Learning and development (L&D) and people teams empower employees, build training programs to help teams succeed, and maintain morale and a positive employee experience despite ever-evolving industry shifts. These are challenging tasks for even the most seasoned HR and L&D leaders.
In our inaugural LEARN podcast episode, Cara Brennan Allamano, CPO, Lattice, and Ted Blosser, Co-Founder, and CEO, WorkRamp discuss these topics and more.
Discover Cara’s insights on transformative work experiences, the future of work, and how people leaders can support employees through good times and bad.
Being on the people side of the business is a blessing and a challenge
With over 23 years in human resources (HR), Cara has learned valuable insights from various experiences. From growing Pinterest and taking Udemy public to a recent reduction in workforce (RIF) at Lattice, she reflects on fun, challenging, and transformative experiences, and shares her advice for HR and L&D professionals.
“Working in high-tech companies, especially on the people side of the business, you can’t avoid some transformative experiences,” she shares. “So whether it’s with a leader you’re partnering with or doing fun things like growing Pinterest and taking Udemy public, that’s amazing. And then the blessing and the challenge of being a part of this side of the business is also helping people through tough things.”
Cara reflects on the recent RIF at Lattice, and how challenging times remind you of your mission and purpose.
“It just reminds me why I do what I do,” she says. “Because I really want to make sure that during the good times, people have good experiences, and also when you’re managing through some of these more challenging times, you’re helping people have dignity, and that everybody’s learning and growing through all of it. And you can reflect on some of the decisions you made, why you made them, and make sure you’re continuing to improve.”
Foundational things are always foundational, in good times, bad times, and in between
Organizations must stick to their guiding principles during good times and bad. For example, at Lattice, Cara and the entire organization prioritize treating departing employees respectfully.
“As much as when people join the company, I want them to feel that they were treated with as much thoughtfulness and respect as when they’re leaving the company,” Cara says. “Your guiding principle is all about respect for the individual. We want people to succeed. So what’s interesting for me is understanding that some of those foundational things are always foundational things; during good times, bad times, and in between.”
Find your passion & focus on doing the things you love to do
In addition to her role as CPO of Lattice, Cara works with People Tech Partners. This group makes decisions about the tools their companies use and helps founders bring technology to market to serve the needs of HR and talent professionals.
So how does Cara manage this passion project with her full-time role?
“It’s about doing what you love to do,” she says. “I’m a nerd for technology tools, and I’d want to know what was out there and bring innovation to the companies where I was. I know many other people have other passions, which is great because no matter what you do, you’re learning, and it’s really important to stretch yourself.”
Believe in the power of a group of people
Cara started People Tech Partners with Robby Peters, Co-Founder at SemperVirens Venture Capital. She reflects on this experience and the importance of building networks and communities with common goals and intentions.
“We found together we could be complimentary and helpful in our mission to help founders and help ourselves,” she says. “I believe in the power of a group of people. There are lots of wonderful networks out there. I’m a fan girl of a lot of the work of other advisors, and I learn and grow from them. When you build those relationships, it doesn’t feel like work. You’re just enriching your lives.”
Find the sweet spot between employees & employers
As business is ever-evolving, changing dynamics are inevitable. For example, in recent times, we’ve seen power shifts between employees and employers. Cara offers her advice on how to navigate this ever-changing dynamic.
“There’s definitely a cyclical nature to our work,” she says. “If you’re going to be in HR long enough, you’re going to see the spectrum of employee-focused and employer-focused periods.”
The challenge, according to Cara, is figuring out how to get to the middle and find that sweet spot.
“What I’m seeing now is doubling down and looking to the employee experience as a key differentiator for business,” Cara says. “I’m optimistic about the partnership between employees and business. This is where you achieve great things. We’ve seen those companies [that do this], and we’ve tried to emulate them, but in a different kind of way.”
Get the L&D team in the room when making strategic decisions
Because L&D teams are subject matter experts for employee learning, they can sometimes be siloed or relegated to specific tasks. But this is a miss regarding business decisions because L&D professionals often have insights that other team members don’t.
“What I’ve found with L&D teams is there are some folks that have the clearest insights into the business because they’re out there teaching and learning and in that space where employees are vulnerable,” Cara says. “So not underestimating the strategic insights and importance of our learning and development function is important. I do my best to ensure everybody’s in the same room when we’re making strategic calls, or if there’s a challenge on the business side. Make sure to have that connection to L&D.
Check out the full episode to hear more from Cara. And subscribe to the LEARN Podcast on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast-listening apps for more expert tips and insights from industry leaders.
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Maile Timon is WorkRamp’s Content Strategist. She has more than 11 years of experience in content marketing and SEO and has written for several publications and industries, including B2B, marketing, lifestyle, health, and more. When she’s not writing or developing content strategies, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.
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