Trina Olson, CEO & Co-Founder
Alfonso Wenker, President & Co-Founder Team Dynamics

Trina Olson and Alfonso Wenker, Co-Founders of Team Dynamics, work with leaders, teams and cohorts to do big, important work aligned with progressive values.

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On this episode of the RecruitingDaily podcast, William speaks with Trina Olson and Alfonso Wenker about how The Hiring Revolution will be televised!  This is a fun convo, we invite you to listen in, comment and let us know your own opinions and thoughts in the comments!

Trina is CEO and co-founder, while Alfonso serves as president and co-founder of Team Dynamics, an interdisciplinary team of adult educators and intercultural, capacity-building specialists who create memorable experiences for your staff that make a lasting impact.

Listening Time: 28 minutes

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This is RecruitingDaily’s, Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William:

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup. You’re listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today. We have Trina and Alfonso on from Team Dynamics. We’re really going to be talking about their book, it’s about the “Hiring Revolution.” And I made… There’s a reference to 1970s poem and song called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” But really, I want to talk to them about their book and kind of dig into kind of what learned about writing their book and what we can learn from it. So, let’s just jump right into it. Trina, if you would introduce yourself and then Alfonso, and then we’ll introduce Team Dynamics to the rest of the group.

Trina:

Sounds great, and thank you so much for having us. My name is Trina, I am the CEO and one of the co-founders of Team Dynamics and one of the co-authors of “Hiring Revolution.” A couple things to know about me is I come from a 25 year career of being in executive leadership positions at organizations around the country. And with my background in campaigning, I have had the good fortune or the challenge depending on the day of hiring a lot of people, sometimes quickly, sometimes over time. Some other things that are probably important is that I am 40, I am white and I am queer.

William:

Awesome. Alfonso?

Alfonso:

Thanks William, glad to be here. I am president and Trina’s other co-founder at Team Dynamics. Also her co-author on our book, “Hiring Revolution.” And in my career, I have had the opportunity, the misfortune and the fortune of being often the first or only of something. So I’m third generation Mexican American, I’m a millennial and I’m a gay man. And I have been hired into to be the first of one of those things, whether it’s age or race or sexual orientation. And then usually my charge at a bunch of jobs was to help that organization figure out how to “diversify its team.” So I’ve worked on a lot of leadership development programs and a lot of employment fellowship programs that were about sort of changing the pipeline. So that was my angle as we wrote “Hiring Revolution.”

William:

Oh, I love it. And in both cases y’all could check a couple different boxes for people if they’re into checking boxes.

Trina:

It’s true.

William:

So tell us a little bit about Team Dynamics, tell us a little bit about the company.

Alfonso:

Well, Team Dynamics is a national strategy firm. We work with American workplaces who have named equity or inclusion or diversity goals, and we focus on not just articulating the problem, but also figuring out how to shift behavior. So we all know that culture is really important relative to strategy. And so there’s so many folks who do incredible thought leadership around what are the diversity problems? What we want to talk with workplaces about is how do you shift those micro and macro behaviors so you can get closer to those goals? So we work with our clients to interrogate their organizational culture and say, what of these patterns help or hurt in pursuit of whatever your race and gender equity and inclusion goals are?

William:

Oh, that’s fantastic to see it’s to the intentionality or action layer that so many firms have missed. I’m a little bit older I guess, we’ve been talking about diversity in HR for a very long time and a lot of talk. It’s only in the recent few years I think that we’ve actually seen some action. And I think your firm is kind of you’re on the forefront of seeing some of that action because you’re behind the action layer and helping people articulate then actually reach their goals. So I love it. And I could see where companies need you, because sometimes it’s just difficult even if they have the best intentions, which I’m not sure all corporations do. But even if they do have the best intentions, they might not know how to actually get there. So I love that, I love the work that y’all are doing. It is needed, absolutely required and I’m just happy that y’all are doing it. I’m not sure I would like to do it because I know how hard it is.

