Connecting with Angela Heyroth on the Win/Win Of Talent On Your Own Terms

Connecting with Angela Heyroth on the Win/Win Of Talent On Your Own Terms

Angela Heyroth of Talent Lifecycle Designs joins us this week for an exploration into how both companies and people win when we go beyond the traditional structure of full time work.  Talent on your own terms is what the GIG economy provides for companies so that both employees and employers benefit from its flexibility.   Episode Notes can be found here at uncoverthehuman.wearesiamo.com 

Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.

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Transcript

Alex Cullimore:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Uncover The Human. This week we are joined by guest, Angela Heyroth. Angela Heyroth has started a company called Talent Lifecycle Designs and she's worked in talent acquisition, talent management, talent development, all ends of the talent spectrum and has started a company around there. She's here to share some thoughts with us on the gig economy. Cristina, do you have full bio there?

Cristina Amigoni:

Yeah, so I don't know if it's the full long bio, but we'll add that to our show notes, for sure. Angela and I got connected because I used to work with her husband in the consulting industry many years ago and we realized we connected on a lot of things, including humans and work and not calling humans resources because they are people. It was a very interesting conversation, and we wanted to have a lot more of them on the podcast. She has a deep experience in leading talent acquisition, development, as well as culture and engagement, which is pretty rare to hav experience in the full employee life cycle. She has spent over 20 years in talent management and has held leadership roles is with several fortune fortune 500 firms. And as you mentioned, she founded Talent Lifecycle Designs, where she guides by the belief that every company deserves access to intentionally designed talent programs. She builds custom experiences for organizations in one or more parts of the talent lifecycle.

Alex Cullimore:

Welcome to Uncover The Human where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives,

Cristina Amigoni:

whether that's with our families, co-workers, or even ourselves,

Alex Cullimore:

When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.

Cristina Amigoni:

This is Cristina Amigoni.

Alex Cullimore:

And this is Alex Cullimore.

Both:

Let's dive in.

Guests:

Authenticity means freedom. Authenticity means going with your gut. Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself, not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you. Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself. It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep rooted and true. Authenticity is when you truly know yourself, you remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be. It's transparency, relatability,no frills, no makeup, just being.

Cristina Amigoni:

Welcome, Angela.

Angela Heyroth:

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Alex Cullimore:

It's really cool. Yeah, like 20 plus years of experience in this field. And it's really interesting, hearing your whole general story into this. And you mentioned at one point that you kind of knew from an early point, you wanted to work with humans and wanted to work with the people side of business and wanted to get into there from college days it sounds like, so I wonder if you could just walk us through a little bit of your experience getting into more of the gig economy and more freelancing yourself?

Angela Heyroth:

And I would say that even that passion started even pre-college and in high school when I was working with business clubs and things and I would be the one person who was way more interested in the people side club and what was driving people into, the test they were taking into, the competitions they were doing then just the technical or the financial aspects. And I'd be like, isn't this why we're all getting together is that we're all people, and we want to kind of work with each other and drive each other. And I started to realize pretty quickly that that wasn't how I everybody thought and everybody else thought different ways. And I started thinking, well, maybe that's what I want to do. And what is that called? And then you start to realize, "Oh, that's called this human resources thing", which I'm trying to remember, I think that was even a fairly new term then, I think we were just kind of moving from personnel, another awful term. And, and so when I went to college, I knew I wanted to be somewhere in HR. And I kind of thought everybody that went into HR did it from that same idea that you love business, and you love the people side of business. And I started to realize that that wasn't necessarily the case. There's not a lot of people who did this with the same point of view that I did, and I kind of thought everybody did it from from that angle. I always joke that everybody tells a story "nobody wants to be in HR when they are in high school or college, they fall into it". I did, I wanted to. I knew that from the beginning. So I started there, as a recruiting coordinator when I left college. What I quickly realized is that I liked not the recruiting itself, necessarily, but the building the programs that supported the recruiting, I started to realize that's really what I liked. And as I looked back then, at my whole career, from then on, at that point of very young career, even again going back into high school, I was building programs for those people in those business clubs and building ways for them to engage with one another and get trained. Then all through college, I was building programs and building processes and that's I think, why I liked the the development side. And that's why I quickly got into talent acquisition, it was building the big acquisition programs, college programs and military programs and big sourcing strategies and things like that. And certainly the operational side of talent acquisition was important, but that I realized it was the big programs side that I really liked. And then found my way back into talent development, which was really one of my initial loves. And as I started doing all of that, I started to realize, what I really like to do is build and design. And if I was to put one word behind it all, it was that as a designer, architect to these programs that happened to bring people processes to the forefront of these businesses. I would go to these conferences and network with people and kind of talk about what I did. And then they would just want to pick my brain, a lot of times from smaller companies and want to learn "How do you do that? And how do you build an onboarding program from scratch? Or how do you build a succession plan from scratch? Or how do you build a sourcing strategy that actually attracts the right candidates and repels the wrong candidates?" And I started to realize, and talking to people about this, that, gosh, everybody wants access to this stuff. And most of these companies are a lot smaller than the companies I had this history of working with. So I got an idea about eight or 10 years ago, that long term, what I wanted to do was that. It was to keep building these programs, but do it for smaller companies, who maybe didn't have the access, or the need, or the budget for a full time me, but that I could do it. And I didn't have the refraction on my mind at the time, but I could do it in this kind of fractional way of I can do it for you two days a week, and you one day a week, and y one day a month, or whatever, and just build programs, because programs can be built in lots of different ways, and not necessarily by somebody always in house. And so I'd had this in my mind for a while. Once I decided that's what I wanted to do, I really kind of spent the rest 10 or so years of my career, really gathering the right experiences to be able to build towards that, so that I could offer the right experiences to companies because what I didn't want to do was come in and say "this is my theory on how to build succession", I wanted to have succession and then set go say, here's how you do it, because I've done it before. So I wanted to do it based on on practical experience, I really want to make sure I gathered all these key experiences along the way, so I could eventually offer them to this other set of clients so to speak. So that was kind of my mindset, I had planned for this to be. I didn't have a specific year in mind, but call it like 2024 / 2025 kind of, in my head was kind of my baseline goal of when I would launch this, and, and then you know 2020 hit, like hit all of us, right? Cristina, I love the way you had said that, "when life gives you 2020". When life gave me my moneyI was exploring my plan, right? It was this whole idea of starting to realize, and I don't think it was because of remote learning, but I think that brought everything to a new focus. I'm at home because of COVID, I'm halfway focused on what my son needs from a learning standpoint, but not really, I'm halfway focused on what my company needs from me, but not really. I've kind of felt like I wasn't offering either side the time that they needed. And I just kind of started to think I need to take more control of my life, I think I need to be the one to design my life instead of somebody else designing it. And if it were up to me, it was kind of the thought I had. If it were up to me, I would accelerate this plan. And I do this gig thing now, but it's still out there, it's still four or five years away. I don't know that this is a risk I want to take right now in this crazy 2020. And then I started just having informational interview conversations with people all spring. And really what I came away with was now, not only is the time right for me, but the time is right for the economy, because it seemed like the more people I talked to, the more they said actually this thing you want to do really is perfect for this time that we're going into with people needing a more agile access to people and budgets are different and needs are different now. And and oh by the way, it doesn't necessarily just need to be smaller companies. Everybody's gonna need this because things are changing so much. And so I think that the economy was ready for it. I was personally ready for it. And so I just decided to use this time to make that shift over and accelerate my plan into a 2020 plan. So that's a very long winded answer to your question about that path and how I got to it, of freelancing and gigging.

