Using Mission, Vision & Values for Everything

with Bamboo's Director of HR, Cassie Whitlock

listen to apple podcastslisten to spotify podcastslisten on amazon podcastslisten on google podcastsWatch on YouTube

Cassie Whitlock is the Director of Human Resources at BambooHR. She has over 20 years of HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Accounting and a Master’s degree in Human Resources.  She loves the intersection of business and humans and believes that when companies focus on the human aspect of their people, the people, in turn, focus on the business needs. She enjoys her work most when she can take her talents in data, processes, and human psychology to make someone's day better. She is also a proud mom of 2 and is absolutely loving life being a Nana to 4 (soon to be 5) wonderful grandchildren.

  • Cassie's journey from accounting to people leader
  • Unique obstacles SMB's face
  • Moving anti-harassment training from compliance to a way to enhance company culture
  • What is the role of a people leader? 
  • How do you build a culture of support? 
  • Mission, Vision, Values model
  • How BambooHR selects what benefits are worth investing in
  • Crafting a mission statement for your 401k plan
  • How to find value in any work project?
  • Frameworks for constant improvement in your organization

[Tom Finn]    00:00:02    Hello, and welcome to the Talent Empowerment podcast, where we lift up people leaders so they can lift up their organizations. I'm your host, Tom Finn, co-founder and CEO of LeggUP, and together, we'll learn how to drive people innovation, how to transform HR into people ops, and how to secure buy-in to disrupt the status quo. And as I like to say, it's finally time to stop smoking on airplanes and update your people strategy. Let's transform your organization and move from a culture of talent management to talent empowerment. 

This week's episode of the Talent Empowerment podcast is brought you by LeggUP’s Talent Insurance, an inclusive people development platform designed to help HR leaders empower their people through one-on-one professional coaching with results like a 66% improvement in avoiding burnout, a 54% jump in leadership skills and a 73% increase in job satisfaction. LeggUP guarantees improved employee wellbeing, productivity, and retention. In fact, they insure it— your people stay or they pay! Visit leg up that's L E G G to learn more. And without further ado, this is Talent Empowerment. 

Welcome to the Talent Empowerment podcast, ladies and gens, where we lift up people leaders. So you can lift up your organization. I am your host, Tom Finn. And today we have a passionate and strategic HR business partner as our guest Cassie Whitlock, Cassie, welcome to the show.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:01:36    Thank you, Tom. So exciting to spend my afternoon with you today. So thanks for having me.  

[Tom Finn]    00:01:42    We are so excited to have you with us. Um, and for those of you that haven't had a chance to meet Cassie yet. She serves as the director of human resources at a fabulous company called bamboo HR. If you haven't, uh, been familiar with them yet, go ahead and check them out there. Fantastic. She has over 20 years of HR experience with a bachelor's degree in business management and accounting and a master's degree in HR. She loves the intersection of business and humans and believes that when companies really focus on the human aspect of their people, the people in turn focus on the needs of the business, she enjoys her work most when she can take her talent in data and processes and human psychology, psychology, and make someone's day just a little bit better. She's a proud mom of two and absolutely loves being the life of the party as a Nana to four, and soon to be five wonderful grandchildren. We are so excited to have you on the show. So I've gotta start with an easy one, uh, accounting, HR, how do we go from being an accountant to being a senior leader in HR?  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:02:49    Yeah, it's, it's just a natural journey, right? It really is for sure. Yeah. You know, how, how did I get to where I'm at today? Um, you know, the short story is I, I worked in the SMB space, small, medium business. And when you do that, you're often wearing multiple hats. And, and so I started out in the accounting world, but also did human resources. And over time, I just recognized I had a bigger passion for the challenges of people and how to help businesses be more successful on that level. That's the short story or, yeah, the short story, you know, the long story, the human story is, you know, I found myself at a place where I was a single parent, two children, and I had no education. I had no career, I had nothing and yet I needed to feed my wonderful children.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:03:39    And so how on do I do this? And I literally took five minutes and said, wait a minute. I think people in banking are able to put food on the table. I'm gonna go be an accountant. And so I just decided, and I went to school and got a degree and started to work. And that, again, as I was in small and medium businesses working and seeing the challenges that teams face, that individuals face, I, I just really fell in love with the opportunity that HR has to not just help businesses be successful but to influence humans, to make society better because of the work. And the lens that we have is we look across an organization at all of the aspects and not just focusing on any one team that might be our domain of expertise.


