Embracing Employee Choice with Edie Goldberg, Ph.D.

Tap into Employee Skills and Passions with Edie Goldberg, Ph.D.

July 9, 2023


Edie Goldberg

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Show Notes

“I want people to choose work that they’re so engaged in that it lights their fire and creates a spark for them.” - Edie Goldberg, Ph.D.

Even before the pandemic rocked the world of work, Edie wrote ‘The Inside Gig’ to explore ways organizations can support the strengths, interests, and passions of their people. Edie is a true advocate of EX and we see this shine through in this conversation about embracing diversity, intentionality, technology, and employee choice!

📚 Resources from Edie: The Inside Gig, Performance Enablement Model for EX, Talent Mobility

For more insights on how to unlock your workforce's full potential, follow Edie on Linkedin!

Podcast transcript

Edie Goldberg: You know, if we lean into the employee experience, giving people more diversity and choice in what they can learn how they can learn it is really important to let them follow their passions and their interests.

Janine Ramirez: Today, I am thrilled to welcome our special guest. Edie Goldberg, Edie is the founder and president of EL Goldberg and Associates, and with over twenty years of experience designing HR processes and programs for Fortune ten companies and startups. She is a recognized expert in talent management and the future of work. And what really blew me away was her book the inside gig, which was released like three years ago.

But the concepts in there are they're exactly what the world of work is talking about today. So I'm so excited to dig into that. Welcome to our podcast e d. How are you doing today?

Edie Goldberg: Thank you so much for having me on today. I'm great. You're absolutely right. This was a concept that, you know, when we started it.

We were like, we have to get this book out. It's it's gonna be the time, and then the pandemic happened.

And it actually became an even more relevant, you know, strategy for companies. So, it's just, it was kind of interesting.

It sped it all up, and now we're here and your book is like a really good go through for all the discussions that we're having and in LinkedIn and all these, like, forums. So I'm excited to speak with you and, like, pick your brain a bit today. You got it. And I'll dive right in.

The Era of the Employee Experience (EX)

Janine Ramirez: We talked about the conversations we're having in the HR world, and we're seeing that the terms and terminologies, they may be different. But what is the common thread is that there's this acknowledgment of the fact that workers are diverse complex like unique and we need to be more agile and have more empathy in the way that we deal with them. So can you speak to this pivot that needs to happen and how long this movement has been in progress.

Edie Goldberg: You know, I I think what you're really referring to you know, in talent development is the era of employee experience.

Given our tight labor market, creating the experience that employees want is so critical for attracting and retaining talent.

People have different needs and different interests, and we need to personalize our solutions better to meet the needs of these varied people who are coming into work for different reasons, but we all have different experience, and etcetera.

Empowered to Choose

Edie Goldberg: And when when I think about, you know, talent development, and how does this relate to talent development, I was just having a conversation with somebody I was the other day, and we were talking about how she learns.

And -- Right. -- she said, I'm I'm not an auditory learner. I can't go hear a bunch of people talking at a conference and learn. I have to read And so lectures are not helpful for her at all.

And so when we think about you know, how do we customize our solutions and make them personal for people? Not only is it about choice.

Which I think is really important, but it's also about giving people content and access to information in different media, so that it meets their particular learning needs. So, you know, if we lean into the employee experience, giving people more diversity and choice in what they can learn how they can learn it, is really important to let them follow their passions and their interests. You know, yeah, it has to be aligned to what the company needs, but I think, you know, allowing people to choose what kind of content they wanna learn and how is important. So I was speaking in a conference last last week? Two weeks ago. I don't know if time just keeps flying by.

The Learning Formula

Edie Goldberg: And there's a there's this formula, if you will, in learning, seventy twenty ten. Right? Seventy percent of our learning should come from on the job experiences, twenty percent of our learning should come through courses and materials and ten percent through networking, mentoring, you know, one on one relationships.

And leveraging this session that I was on a couple weeks ago, Pepsico was talking about how by using internal gigs, which is what my book is all about.

By short term projects. They can really lean into that seventy twenty ten and let people choose projects that are of interest to them, and then they can learn in the flow of work.