Alex Cullimore:

Those are all the details we're looking for. The cool part here is that you've thought about this idea of gig economy, the idea of having fractional help for people that small companies, big companies all need help with these things into re-revamped processes, if they already existed, if at all. Or if they're new, they need the processes from the ground up. And not only did you see that as an opportunity for the gig economy, but you also saw that as a way to plug in and fill what you like to do, you got to not have to be in house, working on developing a program. And then just making sure that program is stuck to for years afterwards, you get to do one at a time, build a program for a company, find the next company find the next challenge, build the next one, it's a really cool example of what gig economy can be like and how much more common that is becoming. When people can have a lot more fractional help on things like starting a business. There's so much connotation and overloaded baggage that tends to come up with the idea of Freelancer and a lot of people have ideas of what that means and whether or not and sometimes people believe that means it's somebody who couldn't have a full time job, they just float around, are they, I think actually you're the one that told me that there's a lot of presuppositions, but it doesn't fit the modern world. So I'm curious, how did you feel about that going into starting somewhat of a services companies and more of a freelancing company? What's your take on what freelancing is?

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, I mean, I think you're right, I think a lot of people, and if I really think about where I was when I was first hiring contract recruiters, for example, early on 20 years ago, I think a lot of people are guilty of thinking that, these are people who they can't get a real job. Oh, wait, there's a lot of benefits to both the person and the company going this direction. And it's not because they can't get a real job. It's because this is the path they have chosen, either for their whole career or for this season in their life. And, you know, I think that we've talked with talent and HR people for at least five years, maybe longer about the gig economy is coming, the gig economy is coming. Even in my last corporate role, we were trying to figure out how do we take some of our full time positions and gig them out and say, how do we take some of these positions that are really expensive internally? Because you, not only have payroll, but you have benefits and all these other carrying costs. And do you really need this person full time? And if not, do you gig it out? And then if you do, how do you find those people? And are you the corporate talent people responsible for that? Or do you give that to a contract management company? So we were always already starting to talk about all of that. I do think that the world has gotten more and more turned towards this idea that you can have gig workers and and make it work, and they're not just for the times that you need to fill in gaps. Somebody is on leave and I need a contractor to fill in that gap. That's a great use, but there's lots of other things. I think that was already starting and like we said at the beginning, I think that COVID has accelerated some of that, because you started to realize, "well, if I don't really need to be staring at this person in the face every day, maybe I don't really need to have the expense of them every single day from my payroll and benefits perspective, maybe, maybe I need them for six months. Or maybe I just need them for a day a week". Starting to realize that you can have more agility in your operational scaling by having people that are freelancing and contracting, I do think there's probably a difference. You can use that as part of your talent strategy instead of it's what I do when I don't know what else to do. I don't have time to hire somebody full time, so I'll go get a contractor instead of let me think about my strategy we've talked for so long on the talent side about you can buy talent, you can borrow talent, you can build talent, you can bought out talent with AI, but that borrow one, we say it but we don't really factor it in to the strategy as much. It's the worst case scenario almost instead of realizing it is part of your overall strategy. Not every single role at a company needs to be bought or built, you can oftentimes borrow it and get access to people that you may not have been able to get access to in any other way, because they've either chosen this path or this is the only path for people with this particular skill set. I think it's something that I'm seeing is increasing right now because of the need for agility in both operations and in spending. And you can have access to people in a wholly different way when you open up your talent mindset to think of the gig economy as part of your strategy.

Cristina Amigoni:

I like how you said that there's a difference between Freelancer and Contractors. And I'd like to believe that there is a difference there as well. And maybe my definition is different from everybody else's, but I see contractors, both from a receiving end when you hire a contractor, or at least how they feel when they're hired as more of a "Help On Demand". Almost as a "temp on demand", meaning you come in, a contractor comes in there, they're given a job, it's already set, and they're told how to do it. Whether they're an expert or not is irrelevant, because they're expected to do things as whoever contracted them tells them to do. Where a freelancer, in my opinion and my hope, is more of the expert, they come in still part-time, or in some sort of gig fashion or non full-time fashion, but they're hired for their expertise, not just because they're extra hands. And I have been in both ends of the spectrum. I like the distinction, because I know that I definitely am not a contractor put me in a place where you just have to do what you tell me to do, that's not a good solution for either of us.

