Episode 396: Staying True to an Organization’s Beliefs With Guiding Principles with Mimi Singer

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Mimi Singer Lee, Executive Vice President and CHRO of b1BANK, as part of the CHRO series.

Episode 396: Staying True to an Organization’s Beliefs With Guiding Principles with Mimi Singer

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Mimi Singer Lee, Executive Vice President and CHRO of b1BANK, as part of the CHRO series.

Table of Contents

And these guiding principles are not just on a poster wall somewhere. These are really principles that we live. And how do we do that? We talk about it a lot. We talk about it in meetings, about how we might live out those principles. But even more so is that at times we’ve got big decisions to make, and we literally, and even in the executive team, we will say we’ve got this big decision to make. Let’s go through our guiding principles and decide to help us make this decision, because we got to stay true to that. We have to stay true to what our employees believe we are and what we’re living out every day.

Episode 396: Staying True to an Organization’s Beliefs With Guiding Principles with Mimi Singer


Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:02.01] Welcome to the Workology Podcast powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. These are two of the courses that we offer for HR certification prep and re-certification for HR leaders. Now, this podcast is part of an ongoing series that is focused on the roles and responsibilities of the Chief Human Resources Officer or CHRO. The CHRO is sometimes called the VP of People or the Chief People Officer, and it’s an executive or C-level role that deals with managing human resources as well as organizational development and implementing policies of change to improve the overall efficiency of the company. The CHRO podcast series here on Workology is sponsored by HR Benchmark Survey. Share your insights at HRBenchmarkSurvey.com. Now one of the reasons we continue to do this series is because there’s a lot of mystery around what we do as heads of HR and our roles have drastically changed over the last 24 to 36 months. I also want aspiring CHROs to know the kind of skills and experiences that they need to promote into a future level CHRO role, along with hearing from our peers about what we’re doing, what we’re working on, and how we’re partnering with our executive peers. So before I introduce our guest today, I want to hear from you. Text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future podcast guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. So on today’s podcast, I’m joined by Dr. Mimi Singer Lee, Executive Vice President and CHRO of b1BANK. Mimi has over 20 years’ experience in human resources, in human resource management, most recently serving multiple HR leadership roles at Louisiana State University. he earned her PhD in Human Resources Education from LSU and has extensive experience in recruitment, employment retention, employment selection, employee relations, policy administration, and training and development. Mimi, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:02:21.45] Thank you so much for having me.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:14.70] I am so excited for you to be on the podcast. Let’s start with your background because you are the first CHRO that I’ve interviewed here that has a PhD in Human Resources and well, Human Resources Education. So talk to me about how you got your start in HR and how your work in HR has evolved over time into that current role.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:03:37.42] I love that question because I always think about what children out there actually say, that they want to be an HR professional when they grow up. You know, we always hear about lawyers and doctors and teachers, but not many people are saying that they actually want to go into HR when they’re children. However, I do think that that’s changing. But when I was growing up, that was not the case. So I think for me, the way that I kind of started going into human resources is when I was in, in school, when I got my Bachelor’s degree, I took a class that was in IO psychology, industrial organizational psychology, and it was a very interesting class that was all about how people work, how they’re most effective, what kind of things influence that work. And I really found that really interesting and I started to have a passion towards that. And when I started talking to my professor about it, he was saying, Well, you know, you can, you can go on to be an IO psychologist or there, there is a more practical way of working in this area in human resources. And that was really my introduction to that. And I learned over time about human resource management. That was a business course, was a business degree, but it was something that I could see the affiliation with psychology and started to really wanting to check out that field.