And that's a great way to learn, and then they can supplement that, right, with lectures, if that's the way they learn, or blogs, or books, if that's the way they learn. So, really giving people choice in the content that they learn and different ways of learning, I think, is is really a lot of what we're seeing, and that employee experience.

A Culture that Embraces Diversity

Janine Ramirez: This is so interesting because it brings together like these different conversations that I've had with with subject matter experts. And one is diversity, and we are talking with Grace Lim, who is now like in Stripe and was an ex Googler. Just all about diversity and she mentions that in her past job, she was asked like, hey, like I see you usually have all ideas, but in meetings, you're you're a lot more quiet. And she's like, oh, it's because you don't give us like the agenda to the meeting and I can't prepare myself. And she's the type that would like to prepare, and that's when she gets her idea. So, like, that blew me away in how I saw diversity that it's not it's not just, like, cultural background or or race, you know. It's it's how like, what makes us unique and what makes us different.

And then you talk about like using or understanding that to empower your employees to to learn better and to develop better. Right? And giving them ways and, like, talking to to Wagner, he was Okay. It's all about employee experience. Same as you.

And he says, like, giving like creating them of engagement and the system of like information so that it's easy for employees to get the information that they need to to work better. It's all about like empowerment.

Edie Goldberg: Yeah, I love that conflict. Diversity, you know, can be how I process information.

So there are a lot of people who, you know, extrovert introvert. So there are a lot of people who, I think out loud.

My husband needs to take a beat. He's an introvert and thinks very quietly.

And I'm always like, say something.

So you have to understand that and let people be who they are.

And if you know, you're on a team with somebody who is really thoughtful, but they need time to digest you know, maybe you have shorter meetings, maybe a meeting where you tee things up, and then a later meeting where you have the conversation.

Janine Ramirez: That's so difficult, though. Like, I'm thinking, okay, for companies that have thousands of employees, you're gonna have to make teams smaller, like, make sure that supervisors or managers are like are I don't know. They don't have a lot on their plate so that they can focus on kind of managing a person in their unique way of of learning and working. So is this how you see, like, how future teams are gonna be created?

Edie Goldberg: Well, you know, so the the dynamic that I just suggested, right? You maybe have have break an hour meeting into two thirty minute segments -- Yeah. -- where you tee up a concept and then have more of a conversation time.

That works for everybody. I mean, that doesn't, you know, so the people who are more extroverted who would just kind of jump into the conversation, They'll jump into it whenever you're having that meeting, but it also allows people who need time to think and process that time.

Right. So I don't know that we need to be in smaller teams, but we certainly need to recognize when people on our teams participate differently, and don't assume it's because somebody doesn't have something to add, but maybe that they just process differently, and it's an opportunity to talk to somebody and get to know them and help them have a better employee experience by recognizing what they need and modifying the team culture to help everybody be engaged?

What’s a ‘Gig Economy’?

Janine Ramirez: This is connected a little bit to the inside gig and the gig economy, and thinking of people as, you know, like more skills versus their job position. So can you tell us a little bit about, like, the gig economy and what organizations can learn from that concept.

Edie Goldberg: Yeah. I, you know, when I think of the gig economy, I think somebody posts a project out there and then somebody who has those skills and experiences, they apply for that. And what's really awesome about that is I have diversity and choice in the work that I do. I can choose to work on that project or apply for that project or not.

It's completely up to me, gives me agency in my life, in my career.

And I was thinking, because I I was looking at that, I was thinking, why can't we do that inside of our organizations? There are so many projects that managers need to get done, things that have to get done. And so often, I hear people say, I've got this project on the back burner, but either my team doesn't have capacity, or I don't have the right skills on my team to do what I need to do.

Why can't we tap into the foundation, the knowledge within the organization to get that work done. I couple that with other research that I've heard from a lot of millennials.

My company doesn't use the skills that I have.

So if we've got all this skills and expertise to deliver, you know, I come into your organization. You think of me as this box called my job, and I've got all these other past experiences that somehow miraculously People just forget that I had that.

