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A Peek Into People Ops - Onboarding, Ghosting, and TikTok, Oh My! | Ashley Herd

Episode 1 of GoCo's newest series!

Nikhil Bendre

by Nikhil Bendre - September 20th, 2022

Welcome to A Peek Into People Ops, where we'll be sitting down with HR leaders to gain perspective on what people ops means to them and how that translates into their day-to-day!

For the pilot of our new series, A Peek Into People Ops, we spoke with Ashley Herd, Founder and CEO of The Manager Method. Listen to what she had to say about her own people ops journey here!

Want to keep up with Ashley? Here's where to find her!

💚 Ashley's TikTok
💚 Ashley's LinkedIn
💚 Ashley's Instagram
💚 The Manager Method

Episode Transcript

Nikhil Bendre: Hey there, everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in to GoCo's new series, a Peek at People Ops, where we'll be sitting down with some incredible HR leaders and talking about their professional journeys, as well as what people ops looks like and means specifically to them. So, for our pilot episode, we are joined by Ashley Herd, founder and CEO of the Manager Method. Now, not only is Ashley a veteran HR pro, but she's also a corporate TikTok influencer with over 112,000 followers and counting. So, seriously, such a privilege to have you here, Ashley. Thank you so much for joining us.

Ashley Herd: Thanks so much for having me, Nikhil.

Nikhil: Let's just go ahead and jump right in. So, first question, what is your personal mission statement within people ops? Why do you do what you do?

Ashley: I think my north star really is treating people like humans. I mean, it sounds basic, but oftentimes it's not done in execution. So, that's my north star that I try to make everything to go to.

Nikhil: Love that. You, as we just previously mentioned, are the founder and CEO of the Manager Method. So, can you tell me a little bit about what the manager method is and what inspired you to start it?

Ashley: Yeah. So, primarily it's training and coaching for I say all levels of the corporate ladder, managers, employees. I was inspired by years of working in corporate America with companies of all sizes to being a general counsel and head of HR. But what I really loved most was working with people and individuals on communication that a lot of bigger issues could be solved by just having some communication basics and for employees and managers knowing those go-to's.

Nikhil: So, people ops is the best place for you.

Ashley: Yes, I hope so. I think so.

Nikhil: So, moving over to your TikTok, you have gathered a massive TikTok following, which congratulations by the way, that's extremely impressive. I wanna know what pushed you to start creating content on there.

Ashley: Well, like many, I'd done a lot of content as a mom with my kids. But both as they aged, they didn't wanna be with their mom anymore, but I really started to see business advice and really interesting business content on there. And so I started playing around with it and doing role plays and did that for a long time before it really took off, but I've had a blast. I've had a really good time meeting other creators as well.

Nikhil: Awesome. Now, you've done such a fantastic job of really finding your niche in that space and, you know, making a name for yourself. It's really impressive.

Ashley: Thank you.

Nikhil: But follow-up question to that. You, like you said, do a lot of the role play conversational style TikToks, are those based on actual conversations you've had, or are they mostly hypotheticals?

Ashley: Good question. So, I say it's all fictional content. There's no real luke in my videos per se. But some of those conversations certainly I've had, others I know of, but judging by the comments, I think it's fair to say that every single one of those conversations has been had by many in the people ops space. And so it seems like a lot of those do resonate.

Nikhil: For sure. The relatability factor is absolutely there. So, you really just hit the nail on the head on that. Now, kind of a more general question. What is your major piece of advice for really anyone working in people ops?

Ashley: Good question. I think I'd say finding your voice. And by that, I mean, figuring out how you can stay true to yourself and bring your unique approach, not be just like anybody else, but think about how you communicate what's important, what we think is right for the organization in a way that others can hear. You know, you can talk all day and say what's right, but meeting people where they are and adjusting it based on who you're speaking with and helping to relate to what their goals are as well can really help, I think, supercharge careers and really organizations.

Nikhil: So, would you say having versatility is like a key skill for people ops?

Ashley: Yes. That is a very well way to put it.

Nikhil: Now here's something that I'm sure a lot of people within people ops kind of struggle with because working in HR, you kind of have to be a double agent working for both the employer and the employee. So I wanna ask you, how do you balance the needs of your company with the needs of your employees?

