David Hughen brings over 25 years experience as a leadership coach as well as driving creative HR strategies and solutions. He has the rare advantage of being a business leader, partnering with a number of early to mid-stage technology companies in a consulting capacity as well as overseeing human resource operations of prestigious companies in a variety of industries --- semiconductors, SaaS and clean technology.
He holds Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in Human Resources and Organization Development from the University of San Francisco, advanced leadership coaching education from Columbia University and has a variety of professional certifications.
He loves HR, and sold an HR firm before.
Moby: Hello? Hello? Hello. What is up everybody? Welcome back to the B2B CEO show. Today. I am talking to David Hughen, CEO, and founder at Austin work net.
Moby: David has over 25 years of experience. As a leadership coach. Entrepreneur and an HR executive. He got interested in HR very early on in his career and holds a bachelor's as well as masters of science.
Moby: In HR and organizational development.
Moby: In the past before Austin WorkNet, he built and sold an HR company in Austin, Texas. And currently, he specializes in helping leaders of early to mid-stage technology companies drive their people operations. Hire better and run their team effectively. In this episode, we talk about what is going on in the job market right now and what it means for leaders.
Moby: Attract talent from outside the organization. And also retain. and upscaled, their people. The last part is one of my favorites, which is what makes a good leader.
Moby: He actually has a framework around leadership and we go in depth on that.
Moby: All right. All right, everybody. Welcome back to the B2B CEO show. As you heard today, I am joined by David Hughen. David, how are you?
David Hughen: Great Moby. Thanks for inviting me to the show.
Moby: Of course, of course. I love to answer this question, ask this question with people as it was asked for me, what's something good about your week so far?
David Hughen: Hi, so I have to limit it to this week. or month, you know, I'm a lucky guy. I do so much work in areas that I actually like doing. And what that means is I, I sense the impact and I get positive feedback.
David Hughen: So I'm, I'm sort of looking back at some of the things that I've done over the past two or three days that speak to this Yeah, one of them so straightforward, but it was actually pretty energizing. I met with an executive for a company and she was trying to justify. Why they need more resources within their division.
David Hughen: And so I was helping her come up with a compelling way to represent the gaps in In where they need to be versus the demands of the work. Now that sounds straightforward, but she's got different audiences. She's got the CEO and she's got finance and she's got human resources. Each of those are leaders.
David Hughen: And so we had a really sort of energizing I'm sure as your listeners hear, this is like, boy, this guy does boring work, but for me, this was energizing. I mean, we were talking about how to represent. The demands of their operation with the, the gaps of their capabilities, right. We don't have the human capital to deliver on these needs.
David Hughen: So how do you practically represent what those gaps are? In consideration of the audiences, right? You've got the head of human resources who got the head of finance. You've got the head of the company. Each of them have their individual biases. And also they have a stack of a million problems on their head.
David Hughen: So how do you represent it in such a way so that they get it fast? And it speaks to their biases, their interests. So we had a discussion around that. But that sort of framing of her problem statement, the gaps of why they couldn't solve for their service needs and what the ask was. And I took her original deck, right.
David Hughen: PowerPoint deck and it reduced down from 16 slides to like eight. Yeah, I guess we cut it in half with just much cleaner representation of problem statement, dilemma solution, right. Or the ask. So that was fun. And then I'll just throw out one other that occurred last week, I worked with a. Startup company.
David Hughen: I may have shared this in our earlier conversation or possibly not. This is a cool company. That's going to change the world. How many startups has set this over the years, but in this one, I really do think they're doing regenerative farming solutions, but the company did we talk about this? . Yes.
Moby: And you talked highly of the executive team and I connect to the COO, but I'd love to hear more.
David Hughen: Yeah. So the point I'm making on this is yes, they're doing cool work. It is sort of the change, the world potential bubble. What was unique about this dynamic? I ran a half-day session in which this young company was bringing in people from all over the world where they work to define their company values.
David Hughen: So I love doing that work. It's it's right in my wheelhouse. But what made this special unique? And I think we talked about this. This is a what Al called. And I think they called it a remote native company, which means that from the day they started as a company two years ago, they were already working remotely out of necessity because of the pandemic.