[Tom Finn]    00:04:28    Yeah. That's, that's a wonderful introduction. And I, I think many, uh, parents out there can relate, um, to, to those feelings of nervousness and, um, trying to provide for your family. Um, and, uh, and it's, it drives us, right? It drives all of us to, to do something different and take those risks maybe that we wouldn't have taken, uh, before, as now, you know, members of a, of a growing family, which is wonderful. So I guess I wonder for, for those that are in the small and medium-sized business space that are in HR, what are the challenges, um, that, that are unique to that space versus somebody that works at a global organization?  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:05:06    Uh, I think they're the first one is kind of that talent of wearing multiple hats and acknowledging that it can be a little bit of a lonely journey when you're kind of the only one that does all of the things. It can feel overwhelming. It can, it can be hard to make sure that you've got the right network and resourcing to help you brainstorm and ideate and really innovate to tackle the problems inside your business. It can feel that way, um, which means you need to be proactive and intentional about ensuring that you get that support in those resources around you. And yeah, it can look like people inside your organization, but it can also be your professional network outside of that company. And, and making sure that you've got those connections that you schedule time to reach out and have a chat with another professional, talk through a problem that you're puzzling and see what advice or perspective that they can share based on their journey experience.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:06:02    So that's, that's the number one challenge. The second one I think about is, um, it's true of any size of the company, do you have your base set, and is it running well? So I think of kind of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and what are the basic things that have to be done and have to be done? Well, well, we all start with payroll. Am I paying my people on time? That's a critical one, but really looking at all of the hygiene issues of how do you run a business, how do you take care of workers and is that working well for my business? Uh, a lot of times we'll kind of do an 80 20 where we've got 80% of it working well and the 20% do we ever take the time to really go think about it and look at that. And I think that there's some real magic in that last 20% that sometimes we don't ever choose to focus on and unlock. I think that's the difference between, uh, kind of just checking the box and getting things done and really being intentional about making a difference about recognizing these aren't just workers. These are humans, and are we taking care of the people that are helping us build our company, or are we just doing the tasks that running a business requires us to do? So regardless of your size, um, I always start with the foundation. Do you have that solid and in place?  

[Tom Finn]    00:07:25    So payroll important <laugh> yes, very important. Um, you know, I put another one under that umbrella too, which is, uh, compliance, compliance important, right. Staying in compliance, very important. Um, making sure we're avoiding legal issues also important. Um, but maybe not the human side that you're talking about. So you talked about this 80 20 sort of rule. What, what would be some of those components in the 20%? Those like we're going the extra mile, we're thinking through things differently. We're innovating. Um, could you give me a couple of examples?  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:08:00    Uh, yeah. So one example I can think of, and, and one that I've really enjoyed as a, just a personal experience as a professional, uh, think about the idea of anti harassment training inside your organizations. Number one, it's just the right thing to do to teach people how to behave, um, and have a good work experience, but there are states and federal laws that require us to maintain certain, uh, professional expectations in the workplace. So anti harassment training gotta do it. Uh, is it something that you just do for once a year and the box gets checked or are you taking it from saying, yes, this is an HR compliance task. Um, and are we looking at it as, Hey, it's my job to help people be successful? Yes. Their HR tasks to be done, but our real job is to help the people of our organization be successful.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:08:56    And so what does that mean about anti harassment training? Great. We've done it. Check the box, but have you done it in a way that it engages people and they want to build a culture and interact in ways that support the principles and outcomes that you're trying to accomplish there? Um, I had a, a fun experience. So at BHR we thought carefully about that. We care about culture. We care about employee experience. And I thought if we care about that, respect has to be at the center of everything we do, including anti harassment. And instead of going through an experiences of showing horrific, like skin curling, like these are the bad things that happened.  