Trina:

We get that a lot and that’s in part why we work on a team. So we talk about this being sort of a forever long relay race. We know that we’ve got elders that came up before us that pushed doors open, kicked doors down. And what we’re trying to do is see how far we can get in our lifetime and sort of keep the work going.

Trina:

But I think, as you were just sort of naming what we were learning in the book, that was sort of in addition to our lived experience as we took a deep dive into modern day workplace research, I think you were sort of inferring to something that sort of blew my mind when I started reading the research about pay gaps, promotion gaps, and hiring gaps, which is that the pace of change is glacial at best. And so this idea that, we know that COVID 19 uprisings following the murder of George Floyd has simply accelerated conversations that folks have just been trying to have for decades. So, it’s going to be interesting to see if this is a tipping point where folks are interested in walking their talk.

William:

It’s interesting to me because I think you go back again, I would say some of the societal protest if you will, more than anything else from all the way from Me Too to Love is Love, Black Lives Matter, George Floyd being in kind of a seminal moment. It’s put pressure, more pressure, thank God. I mean, we’re only 100 years late, but it’s put more pressure on corporations to not just talk. And what I find fascinating is they’re getting pressure from their customers, but they’re also getting pressure from candidates. Which Alfonso I know that as a millennial and Gen Z, the generation underneath you, they actually care about this stuff. And it’s not just words on a page, they care about action. Like, that’s cute, you have a diversity statement. All right, it really are, I want to see somebody in the recruiting processes looks like me.

William:

So I think it is changing. I mean, I’m an optimist, so I hope it’s changing. Y’all have your hands done in the mud, so you really know what’s going on. So take us into the book. So let’s go back to the beginning of, out of all the things that you could possibly do, you decided to write a book. So first of all, not easy, I’ve written a few. So I know from experience that the path is never as easy as it seems. So just take us into those first conversations and why y’all thought it important to write a book.

Alfonso:

Well, I think that note about the social pressure consumers, voters, lobbyists, [crosstalk 00:08:22] are saying to the corporations, the companies that they work with, that they buy from, that they work for, that they want to go beyond the statement or the employee resource group and they want to see action. And folks kept asking Trina and I, “So how do we divert our talent pool? How do we diversify our searches?” And we said, well, it’s not in statements and it’s not in intention. It’s not even simply just in goal setting, but it’s actually about a complete reimagining of all the “best practice” that has been how we think about doing hiring the “correct way.”

Alfonso:

And so this was not the book we thought we were going to write first. We thought we would write a book about inclusive workplace cultures. But the questions wouldn’t stop coming. And we thought, well, we have all this experience and we built this incredibly diverse team across lines of race, gender, and more. And so let’s put it down on paper and let’s move from intention to action. So hiring revolution, we’re calling it a guide to disrupting racism and sexism and hiring. So it’s all the tactical stuff. So we move out of the analysis. We sort of lay out the disparities in the first two chapters, just in case folks aren’t familiar. And then we say these are data steps.

William:

Stated and covered, next.

Alfonso:

Right. Just in case you didn’t know, there are paper promotion and hiring gaps. And so the impetus was really, we’ve got to get this down on paper because the questions keep coming in. If we’re going to do it piecemeal, we actually won’t spark a revolution, folks will just be trying to sort of do [crosstalk 00:10:02].

William:

It’s interesting because you’re giving people a playbook, a field guide, etc. Which is absolutely required and, and needed for folks to be able to move out of that thought, intentions, kind of mindset. Which again, it’s nice that people are talking. I don’t hate on that, I’m glad people are talking, I’m glad people have good intentions. But at one point, those have to materialize into real change. And I mean, we can take something as simple as pay equity. At one point it’s just got to be equitable period, end of story.