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:05:01.10] So my first job was an HR assistant at a medium-sized medical facility in Baton Rouge, and that’s really where I got my exposure to all the different areas of human resources. And I really to this day, I still think that that HR assistant job was one of the most valuable places to start. I could have gone and started in different areas, but that really gave me the overall view of it that I still think about to this day. I ended up going into the talent acquisition area more. I really enjoyed working with people. I enjoyed listening to them about where their passions lie, what it was that they wanted to do with their careers and trying to find that right match. And so I started in talent acquisition and joined Louisiana State University as the recruiting coordinator, and I ended up working more with the academic policy, which doesn’t sound too exciting, but in universities that really works with faculty career paths and their trajectory. So I worked in that area. Over time, I started supervising people, started growing more in my experience and started to oversee compensation. And then eventually I left LSU when I was the interim CHRO and came here to be one bank as the EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:26.81] I love that. Thank you for sharing your journey because I feel like a lot of people just see the end result, right? Where you’re in your position now and say, Oh, it must be nice. But they don’t see the 20 years of education and work experience that has had to happen before you could move into the position that you’re in now, so.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:06:49.88] That’s right. And while I was working, that’s when I decided to go back to school. So I was fortunate working at a university that we had tuition exemptions. So here it was right in front of me, an opportunity to continue learning. And I was just, this is crazy if I don’t take advantage of it. So I took a class or two each semester and went back for my master’s of science in human resource education. And a lot of people don’t quite know what human resource education is because it is a little bit different from human resource management, which is under the College of Business. Human Resource Management is a little bit more of the traditional HR that we are familiar with, with recruiting and compensation and employment law. And then we had the degree that I got was in education. And so that’s really more on the side of talent development. So that’s really looking at here are your employees, how do you get the best out of your employees? How do you, how do you make sure that they’re being developed? How do you understand what those needs are? So I went to school for that particular degree, but realizing that I didn’t have any formal education in human resource management, I took my electives in the College of Business, in Human Resource Management so that I could have a well-rounded education in that.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:08:04.89] And then when I graduated with my master’s degree faculty have a way of pulling you back in. So as I, as I was talking with them and, you know, explaining to them I was enjoying my HR career, they said, Well, why don’t you come back for a PhD? It’s not that hard. Well, they lied. It was a great experience, but it was one that was challenging and I really enjoyed my research focus when I was in getting my PhD, when really focused around work-life balance, and particularly in the area of being a parent and also having a career. So it was a really enjoyable experience, but those things all happened at the same time. So some people are able to go to school and then work afterwards. But I was doing those at the same time and somewhere in the mix too, I got my PHR and was able to get certifications as well.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:03.93] Wow. I just am thinking about, like, all this experience that you got and how, like, relevant and important it is in this, in this moment that we’re in now with the importance of talent development, I feel like that’s going to continue to be important. I was just, I’ve just been playing around with a lot of AI stuff right now, and so I’m excited and terrified at the same time about what the future looks like for our people, as well as my 14-year-old daughter or even myself. And then you think about like the work-life balance piece, like I feel like that has really come to the forefront as people have went back to the office and things have kind of become some of the new normal.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:09:45.33] Absolutely.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:46.74] Well, I want to talk, your background is incredibly unique. However, you can add a lot of value, especially, well, because of your expertise in talent development here. And as an HR leader, I wanted to ask about your skills, the skills and experiences that you believe are absolutely requirements for somebody who’s stepping into that CHRO role. So maybe thinking about someone who’s just starting out in the industry as maybe an HR assistant.