[Tom Finn]    00:09:41    Some of those videos are terrifying, Cassie, right? I mean, they're horrific. They're absolutely terrifying. I mean, you, just, to me, I think where were your parents on this one? Right. I mean, because it does come from sort of how we were raised in some way, um, and, and very important that we understand the rules of business as well. But, uh, some of those videos are, like you said, kind of, uh, they makes your toes curl a little bit.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:10:04    Yeah. It's, uh, it's almost traumatic sometimes to even watch them. And, and while yes, it talks about the outer edge of, you know, what crosses the line and what's out of balance. What it doesn't do is talk about what we're trying to build. How do we engage in respect? How do we make it safe for people to be not perfect now, again, there's out of bounds and inappropriate, or there's not perfect. And can I learn from something? Can I, can I make a mistake be called out on it in a way that I wanna learn and do better? So we took that opportunity at bamboo HR and in the process of doing it, it, it was really focused. Yes. Anti harassment, but really about respect. What does that mean? What does that look like? And I remember, so once a year managers go through it and the once a year, all employees go through it, including managers, but I had an individual reach out to me. They raised their hand and say, Hey, can I get some time on your calendar? I'm like, sure. We met what's up. What can I help you with? And this individual said, I think that I might have done something counter to our culture of respect. And it might be, you know, a problem as I was looking at the anti harassment training. And first of all, I was stunned who yeah. Raises their hand and says, I think I broke a rule.  

[Tom Finn]    00:11:26    Nobody does that. Nobody does. Nobody does that. The self-awareness of this employee to say, hold on a second. I think I might be in a little bit of a gray area here. It's fabulous.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:11:36    Oh, for sure. So to, to acknowledge it, but then to ask for help and to want to make it right. Wow. So it, it was a great experience and we had a really good conversation, you know, they, they shared what had happened, what their intentions were, uh, what they thought others might have experienced, which is what the training did, allowed them to step back and go, oh, I wonder if someone might have experienced it this way. Um, and so we had a great conversation, talked about how to, you know, step back with a few individuals and make sure that they had an opportunity to give feedback on that experience. But I loved it because it helped a person become better. This individual obviously cared the whole time about what it feels like to work and to be treated with respect. And they saw a quick glimpse of how they could do better. And instead of just saying, oh, I'm not gonna say anything. I'm just gonna keep going. They raised their hand and said, help me make sure I do this well.  

[Tom Finn]    00:12:40    That's right. And, and the lesson here is there's a couple of them. The first lesson is let's try to look for the positive in our trainings and our education, right. Instead of the negative, here are all the things that could go wrong. What are the things that could go, right? Uh, in terms of respect. And I love that message, um, for all of our partners out there that are in people, operations, or, or just people leaders that are managing teams, let's start with not the negative, but the positive of how do we encourage and embrace this culture of, of respect. And then if, if that's sort of the company piece, the second piece, which is even more valuable is that this employee felt psychologically safe and in a safe place, this, this environment that you personally created that made them feel like it was okay for them to raise their hand and say, I, I might have goofed, uh, just, just a little bit. And that they felt okay that they weren't gonna get fired, that this wasn't gonna be spread, that this wasn't gonna ruin their career, your company. And I think that's a message to, to all of our HR partners out there that we have to create that space, um, of safety for people to be vulnerable. Uh, especially if you're in HR.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:13:53    Absolutely. You know, you, you said something there where you said that I created it. Um, I think there are two pieces here. One, we as HR professionals have to personally build a brand of safety that people know that we're there to help. Unfortunately, all too often, there might be a stereotype out there that people are afraid of HR. And so we owe it both to ourselves and to our employees, but even into the, kind of the spirit of the work that we have to do to make sure that we're building trust and psychological safety across the organization. And then second is recognizing that it takes everybody to get there. Even if I had created safety for this individual, if there was back biting and, um, you know, unhealthy competition in the team, or if they'd already learned that it's not safe to make mistakes in my team or in my organization, the opportunity never would've existed. And so we're talking about an example of kind of compliance and how do we go that extra 20%, but it's all part of that bigger vision of do we actually care about people? Are we here to help people be successful and they, in turn, help our business be successful? 