David Hughen: Right. And the. They had no mothership, right? There was no brick and mortar space where anyone went, that served as the corporate office, even if it was just a couple of rooms in an office building or in fact in effect it was everyone's home. And they have grown this company over time with people working remote and.
David Hughen: Several people in this meeting, were actually a bit teary because this is the first time they had come together live and in-person fully dimensional human beings showing up in one space since the inception of the company. Can you imagine? Right. Two years. Pure remote. Now your listeners are probably thinking, yeah, welcome to my world.
David Hughen: But for them, they never had a prior existence, a working existence in which they passed each other in the hallway and they had rapid access and they've made warm connections in those ways. But instead. And by the way, here's what came out of this. They came to realize, ah, yes, we can be productive in a remote setting.
David Hughen: I mean, this is certainly a learning universal learning that's coming out of this, but also they came to realize we have to come together. We have to have the value of that full human dimension. And our community only is of community of collective interest working together only fully realizes itself when we occasionally come together.
David Hughen: So that was a commitment that came out of that. I love that. And I think both of those examples speak to the fact that human capital, human resources. However, somebody wants to think about the people and the humans in their organization. It's never black and white. It's always nuanced. Every small thing that you, every decision that leadership or management makes.
Moby: It has a huge impact on your organizations, whether they come together or not, whether they've met each other or not. And I know that you have been in love with thinking about this space, studying in this space for a long time. How did you originally get involved with that? And could you give the audience a quick summary of your journey to, from like how you started studying it to Austin?
David Hughen: Yeah. So thanks for asking. I you know, I kind of backed into this work in the. You know, when I originally went to college, I went into engineering is a degree choice because, you know, that's where the work was. I remember I made saying that. Yeah, see, look at all these whites, this is where you need to go.
David Hughen: So after a year of fumbling through, I stopped for a while. So I quit college. And then. Started running retail stores, right? Men's retail. This was a number of years ago back when malls were really a thing. And so I came to see that people chose work for a variety of reasons. They chose to do the work that they did and to work for the company that they worked for and their relationship with their boss.
David Hughen: Right. That. Resonated with me. And I eventually found my way into a human resources and organization development as a, a path. And so I got my bachelor's and master's in that discipline those disciplines, and then had the good fortune of mentors and champions people who saw something in me that allowed me to be able to take on.
David Hughen: Earthly responsibilities. So I ran human resources for big semiconductor companies. So I was way out of my depth. I had no idea, but because I was championed in and one or two people believed in me I learned on the job and effect and I. Significant impact and responsibility, but I was also managing people who were experts in their disciplines.
David Hughen: And in my realm, those disciplines are compensation experts and employee benefits, experts, and employee employment, law experts, and learning and development and organization development and recruiting of course, all these different disciplines in the kind of human capital realm. I was introduced.
David Hughen: On scale, big companies. This is in Silicon Valley at the time. And thus that was my entree into the space that, that I've developed expertise in back then. I didn't have the expertise, but over time through the decade of the nineties, I ran human resources for big semiconductor companies.
David Hughen: And then I joined. Startup because that's what everybody did, right. Everyone wanted to be in a startup, right? You kept hearing about these wonderful outcomes and building companies values and seeing that BA value come alive and meaningful financial ways and otherwise, so. I came to know the venture capital community, the the PE community as well, the investor communities.
David Hughen: And so over the course of growing a couple of successful startups that had good outcomes in both cases, they were acquired. I came to recognize that there was a need for outsourced fractional human resources services for early to mid-stage, small to mid-sized companies. And thus over the course of my experience with these investor-led companies, I was able to.
David Hughen: Build out a solution that they could access and their portfolio companies could access on a fractional as-needed basis. So, you know a board member could say, listen, I've got a portfolio company. They only have a few people, so they don't need. A professional HR on the scene, but they have a complex issue, you know, they're about to hire their first VP of marketing and they're not sure, you know, what should be the amount of stock they should receive, or how do we set up some sort of a commitment to them and which they in turn have to deliver a level of performance.
David Hughen: So something that was pretty sophisticated and complex than you would typically have said a higher level HR approach take on, but they weren't of a saw. To do that. So, that reinforced the models. I built out a company and to keep it simple, we called it Austin HR so that, you know, we didn't even have to do any sort of SEO work people just right.
