S4 E98 | eXpertease: Grant Clough talks about balance and boundaries

Grant Clough former KPMG and AARP leader, provides some guidance on how to help retain valuable employees who are demanding balance and a new level of support from employers.

Welcome to the CXR channel, our premier podcast for talent acquisition and talent management. Listen in as the CXR community discusses a wide range of topics focused on attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent. We’re glad you’re here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:17
Hello, listeners. I’m Chris Hoyt president of CXR and I’m today’s conductor on this speeding bullet train of conversation. And it’s a bullet train because we only spend just 10 minutes chatting with an industry practitioner or a head of talent. As they share their insights around just one thing, they’d like to make sure that you know, now, it might be a lesson they’ve learned the hard way or victory that they think everyone deserves to win, but they jump on board live with us nearly every week to share with you now, if you’ve not already subscribed to this joy ride, be sure you point your browser over to CXR.works/podcast and take advantage of all the fancy subscription buttons that we’ve added there for you. Now, you can dial in from nearly any platform available. So take a moment to make sure you don’t miss an episode of this or any of our other segments like Uncorked, Have You Met, Moments That Matter and more. Now, if you are here live and you have any questions for our guests, you can add those to the chat window and we’ll do our best to work them into the conversation. If we do run out of time. However, we’ll make sure to drop them over in our open and free career Crossroads recruiting community forums that now founded CXR.works/talenttalks. Now today, we’re talking with an industry friend and talent leader Grant Clough. Grant, welcome to the show. How are you?

Grant Clough 1:26
I’m good. How are you? Chris?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:28
I’m doing quite well. Thanks for asking Grant. Appreciate that. So you’re no stranger to the podcast? We’ve actually been on the podcast a few times before.

Grant Clough 1:37
Yeah, you roped me in Chris, I believe back a couple years ago when I attended one of the CXR events in North Carolina at your member Spectrum. And myself, you and I believe Scott Weaver connected on candidate experience or actually stakeholder experience.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:55
That’s right. That’s there was a roadmap that we shared to that was pretty impressive. Yeah?

Grant Clough 1:59
Yeah, I think at the time we were doing user journey, exercises with not just the talent acquisition processes, but also HR processes, kind of as a whole, that we had become kind of a standard piece of our looking at how we did things.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:17
Yeah. Well, so obviously, if you back today’s lesson learned doesn’t have anything to do with about not coming back to the show.

Grant Clough 2:24
Right? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, nope. Nothing negative happened to me. As a result, I wasn’t cancelled. Nothing like that happened.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:32
Understood. Well, so let’s start let’s start somewhere a little softer than normal, like, okay, for you personally, during the pandemic, right, if you’ve had a little bit of change during the pandemic,

Grant Clough 2:45
I have actually Chris The last time I think I saw, and Jerry and Barb in person, AARP was hosting your last CXR event. And I don’t know if you remember, but I had to mysteriously disappear from that last day. And it’s because my wife and I were embarking on a fertility journey. And there was a procedure that I needed to lend a hand to that no one else could do. But me.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:12
That’s great. I think it’s one of those all hands type events, you just got to get in there.

Grant Clough 3:17
Well, we only needed a couple hands. But yes.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:20
That’s great. Well, it sounds like everything came out okay?