[Tom Finn]    00:15:10    Yeah. Critically important. You've gotta have that great partnership on the team, uh, at the team level and then with the HR, uh, business partner as well. Um, so what is then the real job of people leaders? What, what is the job?  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:15:25    Um, ultimately our job is to help a business be successful and, and you've got multiple levels of that. You're gonna have the strategic level, you know, mission, vision values, where are we going program management, uh, day to day tactics, as well as just where are the individuals, how do you meet them, where they're at? How do you help them get to the next level? How do you do it both individually, but then at scale for the organization, um, and in the middle of all of that, you've got business complexities? Like, I don't know, a pandemic hits or that little thing, you know, something like the, the great resignation is disruptive to the labor market. Um, and, and there are no silver bullets to any of this. There's no one right answer. Um, so part of the job is being agile, being flexible, being creative, um, making sure you're good at zooming out, you know, popping your head up above the weeds and seeing where's the business going, where are the leaders going? Where are the employees at? And, you know, what's the number one problem to solve today and, and make sure that you solve it well, rather than squirrel and tomorrow I'm working on a different problem. You know, at some point you really have to prioritize and, and think through kind of an essentialism mindset.  

[Tom Finn]    00:16:49    Yeah. And one of the challenges that I think, um, professionals in this space face is that you, you end up walking into a leadership meeting when you pop your head up and you start to look at the macroeconomics of a business and you walk into these meetings and now you have competing priorities, right? You've got all these different, uh, maybe division leaders or folks in different roles, um, that are there to have different expertise and domain expertise. But then you walk in as this, this wonderful generalist trying to pull it together. How do you, how do you get everybody to fall in line behind great ideas? How do you build this culture at the leadership level of supporting each other, rolling out new products and services for your employees, and building that culture?  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:17:33    Well, it's a journey. I don't know that you ever arrive, right? It takes constant work. It takes constant thought and care. I like to start with the idea of mission, vision, values. I, I, I'm in love with that model. And it's very, very simple. And so sometimes it's easy to overlook it. But when you think about starting with, why do you even know what your company is trying to accomplish? Right. What are your mission and vision values is a huge determinator in what culture look like inside your organization? And if these things are true, how does that apply down to your strategies, your programs, and how you solve your problems. If you can get that red thread to run through all of the things suddenly it's cohesive, uh, and everything builds on each other rather than being disjointed and creating dissonance across the organization. Um, an example of that years ago, uh, we were working on our small, but mighty HR team and talking about benefits, right? Benefits. It's a 1 0 1 of HR. You gotta have 'em health insurance, dental insurance, blah, blah, blah. Create your list.  

[Tom Finn]    00:18:45  Talen  Insurance, sorry, sorry. SHA  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:18:47    Supply check the box. Right? I have benefits. But what do benefits mean when you look at your company mission and vision, what do they mean about your company values? And we spent some time talking about, okay, we care about the humans who work here. We put a mission statement behind our benefits program. It's simple benefits that benefit you. We spent time talking about the definition of benefit and, and what it should feel like. Um, the experience that we want employees to have the utilization, the accessibility, um, how we embrace the diverse needs of our teams. And so with that, we, we step back to say, all right, let's get values assigned to this. One of our company values is to enjoy quality of life. We thought that is at the heart of what benefits are, is to improve the quality of your life and looking at a total employee wellbeing perspective.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:19:52    So for us, we developed five benefit pillars, where yes, we look at like your physical health. We look at social and emotional, but we're also looking at financial fitness. We're looking at, um, community wellbeing, anybody who's impacted by what we do outside of our four walls. What about career excellence? How should benefit programs support that? And, and as we did that, as we defined our pillars and we put the kind of purpose statements behind each one, it really allowed us to be a far more strategic and not just offering benefits, but in making sure that we're achieving a higher goal and outcome, it helped us to make the choice from, well, do we just offer one health insurance plan two, three? Like, what about options are good? What's too much? I don't want decision paralysis, you know, and we really thought about it, here are the needs.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:20:53    How do we accomplish it through our benefit plans? The other thing we would do is look through the lens of if we wanna have a benefit inside our package, does it hit at least three out of our five pillars? Because if it doesn't, let's be honest, we're wasting our time is it's not making a meaningful contribution towards employee quality of life. And so we built a, a rubric and a scorecard and, you know, we do all things to help us look at it, analyze it, and measure it. But it's really fun at the end of the day to step back and look at, are we achieving the outcomes that we want? So one of the places that we did this, and, you know, I'm, I'm a little bit type a, I have an accounting background, so you can probably see it as you hear me talking, but, you know, mission, vision values, pull that down into a benefits program. And then I would even take it smaller. We did this behind our 401k plan  