Why can't I bring my full self to work and opt into projects of my own choosing?

That I'm interested in, that where I get to use skills that I don't use in my day job, where I get to make an impact, in another area of the company, where I get to learn something new, by working on a project with somebody else, grow my skills in a new area, but it's my choice. I have agency.

And so that was the idea behind the inside gig is breaking a whole job into a series of projects, and then being able to move some work around so that people can opt into work that they're passionate about that they're interested in, that helps them to learn and grow, that lets them use skills that they have that they don't use on their day job.

And and in fact, what it does for the company is it builds networks.

It moves talent to the most critical business priorities of the company, and that's kind of what happened during the pandemic.

And, it helps kind of helps the organization to build the skills that they need in areas of growing importance to the company.

And it engages the employee.

Janine Ramirez: I find it so cool. I chose to be in this project. I wasn't handed it.You know what I mean? Like, I would wanna make it work. There would be more a lot more passion there.

Boosting Employee Engagement

Edie Goldberg: Well, so tying into that, there's also a ton of research that says, you know, employee engagement isn't particularly high in companies. In fact, right now, we're at an all time low. Right. Pete thirty four percent of people are engaged at work.

We know from the research that highly engaged employees are more productive.

So if we give you choice in the work that you do, I have this like one picture of like, you know, that person who's working on a chalkboard and they're like, so involved in the formula that they're creating, or whatever, you know, drawing that they're doing, that they're just immersed in it, you know when you're in the flow of work, time just flies by, going through super productive. Sometimes you forget to eat, like, it gets better and tense.

And so I want that experience for everyone. I want people to choose work that they're so engaged in that it just lights their fire, creates a spark for them, and we get more work done that way.

It's a win win for the company and for the employee, but I want to do more work where I'm so deeply immersed and engaged that I'm just super, super productive.

Steps to Building an Internal Gig Economy

Janine Ramirez: So it's a cool concept and it's like, that would be really great. But it sounds like it's so difficult to implement.

So do you know any company that's already doing this? And how like, what steps do you take to establish this?

Edie Goldberg: Yeah. So it wasn't possible before the technologies that we have today. In that managing careers and company were was horrible and hard because I worked with a a fortune, like, fifty company, big company, and people were saying, well, I can't I can't get my next job unless my boss dies, because, you know, that's my next step in the career ladder.

You can apply your skills in other places in the company we just have to help you figure out how to connect your skills to other work, other jobs that are going on in the company. So today, with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we can quickly, quickly, and accurately connect the work requirements of a project to the skills that our employees have.

And what's great, you were talking about diversity before.

What's great is this makes opportunities, transparent in an organization, and open to everybody.

It's not just those chosen few people who get access to opportunities. If I'm using technology to match people's skills to the jobs or projects, and the skills we need on our projects, it democratizes the work, just like the gig economy.

And it enables employees to see where they can apply their skills elsewhere in the company.

So I'm really excited about how technology actually creates a whole new experience for employees, and it can help us get project team staff more quickly with the right people that'll help us to optimize outcomes.

Culture Change: Sharing Talent

Janine Ramirez: Like, I'd wanna talk to you about, like, AI and technology a little bit later, but I was like, I'm still stuck on the massive undertaking that this would be for for a company that wants to implement it. But then, on the other hand, we we already have these like, you know, job search type websites and technology and it's like just a matter of applying that internally. Right?

Edie Goldberg: Yeah. It's actually not as big of a leap. However, what is a big leap. So the the talent marketplace technologies that exist, you know, they'll tell you you can implement this and just turn it on and, you know, As long as you get people putting projects on the platform, your -- They make it sound easy -- will want to opt in.

Because everybody wants an opportunity to work on, you know, a project that interests them. So that's actually not the problem. The problem is a culture change. And so this really is a change management, and, you know, I call it a new talent operating model.

Of how we think about talent in the company. It's the company's talent. It's not my talent on my team.

And so getting managers to move away from kind of the concept of talent is scarce, they're my employees, don't touch them. They can't work on your project because I need them on my project to -- Yeah. -- these are resources. We're short staffed as it is. I'm not lending my talent to you. Yeah. We have we have a concept in the book called you get what you give.