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:10:17.73] Absolutely. Well, I think, you know, as we’ve been discussing, it’s really something that you have to go out and continue to learn. So there will never be a moment where every day I learn something new. And it’s something that throughout my career, I’ve had to make an effort to continue that. And so I really think that’s the number one thing, no matter where you are in your career, also learn the business. So here I just made a huge change, higher education over to banking. Each time, yes, human resources is very similar no matter what the industry. However, you have to learn your business. You have to be a good business partner to help, help the, the company as a whole. I also would say the third thing that I would suggest for someone who wants to advance in their career is to really be comfortable with data. And that’s not something that really came easily for me. I really love the people side of things, but there’s always a data component to everything. Every day when I’m looking at things of how effective some of our programs are, I have to take a step back and look at the data. What, what is it telling me? You know, are we seeing turnover in a particular area? Are we having a hard time recruiting from a particular area? Where are we seeing our highest producers? You know, it’s all those things. We do have to look at data. And so you don’t have to be really, really in the numbers every day, but there’s got to be a little bit of comfort there.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:11:49.41] So as much as you can just being, you know, get a little bit of experience with that is always a good thing. And I would also say be open to stretch projects. So I feel like my career had a turning point when I had a stretch project that involved relocation, which that doesn’t sound exciting either. I remember my HR Director coming to me and saying, Hey, Mimi, we’d like your help on this project and we really want to see it get off the ground and I want to give it to you and I want you to run with it. And it’s a relocation project. And I thought in my head of, gosh, you know, this must involve moving trucks and boxes. And what exactly does this involve? Like, what are what is our role as an employer for relocation? I learned quickly that there’s a lot of role in relocation, especially when you’re moving people from state to state and making sure that they’ve had a positive experience, that they want to move to where your company is, and that they are able to get moving and are able to start work as soon as possible. So it was a large project for me. I had to work with candidates about bringing them in to Louisiana and showing them all that Louisiana, Louisiana had to offer. A lot of people weren’t familiar with our state. They only knew Mardi Gras, probably was about their only exposure to Louisiana.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:13:18.85] And we had to show them that this is a great place to live and work. And so that was a project for me. And we did a couple things. We had a couple communications, we had, we changed the way that we interviewed. We, we changed the way that that whole format was. And so it was a fairly big project. But the exciting thing was, is at the end, like that was my project and I could really show that that was something that I just ran with. And I’ll never forget that experience because for a couple of reasons, the HR Director showed faith in me that maybe I didn’t necessarily have just yet. Showed faith in me, and also that was the time where they saw my skills and said, okay, we can give her other things that maybe she’s not really comfortable with, but we’ll learn about it, run with it, and we’ll give us some really good ideas of what we can do. So every time I hear someone say, Oh gosh, you know, I don’t know that I have time for a project that maybe our supervisor would like us to do. I’ve kind of got my other things going on. Don’t shy away from it. It’s really something, you know, lean into it, enjoy it, see if you can really, you know, see what you can do. And you never know. That might be something that is a turning point for your career.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:14:35.04] I think this is an important thing to mention, especially in light of the rise of quiet quitting and people like, Hey, this isn’t in my job description, so I’m not going to do it. If the opportunity arises that you feel like could benefit your career in the long term, why not? I think it’s a great way to, to show initiative and like for you make an impression and gain new skills without having to go to college or, I don’t know, read a book like it’s a different type of work experience that can really benefit.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:15:14.23] Yeah. And the way it occurred for me is that someone came to me and said, Hey, I have a need. But as, as I experienced being in a CHRO role, I love when one of my team members comes to me and says, Hey, I see that we’re going in this direction. I’d like to work on this kind of project. How about giving me a shot at it? And that’s always a great thing too. So don’t ever feel like, you know, for those that are just starting out, don’t feel like you have to wait for something to come to you. You can also create those opportunities for yourself, too.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:44.82] I love that. I love when my team is like, Hey, I’ve been thinking about this. I think this is something that we need to work on and I’d love to take a look at this. It’s going to give me some extra experience I want to learn in this area. So I think that’s fantastic.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:15:58.74] Yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:59.73] Let’s talk about the size of the company as well as your team. I’d love to know the organizational structure in terms of where HR sits and then how large is the team that you manage and then who do you report to?