Grant Clough 3:23
It did. So over the course of, you know, that was, I believe, November, December of 2019. Fast forward into 2020. And March, the world kind of stopped. And, you know, that was actually kind of a net positive for my wife and I, we were, we ended up welcoming our first child, a baby Colton, in August of 2020. And really, that was, I say was, the pandemic was kind of a net positive for me, which is sort of a weird thing to say, I was in a meeting one day, and one of the business partner stopped the meeting said, I don’t want to hear that 2020 was a bad year, it was the best year of my life. And I really thought about it. And I was like, you know, this really was one of the best years of my life. And I was afforded so many opportunities because of this pandemic, that I never would have gotten otherwise. And so two weeks after the baby came, and I was back at work, I could go get coffee, I could use the bathroom, and I could see him for five minutes, which if I was commuting into DC just isn’t something that would have been possible before. And so, you know, kind of throughout that year, throughout the last 18 months, I’ve really gotten a chance to see him grow up in a way that I think a lot of parents probably never have. And so that was kind of one piece. I also was grinding away on a master’s degree, which I wrapped up here in May. And so I finished that finally started in August of 2017. And one class at a time. That’s how you eat the elephant. So just kind of a lot of things have been going on, for sure personally,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:54
I think that’s wonderful, it’s a hot topic right now for everybody, right this post pandemic recruiting retention. We just had a meeting on this the other day really well received a lot of really great discussion on what’s going on with candidates and how they’re working on this new this new approach to attraction because of the pandemic and trying to pull people in. And the change in candidate flow and the change of candidate behavior everybody’s very concerned about it. But what I wish we’d see more of I think, is the post pandemic, people management, right, and the ability and well, maybe you could argue that that sits inside of the retention. I do think there’s a lot more to that. And I think that’s kind of what you’re talking about being able to stay home with your son.

Grant Clough 5:36
Yeah, I think so. And I, you know, that’s, as we move into the conversation about me leaving AARP and why I ended up leaving, I think that’s a stick, I don’t think that’s necessarily the straw that broke the camel’s back. I think there’s a pile of things that everything’s much more complex than just, you know, one issue for people. But I think it’s an overall account management conversation. And, you know, candidly, I think there’s a lot of opportunity as a talent acquisition professional and, you know, as a under the bigger umbrella of talent management to have a more tightly integrated conversation between the two groups, or just make it one group.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:14
Do you think Grant that it’s a I mean, we’re reading a lot of stuff, we’re seeing some research come out of where people are talking about how it’s gonna need to be a different style of man managers are going to have to get to be able to manage the whole employee, right, not just the nine to fiver now, but because because the employees just like, oh, shit, I got a I got a taste of some of this life balance that we’re talking about. Right. And while some want to come back to the office, many people want to be forced back to the office, and they want to try to retain a little bit of that balance. How do you how do you sort of see that evolving? As somebody who said, I want more balance? Right? And as somebody who’s pretty good people, manager from a balanced perspective, and now a new lens, like with your new son? How do you see that shift coming? How do you see managers sort of taking that on if they take it on at all?

Grant Clough 6:59
Well, I think being a mid level manager is probably the hardest job in an organization because you have to take that on. And you have to deal with the individual circumstances of the people who you work for you work with. When you look up kind of a higher level of management, you know, it’s really helpful for you, as a mid level manager of the organization takes a stand out in one way or another. I think there was a great article on newsletter this week, I apologize, I don’t have the direct attribution. But it really talked about the six different ways on the spectrum that you can go into a kind of early return to work all the way from, we’re getting rid of our offices were remote only organization back to, hey, we’re 100% back in the office and and kind of all the variance in between. And there’s pros and cons to all of that. And I think there’s not a right or wrong answer as to what an organization wants to do. Aside from what’s just let it breathe and figure it out. I think really there there is value in leadership of organizations being deliberate about choosing what they want to do, understanding that whatever they choose is not going to work for everyone, and that there is going to potentially be some attrition, regardless of what they decide to do, but take a course choose it. And, you know, you can always pivot down the road.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 8:20
Yeah, we’ve talked to a couple of organizations that are really, really big organizations really, really hesitant to share their their solidified plan. And I suspect that’s not because it’s it’s actually not solidified. Right. If they’re smart, they’re getting ready to flexible. They don’t want to be seen as the people sort of cutting the path. Right? They don’t want to be paving the way for what should be the new normal. I kind of want to sit back on this one and see what’s happening. Are there are there any we’ve seen managers, they’re doing it right. But are there any companies that you see are doing it right, or doing something that’s, that’s a little more intriguing.