David Hughen: You can relate to that. People would just type in, okay boy, in Austin, I'm looking for an outsource HR. It, yeah. Let me just put an Austin HR. See what comes up. We always, you know, bubble to the top. So. I had a business partner, highly successful. We sold that three years ago to a assure software, a publicly-traded company.
David Hughen: And I carved out in agreement with that company that I would be doing the acquire. I would continue to do the work of executive coaching strategic HR, like mergers, acquisition, work complex change management, and assessing employee engagement and then leadership development. So those are my three.
David Hughen: Primary areas of the deliverable. So if anyone went to Austin work nets site, now they would see those are the lanes I operate within. And I love doing this work. And I just gave you a couple of examples at the outset of what I do.
Moby: I love it. And yes, the brilliant name you might appreciate this since you had a company which is called Austin HR and super great for SEO.
Moby: I saw a photo. The dentist's office and the dentist's office is called the dentist brand is called dentists near me. So anytime it's absolutely brilliant. So I think
David Hughen: C'mon sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. Right? Of course,
Moby: a hundred percent. When I think about my podcast, I was like, I'd like to talk to and about, and for B2B CEOs and my podcast, The B2B CEO.
Moby: It's ridiculous. So absolutely. And so you've had quite a rich experience and successful in human capital human resources. And right now is a very new and unprecedented time for people who are hiring. You know, there's a lot of demand. For team members. There's a lot of jobs out there and there's a lot of stories out there which are employers are saying, we're putting this job and we don't have any applicants or we have applicants, but we're getting ghosted.
Moby: How do you, as a professional in this space, who's seeing the evolution of it. What would you say is going on?
David Hughen: Well, that's a, that's a big question Moby. I mean, I'll stay some of the obvious things that are going on more recently, right. And, and of course, the pandemic has weighed down the workplace in, in a number of ways and in how work gets done and how people commit themselves to the work, how employers design work differently.
David Hughen: But I'll start with the sort of broader context of your question as in that is when it comes to creating conditions in which you can attract someone to consider working for your company. What are the factors that need to be taken into account? We know the incoming workforce now. Wants to work for a company of meaning I gave you the one example of the startup that I was helping, you know, they have what a great mission.
David Hughen: Right? So it's, it's easy when your mission is obvious because your brand is an employee. Automatically takes shape, right? Yes. I want to do something. It's going to have an impact on the climate in the way we use the earth and how we can help farmers emergency to the next generation of land use and providing food into the food supply chain.
David Hughen: Killer. Right. And so I found that since you talk to B2B and I deal with a lot of early to mid-stage BDB as well and B to C for that matter, the ability to be able to represent a brand in a way so that. Early to mid-stage arrivers, especially those people who are joining a company in which risk is still high, right?
David Hughen: They're not joining an established company there. They're joining a company that's still putting a definition on itself. It's still trying to find its way in with its technology, and its services solutions into the marketplace. It's trying to gain revenue is trying to gain some levels of funding in, in many cases, the brand has to resonate so that people will leave an established job and take the risk.
David Hughen: And so I often refer to people who joined early to mid-stage companies are the believers. They believe in the mission, or they believe in leading. I remember when I said early on that, I'm always fascinated. Why do people join companies? Why do people join the leaders? That kind of holds it up? It always does.
David Hughen: So. The universality of this and what's become more pronounced, especially what the incoming younger workforce is. They want to join companies that make a difference in their community and do social good. So the extent to which any company can define itself in part, in a way to say, here's why we exist.
David Hughen: And here's what we do to make the world a better place should be at the forefront of their hiring brand. Future candidates, future employees, wIll look at that company and say, I want to be a part of that story. That works for me. So that's, that's something that a lot of companies just don't put enough emphasis.
David Hughen: On or don't get it right. Or certainly, they don't live it. So, you know, people are pretty savvy as a rule and they can see right through the bullshit and they will realize, okay, they they're saying this, but the fact of the matter is they're not operating in that fashion. So that's my number one thing is what's your brand.
David Hughen: Not just to your consumer, if your services and technologies, but what's your brand to future employees so that it resonates and they feel like they're joining something meaningful
Moby: a hundred percent. I think you. Hit the nail on the head.
David Hughen: I was talking to somebody three to four weeks ago about marketing and I asked them what their goals of marketing.