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:16:14.53] Yeah. Um, so b1BANKk is for banking. We kind of measure our size in assets and so we are 6 billion in assets. As far as number of employees, we have about 750 employees. So when I joined the bank in 2019, we only had about 350. So here we are in 2023 over doubled, right? And we are experiencing continued growth. So we’re not going to slow down anytime soon, which was kind of exciting to me of why I came over to the bank was the thought of this growth and this evolving company. And so we have 750 employees, but we’re not all in the same building. We are spread out all over Louisiana and into Houston and Dallas, Texas. So we may have in some areas only four people in one building, whereas others we’ve got 100. So we are definitely spread out. We do have some remote employees that work from home as well. So this, this is a, this is not a concentrated area. We are definitely all over. And even some of our remote employees are outside of Louisiana and Texas. So we’re a community bank. And as far as my team goes, we have about ten HR folks and that includes our talent development group. So we’ve got benefits, we’ve got compensation, our traditional areas, but we also have talent development. We report to the Chief Administrative Officer who reports to the CEO. I will say, though, as the CHRO, I am on the executive team and participate in all the executive meetings.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:17:53.83] So we’ve got great support by the CEO. And I think that that was one of the things that also drew me to b1BANK is that we had someone who actually cares about the HR, the talent development realm, cares about the people that, that work at the bank and so that was something where I knew I could have the support from our, from our leadership. I will say, though, this is an interesting thing about me. So this will probably be unusual. I don’t know, maybe you’ve had other guests that have this situation, too. But I manage human resources, talent development, but I also manage marketing. And so when I joined the bank in 2019, about a year later, I started overseeing marketing as well. And people will ask me like, how does that go together? I just don’t understand those two things. But I will tell you, being from a background of talent acquisition, I’m all about marketing the company for a great place to work. And so we started discussing about the employer brand and we were just going through a transition with our company brand. We used to be Business First Bank, we’re now b1BANK, and as we were looking at branding, it just started tying together our employer brand is who we are. They’re not different things. And so we started kind of creating this a little bit more and got some really great momentum on that. And so now, yeah, I oversee marketing as well. So a little bit different.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:22.16] Not unheard of. There’s been another podcast guest that, that has also oversaw marketing facilities is another area that sometimes HR is also overseeing and responsible for real estate, I guess.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:19:37.09] I can see that because you need to know how many employees are in each building, and, yes.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:41.78] It’s, it’s interesting to me. And then when I think about the banking industry as well and all the different regulations and just complexities that other industries don’t have in this the same way, it kind of fits.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:19:57.32] Yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:57.62] For me, for, for you to be in charge of the marketing side of things. And really a lot of employee communication is really internal marketing. And then the employer brand side of things. I see a lot of recruiting teams really struggling or even HR like to build a relationship with marketing because marketing is like, Oh, hey, you know, I’ve got this. I don’t, I don’t need you, you know, on my turf. So this is a nice way to kind of bring them together to collaborate.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:20:24.86] Right, right. That’s a great point. It’s a lot of marketing is working more on the external side of things, client-facing. But you’re absolutely right. It’s the employees, though, that are really going to be the ones that interact with the clients. And so all of that needs to be synergy all together, internal and external communications, who we are, all that goes together, so.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:46.82] So much of what I do in my business is marketing. I mean, I’m, that’s what this podcast is about information and resources, increasing exposure and bandwidth for me and my business. So it absolutely is something that HR people can do. I mean, you talked about data. That’s what you’re looking for, understanding the data that’s presented to you. Are you converting customers? Are you driving candidates? Are you being able to grow the business with, with the efforts?