Angela Heyroth:

I agree, and I think your talent strategy likely evolves, but I think you do need to think of them as different, I would agree with you that I would think of a contract when I was incorporate leadership role, they were always embedded in my team, they were, you know in the days that we used to go into this thing called an office, will usually be there too, usually seated with the team, part of the team sort of, you weren't ever allowed to be part of the team, which is a whole thing. They were there, they were physically there doing sometimes some of the same work or pieces of the same work as full time workers, but they were embedded with the company. And they were usually either full-time or part-time, but that was their contract with that one company. And usually, like you said, they work for some sort of contract management provider. If I think about how I've used contractors, or how I really think of the role in broad terms, to me, they're either filling a temporary need, don't want to go out and do full-time because you know, it's only going to be six months or a year, even even 18 months or so, but you know, it's gonna be temporary, so why fill it with a full time person, or at some sort of fixed term role that we know in six months this project is going to be done. So let's just bring a contractor in. And again, I think that's an important part of the strategy, but I think where it gets confusing is this whole freelance thing is relatively new, at least in certain areas of business. And it's what you said, that's how I would think of it, it's an outside expert. The difference is they're not embedded. Usually, we're doing more of this on demand as needed work, which might mean you're working for several companies at a time, instead of embedded with one, and you're bringing this expertise. And your purpose of bringing them in as an outsider, so that you can have that point of view instead of I'm coming in as a temporary or fixed term person, because you need a band aid. I mean, maybe that's even a better way to think of it, expert versus band aid. I don't mean band aid in a derogatory denigrating way, because contractors are an important part of the strategy, but I think where it gets confusing as people sometimes will think of a contractor and a freelancer in the same way. And I think they're incredibly different. What makes them the same is that term gig, that outsider doing a job for our company, but not on the company payroll. Outside of that, I think they're really different. So how you think of them in terms of your talent strategy needs to be different. And what drives them is different too.

Alex Cullimore:

And as the contractor goes, it is somebody there to help fulfill an almost preset mission, almost something has been set forward, we need more hands. We know this is temporary, we don't need a team of 10 web developers after this thing is done, but we can bring in a bunch that we can get this done now. As you bring in a fr elancer when we need a web pres nce, and I don't know what that eans, and I need somebody to hel devise the strategy before we're even going into this.

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, I think in a way, you're not dictating as much to a freelancer because they're actually coming in probably to "dictate" in a way. The contractor, the reason I pause is because all my talent management feelers go up when I say dictate, you're not dictating how they do it as much as what they're doing, maybe the outcome is more dictated because they're coming in to fulfill a very certain thing that you need them to do. And so you're able to say, this is what I need done. Versus the freelancer is probably defining that for themselves, because that's why you brought them in.

Cristina Amigoni:

I like that distinction. And I've experienced both. And it's from an expectation point of view, when you're communicated the right expectations, both roles are very necessary and work very well. I've been under the expectation of we need a contractor to do software testing, or localization, or whatever it is. And so even from a day to day I get a job, I finish it, I go ask for another one. I'm not there to define what my tasks are, to provide my opinion on things, except for maybe if something doesn't work out very well. There is no strategy piece, there's no vision, there's no, "here's a whole problem" and how do I fix it? Here's a hole. And now I'm the expert to come in and say, you need a change management strategy, or you need a human engagement strategy, and this is what it looks like, and let me analyze it. Where the conflict comes in, is when that line is blurred on the on the receiving end and on the giving end, where you're you think you're being hired as a freelancer for your expertise, but then you're expected to just do what you are told.

Angela Heyroth:

Right? I think it behooves anybody who's doing this kind of gig work to define for themselves, Who are they? Are they more on the contract side or freelance side, make sure they know what that means for them. And that's very clearly scoped out when they're working with the client.

Alex Cullimore:

And so when you're developing programs and strategies through Talent Lifecycle Designs, and you're developing these things, you're talking about being able to work contractors and or freelancers into general strategies for how you're going to use and help develop talent. How do you see that playing out? And have you found different ways of communicating that to people to help identify when they might be more in need of the the gig help versus, you know, maybe they're thinking they need a full recruiting stack for more full time employees? How does that conversation usually go?

Angela Heyroth:

In fact, there was somebody that I talked to the other day about it. And it was kind of interesting kind of morphed, It started with, we need somebody to help us understand what our talent strategy is. Very much in line with what I do. And what we were talking about was what a freelancer does and do an assessment and really define out what what strategy you need And what recommendations do I have around each part of the lifecycle. And then one of the outcomes of it was, you're going to need somebody on a more regular, not a full time employee, but on a gig basis, who is your HR operations person who really runs HR one day a week or so for you. And it was "what can't you do that?" And I was like, "no, because I'm not coming in as your contractor to do that kind of a role." I've done my piece, I've given you that strategy development and my recommendations around it. And now I'm going to help you find this other person because that was part of. I could build that strategy too, of what what does it look like to find this person, but then that's a different mindset. And somebody who's almost, it's not clocking in and clocking out, but you kind of are because you're again, you're embedded a little bit more. And they're going to be available on a more regular ongoing basis for the day to day needs, or the week to week needs. But it was interesting to see that more from one to the other and then have to educate of here's why you're going to need a different kind of person.

Alex Cullimore:

What do you see is indicators that help identify when you might need more of a gig role? And when you might need more of a dedicated role? Or I guess in your case, identifying for yourself, what part of it is the work that you and Talent Lifecycle Designs are doing versus the part that you're saying this will need to be done by other people?

Angela Heyroth:

I think we might need to patent some of this language we're using because I think we're coming up , I haven not seen onywhere else, which is great as the game kind of gets bigger, we're going to have to start putting some terminology around this. I would think that you're going to bring in a contractor against somebody that's embedded that you're dictating work to, when you have this more ongoing fixed term need, whether it's fixed term, because it's going to last six months, or whether it's fixed term because it's going to be every Thursday for ongoing time or whatever. Versus that freelancer, I would think of it almost as like project based, like the freelancer is going to come in for this project that they're probably going to drive the whole thing because they're coming in with that expertise in mind. They're going to help you create the purpose and then drive the creation of the project and then help you understand the implementation, but then step away when you are in that full implementation mode. And now you either need your full time team to step in, or it's more temporary. So you're gonna need your contractor to step in. I would think of it more of defining the role, what is the purpose of the role and then decide what kind of person that you need to go after?

Cristina Amigoni:

I think it sounds like it's the switching from the creating, designing and building to now it's built and it needs to be maintained.