[Tom Finn]    00:21:47    Behind a retirement plan. You put mission, vision, and values behind your retirement plan?

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:21:52    Behind 401k. How boring is that?  

[Tom Finn]    00:21:55    I mean, this sounds, this is bananas <laugh> so mission, vision, and values for a 401k plan. Okay. Uh, yeah, I'm ready. I'm sitting down. Go for it. Yeah!

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:22:04    Here we are. So I just went and started to do research. I mean, hello, your best tool is probably Google. Get out there and see what other people have said. But as I, as I researched, I went back to this mission, vision, and values. And as I talked to a few people, some of them outright told me, you're crazy. You do not want to create intentionally, create additional fiduciary responsibility above and beyond what the government already requires. You're gonna kill yourself by doing this. And, and I stepped back and said, no, I disagree. I think I can do it. It's gonna take some thoughtfulness. So we did, we were very, very careful to craft a mission statement for our 401k plan. And it's really talking about things like should be easy to use. It should be easy to engage with, and it should be able to meet the needs of different kinds of employees.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:23:00    I think a good 401k plan accomplishes that already without creating a legal or fiduciary responsibility. Um, but as we set out that mission and we built three pillars, one of 'em was the ease of participation. One of 'em was education. One of 'em was, um, versatility to meet diverse needs. And, and then we started to hold ourselves accountable to it. And it was really fun to see the kinds of things that we imagined and dreamt of around employee education, the kind of technology that we chose to support it, and the way the plan design worked. And then as we were measuring it and had our 401k committee meetings every quarter, you know, pretty soon we were the leading in our peer group through our 401k plan. I thought, wow. Like for our peer group, we have a top plan in the country and not just, um, in how it was designed, but we were holding ourselves accountable to participation.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:24:01    So I'm looking at my salaried, generally speaking, higher-earning individuals and what's their participation rate, but what about my hourly team members? And are they participating at an equal level, right? You already see this in your non-discrimination testing. And do you have high earners who are over-rewarded? And the government tries to manage that, but we decided behind our mission and vision that we were gonna manage it ourselves and to see nearly identical participation levels. It told me that we were educating people that they saw the value of it. They got it. Um, we married it to other programs and benefits so that they all worked well together. And it's just cool because I can step back and look at an individual and say, well, sometimes it's hard to really appreciate the value of that 401k plan. Now in 2030 years, you're absolutely gonna appreciate it. You know, am I holding my breath, hoping that social security's gonna be there for me when I go to retire.

[Tom Finn]    00:25:10    We all are.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:25:11    No, I'm not.  

[Tom Finn]    00:25:12    I'm holding my breath. Yeah. Uh, we are a little bit,  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:25:15    I hope it's there, but I'm not holding my breath on it. Right. I'm making other plans. And to know that we're helping our employees prepare for that day, regardless of how soon or far away it is. And, and to know that we're driving extraordinary uncommon outcomes. And I think it comes back to the intention of using a model like mission, vision, and values. That's part of why I love it. It's so simple. And yet the degree that you can take it to drive both your daily actions, but even your strategic outcomes, um, it stands the test of time.  