Trina:

And I think now is not the time to keep secrets about what we’re developing and what we’re trying out in real life. And the sort of the benefit that Alfonso and I recognized we had together from our lived experience was how many times we’ve been hired. Because as a firm we’re trying out all the time. So we’re on sort of the receiving end of folks putting us through a process to hire us or hire somebody else. And then we are growing on purpose. And so we’re based in Minneapolis, our team is majority people of color. And folks are like, “How’d you do that?” And the good news is, it’s not rocket science, it’s actually, it’s not hard. It’s that you have to sort of undergo some really important paradigm shifts in your thinking about what makes a recruitment plan strategic, about what makes a candidate prepared, and about how you select.

William:

It’s funny because Alfonso always put I think a quote unquote, around best practices because I despise best practices just in general. And I know he was mocking it so I absolutely appreciate the sarcasm.

Trina:

Yeah. The way we say it is best practices have only ever been best for some people.

William:

Exactly. One guy named Todd. Great.

Trina:

Yeah, exactly.

William:

Let’s not call it a best practice. I heard on NPR yesterday about… I live in Texas, so of course, we could spend an hour kind of deconstructing the problems of that. But anyhow, I live in Texas and there’s some recent laws in Texas that have been passed around guns, around abortion, around typical kind of cultural war stuff. And the whole kind of conversation was around how companies are going to have a more difficult time hiring, especially with the abortion laws that have been put on the books about attracting talent. And I found it fascinating because it’s true, but I also found it fascinating that those companies they haven’t even thought that thought yet. The politicians are doing what politicians do, running to the edges and the extremes. And companies are then going to be left to deal with a fallout of, okay, now what? And so I just found that fascinating.

William:

But getting back to a point that you had made Trina, the secrets that we keep. I think living in an era of transparency that we do, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. Actually, I look at it as an opportunity. If you haven’t been transparent as a company or as a DNI leader, as an HR leader, if you want to go specific. If you haven’t been transparent, because maybe it’s just ugly. You just look the [inaudible 00:13:31], the sexual harassment claims, just the way that it is, you look down you’re like, oh my God, I can’t tell people, I just can’t. It’s a horrible story, I can’t make this look good.

William:

I think one of the things that I tell HR leaders is, it doesn’t matter how ugly it is. Just open yourself up and be vulnerable and talk and then start trying to fix it. And in brick by brick, it’s not going to fix it. You didn’t get that way overnight, you’re going to undo it overnight but you need to be transparent. What are y’all seeing from candidates and employees and leaders around this era of transparency?

Alfonso:

Well, so much of what has been the tradition or the pattern or considered the most appropriate thing to do is really a lot of secret keeping as part of the process as if all candidates are trying to trick the future employer. That they’re going to lie about experiences that they have had, that they’re going to lie about what they’ve ever been paid, that they are going to withhold something that might mean that they’re not capable of doing the job. So part of what the invitation and hiring revolution is to be more specific, to be more clear and to say, okay, so if you say you have, for example, a commitment to gender equality in your leadership, then talk about in your promotional materials that if, for example, as a Texas based company, what does that mean for how you’re going to supplement then reproductive health access for your employees who have a uterus.

Alfonso:

We also talk about the fact that withholding salary information keeps pay inequity, keeps pay disparity in place. Because if I am depending on the candidate to tell me what they’ve ever been paid, then I might actually inadvertently be thinking, oh, I can save money by hiring this black man or this Latino woman who’s been historically underpaid for their entire career. So one of the very simple things we say is post the salary range so everyone involved in the process can have that conversation. Be more specific about what does this person need to be able to do? What do you expect they have done before and what are you willing to teach them? So oftentimes job descriptions are written in a way that we want someone to have done exactly this job before. Why would they leave their current job just to come and do sort of a carbon copy of what they were doing before?