Angela Heyroth:

Right? I'm trying to kind of think through, if that would ever be different, you know, I think your example Alex was like a software developer or in my role, like an instructional designer, or people like that often fill more of a contract role. So there's there's a design and a development that but it's not overall design of the whole approach and strategy where you might have brought in this Freelancer expert to do this. And I'm saying this out loud, I'm kind of thinking at the same time, I'm saying it, because I also wonder, this is maybe a question to both of you. As a freelancer, could you use a freelancer in replacement of where you would typically think of bringing in like a big consulting company? Is that maybe a way to think about it?

Cristina Amigoni:

I would think so.

Alex Cullimore:

I think even more so. There's people who are becoming freelancers, they're becoming experts in one area. And something they really like doing, some kind of strategy development, maybe some kind of specific task, or a capability they can bring to the market, it's almost more specific and will, in some ways start to replace some of the larger consulting model, we bring in a whole company to do a overhaul strategy,everything changed about the company. And it's not that there won't be that need, but I see more and more people who are very good at certain parts of a business. And to your point, it's not somebody that has to be there every single day, or somebody who would necessarily need to be there ongoing for a salary for benefits, like a CFO or something, somebody that in the very early days of a business, you probably don't have the budget or the necessity for a full time CFO to make sure everything is on top of the financial strategy, whereas you do still need some amount of financial strategy. And so I wonder if it's helpful to think of it in consulting. And I'm predicting that maybe, as we go forward, consulting will start to shrink a little bit more. And that traditional consulting model will shrink more in lieu of having this growth of the freelance and gig economy that can replace those kinds of things in an almost even more specialized expertise.

Angela Heyroth:

Well, and a lot of the big consulting companies are starting to realize that and are they're having Freelancer bunches of people that they can call in for very specialized expertise that they can't afford to keep on their bench for in terms of a payroll, but that they want to be able to reach out and pull you in as a freelancer, but into their projects as they go out to the client company. They're even realizing th at it's almost like an Uber expert, I don't know if that's an expert beyond some of these other areas and say our expertise and in this consulting company is x, but now we need X.1. And that's only provided by this Freelancer that's out there. And we're gonna bring them in and contract them through us. They're still there, this Freelancer that this other company wouldn't have expertise or access to, except through us, it's kind of an interesting web of models coming together. And whenever that happens, it seems like it's because there's some big change about to start to see these webs start to be created.

Alex Cullimore:

It's also interesting to think that that's such a great path forward for people, for allowing for there to be expertise, we live in this giant, very changing world. And if you have somebody who is very specific and wants to really develop a specific skill set, maybe like a data scientist, for example, maybe that's the person that you don't necessarily have the budget to keep them on, and you don't have the work for them, they might be able to have some projects, and they want to help create some predictor for you. And they'll come in, they'll have that for a few months. You don't need them after that, and they don't want to do other things. It gives them this whole outlet if you're able to give the credence to the gig economy that you totally can and, and as long as you let go of some of the preconceived notions of "this is a contractor or somebody who couldn't get a real job", if you can let that feel much more like the real job, the real work the real position, then it opens up this avenue for people who would have a very specialized type of work and it allows them to have development growth and have their own life cycle.

Angela Heyroth:

Well then as the company you free up your full time employees time for all of the really important work around implementation and the day to day operations and keeping the the focus of the company going forward. And then you can just plug in these freelancers where you need these pieces of expertise, but why pay for it all the time if you don't need it all the time, and then you plug in contractors where you need more of that help with temporary implementation and we just all need to think about it as part of one big strategy. Instead of while we only do full time employees, and we use contractors, just out of desperation.

Alex Cullimore:

Stop that.

Angela Heyroth:

Right? Yeah, instead of let's think about every role we need as a company and then define which one needs to be full time? Which role really makes more sense contract? And in order to build most, where do we need some experts to plu, in order to create some of this and have the agility around the fact that that's going to continuously change? The need of today is different from the need of tomorrow. And so just because today, we're saying it's full time and these types of contractors, that doesn't mean that's going to work in a month, or two or three, perfect use of gig in both contract and freelancers is it continues to give a company 100% agility, because you can stop a contractor or freelance gig at any moment, instead of having to work a payrolled employ off with a package. Now, it's just so sorry, we don't need you anymore. And you think about in both cases, the freedom and the agility, it gives the company that flexibility. And it gives the person the freedom to be able to pick and choose what projects and companies they want to work with. Or I want to take a month off and go on vacation or whatever. And it gives it gives both sides that complete agility. I think like we said at the very beginning COVID has told us a lot of things. But one of the things I think we learned from it is we all personally and companies need a lot more agility, we can't be locked in to five year plans and 10 year plans because everything's gonna change in a year, we'll get agility in front of everything.

Cristina Amigoni:

One of the best things about the pandemic is the fact that I've never made a five year plan. And now I can be proud of the fact that I have never made one. It's never worked Anyway, why bother?

Alex Cullimore:

Now that you've incepted the idea of web in my brain, I really liked that notion. And that gives me a better visualization in my head of how the gig economy works, because you've got kind of centralized companies, but you've got all these strings connecting every which way for people who are helping the company in that way, but then they're helping a different company. And together, you have a full, bustling and much more agile economy, instead of the idea of we're gonna build this web, it's going to have every piece we're going to need of it. And it's essentially going to be isolated and self contained rather than connected. It's not allowing for that type of agility, because it's not able to respond, spending too much time hiring, or filling out a staff of people that are now experts in something that is changing in the market or something that just doesn't fit the company anymore. It needed to pivot.

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, it seems like any size company really needs to just spend some time in talent perspective, thinking about what's the minimum number of employees we really need to keep the wheels on the bus, and everybody else honestly could be kicked out. I mean, it gives you so much more flexibility and agility, and scalability as a company, and then like we said, that's a year from now everything gets a lot more stable, and you start to bring in more of those people full time. Well, that's fine. You didn't ever step away from that possibility, but you gave yourself that breathing room, I think about, what you just went with it, Alex, because what I started doing my mind is like a neighborhood like a neighborhood has houses and townhomes and apartments, and they're all part of the neighborhood. Some of those people are renters, some of those people are owners. But that's part of the beauty of that neighborhood is bringing together people in all these different kinds of living situations. And they're all part of the neighborhood. Right? It's the same here, these people are all contributing to your company. but some of them are doing it full time on your payroll, and some are doing in other ways. They're all contributing to your outcomes together, and it takes all of them to go where you want to go.