[Tom Finn]    00:25:52    Well, this is strategy at its finest, uh, and then implementation, uh, that is executed, uh, very, very well. So if you think about it, mission, vision, and values on its surface level is pretty straightforward. Most companies should have them. Um, and then taking it one step further to say, these are our benefits, mission, vision, and values. And then maybe a third step, if you will, too, these are our 401k mission and vision, and this is how we want to work together. I, I think is brilliant. And, and it's a really nice playbook for really anyone. I don't think that matters if you have 10 employees or if you have a hundred thousand employees, um, it, it really doesn't matter. You can use this framework, uh, to support employees. Maybe the thing that jumps out to me the most that I've never heard before is that you were able to align high-paying salaried employees with hourly employees and match the contribution.  

[Tom Finn]    00:26:48    I mean, that is beautifully done for those of you in HR. Uh, maybe you're not in HR and you don't get how hard that is, but that is, um, some hu superhuman work, because what happens is that people that aren't making as much money have more serious needs with the income that is for today, they have a harder time thinking about the future because they don't have enough money to invest in their retirement today. And that's okay. Um, hopefully, it's a stepping stone for them as they grow their career, but it's really hard to manage, um, from a leadership perspective.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:27:22    It, it is. And, and for me, it's at the heart of, you know, something that we're talking about socially a lot more now is this idea of equity. You know, what does an equitable experience look like in the workplace? It means how do I help somebody earning $16 an hour, have the same retirement opportunities as somebody who's in a six-figure income bracket, right? They are different economics and yet how do I help them have the same opportunity?  

[Tom Finn]    00:27:53    Yeah. And being able to do that on the 401k plan again, is just, um, really wonderful. So, so kudos to your entire team, uh, cuz that is not a one person, uh, think tank. I would imagine that there are some other players in there that helped you along the way. Um, but I, I, I think that's a beautiful example, uh, for all of us that if you just take a step back and just take some thought and pen to paper, you know, fingers to, to type and just think a little bit, um, we can find these new ways of doing things that are, are really innovative, but also not, not super difficult. Uh, once we get the plan set.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:28:29    Yeah. It's, it's a willingness to take the time. Right. I, we could have been done. We could have said, yep, we've got it. We've told everybody they're fine. They can choose. And we decided, no, if they're not using it, it's not a, it's not a true benefit. We think it matters. That's why we're offering it. So let's go make it count.  

[Tom Finn]    00:28:48    I love it. I think it's fabulous. Now one of the things I think about though, when I think about HR is that you end up having to take on a lot of different projects. Is there a project that you can think of in your history, that's been sort of the biggest waste of time that you've taken on or been asked to take it on and you just, you felt like man, that, that, that one wasn't the most exciting or the most relevant to my business or my people?  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:29:13    Wow. That is a hard question. I, I don't know that I have an easy answer to that one. Um, I think that there's no bad project, as long as you step back and learn from it, right? The concept of after-action reviews comes out of the military lens where they go and do, and then they come back and say, what happened? Did we like the outcomes who did what, you know, what would we do differently? And, and so regardless if there's something that you like, or don't like, I think there's power in learning from that. Um, most often you're probably like, did we identify the wrong problem? And it was a waste of time because we didn't do an effective root cause analysis and really get down to, uh, the core problem. Is it, is it a motivator thing? I don't know what to do next. 