Ashley: So, it is. It can be tricky because some people will say HR is not your friend and other people will say, oh, you're just fluff. You're just looking out for the employees. But really I think HR's job is to be a conduit between the two. And I tell people all the time, in an organization, your biggest investment is your people. So while doing the right thing should be the right thing to do, if you're taking care of your number one investment, that's figuring out right things that work both for the organization and for employees and how you do things can often be more than the what or the why so that people feel like they're treated fairly.

Nikhil: Very clarifying. You have an incredibly impressive resume. You used to work in Big Law as well. Can you tell me a little bit about how that experience makes you a better HR professional today?

Ashley: Yeah. I mean, I think I've gone down all the road. A lot of times people talk about risk avoidance. What they mean often by that is litigation. I've gone through the whole path of litigation, sat through mock juries and all of that. And I can say litigation is miserable. Everybody ends up exhausted, no matter if you win or lose.

But oftentimes when I sat through that mock jury, so at the end of the day after years and many, many dollars spent and it's real people that are judging was this treated objectively? And those are people that have no idea often about the ins and outs of your organization, nor do they wanna hear about all of that. They just wanna see if someone was treated fairly. And if you can have that mindset at the outset, you can honestly save yourself a world of the exhaustion of litigation and have an outcome that really feels fair.

Nikhil: Right. Objectivity is key.

Ashley: Yeah.

Nikhil: So, now going to a topic that's pretty big and buzzy in HR right now, ghosting in the workplace, which goes both ends, so we'll kind of come at this from both angles. But first, do you have any advice for job seekers who unfortunately do face a lot of ghosting in their job searches?

Ashley: I mean, I don't have to say going into a job search, you have to steal yourself for that. And to be shocked. I mean, so many candidates can speak to the experience of everything from not hearing back from an organization to having multiple interviews and being told, maybe even here's your cubicle, you're gonna get the offer, and then they hear nothing. And it feels awful. And so you really have to steal yourself, know at times it's a numbers game, and things can change.

And on the other side, people sometimes don't know what to say or systems have been paused and they just don't have the decency honestly to get back to you. They get busy and so generally, it's not about you. And so you have to be able to steal yourself and wait for that right opportunity. I tell people that deserves you that treats you like a professional.

Nikhil: Absolutely. Your self-worth is not tied to your job.

Ashley: It is not at all.

Nikhil: But coming on the topic from another angle, you are a recruiter and you take a candidate all the way to the end. You know, you've been working with them this whole time. And then at the very end of the finish line, they're nowhere to be found. So, how should HR handle candidates ghosting them?

Ashley: It's true. It definitely can happen on both sides. And so I think two things, one is in that moment do the same, to recognize taking that higher road and even reaching out to someone and saying, you know, I have to assume you've taken another opportunity. You know, despite being excited for this role, I want the best for you and your career. So, I want you to know it's okay. I'd love to know where you ended up if you'd love to share, but I just wanna wish you success moving forward.

How many people have gotten a message like that? Not too many when you ghosted, but I think having that as a recruiter to know in and out, people often have to make decisions based on their family, their circumstances. And, you know, just like companies, candidates often don't know what to say and feel really awkward. So, taking that higher road.

You can also think back to the initial process. Okay. Are there things we should have done better? You know, most of the time when people are applying to you, they're probably applying to many, many other places. And so trying to pin down and show the things that are most exciting about your opportunity and keeping up that communication can help minimize that. But working with humans in people ops, you can never prevent it. But I always say taking the higher road will generally be the far better choice than being really irritated when that happens.

Nikhil: Absolutely. Now, going to a topic that here at GoCo is kind of our bread and butter, something we love to talk about, onboarding. I wanna ask you how crucial do you believe a proper onboarding is to employer retention.

Ashley: I mean, I actually think crucial is a fantastic word for it because, you know, if someone shows up...you know, it's think of two different scenarios, someone shows up and they have a whole plan. The organization seems excited for them. They have things together. They have equipment. Maybe they have some swag. I mean, all of that where you're like, okay, this is right. Because oftentimes the job search process is exhausting and someone's super nervous right before they start their job. If they come in and they're like, oh, this organization wants me and you have, you know, clarity and what's going on in the job, you can feel great.

Come to the other side. You show up, people don't expect you. IT doesn't have your laptop because no one told them that you were coming. It can start things off. And so while most experience are somewhere in the middle, the more you can get to showing people you're excited for them, I mean, it truly can win hearts and minds right from day one.

Nikhil: Absolutely. You have to make them feel wanted, appreciated.