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:21:15.74] Yeah. Yeah. And I think even in this pandemic and everything, you know, where we are today, it kind of highlights even more that you don’t ever have to be pigeonholed into one particular career or job. Um, and I think this is a really nice time to be thinking about what is it that really gets us out of bed in the morning? What is it that actually we want to go do? And I just love the creative side sometimes and it’s fun. Yes, I can be in the data, but creative is kind of fun too. So with, with marketing, that’s for sure. You know, we do commercials. We do, you know, lots of advertisements. We, we get to work with Drew Brees, who is our who is our board member and who also does a lot with our commercials. So it’s just been a really fun experience. But I really, again appreciate that people can see a skill set and not pigeonhole anyone into one particular job. And so I hope that I bring that as well, that we see that our employees feel like they can move around the bank into different areas and they don’t have to always just be in that one or they don’t have to leave us to get that, that type of experience.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:22:26.67] I love that. And I, and I think that speaks to your talent management side. And then a lot of different things that you’re doing, which I want to talk about next. Talk to me a little bit about the companies or the banks training and development programs and your role and your team’s role in developing them.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:22:42.42] Yeah. So when I was being interviewed, I remember my CEO saying that was something that he really wanted to put some effort toward. And at that point we were doing more of compliance trainings. As a bank, you know, we have to have certain trainings, but we weren’t doing anything past that. So my first task was to bring in a really great Talent Development Manager, which I have. Chynsia Robertson is great. And so she brought in kind of a perspective of, okay, let’s do, let’s, of course we need to do compliance, but let’s do more than that, and let’s really see where we have a need. And so she brought in more professional development. We have monthly trainings that really focus on different professional development topics. We have programs for leadership development. We try to pay attention of what’s going on when things are going on in the news, such as mental well-being. We make sure that we have trainings that are out there that are addressing the employees as a whole and not just someone who comes to work to do a task. So she was, she came in, she built her team. So she’s got now a team of two that report to her, one that is a facilitator that does the instructor-led courses and the other one that’s an instructional designer.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:24:01.87] And so I really like that combination because of course we still want the face-to-face interactions. But there are some times where we can do online trainings, but also the instructional designer looks at places where we don’t actually need to do an instructor-led training at all. I’m sure every HR person can say that anybody who does training, there’s lots of things that come to us where it is. We’ll have a manager that says we need a training, we’ve got to have a training. There’s this problem, let’s go ahead and get a training. It’s going to need to be a day long. We need to work with all of our employees and we look at it and realize that there’s maybe a procedural problem or maybe just something is simply not working well with our technology. We’re training on workarounds when maybe we should just simply fix the technology. So we really work hard on trying to determine what our true training needs and where are some areas of development versus things that can be fixed with more of our digital adoption platform. Do you have too many other HR people that talk about digital adoption platforms?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:13.81] No, I mean, I feel like we talk a lot about implementing like a compensation survey or maybe some salary changes. And maybe we’ve I’ve had somebody on the podcast talk about employee engagement platforms, but not what you’re describing. So walk us through that.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:25:33.52] Yeah. When I became familiar with this, it really opened my eyes for sure. So what this means is if you have some, some technology that you would like your employees to become familiar with, maybe you take them in a room and you teach them what they’re going to do. Maybe you walk them through a mock arrangement. Maybe you give them a book so that when they get back to their desk, they’ll be able to use the technology with, with something to actually show them how to do it. Well, a digital adoption platform is an overlay on an app that will real time you go into the technology that you need to use. This overlay says, Hello Mimi, I’m going to get you started. It tells me where to click and it’s not doing a simulation. When I click there, it really is doing what I want it to do. So it’s getting closer to our Amazon experience, but not quite there, but a really great step forward. I tell everyone, you know, I can’t remember what I did yesterday, so how am I supposed to remember how to do this technology that I may only use three times a year? So why do we need to spend our employees time and effort to learn something that they’re not going to use that often? Why not have this digital adoption platform? It’s got that overlay. It’ll tell me what to do and what I need to know then. And as we all know, with technology, things change quite often. So when we train someone how to do something today, likely when they log in to do it months later, it’s not the same platform. So this allows us to be more nimble and changing the overlay and not asking our employees to remember something that they don’t need to.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:27:18.04] I think about all the things in HR that are like this, like in benefit selection, right? Like your annual benefit selection. Or maybe around tax time where everybody’s needing their W-2, right? Like, where is that? Because most of that is located in the payroll or the Employee Self-Service Center or wherever they can kind of get a quick training in real time about how to do it and where to go. I think that’s fantastic.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:27:45.26] Yeah, you’re exactly right. For our performance management, if you’re going in to do a particular one, especially for the annual review, that’s something you’re doing annually and maybe you don’t remember how to do that. So we try to focus more our talent development on things that are behavior changes and less about things that are more technical that can be assisted with other technology.

