Welcome to The Work Place, where we talk about the cultures we work in, and how to make them better for everyone. I’m Andrew Scarcella.
This episode, we’re talking with Mayerland (May-uh-lan) Harris from H-E-B about keeping your culture compassionate in the middle of a crisis and how the grocery chain has embraced its place as a first responder in their home state of Texas.
Join us after the interview for Tangible Takeaways, where we’ll talk about the ideas and actions we can take with us and implement our own workplace cultures.
Mayerland Harris is the Group Vice President of Talent for the supermarket chain H-E-B, where she leads the Talent Development and Talent Acquisition teams, not to mention heading up their disaster relief efforts. If you haven’t heard of H-E-B, you probably haven’t been to Texas, as they have over 340 locations across the state and northern Mexico. They’re on the 2021 Glassdoor Best Places to Work list and have one of the highest average employee tenures in the industry.
Mayerland was interviewed by me, and what struck me most about our conversation was her fearlessness in tackling difficult questions and issues. From unconscious bias to mask mandates to the practicalities of conscious capitalism, Mayerland is always thoughtful. Well, you’ll see. Let’s get to it.
Now it’s time for tangible takeaways, where we take big ideas to the roller skating rink for their best friend’s birthday party only to discover that even though she promised she wouldn’t invite him, JIMMY is here, and now we’re eating pizza in the corner by the Little Shop of Horrors pinball machine instead of limboing with the cool kids under the disco ball.
1. The first is that in order to eliminate hiring bias, sacrifices must be made. Namely, discretion and autonomy. While normally positive parts of workplace culture, discretion and autonomy are enablers of unconscious bias. Because liking people like ourselves is human nature, and without education and guidelines, most of us will default back to nature. And if we want to overcome nature, we need a little less autonomy, a little less discretion, and a lot more self-skepticism. As Mayerland says, you can’t just trust your rearview mirrors, you have to look over your shoulder to see what’s in your blindspot.
2. The second is that the best way to gauge what your employee experience and your culture is really like is to get out in it. Obviously, that’s a little tougher these days, but you can still learn a lot walking and talking among your leaders and teams. Look at how they interact with their leaders, their teammates, their customers. Surveys tell a story, but it’s only one side. Make sure you’re seeing your culture as a whole, from the inside out.
3. The third is that with all this talk about Terminators, it’s good to remind ourselves that even though Judgement Day never came, we should always remain vigilant for signs of Skynet. Whether it’s inexplicable, spherical holes appearing in the sides of tractor trailers, stone-faced cops wandering the mall asking people if they’ve seen a certain boy, or just a little extra sass from your Alexa, if you see something, say something. There’s no fate, but what you make.
As always, this episode was written and produced by yours truly—with original music and sound design by Daniel Foster Smith.
If you liked this episode, or even if you didn’t, please rate, review, and, of course, subscribe to The Work Place on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have a burning question about workplace culture, or a story about why YOUR workplace culture is the best (or worst) send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in engaging workplace cultures. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud™ provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.
If you want your organisation to become a place where people can’t wait to come to work in the morning, go to octanner.com/sea/.
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