Alfonso:

So what is it that they will have done and have not done? And what are you teaching? And so we talk about in hiring revolution moving away from talking about qualifications, the sort of laundry list of things to create what we’re calling a readiness and value add matrix. That says, what is someone ready to do? And what’s the value that they would add to our team? So that gets us to also eliminating degree requirements. My ability to complete my degree in public relations means I successfully completed a degree in public relations. I’m a president of a multimillion dollar company now, my degree doesn’t tell you much about what I’m able to do in my current role. So in the book we get into some of those things that are about invitations to be more specific, which I think is an even better way to talk about transparency, which is just give the candidates information they need to be successful in this process.

William:

I love that qu.ick follow up and I want to get Trina’s take on this as well. So I absolutely agree with you on salary. My only thing, and I love the way that you’ve positioned the way that we should reframe kind of the… instead of your past experiences, etc. It’s like you’re looking at skills and you’re looking at potentiality, you’re looking at passion, you’re looking at other things that matter for that candidate. The pay bands or salary bands or the salary ranges, this is the only part that I struggle with myself is that at the end of the day, there’s a finite amount of value that’s paid to somebody. And how do we get out of if it’s a band, because historically HR and recruiting has looked at, if it’s $180,000 position and someone comes in 140 you’re right. They look at that as a $40,000 win for the company. And so how do we get out of that mentality if we don’t have a finite figure? And either one of you can answer that.

Trina:

I love talking about paying equity mean, because it makes me so crabby. So thanks for asking the question.

William:

No worries.

Trina:

So we’ve got a couple different recommendations, and the first one is to think about how hard the job is. Because when you’re thinking about what you are asking people to do, which includes how complex are the tasks? How many people am I asking you to manage? What projects am I asking you to drive? Am I asking you to create something from scratch that’s going to be new and difficult? Just like, how available am I expecting you to be to me? There’s a certain number at which I expect you to answer the phone if I call, but it’s a pretty high number. So this idea that we actually think always in context about the role and the tasks assigned to that role, given the snapshot or the moment we’re at our company.

Trina:

Then what you should be thinking about is a pretty tight band of what you’re going to pay that person. And it’s not about overpaying people who already got opportunities. It’s about I’m going to pay what the job is worth not how much opportunities somebody’s had before they met me. Because the job is going to be this hard regardless of who does it. So that’s where Alfonso and I sort of zoom in on a number and we also know that as we think about benefits, as we think about flexibility, we think about work from anywhere, we think about professional development. Research continues to show that across the four generations currently in the workplace, folks are looking for a variety of things to pull them away from their current job.

Trina:

And one of the things we got to remember is we have to be so competitive in our packages, that we’re actually going to recruit top talent for whom it might feel more dangerous to leave a current job. So for me, I’ve never been married to a man so I don’t have man sized money in my household. Which means it’s likely that either my saving is less, or my home ownership rate might be lower, or maybe I’m leasing my car, whatever it is. It’s going to feel dicier for people who historically have less to make a jump. And so if you actually want to recruit top talent that are people of color women, LGBTQ+ people, you best pay good.

William:

It’s not just a requirement, you’re not going to get the talent if you [crosstalk 00:21:00] don’t do that. Two things, one is you’ve mentioned behavioral, actually, both of you’ve mentioned behavioral change. And I love that because I mean, that’s change management and again, kind of the micro and macro as y’all phrased it. How do you… I mean, if a farmer has reached out to you, I would assume that obviously kind of they have some intention of it, they understand that they’re going through some type of transformation. They might not know how deep and how wide, but they’re at least reaching out. How do you get them over that intellectual and emotional hump of, we’re not talking about little changes like, you’re going to change this part of your recruiting process. This is massive change. How do you get them into it?

Trina:

It’s a really good question. And I think it’s part of why I’m so proud of the team that we’ve built at Team Dynamics, which is our team is full of really good storytellers. And by that I don’t mean we like paint pretty a picture, by that I mean, we’re all really willing to tell how we keep messing up. It’s like, oh man, I keep projecting that strong leaders are extroverted like me. I know better, I know introverted strong leaders. And then I’m able to say, okay great, I made this assumption about what somebody was going to be good at or if they could hit the ground running sort of that proverbial phrase.