Grant Clough 8:55
So I think the companies that are doing it, right are just taking a stand, if you think about it, and our lens is always on recruiting, right, Chris, but if you think about it from just taking a stand, being able to have your recruiters when they’re out there in the market, trying to get your talent, be able to articulate what it is that you’re doing is really, really valuable. And if you have something tough to find, like I would say an architect or a software engineer, not being able to articulate what’s expected from them in six months, is tough. How are you? How are you gonna make that hire? And so organizations that maybe weren’t fully remote, or maybe they’ve said, Hey, we’re going to be back in the office and you can be in, you know, this location, this location, or this location, at least, or kind of planting a flag and saying, This is what you can expect of your journey with us. It’s just really hard to offer someone quote unquote, full time employment and not tell them what that’s gonna look like.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:49
Yeah, well, we that was part of the discussion the other day to some of the leaders said, Look, we were having trouble convincing people to come in this top talent to come in because we were like, you can be remote for the next four months now. That we have to see what happens. That’s, that’s tough. Yeah,

Grant Clough 10:03
Absolutely. Particularly, you know, and, and working in my last employer, AARP, where you might have to take the metro into the city, we had a, I’d say a pretty, pretty professional environment. So at minimum, somebody’s gonna have to please put khakis and a button down on that, you know, there are definitely pieces that make it hard for you to decide. And that’s what we really are looking for people to do. Hey, do we have something going, Hey, are we a fit without giving them information makes it really tough.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 10:33
So Grant, let’s let’s head out of the conversation with you telling us with with your experience and and your level of professionalism within the space, right? What does the perfect work environment look like? For you leaving a team? Is it are you all the way in the office? Are you telling them what days to come in? Or is it completely remote? What What does it look like if you get to design it today.

Grant Clough 10:59
So if I got to design it today, and I don’t, candidly have opportunities, or I have experience managing a large organization myself, if I was to manage a team and have, you know, five to 15 people working for me, I think I really would want to understand who was on that team and what they needed. First, I took a really good training called structure, or situational leadership 2 which is funny because there’s no one, there’s just situational leadership to a while back. And really, it talked about how you manage people differently depending on who they are, as well as managing them differently for tasks depending on where they were on the maturity cycle of that task. And so I think the same thing is true with with managing a team, if you have a bunch of people who’ve just graduated from college, and they are really keen to get back into the office, and there’s a huge social aspect of that, I think you have to accommodate them, and provide that structure that balance that learning and cool opportunities for them. In the same time, if there’s somebody who is like me, 40 years old, has a small child at home and is looking for a little bit additional flexibility, you need to be able to kind of to work with those as well, too. And if you can’t, you just need to be upfront and be able to say, this is not what we’re looking for a different type of person, I candidly think as we move into 2021, 2022, 2023 these are gonna be more issues where people are looking for the fit. And we cringe every time we hear cultural fit, right, but that this is cultural fit out of that it’s best.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:34
Yeah, well, I mean, you’re talking about the people being the culture, of culture that typically gets rolled down, right. And I love I love the people centric management approach that you’ve got, right, trying to balance that with the results and making sure that works. Grant, thank you so much for joining us for this quick 10 minutes. We really appreciate you man.

Grant Clough 12:54
I really enjoyed seeing you, Chris. Welcome. Welcome back to Texas.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:58
Yeah, well, thanks. I’m just really excited to see if any of my furniture and clothing gets here really, really, really missing all my collared shirts. I gotta be honest with you. But next time, we’ll be back with none other than Kevin Grossman. You know, this guy. He’s the president of the talent board. Those are the folks that have been crushing the candidate experience award for years now, as recruiting professionals, we all know that upwards of about 40% of the company’s hires can come from referrals, yet most of us only focus on employee or customer referrals. Kevin is going to join us and share why he thinks we’re missing out big time if we’re not leveraging candidate referrals. That’s right candidate referrals so until such time, I’m telling you to check out all of the updates and new benefits of the CareerXroads communities online at CXR.works there you’ll find a free open community groups members only community groups private invitation only commute groups and some wonderful and new open networking community groups all added and upgraded with 1000’s of people already collaborating and sharing with one another to help solve big talent challenges now we’ve been doing community we tell it professionals for over 25 years and we’re always evolving around what our members are asking for. So check it out at CXR.works till next time.

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