And what it means is if I share a talent with other teams because they need the expertise of people on my teams. What I get in return is talent from elsewhere in the company that can work on my projects.

So there's an exchange going on.

And you know, I haven't really heard a lot of companies complain that are doing this, I just give and I never get.

I that hasn't come up as far as I've heard.

That's good to know. Like, people are more selfless. Well, we need to build recognition and reward systems that encourage that behavior. Right. Right.

AI for HR: Fear or Excitement?

Janine Ramirez: We talked a little bit about like AI and tech. This is whole debate now, there's like a lot of fear and excitement.

Where do you stand when it comes to AI for for HR? So, like, excitement or fear?

Edie Goldberg: I'm definitely on the excitement end.

You know, I I mentioned earlier, we have huge labor shortages right now. Right? And if you look out into the future, it's only gonna get worse. We are not reproducing at replacement rates in developed countries.

So our population is going to be getting smaller, and our needs in our companies certainly aren't getting any less. And productivity certainly in the US is lower than it's ever been.

We might, you know, I might be due to a lot of stress and burnout right now, but tech we haven't really used technology to fundamentally shift how we get work done. And I think that that AI, and I tend to think of it as augmented intelligence rather than necessarily artificial intelligence.

We need that technology to help us work differently so that we can make give people better jobs, more interesting jobs, doing work that, you know, taking the the searching type of information, the computer can do that.

We need to put it together, and do the creativity part, or the analysis part of that information, or telling the story part of that information, with information So, I'm very excited about AI and what that brings to our workplaces.

Janine Ramirez: AI, I feel like I understand the fears, and that's I think that's what we see more because there have been so many, I don't know, movies and, you know, stories about how how it can go, like, the the dark side of it, which we have to protect ourselves from, and there are like, we need to debate and discuss that. But it's true that it is so exciting and it can be if we use it properly like a good equalizer and can kind of empower us to do the work that we want to do and that we we love to do. So how would you get buy in from from those that are a little bit fearful of of AI.

Edie Goldberg: I mean, I think the biggest fear is all we do is build in bias, right? Because if there's bias in the data, then it just builds that in. So we do need to, you know, have controls around mitigating against that, absolutely.

But I think many years ago, woman named Julia Kirby wrote a book around the future of work and working with robots. And I love the way she said, it's not that the robots are gonna take over our jobs. It's that we have to step make one foot to the right, and figure out how to do things a little bit differently.

So it's it's about pivoting into other aspects of that work.

Where we can add more value, and we all wanna add value and have impact.

So, yes, AI will change the work that we do.

And some work will be done by technology.

I mean, that has been happening.

I had a cousin who was a foley person. He did sound for movies.

And the computer I mean, he literally made the sounds. Right? Right.

Computers do that now. It's all computerized. And Should of the they can videos and he would go viral and he can, like, earn money from that. You know, like, with the Off the top of a horse, you know, literally get, like, something that make that sound. But now it's all computer generated.

So you need to figure out how do you pivot and do something else, lean into your passion.

And I always say, you know, people who are looking for that their next career is up that ladder.

I look right and left.

Because opportunities are coming out all over the place. I was having a conversation with a friend last night. We're talking about Chad, GPT, right? Everybody wants to talk. At UPT.

And I said, well, now there's a new job. It's called a prompt engineer.

Engineer is it's somebody who knows how to ask the right questions of the technology to get good, because if you don't ask the right questions, you do not get good information back. So new jobs are appearing hybrid work manager.

Remote work manager. Those jobs didn't exist three years ago.

So the world changes, new jobs emerge.

Janine Ramirez: It's so funny. I was just talking to our cofounder about it because he's like our AI guy. Like, he's everything AI. So I'm like, okay, like, there are all these articles about jobs, and he's like, new jobs are coming.

You know, you just have to learn, like, that's what we need to learn and teach next, is how to ask the right questions and like, that would be such a cool job and I used that GPD and I'm learning. Like, okay, This is gonna be my future career. For sure. So, yes, absolutely.