David Hughen: The first thing was like, yes, we want to hit this revenue goal. I'm like, fantastic. But then they said, we really want to increase our employer branding because we need good talent. And I think that's a conversation that more and more people are thinking about, which is branding as a. Intentional activity or result that they want, which doesn't only serve the revenue through marketing to customers, but also attracts right con the right talent because there's so many options out there right now that people really want to connect with the mission of the company.
David Hughen: And, you know, not every company has. An exciting mission. But what you said was also fascinating, which is leadership. I have joined companies, two companies, or was I a company and client projects in which I believe in the person that I'm working for, that I'm like, I would like to follow this person. And I would like to see where they lead and I want to help them.
Moby: And I think you've touched on too. Amazing points when, so question for you, there's an element of the employer branding, which we can go into, but when it comes to following leadership, what kind of qualities do you see in the leaders that other people say I want to work for these people?
David Hughen: Yeah, that's a great question. And something that I work on in one fashion or another, every day of my existence Lead. Well, we know that employees join companies and leave managers is typically the top reason why someone chooses not to work for a company. Everything could be in good working order. They love the mission. As we were just talking about a moment ago, they're doing cool work.
David Hughen: They feel that this is a good culture to work in. They think they can grow their career here. They've have. Reasonable autonomy to get things done. So the, the, and they're getting paid fairly, right? So all these pieces of what I sometimes refer to as the commitment formula. So the formula elements, the calculus of why I choose to commit to the work into the company all comes together.
David Hughen: However, if employees wake up in the morning and they hate their boss, they'll leave anyway. If they don't trust their boss, they'll leave because they don't have advocacy or agency over their, professional relationship to the work in the workplace. So leader. It's rare to find artful leaders.
David Hughen: I mean, we just don't come out of the womb with the leadership gene. It really is a collection of experiences and increased self-awareness, self-recognition. That leads to a point. Ultimately, I think in the simplest form, it leads to humility and leadership, which means that when a manager walks into a room, any setting, whether it's direct employees or not, if that manager conducts him or herself in a way that everyone in that room believes that this person authentically wants to help me be successful.
David Hughen: It's not them walking in with ego first, come on, guys. You're getting in my way of me getting this stuff done and being successful in my world. But instead, the leader comes in and says, what do you need from me? How can I help you be successful? What resources do you need available? When that setting is created in which leaders are conducting themselves in a genuine, authentic, real manner in which employees feel like I trust this person he or she has my best interests in mind.
David Hughen: And what that means. And I'm not just saying all this stuff, Moby, because it's all altruistic and nice to hear. This is a strategy. This is a leadership strategy. When people feel like leaders are operating in their best interests with the guidance necessary associated with the leadership, then people lean in.
David Hughen: They'll take risks. They'll come up with a creative, you know, boss. I've got this wild ass idea. Well, they will never say this. If they were a bit reticent and they weren't quite trusting of their boss or they thought their boss was more in it for herself than for the employees, then they'd be, they hold back.
David Hughen: They'd be a bit more cautious. Right. But if they felt like this is a setting where we can throw out wild ass ideas and the boss could say, you know, about 90% of. Really does suck, but 10% of it. And they can say that because they've earned a trusted relationship, right. And employees don't feel like, you know, they're, they're sort of badgering them, but there can be some sort of fun mutual hazing, but they say 90% of that's awful.
David Hughen: 10% of that's brilliant. What if we take a piece of that? And then someone over here who comes from a different world experience altogether completely different in a cultural gender. LGBTQ, possibly they feel comfortable enough. They can say, Hey, what if we added this to that idea? And someone over here in another corner of the room with a different world experience, a different work experience, a different definition of who they are they say, yeah.
David Hughen: If we took those two ideas and combine them with this, that's the strategy that comes out of this. You've created a condition. In which amazing ideas now surface and people are taking initiative and they're performing at a higher level. And thus by extension the team performs at a higher level, and the organization performs at a higher, higher level.
David Hughen: The company does. So this isn't just sort of nice talk Moby. This is a fundamental way in which. Top leaders distinguish themselves from other people who just happen to be good at their work. And then they were promoted. And now suddenly they've been told, Hey, you're the boss because you were so good at doing the coding of our particular software solution.