Alex Cullimore:

One thing The first time I met you, you talked a lot about the two different sides that people have tended to hold in the talent world for a while there's like a talent acquisition side and there was a talent development side there was the recruiting and the making sure people are getting into the company. And then it was an almost wholly separate discipline from the development side of things. So that development side being like trying to keep people engaged, people growing in their careers, and it was almost always separate people, separate functions within a company. There was almost HR on the hiring side and then you leave it up to the team leads on the rest of it. I'm curious what your thoughts around marrying those two in some of your work. And I'm curious what you have found in terms of talent development, as well as talent acquisition, when it comes to the gig economy, when you have workers coming in and out? Do you find ways of helping think about talent acquisition and development?

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, and those are really two separate fields that tend to attract to different people because of the strengths and skills involved, but they can't be separate. They have to be married together. Because if you don't retain your people, then you're going to have to keep hiring new people. It's so simple, and yet. And so those two strategies have to be tied together. And then you know, even more than that, it's one thing to build a culture or build an engagement plan. But then if you don't attract to that, then you're attracting people into something that doesn't exist. So you have to understand how to take what you've built from a culture standpoint and interview for it and attract for it and always think so those two sides need to be able to speak the same language, even if it's not the same people. But yeah, I think from a from a gig standpoint, it's all part of one talent strategy, the talent strategy should, to me is, what people do, we need, where, when and how. And then you have to get them, find them, whether you're finding them as contractors or freelancers or you're finding them as full time employees, you have to onboard them and develop them and retain them or get their contract finished up. But to me, that's one lifecycle, that you need to think about all tied in together, whether you're buying those people so to speak, because you're recruiting them, or you're building them internally that are already there. And you're kind of trying to accelerate their succession or you're borrowing them as, as giggers. They're all part of your talent strategy and that talent strategy, you can't separate the, how we acquire them from how we develop and engage them needs to all be one strategy that I think we probably all have examples of a company where you swore that it changed from when you were recruited to your first day, and you are like "I was hired for this job and this kind of a company when I walked in, and the orientation was a completely different company". And this is the talent development, people aren't talking to the talent acquisition people. People are hiring people doing their best, they're doing a great job bringing in great people. But they weren't bringing great people in for the right company, because they didn't know what the onboarding process was like, and what the culture needs were. So you've got to have it's one strategy, maybe overseen by specialists in different areas, I think ideally, is overseen by one team. Those strategies have to be connected. To me, it's like having your sales team and your marketing team that never talked to each other that wouldn't work for them. They've got to be that one customer experience strategy. And it's the same on the candidate and talent side.

Alex Cullimore:

I like that metaphor a lot.

Cristina Amigoni:

Yeah, it's a great metaphor. Well, and sometimes I think what we've seen is great, people get brought in, so there's huge investment in the talent acquisition side. And then there's this kind of assumption that, well, now that you've been given a job you owe us, so we don't really have to do much to keep you here, the retention piece is a given. It's like "that's it, our job is done."

Angela Heyroth:

Or you put a lot on the development side, and then you half-heartedly hire people. You need to give others equal effort into into both sides or into the same kind of people. Sometimes I see companies that focus all their hiring on college students, an incredible job with internship programs, and college hiring. And then they all their development programs are focused on leadership development, which means they're taking all these high potential leaders and moving them from director to VP or whatever. And these college students are like, it's going to take them 20 years before I'm in a world where I'm actually developed and what am I supposed to do in the in the middle? Instead of what's our talent strategy around these people? What are the right people to put into the right roles at the right time? And to find out how do we do that in a way that pulls all of these pieces together?

Alex Cullimore:

I just had the image in my head of like a waterslide, where you have a boost at the beginning and one at the end, but you're stuck slowly drying out somewhere in the middle trying to get to that next boost, that next development point.

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, perfect.

Cristina Amigoni:

This view of the entire experience is definitely missing. And especially with the gig economy piece, the contractors versus the consultant versus the freelancers and we got full time employees, and when do we embed, when do we not embed? How much access do we give?

Angela Heyroth:

Right? One of the things that I remember being very nervous about when I used to have contractors within my team was not doing anything that could be seen as changing their employment status and to employees, right, it was like I had, like, the fear of God put into me that you can't do that. And so you wouldn't even invite them to the birthday parties, or the holiday parties, or, you know, it's like, "Can I say hi to them in the morning? Like, is that okay?" And then all of a sudden, they start to feel like less than people when they're coming in many ways to rescue you and do really important roles, and they're sitting there with you, they're embedded with you, but you got to kind of be hands off. And so I think that companies are gonna have to wrestle with where's that line, cross between saying these are human, too, that are coming in to rescue us, we know that we don't want to cross that line into into employee status, but they're people for goodness sakes, that all of this is just requiring all of this from a talent standpoint, just thinking differently, about what we've spent a lot of time talking about who we bring in for what, but then how we treat them, when they're here, treating contractors more like people. Kind of realizing that freelancers aren't contractors, so not to not treat them like people, but they're coming in that expert mode and not in that embedded team. I think it is requiring us to think differently. And keep thinking about employee experience being this big mantra that we have. And I love the term, I think it's really important, but employee keeps tripping me up, because if you say employee experience, then you're automatically saying contractors and freelancers aren't part of it, and they are. So I think we need to think about what is that people experience? Wait, maybe have different channels for different kinds of people, and they have different experiences, but they're still all part of the experience.

Alex Cullimore:

That's one thing I was thinking, the people experiences kind of the overall connector, because if we're going to have experts that are coming in just for a short amount of time, or having people come in are only going to be there, they're gonna only gonna be there for a certain amount of time. And we know that we still have to have the internal value for that, we hired them for a reason, we need them, whether it's contracting, whether it's freelancing, we need that role filled. And so having the weight in our own minds to treat them, like what we would previously have considered how we would treat an employee, and maybe maybe short of the holiday party.