[Tom Finn]    00:30:08    So what's the next step in the process? We may have found the problem, but in the process, I'm not sure what to do.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:30:14    And, and if you're not excited about the problem or you're really concerned that you can't solve it, you know, does it feel like a waste of your time? Your heart's not all in it? Um, so I, I don't think there's any bad project, as long as you've learned from it, as long as it's helped you, uh, to go forward. And, and from that lens, I think a lot of times we'd like to share things that went well, but we never talk about what didn't go well, what was, you know, what was a fail and the learnings that are embedded there? When I think of it through that lens, um, I had a recent experience where we were doing some significant change at speed. And I thought, as a leader, I'd done a decent job of saying, here's what we're doing. Here's why. Um, but over time I was not meeting the team's need by consistently repeating, this is what we're doing.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:31:11    And this is why, because in the day to day of getting bogged down, um, like I, we were active in change management. We were doing those things. Um, but at the end of the day, the team was not having the experience that we wanted or that we had envisioned them having. And so, you know, did it feel like a waste of time, all the effort that I put into it? Yeah, because I didn't get the outcomes I wanted, but there was a ton of learning because I stepped back and talked to the team, Hey, what are you experiencing? What does that look like? When are you seeing that? What would you want to see instead? And then I start learning. I can see a different way of approaching it as a leader, um, as a leader of HR. And as long as I'm learning, I think there's massive value anymore. Um, we are work is becoming more and more creative, which means we've gotta have time to not just think about what we're doing, but time to assess and evaluate if we're getting the outcomes we want. And, uh, just being agile and, and pivot and learn from both, what's going well, but more often what's not going well.  

[Tom Finn]    00:32:27    Yeah, that, that's great. And there's a framework that we just created, uh, on the talent empowerment podcast, uh, that I just heard. So it starts with, when you get a project, it starts with identifying the problem, which is what I heard. And then once you've identified the problem, come up with a really thoughtful process and understand the steps that are gonna take you through that process. And third learn, learn from it. Uh, and if you can understand the problem, you can identify a process and you can learn then really there is no project that you can't undertake and gain value from. That's my takeaway. I'm, I mean, I'm sticking to that.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:33:03    Oh, I'm gonna double stamp your triple stamp. <laugh>  

[Tom Finn]    00:33:06    I love it. I think it's super important. The other ones that I've heard, uh, that we use around, uh, at leg up, um, and that I've used in my career for a long time are, uh, military-based as well. We use a nameless rankless debrief at the end of every project. And this was something I learned from the Navy seals. Uh, not that I was one, but I, I met a few. Um, and the nameless rankless debrief is exactly, as you described it after a mission is complete, you sort of, uh, cover up your rank and you just freely discuss what could have gone, uh, better what we could have done differently. What could have been looked at from a different lens? And I think that can be really helpful. We do it all the time in our company. And then the other one that we use, uh, is plus Delta. So just what worked positive, what was positive about the meeting? What was positive about the project? What were the things we took away? And then what is the Delta? So what was that learning? You know, what could we have done differently? Um, what could we have framed in a different way to be more inclusive, right? Uh, and so there are a couple of frameworks that people can use, you know, as they're thinking about projects and taking things on to make sure that we're constantly improving as we go.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:34:24    Yeah. There's, there's one piece I would add to that. We had, uh, a member of, I think it's the blue Eagles, right? From the air force, their wicked pool, flying skills, and pilots. And, and they talked about how they do their after-action reviews. And they came out with a hashtag glad to be here. And it's this idea of, yeah, you have the after-action review, but it's each person taking individual accountability and showing up and saying, here's what I did. Here's what I didn't do. And I'm glad to be here and solve this problem. And I, I think that's a magical piece at the end of not just saying yeah, but happened. And it went well, but are you all in, are you only here to win? Are you help? Are you here to build, are you here to help learn and, and reach these goals, you know, long term as a team and for us, that was pretty transformative. You became shorthand inside our organization for a way to be accountable, but for individuals to bring forward accountability, rather than someone else calling it out of, Hey, you showed up late, what's going on there? They're like, I, I showed up like, this is what I'm gonna do to fix it. Glad to be here,  