David Hughen: So that's, I think the challenge is how do we create conditions for leaders to be more self-aware. So that they, in turn, recognize they, they just develop this EEQ, they, they can read the room better and, and they can engage people who are much different than them. And hopefully, they want people that are different than them to come together to do good work, a hundred percent that is deeply resonating.
Moby: With me because of the experiences that I've had years ago, where literally even a week ago, can I share two? That might be interesting. Hey, it's your show? That's. This is about five years ago, I was in the cafeteria, Dell up in round rock, Texas. And I saw this person a man, he was walking with a few people behind him and he was in the cafeteria.
Moby: So everyone had their food and he walked up to the counter and he was like, Hey guys, come here and put your food here. And he was like, And the way he conducted himself, he called a few more people and he paid for everybody and it wasn't the fact that he paid for everything, but it's the way that he was smiling and encouraging people talking to them.
Moby: I was like, oh wow. This guy, the, this team obviously likes working with him. Yeah, good week. Yeah. The second time I saw him, I. Alone. And I walk up to him and say, Hey man, who do you, what do you do? What's your team? And I can't even remember the answer, but literally seeing that one thing made me realize, like, I would want to work with somebody like this.
Moby: It's a lot of fun and. On the other side. Literally, this happened a week ago where I'm consulting for a company for a friend who's consulting for a company. And there was a situation in which leadership was not happy with something. And what happened was my friend that I'm consulting for kind of, he said like the fault came on me and he stood up for me and said, no, I told him to do this.
Moby: That's my fault. Sure. And I felt so backed up by somebody that I was working for, that I felt I could take chances. And in both these situations, it wasn't. This person was trying to be trying to get the result for me, but they were just giving me trust, giving me respect. And I feel like as managers, we have to give trust or respect our autonomy before we can expect it because people have had bad experiences with.
David Hughen: Sure of course, what gets modeled gets done. People take their cues from people within their work lives who have more authority and more hierarchical advantage to them. So they look to them to get a sense of are things okay. Oh, w w what are the types of behaviors that are most important? Right. So if a, if a manager shows up for their meetings, 10 minutes late every time, then the culture is meeting start late around here, because the person who has power and authority shows up late for every meeting, right?
David Hughen: What gets modeled gets done. Now personally, I'm here in the Austin region, both you and I are here. There's a very successful company. SailPoint went public a couple of years ago. Their CEO is considered one of the top CEOs in the region and beyond Mark McClain and their client of mine had been in the past anyway, and I conducted cymbal leadership training programs.
David Hughen: And whenever I was conducting them here in Austin, mark would attend. And he had been to the same program more than once, but nevertheless, by his being at attendance, he was sending a signal that he cared about. This, there was an investment in leadership and it mattered now further than that, though, Moby at the end of the training session, as people were leaving, Mark stuck around to clean up the room.
David Hughen: Whatever was left behind or straighten up the chairs again for the next training session that was coming up, this guy is doing it and not even think twice about it. And he did it with kind of a twinkle in his eye. And this guy, he happened to have a wry sense of humor that he just brought with him.
David Hughen: That's the way he's wired. And so there was this fun spirit but you know, he was grounded in this great intellectual energy, but nevertheless, I looked at that and I thought that is so. Profound in it's distinction of a leader and so minimal, and the actual work of that moment that he was doing, which was hardly even work.
David Hughen: I mean, here's a guy, he's got a board meeting coming up, potentially. He's got to deal with investors. This is right before they had gone public and all these other considerations, any straightening up chairs in a draining room and cleaning up whatever's left behind and on the tables. That boy that stuck with me and I'm sure for others to look at the sky and say, wow, this is an accessible real leader.
David Hughen: Absolutely. And I think some of the points that you talked about when it comes to leadership, trust, humility, respect. What people experience if the join a good organization and there would good leaders and people stick around that has a very direct effect or intention state engagement when you're working with these clients.
David Hughen: And let's say you do work with. And an organization that has that healthy culture and it's relevant. It's, it's obvious to you when you have conversations with team members and it's Mike reflected in Glassdoor. How, how can they effectively. I don't know if the word is promoted, but show that to people who have not joined the organization yet and leverage the fact that they do have a healthy culture and leadership, which is interested in the wellbeing of their team members and use that to attract more talent.