Ashley: Yeah. Literally. I mean, we all at the end of the day. Totally. At the end of the day, you wanna feel wanted, whether it's in your personal life. But at work, you wanna feel like you count and you're unique and you're not just your employee ID number. You know, you're Jane Doe, John Doe, and you have a unique contribution and the people around you care about you.

Nikhil: Yeah. You're a person, you wanna be treated as such. So, then follow up question to that. What would you say is the specific key to a successful onboarding?

Ashley: I think a huge one can be I'd say clarity. And clarity by meaning what does that look like? And a lot of that ideally can be a good onboarding process starts in the interviews where a company is raising things about clarity. What's your title gonna be? What's your team look like? How staffed is it? What's your manager's working style? And the company's bringing those in rather than making candidates ask. So, then when you start having that clarity for someone to understand, what's my job, what are my projects, and what is what I do contribute to the organization. And things like time off. Like, just having a sense of like, okay, this is how it's gonna be, can be a huge win in an onboarding process. And isn't as common as organizations would probably like.

Nikhil: Absolutely. There needs to be a path forward, a clear path forward, otherwise what's the point? So, also with onboarding, a common perception of it may be, oh, it's just new hire, maybe they're direct manager, they come onboard and then that's it. But how far do you believe the reach of onboarding truly goes within an organization?

Ashley: I mean, I think it's huge, both for the new employees and up to senior leadership, I mean, truly senior, senior leadership. Because for new employees, you know, there may often be this, you know, leadership, there may be a page on the website, you see these people, but you never interact with any of them or maybe just your division leader, but they're kind of people on a page. If you can have a human touch, and whether it is, you know, a video platform or whether there's, you know, a semi-annual meeting where the leaders introduce themselves, having that can really make people feel like they're part of that organization.

But to the flip side for senior executives, so often you are so disconnected from what's happening on the ground. And new employees can be a huge source of information, both what their job search process was like, what attracted them to the organization, the things they wanna be working on. Like, it can give you a huge pulse. And so I actually think having senior executives as part of onboarding, you know, individually meeting with a group, having a lunch, and having a more, you know, conversation about these things can be just as equally important for senior leadership as for the new employees.

Nikhil: Right. And the key to that, I guess, would be to actually be genuine in that and want to get to know your new people.

Ashley: Totally, I mean, if you have this lunch and you have someone that's like, okay, well, I'm supposed to meet, so why don't you guys tell me about... You know, and you feel that it's worse than not having anything at all. And so I completely agree genuine is the best adjective that has anything. If there's leaders that don't feel comfortable with that, like, you know, don't work with them before you have those, but same with employees. Other employees don't always wanna open up, so genuine is really important of that.

Nikhil: Absolutely. And final question, people ops does touch every department in an organization to some degree. So, what departments would you say should be working closer with people ops than they might be on average?

Ashley: Well, I would say all of them. I'll say D, all of the above because I do think people ops has strengths. Even organizations or departments that feel like they're going well, everyone can use coaching and growth. People ops can use people ops. But I think probably two of them, I'd have to say marketing and finance. Marketing because, you know, so much of the message and you're talking about the customers, often your employees are some of the best customers. So, getting a sense of them. I mean, just the same things. Marketing to employees in the recruitment efforts is just as important as marketing to your customers. And there's a lot of information that can happen there. So, I think that's really powerful.

The other is finance because I do think that in budget and things like that, you know, oftentimes finance maybe looking things at a spreadsheet, people ops oftentimes hasn't has a bigger idea about the organization. So, I think working together on those proactively can really be helpful rather than after the fact, looping those in. And I'd probably pop IT in there as well as a third because so many IT initiatives in technology moving forward, there's considerations that need to have people ops. So, I'll throw three, marketing, finance, and IT, and every other department as well.

Nikhil: Just highlight those three.

Ashley: Just highlight those three.

Nikhil: Gotcha. That's very insightful. Thank you. Well, that concludes our first segment of a Peek at People Ops. So, thank you so much again to Ashley Herd for being a part of this. We will link all of Ashley's information down below. So, please go check out on social media, take a look at the manager method as well. All the information will be provided. Ashley, we covered a lot in a short amount of time, so thank you so much for kind of going with the flow. Do you have any parting words?

Ashley: No. I just have to say I'm excited. I love the series. I love hearing from others. I just think no matter what your role is, is tuning in and there's so much cool info online. So, I can't wait to tune in for the rest of this. And you did a great job getting through all that material.

Nikhil: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Thank you again. And thank you to all of you for watching. So, we will see you next time.