Trina:

And so what we do is we constantly model that it’s not about good people versus bad people and kind of passing a moral purity test. It’s about us sharing that, that programming that is both racist and sexist has been poured into all of us. So we’ve got a lifetime of reverse engineering. So we model in front of people how we are proactively doing that daily because the pressure being put on us is to stay put, is to be exactly how we’ve always been which creates an outcome that we all say is antithetical to our lived values. And Alfonso really likes talking about how we do capacity building that is developmental because it isn’t just that we can toss skills at people and expect everybody to catch them the first time.

William:

It’s interesting as you bring this up and Alfonso you can take this too. It’s I see a lot of fear of failure in folks that are… they might even have the best intentions, might have budget, might have the right people, etc, and programmatically, whatever. And they’re just afraid, if they’re trying to hire more folks that are queer, let’s just take that as an example. And it’s just, it’s in their heart, they want to do it. They don’t know where to get started, they don’t know how to… And it’s almost like what we used to call in school analysis paralysis. They get to a point where they just don’t make a move because they don’t want to fail. And it’s like, failure’s part of this, it’s okay to fail. How do you coach people through it’s okay, you’re going to get this wrong and it’s okay.

Alfonso:

So there’s two tools in hiring revolution that folks will get to play with in practice with. So one is relative to this piece about the motivation and the fear of failure. Because we lead folks in the book through an exercise that we call role, goal and soul. And so we have folks think about, well, what are you responsible to, or what are your expectations relative to diversifying your workforce? So that’s your role? What is your goal? So what is the thing that needs to be different or better? So getting super hyper specific, literally like 20% more trans people who are in supervisory roles. Or an increase in Latino women in a product management role like hyper granular. And then soul, what are your ESPED values? And then next to that we say, so what are the current patterns and outcomes and folks actually realize we’re already failing.

Alfonso:

That in fact, I have this role as goal and these values, our whole process and the outcomes are process generate our failing. And so there’s inspiration there to say, oh, what if we tried something different? This piece around relationship building, in the middle of the book, we invite folks to think about thinking more like a community organizer. So that’s mine and Trina’s background in social change movements as community organizers. And a good organizer builds a list of people there in relationship with too. And under seeks to understand the interests of the people on that list as they correlate to the goals that we have. So you say, okay, increase queer representation among our workforce. Who are the people in my existing network, whether or not they’re queer or not care about the paying, promoting and hiring of queer people.

Alfonso:

Who are those 30 people? And what can I ask of them that serves both of our goals? And so we walk the reader through using that tool rather than saying, is there a local LGBT community center? I should put this on their jobs board. Well, if folks don’t know you and know that you’re committed, that won’t work. And so the tool, this sort of think like an organizer recruitment tool shifts the role of corporate recruiter to actually be deeper in relationship rather than transactional with a larger list. A shorter more strategic list actually gets you closer to your goal.

William:

I love that. And again, useful to folks that are starting this, everyone’s on their own on a different journey. And it is kind of an endless pursuit if we do it correctly, we will just keep learning new things and trying new things, etc. I could talk to you all day, but I know y’all have work to do and all that stuff. So clients to take care of and things like that. Where’s the book currently? Where is it available?

Trina:

So folks can go to hiringrevolutionbook.com. And there’s also a spot on there where bulk discounts are available for folks who want to order for their team or department or conference or events. So it’s in pre-sales right now, which is very exciting.

William:

That is super exciting. So thank y’all both for carving out some time to educate our audience and just be awesome. I love the work that you’re doing it’s needed, required and very difficult. So God bless you.

Trina:

Thank you.

Alfonso:

Thanks William.

William:

Y’all have a wonderful day-

Trina:

Take care.

William:

… and thanks for listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Until next time.

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The RecruitingDaily Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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