David Hughen: How do they communicate that? I mean, the fact of the matter is you can't you can't fake this. And so and it would be disingenuous to which plenty of companies do out of necessity. They'll say here's our culture. And we're great. Look at all these pictures of people doing fun things. But I think ultimately the way this comes together is through employees becoming Goodwill ambassadors on behalf of the.
David Hughen: Right. If employees, you know, it's kind of a net promoter score, you were talking to me about marketing. So using marketing a metaphor. I mean, if you have your employees, Who are net promoters of the company. And they talked to the friends, say, boy, I've worked for a great boss and a great company. I'm loving it here.
David Hughen: The word spreads. This is how buzzy companies in the early to mid stage startup world sort of become viral is because word just gets out because they have these promoters these Goodwill ambassador. Employees and others who've come in contact with the company. It says this cool company, they're doing cool things.
David Hughen: And they're good people too. I mean, it has to sort of resonate organically. I would suggest I'm sure there may be are Formulaic ways in which you could do it. But what sticks for me is that organic representation because again, you know, people have pretty good radar and they know when they're being you know, let us stray or someone's just giving them just sort of a public marketing line that doesn't seem substantive.
Moby: A hundred percent. We've all seen those videos where there's a professional 4k camera and employee is sitting in front and saying, this is a wonderful, wonderful place to work. And is it really, we don't know it is a marketing video. And that's interesting that you kind of emphasize the point of organic viral relativity when it comes not to marketing to customers.
Moby: Attracting talent. I think that's absolutely true because on one side, if somebody is enjoying working on a company and there's an opening that they know somebody who could be a good fit for it, they will actively reach out to that person and say, Hey, I think this is a good place for you to work. Would you be interested?
Moby: Or on the other side it's if let's say that I worked at a great company and I left and somebody reached out to me saying like, Hey, I'm applying for this job. Would you recommend this company? That's a, that's a very, not a binary answer, but I can say yes, I literally had this experience. I think I may have mentioned this in a call.
Moby: I literally had this experience a few weeks ago where somebody said, Hey, I'm going to apply to this company that you worked for. What do you think? And I was very clear that. Do what you want, but I don't recommend it.
David Hughen: Yeah. I mean, that is a death nail because that spreads too. That's the other form of that sort of viral impression of a company.
David Hughen: And that's tough to overcome as well, because that, that resonates that's, what's hanging out there and you know, it sticks with people. So yeah, companies sometimes have one shot. Know, I talk about this when I'm training leaders, right? Because when you actually are in the position, which you're hiring and you're interviewing folks and so forth, all of these are early indicators of what the company is all about.
David Hughen: So if the recruiter doesn't return your call or. The recruiter shows up a bit late for your session, or they're not sure what the job is fully all about. They can only partially represent it. And then they are interviewed with the team and the team members are sort of disconnected. They're not sure what this role is or how the role interfaces across organizational lines and so forth.
David Hughen: So there are all of these indications that this is an organization doesn't quite have it together, or their culture is a bit frenetic and what are they putting an emphasis on? So you know, companies show themselves before people are formally attached to them in any significant way, the word gets out through a number of means
Moby: a hundred percent. And I think this kind of ties into what you said. Which I've never heard before. And I think I had to think about it for 10 seconds, but when you explained it, it made sense, which is what gets modeled gets done. Absolutely. In your example of late for meetings I've been in places where the person that I presenting to is checking their phones and then when.
Moby: I was talking to people who I was managing. I found myself being okay with myself, checking the phone. And that was my fault. That was not their fault. I was, yeah, I can't blame it on leadership because I was in a leadership position and that was a hundred percent my fault, but it also reminds me of a title of a book.
Moby: I can't remember the guy's name, but it's a. What you do is who you are. I think it talks about culture and it's so true. It just flows. We pick up from our leaders. How late they are to meetings their email habits, their slack must just, if the C suite is messaging team members after 6:00 PM, everybody else is messaging each other after 6:00 PM.
Moby: Course. It's just, it's, it's just spreads. It's like being like a parent in a family. Your kids pick up the habits.
David Hughen: Yeah. I mean and we can tell from the theme of our discussion today, I do put a heavy emphasis on the quality of the leadership because my naive view is that everyone deserves a great leader to work for why not?