Break: [00:28:09.83] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell and you were listening to the Workology Podcast powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. We are talking about the role of the CHRO with Dr. Mimi Singer Lee, Executive Vice President and CHRO at b1BANK. The CHRO podcast series here on Workology is sponsored by HR Benchmark Survey.com. Before we get back to the interview, please text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you.

Break: [00:28:45.62] Benchmarking and data is crucial to HR leaders. Workology’s HR Benchmark Survey is an always-on survey and just by taking the survey at HRBenchmarkSurvey.com, you’re signing up to get comprehensive quarterly results, whitepapers, and other research from the survey right to your inbox. It takes ten minutes or less to complete. Visit HRBenchmarkSurvey.com.

Company Culture and a Dispersed Team


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:29:11.28] You mentioned employer branding and kind of we talked about you overseeing or being responsible for also marketing. So employer brand is a portion of that, but also there’s the culture piece. Can you talk a little bit about your company culture there and, and maybe the types of conversations you had in the beginning of your time at b1BANK with, you know, your team and then company leadership?

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:29:36.24] So I joined the bank in 2019 and they had actually just finished a pretty extensive process in 2018 about our company culture. And what I appreciate about that process is that they actually asked each employee, Who do we think we are? Which is a really great departure from a CEO pushing this is who we are. So it was something that the employees all had input and we used an outside consultant that helped us kind of get down to what it is, and we ended up coming up with five guiding principles. And these guiding principles are not just on a poster wall somewhere. These are really principles that we live. And how do we do that? We talk about it a lot. We talk about it in meetings, about how we might live out those principles. But even more so is that at times we’ve got big decisions to make, and we literally, and even in the executive team, we will say we’ve got this big decision to make. Let’s go through our guiding principles and decide to help us make this decision, because we got to stay true to that. We have to stay true to what our employees believe we are and what we’re living out every day. So we do it in orientation. We talk through it. Lots of our leadership meetings. And if ever we come together, which we try to do with all of our leadership at least once a year, we are talking about the guiding principles and going through that.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:31:06.47] It has been about five years though, so we do start testing it a little bit more and to see if maybe any of those have evolved or maybe there’s a sixth principle that we want to add into it. So we’re probably going to go through our company again and ask our employees, is this still true today? Or do any changes need to be made? But yes, we have five guiding principles. Outside of that, we also have, which I think is a really big part of our company culture, is that we’re a community bank. So we also have volunteer leave where we can go work in our community, doing whatever we want to personally. We do some where we do things as teams, but for the most part it can be whatever we want and we’re passionate about and we get those two days off to volunteer in the community. So I feel like that’s a really big part of our culture as well, knowing that we all are part of if it’s Dallas or if it’s Baton Rouge or if it’s Shreveport, that we’re making a difference in the areas we serve.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:32:07.13] I love that. What about culture from a dispersed community because, or dispersed team, because yes, you have remote employees, but you’re also in multiple locations, which isn’t a new thing. Like I have almost always been HR where I’ve had multiple locations leading and managing those people and creating a culture can sometimes be a challenge. What’s, what’s working for, for you and at the company?

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:32:34.10] If there could be any silver lining to the pandemic, I think that it made us. Be more aware that we can do this, that we can work remotely. And this does work. I think, though, before the pandemic hit, there was kind of this, you know, I don’t know, should we do things remotely? Should we not? Once we were forced to, we realized, yes, we can, yes, we can. And we really had to focus on how we do our trainings, how we talk about our guiding principles in our meetings. And I think that by having the, the Zoom being more familiar and comfortable with this has really allowed us that opportunity for people to kind of embrace it a little bit more.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:33:21.00] One of the things that you said kind of in the middle of the podcast was talking about your CEO and the good relationship that you have with them. And that’s kind of what was one of the main reasons that sold you to go ahead and move to b1BANK? I don’t, there are lots of people that in HR that do not have this experience. So I wanted to ask you. How, what’s your strategy for getting that seat at the executive table where they’re listening and understanding and wanting to collaborate and work together?

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:34:04.68] I really do. There are times where HR is not included in a discussion, and I really don’t believe that it’s to exclude anyone or to be malicious. It’s they just don’t understand why HR would need to be in the room. Like, what was that? What is the value add there? So I think that even in the discussions that we have at the executive level, when we talk about the strategic plan, the overall company, it’s kind of HR’s job to advocate for what we can offer. Every time I have an experience like that where someone says, Oh, I didn’t realize that, that that could be something that talent development could assist with. And then they come into the room, they help, they walk out and they go, Oh gosh, that was really great. I had no idea. And so it’s really on us as an HR team to make sure that we are getting out there, communicating what we do so that people have an understanding and not just waiting for the invitation to come to the table. I think it’s upon us to ask to be at the table to show them what we can do, to be at the table and to not just simply, you know, let things pass us by because we didn’t get that invitation.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:35:18.09] I think that’s great advice. Just like the stretch projects, right? Like bringing something to your boss and saying, Hey, this is something I would like to work on. We can do the same thing with our executive peers. Hey, I’m noticing maybe some higher turnover or something going on in this department. I want to collaborate with you and kind of like, let’s figure out a way for my team to be able to help support you. I think that’s a great way to, to build those relationships because you’re right, they don’t know what we do exactly. It’s very sort of pie in the sky. Like they just think we hire and fire and there’s so much more.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:35:57.36] Especially for the part where we’re hiring. I find that a lot of managers will just say, We’ll send you the job description once we understand what we need. And you know, you can then post it for us. And I’m like, Well, how about we get together and we talk about where you have some skills gaps. We look at your organization as a whole and just see if maybe that’s a structure that we need and not just advertise it the way it was. Maybe we need to advertise in a different way. And how about you let my team help that person? They can help them recruit. And you know, once they hear all these words of, wait a second, you, you’re going to help me in this, it’s just a different conversation altogether.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:36:37.30] I agree. Last question for you is, talk to me about the best career advice that you’ve received. What, what was that?

