#02 Sarah Gevirtz – Building trust, growth and belonging

Uploaded: 10.09.2019
Duration: 37:25

In this episode, I talk with Sarah Gevirtz, who is an HR director in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley.

We talk about:

  • How her first team with less than 5 direct reports gave her the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of how to lead a team and pay attention to the humanness 
  • Her leadership responsibility now with 6 direct reports and more than 20 people in her team directly
  • How she sees the importance of doing your own self-development if you expect the people around you to self-develop
  • How honouring the different perspectives and different kind of thoughts in a safe space so people feel heard, has become important to her
  • The importance of understanding each person and what their dreams are in addition to their daily job in order to give them stretch opportunities connected to what they really want to develop into
  • How trust can be seen as the opposite of control in a cross-cultural anthropological way
  • Activities that encourage trust within the team: 
    – meetings at a global-friendly time for the entire team once a week 
    – to give business updates 
    – be open for questions: any question is fair game giving a robust amount of dialogue
    – everyone coming to this meeting has a voice and is expected to contribute
    – individual 1-on-1 meetings weekly/bi-weekly to talk things through in a safe space and get to know more what’s on each other’s mind
    – don’t hide anything – your employees should know that the information you are giving them is the most up-to-date and the most you can share
  • Sarah’s mentor who started in the mailroom and grew to be Head of HR of a business unit. We talk also about the activities that her mentor did which had an impact on Sarah. Her mentor was:
    – very supportive of up-and-comers 
    – willing to move high potentials quickly through the opportunities in the company
    – always there to talk to
    – had very little judgement about actions as she left room for Sarah to reflect herself 
  • The idea of “walking with” your client as coach instead of “running in front” can bring much deeper experiences 
  • Values that are important to Sarah: 
    – respect for human beings
    – respect for the business
    – respect for people doing the work in the business: they have decided to  show up and they deserve respect
    – being human and bringing that to corporations: if you want to access people’s creativity you have to respect who they are as human beings
  • When people feel they are respected as human beings, it unlocks their potential. People are more free and inspired to produce results
    when their humanness is acknowledged. 
  • How the expectations on the leaders in the high-tech industry have grown over the last years, as well as the pressure to deliver and do everything right along a code of conduct
  • How the notion of inclusion has changed over time. We talk about examples of inclusive behaviours and micro-inequities: by putting someone on mute in a room, it’s not very respectful in video-conferences. Respecting the fact that what you want is diversity of thought, that’s what’s going to make a team feel trusted and stick with you through tough times. 
  • When you hire, you want to make sure you get together a hiring panel with a high diversity in thought to get the best candidate.
  • The shift from inclusion to belonging: Do you feel you belong where you work? It’s a fundamental desire to belong, one that leaders should acknowledge and create an environment in which people want to stay as they feel they belong. 
  • How knowing that people have a lot of potential, is something Sarah wished she had realized much before. 
  • Her wish for all leaders to realize: Don’t ever think you have arrived! Know that you always have something to learn. If people believe you are genuine, they will walk with you!

More about Sarah…

Sarah on LinkedIn