David Hughen: Why not set that expectation out there. And unfortunately, most leaders are going to fall short and thus Well, then it keeps me in business for one thing. But beyond that you know, it is, it's a tough condition, which you've got the careers of people. And I have to emphasize this. Some of the things that I say to leaders are around the notion that you're actually being watched.
David Hughen: More closely than you realize employees are getting cues from you as to how are things going here at the company in our team. If you walk out of a meeting and you can tell that you just have a slow burn going on, your employees may look at you and say, oh, something's up. So how's this going to affect me.
David Hughen: Right. But the normal human reaction of what does this mean for me? Right. What's in it for me. And so they're reading managers. So I, when I'm in front of leaders, I put an emphasis. You are an agent of the company. Everything you say is on behalf of. The company and for some leaders are like, wow, boy, I didn't think about that.
David Hughen: I thought we were just here getting work done. And you know what? I'd have to beat up people if they weren't getting it done. Right. I'm oversimplifying it. But that is a bit of a train of thought for plenty of sort of day-to-day transactionally thinking leaders without recognizing that, you know, behaviorally how they show up.
David Hughen: Really matters. And then if I can add before we run out of time here, that this is further complicated by the conditions placed on the workplace now for the past couple of years employees and employers have had to distance themselves physically out of necessity, right? For. Health reasons, but the mental health of employees have been affected, right?
David Hughen: When people work in isolation and are by themselves, they can think dark thoughts. It's the human condition and managers, leaders need to fill in those gaps. To diminish the likelihood of dark thoughts. You know, it does seem to be the nature of that with a lack of information, otherwise, people can often assume the worst and that can relate to their their workplace.
David Hughen: So the. Leaders can get ahead of this by checking in with employees more and keeping an active dialogue with employees to say, here's, what's going well for you. Here's where we're at. You could do this differently. Here's where you can improve. People want to know where they stand and even more so in a, a remote work condition.
David Hughen: And we know that there's a greater fragility in the. workplace psyche because of the immense pressures of a worldwide pandemic and how it affects people individually or family members, or just the politics that create dissension and so forth. All of that is weighing people. And again, now they're remote from.
David Hughen: Work culture right where they have been spending most of their daily hours with others. So it's a greater challenge to have a a great and positive culture. If you don't have a community of people showing up at the same place every day culture gets dispersed the. The greater challenge to leaders is to try to get ahead of it.
David Hughen: With active engagement of employees do used to be in my world. We'd say always keep a safe distance between the personal story of an employee and their work story, right. People deserve the private lives. So we should intrude. However now, I think we've shifted that line a bit out of necessity to check in with people.
David Hughen: How are you doing? How's your family? What do you need from me? That's the greater ask of the leaders now that form of advocacy that that was describing earlier was more just in terms of professional, developmental advocacy. Now this is kind of personal developmental advocacy. So yes, the demand I place the demands I place on leaders even greater because of this this condition that has been presented to us personally and professionally.
Moby: Absolutely. Absolutely. And then kind of like, I'm talking to that. People wanting people watching leaders before we throw, ask how people can follow you. Can I share a quick thing about a meme that I saw? Yes. Perfect. And so there's a meme going around in gen Z, which is saying, Hey, my manager ends a sentence with a.
Moby: Peered versus a exclamation point. I think they're mad cause that's not gen Z communicates with more enthusiasm and exclamation point. So people watch for that tiny things. And so. I really appreciate you jumping on this conversation. Where can people find you and get connected with you and follow your work?
Moby: Yeah. Well, thank you and I, and I'll respond with an enthusiastic exclamation point. Well, for that matter, it's been fun talking with you and I love talking about these things. People can find me at Austin worknet.com. There's contact information. There there's information about my firm and the services that we provide.
Moby: Fantastic. Fantastic. And we'll make sure we link that on your LinkedIn everywhere. Yeah. On LinkedIn as well. David, on H U G H E N.
CEO and Founder at AustinWorkNet
David Hughen brings over 25 years of experience as a leadership coach as well as driving creative HR strategies and solutions. He has the rare advantage of being a business leader, partnering with a number of early to mid-stage technology companies in a consulting capacity as well as overseeing human resource operations of prestigious companies in a variety of industries --- semiconductors, SaaS and clean technology. He holds Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in Human Resources and Organization Development from the University of San Francisco, advanced leadership coaching education from Columbia University and has a variety of professional certifications.