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:36:46.57] I think it was from my mother. At some point as I was, as I was kind of early in my career of just saying, you know, oh, people don’t want to hear from me. They don’t, they don’t want to hear my opinion. And, you know, these other people are just much smarter than me. And I remember her saying, if not you, then who? And that was like a real question. If not you, then who? Who in that room is going to give their opinion? You know what’s going to happen, Who’s going to work on that then? And I was like, Well, I mean, I guess, I guess you’re right. I mean, I guess I have just as much to offer as the next person. And realize everybody, you know, we all have something to offer. We all have a skill. And don’t ever be afraid to go ahead and try to tackle something, even though some somebody you may think is smarter than you, they’re just more confident than you, go ahead and try it. And I think that one has been a game changer for me. I’ve, I’ve always just kind of said, okay, some opportunity came up. Why not? I’ll raise my hand.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:37:47.99] I think that’s great advice and applies in so many different situations in your life. So I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. I’m going to link in the show notes to your LinkedIn profile. If people want to connect or have questions as well as the b1BANK careers site, perhaps there’s an opening and they’re like, Hey, this sounds like a, a leader and a culture and a place that I would love to be a part of. So I want to just say I appreciate you taking the time and sharing your experience and chatting with us today.

Mimi Singer Lee: [00:38:24.86] Thank you so much. This has been fun.

Closing: [00:38:27.95] I loved this interview. Mimi was a delight to talk to. The CHRO podcast series here on Workology is sponsored by HR Benchmark Survey. Go on and visit. Take our survey at www.HRBenchmarkSurvey.com. I am such a nerd. I love hearing from different CHROs about their background, their experience and the things that they’re working on, and how they’re supporting the organization. And not just from CHROs overall, but like different industries and verticals. It’s so interesting that HR continues to have a spotlight shone on it, and Mimi and I were talking offline after the interview was finished, just saying that how many people don’t really understand exactly what HR does, employees, managers, and the executive team. It’s our responsibility to not just lead conversations in HR, but for the entire company and the company, whether they know it or not, depends on our leadership role to set standards and benchmarks for everything from company benefits to learning and development and ethics. I appreciate Mimi for taking the time to chat with us and share her experience with us today on the podcast. I would love to hear from you, too. Send me a text. Text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask questions, leave comments, make suggestions for future guests. I also want to thank you for joining and listening to the Workology Podcast. It’s powered by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. These are certification prep and re-certification courses that we offer for HR leaders. This podcast continues to be the place for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. I’ve been doing this for ten years. It just blows me away. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Until next time, visit Workology.com to listen to our all our previous podcast episodes. Have a great day.

Connect with Mimi Singer Lee.



– Mimi Singer Lee on LinkedIn

– b1BANK | Careers

– CHRO Job Description

– Episode 387: Understanding the Business, Influencing, and Design Thinking With Gabrielle Lorestani

– Episode 386: Paying Attention to Help the Business Be Successful With Amy Cappellanti-Wolf From Cohesity

– Episode 385: Managing Employee Trauma at Work With Matthew Brown From Schoox

– Episode 395: Bringing a Fulfilling and Engaging Experience Into the Workplace With Karoline Saffi

How to Subscribe to the Workology Podcast

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