But you okay. You mentioned like hybrid like hybrid work manager.

Pandemic and the Future of Work

Janine Ramirez: Like the pandemic really sped up all of this change that we're seeing in in the world of work. Like what is your your wish for the future of work in organizations?

Edie Goldberg: So I I've done a little talk, you know, culture is not in your office, that that we, a lot of bad, happened, obviously, in the last three years, and and we need to acknowledge that. But, you know, A lot of good happened. Like, we learned a lot of things, you know, those ten year technology projects took three weeks, right? You know?

We can do things at lightning speed if we need to.

That was such a huge lesson.

I also think that we learned to work in a different way, and it actually helped we've always had this work life balance issue.

And it's really become a work life integration issue.

And how do we help people understand where they're the most productive?

And where they need to be to do the work in the best that gives the best possible outcome. So sometimes, we have to be with our colleagues working in person because that is just the way that that work is more productive.

Off-site meetings are, you know, great at doing these kinds of things. Team meetings can really be designed for that. But new technology has also come along that where we can do really great brain storming activities with virtual technology.

And so we need to learn, lean into our new technology tools and help people be productive where they need to be.

And so, I don't want us to go back. I mean, there's still I think there's still a where are we gonna land after the pandemic.

And remote hybrid, is it gonna be hybrid, you know, one day a week, you know, three days a week, four days a week?

And companies are trying to feel their way, but what I hear a lot of companies say is hybrid work is hard.

And it is. Managers weren't really good at doing their job of managing to begin with, and then move them remotely where they can't see and feel and look and see the facial expressions of their employees, and it's even harder.

But we need to give managers the training and the tools to better communicate, and connect with their employees. I believe that we can communicate and connect in a hybrid work environment.

And I just don't want us to go back to the old way because it was hard as opposed to really figuring out how do we optimize work so that we can be the most productive and the best versions of ourselves.

That's my wish.

The office was a great way to kind of get a gauge of of culture, and it was an easier way to this sign a culture and get a company to act a certain way because you can control it. Everyone's in the same place.

Top Tip to Mold Culture: Intentionality

Janine Ramirez: Now that we're working, like, remotely in hybrid, Like, what are what's your top tip that you can give to to leaders within an organization to that helps them kind of mold their culture in the way that they want to.

Edie Goldberg: The word that I use is intentionality.

We need to be very intentional of how we connect with our employees if You have a particular culture, maybe it values collaboration, maybe it values contribution over kind of just authority. You need to reinforce and embrace those values in everything that you do, in how you talk, how you communicate, how you connect with people, and to intentionally reinforce those values that make the company really special. So, if innovation is your thing, how you deal with risk and failure is really important.

And reinforcing those cultural norms at those really important times, where maybe I tried something that it didn't work out is really, really important.

So, you know, companies need to think about who they are as an organization.

What is their desired culture? I think a lot of people, it's more aspirational than it is actually how they live.

And then, how do the behaviors that we as leaders, what what does that communicate to our employees?

So I have a client who, you know, really wants to embrace empowerment.

But managers keep making decisions for every Maggie.

And employees keep pushing decisions off. We're going back to employee experience too. We are. We are.

It's the full circle. It's the does value where is it in the experience of the employee? Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. And so so it's about, you know, pushing those decisions down. It's about not letting employees, you know, surface that up. It's about saying, I respect you.

You have the knowledge and experience to make that decision. You have all the information that you need to make a high quality decision. What's your decision?

And then what happens if that decision doesn't end out panning out to be the best decision. How do we deal with that?

So it again, intentionality.

Janine Ramirez: Love it. Okay. We shall end there. Thank you so much for sharing your time and your for these with us today, Idi. For listeners, I highly encourage you to check out Edi's book the inside gig and follow her on LinkedIn for great discussions on the future of work intentionality AI. I'm learning so much just by following you. And everything in between. So thank you again for joining us, and we hope to continue this conversation in the future, whether in another episode or online. Thank you.

Edie Goldberg: Thanks for having me.

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