Angela Heyroth:

Access to information like I think about it, as a freelancer I need access to really high level information to define the programs I'm doing, if you can't trust me to give me your handbook and your detailed benefits information and all of your hiring stats around where you're finding people and where that quality talent comes from, and what your succession plan is, and all of that stuff, then I can't fix it for you and design it for you. So you need to trust me by giving me that information, so I can do my job. And so often in our minds, I'm not giving that to anybody outside the company, well, then Why in the world did you bring me here?

Alex Cullimore:

I need you to guess what my needs are.

Angela Heyroth:

Great. So I think two different sets of contractors needs are probably that, but they are to be treated as part of a team to the point that they don't cross that line, an important line, but a freelancers needs are "Give me the access to the information", they have to have access to the team stuff. I have access to the right information, so I can do the job you've hired me to do. And both require a mindset shift.

Alex Cullimore:

Maybe it requires some amount of legalease to make sure that companies are comfortable with "Okay, I'm going to share this information". They have some form, maybe a stronger than an NDA, of like, "we know we have to share this information with you, but it can't go too far." We want you to feel like part of the team, but we also can't accept the liability of that. That's why we don't have the full time employment. And maybe there's some amount of just boilerplate contracts that needs to be changed, which, if it's boilerplate already means it's probably been changed in people's mindsets. If it's to the point where people are ready just to accept those are the general terms and conditions, then it probably has been changed more at the mindset level. So that's where we have to go anyway. It's funny when companies don't even trust employees with information like "yeah, I hired you, but I'm not going to give you what you need to do." And if you can't even extend that to the employees, you're going to need to open your mind a lot wider and to be able to extend that to the people you hired in to be experts or just to be the hands you need the people that are helping develop the vision you have.

Angela Heyroth:

Right. Yeah, it's all about trust. Isn't it? Yeah,

Cristina Amigoni:

It always is

Alex Cullimore:

it always seems to come back to that it's weird.

Angela Heyroth:

One more thing that I just wanted to talk through is there's an additional role. And we've talked about freelancers and contractors so much for the last hour or so. And I think there's one other role that has been really popping up a lot recently in the US, it's been pretty common in in Europe for a while, but it's this concept of fractional. I've been thinking, as we've been talking, about is fractional one of these other two things? Or is its own thing? And, you know, I think the more I think about it, the more I realize it's either a hybrid or a specialty within this whole concept of the gig economy. And you know what a fractional person is, maybe we should start there, is somebody who brings in a very high level expertise. So in that way, they're kind of like a freelancer, but we're talking like senior leader and C suite level, but they're bringing themselves in for a fraction of time at a fraction of the cost for these companies. You know, Alex earlier you mentioned CFOs. And that's where I started thinking about it, that there's a lot of companies who don't need a full time CFO, they need a CFO, you know, a couple days a week, or a couple days a month in the CFO world is fairly common among smaller companies to have this fractional concept of, I can pay you a fraction of the time, I can get this C suite person on my payroll at a fraction of the cost, because it's not full time. But then they're going to also do this for two or three other companies. And so I think that, like you said, pretty common among the CFO set, starting to get more common on the CTO and CIO set, but I'm not seeing it quite as much in some of the other disciplines quite yet. I think it's a matter of time, because of everything we've just talked about with COVID and everything else with the gig economy that people will realize, well, gosh, I need a I need a marketing leader or I need an HR leader or I need a sales leader or what have you, but I just don't need them five days a week, I need somebody once a week who can come in ad nauseum not for a project right? Not that necessarily the freelancer maybe it's like a subset of a freelancer or the freelancer is a subset of fractional or they're their own thing that that comes in and does more than embedded work like a contractor, but at this extremely high level of expertise to bring you that leadership, but at this kind of more, it's less than it's less than part time. it really is I think that word fractional is a really good word for it.

Alex Cullimore:

Because you still want that perfect CFO, you want the knowledge of somebody who's done CFO work, you don't want to try and learn financial strategy, if that's not what you had started in. So I think that's a great example, especially because it's something you really want to have set by an expert and by somebody who can help guide some strategy, but who has the especially in the first rounds of a startup, just $200,000 whatever to throw out for a CFO. Right?

Angela Heyroth:

Right, well, and not only you may not have a budget, but you may not have the need, depending on your size, for somebody five days a week. So why unless that person can wear a couple hats, you know, that happens too. But otherwise tapping into folks that can split their time between several different companies, it's kind of like here in Colorado, if you want to three or four bedroom house in a ski resort, you're paying several million dollars for it. And so very few people go off and just do that they buy a fraction of that house with a couple of other families. And they own it, but they own it for a couple of months a year and it's kind of that same idea, you're getting a fraction of this person, you're paying a fraction of the cost to, but you're only getting them for a fraction of their time. And then they go and they spend it elsewhere as well. Yeah, that also makes me think though, if you don't want to share your time with other people, if you want to be fractional, and you only want to do it for one company, and then you're only working one day a week or something not so great ease into like a retirement or some other kind of freedom for yourself. While you're able to still keep your your expertise.

Cristina Amigoni:

I can see how, you know CFO is becoming very popular, but I can see how marketing, HR, learning and development could really benefit with something like that. Because once you've got the project and the start up of building, and you don't need the maintenance, and not just the on the ground, hands on maintenance, but the strategy, the more expertise, overseeing maintenance, make sure that you are ahead of the curve all the time, not always reacting to what happens afterwards. I can definitely see how those roles could really use fractional in a lot of smaller companies.

Angela Heyroth:

Well, even what you just said makes me think maybe you come in, you bring somebody in as a freelancer to create a strategy to create the HR strategy or the marketing strategy. And then once it's done, you're like, gosh, I still need somebody to run it from run the strategy, not to the, you know, some of the day to day operational pieces, but I still need that person that I can call every Friday, and make sure we're still on point with that strategy. And then you kind of morph from this freelancer, project based person kind of interim need to this fractional every Friday, I work for you for some sort of fixed fee. I think to me like another part of that whole, you know, liquid gig economy that we've been talking about.

Cristina Amigoni:

We're gonna talk about liquid gig in the next episode, by the way, there you go.

