point. I think sometimes OD or I/O psychology work can be see as very emotional or sentimental and viewed as a “nice to have” instead of a “need to have”. I don’t come at it from that perspective and I don’t explain it from that perspective. I want to have some good solid reasoning behind what I’m doing. I’m very deliberate about putting something together with an end goal in mind. Being able to talk about the work from that standpoint appeals to people in business and makes it a lot less nebulous. Next, I have a natural ability to think things through, look at different ways to do things or present things, see how things are interconnected and understand how to utilize that to get people to that “a-ha” moment. I want to see and create a clear path from theory to application and then be able to use that to implement change and innovation into organizations. Lastly, and I know it sounds silly, I have a lot of common sense and I’ve really found that common sense is just not that common.
And if we look deep into the closet of Marilyn; what would we learn about a time that you might not have been 100% successful on a project? How did you ultimately handle this situation?
The time I immediately think of is when I was working in that research manager position and we were rolling out an organizational assessment study to a fairly large company. I was sending out the email link for the study to all the participants and included them all on one email. All of our previous studies had been with much smaller groups and I had never had any issues before. However, this was a much larger group and their systems were suddenly inundated by the email due to the substantial number of recipients and I ended up crashing their computer system. I was horrified! There was absolutely nothing I could do change the situation. All I could was take responsibility for my actions, go to the client with my deepest apologizes and ask what we could do to make it right. Luckily, their IT department was able to get the system back up within a couple of hours and we ended up giving the client a discount on the work to make up for the lost time. Additionally, once the study had ended, I had to go and present the results to the entire workforce. I, again, apologized for the error and assured them that the study was handled with the upmost care and that all the results we were reporting were based on accurately analyzed data. I always felt like perception of the results would be somewhat tainted by my mistake. It was a painful, but valuable, learning experience. You can bet it never happened again!
So this is great. I love to be honest in these reviews. I like to show that this is not just a cheerleader session to make you look great! But let’s get positive again.
What are your predictions for 2009 and/ 2010 in the area of Organizational Development? Trends/Movements/Calls of action etc.
We’re going through a very difficult, uncertain time right now but I anticipate there will be some good changes coming out of it. I can see businesses working in a bit more methodical manner and doing some more due diligence before they pursue a course of action. There’s going to be a real emphasis on working smart, working lean and getting the right people with the right fit into the right position. I believe Organizational Development and I/O psychology work will be influential in making that happen by helping organizations with motivating, managing and engaging their workforce and supporting performance with mentoring, coaching and development initiatives. I think assessments will play a strong role in getting to the data needed to really drive programs that are strategic in nature. I see senior leadership in organizations coming under a greater degree of scrutiny and we’re going to move to a real focus on leadership development and how leaders demonstrate things like integrity, accountability and development of themselves and their workforce. I feel future workforces are going to expect more transparency in business and will pay a lot more attention to both the long term vision and short term outlook. Organizations are going to need to create a culture of openness, trust, engagement and empowerment. It’s a challenging time right now but I think there are great things to come.
That’s awesome! I really enjoyed our time together, but before we go, let’s give a full briefing on how people can contact you for opportunities!
By Noel Cocca
CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.
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