[Tom Finn]    00:35:42    Glad to be here. I love that. Glad to be here. I feel like we can all use that every now and again. Right. Um, yeah. I'm glad to be here. Feels great. Well, well, that's, that's wonderful. And I, I love sort of all of these different tips and tricks, um, that you've shared. I, I feel like as we think about, um, the role of HR, just really understanding those mission, vision, and values and how to, how to create systematic programming around them is really a rich conversation. Um, cause I don't think we're all doing it, um, in this space and really just understanding that that is possible, um, is a huge step forward for, for most folks. Um, so I've, I've gotta ask you this. Um, if we were just meeting you and we didn't know something about you, what would we learn a couple of months into working with you, Cassie? What would we learn about you personally or professionally that we wouldn't know on the surface?  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:36:36    Yeah. Uh, I, I think most people can tell that I'm thoughtful, which some people find intimidating. I think that the individuals that work with me start to realize I don't give up, they never quit. I might get stuck. I might not know the next step or the next answer, but I'm definitely an all-in person when I'm in on it, I'm in for the good I'm in for the bad. Uh, and I think that for me, that served me well in my life, but also in my career, it helps me to push back on things that tend to keep you down. It helps me to continue going forward. Sometimes all of our jobs can be thankless. Um, in HR, we tend to hear when things go wrong really, really loud. And when things go well, they're quieter, it's, it's a little bit less celebratory.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:37:34    And so that, that idea of never giving up, uh, has served me really well working in, in the HR field and how I can go from a really discouraging conversation into one where somebody needs me to help them. And I need to show up and have good energy and be listening to them. Um, and so that's a strength that I've got. Um, the other one that you actually find out super, super fast is I'm a Nana and I'm completely obsessed with these little people. And it's changed my perspective of the difference that I need to make in the world and how many opportunities I have to do it inside of my job. For example, a random person who goes to work has a craptastic day, right? Is dumped on treated disrespectfully. Like you just walk out with your head, hanging down, they go home to their family and loved ones.  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:38:30    And what is that experience like? Right. I think about my little granddaughter, Emma she's two and a half and just the world is hers. And what if one of her parents came home and felt that way? And what if inside our business, we could change that? What if we could provide a different experience and that human goes home and is excited to be around their family and their loved ones and helps them have a better day? And it's this idea of a, a, can we create virtuous cycles to get that perpetual? Like, let's just be better. People let's have better experiences, let's help each other. Um, that's what is always been in me as a human, but as a Nana, it's on fire and it gets me excited about let's make a difference. We can make a difference. Uh, just take that first step. Do it, take the step, and see where it starts to take you.  

[Tom Finn]    00:39:29    Yeah. I, I love that. And, uh, what a, what a beautiful way to wrap up the show today, uh, a little personal information and just that reminder that we're all people with families and loved ones that we go home to and to treat each other with respect and love and admiration in the workplace is, is just, uh, the bare minimum these days, uh, and the right way to do things. So thank you. Um, you may call her Cassie Whitlock. I think I'm gonna start calling her Nana, uh, from now on. Cause I think that might be the go-forward name. Um, Nana, where can we find you, uh, on, uh, social media? Can we connect with you on LinkedIn or what's the best way to get ahold of you if somebody wanted to track you down?  

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:40:09    Yeah. Find me on LinkedIn, reach out and connect, and send me a message. I love to connect to share, but also to learn from others. So don't hesitate to reach  

[Tom Finn]    00:40:18    Out. Yeah. Wonderful. And do not put N in the search, uh, bar. It is Cassie Whitlock that you'll find her on LinkedIn under, um, my friends. This has been an absolutely wonderful episode and I told you right at the get-go passion strategy, business partner, and accountant. Uh, we got to the nano part right at the end, uh, which I think was wonderful. So, um, it is, uh, it is my pleasure to have you, uh, on the show. Cassie is everybody, uh, listening. Uh, thank you as well, uh, for being on the show with us. 

[Cassie Whitlock]    00:40:49    Thank you so much. It's been a real treat and good luck to everybody out there.  

[Tom Finn]    00:40:54    Well, thank you for joining the Talent Empowerment podcast. I hope this conversation lifted you up so you can lift up your teams and organizations. Let's get back to people and culture together, and we'll see you on the next episode.  

Featured Episodes


How to be a "Great Place To Work"

Michael Bush, CEO, Great Place To Work

Listen Now
Talent Development and HR

Using Mission, Vision & Values for Everything

with Bamboo's Director of HR, Cassie Whitlock

Listen Now