Alex Cullimore:

I think that's a great distinction, it kind of feels like the third step in the progression we have our contractors that are doing a lot of the implementation work, you kind of have the project plan set out, you have your freelancers that are kind of helping set out the project plan, and often also helping execute some of that project plan. If you think fractional, at least in the way that it's being used in the C level titles, it's almost exclusively strategy, it's helping you really shape that high level 30,000 foot view of what needs to happen.

Angela Heyroth:

And that kind of makes me think there's almost like a Venn diagram, maybe some independent contractors are also a little bit of freelancers. And some freelancers are also a little bit of fractional, there's a little bit of crossover. But if you think of them for different purposes, and how that fits into your overall talent strategy.

Cristina Amigoni:

So one of the things that you mentioned, I think, Alex, you mentioned the word value. And I know that always sticks on my mind. And I know, Angela, you posted something recently, I think it was an answer to somebody else's questions. I'm about to interview with a company, how should I prepare when I go in? And your answer was, "know what your values are and what matters to you first, before you even go talk to someone" And we've mentioned that at the beginning how with freelancers and contractors defining that for yourself first, so that you can distinguish what jobs are coming to you and whether you're going to be fitting in. How do you see the knowing your own values? And what matters to you to be kind of the prerequisite of understanding how to get into this gig economy? From the employee, point of view or person point of view more than the company.

Angela Heyroth:

The gigger. We are making it work today? Why not? I think that it goes back to one of the very first things we said, that's the whole notion that "Oh, those people they do that because they they can't get other work." If you've had the chance to really define for yourself, why I want to do this and what value it is I want to provide to companies then you can already shoot that myth in the foot that I'm not doing this because I can't get something else, I'm doing this because I ....fill in the blank. There's lots of reasons why people go down this route. For me, part of it was I wanted the freedom to choose the work I engaged in and because I like to design and architect way more than operationalize being able to stay on the outside and just focus on that and let them operationalize what I've designe, lets me focus on my strengths and let somebody else focus on their strengths. And the freedom to work when and where I want to and the exposure to lots of different industries on lots of different kinds of people and minimize the exposure to company bureaucracy, because you stay on the outside. So for me that was part of why all of those reasons I just said that I wanted to go this route which knowing that then I know what to look for when people reach out to me and say "is this a project is one that you would do?" Because I know if it fits in to what I'm looking for and not looking for, versus if I was just doing this because I didn't know what else to do then you just take everything you just take every job and every role that comes to you and I guess that's a strategy you're not going to be true to who you are. And knowing who you are is always the first step and what you what you want as a result of that instead of doing it the other way because then you'll always be subject to somebody else. So I do think that somebody before they step into this should think about why is it that I want to do this and it can't be because I had a bad boss and it can't be because I I don't know something, income something and what it's got to be all, it's got to be a bigger, more values based set of reasons because you can't do this half heartedly. And I even think for a company they need to know why. Why is it that I want a freelancer or contractor and not just because I can't find somebody else, if there's a reasons why I need this person, and that helps me know if I need a contractor or a freelancer and what kind of person I need. So I think that why it's so important to be able to answer in these situations.

Alex Cullimore:

That's pretty cool because it plants the idea that the gig economy can be this place where people who have identified their strengths can really accelerate can really grow and shine. These are the and that way, if we can learn to trust a larger gig economy, then it becomes those are the people that you think of first, and then it starts to become like, "Well, yeah, we hired a full time employee because we couldn't find a gig". And then it starts to flip on its head where if you can plug into what you really want from this, your values, your strengths, you get a chance to play to your strengths, when you can play the gig economy game, when you can play the, "this is what I do? Well, this is what I can deliver as value", accepting that on both sides of it gives you a great opportunity to plug into people's strengths. And we talk all the time about wanting to develop strengths. It's pretty common on LinkedIn to be like play to your strengths, do these things. And then you get into that full time gig. And they're like, yeah, those are your strengths. This is the thing we need, though. So we're gonna put this box around you.

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, we hired you for this. And that was the first thing you needed for six months. And now that's done. And now you need to move on to this other thing. And it's like, Well, okay, if I could have been gigger.

Cristina Amigoni:

Exactly.

Alex Cullimore:

Which I guess also points to the system. And we've talked about benefits, it points to some of the systematic issues that come up with that of being being a good employee has that ability to plug into your strengths and your values, then you also have to take on things like healthcare and deciding that, which isn't to say that should have to be on a company, maybe it shouldn't be on a company either way, maybe it shouldn't be on a company for full time employees, maybe it shouldn't be. But either way that puts extra pressure, which either it will push people to remain in the gig economy only if they really can accelerate this or it pushes some unnecessary strain and you start taking on jobs that maybe you wouldn't take otherwise, because you're now trying to supplant benefits.

Angela Heyroth:

Coverage that you take for granted when you're with a company and just the income itself, it may or may not be the same as when you're with a company, but either way, it's going to be inconsistent, you're going to have you know, fits and bursts and, and those are things that you have to be okay with, if you're going to go this route, I think you also have to be good at selling yourself. Which is, especially if you're a freelancer, if you're a contractor and you're working for a contract company, it's different. But on a freelance slide, you have to be okay. Like selling and asking for work, which is can be very uncomfortable. If you've never had to do if you've never had to be a salesperson, all of a sudden, you're selling yourself, like you're not just selling work, you're selling you and you're constantly kind of asking people for work and finding work. And you have to learn how to be okay with that. And for me, it was this mindset shift of, it's not really asking for work, it's that I know that I can provide you with something that you can't anybody else. So I know the value that I can bring to you and I want you to have that value. Right? So it's like a mindset shift of I'm not saying hey, hire me, because I don't want to be that slimy person that we've all had to deal with on the phone, but you have to be okay asking. I think the other thing is you have to be really disciplined to be able to manage yourself and manage your day. And those would be some of the things that it's not for everybody. It is for you get all those benefits we talked about.

Alex Cullimore:

When it comes to selling yourself, if you're saying hire me, and you're not explaining why you are there, it sounds much more like the the reasons you listed before like, because I didn't want to have a boss. So please just hire me because I don't want to do that. Right. Whereas if you say hire me, I like doing this stuff,I know this is the value that can help you, it's a much easier sell. And it's also just way better marketing and selling. You're talking about what you can provide to them. That's what they're interested in. That's what you can provide. And if you are comfortable saying you can provide that much easier sell

Angela Heyroth:

which goes back to the life you've defined, what did you have?

Cristina Amigoni:

Very true, we would make Simon Sinek very proud in this book. It's interesting because Alex and I had to go through the exercise of defining ROI multiple times over, but actually put it in writing. And also defining this is what we provide. This is also the type of companies and people we want to work with, our ideal client. And so having to do that so that we could communicate it to a potential consulting partnership really defined it in a concrete way because it was outside of ourselves. It made us really narrow down some of those values for ourselves as individuals and as a company. It made it possible to declare it to the universe. So when we then had to face decisions of here's a potential client. And yes, we could provide value clearly, but do they match our core values from the type of company they are? If one of our main core value is they have to be a human-first focused company? Do they match that? Because if they don't, it may still not be a good fit. And so we have to make that decision.

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, I remember. And I mentioned in the spring of 2020, I just, I did informational interviews just with lots of different people, people that were either already doing this kind of thing or companies that may be looking for somebody like me, or the lots of different experts, marketing experts, and all kinds of things. And I remember one person who said that the biggest advice I can give you is, don't be all things to all people. It's tempting, because it's more work that you can take on like, "Oh, sure, I'll do that. And sure I'll do that. And sure I'll do that." And she's like, then you'll just water it down. Really define what is the scope of work you want to do, but what also what's your out of scope, what would you never want to do. And that means you're gonna have to turn either work down, or certain clients down if they don't fit into like, like you said, a certain value set. But you're going to be happier in the long run, again, like outside playing to your strengths. You know, if that's what this is about, and you've defined that value set is that's part of what I want to be able to do is play more to my strengths, then you should be able to do that. And you do need to say, no.

Alex Cullimore:

It's funny hearing you describe these things, because those sound like all the qualities people want in employees, they want them to push back,when there's pushback, they want them to play to their strengths, they want to have these people be the experts. These are the same expectations we have when we have employees as when we're thinking about freelancers. And if we can access some of those pieces, we're in good shape, we can have somebody who's flexible, ready for the uncertainties, since they're able to roll in the in the freelancer lifestyle, they're able to roll a little bit more with the uncertainties and the changes that will be coming. And the person who's really more in touch with what they can provide.

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, it's so weird. It's like you just described people. What is the strategy and then the channel, maybe if I use that channel that you bring those people in from that is different. But if the person itself is still driven, from the same point of view, and wants the same things out of life, they just may do it more on a gig basis than not, for various reasons for themselves and for you as the company. And there's there's benefits of all signs?

Cristina Amigoni:

Well, it sounds like we've resolved a lot of world issues.

Alex Cullimore:

As well as defined a bunch of terms

Cristina Amigoni:

that we have to go and patent.

Angela Heyroth:

Right? According to us.

Cristina Amigoni:

We have established this whole new way of working, so we get to take the credit, when it all explodes in the next few years. So one of the things that we do when we wrap up our podcasts, Angela, is and you've brought up this in some other ways, but we asked people, what does authenticity mean to you? So when you think about the gig economy and your journey, and what companies and people have to bring into this whole new way of working with, what does authenticity look like?

Angela Heyroth:

It's just being true to yourself, which goes back to knowing what that is. You really have to take time to know who you are and what you want, and then just stay true to that. And if you do, you'll be a happier, more engaged person in all facets.

Cristina Amigoni:

Love it. And I agree, and everybody wins.

Angela Heyroth:

Yeah, and you know, the company gets better work out of you. And regardless of what channel you come from, if you're more authentically who you are too.

Alex Cullimore:

It goes back to trust, the base level of trust and a lot of people to be themselves and allowing it, they're going to do the work. Well, thanks so much for joining Angela, it has been an awesome conversation we, like we said, defined a bunch of words and redefined the gig economy, which is kind of exciting. It kind of put a whole new frame in it even in my mind for just how powerful and beneficial the gig economy can be, and what we can gain when we allow for this kind of flexibility. And I really liked what you said about it being really a representation of agility. You have this magnificent ability to have something that is able to change and flow and grow with you.

Angela Heyroth:

Absolutely. It's been a pleasure.

Cristina Amigoni:

Yes, thank you so much.

Angela Heyroth Profile Photo

Angela Heyroth

Founder & Principal - Talent Experience Architect - Project/Interim/Fractional HR Leader - Speaker

An expert in architecting talent management programs and processes, with a unique breadth of experience designing and leading across the entire talent lifecycle, Angela has a reputation as a transformative builder, persuasive communicator and storyteller, insightful problem solver, high performance team leader, and pioneering challenger. Her 20+ year career has spanned leadership roles with several Fortune 500 firms, where she has been counted on to design, deliver, and deploy on-time and under-budget results across the entire range of talent management practices – aligning these programs with the overall business strategy to result in long term organizational success through people. This distinctive background gives Angela insight for how each part of the lifecycle impacts the others. And, with a track record of both conceptualizing and constructing, C-suite leaders rely on Angela’s rare combination of being both a dreamer who strategizes and ideates, and a doer who drives implementation of solutions – a dreamer who does. She has a portfolio of hundreds of best practice talent programs built over the course of her career. These include - two award-winning intern programs, a strategy to attract talent across channels highlighted by a professional organization as best in class, an innovative onboarding program, several high-potential acceleration programs and leadership curriculums with outstanding results, multiple engagement and action planning processes, a highly acclaimed internal coaching bench, numerous off-sites and retreats held in high regard by the participants, and a complete culture transformation.

As the founder of TALENT LIFECYCLE DESIGNS, guided by the belief that every company deserves access to intentionally designed talent programs, Angela will build custom experiences for your organization in one or more parts of the talent lifecycle, on a project, interim, or fractional basis. Angela is also a sought-after keynote speaker known for engaging presentations and an approachable style. When not working, Angela enjoys the beauty of both the mountains (Colorado) and the beach (South Carolina), traveling through Europe, musing on the works of Jane Austen, watching reality TV, teaching Bible study, and being bested by her son in golf.